The cost of following Jesus

THE TEXT: LUKE 9:51-62

As the time approached for him to be taken up to Heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went into a Samaritan villagechurch4 to get things ready for him. But the people there did not receive him because He was heading for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said “Lord do you want us to call fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. And they went to another village.
As they were going along the road someone said to Him: “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied: “The foxes have dens and the birds of the skies have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay the head.” And he said to another: “Follow me.” But he said to Jesus: “Lord, first allow me to go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.” And another said: “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me farewell my household.” And Jesus said to him: “No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks to the things behind is useful in the Kingdom of God.”

Footy season has been back in full swing now for a while. There’s been enough games to get a sense of whether or not the high priced recruits were worth the money, or who should be dropped and maybe culled from the playing list at the end of the year. Mike Brady’s famous song Up there Cazaly captures the fickle nature of supporters so well:

“you either love or hate it, depending on the score.”

Champion players who are lauded and decorated with all manner of awards are cheered when they’re playing well but jeered when they’re having a bad game. Champion players, after years of sacrifice on the training track, source of income for the club through promoting membership and marketing, and in some cases contributors to a premiership, are then mercilessly discarded from the playing list once they’ve hit the age of 30ish.

But this doesn’t just happen in footy. Celebrities who are idolised are just as quickly dumped depending upon what the current social fad or trend is. Some years ago, arguably the highest profile golfer in the contemporary game, Tiger Woods, went from hero to zero after it came to light that he had cheated on his wife and had several affairs.

However the hypocrisy of that reporting was simply gobsmacking. The same media who desperately desires, promotes and rejoices in all manner of sexual promiscuity and unrestrained pleasure all of a sudden became a pillar of morality, and self-righteously savaged him over a sustained period for the sake of ratings.

And then there is the world of politics -leaders from both major parties over recent campaigns have risen up against party leaders, only to shortly after themselves be wearing a knife in the back, depending on how loudly popularity polls and surveys speak.

We would like to think that human faithfulness would be a natural response in all of these situations, but the reality is the natural human response is instead fickleness – and today’s text shows that it is one that even shows itself in matters of faith.

As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, a man approaches Jesus and declares: “I will follow you where ever you go.” This man is a believer; he trusts in Jesus, he commits to following him. However, his confession of faith is reminiscent of the Apostle Peter who trumpeted that he would never fall away from the Lord – but who would later deny him three times.

This man’s confession is bold, but premature. Jesus is, after all, going to Jerusalem – to be handed over to the chief priests and to Pilate, to be sentenced to death. To die a brutal and agonising death through crucifixion on a cross. Is this really what this man wanted and meant when he says he will follow Jesus wherever he will go?

With his reply: “The foxes have dens and the birds of the skies have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay the head” Jesus uses his own lack of a permanent home as an illustration of the path his followers must walk – the path of humility and self-emptying, of dying to the self; choosing the life with eternal purposes instead of the temporal; choosing heavenly treasures instead of earthly wealth. We don’t know if this person ended up following Jesus.

Then Jesus calls another man to follow him. This man is already a disciple – we know this because Jesus wants him to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and he doesn’t ask just anyone who hasn’t already been sufficiently instructed in the faith. But then we see the fickleness of the human heart again. This person makes excuses: “Lord, first allow me to go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus’ words here seem harsh, but He is not forbidding the disciples to attend funerals – particularly of parents. But if this man’s father had already died, the man would already be making funeral arrangements and not having this conversation. So it seems that he wanted to wait until after his father did die, before he followed Jesus, which might have yet been years away. That sounds like so many people today who put off following Jesus until some other day; usually in old age. But how do we know precisely when our last day will be? So this man in the text has divided loyalties. Jesus in effect tells him that the spiritually dead should bury the physically dead, and that the spiritually alive should be proclaiming the kingdom of God. What would you have done?

Still another says: “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me farewell my household.” Here, again, we see the fickle human heart with its divided loyalties. And you might be asking “How can Jesus be so harsh and force the guy’s hand into choosing between two things. But when this man gets back among his people, tells them of his intention to follow Jesus, and starts to say goodbye, will he be able to resist their pleading to stay with them and to give up Jesus? That’s why Jesus replies: “No one who puts their hand to the plough and looks to the things behind is useful in the Kingdom of God.” The phrase ‘looks the things behind is really in the sense of continually looking behind, longing, regretting for a former life before knowing Jesus.

Jesus calls us to follow Him. There is to be no divided loyalties. And following Jesus is costly. It all sounds like loss and slavery, doesn’t it? In a way it is. But ironically, it’s actually freedom. True freedom. Because if we’re not following Christ, we ultimately following ourselves. And following ourselves is a greater cost to us than following Christ. Because when we follow ourselves, our fickle hearts are not a reliable guide. We wander from Jesus and His Word and become lost, ultimately a slave to ourselves – to what our own reason makes of God’s Word and to our deficient systems and definitions of morality.

That’s just what Paul talks about in our Galatians reading today: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature.”

The options that Jesus gives to the men in our Gospel reading today are only two—follow Me or self. We don’t know what they did. What about you?

In 1519, Hernando Cortez led the Spanish conquest of Mexico. When Cortez disembarked his men off of the east coast of Mexico, he set fire to the ships that had brought them there. His men, watching their means of return to their homeland going up in flames, consequently knew that they were committing everything, even their lives to the cause of conquering a new world for Spain. There was no putting of the hand to the plough and looking back as it were. So also with you and me. When Christ says “Follow Me”, we are also called to burn our ships in the harbour—that we would be free from all worldly loves and loyalties that might come between us and our Christ.

Jesus’ call to the men in our text to follow Him is His same call to each one of us.

What are the loyalties that distract your attention from your Lord? Do you call Jesus ‘Lord’ yet still indulge the fickle heart?

Does His Word have authority over your reason, even when that Word stands for the opposite of being ‘progressive’ as society defines being progressive.

 In what ways will you follow Jesus in proclaiming the Kingdom in this place and community? How can we – and you – better do that?

What are some of the opportunities that you see?

Jesus calls us to Jerusalem, to the Cross, every day. To daily baptismal living, of dying to the self and to what the world cherishes. Of crucifying the sinful self through daily repentance, and following Him in daily rising to the newness and fullness and freedom of the resurrection life that He won for you through His own death and resurrection.

He calls you to proclaim that same message to a world that desperately needs to hear it; which has no real life, purpose or meaning, lost in the insecurity and unpredictable nature of fickleness, where people try to measure up to appearances, popularity and a purpose for life based on the swirling winds of changing social fads.

Is this not a greater cost than that of following Christ?

Following Jesus has a cost. But Jesus paid the cost himself, so as to reconcile us to the life of God and draw us to follow him, our leader. Our text says that Jesus resolutely set his face to Jerusalem. Jesus wasn’t a victim of circumstance. It was God’s will that he go to Jerusalem, go to the Cross, to pay the cost for the sins of the world through his death, even for those who did not receive him and reject him, like the Samaritans whom the Jews hated so much.

He died for those who did not deserve his love and grace; for those who did not measure up, for those whose love for God flickers and smoulders.

Then, triumphing over the grave, which we rejoice in, in this splendid season of Easter, our risen Lord calls you to follow him in a daily journey in his word, and to come to worship to follow him as he leads you as the holy host and chief actor in the worship service, to forgive, bless and strengthen you, giving you all the blessings and favour of God.

There is no other way that leads to life except to follow Jesus. It is because of Jesus who went to the Cross, to bring forgiveness, life and salvation to the world that we see God is not fickle.

He is faithful and loyal, with mercies that never end but are new each morning, who loves us unconditionally, dependant not on how well we have performed or measured up, but dependant solely on the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He treads the path before us.

We follow him who has already paid and bore upon himself the cost of discipleship; we follow him who goes before us and leads us through suffering and death to resurrection and life everlasting.

Amen!

