Riviera Life Church: Sunday Reflections 2023

Jon Baldwin: Who are you building with?

Who are you building with? Ezra

Good morning everybody! On Sunday I had the honour of opening the Word and continuing with our ‘What are you building’ theme. The twist was however I changed the question from ‘What are you building’ to ‘Who are you building with?’ It is important to know that there are people that you can’t be without on the journey but there are also people who you can not afford to have with you on the journey.

To help us understand ‘Who we are building with’ I took us to the book of Ezra. The book of Ezra starts off in chapter 1 with the return of Jewish exiles to Jerusalem, they had been in Babylonian captivity for over 70 years. The purpose for their return is that Jewish leaders want to rebuild the Temple of the Lord that had been desecrated and destroyed 70 years prior by Babylonian invaders. These Jewish exiles are amazingly assisted by their benefactor, the Persian King, Cyrus. God has been working on his heart and through some amazing provision they make the journey back from Persia, to resettle in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns. Ezra 1 and Ezra 2 give an account of this unfolding story. In Ezra 3 we read that the first thing the exiles do on arrival, their priority, their non negotiable is to rebuild the alter of the Lord. The people were determined to re-establish worship, sacrifice and thanksgiving in the middle of all the wreckage and ruin of the past. Once this was achieved Ezra chapter 3 tells us that the people began to rebuild the temple and they laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple. We then get to chapter 4 which in my Bible it is entitled ‘Enemies Oppose the Rebuilding’ and you can read Ezra 4:1-5 by clicking on this link.

When you have obeyed God, stepped out in faith and you set out to follow Him don’t be surprised when attacks from the enemy come. The Bible says the ‘enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy’. The enemy comes to discourage, the enemy comes to intimidate, to put you off your stride, the enemy comes to frighten. The enemy may come in subtly, the enemy may come in disguise and masquerade as ‘nice and pleasant’, and so we have to be on our guard.

Jentzen Franklin said it like this:

When God chooses to bless you he sends a person. When Satan chooses to discourage you he sends a person. There are people that can help advance your purpose and there are some sent to snuff it out. Don’t just get in relationships with people because of the flesh. We must be spiritually discerning. Flesh people – speak fear and doubt into your life. Spirit people speak faith and purpose and hope into our lives. The right people lead to the right places. Right voices lead to right choices.

Zerubbabel and the other leaders knew that these enemies coming in to offer their help to re build the temple were in fact foxes and they were against them despite the fact they said ‘we love God. They had another agenda, they had a different spirit and ultimately were going to ruin not only the building project of the temple but be a danger and disruption to the teams of people that were involved in the building. There are some people you can’t afford to keep when you are building something significant. Right people lead to the right places. Right voices lead to right choices.

So Jon, you have talked to us about who not to build with – who do we build with? Here are a few example taken from Ezra chapters 1- 6.

  1. Build with those that God has prodded!

When you are building something for the glory of God – I believe this – He knows what you need and He will supply what you need to help you in the endeavour. To that end – God will ‘stir’ the hearts or ‘prod’ the hearts of people in your world and completely outside of your world to help you in some way, shape or some form. In Ezra 1:1 the Bible says God stirs or prods the heart of the pagan King Cyrus of Persia to support the Jewish population in captivity to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild. Not only does God stir his heart, he writes a proclamation, he makes it legal, he sorts out all of the red tape, he gives the people resources, he gives them supplies for the journey. God would you start prodding the hearts of those in authority to help build your church, to provide for your church, to furnish your church! Not only did God prod kings, as soon as this proclamation went out God prodded and stirred the hearts of priests, Levites and the tribal family heads of Judah. They read the proclamation, they heard the news about what King Cyrus had proclaimed now they felt a stirring, a prodding, a sense of excitement, they felt a call. God you are doing something, we can’t sit still, we need to part of this – let’s go and rebuild.

  1. Build with family.


In Ezra chapter 2 the whole chapter is dedicated to listing all the families who left Persia to make the journey back to Jerusalem with the sole purpose of rebuilding. On paper this is a boring chapter – it is a list. But from a list we can learn a few things – God restores families and God uses families for his purposes. Each family had a name, each family had an identity, and as your read through the Book of Ezra you will see that members of each family were used in the building of the temple, they all had something they could contribute to the building of the Temple. In Ezra 3 we can read about the sons of sons and the relatives of relatives who were involved in building. Not just one big community of Jewish people but small communities of families unified in purpose for the rebuilding the Temple of the Lord. ‘As for me and my family we will serve the Lord’.

  1. Build with givers.

The one thing I notice about these early chapters of Ezra is that the people gave. Once Cyrus had issued the proclamation – people were ‘stirred to give’, they perceived something, they saw something, there was a vision and there was a purpose, and they gave! They didn’t just give, they give freely, they gave frequently, they give willingly, they gave spontaneously, they gave generously, they gave in faith, they gave as an act of worship – they had a cause, they had purpose. They gave to vision. What an example. Do you want to ‘widen God’s smile’, become a cheerful giver.

