Luke 4:18-19

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So Jesus lets the religious leaders of the day know what he has come to do. They will see with their own eyes, the will be told of the works he will do where healing comes. Jesus came not only to tell people the good news, but to live it out.

He was anointed, that means set apart, to do it. It was a task he was sent to do. And the task, the work he came to do, he asks us to carry on.

When we become followers of Jesus, we are also anointed, we are set apart, to do what Jesus has asked us to do. To continue his work. To reach those who are blind, poor. in prison and oppressed. Who are they? It is everyone who has not yet heard about Jesus, and it is those who truly are poor and in prison.

If we are followers of Jesus we have work to do. The most important task of all. To share the love of Jesus with a dying world. Can we do it? No on our own, but we are no on our own. The Holy Spirit is with us. As we spend time in prayer with Jesus, as we learn more about him, we become better equipped to do what he has asked.

What does it look like? I might be a gentle discussion, a friendly smile. a word of comfort, a lending hand. The courage to say who it is that has changed your life, the courage to say that Jesus calls us to love. To do the best you can, and to leave the rest to Jesus.

See this week if you get an opportunity to share God’s love. Ask for it, and it will be there.

Hot cold or Lukewarm

The letter to the church at Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3 is a tough one. We have this image of Jesus that we construct in our mind that says he’s easy going, loving and will accomodate what ever I want him to accomodate.

This letter blows that idea apart. Here he is writing to a church that is in a city that is prosperous and self sufficient. The church seems to have taken on that culture.

Nestled in a valley where it didn’t have it’s own water supply, it relied on a water source from a town some distance away that was carried into Laodicea by an aqueduct system. From it’s source of boiling it arrives in Laodicea just warm and awful to drink.

This water is so bad it is spat out – it isn’t hot healing water, it isn’t cold refreshing water. It’s water that is useless. Applying this metaphor to the church, Jesus says because you are neither hot nor cold but lukewarm (just warm) you make me want to vomit.

He goes on though and says i don’t want you to be like this, I want you to be a church that is on fire, a church that is passionate for me. Look, he says, don’t you see how I love you? Here i am i’m standing at the door of your church wanting to come in and transform you – please open the door lets do life together.

As much as he says that to the church he says it to us as individual too. You have to out me first. What is getting in the way? Are you getting your priorities right? Is jJesus really first in your life? Are you living the way he calls you too? Or are you wanting to be comfortable? Comfort first not Jesus first. Yes I’lll follow Jesus as long as he doesnt want me to change, as long as he doesn’t challenge my choices, as long as I can do what I want.

How are your relationships? Is Jesus first? How are you spending your money? Is Jesus first? How are you spending your time? Is Jesus first?

This letter says how much Jesus is passionate about his church, and about you, me us!! True transformative life happens when we put Jesus first.

What are you passionate about? Are you passionate about Jesus? Are you wanting to see people come to know him? Are you wanting to see peoples lives transformed? Are you ready to lay your wants down and say Jesus, I want to do what you want me to do.

We want ABC to be a church that is on fire for Jesus. As in life the first step is repenting, saying sorry for not doing that and determining make Jesus first.

We are journeying on this, and here is our Prayer Action Plan to this end that as leaders we are asking the whole church to join in. Lets be transformative!!

Romans 12:1

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (JB Phillips)

Last week we looked at the thought of what is required of us by God – he wants us, not just what we do, but us. To be his living sacrifices, our bodies are his.

This week we recognised that the body and the mind are connected – God wants the whole of us. We are told this time and agains; Jesus told his disciples that we are to love God with all our heart all our soul and all our mind.

There are only two options love the world or love God. We either conform, being shaped by the values, the expectations, the pressures of the world around us, or we are to be transformed. Changed made new.

That’s the choice, God and relationship wth him, or the world, the systems around us that change and fade, that come and go.

The two are on a collision course, the Kingdom of God, and the systems that are against God. The battle goes on, but the final outcome is certain.

