Your Sunday Bulletin : December.

crosstalk

                   

                                   11th December 2022
                                            Advent 3 tree
 
                    Today’s service will be held @ 9am240_F_76080180_liQGKxJWSP7v8T8VjQObFV8OCVG9RLU3
         If you are in Port Macquarie you are very welcome.
        Service will be lead by: Pastor Mark Worthing

                               The theme
               Pr

Sunday 11th December
Advent 3
Worship Service led by: Pastor Mark Worthingpastorm
Holy Communion: Pastor Mark Worthing
Communion Assistant:
Dr. Gordon Watson
Communion Prep.: David Thompson
Bible Readings: Barb Wakefield
1st Reading: Numbers 22:20-35 Balaam and the donkey
2nd Reading: James 5:7-10 Do not lose heart
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11 Jesus and John the Baptist
Prayers led by: David Pfeifferdonkey2
Stewards: Barb Wakefield and Roy Herbig
Music: Narelle
Audio/ Computer: Sue Smith 

Next Sunday 18th December
Advent 4
Worship Service led by: Pastor Mark Worthingpastorm
Holy Communion: Pastor Mark Worthing
Communion Assistant: David Thompson
Communion Prep.: David Thompson
Bible Readings: Sherry Thompson
1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16 A virgin will conceive
2nd Reading: Romans 1:1-7 Jesus, son of David, Son of God
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37 The good Samaritan
Prayers led by: Sherry Thompsondonkey3
Stewards: Sue Smith and Alan Bruhn
Music: Daryll
Audio/ Computer: Des Pfeiffer

Christmas services:
Christmas Eve: German service 6pm.tree.2
Christmas Eve: 7.30pm Carols and readings service with Nativity Play
Christmas Day: 9am. Christmas service with Holy Communion

In our thoughts and Prayers:praying
John McLean,
Rosemary Conran,
Kathy Mitchell,
Renate Radmacher,
Jenny Montgomery,
Tony Koch,
Aileen Huf,
Bob Rayward,
Les Mathies,
Carole Rogers.
Christine Kurteff
Sherry Thompson.
Don McLean.
Roger Reichelt

bible

Bible Study:
7.30 pm Wednesday 
@ Kemp St


Stay connected with : Lutheran Media Livestreaming.
https://www.livestream.com/luthworship

Church Council Executive:
Chairperson: David Pfeiffer 0428 667 754
Vice Chairperson: Roy Herbig 0417 041 325
Secretary: Sue Smith 0403 397 214
Treasurer: Garth Schultz 0412 487 466
Contact: Treasurer Garth Schultz at stpeterspmq.treasurer@gmail.com

Pastoral Carers:
Rev. David Thompson 0414521661
Joan Rayward 65820898
Jenelle Francis 0407391534
Pr. Mark Worthing. Ph 65833444. Mobile 0428557663
St. Peters Lutheran Church. 13 Kemp St. Port Macquarie. 2444. P.O. Box 5655

Below is a link for the interview with Pastor Mark on our local Christian
broadcast station Radio Rhema 99.9
https://www.dropbox.com/s/k5qetup4a0v5b83/Worthing.mp3?dl=0

Below is a link or the interview with Pastor Mark on Life FM (Adelaide)
that also aired this past weekend about the ethics of Martin Luther and
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
https://soundcloud.com/lifefmadelaide-1/sets/sunday-nights-with-lynn-arnoldaug-7?
utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing


Roster:vavuumChurch Cleaning:
December: Aileen Huf and Diane Reichelt 

 

 

Morning tea:cuppa
IT’S ON AGAIN AFTER SERVICE
Morning Tea: 
11 December Corrine McLean
18 December Juta Cooley

 

Advent BBQ Lunch:

advent

Congrats:
To Tony Koch whose short story ‘Sparks of Grace’ won third prize in the 2022
Stories of Life competition. The anthology of the stories of all the finalists is
available now. Contact Pastor Mark if you would like to order a copy.

Christmas Appeal Retiring Fund:
The Ladies Fellowship is once again organising the annual Christmas Appeal
to purchase vouchers for the families under the care of the Women’s Refuge
here in Port Macquarie. A Retiring Fund will be collected over the next 4
weeks with Sunday 18 December the last day to contribute. The box can be
found at the back of the church.

Sermon series:
Sermon series ‘The Five Donkey’s of Advent’ beginning 27 Nov and finishingdonkey2 Christmas Eve. There will be special handouts, colouring in pages for children, dramas, stories and a life-size donkey!
Don’t miss a single Advent Donkey!

 

Ladies Fellowship Christmas Appeal:
The Ladies Fellowship is asking the congregation for ideas this year on ways
to provide the community with our generous donations in our Christmas Appeal. Over the years, we have collected goods for hampers as well as grocery
and gift vouchers/cards for the families at the Women’s Shelter. Some suggestions this year include:
1. MAD (Make a Difference — Port Macquarie)
2. Rhema 99.9
3. Food/gift vouchers
Vouchers for haircuts
Please give your suggestions to be considered to Sherry in writing with details
of the benefactor organisation/S before the 9 November when the Ladies Fellowship will meet and decide. We want to help our community locally.

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS PMQ HASTINGS CHOIR PRESENTS!
Annual Fundraising Concert

WHEN :
WHERE:
Sunday, December 11 2022 at 2pm
Uniting Church (cnr Sherwood Road, PMQ

CELEBRATION AFTERNOON TEA 3-4pm Tickets $10 pp
to be purchased online at
https://www.trybooking.com/CEDJL
(Please advise Sherry on 0404913065 if you wish to attend and have any
difficulty in purchasing your tickets)
 

Volunteers:
Scripture Union is looking for volunteers to assist with running an after school
kids club at Westport Primary. Please see Pastor Mark for a flier if interested.

Name tags:
Please contact David Thompson if you have lost or need a name tag.

LCA Stamps for Mission
Don’t forget to save your used postage stamps and bring them to church and
put them in the box provided in the entryway. These used stamps will be sent
away to be cleaned to support LCA International mission programs and
projects.

LCA Tract Mission:
The Ladies Fellowship has generously selected and purchased a variety of
tracts for all occasions that can be used as an outreach resource for all our
members, friends and family. Please take a minute and peruse the display
and pick up some of these inspirational messages and notes for whatever
circumstances you or your loved ones may be facing or going thru at the
moment. We plan to keep the display stocked as new themes are announced.
 

Sermons:8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0
All past sermons are available to read on our web page.
stpetersptmacquarie.com
Stay connected with : Lutheran Media Livest reaming.
 
 December
 Birthdays:birthday
13 Stella McGufficke
14 Aileen Huf
14 Linda Mirtschin
17 Helga Mathies
17 Adam Jusic
20 Karen Packer
22 Alex McGufficke
23 Kaye Molkentin

 

Web page. 
People who visited the website in the last week, including
54 Aust.
1 USA.
2 China.
3 Nigeria.
 1 India.

 

We now have 98 followers.globe

2018:  2,515
2019:  1,864
2020: 2,496
2021:  2,036
2022:  2,499


Statistic:sitting

Sunday Service 4th December. Attendance was 39

 

Defibrillator:
Part of the purchase with Heart 180 of the Defib is 12 months access for the
church members to online training. Guy Leech has provided details below.
The training runs for about 30min of videos with a few questions to answer.
You will need to register with your own personal email and when you get to
the payment section enter the code “VIP” which will result in no charge.
If the congregation would prefer we could run a session at the church as a
group training. Please advise of interest and we can organise.
I have attached a pamphlet for information.
Online Training
Click here
https://customisededucation.thinkific.com/courses/heart180-defib-course
When you register & get to – Have a coupon?
Enter: VIP
This by-passes the payment section.
 

Notice:
Please send all information, comments, devotions, prayers to be included in the news letter to rherbig@tpg.com.au by Thursday in order to publish on Friday Thank you , Roy.
St. Peters Lutheran Church. 13 Kemp St. Port Macquarie. 2444. P.O. Box 5655.
stpetersptmacquarie.com

The Church and the Privacy Act:
1 The Church collects personal information about you before and during the course of your membership of the church
2 We may include your contact details in membership lists or other church publications. If you do not agree to this
You must advise us immediately.
3 Some of the information we collect is to satisfy the church’s legal obligation, and thereby to enable it to discharge It’s
duty of care.
St Peters Chess Club:chess

Thursday 7 pm. @ the manse
Everyone welcome
All ages and playing levels welcome.

 

Weekly Devotion:

I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the
Lord’ (Psalm 122:1).

Read Psalm 122
My mum loved Sundays and going to ‘the house of the Lord’. I remember being woken up on Sundays by Christian songs and choruses like ‘This is the
day that the Lord has made’ being played quite loudly on our record player.
Yes, those were the days of the black vinyl disc, for people who remember
them.
My bedhead happened to be on the same floorboard as the record player, so I
could always feel the bass vibrations. If that didn’t wake me up and mobilise
me, the door would be flung open with some catchphrase like ‘Rejoice, it’s the
Lord’s day!’ or ’Hooray, we get to go to church!’
It didn’t matter if I had friends sleeping over. It didn’t matter how late I’d gotten to bed either. In fact, Mum used to say that the later I got to bed, the more I
probably needed to go to church to either thank God or repent.
Whenever I read this verse, I think of Mum and how she rejoiced about going
to church to worship God. It was hard not to get swept up in it.
I have been trying to remember the last time I truly rejoiced and was actually
excited about going to church. Yes, it’s my usual practice, and I’m happy to
go. I look forward to catching up with my friends there. I expect that God will
speak to me through the service. I like being with him and my fellow Christians … but rejoicing and excitement?
Then I remembered how it felt on those first few Sundays that we could finally
worship together again after all the COVID restrictions. How excited we all
were to be able to go to church again. There was a lot of rejoicing then when it
was all new and fresh.
So tomorrow is Sunday again. Another chance to rejoice as we go to the house
of the Lord. Another chance to get excited about being with him and our fellow Christians. Another chance to rejoice that we can go to church and worship God freely in this country.
I might even put on one of my Christian CDs!
Lets Pray;
Dear awesome God, we sometimes forget what an amazing privilege it is to
worship you and how wonderful it is that we can worship you together as a
church. Stir our hearts so we can truly rejoice as we go to the house of the
Lord. Amen.

prayingSomething to think about:

think

A good way to stop a red-hot argument is to lay a few cold facts on it.

Digging for facts is better than jumping to conclusions.

Dear Lord, do not make us like porridge, which is difficult to stir and slow
to serve. But more like Corn Flakes, crisp, fresh and ready to serve

He who loses money loses much, He who loses a friend loses more, But he
who loses faith loses all.
A small boy in Sunday school was asked what a lie was. He said, “A lie is an
abomination in the eyes of God.” Then he added, “And our very present help
in times of trouble!”

My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do
the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first
group; there was less competition there
The world’s best antidepressant has 4 legs, a wagging tail and comes with
unconditional love.

John Wesley was an incredible servant of God. His motto was “Do all the
good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the
places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as
you ever can.”
Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a “necessary evil”, it
begins to look more and more necessary and less evil.

Don’t always assume the other person has equal intelligence — They might
have more.
It has been estimated that in spite of all the combined efforts of all the
churches and missionary agencies put together, it is taking 1,000 Christians
an average of 365 days to win one person to Christ. This is not good
enough.

How can you remind yourself that nothing can separate you from Jesus’ love?
How can knowing this truth change the way you respond to life’s challenges?
“Courage is the finest of human qualities because it guarantees all the others.”
Winston Churchill.
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves
on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is to small to be made into a
burden.
Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.
Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a centre of fear.
No matter what the circumstances, we always have
something -to be- thankful for.

Wi-fi went down for five minutes, so I had to talk to my family.
They seem like nice people.

A preacher made a statement in Hyde Park, “You must love the Lord with all
your heart.” A Heckler relied. “That’s rubbish. Science has proved that the
human heart is just a pump.” The preacher asked, “Are you married?” The
man said. “yes.” “Then go home and tell your wife you love her with all your
pump!”


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

What do you mean we don’t communicate? Just yesterday I faxed you a
reply to the recorded message you left on my answerphone.

In the midst of your darkest moments, how do you typically respond?
Why is it so difficult to be honest about your struggles?
God writes with a pen that never blots, speaks with a tongue that never slips,
and acts with a hand that never fails.
When God measures a man, he puts the tape around the heart instead of the
head.
God is more interested in making us what he wants us to be than giving us
what we think we ought to have
.

History is littered with examples of men who would become gods,
but only one example of God becoming man.
Genius has limits. Stupidity has no limits.
The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in
the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
Curious people ask questions. Determined people find answers.

Some people succeed because they are destined to, But most people succeed
because they are determined to.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and
hurry off as if nothing had happened.
God doesn’t command sinners to go to church, but he does command the
church to go to sinners.

For every problem under the sun there’s a solution or there is none.
If there’s a solution go and find it. If there isn’t never mind it.
A commitment is doing what you said you would do, long after the feeling
you said it in has passed.

Evangelism:
Jesus was born in a borrowed manager. He preached from a borrowed boat.
He entered Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, he ate the Last Supper in a
borrowed upper room and he was buried in a borrowed tomb. Now he asks
to borrow the lives of Christians to reach the rest of the world.
If we do not speak, then he is dumb and silent.