Your Sunday Bulletin : June 2022.

crosstalk

                   

                                   26th June 2022
                                     Pentecost 3  
                    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: Dr. Mark Worthing

                               The theme
                     The cost of following Jesus
                        Sunday 26th June
                           Pentecost 3  

pastorm

Worship Service led by: Dr. Mark Worthing
Holy Communion: Dr. Mark Worthing
Communion Assistant: Dr. Gordon Watson
Communion Prep.: Don McLean
Bible Readings: Tayte Schultz
1st Reading: 1 Kings 19:15,16,19-21 The call of Elisha
2nd Reading: Galatians 5:1,13-25 Freedom in Christ to live by the Spirit
Gospel: Luke 9:51-62 The cost of following Jesus
Prayers led by: David Thompson
Stewards: Barb Wakefield and Roy Herbig
Music: Daryll
Audio/ Computer: Sue Smith

Next Sunday 3rd July
Pentecost 4
Worship Service led by: Dr. Mark Worthingpastorm
Holy Communion: Dr. Mark Worthing
Communion Assistant: Joan Raward
Communion Prep.: Dr. Gordon Watson
Bible Readings: Sue Smith
1st Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-14 The healing of Naaman
2nd Reading: Galatians 6:1-16 Do good to all
Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 Jesus sends out the seventy
Prayers led by: Barb Wakefield
Stewards: Sue Smith and Alan Bruhn
Music: Narelle
Audio/ Computer: Tayte Schultz

Welcome:
Special morning tea after service on Sunday to welcome Dr. Mark and
Geoffrey Worthing.


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

bible


Bible Study:
7.30 pm Wednesdays 
@ 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

Pastoral Carers:
Rev. David Thompson 0414521661
Joan Rayward 65820898
Jenelle Francis 0407391534

Roster:vavuum
Church Cleaning:

July: Barb Wakefield and Juta Cooley

 

 

Morning tea:cuppa
IT’S ON AGAIN AFTER SERVICE
Morning Tea:
June 26 Joan Rayward
July 3 Barb Wakefield

 

Catch-Up Coffee:
Friday, 8th July 10 am. at Waterman’s café. 2/56 High St. Bain Park
Wauchope. Interested people please contact Carol McLean 0427832156

Wanted:
Extra volunteers for after service morning tea. Contact.
Joan Rayward 0428820898.

Ladies fellowship:
Meeting Wednesday 13th July 12pm at Aileen and Derryl Huf’s home
Everyone is asked to bring a plate of savoury or sweet to share.


Church Council:meeting
Meeting with Dr. Mark on 28th June at 7pm

 

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.


July Birthdays:birthday
1 Stuart Leigh 14
Lynette Middleton
21 Sue Thogersen

 

Web page. 
People who visited the website in the last week, including
30 Aust.
8  USA.
2  Canada.

 

We now have 94 followers.globe

2018:  2,515
2019:  1,864
2020: 2,496
2021:  2,036
2022:  1,181


Statistic:sitting

Sunday Service 19th June. Attendance was 36

 

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 from 6 – 7.30 pm.
Everyone welcome

Weekly Devotion:

Memorise his laws. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and
forehead (Deuteronomy 6:6,8) 

Read Deuteronomy 6:1–9
I’ve often seen people walking along the road with their iPhones plugged into
their ears and jogging with their smartphones bound to their upper arms or a
heart monitor strapped to their chest. Have you?
At first, it was a strange sight, but nowadays, I am getting used to the idea. My
GP tells me that it is not a bad idea that I strap a heart monitor to my chest
when I am riding to see what my heart rate is on the readout on my handlebars. Probably good advice for a person with the dicky heart and a pacemaker.
I’m not so sure, however, about taping verses of Scripture to my forehead and
wrists. I suspect that people would look at me rather strangely and wonder
what kind of person I was.
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Pharisees wearing the
phylacteries
1 on their foreheads and wrists was an outward sign of something
God had commanded for the inside. When God says ‘memorise these laws’,
he’s talking about internalising them – layering them down into our hearts and
minds so that these life-giving words would strengthen our faith and prompt
the good things on the inside to come to the outside in what we say, what we
do and how we say and do it.
So, let all of us continue to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and
strength. Let’s memorise his laws. Let’s tell them to our children over and over
again. Let’s talk about them all the time, whether we’re at home, walking
along the road, going to bed at night or getting up in the morning. As disciples
of Jesus, what he has to say in our lives (and through us) is life-giving.
Robin Mann said it well, ‘Let your word fill my days, let your music fill my
years, let your song fill my life now and evermore’
2
.
Maybe, after all, it would be a good thing to have a smartphone in our pocket
and earbuds plugged in, speaking the word into our hearts and lives – modern
day phylacteries!
Let’s Pray:
Lord Jesus, prompt your Holy Spirit to keep on speaking your word into our
hearts and lives so that we are so full of your word that it overflows from the
inside out in faith and love. Amen.

 

                 think

 
 
Something to think about:

 

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.

Is Satan real?

Text: Luke 26-39
As Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a man from the town who had demons in him. For a long time this man had gone without clothes and would not stay at home, but spent his time in the burial caves. When he saw Jesus, he gave a loud cry, threw himself down at his feet, and shouted, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God! What do you want with me? I beg you, don’t punish me!” He said this because Jesus had ordered the evil spirit to go out of him dhuff(verses 27-29a)

Two 6 year olds struggled with the problem of the existence of the devil.
One boy said, “Oh, there isn’t any devil.”
The other, rather upset, said, “What do you mean, there isn’t any devil? It talks about him all the way through the Bible!”
The first replied, “Oh that’s not true, you know. It’s just like Santa Claus, it’s only dad.”

How do you picture Satan? When you think of the devil, do you think of him with horns, a goatee beard, a devilish grin, a pointed tail and a pitch fork? I think that the devil would be quite happy being portrayed like this. He would be easy to pick out in a crowd and so easy to avoid. There would be no chance of the devil sneaking up and catching us unprepared. We would be able to see him coming a mile away.

The Bible doesn’t picture Satan as being like this at all? Someone once wrote, “If I were an artist illustrating the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil, I would draw Satan as a very pleasant-looking person … so nice that it would be difficult to tell which was Satan and which was Jesus in the picture”. This person is saying that the devil comes in disguise. When he tempts, he does it in such a way that you don’t even know you’re being tempted.

But hey, wait a minute! We are living in the 21st century. All this talk about the devil and demons was all right for the people back then in Jesus time and even people in 15th & 16th centuries, but we have come along way since those times. We joke about the devil, but we don’t take him seriously. Besides what was once called demon-possession in Jesus’ time can be explained by modern medicine. We know that epilepsy was thought to be a form of demon possession and many other sicknesses as the result of sin and the influence of Satan.

Probably the most famous depiction of demon possession is the movie The Exorcist. I have heard that it is based on an actual case, but the amazing part is the amount of effort required to beat the devil. He is powerful. Satan is a cunning enemy. He is not some cute cartoon figure, but he real and dangerous. The Bible urges us to take him seriously.

Jesus takes Satan seriously. In fact, he sees his whole ministry as a conflict with Satan. He teaches about the power of Satan. He saw his death as the supreme battle with the evil one. Jesus isn’t just a child of his age and is repeating what he had learnt from others. He speaks definitely and personally about the power of Satan and continually warns others about this power. If Jesus takes him seriously then I think we should also.

Today’s Gospel reading tells us of one of the occasions when Jesus confronted Satan. It was a very scary situation. Jesus and the disciples had just sailed across Lake Galilee and had put ashore, when suddenly a naked wild man came rushing toward them screaming and yelling. He lived liked an animal in the nearby burial caves in the cemetery. We are told demons had taken over his life. He became uncontrollable and dangerous. The townspeople rugby tackled the man and chained his arms and feet, but the wild man had super human strength and snapped the chains. He cried out in loud, often inhuman voices, cutting himself with stones as he gave out wild screams.

It seems the townspeople and the wild man had come to some sort of understanding. The wild man would live outside of the town in the burial caves, so when the man was tormented by demons and he became wild and uncontrollable he would not harm anyone else. Everyone knew that the place where Jesus had landed was, by common consent, a no-man’s land.

As the wild man rushed downhill from the tombs, eyes crazed, screaming at the top of his lungs, it must have been a frightening sight for the disciples. Perhaps they considered jumping back into the boat or jumping on the man as a group, hoping their combined strength would contain him. The demons recognised Jesus. They were afraid; they knew that Jesus’ had the power to send them back to where they came from. Jesus demonstrates his power by simply asking, “What is your name?” The demons were in control of the wild man but Jesus was in control of them. He commands them to come out of the man and enter a nearby herd of pigs.

When the local people from the town come out to see what was going on they were shocked at what they saw. This once wild man was “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind” (Luke 5:35).

There is much that can be said about this text, but there is one clear message – even though Satan is powerful; the power of Jesus is even stronger. In fact, Luke has placed this event in amongst other demonstrations of Jesus’ power. Immediately before this story, we find Jesus commanding the wind and waves to be quiet. Jesus need only speak the word and a great calm fell on the lake (Luke 8:22-25). Jesus was more powerful than the destructive forces of nature.