  1. Build with prophets.

If you were to read the first few chapters of Ezra you would realise after the great joy of establishing a foundation for the temple – there was opposition to the rebuilding for many, many years. The building work stalled, the people became disillusioned. They had been discouraged, they were frightened, they had been accused of many different things by enemies… everything stalled, momentum had been lost, enthusiasm waned. This was desperately sad. The original joy they had was not there any more. At this moment however two prophets Haggai and Zechariah enter the scene and they start prophesying the word of the Lord into the situation. I want to build with prophets. We need the prophetic voice in our church, we need the prophetic voice in our lives. The majority of prophecy is to challenge and encourage and it is supposed to build up the church. When the people of Jerusalem needed it the most – two prophets turned up… they prophesised in the name of God, who is overall. The essence of the prophecy was this… why have you stopped building, why are you mopping around, why are you afraid… God’s got this, He is in control of this situation and God has got you… start to build – don’t worry about the authorities they are going to change their tune, the Temple will be built and you will be able to worship God once again. Get on with the building. The Bible says in the book of Haggai that Zerubbabel the leader responded with enthusiasm and began the work. The New Testament talks very clearly about how we are built on the ministry of prophets and apostles, that their job is to edify, strengthen and build up the church. Let’s build with prophets.

As we ponder on this sermon and the last three weeks of sermons and incredible ministry – let us ask ourselves two important questions: 

  • What are you building?
  • Who are you building with?

God Bless

Jon Baldwin, Associate Leader, Riviera Life Church

To watch the whole service in full please check out: https://www.youtube.com/live/ZK7JrKyALcE?feature=share





Ian Williams: Building a Room for the Prophetic.

On Sunday Ian brought a great message complimenting our theme ‘What are you building’ by challenging us to ‘Build a room for the prophetic’.  

In 2 Kings 4:8-10 we read about the prophet Elisha and the woman from Shunem. In this part of the chapter we find out that every time Elisha went by or through the town of Shunem he would be encouraged by this wealthy woman to come and eat at her house. This woman and her husband had recognised that Elisha was a holy man and so they decided to build a room, an extension, a loft conversion (!) to their existing house. Whenever Elisha swung by, he would be able to stay there.  

There are a few lessons we can learn from the woman of Shunem:

  • She recognized Elisha as a prophet, as a holy man.
  • She was willing to build an addition to her house.

This faith action of the woman of Shunem – led to her miraculously giving birth to a son, she could not have children. Her life was radically transformed – from barrenness to holding a son.


The woman of Shunem demonstrated and showed great discernment, vision and perception. She built a room to build what she perceived.

Question: Can we build a space for what we are perceiving and what we do not yet have? Just like the woman of Shunem can we act in a way that means it contradicts our current reality?

Let’s build with spiritual perception.


Reception is the action of receiving someone. A reception can be welcoming or hostile, warm or cold. Let’s warmly receive the prophetic into our lives. Let us build and furnish a room for the prophetic. A room to create a place for God. Maybe we need to shift some stuff, priorities and make space.

Question: What do we need to shift in our life? The woman of Shunem created a room / she furnished the room:

A bed.

In this case a bed represents rest.  Let us create a place of rest. A place where confusion ceases, worry is eliminated. A place of peace, a place of calm. A place where Gods presence dwells. They say that busyness is the new pandemic. That can actually be detrimental to our spiritual well being. We need to learn the art of rest.

A table.

A table represents the fellowship of God. Psalm 23 says ‘you prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies’.

A chair.

A chair represents a throne. Let’s build a throne, a place of authority and power. Who is sitting on the throne in your life? We need to de- throne the wrong thing and re enthrone the King of Kings. When we do it that the prophetic will start.

A lamp.

A lamp represents revelation. The Bible says ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet’. We need revelation. Revelation means to reveal or communicate divine Truth.

The woman needed to build a room, she perceived something and built a room to receive it. The outcome, revelation began to flow. Let’s build a room for the prophetic.

God Bless, Jon Baldwin

Associate Leader, Riviera Life Church

To hear the full sermon why not check out:

Jon Baldwin: Noah: What are you building?

On Sunday I continued with our theme ‘What are you building?’ In Genesis 6 God tells Noah, ‘I need you to build me an ark [or a boat’]. What we need to understand about the story of Noah is that there is a whole load more to this account than a simple story about a flood and a floating box of animals, more than we can deal with in this message. At every turn, every twist in the story, every description we learn something about God or we see a foreshadowing of Jesus. Throughout the account there is imagery pertaining to the Holy Spirit and baptism. There are themes woven throughout this account of God’s judgment, God’s mercy and grace, God’s salvation, God’s covenant, and God’s promise. Let me encourage you to check out the whole story of Noah found in Genesis 6,7,8 and 9 but for the moment let’s start in Genesis 6 because we need to understand why God instructed Noah to build an ark.

In Genesis 6 we read that God’s heart is grieved at the state of the world. God’s heart is grieved at what humankind has become. He is grieved at the consistent evil thoughts and imaginations of the people of the world. God hates sin. What was sinful and unholy in the eyes of God had become the norm for everybody else. What was wrong and unacceptable in God’s eyes was totally acceptable in the eyes of everybody else. The Bible says in Genesis 6 that this sin, this wickedness ‘broke God’s heart’. Check out Genesis 6:7-8.

In spite of the wickedness on the earth, in spite of how God’s heart was broken for the world He created one man and his family stood alone and determined themselves in the face of it all, in the face of sexual immorality, in the face of all this evil and wrong doing to be different.