A missionary called John Vassar knocked on the door of a person’s home and
asked if she knew Christ. She said, “It’s none of your business!” and slammed
the door in his face. He stood on the doorstep and wept and wept. She was
looking out of her window at him weeping. The next Sunday she presented
herself for church membership. She said it was those tears.

Great faith is a product of great fights. Great testimonies are the outcome of
great tests. Great triumphs can only come after great trials.
A belief is something you hold. A conviction is something that holds you.
People generally have too many opinions and not enough convictions.
Don’t criticise too quickly.
Even a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day.

The most aggravating thing about the younger generation is that I no longer
belong to it. (Albert Einstein)
I finally got my head together. Now my body’s falling apart.

A preacher was completing a temperance sermon:
With great expression he said, “If I had all the beer in the world. I’d take it
and throw it into the river.” With even greater emphasis he said, “And if I
had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.” And
finally, he said, “and if I had all the whisky in the world, I’d take it and throw
it into the river.” He sat down. The song leader then stood very cautiously
and announced with a smile, “For our closing song, let us sing Hymn 365:
“Shall we gather at the river?”

We can never fully impact others to change if there is no evidence of change
in our lives.
The real problem of your leisure is how to keep other people from using it.
The best thing for grey hair is a sensible head.
God without man is still God. Man without God is nothing.
A steering committee is a group of four people trying to park a car.

 
A women was at work when she received a phone call telling her that her
daughter was ill. She left work and went to the pharmacist to buy some flu
medicine. Unfortunately, having done so, she returned to discover She’d
locked her car keys in the car.
She looked around for a rusty coat hanger, found one, but didn’t know how to
use it. So she bowed her head and prayed for help. Within seconds a scruffy
man appeared. She was so desperate she told him her plite and asked him, ”Do
you know how to break into a car with one of these?”
“Sure” said the man, and within a minute had opened the car door.
The woman hugged him and thanked him profusely. “Thank you so much,”
she said, “You are a nice man.” The man replied, “Lady, I am not a very nice
man. I just got out of prison today. I was in prison for car theft and have only
been out for one hour.”
“Thank you, Lord,” shouted the woman, “for sending me a professional!”
 
It’s what we do when we don’t succeed that determines whether we
will succeed.
Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things
turn out.
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice
you have.
 
Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for
which you would not take money
“I have disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I
wish I could give them and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I
had not given them a single cent, they would have been rich; and if they had
not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor indeed.

 

The greatest undeveloped territory in the world lies under your hat.

A newly converted hippie was intently reading the Bible while waiting for
transportation and every now and then he would exclaim, “Alleluia, praise the
Lord, Amen” as he read on. A skeptic heard him and came and asked what he
was reading. He answered, “I am reading how God parted the Red Sea and let
the Israelites go through — that is a miracle!” The skeptic said, “Do not
believe everything the Bible tells you. The truth of the matter is that the body
of water was really only six inches deep — so it was no miracle.” The hippie
nodded in disappointment but kept on reading as the skeptic was walking away
feeling proud that he had set the hippie straight. All of a sudden the skeptic
heard the hippie let out a big “Alleluia, Praise the Lord.” At this the skeptic
came back to him and asked, “What is it this time?” The hippie said excitedly
in one breath, “ This one is a real miracle, God drowned the whole Egyptian
army in six inches of water!”
 
A renowned rabbi was travelling on a train. Three impudent youths decided
to intimidate the Jew. They each made fun of the rabbi.
“Good morning , Father Abraham!”
“Good morning, Father Isaac!”
“Good morning, Father Jacob!”

 

But to their surprise, the rabbi replied:
“I am none of these. I am, however, Saul, the son of Kish, who was in a
three-day search for the lost donkeys, and I am glad I’ve finally found them!”

“A mother’s love is everything. It is what brings a child into this world. It is
what molds their entire being. When a mother sees her child in danger, she is
literally capable of anything. Mothers have lifted cars off of their children and
destroyed entire dynasties. A mother’s love is the strongest energy known to
man.”
“When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”
 
It is better to know some of the questions than to know all of the answers
The sad thing about trouble is that it often starts out as fun
Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.
Conflict: A friend of mine who is a pastor said this: “Whenever the conflict
gets too much in my church I go and visit the local kennels. There’s a whole
group there that’s always pleased to see me!”
 
A boy asked his father, “Dad, what is the size of God?”
The father looked up at the sky and saw a plane. He asked his son, “What is the size of this plane?”
The boy replied, “It is very small. I can hardly see it.”
Then the father took him to the airport. As they approached a plane, he asked, “Now son, how big is this plane?”
The boy replied, “Wow Dad, it’s huge”
The father then said, “God’s size to you depends on how close or far you are to Him. The closer you are to Him, the greater He will be in your life!”

 

plane


You can’t control the length of you life—

but you can control the width and depth.
You can’t control the contour of your face—
but you can control it’s expression.
You can’t control the weather—
but you can control the atmosphere of your mind.
Why worry about the things you can’t control when you can keep yourself
busy controlling the things that depend on you.

A Christian leader told a group of laymen who came to see him one day for
some advice. They wanted to know of a diplomatic way to get rid of their
pastor. The man sensing that they were not being fair, gave them some
suggestions:
1 Look your pastor straight in the eye while he is preaching and say amen once
in a while. He’ll preach himself to death.
2 Pat him on the back and tell him his good points. Before you know it,
He’ll work himself to death.
3 Rededicate your own life to Christ and ask your pastor for a job to do.
He’ll die of heart failure.
4 Get your church to unite in prayer for him. Soon he’ll become so effective
that a larger church will take him off your hands.
If your pastor faithfully preaches God’s Word and tries to live an exemplary
life, do all you can to support and encourage him. Of course, no pastor is perfect and sometimes a careful rebuke may be needed (1 Tim.5:20), but pastor
carries a big responsibility(Heb.13:17), and a faithful man of God is worthy of
loving respect and generous financial support (1 Tim.3:1; 5:17-18.
By the way, when did you last say to your pastor, “I’m grateful for you and all
you’ve done for me”?

But My Child
Lord, they don’t appreciate us!
But my child, who ever told you they would?
All the work we do, they just don’t understand what this job involves!
But my child, for whom are you working
There’s not enough money!
But my child, are you hungry? Have you nothing to wear?
There’s just not enough time to get everything done!
But my child, who is making out your work schedule?
I’m tired Lord, help me to keep going!
But my Child, will you never learn to rest in me?
Too many of those who bear your name no longer feel any urgency to serve!
But my Child, do I require you to carry their load or do their work?
Lord the lost don’t want to hear! They want to be left alone!
But my Child, what if you were yet lost and did not want to hear?
Lord, will you help me through the day?
But my Child, have I not helped you through all the days since you became
mine?
Did you not expect me to be here today?
My Child, all things are mine to give and all things are yours in me.

Ten people talked three million Israelites out of entering the Promise Land —
That’s how dangerous a vocal minority can be.
“I hope you didn’t take it personally, Reverend,” an embarrassed woman said
after a church service, “when my husband walked out during your sermon.”
“I did find it rather disconcerting,” the minister replied. “ It’s not a reflection
on you, sir,” insisted the churchgoer. “Ralph has been walking in his sleep
ever since he was a child.”

Take time to THINK…It is the source of power.
Take time to PLAY…It is the secret of perpetual youth.
Take time to READ…It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY…It is the greatest power on earth.
Take time to LOVE and BE LOVED…It is a God-given privilege.
Take time to BE FRIENDLY…It is the road to happiness.
Take time to LAUGH…It is the music of the soul.
Take time to GIVE…It is too short a day to be selfish.
Take time to WORK…It is the price of success’
Take time to DO CHARITY…It is the KEY TO HEAVEN.

Resiliency is an important factor in living. The winds of life may bend us,
but if we have resilience of Spirit, they cannot break us. To courageously
straighten again after our heads have been bowed by defeat, disappointment
and suffering, is the supreme test of character.

Perseverance is the most overrated of traits: if it is unaccompanied by talent,
beating your head against a wall is more likely to produce a concussion in
the head than a hole in the wall.
When you talk, you repeat what you already know. When you listen,
you often learn something.
The grace of listening is lost if the listener’s attention is demanded,
not as a favour, but as a right

It’s not how much of my money I give to God, but how much of his money I
keep for myself.
Or as sometimes put more bluntly, It’s all right to give God credit,
but He can use cash too.
You know, they say you can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead,
and have it waiting to your credit when you get there. (R.G.LeTourneau)
There is always free cheese in the mouse trap.

When you go to church this Sunday and you feel that old temptation to point
out what’s wrong with the place: the coffee’s luke warm, the lights are too
bright, the temperature is wrong, the music is too loud and, of course, you
don’t know the songs.
Remember in that moment, there’s a Ukrainian church gathering in subway
tunnels to worship while bombs blast overhead. No coffee, no instruments, no
leader pushing them to worship, they’re down there in real time and in real
life worshiping the King above Kings as their world is crumbling down.

A minister waited in line to have his car filled with fuel just before a long
holiday weekend. The attendant worked quickly, but there were many cars
ahead of him in front of the service station. Finally the attendant motioned
him toward a vacant pump. “Reverend,” said the young man, “Sorry about
the delay. It seems as if everyone waits until the last minute to get ready for a
long trip.” The minister chuckled. “I know what you mean.
It’s the same in my business.”


If the request is wrong, God says, “No.”

If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.”
If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.”
But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right ,
God says, “GO.”
Anyone can make a mistake; only a fool will persist in it.
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will
make one.

Think about this;trust
How does the thief on the cross fit into your theology? No baptism, no
communion, no confirmation, no speaking in tongues, no mission trip, no
volunteerism, and no church clothes.
He couldn’t even bend his knees to pray.
He didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and among other things, he was a thief.
Jesus didn’t take away his pain, heal his body, or smite the scoffers. Yet it
was a thief who walked into heaven the same hour as Jesus simply by believing.
He had nothing more to offer other than his belief that Jesus was who he
said he was.
No spin from brilliant theologians.
No ego or arrogance.
No Shiny lights, skinny jeans, or crafty words.
No haze machine, donuts, or coffee in the entrance.
Just a naked dying man on a cross unable to even fold his hands to pray.”
For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believed in him would not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
I read this today and was reminded of the simplicity of the Gospel.

John McLean.

As has often been said, ‘The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence
– it is greener where we water it.’ In fact, ‘If the grass looks greener, it’s
probably AstroTurf!

The good opinion of honest men, wherever they may be born or happen to
reside, is the only kind of reputation a wise man would ever desire.
A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in
temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
Our grand business in life is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do
what lies ahead.
The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.

Just because you are doing a lot more doesn’t mean you are getting a lot
done. Don’t confuse movement with progress!
The driver is safer when the roads are dry,
The roads are safer when the driver is dry.
Two women were discussing the virtues of their mates. “Yes, my Harry is
just the best,” said Louise. “I remember before we were married he said he
liked a cigar after a good meal, but he hasn’t smoked in years

 

But just as quantity wins respect and honour for a church, it is qualitythat provides a church with safety and Protection.

He who chops his own wood warms himself twice

A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was
short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under
the windshield wiper that read: If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment,
FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.
When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this
note. I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose
my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you;
that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

A six-year old girl had been so naughty that her mother decided to teach her a
lesson. She told her she couldn’t go to the school fair.
Then when the day came, her mother felt she had been to harsh and changed
her mind. When she told the girl she could go to the school fair, the child’s
reaction was one of gloom and disappointment. “What’s the matter? I thought
you’d be glad to go to the school fair,” her mother said. “It’s too late!” the
little girl said. “I’ve already prayed for rain, storms and thunder!”

Knowing that the pastor was very fond of cherry brandy, one of the Church
Elders offered to present him with a bottle on one consideration — that the
pastor acknowledge receipt of the gift in the church paper.
“Gladly” responded the good man.
When the church magazine came out a few days later, the elder turned at once
to the “appreciation” column.
There he read: “ the pastor extends his thanks to Elder Brown for his gift of
fruit and for the spirit in which it was given.”

After service one Sunday morning a mother commented, “The choir was awful this morning.”
The father commented, “The sermon was too long.” Their seven year old
daughter added,
“But you’ve got to admit it was a pretty good show for 20c”
Brains and beauty are God’s gift; Character is your own achievement.

I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because the thorn
bush has a rose. — It’s all up to me.
Children have never been very good at listening to their elders,
but they have never failed to imitate them.
Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the
temperature of the heart.

Jesus:
It has been said that Socrates and Aristotle each taught for 40 years, Plato for
50 years, but Jesus for only three. Yet his influence far surpasses the combined
130 years of teaching by these men who are acknowledged as the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. He painted no pictures, yet the finest paintings of
Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci received their illumination
from Him. He wrote no poetry, yet Dante, Milton and others of the world’s
greatest poets were inspired by him. He composed no music, yet Haydn, Handel, Beethoven and Bach reached their highest perfection in hymns, symphonies and oratorios composed in His honour. Jesus is quite simply the greatest
teacher who ever lived.

Bible:
They lie on the table side by side. The Holy Bible and the TV guide.
One is well worn and cherished with pride. Not the Bible, but the TV guide.
One is used daily to help folks decide. No, not the Bible, but the TV guide.
As the pages are turned, what shall we see?
Oh, what does it matter, turn on the TV.
So they open the book in which they confide. No, not the Bible, but the TV
guide.
The word of God is seldom read. Maybe a verse before they fall into bed.
Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be. Not from reading the Bible,
from watching TV.
So then back to the table side by side, Lie the Holy Bible and the TV guide.
No time for prayer, no time for the word, The plan of Salvation is seldom
heard.
But forgiveness of sin, so full and free. Is found in the Bible, not on TV.