Then immediately after the expulsion of Satan from the wild man, Luke tells us that Jesus has the power to heal. He restores to health a woman who had been ill for 12 years. She had examined by an untold number of doctors but they were unable to heal her; but Jesus did. He did what had been humanly impossible. He has the power to control disease, viruses, bacteria, bleeding, epilepsy, leprosy, and cancer. He has the power to heal the incurable.

In fact, he has the power to raise the dead. He went to the home of a twelve-year-old girl who had died. No one could do anything for her now except to mourn the passing of this young life. They had been powerless in the face of death. They could not stop it taking this girl’s life. They even made fun of Jesus when he said she was only sleeping. Dead was dead, as far they were concerned. They underestimated the power of Jesus. He took the child by the hand and to everyone’s amazement, he brought her back to life. Jesus could even command the dead to rise. He was more powerful than death itself.

I’m especially glad that Jesus has all power and authority when it comes to Satan. I’m especially glad simply because Satan is far more powerful than we are.

Satan blinds us. St Paul says, “The god of this age (the devil) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 2:4 NIV). We might have heard the same message from the Bible over and over, but Satan blinds us to what God is trying to say to us. We close our ears; we interpret what is said in our own way, we refuse to apply what God is saying to our own lives.

Satan wants to control us,
to possess us,
to tempt us to do what is against God’s plan for our lives,
to lead us astray by telling us that wrong is right, that the truth is a lie, that God does not love us, to influence us, to hinder us from doing what we know God wants us to do.
Satan loves bitterness, hatred, violence, arguments; he loves dividing people and especially dividing families and the church.
He can enter the hearts of people and cause so much harm. Drunkenness, drug abuse, greed, road rage, vulgar language, racial prejudice, abusiveness, despair, sexual promiscuity; I’m sure you get the picture.

The power of Satan is nothing to mess around with. Séances, ouija boards, witchcraft, the occult, are dangerous. Using these is an invitation to Satan to take control.

Having said all this you might be beginning to wonder whether we have any chance against such a formidable foe. We all know how easy it is for us to succumb to his temptations. When we think everything is going okay, bingo we suddenly realise that Satan has been leading us along by the nose. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that he is having such a powerful influence in our lives. So how can we stand up against something so powerful?

The answer is simple – we can’t! Not by ourselves anyway. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to resist Satan and his temptations and not give in to his attempts to lead us astray. James says, “So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you” (4:7). We need a power that is far greater than any power we have in ourselves. We need the power of Christ on our side if we are going to resist the devil.

Satan wants to draw us away from God’s kingdom into his own dark realm. Daily he tempts us; he tries to draw us away from God. He tempts us so that we fall under God’s condemnation and be sent to hell.

But Jesus has broken Satan’s power. Remember I said before that the whole life of Jesus is an attack against the domination of the devil and the climax of the battle occurred on the cross of Calvary. On the cross, Jesus broke the stranglehold that Satan can have over.
He has won for us forgiveness for all the times we give into Satan.
He has redeemed us – that means he has bought us back from sin and Satan with the price of his own blood.
He has reclaimed us as his own and made us his dear children.
He has made us new, given us a fresh start, and given us his Holy Spirit to help us resist Satan’s power.
Satan may tempt us and we will give in, we deserve God’s punishment, but through his death and resurrection, through the water of baptism we belong to God; we are forgiven and free. We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and likewise resist the devil. Paul says
, “Let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armour God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. … And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm (worth reading all of Ephesians 6:10-17).

Our story from Luke’s Gospel concluded, “The man went through the town, telling what Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39). Just as Jesus commissioned the once wild man to “Go back home and tell what God has done for you”, he has also commanded us to share the good news of freedom from Satan’s power to anyone who would listen. Jesus wants every person in this nation, in the whole world to say with Paul, “God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col 1:13 CEV).

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy

All working together

Text: John 16:12-15.

 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

All working togetherallanb

Here today in just these few verses we are given an insight into the workings of God and that which is important to him; and this then has an impact on who we are and what we are on about as well.

Now here in this reading we are reminded of how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the three members of the Trinity are at work in our world today. The thing that strikes us very strongly is that they are all working together, from their different positions and roles within the Godhead. That is they are at work making known to us that which is of God and which is important for us: that which is all truth. Very clearly, however the point is made that this knowledge has to do with Jesus and what he has said and done for us as he lived on this earth.

Now here Jesus begins by telling us that The Spirit of truth is come to guide us into the things that are important for us to know: the truth. This Spirit, we are told elsewhere, proceeds from the Father and the Son, and will make known to us only that which he hears from them. His sole purpose is to lead us to faith in Jesus Christ, which in turn brings glory to Jesus. He therefore, is sent to us, to make known to us all that Jesus said and did through his life, death and resurrection. The things yet to come, are a reference to Jesus death and resurrection which was yet to come, and which were of great importance for our salvation.

In that regard the Holy Spirit has often been regarded as the shy member of the Trinity. His focus is not on himself and what he does, but has come simply in order to make salvation through Christ, by grace through faith, known to us: to bring us to this knowledge and to help us to trust in this message, so that glory may in turn go to Jesus Christ and from there to the Father. He does not speak or act on his own behalf; as an independent agent, but only of that which he has received from the Father through the Son.

This then highlights the work of Jesus whilst he was here on this earth. God himself come to us, so that he might save us from the hell we have brought on ourselves through our rejection of God and our failing to live under his authority and Word. He took the punishment we deserve, on himself, so that we in turn might be forgiven and assured of life and salvation. Then he was raised from the dead so that we can be assured that he is for real and that eternal life is now there for all who are in Christ.

All this is from the Father. Everything Jesus had and gave he had in common with his Father. The divine love and power is reflected from the Father through the Son, and then made know by the Holy Spirit. All are working together to bring forgiveness, life and salvation to us all. There we have the greatness of our God, and that which we truly thank and praise him for.

But this work and cooperation has continued on from there. This Good News of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed year after year ever since. It has brought life and salvation down through the ages to many, many people. Through the Word and Sacraments, the Spirit has made known all the truth that surrounds Jesus’ death and resurrection that we need to know. Around the world, people have come to faith in Jesus Christ. And glory is going to the Father for all the goodness that he has extended to us.

This goodness and work even now goes on here. The Spirit of truth is still at work, seeking to guide us into all truth. Salvation by grace through faith is still being proclaimed. The emphasis of Christ alone, grace alone, scripture alone and faith alone are still held up in some quarters as vital. Jesus death and resurrection is still the focus in preaching and teaching. The Triune God is continuing to work together to ensure that this message of Jesus continues to go on.

This is surely then also where we join in this important work of God. As we allow the Spirit of truth to work in our lives we too will be focussing all that we say and do on Jesus Christ and the importance of his death and resurrection for our salvation and life. Like the Spirit, we will not act as independent agents, but will act under the guidance of the Spirit and under the authority of God himself. We too will only speak of what has been passed on from Christ as of first importance. As we do, we can be sure that God’s work will go on and continue to bear fruit.

So today, we are reminded again that God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all working together with one purpose in mind: Each in their different roles and priorities, all with the same end in mind.

The Spirit of truth is sent to lead us into all truth: The truth and importance of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us through his death and resurrection. In this, the love and power of the Father is extended to all people.

So also then, when we focus on that same message we know that we too are being joined into that work of God himself. We also know that where that message is, and is proclaimed, that it will bring blessing. But more importantly, glory will go to our Lord Jesus Christ. That in turn will bring glory to the Father. Here again as I conclude this message let us remember that to God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, belongs all glory and honour, now and always.

AMEN.

‘Show us the Father’

Text: John 14: 8-17, 25-27

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesusgarth answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Today’s text begins with Philip asking Jesus to show the disciples the Father. Philip’s thought seems to be that if Jesus, soon leaving them, would visibly reveal his Father to them, the disciples would be satisfied with this until the day when Jesus would return for them. On the one hand this shows great faith—Philip regards Jesus as able to actually and visibly show the Father to them. On the other hand, Philip is slow to grasp what Jesus means when he speaks about knowing and seeing the Father.

Jesus’ response to Philip is that Philip has already seen the Father. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” Jesus says. This is because Jesus shares the same eternal, divine nature as his Father. In order to make this oneness of Himself with the Father altogether clear, Jesus points to the constant evidence and manifestation of this oneness: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (verses 10-11). What Jesus has been teaching, preaching and doing is no less than the Father speaking and working through him.

Then Jesus continues with a series of amazing and comforting promises. Now listen carefully—because these are the same promises for Jesus’ church today. First He says: “I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” The promise is for whoever believes in Jesus. Now it might seem a bit hard to believe that we will do even greater works than Jesus. The greater is referring to greater in number. Jesus’ followers of all times will continue his mission and ministry throughout the ages. And so we see Jesus’ promises beginning to be fulfilled in Acts 5:

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed (v 12-16).