Let’s continue to look at some lessons from the story of Noah that we can apply to our own lives as we follow the command to ‘build’:

The heart of the builder. The Bible describes Noah as a righteous man. In fact 2 Peter 2:5 calls ‘Noah a preacher of righteousness’, a man who faithfully preached a message to a sinful world about a righteous God. Noah was a God pleasing man, a blameless man. He was a man of integrity, devoted to God and because of his God honouring actions he was favoured by God.

Did you know this, when you choose to follow Christ, to make Him your Lord and Saviour, to obey Him, to honour Him and to follow Him, you will know His favour!

The Bible says that Noah walked with God. In 2023 How’s your walk doing? Let me encourage you to walk close to God.  Don’t allow yourself to be shaped by the standards, values, actions and behaviours of the world we live in – yes it can be tough, yes it will increasingly get tough but instead stand out and be different, and walk closely with God. It’s time to build a ‘boat’.

The actions of the builder. Did you know this, ‘Obedience is the visible expression of invisible faith’. What strikes me about the account in Genesis 6 is the immediate obedience of Noah to God’s word. God says to Noah build me a boat, God then outlines how the boat should be built and what it should contain and Genesis 6:22 simply says ‘So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him’. Noah is clearly a man whose relationship with God is so unquestionably close – he walks and talks with God, his relationship with God and his understanding of God is so real that when God speaks, Noah, without any hesitation, immediately obeys and gets on with the job. Hebrews 11:7 says By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. Noah obeyed God. Noah didn’t know how all this was going to turn out, God had not revealed the entire plan – he never does. Noah didn’t know how to build an ark, how the animals would come and how that would work out… but if God said it he would obey it without hesitation and trust God with the rest.

The Plans (and Purpose) of the Designer and Architect. We can have confidence in the fact that God has got a perfect plan and purpose! He has a plan for my life, He has a plan for your life. He has a perfect plan for this church! God always has a plan. In Genesis 6, God orders Noah to build a boat – because he is going to wipe out the world but His ultimate plan for Noah and his family is that they will be saved and via the ark, via this travelling vehicle of rescue, they will come through. God’s plan for Noah and his family and the animals was a plan of Salvation and that salvation was going to be in the form of an ark. Check out Genesis 6:14-21. Within these few verses we can see that God has got a plan. The plan is detailed, the plan is exacting, the plan is unique, the plan is perfect. The ark is going to be built to a specific design. Once complete the purpose of the ark will unfold.

Purpose of the ark:

  • A place of protection.
  • A place of life.
  • A place of provision.

God’s plans and purposes are perfect.

The reward of building an ark. When we do something for God in the Kingdom of God, when we commit to serving God with our lives, there is always reward to be had.

Reward #1 Partnership with God. We get to partner with God in his plans and purposes. Partnership with God provides the confidence knowing you’re headed in the right direction.

Reward #2 Partnership with family. Noah had the reward of building the ark with his family. Together they partnered to build the ark. There is no greater joy than building something with your family and the family of God.

Reward #3 Lives changed. After everything that Noah had been through – when they came through Noah’s family was saved! That is the greatest reward. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we need to build an extension. We are in the business of seeing lives changed and transformed, set free and made anew by the power of Jesus Christ. As Reinhard Bonkee would say our job is to, ‘plunder hell and populate heaven’.

Reward #4 Leave a Legacy. The reward is leaving an incredible legacy. The legacy of your story is carried by the people whose lives you’ve touched for the good. There is no greater reward. Noah left an incredible legacy for us all. Once off the ark the Bible says that God blessed Noah and his sons. To sit back and see generations blessed and multiply and go on with the Lord is a wonderful reward.

There are so many further lessons we can take from Noah and the ark. As you reflect on this blog consider, ‘What are you building?’, ‘Who are you building for?’

God Bless, Jon Baldwin, Associate Leader, Riviera Life Church.

To watch the whole service please click on the following link:


Jordan Williams: Nehemiah: What Are You Building?

Over the next few weeks we are asking us all the question ‘What Are You Building?’ The prophet Isaiah instructed Gods people to ‘Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense.’ We have that same challenge today! We are called to build!

Our words, actions and lives have the ability to build up or tear down!
Whether we realise it or not everyone of us is building something!

The question is:

Are you building YOUR empire or HIS Kingdom?

Your life IS BUILDING something!

Let’s choose to be a people who build a life with Jesus at the centre! Let’s choose to be a Church that builds a home where the Kingdom of God reigns! Let’s choose to be a Church that build a home that is ever increasing! Let’s choose to be a Church that builds a culture where we are all refined and changed by the Spirit of God!

The prophet Nehemiah was involved in a building project. Nehemiah was a Jewish man but living and working for the Persian King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the king. Whilst Nehemiah is serving this earthly King his homeland is under threat! His homeland Jerusalem, is vulnerable because its walls have been destroyed! 

In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we read how Nehemiah decides it is his responsibility to rebuild the walls of his city! Here are some lessons we can take away from Nehemiah.

1). His Building starts with a Burden! Check out Nehemiah 1:1-4

We read Nehemiah’s response to the news that his people, his tribe, Gods people are struggling! We read his response to the news that the walls of Jerusalem have been torn down! The walls that where to built to protect and guard. The walls that creates a safe fortress and home! Without them Gods people are vulnerable to attack. Vulnerable to be taken out by an enemy. Vulnerable to being overwhelmed and have their kingdom stolen. Nehemiah hears the trouble his and Gods people are in and he is burdened. For days Nehemiah sat weeping at the thought of his people. He fasted for days, praying asking for Gods help. The brokenness of his home burdened his heart, mind and Spirit!