Overwork.
For a couple of years I’ve been blaming it on lack of sleep and too much
pressure from my job, but now I’ve found out the real reason:
I am tired because I am overworked.
The population of this country is 58 million. 24 million are retired. That
leaves 34 million to do the work.
There are 20 million at school, which leaves 14 million to do the work. Of
this there are 7.5 million employed by the government, leaving 6.5 million to
do the work. 2.7 million are in the armed forces, which leaves 3.8 million to
do the work.
Take from the total the 3,770,000 people who work for local authorities and
that leaves 30,000 to do the work. At any given time there are 20,000 people
in hospital, leaving 10,000 to do the work.
Now there are 9,998 people in prison. That leaves just two people to do the
work. You and me.
And you’re sitting here reading jokes.

The hinge of history is to be found on the door of a Bethlehem stable.
It was Christmas and the judge was in a merry mood as he asked the
prisoner, “What are you charged with?”
“Doing my Christmas shopping early,” replied the defendant.
“That’s no offence,” said the judge. “ How early were you Shopping?”
“Before the store opened,” answered the defendant.

Men and Women are able creatures; we have made over 32million laws and
haven’t yet improved on the Ten Commandments.
Guidance means I can count on God.
Commitment means God can count on me.
Intentions may be written in pencil, commitments should be carved in stone.

When we learn Something new, the connections between our brain cells are
increased.

The principal hindrance to the advancement of the kingdom of God is greed.
It is the chief obstacle to heaven sent revival. It seems that when the back of
greed is broken, your human spirit soars in regions of unselfishness. I believe
it is safe to say there can be no continuous revival without `hilarious` giving.
And the I fear no contradiction; wherever there is `hilarious` giving there will
be continuous revival. (O S Hawkins)
Biblical charity is more than giving that which we could afford to do without.

Never stop learning how to learn.

The ultimate measure of a
person is not where they stand
in moments of comfort and
convenience, but where they
stand in times of challenge
and controversy.
The first half of our lives
we’re romantic. The second
half we’re rheumatic.
The most significant achievement of our age is not that man stood on the
moon, but rather that God in Christ stood upon this earth.

Father was approached by his small son, who told him proudly,
“I know what the Bible means!”
His father smiled and replied, “What do you mean, you ‘know’ what the
Bible means?”
The son replied, “I do know!” “Ok,” said his father. “So, son, what does the Bible mean?”
That’s easy, Daddy. It stands for ‘Basic Information Before Leaving Earth’.”

 

Three vicars were having lunch together. One said, “You know since summer started I’ve been having trouble with bats at church. I’ve tried everything — noise, spray, cats — nothing seems to scare them away.” Another said, “Yes, me to. I’ve got hundreds living in my belfry. I’ve even had the place fumigat-ed, and they still won’t go away.”
The third said, “I baptised all mine, and made them members of the church…. Haven’t seen one back since!”

A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside.
The pastor said to him, “You need to join the army of the Lord!”
My friend replied, “I’m already in the army of the Lord, pastor.” The pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?”
He whispered back, “ I’m in the secret service.”

Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.
Robert Frost wrote. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”
What road are you on?
A gang of eight year old boys found a dead bird. Feeling that a proper burial should be performed, they secured a small box, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said, “Glory be unto the Faaaather, and unto the Sonnn…and into the hole you goooo.”

think

Change the way you think of things and the things you think of will change.
The best vitamin for making friends is…..B1
Humility is to receive praise and to pass it on to God untouched.
Humility is like underwear. We should all have it but not let it show.
God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, he can make something out of us. (Martin Luther.)

Humility is to receive praise and to pass it on to God untouched.
It is not a great thing to be humble when you are brought low, but to be
humble when you are praised is a great and rare attainment
Two men are being chased by a bear when one stops to put on his trainers.
The other man yells, “You idiot! You can’t outrun a bear!” The first man gasps, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!:

A woman approached the minister after the sermon, and thanked him for his talk. “I found it so helpful,” she said.
The minister replied: “I hope it will not prove as helpful as the last sermon you heard me preach.”
“Why, what do you mean?” asked the astonished woman.
“Well,” said the minister, “ that sermon lasted you three months.”

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mummy, will you sleep in my bed tonight?” His mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t dear,” she said. “I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.”
A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice. “The big sissy.”
The new father, beside himself with excitement over the birth of his son, was determined to follow all the rules to the letter. “So, tell me, nurse,” he said. “what time should we wake the little guy in the morning?”

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in a manner so that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.
While on a long car journey, a couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. The woman unfortunately left her sunglasses on the table, but didn’t miss them until they were back on the motorway. By then, they had to travel to the next junction before they could turn around.
The man fussed and complained all the way back to the restaurant.
When they finally arrived, as the woman got out of the car to find her sun-glasses, the man said, “While you’re in there, you may as well get my hat,too.”

The wheel was man’s greatest invention… until he got behind it.
A small boy is sent to bed by his father.
Five minutes later… “Da-ad…” “What?”
“I’m thirsty. Can you bring me a drink of water?”
“No. You had your chance, Lights out.”
Five minutes later: “Da-aaad…” “What?”
“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water?”
“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to discipline!” you!”
Five minutes later… “Daaa-aaad…” “What!”
“When you come in to discipline me, can you bring a drink of water?”

There was a preacher who entered his pulpit one Sunday morning and said:
“Oh Lord, give thy servant this mornin’ the eyes of the eagle and the wisdom of the owl; connect his soul with the gospel telephone in the skies; illuminate his brow with the Sun of Heaven; possess his mind with love for the people; turpentine his imagination; grease his lips with possum oil; electrify his brain with lightnin’ of the Word; put perpetual motion in his arms; fill him plumb full of dynamite of Thy glory; anoint him all over with kerosene of salvation, and set him on fire. Amen!”

If you are suffering from tooth decay you should consult your dentist.
If you are suffering from truth decay, you should consult your Bible.

If you had a bank that credited your account with $86,000, that carried over no balance from day to day, allowed you to keep no cash in your account, and every evening cancelled whatever part of the amount you failed to use during the day, what would you do?
Draw out every dollar every day, of course, and use it to your advantage! Well, you have such a bank, and its name is TIME!
Every morning it credits you with 86,000 seconds. Every night it rules off as lost whatever of this you failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balances, it allows no overdrafts. Each day it opens a new account with you. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against tomorrow.

Martin Luther King said,
‘On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?”
Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And
Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?”
But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?”

When criticised, try to remember an important truth from John Bunyan:
“ If my life is fruitless, it doesn’t matter who praises me, and
If my life is fruitful, it doesn’t matter who criticises me.”
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish one’s growth without destroying one’s roots

When life seems dark, choose joy. Let your smile be a win-dow of hope reflecting God’s love and the light of his pres-ence in your life.

If we discovered that we had five minutes left to say all we wanted to say,
every telephone line would be occupied by people calling other people to
stammer that they love them.
Why wait until the last five minutes

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge;
Argument is an exchange of ignorance.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak;
Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
A young man said to his father at breakfast one morning, “Dad, I’m going to get married.” “How do you know you’re ready to get married?” asked the
Father. “Are you in love?” “I sure am,” said the son. “How do you know you’re in love?” asked the father. “Last night as I was kissing my girlfriend goodnight, her dog bit me and I didn’t feel the pain until I got home.”

A local priest and rabbi were fishing by the side of the road. After some discussion they thoughtfully made a sign saying, “The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it’s to late!” and showed it to each passing car.
One driver that drove by didn’t appreciate the sign and shouted at them: “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” Shortly afterwards they heard a big splash. They looked at each other and the priest said to the rabbi, “You think we should just put up a sign that says ‘Bridge Out’instead?”

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted it on the tray, “Take only one. God is watching.” Moving further along the lunch line was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. One child whispered to another, “Take all you want, God is watching the apples.”
A Rabbi said to a precocious six year old boy: “So your mother says your prayers for you each night? Very commendable . What does she say?” The little boy replied, “Thank God he’s in bed!”

The only ones among you who will be really happy arethink
those who will have sought and found how to serve.
A teenage boy has just passed his driving test and asked his father when they could discuss his use of the car? His father says he’ll make a deal: “You bring your grades up from C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car.” Done! After about six weeks, his father says: “Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.” The boy says, “You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair, and there’s strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.”
“Yes,” replies his father. “But did you also notice they all walked everywhere
they went

 

A minister was being constantly criticized by a member of his congregation.
After six months of this the poor man could stand it no more. He went out on a hot summer’s afternoon for a drive in the countryside. He wound down the window and after about an hour of driving began to feel much better. Driving down a narrow country lane, however, he was horrified to see a car careering towards him out of control. As it approached, he realized with even greater horror that the lady driving the car was the very woman who had been
harassing him.
As they passed within an inch of each other, the woman shouted the word “PIG!”
Months of built-up tension got the better of the minister and he shouted back, “COW!” Then he drove around the corner and hit the pig.

A new bishop was visiting the homes in the village. At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks on the door.
Therefore, he took out a business card and wrote “Revelation 3:20” on the back and stuck it under the door.
The following Sunday he found that his card had been returned to his office door. Added to it was this cryptic message, “Genesis3:10.”
Reaching for his Bible to check out the verse, he broke up in gales of laughter
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked: so I hid.”

Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a
harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. Galatians 6:9
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half is composed of those who have nothing to say and keep on saying it

During the minister’s prayer one Sunday, there was a loud whistle from one of the back pews. Gary’s mother was horrified. She pinched him into silence, and after church, asked: “Gary, whatever made you do such a thing?” Gary answered soberly: “I asked God to teach me to whistle…And He just did!”

Yesterday is gone. Today is here. Tomorrow isn’t promised.
Enjoy the blessings that God has already provided and prepare yourself for what He has planned for you.

If you’re grateful for what you have and you focus on the positives, it has
tremendous benefits for heart health, mental health, and reducing stress.


Stories of Life is an annual writing competition that calls on Australian writers to share a personal story of faith in one of three categories: under 18 years of age, open category under 500 words, and open category under 1500 words. The best 50 stories are published each year in an anthology and many are also recorded and read on different Christian radio stations. The deadline for this year is the end of July. If you have a story to tell, ask Pastor Mark about
Stories of Life, as he is on the steering committee and is one of the editors. He would be happy to help you get started.

Two elderly couples were chatting together. One of the men asked the other. “Fred, how was your visit to the memory clinic last month?”
“Outstanding. They taught us some of the latest techniques for remembering things. It was great.”
“What was the name of the clinic?” asked the other man.
Fred’s mind went blank. Then he smiled and asked, “What do you call that flower with the long stem and thorns?” “A Rose?” “Yes!”
He turned to his wife: “Rose, what was the name of that memory clinic?”

M-O-T-H-E-R
“M” is for the million things she gave me,
“O” means only that she’s growing old,
“T” is for the tears she shed to save me,
“H” is for her heart of purest gold,
“E” is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
“R” means right, and right she’ll always be,
Put them all together, they spell
MOTHER A word that means the world to me

covid

Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of
Ice cream fall from the cone

Ever notice that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot,
but anyone going faster than you is a maniac
Action:
Did is a word of achievement Won’t is a word of retreat
Might is a word of bereavement Can’t is a word of defeat
Ought is a word of duty Try is a word for each hour
Will is a word of beauty Can is a word of power.

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How?
because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.
Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison.
They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.
Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.
You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?
Absolutely impossible.” Charles Colson.

If a matter is not serious enough to pray about, then it is not serious enough to worry about; and if it is serious enough to pray about, and we have prayed about it, then there is no need to worry about it.

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was diffi-cult to change the world, so I tried to change the nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation. I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realise that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town, Their im-pact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.

What You Give to God, He Multiplies
Hattie May Wiatt, a six-year-old girl, lived near Grace Baptist Church in Phil-adelphia, USA. The Sunday school was very crowded. Russell H. Conwell, the minister, told her that one day they would have buildings big enough to allow everyone to attend. She said, ‘I hope you will. It is so crowded I am afraid to go there alone.’ He replied, ‘When we get the money we will construct one large enough to get all the children in.’
Two years later, in 1886, Hattie May died. After the funeral Hattie’s mother gave the minister a little bag they had found under their daughter’s pillow con-taining 57 cents in change that she had saved up. Alongside it was a note in her handwriting: ‘To help build bigger building so that more children can go to Sunday school.’
The minister changed all the money into pennies and offered each one for sale. He received $250 – and 54 of the cents were given back. The $250 was itself changed into pennies and sold by the newly formed ‘Wiatt Mite Society’. In this way, her 57 cents kept on multiplying.
Twenty-six years later, in a talk entitled, ‘The history of the 57 cents’, the min-ister explained the results of her 57-cent donation: a church with a membership of over 5,600 people, a hospital where tens of thousands of people had been treated, 80,000 young people going through university, 2,000 people going out to preach the gospel – all this happened ‘because Hattie May Wiatt invested her 57 cents’.
The theme of multiplication runs throughout the Bible. What cannot be achieved by addition, God does by multiplication. You reap what you sow, only many times more. What you give to the Lord, he multiplies.

