News, wit and wisdom from our church ministers, department leaders and members of our church.
Note: The views expressed by individuals within this blog are their own!
This weekend, we will gather to celebrate an incredible journey of unwavering faith, dedication, and love. For many years, Dave Redbond has been the spiritual lighthouse of our beloved church, guiding us through the storms of life with a steadfast heart and an unshakable commitment to the Gospel.
The Seeds of Ministry: In the early days, as Dave embarked on this remarkable journey with our congregations, little did he know the profound impact that lay ahead. His calling was evident, and his passion for spreading the word of God was infectious. It was clear that God had chosen him to shepherd our church through the seasons of joy and challenge.
A Shepherd's Heart: Dave embodied the qualities of a true shepherd. His door was always open, his phone always ready to receive a call, and his heart ever ready to listen and offer solace. He carried our burdens as his own and rejoiced in our triumphs as if they were his. His compassionate spirit and loving demeanour endeared him to young and old alike.
A Word in Season: One of Dave's remarkable gifts was his ability to bring the Scriptures to life in ways that resonated with our hearts. His sermons were not just words but living messages that penetrated the soul. He challenged us to grow in faith, encouraged us to seek God's wisdom, and reminded us of God's unfailing love, even in our darkest hours.
Building a Strong Foundation: Under Dave's leadership, our church flourished not just spiritually but also as a community of love and support. His commitment to nurturing spiritual growth, fostering unity, and reaching out to those in need has left an indelible mark on our congregation.
Legacy of Love: As we bid farewell to Dave as our Senior Pastor, we do so with hearts full of gratitude. The legacy he leaves behind is not just one of sermons and teachings but one of love, compassion, and unwavering faith. He has taught us to love unconditionally, to serve selflessly, and to walk in the light of Christ.
A New Chapter Begins: While we may be saying goodbye to this chapter of ministry, we know that Dave will continue to serve the Lord in new and profound ways. As he begins this new journey, we send him forth with our love, our blessings, and our deep appreciation for all he has done.
A Heartfelt Thank You: Dave, your years of dedicated service have touched our lives in ways words cannot express. You have been more than a minister; you have been a friend, a mentor, and a spiritual guide. As you step into this new season of your life, know that our prayers and best wishes accompany you.
May God bless you abundantly in all your future endeavours, just as you have been a blessing to us. We will forever cherish the memories, the teachings, and the love you have shared with us.
Thank you, Dave & Maureen, for your faithful service, your loving heart, and your unwavering commitment to the ministry. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.
With our deepest gratitude and warmest wishes
Rev. Dr. Dean Courtier on behalf of Estuary Elim Church
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
In these verses, we find the essence of gaining an insightful perspective - trusting in the Lord and seeking His will. Let's delve deeper into this profound message.
The Limited Human Perspective: We often view life through the narrow lens of our own understanding. Our perspective is limited by our experiences, biases, and emotions.
Imagine trying to navigate a vast forest with a tiny flashlight. You can only see a few steps ahead. Similarly, our human perspective offers limited insight into the grand tapestry of God's plan.
Trusting in the Lord: Proverbs 3:5 urges us to "trust in the Lord with all your heart." Trusting in God means surrendering our limited perspective and relying on His infinite wisdom.
Think of a pilot flying through thick clouds. They must trust the air traffic controller's guidance, even when visibility is poor. Likewise, we must trust God's guidance through life's storms.
Seeking God's Will: The next step in gaining an insightful perspective is seeking God's will. Proverbs 3:6 encourages us to "seek His will in all you do."
Imagine you're planning a journey to an unfamiliar destination. You'd use a GPS to guide you. Seeking God's will is like following His divine GPS for our lives. It ensures we're on the right path.
God's Promise: The beautiful promise in Proverbs 3:6 is that when we trust and seek God, "He will show you which path to take." God provides guidance, clarity, and insight beyond our human capacity.
Picture a ship navigating treacherous waters guided by a lighthouse's beam. God's guidance is like that steadfast light, illuminating our path.
How can we apply this insightful perspective to our lives?
Surrender Control: Let go of the need to control every aspect of your life. Trust that God's plan is greater than your understanding.
Seek God in All: Don't reserve prayer and seeking God's will for major decisions. Seek His guidance in all aspects of life, big or small.
Patience and Faith: Understand that God's timing may not align with yours. Have faith that His timing is perfect.
Remember that gaining an insightful perspective is an ongoing journey. Trust in the Lord, seek His will, and He will illuminate your path.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ empower you to see life with an insightful perspective, free from the constraints of human understanding.
May you view the world through the lens of God's wisdom. Your life will be a testament to His guidance and grace.
We have the profound responsibility and privilege of sharing the Gospel. Consider the command of Jesus in Mark 16:15: "And then He told them, 'Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.'"
The Great Commission
These are among the final words of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on Earth. They are a commission, a divine call to action for all believers. But what does it mean to "preach the Good News"?
The Treasure Within
Imagine you possess a treasure of immeasurable worth, hidden within you. This treasure is the Gospel, the message of salvation through Christ. It's not meant to be kept hidden; it's meant to be shared with the world.
The Power of the Gospel
Romans 1:16 reinforces the power of the Gospel: "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes."
A Lifeboat in Stormy Seas
Think of the Gospel as a lifeboat in the stormy seas of life. Many are drowning in despair, sin, and hopelessness. But the Gospel is their lifeline, their way to salvation. Will we throw it to them?
Our Role as Ambassadors
2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us: "So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'"
Ambassadors of the King
Imagine you're an ambassador in a foreign land, representing a great and generous King. Your mission is to invite the citizens of that land into a relationship with your King, offering them the benefits of His kingdom.
How can we apply this to our lives?
Boldness: Ask God for boldness to share the Gospel with those around you. Don't be afraid; remember, you carry a message of hope.
Opportunities: Be alert to opportunities. Sometimes, the best moments to share the Gospel come unexpectedly.
Prayer: Pray for those you want to reach. Prayer softens hearts and opens doors.
Lifestyle: Let your life reflect the Gospel. Live in such a way that people see Christ in you.
I thank God for entrusting us with the precious Gospel. May God give us the boldness and wisdom to share it with a world in need. My prayer is that He will help us to see every person as a soul worth saving. May we be faithful ambassadors of God's Kingdom, sharing the Good News with love and compassion.
As ambassadors of Christ, we carry the message of salvation to those who desperately need it. In doing so, we fulfil a divine calling and bring glory to our King.
The Lord Jesus Christ left us with a divine mandate known as the Great Commission. This commission is not just a task; it's a sacred duty, a privilege, and a calling that each of us, as followers of Christ, is entrusted with.
All Authority Belongs to Christ
"Jesus came and told his disciples, 'I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18 NLT). In this verse, we see Jesus asserting His divine authority over all creation. All power in heaven and on earth is His.
Imagine a king who possesses absolute authority over his kingdom. His word is law, and his dominion is unquestioned. In a similar way, Jesus, as the King of kings, holds absolute authority over the entire universe.
The Command to Make Disciples
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19 NLT). Here, Jesus issues a clear directive: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Think of a lighthouse guiding ships safely through treacherous waters. As disciples of Christ, we are called to be spiritual lighthouses, guiding lost souls towards the safety of God's love and salvation.
Teaching Them to Observe All I Have Commanded
"Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20 NLT). Jesus emphasises the importance of not only making disciples but also teaching them to obey His commands.
Consider a mentor who imparts wisdom and knowledge to a student, preparing them for a successful career. Likewise, as Christians, we are called to mentor and teach new disciples, nurturing them in their faith journey.
The Great Commission is not a mere suggestion; it's a divine mandate.