We aren’t left on our own – we can be transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit, we can take responsibility for what we will do, what we will listen to, time spent in the world of God and time spent talking with God.

We can be transformed – how cool is that!! Do you know what that means? That almighty God is so passionate about you, that he will equip you to be the person you are designed to be – not what the world says you should be, but what God says you are to be

Deuteronomy 11

“But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.”

It’s hard to imagine the scene. For 40 years the Israelites have been wandering through the desert. One step forward and two back it seems. They had left the enslavement and harsh treatment of Egypt behind, going off to a land of their own a land flowing with milk and honey. But for years that land seemed far off, they moved but no closer to it. The grumbling had begun, the past for all it’s horrors and harsh treatment seemed better than an uncertain future.

But now here it is, the promised and longed for land was before them they are about to go into it and make theirs.

2017 has begun, the corner has been turned 2016 is in the past. What is it you are hoping for as you enter into this year. What fears are you facing? What longings do you have? Are their uncertainties that make the past, despite it’s discomfort, more pleasant than the unknown tomorrow?

Are you excited? Full of enthusiasm, looking forward to what is ahead? Stepping into the unknown but full of joyful expectation?

Whatever your situation may be, these verses from deuteronomy bring us great comfort.

Eyes – God’s eyes are on you. Not as a distant observer, but as a loving, tender companion. He looks on you with love – you are valuable to him. He wants what is best for you.

Whose eyes? God’s eyes – he is personally invested in your future. He hasn’t delegated responsibility to anyone else. He cares for you . He’s the one who walks with you, it’s his arms that were outstretched for you and stretch out to you.

Always – he is always looking out for you 24/7. He doesn’t nod off on the job. He is the careful God not the careless God. You are never alone or abandoned. He is with you always.

May this year be one where you claim that promise of God to be near you. That you build on your relationship with him, and that you experience his love, his compassion, his joy in you and his desire for you to live life and have it to the full.

Peace

What a frantic season Christmas can be. Busy days, every day. Stress brought about by many factors; financial worries, inter family conflict, for others memories of days gone by that cannot be repeated because some someone loved is no longer there.

It can be a microcosm of the balance of the year. A life that is anything but at peace. Expectations and hopes have not been met. The fear of uncertain days haunt us – sleep, peaceful sleep anyway, eludes us. And peace of mind seems unobtainable. Try as might at night we toss and turn our minds are over busy and anxious.

The Bible says though that peace is obtainable, that it is available it isn’t elusive. Pau writing to the church at Philippi writes, ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Peace is available. Not an ordinary peace but a supernatural peace. A peace that boggles our mind a peace that we can’t understand but a pace that can experience. A peace that is not dependent upon our circumstances, but a peace that is available and promised to us despite our circumstances.
God cares for you. His concern is for you much more than for your circumstances.

What are we asked to do. We are asked to pray. Come face to face with God – worship and adore him, he deserves it. Come to him with an attitude of thankfulness – don’t come to him straight away with your request spend time with him first. Honouring him worshipping him being grateful for what he has done.

Then bring every problem to him. Take them to him, you are invited to. Lay them before God, be specific , let him know eery details. Then wait and expect God to act. And he will – not necessarily by changing your circumstances but by changing you in your circumstances. He will bring you peace, and as he does what a witness to him you will be.

This week expect God’s peace , ask for it and live peacefully

Philippians 2:5- 9

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

​Yesterday was the second Sunday in Advent and we looked at the price, the power and the promise of love/.

The price of love that Jesus paid was humility and obedience. A humility and obedience that saw him die so that we can live. We need to stop and think about how great this is; the creator God humbling himself to the point of dying for me and you. It’s this humility that God asks of us – not that we think less of ourselves, but that we think of ourselves less – looking to serve others, selflessly.