A couple was invited to dinner by their elderly neighbours. The old gentle-man endearingly preceded every request to his wife with “Honey”, “Darling”, “Sweetheart”, “Pumpkin”, etc.
The neighbours were impressed since the couple had been married for almost 70 years.
While the wife was off in the kitchen, the neighbour said to the gentleman,
“I think it’s wonderful that after all the years you’ve been married, you still refer to your wife in those terms.” The elderly gentleman hung his head. “Actually, forgot the old lady’s name about ten years ago.”

Compassion:
A little boy about ten years old was standing before a shoe store on the road-way, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in the window?” “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” was the boy’s reply.
The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the assistant to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could get her a basin of water and a towel.
He brought them to her. She took the little boy to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried with a towel. By this time the assistant had returned with the socks
Placing a pair on the boy’s feet, she bought him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, “No doubt. My little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?”
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s wife?”

A kindergarten teacher was walking around observing her classroom of children while they were drawing pictures. As she got to one girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.”
The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.”
Without looking up from her drawing, the girl replied,
“They will in a minute.”

A smile is a light in the window of a face which shows that the heart is at home.

Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.

Life:
Perhaps when we grow very old, our bodies get worn out, or certain parts break down, like … an old car.
None of us can be sure of how long we live… I think we should try not to think too much about dying but
Think about all the nice things around us that make life so precious to us all.

A vision without a task is a dream. A task without a vision is drudgery.
But the two together are the hope of the world.
A young and foolish pilot wanted to sound cool and show who was boss on the aviation frequencies.
So, the first time he approached an airfield at night, instead of making his
official request to the tower, he said: “Guess who?”
The controller switched the field lights off and replied: “Guess where!”

 

Two boys were walking home from church after hearing a strong preach-ing on the devil. One said to the oth-er, “What do you think about all this Satan Stuff?”
The other boy replied, “Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It’s Probably just your dad.”

Home is where the heart is….
Because of the shortage near a military base where he was stationed, a young doctor and his wife and three children had to live in cramped quarters in a
hotel. A friend said to the doctor’s six year old daughter, “Isn’t it too bad that you don’t have a home?”
“Oh we have a home,” the youngster quickly replied, “We just don’t have a house to put it in.”

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You
sit still and trust the engineer.
You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.

Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love.
Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked
that means pain.
There are two things we can do when this happens.
We can kill that love so that it stops hurting.
But then of course part of us dies, too.
Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.

‘Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.’
Trust God and learn to live one day at a time.

An old dollar bill and an even older $20 arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired.
“I’ve had a pretty good life,” the $20 says. “I’ve been to Vegas, the finest restaurants in New York, and even on a Caribbean cruise.”
“You did have an exciting life!” the dollar says.
“Where have you been?” the $20 asks.
“Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist church, the Baptist church, spent some time with the Lutherans…”
“Wait,” the $20 interrupts. “What’s a church?”

“Do not resist growing old— many are denied the privilege.”
“One of the pleasures of old age is giving things up”
Abraham waited for 25 years. Joseph waited 13 years.
Moses waited 40 years. Jesus waited 30 years.

If God makes you wait, you are in good company.!!!!

If you’re ever headed the wrong way in life, remember the road to Heaven allows U-turns

Known by the Almighty:
Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you don’t count and that you are but a speck in the mass,
God says, “I know you.”

Our lives as Books:
There are people in the world around us who have never opened or read a
Bible. — But are they reading us.
Are they able to say of us to others “That man, that woman reminds me of Jesus?”
Do we let our light so shine that men may see, not us, but our Father in
Heaven?
This is the real test.

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
(James 3:18)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1.)

Something to think about:
Mr. Smith,
I am pleased to inform you that I have made arrangements to pay off all your debts in full. I cannot proceed without your consent, however, and I ask that you contact me as soon as possible to receive your gift.
Your loving Servant. Jesus

Kindness:
You never really know the true impact you have on those around you.
You never know how much someone needed that smile you gave them.
You never know how much your kindness turned someone’s entire life around.
You never know how much someone needed that long hug or deep talk.
So! Don’t wait to be kind, don’t wait for better circumstances or for someone to change.
Just be kind. Because you never know how much someone needed it.

Time:
We don’t need to fear that there is not enough time, but we only need to remember to appreciate the time God gives us.

Sacrifice.
In 1937, a man by the name of John Griffiths found a job tending one of the railroad bridges that crossed the Mississippi River. Every day he would control the gears of the bridge to allow barges and ships through.
One day John decided to allow his eight-year-old son Greg to help him. He and his boy packed their lunches with great excitement and hopes for the fu-ture and went to work. The morning went quickly and at noon they headed off for lunch, down a narrow catwalk onto an observation platform about 50 feet above the Mississippi. John told his son stories about the ships as they passed by. Suddenly, they were jolted back to reality by the shrill sound of an engine’s whistle.
Looking at his watch, John realized to his horror that it was 1.07 pm, that the Memphis Express was due any time and that the bridge was still raised.
He calmly told Greg to stay put and then ran back to the controls.
Once there he looked beneath the bridge to make sure there was nothing
below. As his eyes moved downwards he saw something so terrible that he froze. For there, lying on the gears, was his beloved son.
Greg had tried to follow his dad but had fallen off the catwalk. Immediately, John realized the horrifying choice before him: either to lower the bridge and kill his son, or keep the bridge raised and kill everyone on board the train.
As 400 people moved closer to the bridge, John realized what he had to do. Burying his face under his arm, he plunged down the lever. The cries of his son were instantly drowned out by the noise of the bridge grinding slowly into position.
John wiped the tears from his eyes as the train passed by. A Conductor was collecting tickets in his usual way. A Businessman was casually reading the newspaper. Ladies were drinking afternoon tea. Children were playing. Most of the passengers were engaged in idle chatter.
No one heard the cries of a heartbroken father.

A LITTLE EXTRA FROM THE PAST.

paul

change

Never Argue with Children.
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it is physically impossible. The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.” The teacher asked. “What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

Storms
Did you know that an Eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before
it breaks?
The Eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come.
When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the Eagle is soaring above it. The Eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.
When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them setting our minds and our belief toward God.
The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.
Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we han-dle them.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like Eagles” Isaiah 40:31

Beginnings:
Begin difficult things while they are easy, Do great things when they are small,
The difficult things of the world must have once been easy:
The great things must have been small ..,
A thousand mile journey begins with one step.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Some-body would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that
Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Goliath

hope2

Now that’s rediculious!!

pipes

crosstalk

                   

                           7th November 2021
                    24th Sunday after Pentecost 
                    Todays service will be held @ 9am240_F_76080180_liQGKxJWSP7v8T8VjQObFV8OCVG9RLU3
         If you are in Port Macquarie you are very welcome.
               Service will be lead by: Dr. Gordon Watson
                                       The theme;
“If

 

              Sunday 7th November
              Pentecost 24
Worship Service led by: Dr. Gordon Watsongordon5
Holy Communion: Dr. Gordon Watson
Communion Assistant: David Thompson
Communion Prep.: David Thompson
Bible Readings: David Thompson
1st Reading: 1King 17:8-16 Elijah and the widow of Zarephath
2nd Reading: Hebrews 9:24-28 Christ’s sacrifice takes away sins
Gospel: Mark 12:38-44 The widow’s generous offering
Prayers lead by: Derryl Huf
Stewards: Joan Watson and Dale Ampt
Music: Narelle
Audio/ Computer: Tayte Schultz

                    Next Sunday 14th November
                     Pentecost 25
Worship Service led by: John McLeanjohnmac
Holy Communion: David Pfeiffer
Communion Assistant: Dr. Gordon Watson
Communion Prep.: David Thompson
Bible Readings: Jenelle Frances
1st Reading: Daniel 12:1-3 The time of the end
2nd Reading: Hebrews 10:11-14(15-18)19-25 Let us confidently draw near to God
Gospel: Mark 13:1-8 Signs of the end of the age
Prayers lead by: Dr. Gordon Watson
Stewards: Don and Carol Mclean
Music: Daryll and Lloyd
Audio/ Computer: David Pfeiffer

Notice:

syringe2

                  

                           St Peters Lutheran Church:
Condition of entry.pipes
The Use of QR COVID Safe Check-in is a requirement.
Masks must be worn at all times.
COVID Marshal 12-09-2021

                        

 

In our thoughts and Prayers:praying
John McLean,
Rosemary Conran,
Kathy Mitchell,
Renate Radmacher,
Jenny Montgomery,
Tony Koch,
Aileen Huf,
Bob Rayward,
Helga Mathies,
Clive Reeve.
Carole Rogers.
Christine Kurteff.

bible

 

Bible Study:
7.30 Tuesday night @ Kemp St.
Stay connected with : Lutheran Media Livestreaming.
https://www.livestream.com/luthworship

Church Stewards:
Please make sure all attendees sanitise, sign-in and supervise 1.5 m rule.
Roster:
Church Cleaning:
November: Corrine McLean
Cleaners please wash hands before and after cleaning and wear gloves.

Roster: Morning tea:cuppa
NO MORNING TEA DUE TO C19

Catch-Up Coffee:
Friday, 12th November, 10 am.at Rivermark
Interested people please contact Carol McLean 0427832156

Ladies fellowship:
Meeting Wednesday 10th November. 12pm at the Church.
Please note the AGM will be held with this meeting.
BYO lunch and drink and don’t forget your mask.


Sermons
:8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0

All past sermons are available to read on our web page.
stpetersptmacquarie.com
Stay connected with : Lutheran Media Livest reaming.


October/November Birthdays:
birthday
24 Lloyd Reichelt
24 Jasper Schultz
29 Ben Clarke

 

Web page. 
People who visited the website in the last week, including
32 Aust
globe19 USA
2 UK
2 Canada
1 Austria 1
1 Ecuador
4 Phillipines.
We now have 87 followers.

2018:  2,515
2019:  1,864
2020:  2,496
2021:  1,735


Statistic:

Sunday Service 31st October Attendance was 29
sitting

 

Notice:

Memorial Rite for Those Who Have Died In the Faith of Christ
(You are invited to come forward at the beginning of Sundays worship service and light a candle from the Baptismal candle remem-bering those dear to you with whom you are now united in Christ in the church triumphant.)

 

Living Waters:
Please remember to bring your Living Waters Art for display on this Sunday

Notice:
Please send all information, comments, devotions, prayers to be included in the news letter to rherbig@tpg.com.au by Thursday in order to publish on Friday Thank you , Roy.
St. Peters Lutheran Church. 13 Kemp St. Port Macquarie. 2444. P.O. Box 5655.
stpetersptmacquarie.com

Responding to Sexual Abuse Complaints:
A confidential service for responding to complaints of sexual abuse/harassment by church employees has been set up. Trained advisors are available to help.
Write to the Supervisor P.O. Box 519. Marden SA. 5070, or use the free call number 1800644628
The Church and the Privacy Act:
1 The Church collects personal information about you before and during the course of your membership of the church
2 We may include your contact details in membership lists or other church publications. If you do not agree to this
You must advise us immediately.
3 Some of the information we collect is to satisfy the church’s legal obligation, and thereby to enable it to discharge It’s duty of care.

 

 

Stories of Life 2021 Book Launch:
When Pastor Mark was visiting us back in June, he encouraged all of us tothe lab write our story of faith and submit them for the chance of being selected for publication. This book is being launched on Thursday evening, 4 November via Zoom from SA.
Five members from our congregation took up the challenge and submitted their sto-ries and ALL five stories have been selected for the book! Congratulations to Aileen Huf, Jenelle Francis, Ivan Francis, Tony Koch, and Sherry Thompson. The 2021 Stories of Life, Labyrinth, will be available to purchase for $20 and has over 50 stories to inspire and encourage our faith.
To save postage, Pastor Mark has offered to bring them with him when he visit in January. If you require the book before then, you can order and pay $8 per book postage (if same address, $8 first book and $2 thereafter). Please advise David Pfeiffer if you wish to purchase a copy or copies and want to wait for the January delivery.

 

St Peters Chess Club:chess

Thursday from 6 – 7.30 pm.
Everyone welcome

Weekly Devotion:

Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! (Psalm 119:5).
Read Psalm 119:1–8
Are you everything you would like to be? More importantly, are you every-thing God would like you to be? It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Most of us long to be better, to be as God wants us to be, and we are so aware of our shortcom-ings. Can we be blessed by God when we keep failing to measure up?
The opening verses of Psalm 119 have two parts. The first describes those who are blessed. They ‘walk according to the law of the Lord’ (verse 1b); ‘they do nothing wrong’ (verse 3a). Do such people actually exist? If they do, the psalmist says in the second part, ‘I wish I was one of them’. He acknowl-edges that he falls short. ‘Oh, that my ways were steadfast’ (verse 5) is the aspiration he expresses. I don’t know about you, but I identify with that sec-ond part. I long to be blessed.
It’s hard to read the Old Testament without reading it through a ‘Jesus lens’. Jesus says that these are blessed: the poor in spirit, the mourners needing comfort, the meek, the ones hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the merci-ful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:1–10). The Jesus lens tells us more. It tells us that he gave his life to pay for all shortcomings, even for the very worst. To you and me, he says that he loves us unconditionally. And because of that, we are blessed. That’s the essence of the Reformation message on which we re-flect tomorrow. We are blessed; now, we are called and equipped to live the blessed life.
The psalmist knew the two-part battle. I’m sure you do too. You are a child of God, so you are blessed. Live as a blessed one!
Prayer:

Bless me, Lord God. Shine the cross of Jesus before my eyes. Help me to

                 Something to think about:think

A father was approached by his small son, who told him proudly,

“I know what the Bible means!”
His father smiled and replied, “What do you mean, you ‘know’ what the
Bible means?”
The son replied, “I do know!” “Ok,” said his father. “So, son, what does the Bible mean?”
That’s easy, Daddy. It stands for ‘Basic Information Before Leaving Earth’.”