When was the last time we felt a burden for the brokenness of our home?

When was the last time we wept, prayed and fasted for the vulnerability of the people God has called us to reach?

Are we carrying a burden for the broken of Torbay?

His building starts with a burden! What is God burdening you with?

2) His Building Faces Opposition. Nehemiah 4:1-2 and 11

Criticism, mockery and death threats were part of the opposition Nehemiah faced because of the burden he experienced to build! I’ve learnt that whenever you step out in faith, follow Gods call and leading, start building His work, everyone’s got an opinion! All of sudden you are surrounded by a bunch of experts in the build you are undertaking but there is no evidence of their building! They either share their unhelpful opinion, tell you it won’t happen or belittle you! And thats just the Christians…Then when you truly step out the enemy wants to intimidate us, distract us and remove us from the building work God requires of us!
This shouldn’t surprise us…When we build we better expect opposition.
There’s no opposition to fear because His arms are protecting us! Don’t fear falling because His angels will catch us! Don’t fear being overwhelmed because He will rescue us!

3). His Building is a place of Protection for the Poor.

In Nehemiah chapter 5 we read how the authorities – whilst the wall was being built were charging high interest to the poor for basic essentials! I can imagine the frustration in Nehemiah! He has left his job and security, travelled through potential hostile environments, gathered people and resources to build something for God…all whilst his own people don’t look after the most vulnerable! He’s building a place of protection whilst the poor are exploited! Nehemiah didn’t just want to build a physical place of protection but an emotional and spiritual place of protection! We read how Nehemiah challenges the authorities, pleading with God to see change! Desperate to see protection for the poor! I believe Gods mandate for the Church is to still build a place of protection for the poor! Not just the financial poor but the poor in Spirit! Those who are far from God. Those who are broken, messed up, ignored and exploited! A place of protection for the least, the last and the lost! A place of protection for the abused, hurting and the vulnerable. A place of protection for young and old. A place of protection for the orphan and the widow. A place or protection for the sick, outcast and forgotten ones!

4). His Building carries His Favour!

Nehemiah has a privilege position in the kings palace. As cupbearer he would have direct access to the most influential man in the land. God positioned him in his job for a future assignment! When you question why you do what you do – realise God has perfectly positioned you for the assignment he has planned! His building carries His favour! In chapter 2, Nehemiah under the gracious hand of God, under the favour of God boldly asked for a letter of safe passage and all the resources to rebuild the wall …. And it was GRANTED! A letter that gave him the authority of the kingdom to build a place of protection. A letter that gave him the authority to change the landscape for a nation and a generation.
A letter that carried the favour of man but more importantly the favour of God.

RLC its time to build something that changes the landscape of a nation and generation! It’s time to build something that will enable to reach more people than ever before! It’s time to build something that generations to come will thank God for. It’s time to build a place of protection for the poor!

Jordan Williams

Senior Leader, Riviera Life Church


Jordan Williams: The Questionable Promise

During the last couple of weeks at Riviera Life Church we have been taking apart Isaiah 54:1-2 and on Sunday Jordan Williams continued with this theme, his title was ‘The Questionable Promise’. When we read these initial verses we understand this – the woman is barren, she is in emotional pain and agony, she is grieving because she does not have a baby. Yet at the same time God drops says these words – ‘because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband’, says the Lord.

It just doesn’t make sense! Surely this is a ‘Questionable Promise?!’ Have you ever had a promise from God that creates more questions than answers?

God speaks to us in a way that causes us to stretch and grow. We all have barren areas of our lives of loss, lack, grief, disappointments and frustrations but the difference between how we feel and what God says  is huge!

  1. Gods Track record speaks for itself!

Check out Jeremiah 1:12. Whilst we on earth scramble around, God is sat back watching, His Word is being fulfilled. God is not panicking – He has a perfect track record. All Gods promises in the Bible are fulfilled or will be fulfilled. God remains faithful. If you have a word from God or a promise from God He will fulfil it! In Joshua 23:14, Joshua says to the children of Israel ‘Not one promise from God has failed…’. God has not changed.

  1. God is not limited by impossibility.

Great is our Lord and abundant in power. God doesn’t do impossibility! Nothing can stop his purposes! He is the God of the impossible.

In Jeremiah 32:17 the word says ‘Nothing is too hard for you…’. In Matthew 19:26 Jesus said ‘with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible…’. We need to trust God to do it. God is not limited by impossibility.

  1. Timing is Gods responsibility and patience is ours.

God doesn’t have all the conversations in one go! He does not let us know the full extent of His plans in one go. He reveals them bit by bit. We are control freaks, we are impatient, we want to know all the details. We need to learn that timing is Gods responsibility and sometimes we simply need to ‘wait’. God is in no hurry, his plans are never rushed…’.

God sees the bigger picture.  Lamentations 3:25-27 says that ‘He is good to those who passionately wait…’. How passionate is your patience?  

  1. Surrender is the only way.

If we want to truly see God move in our lives and our situations then we need to ‘surrender’. We need to ‘let go and let God’. What do we surrender to God?

  • Pride
  • Preferences
  • Control
  • Emotions
  • Money

 Surrender it all to Jesus.  A surrendered life is the only way to receive the promise.