These works were possible because it was really Jesus working through the people. Jesus continues to work through his people today. The promise is that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name he will do: “You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” This isn’t a blanket promise for a new car, better pay, the jackpot in the lottery, a grand final win for our sporting team…

The promises that Jesus makes—that we will do greater works than he, and that he will do whatever we ask in his name—are couched between two references to God’s Word in our text—verse 8 (“The words I say to you are not just my own”) and verse 15 (“If you love me, you will do what I command”). What Jesus is saying is that when his people minister to others according to what he commands, he will follow through on what he promises and do what we ask in his name that is according to his will.

Jesus says: “Whatever you ask I will do it.”

When we baptise in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, God is present to wash the lost and condemned sinner and unite them to Christ and his death and resurrection. The Father hears our prayer to set the person free from the power of Satan and rescue them from the kingdom of darkness and death and receive them into the kingdom of light and life of Christ, for Jesus’ sake. When we pray for God to sanctify us in the truth, he answers our prayer and Jesus comes to us through his Word and continues to share his holiness with us as in his presence. When we trust God at his promise that the Gospel is the power for salvation, and ask him to bring that salvation to those gathered with us, he is present through his Word to convict us of sin, forgive and comfort us through his gospel, and create and sustain saving faith in Christ crucified, risen and ascended.

When a friend on the fringe of the church sits in your lounge room, broken and searching for hope, and you desperately pray in your heart for Jesus to help you find the words to say, his promise today is that he will do whatever we ask, and his words will come to you, and no matter how mucked up you think your proclamation may be, it will be Christ’s proclamation that there is hope when it would seem there is none, that there is a Saviour for them, the Lord Jesus Christ and he forgives every sin and promises to make everything new, no matter how messed up things may be.

When at a hospital bedside someone who does not yet know the Lord asks what hope there is for them, and you pray that somehow this person will come to know Christ, Jesus promises: “I will do whatever you ask in my name” and he will help you share with them the hope that you have, Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins, the One who is the resurrection and the life so that “Whoever believes in the Son will not perish but have eternal life”.

When we pass the peace of Christ in church with his words: “Peace be with you” we are not conveying a nice wish but Christ is speaking his own words through us and bringing peace and comfort through us to those in the pews around us. That’s Christ at work through you!

These are the greater works that Jesus is talking about. You don’t have to raise Lazarus or heal someone from cancer or convert your entire workplace by turning the water in the water cooler into wine. But every proclamation of God’s grace in Christ are the greater works, for the gospel is the power for salvation. Every word of blessing, every building up in the faith, every admonishing from Scripture, every act of witnessing to our neighbour, every act of love according to God’s Word are the greater works, and they can only be done if Jesus and the Father are with us in the first place…that is what Jesus is ultimately assuring you today. So don’t ever think that what you do in the Lord’s name is insignificant, for God is with his servants.

How good our God is to us, giving of his very self to us! Not content to rest there, Jesus makes another promise: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.” Actually the word for Counsellor is perhaps better translated ‘Advocate’. It comes from the word ‘Paraclete’; originally two Greek words: para (to be beside) and kaleo to call out, or urge on. And so we see the Holy Spirit Jesus promises is not a thing, or a power, but a person—a Divine person, God the Holy Spirit, beside us urging us on, calling us on as he walks step by step beside us.

Jesus promises that the Spirit of Truth will be with us forever. God with us forever! God with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit, teaching us of everything Jesus said—forever!  What a personal God we have! God who is relational, intimately involved in our lives. And this Paraclete, this Holy Spirit, is the other counsellor who will be with us forever. Who is the first? Jesus himself. Jesus’ ascension was not simply to go to heaven to be distant and removed from his people. It is not as if Jesus ascends into Heaven to leave behind the Holy Spirit in his place. Jesus ascended to fill all things, Paul says in Ephesians. He is everywhere present, and present in particular ways in his word and sacraments to bring forgiveness, life and salvation. He is the other Counsellor, the other Advocate, or Paraclete, the other one walking beside you, urging you on. And wherever Jesus is, so is the Father.

What an amazing, self-giving God! Pentecost is so much more than searching for visual proofs for God’s existence. It is so much more than trying to find spiritual experiences. It is all about the One who has given himself to us in the Person of Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit so that we can have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. God is not up there…or over there…but God Almighty is our Paraclete, the One who walks beside you and who lives in you, in the Person of Christ and our Heavenly Father and the Person of the Holy Spirit whom the Father sends through Jesus. God lives in you! Just think of that! Everywhere you go, in every prayer for every person you come across, in every blessing you give them, in every Word of comfort from the Scriptures, in every act of love, you bring the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to them. Wherever you are in your faith journey, whatever life throws at you, and whenever you share the gospel with those around you, Jesus and the Spirit of Truth are walking beside you. God goes with you. The Lord is always with his servants.

So brothers and sisters do not be troubled and afraid. Your God is with you and he does not give to you as the world gives; he does not give to you expecting that you will be able to pay him back. He does not give to you based on certain provisions in fine print. He does not give to you with interest or an early termination of contract clause. He does not give to you based on how well you are doing, or based on what you deserve. No, he does not give to you as the world gives. But he gives to you as God gives: generously, freely, graciously, unconditionally…he gives himself to you…forever.

Amen.

The physical & the moral question.

Acts 1: 1-11; Ephesians 1: 15-23 St John 24: 44-53

The Ascension of our Lord Jesus into heaven as too the coming down from heaven of God’s Son in the Incarnation at Bethlehem creates for those thosegordon5 outside the Christian faith, who are many members of our community here in Port Macquarie, these central Christian articles of faith create real questions which pose significant barriers for them in accepting the Christian faith. Today I want to clarify what these may be. Unless we take these issues seriously, they remain seemingly impenetrable barriers to their accepting the Christian faith as true and relevant to their lives. Firstly, there is the physical question; the idea of an ascension and the location of heaven in time and space. This is a basic question about the nature of the physical world in which we all inhabit.

Secondly, there is the moral question about the Lordship of Jesus as seated on the right hand of the Father, to whom thereby is given all power in heaven and earth. The question here is; how is this is true when the world in which we live is subject to so much that is contrary to the rule of a good and gracious Lord?

Firstly, the physical question about the Ascension. This maybe formulated in a classical way in the words of Nikita Khrushchev who in 1961, when Yuri Gagarin, the first man was sent into space aboard the space craft Vostok 1 returned. He said on Gagarin’s return, “He didn’t find any angels up there.” Meaning that there is no such thing as a spatial heaven inhabited by celestial beings, confirming the atheistic and nihilistic ideology of the Soviet communist party and, at the same time, denying the truth of Christian belief. The idea that space is something that can be conceived as up and down. But Christ ascended “up” into heaven. According to Luke in the Gospel and the Book of Acts.

This idea of space is something that, of course, is a common assumption of the Biblical writers. They inhabited a three storied universe, earth, heaven and the netherworld of hell beneath their feet. Some of you will possess old family Bibles with illustrations of this kind of world depicted in its illustrations. But such a view of space and time is no longer tenable post Einstein and the development of modern physics. Space and time are now understood as relative to the velocity of light and the mass of an object. Also, that space and time can be warped not only by speed and mass but gravity too. We no longer live in a universe with static conceptions of space, time and matter. There is no such thing as up or down in terms of the universe of space, time and matter. We inhabit a universe of the relativity of space, time, matter and anti-matter.

So, what are we to say of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus into heaven? A famous, or infamous, depending on your belief, German theologian called Rudolf Bultmann wrote in an influential essay in 1941, “in the age of the electric light bulb and radio, we cannot expect rational people to believe in a literal resurrection and ascension of Jesus.” He believed, as a consequence, the New Testament accounts of these events needed to be demythologised.

Bultmann had the same view of space and time as Khrushchev. A static view of space, time, of up and down. Such a view is still the most held view of our experience of life on earth and its structures of space and time. It is for example a common feature of football matches that when players perform some fantastic feat of skill or endurance or kicks a remarkable goal their celebrations include pointing to the sky, acknowledging a deceased friend or loved one who, supposedly is in heaven, looking down on them. We all live with the view that space is understood as up, down and across three dimensional. We experience life in this three-dimensional way. It is for most people on earth it is the way we come to terms with the reality of our life’s experience.