The power of love is one that transforms lives. For Jesus the power of his love for us took him to the cross when he could have said ‘no’. He chose to go where he didn’t have to go for our sake not his. HIs love transformed the lies of his disciples, and throughout the centuries his love as when accepted and understood has transformed the lives of millions.

The promise of his love is forever – nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death. It endures forever.

As we go into this week, are we prepared to pay the price of love? Are we willing to live humbly and obediently for Jesus? Are we willing to live selflessly for others as he did for us?

Are we loving others in such a way that their lives are been transformed? Are we demonstrating and showing love that reaches out and touches others?

Are we secure in the knowledge that God loves us? Are we living as a people who know we are loved by the creator God? Is that ‘knowing’ been evidenced by our ‘doing’?

We will not have the ability to love others well until we know how well how completely we are loved. We are loved totally and unconditionally by the God who knows us better than we know ourselves.
​If you are struggling with the knowledge of God’s love, then spend time with him. If he died for you as he did, then don’t you think he wants you to know the depth of his love? ​Ask him today to remind you of his love -ask him to show up and surprise you.
Ask yourself today how am I loving others – how am I being obedient as God asks me to be.

The Travellers Psalm

On 20 November we read through Psalm 121. One of the Psalms of ascent, and a beautiful Psalm. It is referred to as both the travellers Psalm and the soldiers Psalm.

As we read it we have this image of a pilgrim, a sojourner, a traveller walling among the mountains and as he does so, and as he looks around him he sees mountain after mountain. ‘I will lift my eyes to the mountain where does my help come from’ Who cares for me, seems to be the plaintive cry. But as the question is asked, the answer is given – the one who cares is the one who made the the heavens and the earth.

The creator God cares for his creatures. He does not leave us, he does not forsake us. His care is 24/7 – he is the careful God, not the careless God.

God watches over us continually – he doesn’t drift off to sleep – his attention is undivided – it is personal – it is gentle.

He watches our coming and our going – he watches all of life’s progress for us – as we leave the house and enter the house – whether we sleep, work or play – he is with us.

He is our very present help – he guards us from birth to death. It doesn’t mean that we wont suffer the ills that life throws at us, but it does mean that we are never alone. His plans for us are for eternity.

This is the God who out of his great love sent his son Jesus to be our saviour, and our friend We need never be alone again, we can always be safe in the arms of Jesus

Is this the God you know. Is this the God you trust and is this the God who you are allowing to transform your life?

As you too journey through life as you look at the mountains in front of you, and around you, are you aware of the attentive presence of God?

God has spoke light into your life, now let that light shine

2 Corinthians 5:17(ESVUK)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I told a story last Sunday about St Augustine who in his life before his encounter with Jesus led a very promiscuous life style.
One day as he was out walking a former girlfriend saw him and called out, ‘Augstine, Augustine, it is I’, the story goes that as Augustine kept walking he responded, ‘but it is not I.’

The truth that Augustine understood was that when he came to believe in Jesus he was no longer what he was, he had become a new creation. This new creation didn’t involve a process it happened with immediate effect when Jesus become his Lord. Paul use of this word creation, takes us right back to the creation event. ‘In the beginning the world was formless and empty, and darkness covered the dark waters.’ (NLT) But into this darkness God spoke and said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.

This same creative power is at work in us. God steps into our darkness, our primeval chaos and he brings light. God is at work for us, he is on our side. It is God who calls, it is God who does the new work in us that brings us into light. And that light is the knowledge of the glory of God. That light is ur knowledge of the Lordship the Kingship the divinity of Jesus. That light is the knowledge that through the grace of God and his salvation work through Jesus on the Cross we are saved, and what we were we no longer are. We have crossed from death into life.

This is the work of regeneration it is the root from what our Christian life grows, the work is completed we are saved, the process has begun we are becoming the people God intends us to be. Often referred to as being sanctified, we are set apart for God’s service and we are learning obedience.