Jesus, the King of all, has entrusted us with the responsibility of making disciples, baptising them, and teaching them to obey His commands.
Remember, as we carry out this commission, Jesus assures us of His constant presence. Let us embrace this mission with fervour, knowing that it's through us that the light of Christ shines into a dark world. We are His ambassadors, and our purpose is to lead others to Him.
As we go forth, may we always be mindful of our divine mandate and the authority of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the Great Commission entrusted to us by Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us the wisdom, strength, and courage to fulfil this sacred duty. May Your presence be with us always as we make disciples, baptise, and teach others to obey Your commands. In Jesus name. Amen.
Are we walking the path God has set for us, or have the distractions of this world led us astray?
In a world brimming with distractions, it's easy to lose focus on God. The daily demands of life, technology's allure, and the captivating pull of entertainment can divert our attention from our Heavenly Father.
Do we allow anything to derail our journey with God?
The enticements of technology, the temptations of social media, and worldly habits can sway us from God's path.
Amid these challenges, Psalm 121:1-2 reminds us, "I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!" These verses encapsulate a truth vital for our spiritual well-being and emphasize placing our trust in God amidst life's trials.
The psalmist initially gazes at the mountains, symbolizing earthly endeavors and fleeting solutions. Yet, they promptly redirect their focus to the true source of help - the Lord, the Creator. This shift in perspective reminds us that our ultimate support comes from a higher realm - from the Almighty God who holds the universe. Our strength and solutions don't originate from the world's chaos, but from the Creator who orchestrates it all.
Just as a lighthouse stands tall against the tumultuous sea, so does our focus on God guide us through life's storms. The lighthouse's resilience lies in its foundation and light, just as our strength comes from the unchanging God who lights our way.
This metaphor mirrors our connection with God. The stormy ocean represents life's trials that leave us vulnerable, while the lighthouse symbolizes the unwavering Creator who leads us through. God's presence offers wisdom, reassurance, and guidance, just like the lighthouse's light. In times of trial, let's raise our eyes to the steadfast lighthouse of faith. By doing so, we remember that our strength, sanctuary, and solutions come from the One who created it all.
Now, let's turn our gaze to Peter's bold steps on the stormy Sea of Galilee. Matthew 14:29-30 recounts, "Yes, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. 'Save me, Lord!' he shouted." This incident teaches us to maintain a heavenly perspective amid trials. When Peter shifted his gaze from Jesus to the storm, his faith wavered. When we divert our focus from Christ to our challenges, our faith weakens.
However, by fixing our eyes on Jesus, even the impossible becomes attainable. Just as the kite catches the wind when released, so can we rise above our burdens when we turn to God. In 2 Corinthians 4:18, Paul reminds us not to fixate on our troubles, but to focus on the unseen and eternal, "So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
Our struggles are temporary when compared to God's enduring promises. Picture yourself scaling a mountain, gaining a wider view as you ascend. Life's challenges are like valleys; when you rise above them, you discover God's eternal promises. As we journey, our earthly struggles become stepping stones leading to eternal glory. Just as climbers reach higher heights, our focus on eternal realities helps us rise above temporary challenges.
Numbers 6:24-26 imparts a timeless blessing: "May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favour and give you His peace." This blessing speaks of God's care, delight, and peace. When we lift our eyes to heaven, we unlock divine blessings and grace.
This blessing captures God's heart for us - His desire to bless, protect, show favor, and bring peace. When we turn our gaze heavenward, we embrace God's goodness and provision in our lives.
How do we incorporate this heavenly perspective into daily life?
Imagine a kite representing worries and distractions. Release it to God, like letting go of burdens. As you fix your eyes on God, you'll rise above challenges and discover new levels of faith.
Let your internal compass point heavenward, just as a compass guides us. Like a flower turning to the sun, turn to God for strength and guidance.
As you gaze at a starlit sky, consider the vastness above. Gaze heavenward and receive God's blessings and favor.
In conclusion, fix your gaze on God. Align your thoughts with heavenly perspectives. Just as Psalm 123:1-2 states, "I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal." We humbly look to God's supremacy and guidance.
As we navigate life, let's remember that the only way to look is up. Lift your eyes from trials and fix them on our Heavenly Father. Just as a compass points to the North, let your heart and mind point heavenward.
May our gaze be unwavering, empowering us to rise above challenges. In Jesus' name, let's embrace a heavenly perspective that guides us through life's twists and turns.
Based on the sermon Lifting Our Gaze: Finding Strength in the Heavenly Perspective by Dean Courtier - Click here to listen
Lessons from Job
In this challenging season of trials and refinement, it's crucial to view our circumstances through God's perspective. The story of Job offers profound insights into suffering, the spiritual realm, and God's purposes. Let's explore Job's experiences to find encouragement and a broader understanding of our challenges.
Job's Character and Blessings:
Job, a blessed and righteous man, enjoyed prosperity, a loving family, and divine favour. God held him in high regard due to his faithfulness and kindness to others. It's essential to note God's approval of Job, which becomes significant later.
Satan as the Accuser:
Job's trials originated from a conversation between God and Satan in the heavenly realm. Satan, the accuser, challenged Job's integrity, asserting that his righteousness resulted from God's blessings. God permitted Satan's testing, showcasing His sovereignty even in trials.
Job's Affliction and Response:
Job faced overwhelming adversity - losing possessions, business, and even his children. Despite these tragedies, Job humbled himself and did not curse God. His steadfastness in the face of immense pain reflects his faith and trust in God's sovereignty.
Bodily Affliction and a Spiritual Perspective:
The suffering escalated, with Job afflicted by painful sores. Even his wife advised him to curse God and die. Job's response, "Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?" underscores his unwavering faith amid affliction.
Lessons from Job's Story:
James 1:2-5 encourages believers to find joy in trials, recognizing that testing produces steadfastness, leading to spiritual maturity.
In the midst of trials, it's vital to view our circumstances through the lens of God's sovereignty, goodness, and eternal purposes. Job's story exemplifies unwavering faith and trust in God, even when faced with the worst adversities.
Let us learn from Job's example and strive to see beyond our trials, knowing that God is working a deeper purpose in us and through us. Just as Job's faith was rewarded with restoration and blessings, our steadfastness in trials can lead to spiritual growth and a stronger testimony of God's faithfulness.
Based on the sermon 'Seeing Beyond' by Megan Bolden - Click here to watch on YouTube
The Importance of a Pure Heart
Our world is often clouded with distractions, and our hearts can become entangled in the worries and desires of this life. In Matthew 5:8, Jesus reminds us, "God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God." To truly perceive God's visions, we must cleanse our hearts from impurities, distractions, and the enticements of the world.
The Lens of Purity in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, we see how a pure heart is the key to understanding God's visions. David, in Psalm 51:10, cries out, "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me." It was only after repentance and a longing for purity that David could see God's plans and visions for his life. Likewise, Isaiah's powerful encounter with God's vision in Isaiah 6 was preceded by his acknowledgment of his own sinfulness and purification by God's grace.
The Lens of Purity in the New Testament
Turning to the New Testament, we find the purity of heart emphasized once again. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul encourages us, "The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith." It is through such purity of heart that we can discern the divine visions God has for our lives.
Application of a Pure Heart
Let's bring this truth closer to our lives. Imagine a camera lens - when it's smudged, the pictures are blurred. Similarly, a heart tainted by sin and worldly desires blurs our spiritual vision. But, through genuine repentance and seeking God's forgiveness, our hearts are cleansed, and we see God's visions clearly.
Seeing God's Visions in Our Lives
The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 beautifully exemplifies this truth. Cornelius, a devout man, was open to God's leading. His pure heart allowed him to receive a vision that led to the conversion of his household and the expansion of the Gospel to the Gentiles. When we keep our hearts pure, we can witness God's visions not only for ourselves but for the transformation of those around us.
