The Resurrection

The good news for Christians is that the Bible tells us God so loved us that he sent his only son so that whoever believes in him will have eternal life.

The Gospels, Matthew Mark Luke and John, tell us the story of Jesus life on earth. Of his love and concern for people, and his power to transform lives. They all end by telling us that Jesus died on a cross but rose again, Proving himself to be truly the Son of God and having power over death. Jesus promises that he is coming again, we don’t know when or where, but when he does, life on this earth ends and eternity with him or without him begins.

Life without him is unimaginable horror. Life with him now is one of peace and joy and hope. Not a life without trouble but a life with a personal relationship with the risen Saviour of the world, and the promise of an eternity with him.

We all called to share the good news. Who do we share it with? Here is an interesting and challenging article.

Article by: Jen Wilkin

There is a people group whose language you may not want to learn, whose customs you may find distasteful, whose dress may offend, and whose values may disappoint. They are worshipers of idols. They raise their children in poverty. Many Christians consider this people group either unreachable or beyond the sphere of their calling.

Why?

Because their language is that of white suburbia. Because their customs are as familiar as our childhoods, their dress as unremarkable as the sale rack at Old Navy, their values as fragile as their credit ratings. Their idols are money, possessions, and leisure. Their children starve not for food, but for relationship. And their faces? Their faces look a little too much like our own.

Behold suburbia, the mission field for whom our hearts do not break. We hold them in contempt as those who have heard and spurned the gospel. Their failing marriages, rebellious children, and quiet addictions stir in us weariness and wariness: This is their own doing. This is the fruit of their commonplace lives of capitulation and mediocrity. Suffering and loss may visit them, but they still drive to hospitals and gravesites in late-model SUVs. Why should we pour out our lives on the rocky soil of suburban America when, for the price of a plane ticket, we can till the fertile fields of Africa, Asia, South America?

But who are we to say that one soil is more fertile than another? Perhaps this field is yours to till simply because you find yourself already in it. No plane ticket required, no bold geographical leap of faith, just a slow and steady determination to respond well to the call to “love your neighbor.” Literally. Even if their problems are messy, and mundane, and not the stuff of headlines or documentaries. Even if they never soften to the gospel.

It is good for our hearts to break for Africa, for Asia, for South America. It is good for seeds to be planted by passionate believers in the fertile soil of distant lands. But I pray that hearts might also break for the suburbs, and that God would raise up faithful men and women who will till where the ground is rocky and unforgiving, believing for a harvest that could only be reckoned as supernatural.

Pray with me. Ask the Lord of the harvest, who sows and reaps where he pleases—both far and near.

Lets continue as a church to pray for and seek the lost.

Remember Lot’s Wife

Remember Lot's wife. So says Jesus as he answers questions about the coming of the end of the world, or as the Pharisees put it the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The story Jesus alludes to is in Genesis 19. Here is Lot and his family fleeing from a city that God is going to destroy. It took some convincing to get them to go, si eventually they had to be grabbed by the hand and force out. Flee and dont look back, God says to them.
Lot's wife looks over her shoulders, glances back and wamo turns into a pillar of salt. No warning was given as to what might happen, just the command - don;t look back.
The Hebrew word is much more than a glance back. It refers to an inability to let go of the past.
You may have your own thoughts as to why we can't do that, why we can't let go of past words, experiences, lifestyles, habits, circumstances even when we know that by holding on it can impact us negatively.
It's that looking back in the wrong way that is the problem. And the problem is that we can't move forward with God when we don't let go of the past. We can become like Lot's wife. Stuck in one place, hard and immobile, when it's God's desire for us to move forward and onward.
The challenge is there for us individually and corporately,as church. Are there things we are holding on to, things that we can't or don't want to let go of that are hindering us from being used by God as he wants to use us or being blessed by God as he wants to bless us.
Lot's wife missed out on her salvation. What are we missing out on? What can we do about it? What are we going to do about it.
God's desire for us is to have life in all its fullness. Until we say God I want to move forward then progress will be difficut
God has such good things planned for you and for us. Lets dream as to what they might be, and imagine what God can do with us and through us as we don't hold onto the past but look forward to the future.

Mission

It was a real privilege to have Johannes share with us on Sunday his message on mission. This message was a challenge to us to evaluate where we are at with God, and what we are doing about being his disciples where we are.

 
Johannes looked at the Isaiah 6 and gave us an overview of the context in which Isaiah responded to the call of God, saying ‘here I am send me.’ 
The truth for us is that we are all ‘sent’. God sent his son Jesus and Jesus sends us. We are to the voice the feet the hands of God in our communities, and wherever God sends us or has placed us.
 
It is a real challenge. As Johannes said, though we go back to look at an event thousands of years ago, as much as things change they stay the same.  In New Zealand we live in a society founded on Judeo/Christian standards, but we have moved away from those standards and have become proud, and as we were reminded the Bible is clear that pride leads to downfall. 
 