A woman was mailing an old family Bible to her brother in another part of the country.
“Is there anything breakable in here?” asked the postal clerk.
“Only the Ten Commandments,” answered the woman.

Can you say today that you have learned to be content in whatever state you find yourself? If you cannot, ask yourself, “What am I doing and why am I doing it?”
Are you able to say, “I’m doing it because the Lord has called me and because of the love and relationship I have with him. Whether it succeeds or fails is of no consequence to me. What is important to me is that I’m doing what the Lord has called me to do.”
That is the secret of contentment.

Prepare the way for the Lord

Matthew 3:1-12

 

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0 saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

 “I baptize you with water. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Repentance―it’s a key theme of advent and clearly a focus of today’s Gospel reading. “Repent.” That word is the opening word spoken in today’s text. It’s not even softened with a sugar-coated preface. Human ears don’t like that word. It’s a word frowned upon and laughed at by society. It’s an idea that society says oozes with irresponsibility because it gets in the way of personal freedom in deciding and claiming for ourselves what we think is our right to have. Society protests: “How dare anyone else try to snuff out my right to have whatever I want, whenever I want it and tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing!”

Even in the church it’s a word that grates and cuts against the grain of our human nature. “Outdated!” “Not progressive!” “Unloving!” “An impediment to mission!” we might argue. Or, those of us who call the church to take a stand against immorality might be heartened when we hear the word ‘repent’―until we realise that word is spoken to the unacceptable things we think or say or do ourselves. Then we quickly get to work at building the self-justification fortress: “Repent!?! Me?! We’re not that bad!!” our old self protests. “OK, we’re not perfect, but we’re pretty good.”

John the Baptist didn’t come to tell people everything was ‘OK’. “Repent!” he calls. What an unusual sight he must have been, eating locusts and wearing garments made of camel’s hair, the food and attire of the very poor. As he stood there in the wilderness, the hot, uninhabited gorge through which the Jordan flows―itself symbolic of the spiritual wasteland of the people’s hearts, devoid of any love for God―John drew people into a place where they were without the luxury, comforts, and security of their normal daily routine, to reflect on what they had prioritised in their life and how their priorities were at odds with God’s.

John saves the strictest rebuke for the Pharisees and Sadducees, very different religious sects in Israel, but with a common problem―they are assuming that because they were born into the covenant people Israel, they will be saved from the wrath to come simply because of their ancestry. Yet their hearts are far from God. They had all the external marks of religious respectability―and that is what they are trusting in. They have the false confidence that they have Abraham as their father and so have an automatic right to heaven. But they did not bring forth the fruit of genuine repentance and humility before God. John calls them to repent. He warns them the axe has gone far below the stump of the trees; it is already at the roots. Not so much as a twig will remain―God’s judgment is that they will be completely removed from the privileges he has given them.

Why does John make this call to repentance? Because the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Through the ages there have been so many predictions about how near the Kingdom of Heaven really is―even though Jesus teaches us that no-one knows the day or hour. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”―those words can be hard for us to hear for other reasons―just how near is God’s Kingdom, given that these words were spoken some 2,000 years ago? How then can we be firm in hope that God’s Kingdom is near? Is it an empty promise?

Although we don’t know when God’s Kingdom will come again, we can know where it comes now. A kingdom is where ever its King rules over his subjects. In his explanation to the petition “Thy Kingdom come”, Luther explains in the Small Catechism: “God’s Kingdom comes indeed without our praying for it, but we ask in this prayer that it may come also to us. God’s Kingdom comes when our Heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy word and live a godly life on earth now, and in heaven forever.”

With this understanding of the kingdom, it might be easier to see what the Baptist means when he says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” The Kingdom is near―close by―in Christ, the King of heaven, who came all the way from heaven down to earth, born in a stable at Bethlehem to be God with us. In him the kingdom has drawn close by to us, and indeed is in us, as Christ rules over our hearts and uses his authority and power to serve sinners and bless them with his grace and bring, love, forgiveness and joy. John was the one that Isaiah had spoken of in Isaiah 40:3-4:

A voice of one calling in the wilderness:

“Prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

Isaiah says that mountains and hills are to be levelled and valleys raised up. The hills and valleys are symbolic of the sin in the human heart that separates people from God. Just as levelling mountains and raising valleys is a task beyond human ability, so too is making a way through sin to fellowship with God. It is a task that is utterly beyond human power. Only God is able to construct a way through such obstacles. He must prepare a highway to come to his people and deliver them. That is what Jesus does for us. Notice that our reading does not say: “Make a straight path so we can travel to him.” It says “Make a straight path for him to travel”. God has made the roadway and travelled it first in the person of Christ. He has come near to us.

He made the way straight for you in your baptism, where the rough ways and mountains and valleys in your heart were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit at work through God’s word. Christ came to you and washed you clean at the font and joined you to his own death and resurrection. You were born again from above and the Holy Spirit created faith in your heart, calling you to Christ through the Gospel—even if you were asleep and blissfully unaware of what was taking place, and even if you cried and squirmed and protested.

Since the Kingdom is so near in Christ who reaches out with God’s grace, it is only appropriate that all people should long to receive this Kingdom and turn to Christ with their sins for him to free them from them. John the Baptist’s call to repentance is for our ears too. It is not just to escape judgment but to receive grace. For us the call to repentance is because, though Christ will come again, he is also already here. The freeway has been opened! In the person of Christ, the Kingdom of heaven is near, again, today. He has already spoken his absolution to you this morning. He has come with good news for you through the words of Scripture. He serves you this gospel as a holy meal that he hosts―his true body and precious blood. As he hands it to you he says: “This is my body given for you. This is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is near. It is 2000 years closer than when John first spoke these words in the Judean wilderness. The Kingdom of Heaven is near to you as we, the church, live in the wilderness of this age―the wilderness of western materialism, spiritual supermarkets, and spiritual wasteland of living for the self. The Kingdom of Heaven is near to you as we live in a consumer age that looks to filling the valleys of loneliness and the potholes of anxiety with things that promise hope but can’t give lasting peace. The Kingdom of Heaven is near to you as you live in a society with all its ethical and moral upheaval that has so many different ideas about what walking the straight path looks like, depending on opinion and trends. The Kingdom of Heaven is near to you as the church lives in a world that doesn’t want to hear the call of John the Baptist and in some parts would do anything to drown it out.

In days like this many of us might groan and wonder “Lord, how long? How near is your return?”

Rejoice that the Kingdom of Heaven is near to you, because you have the Christ. When we hear John’s words: “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near” we don’t know when that is…but we do know where. Thinking of the Kingdom of Heaven being found close by is actually of far more help to you than speculative dates of Jesus’ return. For when you look for the Kingdom of Heaven close by in worship; in God’s word and sacraments and in devotional time in the word of God each day, there Christ meets you with all the treasures of his grace, forgiveness, life and salvation for you. Looking for him there with repentant hearts and open hands waiting to receive is the best way to prepare for Christmas and your Saviour’s coming again―when he will take you to be with all the other saints of all times and places and serve you in the heavenly banquet that has no end.

Amen.

Clothed in Christ

Romans 13:11-14  8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0

‘Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ…’(v14a NIV)

A lot of people say that you should never judge a book by its cover. There’s probably a lot of truth in that when we apply it to people; because there is usually a lot more going on in people’s lives than what we can see when we look at them. However, there are times when you can tell a lot about who people are and what they do by the way they dress.

For example, you can probably tell if people are firefighters by the uniform they wear, and that their job it to put out fires. People dressed in surgical scrubs are probably surgeons who operate on patients to help them recover from illnesses or injuries. Someone in a sporting uniform will most probably be an athlete who competes in a particular sport. Depending on the sport, the clothes that athletes wear might even tell us the position they play or what their role is in the team.

In each of these cases, there will be consistency between what a person wears, who they are and what they do. You wouldn’t want a person dressed like a fireman to do surgery in the operating theatre. Cricketers dressed like surgeons won’t be able to compete to their full ability. And there is no way you would want to fight a fire dressed like a netballer or a swimmer. What we wear can say a lot about who we are and what we do.

When the Apostle Paul encourages the Christians in Rome to be dressed in Christ, he wasn’t giving them fashion advice. Paul was encouraging the readers of his letter to find a new sense of who we are and what the purpose of our lives are through faith in Jesus.

Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus covers our sin, shame and guilt and gives us a new identity as children of God. Through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit washes us clean of everything that makes us unacceptable to God, to others and even to ourselves, and covers us with the goodness, righteousness and purity of Jesus. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see our flaws, mistakes or failures. Instead, because we are clothed in Christ, God sees us as his children whom he loves and with whom he is pleased (see Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).

In the same way that the clothes firefighters, surgeons or sportspeople wear can tell us who they are, so being clothed in Christ tells us that we are God’s children who receive all of Jesus’ goodness as his gift to us through the Holy Spirit.

Just as it makes sense that what a firefighter, surgeon or sportsperson does will also reflect who they are, so the way in which God’s children live their lives needs to be consistent with being dressed with Jesus and who we are in him.

As surely as it is absurd to think of a fireman in an operating theatre, or a surgeon on a netball court, or a footballer fighting a fire, it makes just as little sense for the children of God to live in ways that are different from who we are as people who are clothed in Christ’s goodness. That is why Paul writes,

‘So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.’ (v12b,13 NIV).

Paul is urging us to be clothed in the goodness of Jesus so we live good lives which show the world who we are as God’s children.

When we live faithfully as God’s children, we bring the light of God’s goodness into a world that is often very dark. As we begin the season of Advent, in the coming weeks we will be remembering God’s gifts to us of peace, hope, joy and love.

People who live in our world, who live right next door to us, or maybe even live under our own roof, often need a greater sense of peace, hope, joy and love in their lives.

As we live in ways that are consistent with our new identity as people who are clothed in Christ, we can be the means by which God brings his peace, hope, joy love and light into people’s lives.

Christianity isn’t about following a set of rules to get into heaven, like a lot of people imagine. Instead, the Christian faith is about finding a new sense of who we are as people who are covered by Christ, and then living in ways that reflect our new identity as God’s children so God’s goodness and love can come into the world through us.

We all put our clothes on every day. This week, as you get dressed, remember that God gives you the goodness and love of Jesus to put on each and every day.

Jesus covers each of us and gives us a new identity as children of God whom he loves and with whom he is pleased, even before we do anything. In this garment of faith we are clothed with Jesus; all of his goodness and purity. And so we live each day as God’s children and bring the light of his peace, hope, joy and love into the lives of everyone we meet through all we say and do.

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

The crucified King

Text: Colossians 1:15, 20 

8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things…. Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son’s blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.

Things are not always what they seem.  What seems to be the most obvious can be awfully wrong. The gospel reading today is another one of those cases where things are not what they seem to be. 

We heard the account of Jesus’ crucifixion as recorded in Luke’s gospel.  We are told how Jesus was nailed to a cross between two criminals. 
He is weak from all the beatings; his clothes are stripped from him and soldiers gamble for his robe; he suffers the mockery of those standing around the cross.  They call out, “If you are a king, then save yourself”.  They laughed at his weakness and inability to save himself, they joked about his claim to be a king and now his unkingly naked body was nailed to an instrument of torture – what a joke and what a good laugh they had – a king on a cross – what a ridiculous idea!

But there was one person who saw something in Jesus that no one else saw.  In spite of the gashes in his flesh from the whip, the nails, the wounds, the blood, the nakedness and the shame, one of the criminals crucified with Jesus recognised a king.  He said to Jesus, Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!”  Jesus promised him, “Today you will be in Paradise with me”.

A strange king indeed – suffering, weak, humiliated, despised, rejected and dying.  But the death of this unlikely king made us friends with God through his death.  God was going to stop at nothing to break down all barriers between him and all people.  He was even prepared to let the King of king and Lord of lords die in order to make everything right again between him and us.

This is where Paul’s letter to the Colossians picks up the theme of the kingship of Jesus.  The apostle goes to great lengths to emphasise that Jesus is God’s Son; he is everything that God is.  Through him “everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities” were created.  If he is the creator of all these then, he is also lord and king of everything in heaven and on earth.  Paul goes on to say that Jesus is not only king of every part of creation, he is also head of the church; “he is the source of the body’s life”.  

Things are not what they seem.  This king is all powerful, above all things, the lord of all and master of the whole universe, with multitudes of angels at his beck and call, living in the perfection of heaven.  Yet it was not above this king to get down and get dirty.  Jesus doesn’t just dress up to be like us, he is one of us.  He takes on our human nature and lived among ordinary people especially sinners and outcasts, including lepers and the demon possessed.  What happened to him could hardly be regarded as being kingly. 

He died on a cross.  Just grasp the magnitude of this.  The King of kings and Lord of lords, God’s Son, died on a horrible human instrument of torture and death.  Not only that, he died for all those who are enemies of God because of the evil things they did and thought (Col 1:21).