The visions of God are seen only through the lens of a pure heart.
The visions of God are not distant, unattainable mysteries. They are accessible to every believer with a pure heart. As we navigate our lives, let us continually seek God's forgiveness, cleanse our hearts, and embrace the purity that enables us to discern His visions. In the words of Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."
So, let our prayer be like that of the psalmist in Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions." As we pursue a pure heart, we are enabled to see God's visions for our lives, our church, and our world. May the lens of purity sharpen our spiritual sight and lead us to witness the glorious visions that God has in store for each one of us.
In June, I reached the age of 54. Some might argue that I appear older, but let's set that aside. The world, has undergone immense shifts over the last five decades, a truth that reminds us of the transient nature of our existence. But let us not dwell on the years past. Instead, let's delve into the truths of God's Word and ponder the challenges of our times.
The Changing World: With each passing year, the world transforms, altering its landscape and its norms. Indeed, it might seem like the world is speeding forward, leaving us trailing in its wake. Yet, I am reminded that age does not define wisdom. Age does not guarantee discernment. In our church, we have those who have witnessed almost a century of change, a testament to the ever-expanding span of human life. The world, driven by modern ideals, whispers that we are in control, that we shape our destinies, that we create our truths.
Worldly Trends and Spiritual Alarms: However, let us not be naive. In our so-called enlightened era, concerning trends emerge. In our society and even within our churches, lines blur and boundaries shift. Actions once considered immoral or spiritually unsound are now lauded as the new normal. What was once deemed wrong has now been embraced as right, as diversity's voice reigns supreme. Yet, dear friends, should we not heed God's timeless truths? Consider Ephesians 4:17-19 (The Message): "And so I insist - and God backs me up on this - that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion."
The Dilemma of Deception: In this world, the concept of right and wrong becomes increasingly muddled. Minds are numbed, hearts are hardened, and shame fades into oblivion. People chase after pleasure, eagerly indulging in impurity, veering away from the life God intended. The emptiness of chasing after darkness is made evident in the words: "They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch, not only with God but with reality itself." It's a sobering reminder that sin's deception can lead us astray from reality itself.
A Call to Renewed Focus: Remember, the moment when you turned to Christ, embracing salvation and transformation. The old was replaced by the new, and chains of sin were shattered. Yet, with the march of time, distractions arise. We may let worldly pursuits cloud our vision of Christ's supremacy. We're enticed by the empty promises of a changing world, swaying away from our purpose in Christ. But as Philippians 4:8-9 advises, "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable." It's in this focus that our lives align with God's purpose.
The Warning Echoes: Throughout history, the enemy has whispered doubts, denying God's truth. Just like the serpent in the garden tempted Eve with distorted words, today's world tempts us to compromise. The warnings of 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ring true: "Do not associate with anyone who claims to be a believer, yet indulges in sin." It's easy to listen to the world's rationalisations, but we must remember that God's word remains unchanging, revealing His standards of holiness.
Returning to the Visionary View: Let us not be blinded by the fog of worldly norms. Let's not compromise the truth for the sake of conformity. Instead, let us be diligent in renewing our minds through the power of Christ. Let us pursue lives that align with His will, not the transient desires of this world. Let our lives be the testimony of Christ's transformative power. Remember 1 Peter 1:3-5: "Through your faith, God is protecting you by His power." Our salvation is secure, but our journey requires steadfastness and commitment.
My prayer is that we embrace the visionary view. Fix your eyes on Christ, on His unchanging truth, and on the purpose He has for you. The world may shift and redefine, but our anchor remains secure in Him. Let us not waver in the face of compromise, but rather stand firm, uncompromising in our devotion to the Creator. The road may be challenging, but God's word is our compass. Embrace the true, the pure, the lovely, and the admirable, and let your lives reflect the vision of Christ's transforming love.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ guide you, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit empower you. Go forth with the renewed determination to live as a disciple of Christ, unswayed by the world's fleeting ideals.
In the name of Jesus, our unwavering foundation.
My series on Nehemiah has been a journey that started back in January, and we have reached the point where the walls of Jerusalem have been completed.
1. Celebration of Overcoming Challenges: Nehemiah's journey was not without challenges. Enemies outside and complaints within tested his resolve. Yet, he overcame them with God's help. Just as Nehemiah faced opposition, we too can celebrate overcoming challenges in our lives and ministry.
2. Celebrating Contributions Made: Nehemiah's vision involved many people coming together with different backgrounds and skills. We celebrate the value of each individual contributing to the work of God. Together, we form a strong and united community advancing God's kingdom.
3. Celebrating Together: Celebrations are more meaningful when shared. The church provides a place where we connect, rejoice, and support one another. As we move forward, others will be raised up to contribute to God's work, passing the baton to new generations.
4. Centrality of God's Word: Ezra's appearance marks a celebration of the centrality of God's Word. The Bible impacts and changes lives, guiding us in fulfilling God's purpose. We must cherish the freedom to study, understand, and apply God's Word.
5. A Continuation of the Story: As Nehemiah's chapter closes, a new chapter unfolds. Completing a task is not the end; it's the beginning of what God has in store for us. We must remain open to God's vision, running with determination and conviction, gathering others to fulfil His plans.
Conclusion: Let us celebrate God's faithfulness and what He has accomplished in our lives thus far. However, we must remember that there is more to be done. As we continue to seek God's vision and purpose, let our celebrations be for His honour and glory.
May God bless you as you celebrate His work in and through your life. Amen.
Based on Rev. Dave Redbond's sermon 'Cause for celebration' which premieres 10:30am Sunday 6 August 2023 on YouTube
Psalm 25:8-15 (New Living Translation)
The Lord is good and does what is right;
He shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them His way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep His covenant and obey His demands.
For the honour of your name, O Lord,
forgive my many, many sins.
Who are those who fear the Lord?
He will show them the path they should choose.
They will live in prosperity,
and their children will inherit the land.
The Lord is a friend to those who fear Him.
He teaches them His covenant.
My eyes are always on the Lord,
for He rescues me from the traps of my enemies.
Are you living thoughtfully or on autopilot?
It's effortless to wake up each morning, go about our work, enjoy some relaxation or entertainment, and then fall into bed at night without considering God's involvement in our daily lives. However, let's ponder the advantages of keeping our spiritual senses open throughout the day - to perceive how God has blessed, guided, protected, and warned us.
Being mindful of the Lord's presence serves as a reminder that He is always in control, diligently working to fulfil His good purposes. When we seek God's footprints in our daily experiences, we come to realise the extent of His involvement in our lives. Perhaps He empowered us for a task or opened a door of opportunity. Maybe He directed our decisions or helped us respond with compassion to a challenging individual. Additionally, if our ears are tuned to the Lord's warnings and instructions, we are less likely to repeat our mistakes.
Each night before you go to sleep, acknowledge that the Lord is continuously with you, safeguarding and offering guidance. He desires you to comprehend life from His perspective, relying on His wisdom and power to face any challenge that comes your way.
No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows. (Mark 13:32)
You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. (Luke 12:40)
As God's church, we are anticipating the return of Jesus Christ. While some search for signs of His imminent return, we are reminded that the exact time is known only to the Father. Yet, His promise to return remains steadfast.
In Revelation 2:1-7, the call to return to our first love is emphasised, as the church at Ephesus was commended for its works, endurance, and discernment, but lacked love.
Christ, the Lord of the church, walks among us, offering guidance and protection. The life of the church is examined, emphasising the importance of love. Thr Ephesian church's commendable qualities and spiritual discernment are highlighted, urging us to endure and resist evil.