So instead of stripping away and describing the way the Bible speaks of the Incarnation and Ascension of the Lord Jesus as mythological and therefore false, we must hold on to the space time constructs that the writers use and seek an understanding of God that their words intend. We must see that the way in which they describe the Incarnation of Jesus as coming down from heaven and the Ascension as a going up into heaven tells us something critically important about the God who is revealed in Jesus. Though this God is not contained in the space time constructs of the universe, God in inconceivable freedom deigns to become involved in the space time of this world. Solomon says in his prayer at the dedication of the Jerusalem Temple, “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!”2 Chronicles 6:18

The God of the Bible cannot be contained in our thoughts about God. God is inconceivable by the very nature of God’s being who God is. That we may come to know who God is is only possible if God gives God’s very self to be known. God can only be known by God’s action towards us. The central claim of the Bible is that God has accommodated God’s own self to be known to us in the forms and thought structures that we have based on our experience of being earthly creatures. Instead of being a hindrance to our coming to know and believe in who God is for us the earthly constructed language we use of space and time becomes the vehicle of our knowledge of God who, though not contained by our thoughts or our language, nevertheless graciously condescends to make God’s own self known through them. This is precisely what God has done in the descent of God’s self in His Son Jesus to be one with us in our humanity and to take that humanity into the mysterious life of God’s own eternal life. This inconceivably free action of God’s grace is the basis of all that the Bible has to say to us; as it speaks to us in the limited structures of our language and minds so that we may come to know and love the Creator and saviour of the world in all His glory.

The second question follows form the first question about the physical nature of the Ascension and our understanding of it. It is if the Lordship of the ascended Jesus as seated on the right hand of the Father, to whom thereby is given all power in heaven and earth, what do we say when the world in which we live is subject to so much that is contrary to the rule of a good and gracious Lord. The question posed by the world to Christians is framed like this:

How, does a God as powerful and good as revealed in Jesus allow such a thing as war and disease to happen to good people? If he is good then he cannot also be all powerful, for a God who has both these attributes and cares for the world would have been been able to prevent such catastrophes.

These are all questions we all, together with detractors of Christianity in the newspapers and television commentators ask. As Christians we are called upon to give a response to these urgent questions. And the first response is that we must not accept the assumptions made here about God are true. For in fact the God who is understood to be God by these questions is the unreal abstract God dreamed up by our human imagination.

The Christian creed says of the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven that by it He “is seated at the right hand of the Father.” This is how the Christian confession expresses the meaning of the ascension of Jesus Christ. It uses the language of metaphor taken from the protocols of a royal court, of someone who sits at the right hand of the King. The Kings right hand man who is endowed with the authority and power of the monarch. We still use this metaphor in every day language. We say so and so is “his or her right-hand man.” Thus, when the Christian church says that by means of His ascension Jesus Christ’s place is at the right hand of the Father it intends that the power, the sovereignty and might of God is to be understood in terms of this One. That Jesus Christ rules the world on behalf of God the Father: He it is who both reveals and inaugurates the Father’s kingdom on earth. God the Father’s rule is the kingdom and rule of Jesus Christ.

But, if this is so, it turns upside down our normal understanding of power and majesty, of authority and lordship. For the one who sits at God’s right hand is the crucified risen and ascended Jesus. The One who bears in His body the mark of the spear and the nails: Whom Thomas recognises because he bears in his body the marks of His continuity with the Him who had been “crucified, dead and buried.”

The God then of whom the Christian gospel speaks is not some abstract idea of power or almightiness; but One who as God’s “right hand man” shows that God’s power and authority is such that it can be denied and pursued all the way from Pilates judgment hall to the cross of Golgotha. God’s power and authority is such that not only can it be denied but also that God himself can be killed.

(We could go on and talk about Holy Saturday and the hiatus between Jesus’ death and Easter Sunday, Jesus’ resurrection: indicating what it means for God’s godness that Jesus God’s Son was killed!)

When we say therefore, that the ascended One is the crucified One, the meaning of the mystery of the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven is that we cannot forget that this One who reveals the Father’s majesty and glory allows Himself to be edged out of the world and suspended between heaven and earth on a cross. That if we own this One as Lord then it should not be seen as strange or incongruous, but entirely consistent with the truth of His being who He is as Lord of the church, that we say that God’s power is so great that He can accept the path of pain and weakness in the world as the way, the means, by which He rules the world.

Christians who know this Lord’s power will confess His truth in the midst of their own struggle with evil in  personalised and in institutionalised form; for they experience in Jesus Christ God’s absence from the world and in their own lives. And it is precisely there, not apart from this experience, but in the depths of their alienation and loneliness that they know the power of the ascended crucified Lord. For it is as the godforsaken One, The One who was abandoned above all by God who lives and reigns at God’s right hand. This is the heart of the mystery of Christ’s ascension into heaven. So that we may know and experience the majesty of God’s grace for us as a reality; not divorced or separated from the world in which we find ourselves albeit abandoned by God here and now in places where God is silent. We live our lives in a world in which we experience both the heights of human achievement, of joy and human love, but also  the depths of human depravity and the blind fury of nature.

The Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven teaches us that God is so free as not to be bound by our abstract ideas of divinity and power but that at God’s right hand lives the crucified One. That God’s godness includes the possibility to empty Himself of all but love for the sake of the weak and threatened human creature. This is the gospel, the good news, that the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven and His session at the right hand of the Father proclaims to us today.

The One who rules the world saw and experienced the human condition as it really is; and as we have seen and experienced it in the space of our own lifetimes. We have come to know  humanity and its capabilities through the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, world wars, revolution, famine, genocide, terrorism, cancer and tsunamis. Jesus saw and experienced the human condition as claimed and imprisoned by the actuality of the visible and invisible powers of darkness and death. He understood human beings to be possessed by the negative power of evil and corrupted by it, and delivered up to the meaninglessness of so many of life’s circumstances.

But the Christian confession of the ascension of crucified One is that the real goodness of the real God is that the contradictions of creation are not alien to himself, not external to whom He wills to be as God. This God demonstrated this at the cross of Christ when He triumphed over the evil of the creatures’ rejection of God’s grace, that God’s rejoicing and sorrowing precedes our rejoicing and sorrowing. Before light could gladden us and darkness torment us, He was aware of both, separating and expressing His lordship over both. Before life greeted us and death menaced us, He was the Lord of both life and death. And He did not do this through mere superiority, He made His own both creations menace and hope. He did not spare himself but gave Himself up for us all.

This is the great gospel news of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven.

So, to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be all honour power and dominion to the ages of ages. Amen,

Dr. Gordon Watson.

Do not be worried and upset.

Text: John 14:27
(garthJesus said,) “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

“Peace I Leave You”

Apparently there is an element of truth in this story. A plane landed after a long flight. The flight attendant explained that there was enough time for everyone to get off the aircraft and then reboard in 50 minutes.

Everybody got off the plane except one gentleman. The pilot had noticed him as he walked by. He could tell that the man was blind because his guide dog lay quietly underneath the seat next to him. “Sir”, the pilot said to the blind man, “we will be here for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?”

The blind man replied, “No thanks, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs.”

Picture this: All the people in the gate area came to a complete stand still when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog! The pilot was even wearing sunglasses.

Fear took control. People scattered and queued at the airline desk trying to change planes!

Fear is a normal human response. It is a part of every person’s life – perhaps more so in some people than others – but still everyone has to deal with fear at some time. There are many things that can cause unexpected fear to grip our hearts.
The latest wave of flu strains makes us worry for our health.
The fear of terrorist attacks permeates public events.
The nuclear build up in North Korea has caused nations to fear the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons.

Mothers, fathers and children in Israel and Palestine live in constant fear of another bomb blast or being caught in crossfire.
Parents fear for the safety of their children with so many reports in the news of people who would want to harm them.
We are afraid to leave our homes unlocked, or to walk in the dark at night.
We fear failure so we scramble to meet our tight schedules, duties and obligations.

And where there is fear, there is no peace. Fear brings with it anxiety, worry, apprehension, dread, restlessness, panic and tension – none of which lead us to feel calm, peaceful, relaxed and stress-free.

One of the best newspaper cartoons is Calvin and Hobbes. One day Calvin comes marching into the living room early one morning. His mother is seated there in her favourite chair. She is sipping her morning coffee. She looks up at young Calvin. She is amused and amazed at how he is dressed. Calvin’s head is encased in a large space helmet. A cape is draped around his neck, across his shoulders, down his back and is dragging on the floor. One hand is holding a flashlight and the other a baseball bat.
“What’s up today?” asks his mum.
“Nothing, so far,” answers Calvin.
“So far?” she questions.
“Well, you never know,” Calvin says, “Something could happen today.” Then Calvin marches off, “And if anything does, by golly, I’m going to be ready for it!”