In his usual clear and precise way, Paul says, “By means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence” (1:22).  That’s worth repeating to make it sink in.  “By means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence”.

Today is the last Sunday of the church year and it is traditional to talk about the end of the world, the end of our life here on this planet as we know it and the certain judgement of God on the Last Day. 

This image of the servant-king that Paul and Luke paint for us is so important as we face the prospect of coming face to face with the holy and righteous God.  There’s no denying that we are sinners. 
There’s no getting around the fact that right up to the last day of our life we will continue to sin in thought, word and deed.  The Bible makes it quite clear that our sin condemns us and we would have no chance of surviving the judgement of God on the last day. 

But Paul makes it clear that there is nothing to be afraid of.  Christ has died for us.  Jesus is master and king over sin, death and the power of Satan to condemn us.  Jesus’ death has made us friends with God again and made us holy, pure and faultless.  Our sin has been wiped away.  Forgiven.  Forgotten.  We will be welcomed into heaven.

Isn’t that what happened to the man dying next to Jesus.  In his moment of deepest agony, Jesus tells the criminal who sees in Jesus a king that his sin will no longer be held against him.  “Today you will be with me in Paradise”.  At a moment when all would seem to be hopeless and without a future, Jesus is truly a king.  He pardons and assures the man that he will be with him in Paradise. 

Without a doubt, there is a future after death and after the end of this world.  Jesus promised the man next to him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise”. 

We have a servant-king who died for us and rose from the dead, who has done everything possible to ensure that we need not fear what will happen.  At the end of everything, we are safe.

Kings and crosses don’t normally go together but in the case of Jesus they do.  Jesus may have been raised to the highest place and given the name that is greater than any other name (Phil 2:9) but this mighty king cannot be separated from the cross on which he died saving you and me.  As Paul so nicely summarised, His Son became a human and died. So God made peace with you, and now he lets you stand in his presence as people who are holy and faultless and innocent” (Col 1:22).

Worship this different kind of king, this Jesus, and trust him.
This is our king – nailed to a cross to rescue us from the powers of darkness and sin.

This is our king – risen and ruling, and “openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).

God’s uninterruptible love

Text: Luke 21:10-12, 18, 19

church4“Countries will fight each other; kingdoms will attack one another. There will be terrible earthquakes, famines, and plagues everywhere; there will be strange and terrifying things coming from the sky. Before all these things take place, however, you will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried in synagogues and be put in prison; you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake. …. But not a single hair from your heads will be lost. Stand firm, and you will save yourselves.

Interruptions can be annoying.  You decide that it’s time to start your Christmas cards and letters but as soon as you put pen to paper someone in the family is hungry, can’t find something, or your phone rings there goes your good intentions. 

Sometimes interruptions, though initially annoying, can be creative and constructive.  The whole story of the Bible can be looked at from the viewpoint of interruptions.

The devastating effects of sin interrupt the peace and harmony of life in the Garden of Eden.  Sin interrupts God’s plans for the world.  God had created a beautiful world and had put beautiful people in it but sin interrupted the beauty of God’s world.  In turn God interrupts sin by becoming a human being who lives among us filled with grace and truth and dies for us.

Moses was happily looking after sheep and keeping out of trouble when his life was interrupted by a voice from a burning bush.  It was God who was challenging him to step out of his comfort zone and demand that the king of Egypt let the people of Israel go free.

God’s people were caught in sin and were drifting away from God and so he interrupted the lives of ordinary people and sent them as prophets to interrupt their drift away from him and bring them back into a relationship with their Creator and Saviour.

The announcement of the birth of Jesus interrupts a young girl’s life and her wedding plans.  The silence of the night is interrupted when angels announce the birth of the Messiah.

A traitor friend who needs to go and sell his Lord for the price of a slave interrupts Jesus’ celebration of the Passover with his disciples.  This same traitor and the armed guards interrupt Jesus’ prayers in the Garden.  And finally, the sadness and confusion after Jesus’ death is interrupted by the news that he has risen.  His tomb is empty.

Interruptions are events in our lives that can’t be forced back any more than we can hold back the tide.

Today’s difficult gospel text makes us aware of the interruption that will affect the whole world.  Jesus is leaving the temple and he is looking around at one of the most magnificent structures in the world at that time.  He tells his disciples that this grand monument will be destroyed.  We know that this happened at the hands of the Romans.  The history of the temple will be interrupted and brought to an end, he says, and it was. 

He goes on and says that everything we cherish, every institution and tradition, every treasure that we count on and store up will be interrupted and brought to an end.  Wars, earthquakes, famines, and other disasters in nature, persecutions when family members will rise up against other members of a family, will interrupt our way of life and the peace we enjoy. 

Peace and safety in our world and in our community are very fragile things and can easily be interrupted by hostility, bloodshed, robbery and fear. The interruptions that we experience almost on a daily basis are reminders that things in this world are very uncertain.                                                    

When you think about it, the interruptions that we experience in life can make us feel very insecure and uncertain.  Everything that we once considered solid and secure; what we once thought to be the centre of our happiness and peace can suddenly be interrupted and we are left with nothing.  Take the story of Job in the Old Testament who had everything and in an instant it was all gone.

But Jesus wants to make it quite clear in our reading today that there is one thing that will never be interrupted, that is, the love that our Father in heaven has for us.  Jesus says, “Not a single hair from your heads will be lost”.  Regardless of what may happen to interrupt our peace and happiness in this life, nothing will interrupt God’s love for us.

 “Stand firm”, Jesus says in the last verse in our reading.  Trust and believe in that love for you.

“Stand firm” and believe that Jesus’ love has forgiven all your sin and prepared a way for you to eternal life.

“Stand firm” and believe that he will stand beside you and help you no matter what kind of interruption will disrupt your happiness and peace in this life.
                                                                                                                                                                    “Stand firm” in the knowledge that even though all kinds of disasters may come  God loves you and he will not allow anything interrupt that love and care for you.

On the day we die or when Christ bursts into this world on the last day (whichever comes first), that will be the last interruption that we will ever experience.  There will no more interruptions by sickness, death, wars, natural disasters, accidents, crime or whatever.  We will be taken into God’s presence and join those gathered around the throne of God. 

In the meantime we need to deal with the interruptions that take place in our everyday life. How easily is our trust in Jesus interrupted?
How readily do we allow our pet sins interrupt the newness that we have in Christ?
How often do we allow or even try to find interruptions that keep us away from reading God’s Word, praying and worshipping together with our fellow believers?
How willingly do we allow our sinful nature and Satan interrupt our walking God’s ways?

God grant that the Holy Spirit would interrupt every sin, every temptation, every fear and doubt, and remind us every day that God’s love for us is uninterruptible.  God grant that our commitment and faith be as uninterruptible as God’s commitment to us.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

All Saints Day.

Dear saints in Christ, I want you to have a quick look around, and tell me if anyone here is wearing a golden halo. Is there anyone here who is looking8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0 particularly saintly today? Your husband or wife or your Child perhaps? The fact is, we know that we’re all pretty human, and being human means “warts and all”. Most of us have probably said, “I’m no saint”. However, in just a little while we are all going to say the words, ‘I believe in the communion of saints’. And with these words we will confess our belief that there is more to the church than meets the eye.

 There is more to this Lutheran congregation, than meets the eye. The church is far more than a gathering of individuals loitering with religious intent. The church is, in fact, a communion of all people who have been made holy by Jesus – all believers in Christ, in all places, of all times. The communion of saints includes all Christians living now, all the faithful who have died, and even those believers who are yet to be! All of these are “saints” because they are baptized into Jesus, and all of these saints are a “communion”, because being united to Jesus makes us united to each other.

The thing I’d like to focus on today is that all Christians as saints. All baptised believers are holy, and that’s what the word ‘saint’ means: a holy person. And to look at the role that the saints (both living and departed) play in our lives, I’d like to focus on a passage from the Lutheran Confessions, one that I think all Christians could say ‘Amen’ to. Let me read the relevant passage to you.

Our Confession approves giving honour to the saints. This honour is threefold. The first is thanksgiving: we should thank God for showing examples of his mercy, revealing his will to save people, and giving teachers and other gifts to the church….The second honour is strengthening of our faith: when we see Peter forgiven after his denial, we are encouraged to believe that grace does indeed abound more than sin. The third honour is imitation, first of their faith and then of their other virtues, which each should imitate in accordance with his calling. (Apology, XXI)

Let’s look at these three ways of honouring the saints

  1. We give thanks to God for all his people. Because apart from the gospel and the sacraments, the saints are the greatest blessing the church has. Every saved man, woman and child is a wonderful cause for rejoicing. Every believer sitting in the pew today is evidence that God is still at work in the 21st century just as much as he was in the first. Every believer sitting here today demonstrates that miracles still occur. We should never stop giving thanks for the fact that despite all the faults we can find with others, and all the warts others can find with us, God has begun his work of salvation, and is daily working to bring it to completion.

Moreover, we can thank the Lord for those who taught us the faith and brought us to Jesus: our parents, our pastors, our teachers. Thank the Lord for every mature Christian who showed us what following Christ means. We thank the Lord also for ordinary Christians who have simply and steadfastly kept the faith, and for unknown Christians who were never remembered in this life, but will receive ample reward in the next. And, we can even thank the Lord for those living saints with whom we disagree, with whom we experience conflict, because they too are our brothers and sisters, and our unity in Christ transcends our disagreements and tensions. Every saint, in fact, is a demonstration of how much God wants to save us, how much he wants to forgive us.

  1. And that brings me to the second reason for honouring the saints: for strengthening our faith. Again and again we discover that the saints are forgiven sinners. They may have been heroes of the faith, but they were highly forgiven heroes! The greatest hymn-writer of the Bible, King David, was an adulterer and a murderer. Jacob, who was named Israel, was dishonest and tricked his brother Esau. Peter denied his Lord three times. Paul confessed to a lifetime struggle with sin. And yet, God’s grace triumphed over all their faults and his forgiveness covered their most disastrous sins. When they were weak, God showed his strength in them. Whenever they thought they had failed, God’s word returned to them having achieved all it set out to do. And how does this strengthen our faith? Well, if God has shown such mercy to them, think of what mercy he will show to us. If God has used other sinners, he will also use us. There is hope for us all!
  2. Imitate the saints who stand out are worth copying. They are good role models for the rest of us. St Paul quite unashamedly said: ‘Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you’ (Philippians 3:17). We need heroes to inspire us. We have sporting heroes – why not faith heroes? A young Catholic I spoke to some time ago said that at their confirmation they chose a saint to whom they could look as a model and inspiration. What a good idea!

So, our honour of the saints is three-fold, say the confessions. We give thanks for them, our faith is strengthened by them, and we imitate them. To finish off, let me return to a point I made at the beginning:

  • The communion of saints is a spiritual reality, and therefore it’s something we can hardly begin to understand in this life. But because we are all joined sacramentally to Christ – through baptism and holy communion – we are also joined to each other. We share all things in common. The spiritual strength of some saints help and sustain those who are weak. On the other hand, the sins and weakness of others are shared by the rest as well. As Paul writes to the Corinthians: ‘If one part (of the body of Christ) suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it’. So, on this festival of All Saints, let us give thanks for what we all share in common, and let us confess: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints”. Amen.

And may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

A picture of our faith

There is a saying that states that “one picture is worth a thousand words”. HowScreenshot 2022-10-28 194115 true that is on so many occasions. I first heard about the Bali explosions on the radio. The news reporter attempted to give a verbal description of what had happened and the devastation that had occurred in that otherwise peaceful and fun-loving place. However, it wasn’t until I turned on the TV and saw the pictures of the destruction, the stretchers and ambulances, the overcrowded hospital that the full extent of the situation really hit home. Those pictures described what thousands of words weren’t able to do.

A couple of years when another driver attempted to remodel the look of my car by driving into while making a u-turn, I filled out a form for the insurance company. Included in this form was a space to explain what happened in words and another space to draw a diagram of what happened in the accident. The insurance company realised that often it is easier to draw a picture of what happened.

Companies and churches have logos and if they are good logos they tell you something in picture form about that organisation. The Lutheran Church of Australia has a logo. On it you will see a large gold cross, the Southern Cross and flames of fire – that tells you something about the LCA – the centrality of the cross of Christ, the Spirit at work through the church and the location of the LCA.

There is another symbol that is found in Lutheran Churches throughout the world. You will find this symbol on the front of church buildings and halls, you will find it included in the designs of the magnificent stain glass windows of Lutheran churches all over the place (including St Luke’s). You will find it in books and printed materials that are distinctly Lutheran in origin. I am talking about Luther’s Rose. Luther devised this logo as a summary of his faith. But not only of his faith but also that of all Christians. And so this logo is displayed in our churches as a picture of the Christian faith. You might say it is a sermon in picture form. Since today’s service is dedicated to commemorating the Reformation, it’s worth looking at it because it is a picture that will take a thousand words to describe this summary of our faith. Let’s start.

At the centre of Luther’s logo is a cross. The cross of Jesus is at the every centre of the Christian faith. Without the cross, there is no Christianity.

This cross is black in colour. Black is the colour of sin and evil – the darkness in our hearts and in the world that causes so much grief and pain. John’s Gospel says, “People love the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19). Black reminds us of our sinfulness. “Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence” (Rom 3:23), the apostle Paul reminds us. Black is the colour of death – sin leads to death.