Lessons from Ephesus include the danger of losing our opportunity by straying from love. Love defines our identity and interactions. Love can be renewed, as exemplified by the Prodigal Son. We are encouraged to examine ourselves, seek forgiveness, and rekindle our love for Christ. Let love be our driving force, empowering us to shine as a powerful gospel light.
May the Holy Spirit empower us to live as a church renewed in love, shining brightly as a powerful gospel light in this world. May we seize the opportunity to respond to the call of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and demonstrate His love to a world in need. Let love be the driving force behind all that we do as His church.
Discipleship is the life that Jesus calls those who truly believe in Him to follow.
Accepting the personal call of Christ to discipleship, should shape and define our daily life and practice. We cannot fully love our Lord and develop our knowledge and understanding of Him without embracing discipleship.
Jesus came to proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God and also to take action to establish it. In Matthew chapter 4, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee (4:18). He was not out for a casual stroll, His walk by the water was an intentional step in calling His first disciples to Him. The call to discipleship is a command: "Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!" Matthew 4:19 (NLT).
Christ's call is direct and personal.
"You, follow Me!" This call cannot be blocked or terminated. It is not transferable due to personal preference or excusable due to other perceived obligations.
"Follow Me" may appear to be a simple task, but, these two words contain the potent seed for exponentially growing and sustaining the kingdom of God.
Following Jesus has a real cost so each of us must examine what Christ is calling us to do, and to be, as His disciples.
"Follow Me" is more than just come after me. It is a call to imitate our Lord in life and word. It demands being like who Jesus was, and doing as Jesus did. It involves a paradigm shift in our thinking and practice.
A true disciple has only two obligations: become like Jesus; and pass on the truth of His teaching and way of life to others.
Think about your life, is there real evidence that you are a disciple of Jesus?
Take the time to pray about your daily walk with Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you be the person God has called you to be.
Seek ways in which you can share the truth of the Gospel with your family and friends, so that they may know the joy of their sins forgiven and the gift of eternal life as they choose to follow Jesus as His disciples.
We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance. (Hebrews 6:9-12)
Have you ever found yourself thinking, "I love you, Jesus, but please don't ask me to do that!" Or perhaps you have served God, but with the wrong attitude, saying, "If no one else will do it, then I guess I have to."
What causes us to be hesitant in our service?
Busyness: Sometimes our schedules are so packed that we don't leave room to follow our Lord. We need to ensure that we have some margin in our lives.
Feeling inadequate: You may feel unqualified, thinking, "Surely there are others more gifted than me." Remember, God promises to equip those He calls. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)
Selfishness: Serving sacrificially is not always convenient. It may require changing plans, sacrificing comforts, or making financial commitments.
Lack of love: This is the most difficult to admit - that we simply don' care enough. Our reluctance to serve others reveals a lack of devotion to Jesus. If we love Christ with all our hearts, we will serve Him joyfully by ministering to people in our families, workplaces, communities, and churches.
Are you quick to follow the Lord's guidance, or do you prioritise your own plans and desires?
Any service offered in Jesus' name will not be in vain. You will experience the joy of giving and the assurance that He will not forget your sacrifices.
Volunteering within our church on a regular basis offers an opportunity to serve others selflessly, grow spiritually, and be an active participant in building God's kingdom here on earth.
Think and pray about how you can become more involved and then speak to one of the Ministers or Deacons.
In our world, we encounter brokenness as a result of the presence of sin. Loss, tragedy, sickness, devastation, and death are experiences we endure. However, God assures us that He hears our prayers. Jesus instructs us to seek what we need through prayer because our Father understands how to provide us with good things:
"You parents - if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him." (Matthew 7:9-11)
Although this doesn't guarantee that we will receive everything we desire in this life, it brings comfort that God discerns what is good, and He is willing to bestow good things upon His children. The challenging reality is that we may live our entire lives without obtaining the things we yearn for. Healing for a loved one, deliverance from persecution, or restoration of broken relationships might not come to pass.
As we place our trust in God's perfect timing, let us surrender our desires, fears, and disappointments into His hands. He is the source of life, the orchestrator of miracles, and the One who transforms ashes into beauty. He comprehends the deepest desires of our hearts and will bring forth His plans in due course, "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." (Galatians 6:9).
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Though we may endure suffering in the present, we can anticipate eternity with the Lord, who promises to claim us as His children and grant us a home with Him forever.
Today, let us cling to hope, for even in times of emptiness, fear, uncertainty, and longing, God is actively working.
Let us place our trust in His faithfulness and find solace in the truth that His timing is always perfect.
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Have you ever said, "I wish I had more faith"?
Our faith often increases as a result of our obedience to God in the little things. We all marvel at Abraham's willingness to offer up Isaac at the Lord's command. But have you ever stopped to consider all of his smaller steps of submission that prepared the way for this enormous test?
Throughout his lifetime, Abraham obeyed God. At the Lord's command, he left his country (Genesis 12:1-4), was circumcised (17:10, 26), conceived Isaac in his old age (21:1-3), and sent his son Ishmael away (21:9-14).
By the time he was asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham already knew that his God would always be faithful to His promises. His previous experiences had taught Him to trust the Lord.
In the same way, every small step of obedience we take helps solidify our confidence in God. Then, when He challenges us with a more difficult assignment, a firm foundation of assurance enables us to trust and obey Him.
Great acts of faith can flow from our past interactions with the Lord. By neglecting His simple commands, we miss priceless opportunities to witness His faithfulness.
Are you having trouble trusting God for something big?
Have you ignored those "small" and "insignificant" promptings of the Holy Spirit?
The Lord considers each of His commands important and promises to reward every act of obedience, regardless of size.
Remember great faith begins with little steps.
In the Bible, one of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses for the people of Israel was: "Honour your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:12).
The dictionary defines "Honour" as 'to regard with great respect'. Sadly, for some, that is a very difficult thing to do. In the modern, mixed-up, sinful world we live in there are many children whose fathers are absent fathers, and there are many people whose experience of their earthly father has been negative.
In my own life, I never really knew my biological father. Between birth and the age of nine, I only remember seeing him 3 or 4 times. I would love to be able to say that those times were good times but I honestly don't remember much about them. I couldn't tell you anything important about him. I couldn't tell you anything nice about him and it is almost impossible for me to honour someone who I have never been in a real relationship with. Yet the Bible commands me, commands us to Honour our fathers.
When I was nine my mum married a man called Richard and he became my step-father. He was not perfect, but he loved me. It was easier for me to honour Him. My step-father brought me up, he corrected me in love, he looked after me, he cared for me. He taught me.
When I was sixteen, I met another father for the first time, Father God. Father God was and is perfect, He loves me, He corrects me, He looks after me, He teaches me, He leads me, He cares for me, He has a perfect plan for me. Father God is someone I can fully honour every day of my life, Father God is someone I can respect every day of my life, Father God is someone I can be in relationship with everyday of my life.
Every day we experience the presence of Father God, His Mercy and His Grace. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He is with us in the good times and the bad. He is Our Gracious Heavenly Father and He loves us and cares for us more than any human parent ever could.
Father God is worthy of all our honour, all our praise, all our worship today and every day.
"I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry." (Psalm 40:1)
Practicing patience is hard work!
This is especially true when we are waiting upon the Lord, who keeps to His own timetable. But believers who trust God to deliver are richly rewarded with the desires of their heart.
A person's willingness to wait reveals the value of what he or she desires.
No one goes wrong waiting for the Lord to send His best in His perfect timing.
Believers don't receive everything they request.