In order for us to go effectively out into the ‘world’, we were reminded that we need an encounter with Jesus, we need to meet with God. We need to build disciplines into our lives to enable that to occur; to learn those disciplines that take us into a relationship with the Triune God.
 
We are called and we are sent. We can make a difference, God is on our side, and it is he who goes with us. He longs to see people in relationship with him. If that is God’s heart it should be our heart too, and for us the challenge is how do we do it. We can do it by speaking about Jesus, we do it by being on our knees and praying, we do it by being confident that we are his children and he will use us for his glory, we do it by working first and foremost on our relationship with him.
 
Today is a beautiful day, remember whatever your circumstance to praise God and let your praises change you.

Turnaround God

Again we looked on Sunday at the idea of the turn around God. Our God who loves us so much that his desire for us to draw closer to us and for us to draw closer to him. The best way for us to do that is in a spirit of humility,recognising how great our God is and our desperate need of him in our lives.
 
Here is the prayer of Martin Luther that I read on Sunday:
 

“Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it.

I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.

I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor.

I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you.

In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have.

I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor.

I am a sinner; you are upright.

With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness.

Therefore I will will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give.

Amen”.

There is great humility in this prayer from a man, who despite his faults, was a giant in the Christian faith. We need to pray like this. To confess our sin before God, to admit before God our brokenness to state our desire before God to remain close to him. To remind ourselves we cannot do anything to earn the love or the mercy and forgiveness of God. He has through his grace given to us all we need, what we have to do is acknowledge that need and bow before him.

David in Psalm 51 write: the sacrifice you want is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.

That brokenness isn’t a punishment it’s not because God is vindictive or unkind, it is because when we admit our brokenness then he can begin his work of healing and restoring, or transforming and molding us into the people he knows we can be. The greater our humility, the more acute our sense of sin, the more available we make ourselves to God and his work.

It is because of his great love for you that he died for you. He loves you and wants the best for you.

I want to see the Father

It’s not unusual for us to want to know. We need certainty, we need assurance. Philip, when Jesus said, If you knew me you’d know the father too, said, I’m nearly there I’m nearly convinced, but don’t just talk to me about the Father, show him to me.

Jesus replied if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. He says, I am the evidence. He doesn’t leave Philip hanging, he goes on and tells Philip what the evidence is. He says it’s my character, it’s my words, it’s my works. And, he says, Philip you have been a witness to all of these things.
One of the objections to Christianity is that we can’t see God. And while this sounds like a logical objection, it loses its weight when we think there are many things we believe in that we can’t see. Love for instance.
But Jesus goes beyond the unseen, and says you have seen. And it’s the same for us too. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 19.1, the heavens declare the glory of God and the sky proclaims his handiwork.
The word of God has been revealed to us in the scriptures. His words have stood the test of time. There are millions of Christians who have gone before us who are witnesses to the life changing power of Jesus.
It isn’t the the evidence isn’t around us, it’s that we fail to appreciate the evidence that we see.
This week, as you spend time with family and friends, as you see the sights and sounds around you, as you have special moments, as some quietness comforts you, say to God thank you that you are still at work and you still speak. Ask him to show himself to you in someway, and look at how he might do that.
The Jesus that John writes about, is the Jesus who longs for us to know him, and through knowing him we can know the Father. He wants us to enjoy a personal relationship with him.
Blessings

Trusting God

Life’s not easy. Whether it is now, it has been in the past, or will be in the future, there will be times that we feel that our struggles are overwhelming. Maybe even that it’s too hard and we just want to give up.

Maybe our circumstances are not what we want them to be, we get confused, disappointed (both in others and in ourselves). It becomes hard to imagine that things are going to get better.
Jesus’s disciples knew what this was like, and Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said ‘believe in me’. He said, trust me, when all hope looks like it has gone, when you feel like your faith is slipping away, he said keep on believing.
Believe in me he says, I am the creator god, nothing is too hard for me.
Believe in me, he says, I’m absolutely trust worthy.
Believe in me, because through me you can find life, you can be connected to the life giving source of God himself.
Believe in me, because I have gone and prepared the way so that you can have that relationship with God.
Believe in me, there are many rooms in heaven and there is a place for you.
Believe in me, I will never leave you or reject you
Believe in me, I have triumphed I have defeated death, and I will come back for you so that where I am you will be.
When life gets too hard, Jesus says believe in me. He will not let you down, he will not reject you, and he has said that he wants you to be with him, and he wants to be with you.
Trust him and the only way you will learn to trust him, is to trust him. Talk to him today tell him your fears, tell him your concerns lay them out before him, and spend time reading his Word.
Start at John 14.1-3 and no that he says don’t worry, believe in me