When Luther was a young man he was nearly killed and the thought of dying terrified him. He was not ready to meet God the eternal Judge. And so he left all of his friends, his well paid job, his family, and wealth in his search of a way to get rid of his sin and be right with God. He entered a monastery and prayed, and fasted, and studied, constantly. But still his heart did not feel at peace with God. He always felt too sinful to ever be called into the presence of God if he were to suddenly die. He never felt confident that he would go to heaven. So he prayed, and studied, and fasted more.

But the more he studied, the more he prayed, the more questions he had and the more doubts he had about how worthy he was before God. His sin and God’s judgement terrified him.

It was fortunate for Luther that he was studying the Letter to the Romans and gained a fresh insight into 1:17: The righteous shall live by faith. He realised that a person cannot be made right with God by trying to impress God. Salvation is a gift of faith from God – faith that believes and trusts in what Jesus has done for him. Salvation is freely available to all.

This was the answer to Luther’s searching and praying. He was elated. You cannot be saved without Jesus Christ. You cannot by pass the cross. Our sin is so great that it permeates and infiltrates every part of us, including every thing we say, do and think. It is impossible for us to step aside from our sinfulness for just one moment, and save ourselves, or dedicate ourselves to God, or give ourselves to God. Without God’s intervention, we would have no hope.

And so at the centre of Luther’s Symbol is the cross. The cross is the symbol of God’s acceptance, his forgiveness, his grace. Yes, we are sinners, but by the free gift of God’s grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets us free (Rom 3:23). Through faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven, we are accepted by God, we are welcomed by our loving heavenly Father.

In Luther’s logo the cross is placed on a red heart. Even though the cross is black, a symbol of sin and death and the shame that the Son of God had to die in such a terrible way because of our sin, the heart is red because it is a living heart. The gospel of forgiveness gives life. We have been saved, given life as children of his family, recreated, reborn, given a new heart to live as God wants us to live.

The heart is a symbol of love. Not only the love that God showed in sending his Son, but for the love that flows through us. We have been renewed to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. The red heart indicates that since we are God’s children through Jesus death on the cross, this has an effect on the way we live our lives. As God’s people, we should turn away from everything that is evil and sinful and let God’s love be evident in everything we say and do. Paul says, “You are the people of God…. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another …just as the Lord has forgiven you.  And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:12-14).

A heart filled with God’s love is a busy, active heart. There is no room for complacency or laziness. Nobody receives the grace of God for private enjoyment. Nobody receives the gifts of God for private enjoyment. They are meant to be used to serve others.

The red heart is resting on a white rose. The white rose has been connected with the coming of the Messiah. The Christmas carol: Behold, a Rose is growing of loveliest form and grace, etc. The rose is the flower that indicates joy in the midst of the thorns of life.

And so the red heart and living the Christian life rests on the white rose. It is not easy being a Christian, a follower of Jesus in this day and age.
It is easy to be sidetracked,
it is easy to follow the crowd,
it is easy to forget that we have been called by God to be in his family and to do his work. We fail often, we confess that we have not done what God has called us to do. That is part of the thorny world in which we live.

But we experience the joy of the Good News of the Gospel, the joy of being renewed for service, and refreshed with sins forgiven and sent out again to do his work. For Luther, the rose was a symbol of this joy among the thorns of our world.

Because of the joy of knowing Jesus, our service to others is filled with joy. If we served our Lord grudgingly, it would not be service. If we went unwillingly, or with a grumbling spirit, our service would not be worth anything. True service, true worship, true discipleship reflects the joy that we have because of Christ.
What a joy to have a Saviour who loves us!
What a joy to know that our sins are forgiven!
What a joy to know that Jesus gives eternal life!
What a joy it is to be called as Jesus’ disciples in this world to pass on that love and hope of eternal life!

Everything about Jesus fills our hearts with joy. As Paul said: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

The white rose rests on a sky blue background. The sky-blue background of Luther’s logo reminds us of the promise of eternal life that we have through Jesus Christ. Because Jesus rose from the grave, we too shall share in the bliss of heavenly joy and we look forward to that day when we will be in heaven with our Lord and with all those faithful people who have gone before us. It may happen that our life takes a turn for the worst – persecution for our faith, tragedy, ill health, crippling old age, the loss of our ability to think clearly – but there is one thing that doesn’t change or decay. We look forward to entering heaven when this life is over.

The sky-blue background reminds us that our life on this earth is for only a short time. We are here and then we pass away – not into nothingness or oblivion – but into the joy of eternal life.

Around the whole logo is a gold ring. Like a ring that has no end, the joy of heaven has no end, it will go on into eternity. The ring is gold, one of the most precious metals, and so indicating that the promise of eternal life is the most precious of all. In fact, you might say, everything relating to our faith is precious like gold and we value it more highly than anything else in all the world.

So there you have Luther’s Rose; a pictorial summary of the Christian faith. It is a symbol of a faith that is just as true and relevant today as it was in Luther’s time.

The logo not only gives us an understanding of our faith but challenges us to ask:
How central is the Jesus in your life or is he somewhere around the edges?
How readily have you accepted that Jesus has cleansed you from all your sin or do hang on to your guilt?
How ready are you to give up your pet sins and obediently live as someone who belongs to God?
How willing are you serve Christ through humbly serving others?
How well are you sharing the joy of the gospel with others?
How strong is your relationship with your Saviour – or is it a somewhat casual affair?
How confident are you that when you die, you will go to heaven? Or is there some lingering doubt that you won’t be good enough?
In what ways are you letting the love of Christ effect every relationship?

Look at Luther’s logo again and see that Jesus, God’s love, a renewed heart and Christian service are central to everything that we do personally and as a church.

Confess it, believe it and live it!!

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy

The purpose of life.

Jeremiah 14:7-10,19-22  2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18  St.Luke 18:9-14

The Pharisees were dedicated to the preservation of Jewish culture in terms ofgordon5 the Mosaic law and its traditions relating to life and worship. They were jealous for the sacred history of God’s people; God’s unique provisions for the Jewish people. Israel as God’s people, made to be who they are as distinct from the rest of humanity by God’s gracious call of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is renamed Israel. This call took the form of a covenant- including the gift of the Law, the ten commandments. The unique identifier of the Jewish people and religion through their entire history to the present day. The Pharisees were the guardians of this tradition and the understanding of its significance for the survival of Israel as the people of God. Their description as Pharisees comes from the Hebrew word פרושים   prushim from  פרוש parush, meaning “separated,” that is, one who is separated for a life of dedication to law and purity.

When this story was told by Jesus, we very often overlook the fact that the original hearers far from being offended by the self-conscious righteousness of the Pharisee would find it wrong indeed, obnoxious, that a Pharisee should be unfavourably compared to a Publican. The publicans were the “tax collectors” for the Romans in the state of Israel. The word came from the Roman word “publicani.” Because the publicans were representatives of the pagan Roman conqueror, their work was detested. A Jew who chose to become a “publican” was viewed as a betrayer and a servant of the occupying power of Rome. He was about as far opposite to a Pharisee as one could be.

The publicans were also hated for stealing from their own people more than what was required by the Roman’s tax laws. They took advantage of their official position to coerce and cheat people. They were people looked down upon, as amongst the lowest of the low in that society, people who were despised, whose company one would not want to cultivate.

In fact, we too generally believe that like the Pharisees for Jewish people who upheld Israel’s tradition there are groups in our own community who sustain the threads which hold the fabric and continuity of our community together. The farmers who farm, the teachers who teach, the parents who sacrifice their self-interest to the interests of their family and we could go on and name the numerous groups of people in the community who by their dedication to their calling are the ones that make a civilised society possible, who sustain the lasting essential structures that make life possible in a civil society.

The Pharisee in the text before us today with his pious faithfulness and predictability intends to serve God. He does in fact give thanks to God for His being who he is, for having made him such in his difference from the Publican. He does not make out that it is he who has made something of himself. He acknowledges that it all depends upon God as to who he is as a Pharisee.

Indeed, it is not the point of Jesus’s comparison to disparage or deny the piety of the Pharisee, in another place (St Matthew 5:10) Jesus says unless his disciple’s righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, they shall not enter the Kingdom of God. But what Jesus indicates is that the kind of obedience the Pharisee offers God vitiates, destroys, the goodness of the Pharisee’s whole life’s meaning.

In comparing himself to the Publican in the very act of thanking God for making him who he is; the pious Pharisee shows that he himself is not in the doing of his good work.  His doing of good works, his keeping of the Law of God is done not for the sake of the goodness of the action itself, but with one eye on God, whose judgment he recognises as the highest court. He has one eye on God recognising his action and one eye on the action itself. His vision of being and doing good according to God’s Law is divided. In St Matthew 6:22-23 Jesus says of such a human situation,

 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!

 It is the divided nature of the Pharisee’s action that destroys its value in terms of obedience to God’s will expressed in the Law . His action is not unselfconscious but very self-conscious. His eye is not single but divided as he lives before and with God.

The Publican, on the other hand, turns away from who he is in what he does, and remember what he does is betray his people by working in support of the pagan Roman regime: whilst defrauding his fellow citizens. As distinct from the Pharisee he does not look at his works, his deeds, whether they be good or bad; he looks only to God’s mercy as that which is the basis of his life before God and before his contemporaries. He looks only to God’s mercy as that which makes Him who he is, the only basis of his future hope. He looks neither to the right nor the left but only to God’s mercy as the truth of His life before God and other people. He pays no attention as to whether his conscience accuses or condemns him. In other words, in contrast to the Pharisee he trusts alone in God’s mercy. He looks at himself and his deeds, not with a divided eye but a single eye on God’s promised forgiveness; he seeks his righteousness outside of his work, in God alone, His mercy, now made visible in the One who is speaking. The Person of Jesus Himself is the manifestation of God’s mercy on his way to the Cross.

So, the difference between the pharisee and the publican is not to be considered on moral grounds. On moral grounds the Pharisee is regarded as a far worthier citizen than the Publican. The difference is the question which confronts us all in the One in whom the mercy of God ceases to be an abstract category. In the person of His Son, God confronts us as the crucified One, whose life is determined by absolute trust in God. It is the law of the cross, God’s incomparable mercy. This is revealed in Christ’s absolute obedience, for our sake, to the Father’s purpose for His life fulfilled in the cross. It is this that establishes the Publican as righteous and condemns the Pharisee. This action divides and judges not on the basis of what we can see or feel,  but on the basis of God’s grace and His grace alone.

But who are the Pharisees today. We live is a quite different society/community than that which is depicted in the New Testament. I mentioned before, we may look to those who, like the Pharisees, hold the community together and express their vocations by serving in the structures of society that keep it functioning as  a liveable civil society. The health care workers, the farmers who farm, the teachers who teach, the parents who sacrifice their self-interest to the interests of their family and we could go on and name the numerous groups of people in the community who by their dedication to their calling are the ones that make a civilised society possible, who sustain the essential structures that make life possible as a civil society. But these people do not function in our society as the Pharisees once did for Israel, being the source of guidance as to living life before God as God’s people.

The Pharisees today are those self-appointed individuals and groups that seek to control and to manipulate peoples’ thought and behaviour with their  post-modern critical theories as the source of all insight and wisdom to which we must not only pay attention but obey.

(The Australian 070922)The teacher at a Church of Ireland school was jailed for an indeterminate time after refusing to address a transitioning student as ‘they’. Enoch Burke was arrested yesterday morning for breaching a court order.

After Judge Michael Quinn made his ruling, Mr Burke said: “It is insanity that I will be led from this courtroom to a place of incarceration, but I will not give up my Christian beliefs.” He now lives in Mountjoy prison.’

Or the widely reported dismissal of the recently appointed CEO of the VFL club Essendon. The former CEO of the National Australia Bank he held his new position for 30 hours and then he resigned at the request of the Board because they came to the knowledge that he belonged to a Christian Church whose doctrine banned Abortion and was against Same Sex Marriage.

In recent times the Archbishop of Hobart was dragged before a court because he published for use in the education of students in Catholic schools a small book containing the Catholic doctrine of marriage as between a man and a woman. Someone who read it was offended by what it says about Christian marriage but also what Christian marriage excludes.

Whether it is in the UK, Europe, Australia or New Zealand not a week goes by without yet another example of a book being banned, ideas being censored, the past being rewritten, statues being demolished and authors being vilified and held up to ridicule. Political correctness, represents a threat to the existence of society as we know it. Including such basic ideas as rationality and the public expression of religious belief.

In schools and universities as a result of post-modern literary and post-colonial theory students are taught that our society is inherently racist, there is nothing beneficial about the Western Christian tradition, and, if they are white, they are told they must atone for the crimes committed against people of colour. Our culture is plunged into ethical chaos where intolerance masquerades as tolerance, and individual liberty is crushed by group think. The post-modern world is the world of double think as described by George Orwell in his books like Animal Farm, and 1984, and others. In them the Orwellian world is the world where Big Brother controls citizens thought and anyone, particularly Christians, who question the thought police is victimised, punished and silenced. In totalitarian societies like China and present-day Russia we actually see what Orwell so remarkably predicted would happen once human ideologies replaces the open and free societies of the Western democratic kind. The ideologies which inhabit the politically correct guardians of our community, who censor and victimise anyone who trespasses over the boundaries of their ideology, whether it be militant feminism, Marxist interpretation of history, the black arm band view of Australian history and race relations, or secular humanism which denies any rational narrative or purpose to the human story, they all lead us in the same direction as  those already established in communist or fascist states.