We focus on this process, this desire to be better and better, and trying to be better and better is exhausting. We are aware of our sinfulness (because we have been made new), we get discouraged when we see others who seem to be doing so much better than us.

It’s at those moments we need to remind ourselves we have been made new, the old has passed. The wok has been done and the work is continuing.

Because are are new creations, because the old has passed away, we need to live like it. We need evidence in our life that who are is not who we were, but we also need to believe it. We have been made new, our past no longer defines who we are.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESVUK)

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

God has spoke light into your life, now let that light shine

Enlarging our tent

Luke 4:18-19
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
On Sunday we continued with our theme of enlarging our tent. A really encouraging look at what God is asking of us, to be open, spacious to see people outside the family of God move to being inside the family of God. Moving from observation to participation, from isolation to inclusion.
In doing this we looked at these verses from the Gospel of Luke where Jesus sits in front of his friends and family and says what you have been looking for is here. I am the one who has come to bring good news to the poor, to give sight to the blind to give freedom to prisoners and relief to the oppressed.
I am the one, he says, who is going to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
We were reminded that for Israel this year of the Lord’s favour was one where debts were forgiven, and every 50th year peoples lands were returned to them. This was known as the year of jubilee where trumpets would sound and the dispossessed would get their inheritance back. It was a unique and beautiful series of laws to protect people from those who would oppress them. It never actually happened, the trumpets never sounded in the whole history of Israel. God plans of care and protection of the oppressed never came it never arrived – until now. Jesus says now it is available to you. Now and forever the impoverished the blind, the prisoner the oppressed (which literally means the crushed) are able to have the favour of the Lord. Jesus doesn’t talk simply i physical or economic terms, these metaphors of poverty, blindness, imprisonment and oppression, all spoke of people who are separated from God – but now we have the opportunity to be reconciled (to be brought back into relationship) to God. That’s the Lords favour. And we noticed that the message is a positive one. Jesus says this is what I will do – doesn’t talk of God’s vengeance or anger – he focusses on God’s love and grace. He says this is what God is for – he is for you, he is on your side.
If we are to see our tent stretched – the curtains opened then we need to focus on what God is for too – not what he against but what he is for.
This week if you have an opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus (and there will be opportunity) tell them about what Jesus is for – tell them Jesus is for them to bring them back to him and to shower them with his favour – a favour of sight, and riches of his inheritance and freedom.

Making the Tent Bigger

Isaiah 54:2 ‘Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think Big!’

On Sunday we looked at this passage from Isaiah and we looked at how it motivated a young man (William Carey) over two hundred years ago to step out for God, and in doing so he brought the light and the life and the love of Jesus to countless thousands, and his legacy of going and loving continues.

He believed in a Big God, a God who would equip him to do what others said he couldn’t. He accomplished far more than he could have imagined.

This God who said Make your tents big, is a God who is looking for his people to go into the world and share his good news. We’re not to hold it to ourselves. He is also the God who when he says go, will equip us with what we need to see the tent grow. He is a God who is faithful to his word and true to his promises.

William Carey looked at these verses in Isaiah and he knew that his God would go with him. These verses enabled him to expect great things from God and to attempt great things for God.

He went where it was uncomfortable. He went where there was a cost and obstacles. He went because he believed this is what God called him to do.

He attempted great things for God, because he expected great things from God.

Today what is God calling you to do? What has he equipped you to do? Have you asked him? Are you ready to serve him? How will you serve him? Do you know what gifts he has given you? Because he has gifted you.

God calls us to go into the world and make disciples. Are you praying asking God who he wants you to speak to? Ask him for an opportunity to share what God has done for you this week.

Lets spread the tent of ABC

You can serve God. You pray, you can give, you can go.

Next Sunday we will be doing our collection for Self Denial. Please bring along your waka and your monetary gifts.

God loves us and he wants us to tell others of his love.

Have a great week – have big expectations and share what God has done.