Calvin’s mum looks out at the reading audience and she says, “I need a suit like that!”

That’s the way many of us feel as we see the news and deal with life. Sometimes this world seems too violent and people seem to be at each other’s throats. A suit like that would help, so we can say along with Calvin, “Whatever may come my way, I’m going to be ready for it! Bring it on!”

Well, I don’t have a suit like Calvin’s to give you this morning, but I do have some important words from Jesus this morning to enable us to say, “Whatever may come my way, I’m going to be ready for it! Bring it on!”

It is the night of the Last Supper. Jesus has just spoken of his impending death. He tells the disciples that one of them will betray him and urges Judas to go and do quickly what he has planned to do.
Peter boldly claims that he would rather die than deny his Lord, but Jesus knows that before the rooster crows he will say three times that he does not know the man they are talking about.
Jesus talks about going where they cannot follow and they are confused about this. Haven’t they followed Jesus for the past 3 years? They have watched him heal the sick, they have seen him bring comfort to the afflicted and laughter to the faces of children. Not a day has past where Jesus has not been with them. Their sole thought and attention has been him since the day they were called. And now they are faced with the thought of life without him. Where is he going that they can’t continue to follow him in the future?
Jesus knows that what will happen – his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial and tortuous death the next day – will upset them.

Like a child lost in a department store, these disciples are afraid, uncertain, confused and nervous. And so he continues saying, “Do not be worried and upset. Believe in God and believe also in me …. Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid” (John 14:1, 27).

In the New Testament, the peace Jesus gives is an unconditional, eternal gift to his followers in every time and place. That’s why he does not give peace to us as the world does – for the world, peace is often very conditional, fragile, temporary, and, is frequently reduced to mean only the absence of war and strife.

Worldly peace always has some kind of strings attached, some kind of conditions, and worldly peace lasts only as long as the conditions are kept. Two feuding neighbours can’t agree over the type of fence to be constructed between their properties. They come to an agreement about the cost, type of fence, what kind of materials are to be used and how high it should be but immediately one reneges on what was agreed, the feud starts again.

However, with Christ’s peace there are no strings attached; there is the wonderful promise that it will last forever. Peace, in the New Testament sense means: salvation, forgiveness and reconciliation between God and humanity. The sin that stands between God and us has been done away by the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection. We no longer fear God’s anger because of our rebelliousness. Jesus reconciles us with God – he restores the friendship between God and us.

Peace is also the Holy Spirit in our lives as friend, comforter, counsellor, teacher and healer.
Peace is knowing that no matter what troubles may come our way, God, our heavenly Father, has promised to never forget us and to always be our helper and strength. He sent his Son to go all the way and die for us in order to reclaim us as his own. He won’t give up on us now. We are his special and most loved children.
Peace is the flow on of God’s peace into the rest of our lives as we live and work with the people in our day to day relationships and activities.
This peace has a positive effect on our health and well-being. It is well documented that stress, tension, and fear have negative effects on our body.

What can we do when fear grips our hearts?

Firstly, get to know what kind of God we have. He is gracious, loving and faithful. We don’t deserve it but he loves us and will always stand by us. We see just how powerful his love for us is when we look at the cross and see what Jesus has done for us.
Get to know God as the king and ruler of the universe. There is nothing so great or too difficult for him to handle. Parting the sea to save the Israelites, saving Daniel from the lions or Jonah from the belly of the big fish, springing Peter from jail, or saving Paul from a shipwreck were all a piece of cake for him. Helping us when we are afraid is just as easy.

Secondly, get to know God’s promises and trust that he will stick by what he says. Memorise and trust words like these –
The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid. (Psalm 27:1,2).
God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not be afraid… (Psalm 45:1,2).
Or Jesus words of authority and power, “Don’t be afraid! I am the first and the last. I am the living one! I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I have authority over death and the world of the dead.” (Revelation 1:17).
Be assured that God keeps his promises; that he is with us, even in the worst possible situation imaginable on this earth.

Thirdly, realise that there are too many times when our human attempts to be bold are not sufficient. There will be times when even the texts of promise that we have learnt off by heart will do little to ease our anxiety. We may even feel that God has deserted us. It’s then we need the Holy Spirit to help us – to forgive us for our weakness of faith, to enable us to trust that God has not forsaken us, to support us while we tremble in fear and to help us get through. He even takes our cries of fear to God and pleads to him on our behalf (Rom 8:26-27).

Our strength, our mind, our skills are of no particular use. We just have to relax and wait patiently, trusting in the God who knows all of our needs and is willing to use his power to help us. The Holy Spirit reminds us – when fear is near, God is even nearer.

Fourthly, pray. Ask God to intervene in our troubles and the fear they bring. Pray for faith, for boldness and courage when we are afraid. Pray that we are able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit who points us to the love and compassion of God, and pray that in the end God would take us from the troubles of this world into the eternal world where there will be no more fear.

When fears and worries create tension and upset your life, Jesus promises, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

Let us pray;
 May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.

What’s new about the ‘new’ commandment?

The Text: John 13:31-35

What’s new about the ‘new’ commandment? Let me read to you from the Old3510 Testament, Leviticus 19:18; ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. This is the Old Testament, and there we have the command to love. So what’s new about the ‘new’ commandment? The newness has to do with the person who gives the commandment, our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who ‘makes all things new’ (Rev 21:5). Jesus has loved, and does love us, and so he transforms our love for each other.

As we meditate on this new commandment to love, let’s consider four features of it today: (They each start with the letter ‘s,’ so we can more easily remember them):

  • Love is given a new shape,
  • Love happens in a new space,
  • Love becomes a new sign,
  • Love arises from a new source.

Shape, space, sign and source.

So first is that in this new commandment, love is given a new shape. What does that mean? Love is given a new shape in the sense of taking on a particular focus, and being characterised, in a particular way: namely the ‘shape’ of sacrifice.  

Jesus says, ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ If we then ask ‘How did Jesus love us?’ the context of this passage tells us a lot. Jesus is speaking these words on the night before he died. Judas has just left room to begin the chain of the events that would lead to Jesus’ death. Jesus talks about loving as he loved in the context of his sacrificial death. He strengthens this connection as he repeats this command a little later where he says: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ (15:13)’.

This emphasis becomes like an echo throughout the New Testament, where again and again love is talked about in connection with the theme of sacrifice. To mention just one more example, in Ephesians 5:1 Paul writes,  ‘…live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’. The love Jesus calls for is characterised by sacrifice. That means: total and utter self-giving love for another.  

Let’s just think for a moment about how radical this love is. Think of membership at a football club. Actually in a place like a football club there can be some strong forms of love – strong comradery and this sort of thing. Around Anzac day, football coaches might try to inspire the players by talking of the Anzac spirit and so on. But then think about this: when finals time arrives and there are two players were left competing for the final spot in the A grade team, could you ever imagine one player saying, ‘I’ll give up my spot in the team for him’. It’s virtually inconceivable. Not only would it not happen, it would probably be looked on as weakness.

In contrast, this is the very sort of love that is to be cultivated in Christian community. We love by sacrificing our time, sacrificing our money, sacrificing our own desires and pleasures, sacrificing different parts of our life, for others.

So the first thing Jesus does is that love is given a new shape, that of sacrificial love.

The next point is that in Jesus’ new command, love happens in a new space.

Jesus says love ‘one another’. What does that mean? Who is the ‘one another’? Where, and with whom does Jesus want this new commandment of love to happen? The simple answer is that he seems to be referring to the Christian community – to love specifically within the church. Only his disciples are in this room, and he says, love ‘one another’. A parallel passage might be Galatians 6:10, ‘So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.’

Now this can strike some people as a bit confusing. We hear Jesus teach about loving one’s neighbour, as the Old Testament does, which seems fairly general. We even hear about Jesus radical call to love one’s enemies. So then it almost feels to some people like we’re going backwards here, retreating into a “holy huddle” or something. So it’s worth asking, why this particular command to love one’s brothers and sisters within the Christian family?

Here’s one way to think about it. Isn’t it true, that it can often be hardest for Christians, to love other Christians? Think of the sad history of conflict and division within Christian congregations. Think of the various debates we’ve had in our own LCA in recent times, and how quickly our lack of love for one another can rear its ugly head. Now St Paul does always remind us that love ‘rejoices in the truth’ (1 Cor 13:6), so we do need to have robust discussions in the life of the church. But he also calls us to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Eph 4:15). Think, too, of the way we have sometimes acted towards Christians of other denominations and traditions. Maybe Jesus is onto something more important than we at first realise, when he points us to the Christian community as the space for love.