As Christians in this context, we have the responsibility to tell the truth about the human condition on the basis  of God’s action toward us in Christ. That human beings are not an accidental conglomeration of atoms thrown together by a cosmic accident, beholden to a blind fate that only has the meaning that I or my group give to the human condition. That there is a purpose in life derives its meaning not from us but for us in Christ. This purpose invites us to trust ourselves to One who in the cross dignifies our humanity by actually bearing our brokenness in himself and thus giving us freedom to live truly human lives, serving each other as we have been served in Christ, and in that service to find the true basis of human freedom.

Dr. Gordon Watson.

Your Prayers Make a Big Difference

Luke 18:1-8

In the New Testament, love and prayer belong together. If you love God, youallanb can’t help but communicate with Him.

It’s a sheer joy to communicate with those you love dearly, isn’t it?

In the face of all the discouraging things that happen in our modern world, it’s amazing that so many people keep praying regularly.

The problem of prayer becomes acute when God seems to be in no hurry to answer our prayers, for whatever profound reasons He has in mind. If five people pray that they’ll get a job, say, as a chaplain, the prayers of four will seemingly go unanswered, because only one person will get the job.

How do we make sense of this? Prayer is first of all, all about getting to know God better. Prayer is of inestimable value even if it does no more than remind us of who we are before God, that is, sinners in need of all the help we can get from Him.

Lack of prayer may indicate a lack of hunger for God. It thrills God most of all when we want Him more than we want things from Him. How marvellous when our Creator is more precious to us than anything else we might desire; when God is better than our hopes, better than the best we’ve dared to imagine. Our praying can be greater and better than the things we pray for.

Prayer involves more than asking for what you think you want. It involves asking to be changed in ways you cannot imagine; to be made more grateful, more able to see the good in what you’ve been given, instead of grieving over what might have been. Our ability to love is sometimes reflected in our ability to pray.

If you don’t pray, everything can disappoint you by going wrong. If you do pray, things will still go wrong, but not in a way that will disappoint you. Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tyre? We can never make it on our own, no matter how clever we are, how much luck we may have, how many strings we pull or how hard we work. Even when we have everything going for us, God is still our primary need. Who else would we want to go to, except the God who loves us, who treasures us and who wants us in spite of our inadequate prayer life, in spite of our failure to love others as we ought, and in spite of our failure to live as God would like.

When we feel discouraged, we’re directed to “take it to the Lord in prayer”, and persist in that prayer until we get a response. Our greatest temptation in prayer is to give up too soon.

The young widow in today’s parable is a model of persistence for us. In Jesus’ time, widows often had to go to a judge to get justice. When a husband died, his property often went to his brother, leaving his widow helpless. Widows often lacked someone to help them. Jesus shows a passionate concern for the plight of widows, a concern that most likely flowed from seeing Mary, his widowed mother, struggling to make ends meet.

Jesus tells us of a widow who refused to give in until she got justice. To make matters worse, the judge in charge of her cause is a callous magistrate, lacking any compassion for this woman. Furthermore, she had no money with which to bribe him. Persistence was the only weapon she had to secure her inheritance and her future. And she was shameless in her persistence.

She didn’t give the judge a moment of peace. We have the picture of a powerless widow threatening to box an all-powerful judge. Though this judge has many men at his beck and call, he can’t shake off this one persistent widow. It would be like our Prime Minister trying to ignore the verbal harangue of a homeless bag lady until she hits the Prime Minister over the head with a water bomb, dousing him until he takes notice. The unjust judge fears this widow will pester him forever. Verse five literally states, “I’ll hear her case or she’ll give me a black eye.” You can imagine the newspaper headlines: “Powerless Widow Wins!”

We’re often in as much need of help, with a need greater than we can cope with alone, as this widow was. Jesus reassures us that God is more ready to hear us than we are to pray. We fail to persist in prayer as our Lord wants us to, maybe out of a false sense of self-sufficiency.

When we don’t get answers as soon as we think we should, we shouldn’t despair. F.B. Meyer once said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” God wants us to pour our hearts out to Him over all the things that churn us up and upset us.

The story is told of a woman of humble origins who was saving her coins for “a treat”. Then she met her future husband. He was the personification of her dreamed-of hero. She couldn’t believe it when he asked to marry her. They moved to a large house; her dream home. And they had children. It was all she had ever wanted. Then she became ill.

The news from her doctor was: “Your liver has stopped working.”

She almost screamed at him: “Are you telling me that I am dying?”

“We have done all we can”, the doctor said as he left her.

She felt a fire of anger ignite within her. She wanted to tell God off. As best she could, she struggled to the hospital chapel, preparing what she was going to say to God:

“Every time anyone finds a little happiness, You pull out the rug from under her feet. Well, I just want You to know that I have had it. I see through You.”

But when she got near the front of the chapel, she fell. She was so weak, that she could hardly see.

She could just read the words woven onto the step into the sanctuary that read,

GOD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, A SINNER.

Suddenly, all the angry words, all the desire to tell God off was gone. All that was left was, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Then she put her tired head down and listened.

Deep within her, she heard: “All of this is a simple invitation to ask you to turn your life over to Me. You have never done that, you know. The doctors here do their best to treat you, but I alone can cure you.”

There and then, Jean turned her life over to God. Finding her way back to her hospital bed, she entered a deep sleep. After further tests the next day, her doctor gave her good news: “Your liver seems to be functioning again.” Like Job in the Old Testament, God had led her to the brink, but only to invite her to surrender, to Him.

Through prayer, God invites us to place our whole life into His hands. When we pray, God works. Time spent in prayer is never wasted. A bad prayer is better than no prayer at all. God delays His answer because He knows we need to spend time with Him more than we need the things we pray for.

God either gives us what we ask for or something better. Like a wise parent who withholds certain potentially harmful presents from a child who desperately wants it, like a bow and arrow, until the child is old enough to use it safely, so too God, in His infinite wisdom, withholds things that may harm us rather than help our faith now.

God delays in order to . . .

first, teach us patience;

secondly, to increase our gratitude for what we already have;

thirdly, because God has a greater blessing in store for us;

or fourthly, for a reason we would not yet understand.

For example, a failure to forgive others may be the reason our prayers are not being answered.

St. James reminds us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.” Look at all the blessings that are ours as a result of Christ’s unanswered prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Unanswered prayer there in the garden didn’t stop Jesus from continuing to pray on the cross. Moses, Job, Jonah and Elijah prayed that they would die. This request wasn’t answered because God still had blessings to bring to us through them.

A woman in hospital suffering from cancer had her pastor pray regularly for healing. When healing didn’t come, she said to her pastor,

“Today, let’s not pray that I’ll be healed. God knows that I hate this illness. God knows I want to be healed. Let’s pray that, whether I’m healed or not, I’ll feel close to God because even if I’m not healed, especially if I’m not healed, that’s what I really want – GOD.”

She was a reminder to her pastor that in the end, we don’t simply want peace, bread and health. We want God. God grant that the more you pray, the more real God will become for you. Jesus asks us that when He returns, He will find in us the kind of faith that persists in prayer like the widow in the parable.

This is the only parable of Jesus that ends with a question, indicating that our Lord wants us to go home today with this question firmly fixed in our minds: “Will the Son of Man find such faith on earth when He returns?”

Our faith in our Lord moves us to pray, and prayer feeds and sustains our faith, making it indestructible. Our age is one of “compulsive talking”, but not to God. There are gifts God won’t give us until we ask for them. When you’re too worn out to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. We’re always in better shape after a heart to heart with God.

Martin Luther said, “Prayer is the most important thing in my life. If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith. … Guard yourself against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, ‘wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.’” 

Prayer contains too many marvellous blessings and benefits for you to want to ever delay for a day. Do your prayers make a difference? Yes, yes, yes! Forever and ever. Amen.

“Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Luck is indefinable and illusive

Text: Luke 17:15-16

When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

Luck is that indefinable and illusive thing that sometimes brings good fortune8f5d0040f261ddb1b3f281e00e1385f0 and sometimes doesn’t. You might say the terrorist who didn’t pay enough postage on a letter bomb experienced some bad luck. It came back with “Return to Sender” stamped on it.  Forgetting it was the bomb; he opened it.  

Have you said when you were almost run down crossing the street – “Boy, that was a lucky escape,” or comment about someone’s bad luck as one thing after another goes wrong.

Some people however, don’t believe in luck. They say, “You get what you deserve”.  Everything that happens to us is a reward or a punishment for the amount of effort that is put in. If you work hard, invest a lot of time and energy into something, you will get back what you have put into it.    

Have you noted that up to this point I haven’t mentioned God in this sermon? That’s because the belief that we get what we deserve and that good and bad are the result of luck or coincidence, have nothing to do with God. There is no room for God who gives generously and excessively even though we don’t deserve such abundance.  The God of the Bible doesn’t just give to good people or to people who in some way deserve to be treated better, he is gracious and generous to everyone whether they realise it or not.

The biblical concept of our heavenly Father giving us everything that we need, is absent from the thinking of many people these days. There is no thought given to what the Bible says about God being

  • the supplier of our daily bread,
  • the giver of our abilities,
  • the provider of everything that we need to live happy and peaceful lives. 

For many people God doesn’t figure into how we are able to live so well every day.  Rather they say,

  • I get it because I deserve it;
  • I am well to do because I have earned it;
  • I get what I need because I have put in the hard hours working for it.

The Bible looks at things this way.  It sees God right in the middle of everything that happens.  It is stated again and again that

  • God put me together inside my mother,
  • God has given me my brain, my skills, and made me who I am,
  • God is leading me,
  • God is protecting me,
  • God is supplying me with daily food,
  • God heals me,
  • God is guiding the rulers,
  • God is helping his people,
  • God sends the rain and provides the harvest.

In fact, everything is seen as coming from the generous hand of God.  He doesn’t give because people have deserved it, in fact, we see so often that he gives even when people are downright awful. Look how he provided daily food to the whining and faithless people of Israel when travelling to the Promised Land.

The Bible also says that we ought to recognise God’s loving hand even when things aren’t going well for us.  Even though we can’t see it at the time, be assured that God is not handing out what we deserve. Somehow, God will use the present trials to bring us blessing.  Meanwhile in the midst of suffering we know that God is nearby, ready to help and support us until we come through to the other side.

When is the next big anniversary of this church? An anniversary is a great event. We could do a lot of chest beating and back patting and congratulating ourselves what a great job we have done here in this community.  But when you read the history of the Lutheran Church from its early days it has been a struggle and at times the flame almost went out.  We can only say in the end that in spite of the failings of the people, God is at the centre of what has happened here.  God has provided the people, the resources, and the help.  God has been the source of the wisdom, the faith, the commitment, and the right timing and the faithful realised this and gathered week after week to thank God for his leading.  

We heard in the Gospel reading before the story of the ten lepers, who called out to Jesus for help and were healed.  Only one returns. Only one can see that God is somehow involved in his restoration to health and returns to say thank you.  And Jesus makes a point of it.  “There were ten men who were healed.” he says, “Where are the other nine?”  And then Jesus commends the one who came back to say thanks because in expressing his gratitude he was recognising that not only was he healed, but who it was that had healed him.  The ex-leper didn’t know how it all happened, it wasn’t just good luck and it certainly wasn’t what he deserved, but he knew that somehow God had done something marvellous. He put God back into the centre of his thinking.

We put God back into the centre of our lives when we say at the end of hectic week, “Thank you God for helping me through this past week”. 

When we say grace before a meal, we put God back at the centre when we say, “Thank you God for this food”. 

We put God back at the centre when we say, “Thank you for the people you have placed in my life to love me and care for me – my family, my friends, and my church family”. 

When our good health is restored, we put God back in the centre when we thank him.

When the path through life is tough going and we don’t know where it will lead us we put God back into the centre when we look at the cross, are reminded of his love for us and place our future in his hands.

When we are weighed with fear and the trouble that sickness and death bring, we put God at the centre who gives us hope for the future when we thank Him for his love.

In a way, we can say that we see the things, events and people in our lives in a different way to the rest of the world. We see that God in one way or the other is behind everything that happens.

God has been excessively generous to us.  He has been generous for no other reason than to support and promote his work. Whether through a Lutheran World Service Appeal, or the offering plate to support mission work here and overseas, the training of workers for the church, or the work of the local congregation, God has made us rich so that we can richly bless others. 

If, for you, things operate on a “you get what you deserve” principle, then you have no need to say thank you for anything.

If everything is purely luck and you are ready to deal with whatever luck brings, there is no need to say thank you, except “thank my lucky stars!”

However, if you see God as being in everything, generously pouring out his blessings, sometimes in ways that are easy to see, sometimes in ways that are difficult to see, then join with the Samaritan leper who saw himself as totally unworthy of receiving anything from Jesus at all and yet receiving so much. 

He fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked him for the new beginning and the restoration of his life.  But this was more than just a healing of a man’s body.  Jesus said, “Get up and go; your faith has made you well.”  This healing has far wider implications.  This one Samaritan leper saw the deep love of Jesus, the love that would take him to the cross; the leper saw in Jesus the love that saves. 

This encounter with the love of God meant that this leper would never be the same.  He truly was the luckiest man alive. 

With faith in Jesus and trust in his love for us and with Jesus at the centre of our lives then you and I are the luckiest people on this planet.

Amen