God Bless

Jon Baldwin Associate Leader Riviera Life Church

To hear the sermon in full please check out https://www.youtube.com/live/xZeUS1wIJ9k?feature=share

If you would like to contribute to the writing of these blogs and reflections please do email jonbaldwin@rivieralife.co.uk to find out more.

Ian Williams: An Overcoming Spirit.

On Sunday Ian Williams preached an encouraging and challenging message entitled ‘An overcoming spirit for 2023’. Ian was continuing with our theme Stretch and Grow and as per last Sunday he followed on from Jon Baldwin’s message with a further deep dive into Isaiah 54:1-3. 

Isaiah 54:1-3 is quickly becoming the vocabulary of the RLC. It encourages us to: 

  • Sing
  • Breakforth
  • Enlarge
  • Spread out
  • Spare no expense

These are not recommendations, they are commands.

Sometimes we feel that the odds of life are against us but God can step in and change the impossible to become possible… the giant is beatable! We can’t just read verse 1-3 but we must read the whole chapter – it ends with these fantastic words ‘no weapon formed against you shall prosper!’

To have an Overcoming Spirit we need to re wind to Genesis chapter 1.

‘And God blessed them and said multiply… subdue, rule and overcome…’. If we are to have an overcoming spirit we need to stand on the authority of the written Word. It was a command right at the beginning. 

  • To subdue and not be subdued.
  • To rule and not to be ruled.
  • To be an overcomer and not to be overcome.

Here are 2 Key principles of an ‘Overcoming Spirit’. 

1. Authority.

We have been given authority – intrinsic and derived authority. We have been born with a measure of authority but we have also been given authority… a Kingdom authority. Jesus said ‘I have been given authority by my Father so I now give you authority’.

Know the authority that you stand in. We have been given believers authority – we are in Christ. 

2. Age Old Ways. 

We need to practice the age old ways. Here is some wisdom from Pastor Moses found in Exodus 14:13-14

  1. Don’t be afraid – Be fearless in 2023.
  2. Take your stand – what are you standing for? Make a difference.
  3. Be seeing. See the Salvation of the Lord. What are you seeing? The battle belongs to the Lord. We will see victory. See through the eyes of faith. Get an eye test. 
  4. Keep silent. Allow God to talk on your behalf. 
  5. Be at peace, Remain calm. Shalom. I may be in the storm but the storm doesn’t have to be in me. 

Let’s determine ourselves to be different. Let’s determine ourselves to have an ‘Overcoming Spirit’ in 2023. 

Jon Baldwin,

Associate Leader, Riviera Life Church.

To watch the full service click on the following link:



Jon Baldwin: Stretch and Grow: SING!

Isaiah 54:1 reads like this ‘Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labour’.

Did you know this, singing is Biblical, singing is essential and singing is vital to our faith and our church life. Singing is an important tool that God has gifted to us when it comes to our praise and worship. As human beings we are designed in such a way that we are able to sing. Scientists tell us that when we sing it relieves stress; It stimulates the immune response; Increases pain threshold; May improve snoring; Improves lung function; Develops a sense of belonging and connection; Enhances memory in people with dementia; Helps with grief; Improves mental health and mood; Helps improve speaking abilities. In short it’s good to sing!

We have something to sing about. We have someone to sing about. We have someone to sing to and we have someone who sings over us and his name is Jesus Christ. Our Christian faith really is a singing faith.

The trouble is, it is so easy to sing when the world is alright, it is easy to sing when we are winning, but can we sing when things are not great? Can we sing God’s praises when the world is against us, when circumstance has overtaken us, when life for what ever reason has taken a turn for the worst?

I believe that there are times in our lives where we as Christians have to make a decision. Am I going to sing or am I going to wallow? Am I going to sing or remain stuck? Can I make the conscious decision to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords no matter what? If we choose to make this decision, as hard as it is to do to start with I believe faith will begin to rise, miracles will begin to happen, and circumstances will completely turn around. This morning and as we go through 2023, remember this, we have a choice to rejoice and we have been commanded to sing.

In Isaiah 54:1 God is speaking to the nation of Israel. The headlines are Jerusalem was a city in ruins, brought to the ground, wasted, desolate, and barren. Barreness speaks of something which cannot bear fruit, offspring, or children. Barreness equals impossibility.There is no way, there is no hope, there is no future. However, Israel, Jerusalem – you may have been called baren, unproductive, forsaken, forgotten, scorned, cancelled – but Israel you need to understand this. This is not how it ends. Isaiah 54 is a prophetic word about your future glory, Isaiah is about to prophecy children, he is about to prophecy expansion, future productivity and prosperity, he is about to prophecy and declare the promises of God into your life once again. Do you want to activate this Israel? Do you want to activate this Jerusalem? Do we want to activate all that God has got for us as a local church? Are we willing to take a step of faith… then we have no choice but to SING.

 So first of all from Isaiah 54:1 we learn that:

 1). Singing is a command! In the Bible singing to God is not a suggestion, singing to God is not an option, singing to God is not a recommendation. Singing to God is a command – something to be obeyed. The Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing. Singing is a command. God I’m not sure I can do this – I’m in pain, I’m hurting, I’m grieving, I’m angry… but all I know is this your word says I need to sing. I need to open my mouth and in faith praise you through the medium of singing. I’ve got to open my mouth and make a noise! It’s in the singing and the worshipping that miracles and breakthrough can happen. ‘Sing, O barren woman’.