It’s worth noting too, that this new commandment of Jesus is framed in John 13 by two spectacular failings within this first Christian community. Firstly, Judas betrays Jesus, and secondly, Peter denies Jesus! This, too, can help us understand why Jesus focuses on love within the Christian community.

We find a parallel in human family. Most people would say the people they love most in the world are their family. But if we’re really honest, isn’t it also true that our families are the hardest people to love? After all, we’re stuck with them! We live in close proximity to them. We know their flaws and they know ours. We can’t hide things from each other. We expect more from each other.

There’s a specific focus here in Jesus’ new commandment on living in love within the Christian community. Love is given a new space.

Then Jesus gives another reason why this focus on the Christian community, and this is our next point, that love becomes a new sign. ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’. How interesting and mysterious and even seemingly paradoxical, that if we want to reach out to the world with the love of Christ, the first step is that this love is lived within the Church, with each other. Jesus says in effect, ‘people will notice this, and love will be a sign to the world.’

This has been true throughout Church history. The early church father Tertullian reported that one of the things outsiders said about the early Christian church was, ‘See how they love each other.’ One of the Roman leaders said about the early Christians in one of his letters, ‘They love each other almost before they even meet.’ Love truly has been and will be a sign to the world.

Sadly, we know this today also in a negative sense don’t we? When we fail to love, it will likewise be noticed by the world. We know that it can be incredible damaging to the Church’s witness.

Now Jesus presumably teaches us this because it’s always going to be true. But maybe this is true and even more relevant for us in 21st century Australia than at other times and places. Because one thing we are seeing in our culture today is that people, especially young people, are searching for and craving community in which they can experience true love. This is perhaps because so many of our traditional communal structures have broken down.

So love is given a new shape. Love happens in a new space. Love becomes a new sign. Finally, love arises from a new source. All this teaching we covered so far is good stuff, the only problem with it, is that it’s really, really hard! It’s an incredible, if not impossible task to live a life of sacrificial love within the Christian community, and to become such a sign to the world! When we truthfully examine our hearts, do we find much of that sort of sacrificial love within? It’s interesting how central the issue of love is in one of our prayers of confession of sins: ‘We have not loved you with our whole heart, and we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves.’ That’s the truth of the matter!

But the good news is, is that in Jesus we find not only a new shape for love, but a new source of love. We find not only a new pattern for love, but a new power for love. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross is not only our example of love, it is his love acted out for us. Jesus is pointing to this when he says, ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another’. The ‘as I have loved you’ is not only saying: ‘Look and follow my example’, but it’s also saying, ‘By going to the Cross for you, I am actually enabling and empowering you to love. That’s what makes it possible for you to even begin to live these lives of self-sacrificial love.’

Because it’s as Jesus gives his life for us on the Cross, that there is forgiveness of sins for us, and that he defeats the powers of evil for us. So he frees us all from this life turned in on ourselves. He rescues us from the path of love-less-ness. Jesus has loved us and continues to love us, so that we can love one another. Jesus himself is a deep well of love from which we draw. In 1 John 3:16 it is said like this: ‘We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for one another’.

And as we think about how we actually receive his love, it’s worth considering an interesting, or rather vital, connection here. The same night Jesus gives us this new commandment, is the night he also institutes a new meal saying this is the ‘new covenant’ in my blood. There is a connection between the new command of love and the new covenant meal of love. It’s through this Sacrament that all the benefits of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross are given to us, so that we continually receive the love of Christ as we attend this meal. Jesus has left us his meal of love, and he has sent us his Holy Spirit. We remember that the first fruit of the Spirit is… love.

St Paul say in Romans 5 that ‘…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.’  This means that this is something anyone can pray for with great confidence when love seems to be lacking. Are you struggling to love your spouse? Your family? Someone in your congregation? Come to Holy Communion. Receive the love of Christ anew. Pray to God, and ask for the Holy Spirit to work in you his fruit of love. In Jesus there is a new source of love. You’ll be amazed at how receptive people can be in reconciling differences after sharing in this holy and love-filled meal!

So, love is given a new shape – that of sacrificial love. Love happens in a new space – the Christian community. Love becomes a new sign – of where Jesus’ disciples can be found in the world. And love arises from a new source – from Jesus himself, for he has loved us all to the end. ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Amen.

“I know my sheep”

Text: John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me”.

“I know my sheep”

How often are you identified with a number?dhuff
At the bank you have account numbers, PIN numbers to access your accounts, and credit card numbers.
The taxation department identifies you by your Tax File Number.
You have a Medicare number.
When you enquire about your power or phone bill the first thing you are asked is, “What is your customer number?”
When you go to the meat section of the supermarket you are required to pick up a number and will be served when your number is called.
If you are in business you need an ABN (an Australian Business Number);
on internet sites and for email you need usernames and passwords, and we could go on.
If you are pulled over by a police officer for speeding, he/she is interested in numbers – your licence number, your registration number, and … the number on the radar gun indicating how fast you were
travelling.

Numbers are so impersonal. Isn’t it nice when someone remembers your name, or when you are known by name rather than by a customer account number?

In John’s Gospel we hear Jesus speak words that give us that kind of warm feeling that we have when someone cares for us, is interested in what is happening in our lives, empathises and encourages us. Jesus tells us about the very personal and intimate relationship that he has with us. He says, “I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me” (John 10:14).

Jesus describes his relationship with us using the closeness and intimacy that he and the Father in heaven share as an example of the personal way he knows us and what is happening to us. However, we can only know the close relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a limited way because our knowledge of the Trinity is very incomplete so Jesus also uses the description of the relationships between a shepherd and his sheep. I believe that this kind of description is easier to understand because it is something that comes from everyday life and in Jesus’ time everyone knew about shepherds and sheep. He says, “My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father gave them to me, and he is greater than all others. No one can snatch them from his hands, and I am one with the Father” (John 10:27-30 CEV).

Talking about shepherds who know each sheep individually, even calling them by name, is not so familiar to us Aussies. The Australian sheep farmer is not one bit like the shepherds we read about in the Bible. The modern day sheep farmer has his large mob of sheep, let’s say a thousand sheep, in a paddock and he occasionally goes out to check if everything is all right. When he wants to shift them he hops on his motorbike and with the help of his dog he drives them to where he wants them to go. He doesn’t call them by name though he might call them names when they act stupidly and go where he doesn’t want them to go, but you wouldn’t say they are affectionate names. This is nothing like the picture that Jesus gives, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27).

A shepherd in ancient times firstly didn’t have thousands of sheep to look after. He had a small flock and he knew each sheep individually. One of the most meaningful pictures in Christian art depicts Jesus as a shepherd. We don’t know if Jesus ever really shepherded sheep – maybe he might have done something like this if he had a shepherd friend when he was a lad and they spent time out in the fields with sheep.  Whatever Jesus’ experience was as a shepherd, he uses an image that everyone could relate to. 

Artists have taken up this theme and pictured Jesus holding a lamb, or carrying a lamb across his shoulders, or watching over sheep. Jesus is the one who cares, the one who saves the lost, and rescues from trouble. He is the one who is intimately and individually concerned about each one of his sheep. He provides his sheep with everything they need. He is the one whose staff and rod defend the sheep if any danger should come their way. We are led to think of what would have happened to a lost lamb if Jesus did not rescue it. Even if that lamb was wild and independent of all help, the shepherd doesn’t give up.

A party of tourists was on its way to Palestine and the guide was describing some of the customs of the East. “Now,” he said, “you are accustomed to seeing the shepherd driving his sheep through the English lanes. Out in the East, however, things are different, for the shepherd always leads the way, going on in front of the flock. And the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”


They reached Palestine, and, to the amusement of the tourists, almost the first thing they saw was a flock of sheep being driven along by a man. The guide was astonished and immediately made it his business to approach the shepherd. “How is it that you are driving these sheep?” he asked. “I have always been told that the Eastern shepherd leads his sheep.” “You are quite right, sir,” replied the man. “The shepherd does lead his sheep. But you see, I’m not the shepherd, I’m the butcher.”

The sheep depended on the shepherd. They gladly followed him because they knew he could be trusted because he lived among his sheep,
slept among them,
walked with them,
fed them,
guided, directed and protected them,
knew each sheep by name.
All this builds up a mental image of someone with an intense love for our total well-being at every turn of our life. This is a description of how Jesus feels about each one of us. Big business thinks of us as a number. Jesus knows us by name.

