"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"
This is a strange statement for Nathanael (who became a disciple of Christ) to make. Why would he say it? Would he be proved wrong as he met Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you become disheartened because you are struggling with God's apparent silence in your life? Many of us mistake this silence for inactivity or lack of concern, we feel like the Lord is ignoring our situation because nothing seems to change. But when we go through tough times, the Lord often needs to reduce all the noise going on inside of us so that we can hear Him. The noise of fear and anxiety, the noise of failure and loss, the sheer volume of being totally overwhelmed from blow after blow, the clamour of anger and resentment, the Lord leads us to a place where He can silence our stuff so we can hear Him.
Perhaps no promise in the Bible has more leverage than Romans 8:31, because if God is for you, it doesn't matter what comes against you. We need to come to the understanding that God is on our side and to do that we need an accurate understanding of our relationship with God.
In Psalm 62 David emphasises that we will find peace, security and comfort in the midst of life's most threatening moments when God alone – God only – is our salvation and refuge, when we come to a place of complete trust in God. It is not always easy for us to get to that place of complete trust and to remain there.
When we read Romans 8:28 in its context we can give a positive answer to the questions of pain and suffering in the world. We may see nothing good come of misery and disaster in this world, but this world is not all of reality. And this is where the distinction between immediate good and ultimate good comes in. There is a place beyond the horizon of what our senses can apprehend, and it is more real and more lasting than what we experience in this mortal shell. God is using the present, even the miserable present, to conform us to the image of his Son.
What is grace? Grace is that which we don't earn. It is God in action giving us what we don't deserve. We cannot earn grace, it is freely given. We will need grace for our whole lives. In fact a saint needs more grace than a sinner because we are seeking to live a different life to the one before Jesus.
Whether it is Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, social media allows us to filter what we show to the outside world. We can show them the "me" that we want them to see. However, veiled or filtered living results in veiled or filtered hearts. We becomes so busy being the "me" we want others to see that we struggle to be authentic, even with ourselves. This causes us to struggle in our relationship with God. He sees us as we really are, we can't filter what He sees.
Life is all about love. Because God is love (His very nature is relational), the most important lesson He wants us to learn on earth is how to love. It is in loving that we are most like Him, and that is why love is at the foundation of every command He has given us. But, learning to love unselfishly is not an easy task. It runs counter to our self-centred nature, which is probably why we're given a lifetime to learn it. God wants us to love everyone but He is particularly concerned that that we love others in His family.
From the first 6 verses of 3 John we can draw out some points of application that we can implement into our everyday lives so that we may walk in truth and love through obedience to Jesus.
Jesus came so that we should not perish but have eternal life! We sing all the right songs about Jesus dying on the cross to pay for our sins, but when last did you hear of someone having that kind of radical conversion experience resulting in such dramatic repentance? Sin no longer seems to be a reality. We sing about being saved from our sins but have no sense of being sinful. Whatever happened to sin?
The above video was shown near the beginning of the sermon.
Salvation is through faith in Christ, we don't earn our way into Heaven, but the redeemed, those who are saved, will be known by their actions. God's people will be known by their kindness. Jesus demonstrates who important the whole thing of kindness is by speaking of it in the context of eternal life and death. He is saying that God's people should be known for their kindness. In a world that is so often very unkind, a world where people look only to their own interests, being kind can often be out-of-the-ordinary, counter-cultural, weird even. But we are called to be different, we are called to be a kind people. We need to show love when love is unexpected. Isn't that what kindness is? Unmerited, unexpected love?
We all have a battle going on inside each of us. The flesh versus the Spirit. The flesh represents our sinful nature, the nature with which we are born. When we give our lives to God we are born again, a new creation and the old is gone. When we place our flesh on the cross, surrendering our lives and giving up the old life we are changed. But, does that mean we stop sinning altogether? No! We must daily deny our flesh and follow the Spirit.
The authority we are talking about is the authority that has passed down from God to us through our faith in Jesus Christ, as we have been inhabited and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And yet, despite the delegated power that has been passed down to us, a lot of us hold back. We fail to consider that we are called by God and that by His ability we may live and represent His authority. We never, however, act out of our own authority – in and of ourselves we have no real power or control – we only reflect what God has given us to share. We are a people that should be committed to living with and exercising the authority that God has placed upon us.
We must never feel compelled to give for the Lord's work. What we offer to the Lord must be given cheerfully for God loves a cheerful giver. We can only give cheerfully when the condition of our heart is right with God and our giving is dictated by our love for Him. This is because God not only looks at the gift; He also looks at the heart. The condition of the heart when we give is much more important than what we give. Our giving must come from the heart if it is to please God.
As we reach out it is important for us to do so in the right way. In Acts 6:1-7we read how the early Church went about service and ministry. They looked for people who were full of the Spirit and wisdom. This is how the Church operated, following the Spirit's leading, waiting for the Spirit and then acting in obedience, empowered to do so.Â This is how we as a Church should be reaching out. Our mission into the world must be Spirit-led. As God has opened up to us these opportunities for reaching out and as we engage them, let us be prompted and led by the Holy Spirit.
Guest preacher, Michael Sischy from the Jews for Jesus organisation, shares the message of Christ in the Sabbath.
God asked Moses an important (and prophetic) question that He is asking each of us today. “What’s in your hand?” What is it that God has already built into your life, though it seems quite ordinary today, could become something quite different if used for the Lord? What passion for service has God sparked in you? What needs do you see that other may not? What abilities, talents or spiritual gifts has he equipped you with? What experiences have you had that God could use to touch the lives of others?
How often do we look for God in the big things, the "wow" moments? We ask for these signs so that we know He's with us but so often God is in the small things, the gentle whispers that can so easily be overlooked or ignored. God is in the small details, providing for us each day.
In Romans 12 Paul describes how we should behave as we wield the spiritual weapons of peace making, especially when dealing with people who oppose or mistreat us. He understands the classic military principle that the best defence is an effective offense. In no way does he encourage a passive response to evil, instead he suggests that we should go on the offensive, but not as the world would. This passage indicates that there are 5 basic principles that contribute to a victorious offensive and how we can use them with people with whom we are at loggerheads.
The Ten Commandments are not simply suggestions that God thought that we should follow, they are a grace in themselves. They assist us in living life to the fullest in that they help us to live in the way in which God created humanity to live. The ninth commandment essentially tells us not to lie, this includes deception, flattery and gossip.