At times God simply says no. In other cases, He adjusts our desire to match His own. In our humanness, we can't possibly know all the details of a situation. So we ask for what we think we need, based on our limited information.
A submissive heart accepts the omnipotent Father's gentle redirection.
When the awaited object of desire comes, it may not look like what the believer originally requested, but it will be exactly what he or she needs. Waiting patiently on the Lord is an awesome witness.
When He responds, others see the reality of God, His faithfulness, and the wisdom of our commitment.
In addition, our own faith is strengthened. Fools rush to seize their prize. But wise believers know that blessing will come in God's good time.
These words should remind us of three things:
It is the people not the building that are God's church.
There is a distinct difference between "going to church" and "being church".
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The church exists within each of us because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; not structures made of bricks and concrete.
Worship is an encounter with almighty God.
There is a difference between "going to church" and "worshipping God".
We can be present in the "building" but absent from the "temple", just because we turn up at a certain time on a Sunday and spend time with other people does not necessarily mean we actually worship God. In fact, worship should be an integral part of our everyday lives. Each day we should seek to spend time worshipping God, speaking to Him, listening to His voice, seeking His presence, knowing His touch, experiencing His love, grace and mercy.
Service is the attitude of being a servant.
When we meet together as church, we meet to worship God, we meet to honour Him and praise Him. As we meet together there are many opportunities to serve Him and each other. Each of us needs to examine ourselves and ask:
Do I have a servant heart?
How can I serve God?
What is God calling me to do for His glory?
Each of us can serve God in some way!
There are many activities in the life of "our church" that you could use as opportunities for worship and service.
Greeting people as they arrive with a smile does not take great theological knowledge, nor does being on the rota to provide refreshments after a service.
Could you arrive early to help set up or stay behind to help clear up?
Can you make time to chat with visitors?
Could you assist with Sunday School or Youth work?
Could you bring a friend to the Coffee morning?
Worship and service needs to be part of our daily lives.
When we give God the central place in our lives He takes us to a deeper dimension in our relationship with Him, a deeper dimension that all of us can experience.
"But the time is coming - indeed it's here now - when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24 NLT)
Daily God grants us His extravagant grace and daily we should offer Him sincere worship and heartfelt service that flows from a heart filled with gratitude for His awesome power and presence in our lives.
Jesus said: "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
The word translated power is the Greek word dunamis. Dunamis is used 120 times in the New Testament. It is a word that refers to 'strength, power, or ability'. Dunamis is not just any power it is miraculous power or marvellous works. Dunamis can also refer to 'power and excellence of soul'. Dunamis is the root word of the English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic.
In John 14:15-17 Jesus said: "If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn't looking for Him and doesn't recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you."
Advocate in Greek: Paraclete or parakletos - the one who consoles; comforts; encourages; uplifts; refreshes; or intercedes. On the day of Pentecost, the Advocate arrived in power. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples gathered together in the Upper Room and they were changed, they were transformed. Peter preached the Gospel and 3,000 people were saved that day.
When we look back at God's action in the past our attention lingers there, and we grow nostalgic for days gone by and compare unfavourably those we currently live in. And here is where the danger lies, as there is nothing more resistant to purposeful, hopeful action in the present than nostalgia, the sentimental longing for a bygone era.
But Pentecost does not need to be about the past. In fact, I suspect that Luke, like all historians, wrote about the past in order to make sense of the present and prepare for the future.
Power, boldness, to go out and speak the truth and thousands were saved. Could that happen today? Yes, it can! God has not changed, and His power has not diminished. The Holy Spirit still operates in power in our lives. The truth of the Gospel still changes and transforms lives today and God uses ordinary people like you and me to share the truth of who Jesus is with others.
The disciples were filled with dunamis power and today we, as disciples of Jesus, are filled with the same dunamis power as those first disciples.
Remember, we do not live the Christian life in our own power, but in God's. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit. This year I challenge you to experience Pentecost not as a nostalgic commemoration but as the means by which to anticipate and make sense of God's ongoing activity in the world.
Due to computer equipment failure the 10:30am Online Service on Sunday 21 May will only be available on YouTube https://youtu.be/gfBkCEGv4Yo
Jesus said: "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)
Have you ever thought about how many feelings we can have?
God has created us with the capacity for an incredibly wide range of feelings. We can feel happy, playful, calm, confident, courageous, peaceful, joyful, comfortable, optimistic, delighted, encouraged, satisfied, and jubilant. We can also feel angry, afraid, depressed, hopeless, confused, hurt, or sad.
Feelings are a gift from God.
Feelings are real - we truly experience them. We don't imagine them. They are real, they may be the truth but they are not always the truth. If we believe in Jesus Christ and feel like God loves us and accepts us that is the truth. If we feel condemned or that God has abandoned us that is not the truth.
Feelings are a poor measure of the truth.
As believers, we are to live by faith, not by sight. Our circumstances may appear to indicate that God is not for us or that He is giving us too much to handle. Yet we live by faith in God's word which says despite our circumstances God is for us and is not giving us too much to handle.
We need to live by faith in God's word not what our feelings tell us.
We may feel hopeless, we may feel like we can't go on another day and the challenge for us is what are we going to believe - our feelings or God's word?
We must believe and obey God's word no matter how we feel.
We may feel like we can't go on. We may feel like it is impossible to forgive someone. We probably won't feel like rejoicing in the midst of affliction or giving thanks in everything but we can and we must obey God's word.
To be able to live by faith in God's word we need to know God's word.
If we regularly read the Bible and think about God's promises, our faith will increase and we won't be dependent on our feelings.
I hope that you feel good today. I hope you feel God's love and presence today. I pray you will feel happy and joyful and thankful. But if these feelings elude you, don't be discouraged. Thank God anyway. Praise Him. Ask Him for peace of mind and heart, and believe, trust and obey Him.
Have faith in the God who loves you, whether you feel like it or not.
Jesus told His disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)
God has an amazing purpose for us, we have a two-fold mission, to be His disciples and to make other disciples.
Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, we are meant to grow in our awareness of His presence in our daily lives. We are also called to help other people come into a real and living relationship with God, their eternal destiny depends on them connecting with Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.
Jesus' atoning death on the cross dealt with our sin and brought salvation to all who trust in Him as Saviour. We fully embrace Jesus as Saviour but to allow Him to be fully Lord of our lives requires discipleship.
Discipleship is a lifelong and heartfelt response to Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
True discipleship involves our deep commitment to our Lord and Saviour, allowing His life to infuse our own, so that we become more like Him. Following Christ must be the central purpose of our lives and that is why discipleship is so important for us.
Discipleship is about Christ being formed in you and you being formed in Christ. Jesus is our Redeemer and He is also our Exemplar, God's image of perfect human holiness. To become like Him we must submit ourselves to the truth of God's Word, from beginning to end. Discipleship is a process that will last the whole of our lifetime and touch every part of our lives.
Evangelism is an aspect of discipleship, and discipleship is an aspect of evangelism - and it's all about Jesus. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship wrote: Discipleship means adherence to Christ and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship. An abstract theology, a doctrinal system, a general religious knowledge of the subject of grace or the forgiveness of sins, render discipleship superfluous, and in fact exclude any idea of discipleship whatsoever, and are essentially inimical to the whole conception of following Christ... Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.
The Gospel and life in Christ are all about discipleship and disciple making. Discipleship is the way we show that we take Jesus - His Incarnation, His works, His words, His person, His exemplary life, His commands and His commissions - seriously. A Christian who takes discipleship seriously is a Christian who takes Jesus and the Gospel seriously.
Our ongoing walk with Jesus must be a priority in our lives. Disciple making lies at the core of our following Jesus; it is not an optional extra. Discipleship is a lifelong encounter and the privilege of those called to follow Jesus and love God.