2. Singing helps us to overcome the enemy! When your praise and worship starts lifting to the throne of Heaven, God steps into your situation. When you stand, Heaven stands with you. When you sing. Heaven joins in your chorus. When as a community of believers we start singing together with one aim and purpose – to exalt the King – there is a powerful dynamic that takes place. Psalm 22: 3 says that God inhabits, that God lives, dwells, resides, moves in the praises of His people. The devil hates it when God’s people raise their voice in song to the King. I don’t come with much to face the enemy, I don’t come with a lot, but I come with the ability to sing, worship and praise God who fights my battles. I come with a song in my heart and my mouth and I come with the ability to sing scripture, to sing about the power of the name of Jesus – that’s what I come with – my weapon of choice is a melody.

3. Sing loud for all to hear! The childless woman really does not want to raise her voice in loud and joyful song but God is saying if you want to see a miracle, if you want to see breakthrough – you’ve got to do something and in this instance, you’ve got to sing loud and joyfully. Joyfully means as if you have won a great victory.

All this is the opposite of what the barren woman wants to do… but as she begins to sing… as she begins to raise her voice… as she begins to bless God for his greatness, for his miracle working power – faith begins to rise… she get a sense of freedom… liberation… she begins to sing some more, a little louder, she begins… God you are great… God you are a promise keeping God… God you can do the impossible… I’m going to sing my way to victory… I’m going to sing in the middle of the storm, I’m going to sing in the middle of the desert… and as I sing… as I raise my voice to you… with tears running down my face… because in the natural I am done… I am going to believe you for a miracle. This is not how it ends. I will sing as though I have won a great victory! Out of my praise and worship I am going to birth something significant. It’s time to start singing.

Jon Baldwin, Associate Leader, Riviera Life Church

To hear the message in full click on the link.


Jordan Williams: Stretch and Grow
Sunday 15 January 2023

We’ve been asking God: What do you want us to hear as we move into 2023?

Isaiah 54:2-4

Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

These verses are to underpin all that we do and communicate this year. They challenge us to become what God plans for us. And they tell us this is a year to stretch and grow. 

Here are some key challenges to apply. 

The verse says, ‘Enlarge the place of your tent’. We shouldn’t expect God to do everything for us. While growth is His responsibility, making room is ours. The truth is that sometimes we hide our abdication of responsibility behind spiritual nonsense. We argue that if God wants something of us, He will make the change that He will be the instigator. But He gave us free will! He allows us to make decisions. We must be proactive and create personal space for God to move. Only God can make the church grow but only we can create the space to worship him, to respond to Him and make space for our community to be transformed. How can you make more room for Jesus this year?

It’s time to lift our limitations. Don’t hold back. This year don’t place limits on God. Don’t limit his power. Our faith needs to be stretched.

Ephesians 3:20 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

He is all powerful. He’s our mighty deliverer, our breakthrough God. His power and ability are beyond measure. In every area of our lives, we need to lift the limitations we put in place. On our homes, our marriages, his church. There are no excuses. Why can’t your life be full of purpose? Why can’t your family find Jesus? Why can’t we see a revival that sweeps through this community?

Stretching is on its way. Isaiah tells us ‘Stretch your tent curtains wide’. But stretching sometimes hurts. Trials in your life may be evidence that you are prepared to grow more. It may entail discomfort and pain. But we must be stretched. It is awkward but if we avoid it, we stunt our growth. Stretching helps us reach further. Without stretching our strength is shallow. God is going to stretch you so you can reach further than ever before. Because there are people you need to reach.

Stretching increases our flexibility. Flexibility doesn’t mean wavering. We are flexible in faith when we realise that if our ideas and plans are not God’s we are willing to pivot back towards his plans. Back to the true, correct, right course so we are in his will.

Mark 2 21-22

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

He wants to pour new anointing into us. The old won’t carry it but something new will.

Stretching is required for new life. We can’t desperately hold onto the old. God is birthing something new in us much like the arrival of a new baby. God is ready to birth something new in your homes and in the church. This year, carry and give birth to something new.

Because growth is His promise, when we make room for God to move. Isaiah’s verses tell us,

‘For you will spread out to the right and to the left. 

It’s a promise!

But remember, no will power, no effort on our part will make things grow. We must recognise His sovereignty. We can achieve nothing without Him. But if we can make room, growth is on its way!

To watch the full service please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/TZpJYtU-s4c

Erica Brown 

Riviera Life Church

Jon Baldwin: Faith's Conjunction

During 2022 there were so many occasions where I was completely astounded and amazed at what God did for me, what God did for us as a family and what God did and is continuingly doing for us all in the life of this great church. I believe that our God is a miracle, wonder working God, nothing is impossible for Him. In Sunday school – we used to sing the song ‘My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there is nothing that He cannot do’. The simple lyrics to that song are so true – if God was all that to us in 2022, then I have no doubt he will be all that to us and more in 2023.

On Sunday my message was entitled ‘Faith’s Conjunction’. A conjunction is a particular type of word. There are many conjunctions in the English language, but some common ones include and, or, but, because, for, if, and when. In the Bible the word ‘but’ is so significant, it is a is a small word, a connecting word, yet it is significant, a potentially life changing or life altering word, it’s a turning point… ‘but’ tends to mean that there is going to be a contrast, some sort of change is going to happen, negative or positive… the tone and meaning of this little word ‘b.u.t’ is very significant. Psalm 73:26 says “My flesh and my heart may fail BUTGod is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” This little word ‘But’ has the potential to turn everything on its head, it is a Faith Conjunction. So, my question is this ‘How big is your B.U.T and what type of B.U.T do you have? Check out to 2 Kings 5:1-19.