By using this shepherd imagery Jesus is connecting himself to the Old Testament imagery that we read of in Psalm 23. The writer refers to the Lord as my shepherd. There nothing else I need. I will not be afraid be you are close beside me.


It’s obvious that the writer is expressing the personal relationship that God has with him. The real presence of God in his life is not something theoretical or even wishful. It is real. Especially in this Easter season we are reminded that we have a living and all-powerful Saviour who is walking beside us every day through thick and thin.

No doubt there are times when it seems that Jesus is a million miles away.
We have prayed for help in times of sickness and the pain is as intense as ever.
We have asked him to guide us through some difficult decisions but we have blundered on making one mistake after another.
We have wanted him to watch over our loved ones, but they have still been caught up in trouble and accidents.
We may feel as if we are losing our faith in Jesus, stop going to worship and lose touch with the people at church.
But the fact is Jesus hasn’t gone anywhere. He is right here with us. He knows what is happening in our lives. He knows what is going through our minds and how restless and anxious we are – he will use his power to help and support us. Jesus’ promise is good even when we are doubting and despairing, 
“I am the good Shepherd, I know my sheep”.

Even though we are down and almost out, we are assured that we are in the arms of the everlasting shepherd who lovingly supports and strengthens us in our weakest and most painful moments. Like the lamb that is often pictured in Jesus’ arms, we can be at peace and feel safe in the arms of our loving shepherd.

This reminds me of a passage from the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament where the people are in trouble and ask, “Has God forgotten us”? God answers, “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on my hand” Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT).
Those words are just as applicable to us today as they were three thousand years ago. God feels the same way about us as he did back then. He even gave his life for the sheep.

The image of the Good Shepherd is one of love, care, protection, intimacy and closeness. This text about the Good Shepherd has implications for us who are followers of Jesus. We are challenged to share his concern for those who are in trouble, for those who suffer injustice, for the sick and for the poor. It is not good enough for us to say to those suffering “You should trust in Jesus to make things work out for you”. As his followers, we share the same concerns as he has, and show our love in very practical ways, as Jesus did. It may be inconvenient to offer assistance, it may cost us time, effort and money, but love demands that this be done.

What I am saying is that we become shepherds to one another. We are to be shepherds to one another as members of this congregation. We are to be shepherds to one another in our families, to one another at work, amongst our friends.
Just as Jesus guides and protects his sheep, mothers and fathers guide and protect the lambs he has given to us in our families.
Just as Jesus shepherds us with patience and love, we shepherd those lives whom God has entrusted to us.
Just as Jesus comforts and helps us, husbands and wives comfort and help one another.
As I said, we become shepherds to one another.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we do know that we have a loving shepherd who walks with us through the good and bad. And one day when we must walk through the valley of darkness and death he will walk with us and lead us to the glorious new life beyond the grave. Because we have a loving shepherd, goodness and love will follow us all our lives and we will live in the house of the Lord forever.

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy

Why were there 153 fish?

The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Three times, Jesus asked Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Let’s  join in a word of  prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, our loving Saviour, by your presence in our lives, you touch us, you teach us, and you renew us.  We continue to celebrate your resurrection and to worship You.  Guide our time together this morning that we may not be overwhelmed by trivial details as we discover your grace and mercy in your presence with us. Loving Lord Jesus Christ, hear our prayer for the sake of your name.  Amen.

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It is so easy to get caught up in trivial messages and interpretations of scripture and miss the point.

We find in John 21:11, that: ‘Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish.’   

Have you ever wondered why there were 153 fish? I must admit that I haven’t. But others have.

Cyril of Alexandria in the 5th century said that the 100 represented the fullness of the Gentiles, the 50 symbolized the remnant of Israel and three of course was there for the Trinity.

Augustine’s theory, also in the 5th century, was a little more complicated. He said, there are 10 commandments and 7 is the perfect number of grace and that totals 17. If you add all the numbers from 1 to 17 together in a series, you know 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 all the way up to 17 you’ll get 153. And not only that but if you were to arrange them with 17 fish in the first row, and 16 in the next row, and 15 in the next row, all the way down to a row of 1 you get a perfect triangle which represents the Trinity.

A third 5th Century scholar, Jerome, suggested that there were 153 different types of fish in the sea and it was symbolic of the church reaching all the people in the world. 

Perhaps it’s mentioned in the Gospel simply because John counted 153 fish in the net. What do you think?  (Adapted from Brett Blair, http://www.Sermons.com, from the sermon “Live for Today” by Denn Guptill.)

You see we can get so caught up in really trivial stuff and miss the point.  That the disciples needed to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ, and toss the net on the other side of the boat.  In the same way, we need to be obedient to Christ, today.

When Jesus appeared to the Disciples in the upper room, after his resurrection, he was passing on the baton of Christian faith.  Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”   Jesus never wants us to be startled by his presence in our lives.  Our Saviour wants us to eagerly accept his call to live our faith and share the Good News of Salvation.  And not get caught up in the trivial, overlooking the heart of the Gospel message.

That baton of the race of life eternal has been passed down from generation to generation from Jesus Christ himself, to the disciples, to the patriarchs of the faith, to the families where faith is nurtured from parents to children, to their children.  Faith in Jesus Christ who was dead but is now alive, and is with us forever.

After receiving the baton from Christ Jesus, it appears that  Simon Peter became fearful of their future, and tried  to return to what he knew best.  He  said, “I’m going fishing.”  The other Apostles agreed,  “We’ll come, too.”  So they returned to Galilee and went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.  After which, Jesus affirmed his care for them and his authority, and called them back to what was important.

Jesus told them to toss the net on the over side.  They finally agreed, and as they recognised it was Jesus, Peter rushed to be with him.  I  can imagine a flood of memories filled his head.  During their last supper before his suffering, Jesus warned Peter, “Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”   Then Jesus prophesied, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Lk 22:31–34 NIV)

Just as was prophesied, filled with fear, three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.  Despite his best intentions.  And like Peter, with the best of intentions, we often fail too. 

No Christian engages with Word and Sacrament with the intention to ignore Christ Jesus, and follow after the trivial matters of life.  No Christian enters a life with Christ to rebel against his plan at some critical moment.  But, being human, we so often do.

After we’ve turned back, like Peter, we repent, regain our focus on Jesus Christ, and live again with confidence that we are following his plan for our lives.  Because God forgives us, accepts us, and through our faith in Jesus Christ he gives us the right to be called his children.

Toward the end of their time together here in the world,  Jesus asked three times if Peter loved him.  After each response from Peter, Jesus guides Peter to stay with the main thing.  “Feed my lambs” and “Take care of my sheep”.  Jesus ends with the same words that he first spoke to Peter when they met at the lake of Galilee “follow me”.  

Like Peter, as modern Disciples of Christ Jesus, we are called not to lose sight of the most important things.  Not to be caught up in the less important things. 

That we continue to strive to share the wonderful Good News of Jesus Christ with each other and with the next generation.  By our everyday actions, words and attitudes.  We can trust that God’s plan will prevail, but we do need to keep our attention on the main thing with a hopeful heart – the person of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

From his letters to us, we recognise that Peter never again lost his attention to Christ Jesus.  Peter begins his second letter with the words, ‘Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ:  May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.’ (2 Pe 1:1–2 NRSV)

We have received the same precious faith as the Apostles, grounded in the person, the life and the ministry of Jesus Christ.   The most important person and the most important message.

Paul discovered these same most important truths.  After being blinded, then seeing the light, Paul was baptised, and engaged with the Christian life with the passion of an Apostle, and the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Paul later wrote, ‘I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”  (1 Cor 15:1–4 NIV)

As a Worshipping Community, we have a mission and as  individual members of our Worshipping Community, Jesus Christ wants us to further his mission.  To keep our actions, attitudes and words active and obedient to Christ Jesus. Rather than counting fish.

As a worshipping community, we have a calling from our Saviour to be active in each other’s lives.  To hold consistent in his plan for the Mid North Coast.  To fulfil our vision of “Inspiring people to LIVE a purposeful LIFE, growing TOGETHER in JESUS CHRIST”.  And to assist our District in fulfilling its vision of “Going, Growing and Enabling mission for Christ Jesus’.

Christ-filled hope gives us a clear picture of our vision, and energises us to fulfil our mission. The Holy Spirit gives us strength to make the best decisions about what’s important, and helps us to work together as God’s children.  And so we pray that the Holy Spirit will fill our lives and our hearts with a passion for Christ Jesus, to the glory of God our Father. 

May the grace and peace of God keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, the most important person in our lives.   AMEN.

Rev David Thompson