It's so important for us as Christians to understand who Jesus is and the significance of His role as King. In the book of Revelation, we read that Jesus is not just a king, but He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So, let's explore what this means for us:
Jesus' Kingdom is not of this World
First, we need to understand that Jesus' kingdom is not of this world. When Jesus was on earth, He proclaimed in John 18:36, "My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world." This means that His kingdom is not a physical kingdom like those we see on Earth today. Jesus' kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that is based on love, grace, and righteousness.
Jesus is a Humble King
Second, we see that Jesus is a humble king. In Philippians 2:6-8, we read that Jesus, "Though he was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges]; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross." Jesus didn't come to earth to be served but to serve others. He showed us what it means to be a true leader who serves with humility and love.
Jesus is the King of Kings
Third, we come to the heart of our message: Jesus is the King of Kings. In Revelation 19:16, we read that "On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords." This is not just a title, but a reality. Jesus is the ultimate authority, the one who reigns over all of creation. He is the one who has the power to save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
We are Citizens of Jesus' Kingdom
Finally, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are citizens of His kingdom. In Philippians 3:20, we read "But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for Him to return as our Saviour." This means that we are no longer citizens of this world but of God's kingdom. We have been adopted into His family and given a new identity in Christ.
Jesus is the King of Kings. He is the ultimate authority, the one who reigns over all of creation. But He is also a humble king, one who served others with love and compassion. As citizens of His kingdom, we have been given a new identity in Christ. Let us embrace this truth and live our lives as faithful followers of our King. May we serve others with humility and love, just as Jesus did. And may we always remember that our true home is not on this earth but in the kingdom of our King, Jesus Christ.
Be still, and know that I am God! I will be praised among the nations, I will be praised in the earth.(Psalm 46:10)
In the Gospel of John, Mary and Martha come to Jesus and ask Him to heal Lazarus, who was critically ill. Since Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus, I'm sure Mary and Martha were expecting Jesus to come immediately to his aid. But the Bible says Jesus stayed two more days in the place where He was. It was in those two days that Lazarus died.
When we are in the midst of a difficult circumstance or situation we can forget that God is in control. It's hard for us to understand God's timing. We want Him to act, we need Him to act, but God's timing is always perfect even if it seems we have to wait for Him to answer our prayer.
With Lazarus, God was about to teach everyone involved a much deeper truth. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He made sure they all understood that He is the resurrection and the life for all who believe.
God has His perfect timing for everything under heaven. You may be waiting for God to intervene in some area of your life. You may have been begging and pleading with God for years about a particular thing. Trust Him, God's timing is perfect, have faith in Him. He knows best what He is doing and He is working all things for those of us who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
Be still. God is in control! He has greater blessings for you than what you could ask or think!
Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him - but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told His disciples, "I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20
Jesus instructed His followers to spread His message to all nations before ascending to heaven. However, many of us are not actively pursuing this Great Commission with fervour and purpose.
Fear and lack of confidence may be among the barriers holding us back, particularly when it comes to evangelising. We may also struggle with conditional obedience, limiting our service to God based on our own desires and preferences.
Despite these obstacles, we must strive to tear them down and fully embrace our role in the Great Commission. By doing so, we can witness the incredible power of God working through us.
If you find yourself lacking in passion for sharing the gospel, take time to reflect on what may be standing in your way and ask for God's guidance and forgiveness.
After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy." (Matthew 3:16-17 NLT)
Why is belief in the Trinity foundational to Christianity?
Why can't we just believe in God and leave it at that?
Why do we need to know that God is Three in One?
The simple answer is that without the Trinity, we lose the truth and power of the Gospel.
Humanity, by our nature, is sinful and we deserve Father God's wrath to be upon us. But, Jesus, the Son, came to Earth to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself. Jesus gives (imputes) His righteousness to all who believe in Him as Lord and Saviour.
Because of what Jesus did at the Cross, reconciliation with Father God is possible.
When Jesus ascended into Heaven after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit came and now empowers the disciples of Jesus to live for God's honour and glory. If we lose any part of this plan, we lose all of it. Each person of the Trinity plays His role in our redemption. No Trinity, no salvation and no possibility of a restored relationship with God.
Without the Trinity, the Bible makes little sense.
God exists as three persons simultaneously. Jesus came to pay the price of our sins and to satisfy the wrath of God. God the Father spoke from Heaven as Jesus was being baptised and the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove.
What every disciple needs to understand about the Trinity is that God is real and operates in our lives today. God is our Father, Jesus is our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit is our Helper. They are Three and they are One.
Many people in the world today view the cross as a symbol of Christianity, but stop and think about what it represented in Christ's day. Nobody wore a miniature cross around the neck or displayed one in a place of worship. The cross was a torturous means of execution, and the mere thought of it was repulsive.
Yet believers throughout the ages have chosen this as the sign of their faith. In fact, to remove the cross from our teaching and theology would leave nothing but an empty, powerless religion. The subjects of death, blood, and sacrifice have become unpopular in many churches because they are unpleasant and uncomfortable topics. People prefer to hear about the love of God, not the suffering of Jesus.
So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With His own blood - not the blood of goats and calves - He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
How could anyone be saved if Christ had not been crucified?
Some people think all you have to do to receive God's forgiveness is ask Him for it. But a sinner's request can never be the basis for His forgiveness. He would cease to be holy and just if no penalty was imposed for sin. According to Scripture, there can be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). Christ had to bear the punishment for our sin in order for God to grant us forgiveness.
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him. (Hebrews 9:28)
Every time you see a cross, remember what it really was - an instrument of execution. Then thank Jesus that He was willing to be crucified so the Father could forgive you of sin. Though the scene of your redemption was horrendous, Christ turned the cross into a place of great triumph.
In John 14:14 Jesus said, "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."
Jesus did not say "Ask me anything in my name, and you will get some sort of response" He said, "I will do it!"
When we pray, often we close our prayers with a phrase like, "in Jesus' name. Amen" but praying in the name of Jesus, is not the 'Abracadabra' of Christianity; simply saying the words does not mean what we have asked for will suddenly appear (or disappear). There is more to it than that.
Praying in the name of Jesus is not about saying the right words, it is about having the right relationship and true friendship with Christ is the key to answered prayer.
In John 15:7 Jesus says, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7).
How do we ''abide' in Jesus?
"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love." (John 15:10).
What are His commandments?
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12).
How did Christ love us?
"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
Jesus laid down His life for us, and His command is that we follow His example. In prayer, that means we put aside our worldly desires and focus on God's glory instead. That is what it really means to pray in the name of Jesus.
Are we becoming like John the Baptist who joyfully proclaimed that Christ must become more while he became less (John 3:29-30)?
Or, is our friendship with the world getting in the way of our friendship with God?
When you truly pray in the name of Jesus, as His friend, He has promised to do all that you ask of Him.
We live in a difficult world. It seems every day brings issues and problems. Look at the news, a struggling economy, Ukraine, rising fuel, energy and food prices, etc.
A question we are often asked in troubled times is 'Is God good?'
The resounding response of the Bible is yes!
You are good, Lord. (Psalm 25:7)
Good and upright is the Lord. (Psalm 25:8)
You, Lord, are forgiving and good. (Psalm 86:5)
God is good - good in skill and good in heart.
Do you suffer from small thoughts about God?
In an effort to see Him as your friend, have you lost His immensity?
In your desire to understand Him, have you sought to contain Him?
The God of the Bible cannot be contained. He created order out of chaos. With a word He called Adam out of dust and Eve out of a bone. He consulted no committee. He sought no counsel. He has no peer:
I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me (Isaiah 46:9).