Naaman is a great general, Naaman is a warrior, Naaman is a fighter, Naaman is a commander of a great force of fighting men – military elite. Naaman has won great victories, Naaman has conquered territories… Naaman has won plaudits, awards. Naaman commands huge authority, huge respect from the King of Aram of whom the Bible says had ‘great admiration’ for Naaman. Incidentally Naaman’s name means ‘delight’. Maybe Naaman brought ‘delight’ to his country, to his family, to all he came into contact with. He sounds like the package deal – he has everything going for him – warrior, wealthy, personable, delightful – he is the celeb of the kingdom, the hero, the superstar. However, Naaman has a huge ‘but’he has a huge conjunction hanging over his life… he has been hit with leprosy. 

But No1Disease


Leprosy is a social stigma – how can Naaman function as the hero of his nation, the most decorated individual of his generation with this weakness. It is very possible that Naaman knew he had leprosy for a while but now not even the fine clothes and garments could cover / hide the leprosy. This great man’s seemingly perfect life is starting to fall apart. He is starting to become exposed. maybe his eyesight is failing, maybe his strength was going, maybe the feelings in his arms and legs were disappearing. Naaman had leprosy and he was trying to cover it up. Sometimes we can be very good at covering up stuff but the reality is that beneath the surface of our lives we are not perfect. Sin, bitterness, anger, jealousy, insecurities of one type or another. We try and cover it all up, we try and put a face on but after a while what is on the inside or underneath starts to climb to the surface and what has been developing over a period of time – starts to kill us. BUT there is HOPE! You do not have to have what you feel is a death sentence hanging over your life and resign yourself to that. You can know perfect freedom, wholeness and life in Jesus Christ. 


But No 2: Pride and Anger. 


The second ‘BUT’ I notice of Naaman’s is PRIDE. In verse 9 and 10 we read that Naaman turns up at the home of Elisha in style. He arrives with his entourage, with gold and silver to pay the man of God for his healing. He is expecting a healing befitting his status, the champion and celeb of his country. Instead. Elisha’s servant appears not Elisha and tells Naaman – go and wash in the river Jordan, 7 times and then you will be healed. Naaman’s pride is severely dented! He is insulted, he becomes angry and stalks off. Not only has Elisha not appeared in person, but Naaman is told to wash in the filthy river Jordan not once but 7 times. Naaman’s pride has taken a hit. He was expecting his healing to be straightforward, easy, done and dusted. How many of you know God does not work like that? How many of you know that God wants to stretch us, teach us humility and obedience, develop us, grow us before, during and after the course of a miracle? 


Pride is a ‘but’ that we don’t want hanging over our life. Prov 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Pride is a major obstacle to us experiencing everything that God has for us. Here’s a question in 2023, what pride issues do we have to let go of if God is going to do His work in our lives?


But No 3: Belief. 


Naaman is having a strop – he has leprosy, his pride is dented, he is angry and he has now lots of questions and is offering a lot of excuses… He is about to throw the opportunity of his healing away… 2 Kings 5:13 reads like this: But his servants caught up with him and said ‘My Father…’ I love the terminology that is used because it is quite clear that Naaman is a loved man… his servants have genuine love and affection for him. Naaman is in a foul mood but the people who love him the most are able to disarm him and they use the word ‘father…’. Father, we love you, father, we want the best for you – your name means ‘Delight’, we want ‘you’ to start taking ‘Delight’ in you again, we want you, we need you to ‘Delight’ and inspire us. We want ‘Delight’ back. It is a great talk and in verse 14 Naaman did it! He washed in the river 7 times and was perfectly and completely healed. He swallowed his pride, his anger subsided, the questions evaporated because of his friends. The power of friends who care… Who are your friends? Who is speaking into your life… Who wants the best for you this morning….? Who believes in you even when you don’t? In 2023 – let’s affirm people, lets believe in people, speak hope, speak courage, speak faith into their lives. 


But No 4: Faith’s Declaration


This ‘but’ concerns the servant girl… she is the conjunction, she is the turning point in this story. She appears in verse 3 and we can learn so much about her. She has experienced an agonising wrenching away from her family, her experience has been one of heart break, displacement, she was abducted from everything she knew – home, community, she may have witnessed some horrible things happen to her own people as the raids took place… She had every reason to have a big ‘negative, cynical, doubtful, sceptical, angry, revengeful’ BUT hanging over her life.  However, this girl, this child demonstrates a number of things:

Fondness – for Naaman and his wife. By all accounts they were a kind, caring, delightful couple. Grace – She could have said to Naaman I want you dead, you’re my enemy – I am glad you have leprosy… she could have spoken out with hatred… but she speaks out in love. How do we demonstrate grace this morning? Product of Great parenting – this girl clearly knew the God of Israel. She knew that the God of Israel is the God of miracles, she knew that God uses his people to bring about miracles for His glory and His fame. She knew that if her master Naaman would go to Israel he would be healed.  How did this girl know – she was the product of great parenting. Maybe the parents of this child had said no matter what happens to us as a family – despite political tensions between nations, despite danger, despite chaos… always trust God… whatever may happen in life remember that there is a God that heals, there is a God that saves, there is a God that delivers, there is a God that provides, there is a God that makes a way. Thank God for parents who instil in their children great Christian values and teaching. Faith – This servant girl has the insight, the wisdom to point Naaman in the direction of the God of Israel… she refers to the prophet but in doing so she is referring to God. Her attitude and reaction is this: 