From the tiniest microbe to the mightiest mountain, He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command (Hebrews 1:3). God has authority over the world and He has authority over YOUR world: Your sleep patterns. Your eating habits. Your salary. Traffic on your commute. The arthritis in your joints. God reigns over everything. He is never surprised and He has never, ever said "How did that happen?"
God's power is unsurpassed and His heart is unblemished. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle (James 1:17 MSG). God is merciful and mighty, God has no hidden agenda or selfish motive. His love is perfect and He forgives with a perfect forgiveness. God's goodness is a major theme in the Bible.
A glimpse of God's goodness changes us.
God's unrivalled goodness undergirds everything we say about prayer. No wonder the psalmist said, Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
We may try and fail in our own strength but our toughest challenges are simple to God. Before you face the world each day, turn your face to Father God. When the alarm clock goes off. Roll over and sit up. It does not matter if your face is pillow creased and your hair is messy. You haven't come to look at you. You have come to look at God. Don't underestimate the power of this moment. At the start of your day, open the door to God in prayer and welcome His strength, His truth, His love into your heart.
Father, You are always good. You love me and care for me, and you will be with me in all I do today. You are good! An arch of Your eyebrow, and a million angels will pivot and salute. Every throne is a footstool to yours. You have no questions, second thoughts, or backward glances. You consult no clock. You keep no calendar. You report to no one. You are good all the time! (Max Lucado)
Is the world different because you prayed?
In one sense, no. Wars still rage, traffic still jams, and problems will still happen around the world. But you are different. You have peace. You've spent time with your Heavenly Father and you know He is good!
In 1913, Constance Penswick Smith (a vicar's daughter from Nottinghamshire) read about the American Mother's Day, celebrated on the second Sunday of May. She decided something similar with a more Christian basis was needed in Britain.
Her plan was to relaunch the Mothering Sunday of the liturgical church calendar, which had fallen out of wider observance and the 'Movement for Mothering Sunday' was born. By the late 1930s, services celebrating motherhood were being held in almost every parish church in the country.
The historical Mothering Sunday had very little to do with mothers. It had probably been observed since pre-Reformation times, on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Its purpose was to draw the congregations of 'daughter churches' of a specific area back to their 'mother church', a large church or cathedral. Constance thought that the celebration of church unity should still be an important part of the day. She felt that if Christians are members of one family, then the 'church' is logically viewed as the mother.
The idea of 'mother church' convey the notion of a spiritual home. Churches are places for nurturing followers of Christ, providing teaching, discipleship, and opportunities for growth. Jesus spoke of his disciples as 'my mother and my brothers' and of them having priority over his biological family.
This view of mothering could make services more significant for those who might otherwise stay away from church: those who have lost their mothers, or who would dearly love to be mothers but can't. For them, Mothering Sunday can be excruciating.
Constance's aim to honour mothers was laudable - but the original meaning of Mothering Sunday can help us to reflect on how our church is a place where we radically care for and minister to one another, whatever our age, gender or role.
As we all know too well, life often confronts us with unexpected or painful circumstances. Sometimes these situations leave us feeling fearful, discouraged, and frustrated. Consequently, we may question whether the Lord truly is reliable.
During such troubling moments, we can rest on this essential truth: The Lord is perfect in His love. Consider 1 John 1:5 God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.
In other words, everything our heavenly Father does is righteous. And if He is a God of love, then it is impossible for Him to mistreat any of His children. We can be assured that whatever He places or permits in our lives is good and that His motives are perfectly pure.
Jesus demonstrated this deep care for us when He offered His blood on the cross - there exists no greater display of love than giving one's life for someone else (John 15:13). Our sin debt could be paid only with a flawless sacrifice (Deuteronomy 17:1).
Christ, the perfect lamb, was willing to die in our place so that we could have an eternal relationship with the Father. If God gave us His Son - the most precious and amazing gift possible - to take care of our greatest need, then we can trust Him to provide for all areas of our life.
When difficulty arises, remember how much God loves you. He proved this by willingly giving His Son to take the penalty for your sin.
Even when circumstances are painful, you can be confident that you are held in the capable and caring hands of your heavenly Father, because of His love.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
The Bible is the written Word of God. How we view the truth recorded in the Bible is crucial. In the Bible, God has chosen to unfold for us His nature, character, plan and purposes.
The Bible reveals where we have come from, our purpose in life and our ultimate destiny. Billy Graham said, "Millions of people today are searching for a reliable voice of authority. The Word of God is the only real authority we have. His Word sheds light on human nature, world problems and human suffering. But beyond that, it clearly reveals the way to God".
The message of the Bible in 4 points:
- God created you
- God loves you
- God sent Jesus to die for you
- God is going to send Jesus again to bring believers back to Him
The Bible provides the believer with practical instruction, encouragement, warning and wisdom. God has chosen to unveil His power, integrity and love in His inspired Word.
Some of the many descriptions used by the prophets, writers and psalmists recorded in the Bible describe God's Word as:
"honey in my mouth" Ezekiel 3:3
"spiritual food for the hungry" Job 23:12
"perfect and trustworthy" Psalm 19:7
"more precious than gold" Psalm 19:10
"a lamp for my feet" Psalm 119:105
"true and righteous" Psalm 119:160
"a joy and delight to my heart" Jeremiah 15:16
"a fire that burns in my heart" Jeremiah 20:9
"renewing my mind" Romans 12:12
"Sharper than a two-edged sword" Hebrews 4:12
We need to apply God's Word to our lives daily. The Bible is life-changing, and while the truth of God's Word does not change, our understanding of the truth does. Martin Luther said "I use Scripture as a lighter to kindle the fire in my heart". Often a verse or a passage becomes clearer when lit by the light of other verses or passages on the same subject.
When The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the Word we experience it as a living Word. Our faith is based on the truth revealed in the Bible and our every thought, word or action needs to be in line with God's Word.
"God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:12-15 NLT)
Years ago, some missionaries felt that God wanted them to take the message of the Gospel to a group of Eskimos. When speaking to the Eskimos the missionaries struggled to find a word in Inuinnaq (the language of the Eskimo) for forgiveness.
The word that came closest had twenty-four-letters issumagijoujungnainermik and can be literally translated "not being able to think about it anymore."
Only God has the power to fully forgive us. God forgives, and chooses to forget our Sins. In Hebrews 8:12 God says "I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins."
When God forgives us, it's not like He is pretending that nothing happened, to forgive requires an acknowledgement that something wrong has been done that requires forgiveness. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, when we come to Him in repentance our sins are forgiven.
How can we who have been forgiven refuse to forgive?
Dare we ask God for forgiveness if we refuse to forgive?
What is our motivation to forgive?
We are simply demonstrating what God has done, and continues to do for us. Because of Jesus sacrifice for us, God looks beyond our sin and sees someone worth forgiving. And that's what we've been called to do as well.
Because we are forgiven, we are called to forgive. If we want to be obedient disciples of Jesus then we must choose to forgive.
The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel. After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:7,10)
God has handed to each of us a torch to carry for Him. That torch is the light of the Gospel, the knowledge of God and His ways, and the Word of God. It is put into our hands and our hearts by the Holy Spirit and the fire is ignited so that we may burn as lights in a sin darkened world. Each of us are to let our light shine that all men can see Jesus in us and then we are told to run with it and to pass it on to the next generation so that we will not forget God.
How could a nation that had experienced all of the miracles that God had done for Israel, and had seen the presence of God in the pillar of fire and cloud, and had known the power of God in such greatness, not pass along the torch of the knowledge and love of God to their children?
It seems so impossible that the very next generation after Joshua's generation, would completely forget God and not know about anything that God had done in the past. Could it be that Israel failed to talk about God in the home? Were they so worldly minded that they failed to even teach their children that God existed?