Despite everything that has befallen me, despite everything that has befallen you, despite the place I find myself in – there is a God. I have every reason to have a big negative ‘but’ over my life. I have every legitimate excuse going. However, and in spite of all that I choose faith, I choose to speak the language of faith, I choose terminology that points to a great, big God who can turn your situation around. But God. But God can turn your situation around in an instant. But God can heal you. But God can deliver you. But God can rescue you. But Godcan forgive you, But God can show His love to you. But God can make you clean. But Godcan give you a new life. But God…


Whatever 2023 throws at us… in the natural things may seem impossible but let us employ ‘faiths conjunction’ and say ‘but God’! 


To watch the full service please click on the following link: 



God Bless

Jon Baldwin

Associate Leader, Riviera Life Church

Jordan Williams: Communion Devotion

Good morning everybody and happy new year! This morning we once again begin our reflections (as we did last year) on the ministry that took place on the previous Sunday. This is always a great opportunity to reflect, delve a bit deeper and apply the ministry that we have heard to our own lives and circumstance. Every week there will be a blog posted to your email, written by someone from our wonderful RLC Community. If you would like to contribute to the weekly blogs then please do let me know at jonbaldwin@rivieralife.co.uk

On Sunday 1st January, New Years Day, we had a wonderful devotional service of worship, ministry, communion and prayer. You can catch the whole service here: 

2022 is over and 2023 has arrived! Whether you look back on 2022 with sadness or happiness its now over and a new year has arrived! What a year 2022 was!

  • War in Ukraine.
  • 3 Prime Ministers. 
  • Political turmoil.
  • The Queens Jubilee celebrations. 
  • The Queens funeral.
  • England’s Lionesses winning the Euros.
  • England Mens Football …. Well let’s move on!
  • Cost of living crisis.
  • Petrol and food shortages.
  • Strikes.
  • Heatwaves, snow days.
  • Highs, lows and a couple of quieter days.

2022 was quite a year! We are now in 2023, a brand new day, a brand new year, a brand new beginning! We live in a world however that often focusses on the new, that goes for Church as well. New days, new seasons, new ministries, new opportunities, new people, new words, new worship songs, new trends, new vocabulary, new ideas. All these new things are ok but they don’t really matter!

“The only new thing that matters is the truth that God is making us new!”

2 Corinthians 5:17 says these words:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here.”

But God isn’t just making us new, Revelation 21:5 states:

‘And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, i am making all things new.’

2023 is full of new opportunities only because he has and is making us and all things new! He is the God who renews! Everyday he wipes our slate clean! Everyday he removes our sin. Everyday he has new mercy. Everyday he has new grace. Everyday he has new favour for us! No New Years resolution will change our lives only Jesus can do that! Only Jesus can make us and everything and everyone around us new! Very often we become so obsessed with the latest thing, fad, fashion, (the new), that we neglect the old! We neglect the old, ancient ways! The ways that have stood the test of time! The ways that have been created and formed by God for his people!

‘The best way to embrace the new of 2023 is rediscover the old!’

Throughout the Bible, time and time again we come across statements that beginning with…. ‘Remember this’ or ‘Do not forget’. Maybe our creator realises that in our fallen nature we become so obsessed and distracted by the new shiny, plastic toy in front of us that we will forget the old! That we neglect the old ways, the true ways, the life changing ways!

What have we forgotten? What ways have we unintentionally neglected? What do we need to remember?

There are so many things we could talk about at the beginning of this year but let’s focus on something Jesus tells us to remember! Check out Luke 22:14-20

This is my body, this is my blood, remember me! Don’t forget or neglect the power of His sacrifice. Don’t forget or neglect His authority and sovereignty. Don’t forget or neglect his counsel and instructions.
Don’t forget or neglect his example and love. Don’t forget or neglect the ancient way that is the Jesus way! Do we want 2023 to the greatest move of God in our nation? Then our responsibility is rediscover and remember the way of Jesus! To follow unreservedly, whole heartedly the way of Jesus! He is and forever will be our model, example and leader!
The question is:

Will we remember? Will we follow?

When we chose to remember the Jesus way we always find ourselves at the cross! Over the last few weeks we have been focusing on the stable and the manger but the stable and the manger are details pointing towards the real story! Everything points to the cross. Everything leads to the cross!

Chip Ingram said:

‘The cross is the greatest example of humility and devotion in the universe. Jesus put your needs ahead of His own. He considered you more valuable than Himself.”

John R W Stott said:

‘If the cross of Christ is anything to the mind, it is surely everything – the most profound reality and the sublimest mystery.’

The sacrifice on the cross was the most powerful, life changing act of love our world could ever experience! We cannot forget or neglect the cross! The Jesus way to sacrifice everything for us! The Jesus way to reunite humanity with God. The Jesus way to break his body and pour out his blood so we can be made new! The new day and year we have entered that are full of new opportunities are only truly new when we return to the old! When we return to Jesus and the cross! There is no greater way to start this year than to fully focus on Jesus and the cross!

God Bless

Jon Baldwin

Associate Leader Riviera Life Church