I think that Joshua's generation tried to turn around. God honoured them, but the damage to their children was already done. Though the words of their parents praised and honoured God, the children saw their actions. Actions speak louder than words.
We can talk about Jesus, claim to know and love Him, and say that we are serving Him, but are our actions proving it to be true. The next generation will learn from what we do more than from what we say. Are we passing the torch?
We can't allow the light of the gospel to be extinguished. We must do everything we can to be a torchbearer and then to try to pass that light on to the next generation as well.
Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
The Apostle Paul lived at a time when sensuality, the pursuit of pleasure, and rebellion against God were prevalent. In response, Paul wrote letters urging Christians not to follow the ways of the world. Like those early believers, we are to pursue godliness by:
Presenting our bodies to God. Submitting ourselves to God requires a definite decision to give Him control and a daily commitment to remain under His authority. Our mind, will, emotions, personality, and physical body are to be turned over to our heavenly Father (James 4:7). To truly live a holy and godly life we must willing surrender to Him.
Becoming living sacrifices. The Christian life is built around the concept of sacrifice. Jesus left the perfection of heaven to live among sinful people to reconcile us to God. He offered up His life as payment for our sins (1 John 3:16) and brought us into His family. As Christians, we must follow His example. Paul called it a living sacrifice, because it is an ongoing act of daily commitment to God.
Life is full of options. Many decisions involve a choice between following God's way or our own. As Christians we must be willing to sacrifice our own desires and embrace His will. A life of godliness is characterised by a heart and mind focussed on the things of God. Although we will live imperfectly, we should seek to obey His will and please Him.
Today, commit to becoming more like Jesus, the One who willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice for you.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favour has come" Luke 4:18-19 (NLT)
When we grasp the power of Jesus words in Luke 4:18, this truth brings change and transformation. The power of the cross is not found in what we do, but in what has already been done for us.
Jesus came so that we might, through Him, be made whole. Not by following the rules or meeting expectations of man, but by resting and trusting in the power of our Almighty God. It's not our strength or power that transforms us. Yes, we can make some changes in our lives, but real change only occurs when we open our heart to His tender touch, that is when real transformation occurs.
There is nothing we can do to earn God's love. Jesus' statement proclaims His love to us today. We come to Him with baggage and hurting hearts and His love changes us and compels us to trust Jesus to heal and transform us. We can sense when He is active in our lives, teaching us, redirecting us, healing us.
A hurting heart can send us down paths we may regret, searching for something or someone to ease our pain. Jesus invites us to stop running and rest in Him, expectant of His healing touch. When we allow The Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us He can move us in new directions and He can lead us along new paths.
The truth of Luke 4:18 is ours today to hold close, for Jesus came to heal our hurting hearts, Jesus came to set us free, Jesus came to bring Healing and Wholeness. Trust your Saviour, He is willing and able to do the miraculous in your life today.
It's Sunday morning, the service has ended, the tea and coffee has been served and people start heading toward the car park. In every church, in every location where there has been a service, listen closely near the exit doors and you will hear it:
"I didn't get anything out of the sermon."
"I didn't get anything out of that service."
"The worship was all right, but I didn't get anything out of it."
Have you heard that sound? Have you said it a few times yourself?
Let me remind you, we are not supposed to 'Get anything out of the service'.
Worship is not about you and me, not about getting our needs met, not about a good performance from the preacher or the singers or the musicians.
The focus of our worship is the Lord, 'Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name." (Psalm 29:2)
God calls us to be church to worship Him - our focus is to be on what we give Him - not what we get. We are here not there to "get' we are here to "give'.
We are here to give glory to God.
We know that, we should know that, we say we do that. How many times have we said, "...for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory"?
How often have we sung, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..."?
Glory is His right. He is worthy of worship. This is the theme of the final book of the Bible. "Who is worthy?" (Rev. 5:2) "You are worthy...for you were slain, and have redeemed us" (Rev. 5:9). "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:12).
Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, "Those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). That is, with their inner being, the totality of themselves, their spirit, not just their lips or their bodies going through the motions.
And in truth, the revealed truth of how God has prescribed worship to take place. He is not pleased with 'just anything' that we claim as worship.
If my focus is on myself, getting my needs met, my learning something, hearing a sermon that blesses me, my being lifted by the singing - then Christ has no part in it. It's all about me and I am ignoring the biblical concept of worship - giving God His due in all the ways He has commanded.
We must balance our worship between spirit (the subjective part: body, soul, emotions) and truth (the objective aspect: all that God has revealed in His word). Worship is something we do, not something done to us.
Don't leave church blaming your failure to worship on the singing or the sermon, you are in charge of the decision whether you will worship, no one else.
Bow before the Lord, offer Him your praise, and give Him your all.
Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
Learning about the elements of the Christian faith is an essential part of our daily lives (we can't live out what we don't know and understand), but real discipleship goes much deeper than just learning about God and how a Christian should conduct their life. The core idea of discipleship relates to becoming the disciple of someone.
True disciples seek to actually become like the master they are following. To become a disciple of Christ, we need to learn the things associated with the life and ways of Jesus, and actually work to conform our lives to Him. Discipleship is more about who we become than what we do. Doing emerges from being, not the other way around.
Being a disciple of Jesus is an on-going process, evidenced by a deepening faith and a changed lifestyle. Disciples seek a stronger personal relationship with God and have a deep desire to live in fellowship with Him.
True discipleship is demonstrated by putting aside sin and putting on Christlikeness. To grow in spiritual maturity, we must study the Bible to understand what God says is right and wrong. As disciples, we need to learn the ways of God and live by them.
Do you strive for holiness in your daily life?
Do you live in a way that demonstrates that you are truly a disciple of Christ?
Discipleship takes effort. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires more than learning Christian things, it requires becoming like Jesus.
What does becoming like Jesus mean?
We can't provide salvation for others, but we can, as Christ did, point people to God. We can witness to the lost, help the down and out, and make other disciples.
Being a disciple is more than just going to church services. Of course, we need to worship and we need to learn. These cannot be neglected if we are going to learn the things we need to know to do God's work in this world.
To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, you need to be a participant - not a passive observer. Your priority should be to become active in doing the work of God based on His leading.
Are you faithful in developing your spiritual life?
Are you willing to put more effort into your discipleship?
What do you need to do to take it to the next level?
Are you willing to share the truth of who Jesus is with those who need to know Him as their Lord and Saviour?
What will you do from this point on in your life to become a true disciple of Jesus?
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)
When thinking about God's plan for your life, it is very easy to have the attitude: "it's all about me."
Yes, it's true that God cares about every intricate detail in your life - Jesus said that even the hairs on our heads are numbered! We can mistakenly think that God's plan is always going to be a "feel good" plan with the intent to make us happy.
The message in these verses from Jeremiah is actually very different. These words are for a group of people who are being held captive in exile far from their homeland.
These words are to let them know that although they are not where they would have expected, nor where they would have asked God to place them, God has not forgotten them and He still has a plan for their lives. Even in the midst of a difficult situation, God wants them to know and have faith in His plans.
In the preceding verses, we see that a big part of God's plan is for them to "work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile" (Jeremiah 29:7). God wants His people to know that His plans are not just to benefit them personally.
God also tells them that He is not removing them from the situation immediately, but He does promise to restore them in the future. God wants them to know they can move forward in faith, because in the eternal picture, God's plans and purposes will prevail.
Today, in the midst of difficult circumstances and situations, God wants us to know He has a plan. He also wants us to know that when we submit in faith to His plan, He will use us to bless the world around us.
The key still remains during both good and difficult times: If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.