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The Journal

Easter Sunday AM

Dear Friends, The resurrection of Jesus recorded in Mark 16:1-8 changed the world. The women were given the first instalment of clear evidence that Jesus had risen from the dead - an empty tomb and the testimony of the angel. It is amazing that Mark gives them a place of prominence. The reason it is amazing is because in the ancient world the testimony of women was not considered reliable. So if Mark was making up this story he would have excluded women to make the story more plausible. But Mark didn’t make up the story of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead but just reported the facts. The woman as first witnesses speaks of the reliability of the Bible. We are also encouraged that the angel specifically told the disciples and Peter to go Galilee to meet Jesus. This is a word of grace because all the disciples had failed but Jesus is seeking them out to restore them. This is the great hope of the Gospel that God takes broken people like us and restores us and gives us a fresh start. The great hope of the Gospel is that our sins are forgiven and that the same power that rose Jesus from the dead is at work in us - Eph 1:19-20. God is powerfully at work in us and can change us whether that change is dramatic or whether it moves us from being self centred to other person centre. This too is a miracle. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Evidence with integrity

Dear Friends, One month ago I thought zoom was a very fast car. But our lives have changed very rapidly. Above is the Thursday morning Bible study group doing Bible study by a social media app called Zoom. Thank the Lord people seeking to reach out to each other creatively. It is amazing that because of the resurrection of Jesus God’s Spirit has been poured out on all people and those who put their faith in Jesus receive the Spirit. Incredibly as we connect to Jesus we are spiritually connected to other people despite the lack of physical proximity. Our reading tonight is Luke 24:1-12 :- the women come to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body as was the burial custom. They were not expecting to find the resurrected Jesus nor an empty tomb. What is quite beautiful is the way that the Lord helps these women understand what has happened and come to faith. God does the same with us for He knows we are full of doubts and fears but He helps us to believe by providing the eyewitness accounts of the Gospels and giving us His Spirit who helps us to believe ! Peter also struggled to comprehend what had happened. They were not gullible but eventually they believed because the evidence was overwhelming. In 1 Cor 15 Jesus appeared to his disciples many times to convince them & us. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Forsaken for me so I could be accepted

Dear Friends, Our focus is on the Lord because He is our life. We remember on this Good Friday that Jesus came and died for people. People matter to God and people matter to us. One of the interesting phenomena that is coming out of this period of self-isolation is that people in our church have been ringing each other to see how others are coping. We thank the Lord for this increased care and support for one another albeit remotely ! Today the focus of the message is from Mark 14:22-26. Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples which looks back to God’s great deliverance for His people from slavery in Egypt. Jesus, as he shares the bread and the wine says that this is my body and blood. He is referring to His death on the cross and that this is a new act of deliverance from slavery :- Jesus delivers us from sin and death. We are encouraged that this salvation is totally the work of Jesus for us. In fact the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins as a sacrificial substitute reminds us to look to God and not ourselves. All love costs the giver something and this is beautifully displayed in Jesus’ death for us so we might enjoy His forgiveness. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Holy Spirit & Holy Scripture

Dear Friends, In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 we see the work of the Holy Spirit in communicating and revealing the truth of God to people. The
Spirit searches the deep things of God and so is uniquely qualified for His teaching role - 2:9. The Spirit of God revealed these truths to the apostles and other Biblical authors 2:12-13 so that they could accurately and authoritatively record the Word of God and then communicate this to others, even us. The Spirit also enlightens the mind of people that they can understand Bible truths 2:14-15 and know God. We have been given a great privilege to know God through Christ and His Word and it is important to take hold of the privilege which we have been given by faith. There is often opposition to the truth of God’s Word. This will come in the form of discouraging confidence that it is the Word of God and that it has been accurately conveyed. We are confident because God watched over His Word through the work of the Spirit to ensure it was faithfully communicated - 2 Tim 3:16. God’s blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Power through weakness

Dear Friends, The use and abuse of power has been very much in the news lately. Of course the issue of power has always been an issue in society but perhaps not as publicised as much as it is today. In 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 Paul speaks about true power and how it works.
He says that the most important power in the world is the power of the Cross 1:18 because it is the way that people are saved and forgiven. In Paul’s day many spoke of power through their knowledge 1:19,21 but this power is limited because it doesn’t enable a person to know God personally 1:21. Incredibly the way God’s power works is through seeming weakness and God’s power which is the power of the Cross of Christ 2:2-4 which actually saves people from darkness and sin and moves them into a relationship with God. Many people see the Cross as foolish or irrelevant or weak but when we humble ourselves and trust in what Christ has done we are made friends with God and find His truth & power at work in our lives. Paul encourages us to boast or put our faith in the Lord and we will see the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to bring forgiveness and great joy. God’s blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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The ambiguity of the church

Dear Friends, We begin a short series on 1 Corinthians 1-4 which looks at what the Bible teaches us about the church and Christian leadership and the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 Paul calls the church at Corinth the church of God 1:1 and He thanks the Lord for God’s grace given to this church. Yet we know that this church was beset with division and jostling for power and pride as well as sexual sin. Sometimes as we look at the church & we find it hard to equate this with the reality we experience and the ideal of God’s purpose described in the Bible. Yet the letters of the New Testament do not hide the weakness and fragility of the church. Rev John Stott calls this the ambiguity of the church. By this he means that there is a gap between the calling of God and the reality we face. This should not surprise us because when God calls people to Himself it is not because we have any goodness inherent in us. In fact people become Christians solely because of God’s grace and mercy. Of course God expects us to grow in godliness as He provides the power of the Holy Spirit and the resources of His Word and His people and above all the power of the cross but Christian growth takes time. The ambiguity of the church recognises that we are God’s church but He has unfinished business with us. God’s blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Parable of the Sower

Dear Friends, In our morning series of Genesis we have climbed the mountain speaks of Genesis 1-2 to see God’s plan for human beings of a beautiful world to live and work in. The greatest blessing of all is walking with God. But then in Genesis 3 the human race turns their back on the source of all this blessing - God himself and kicks an own goal and listens to
the temptation of the serpent. Sin takes a grip in our lives and our desires are corrupted. God’s judgement falls on people because of our sin and people are barred from the garden. Yet in the midst of this God promises to defeat the serpent and bring blessing through the woman 3:15. To understand this promise we need to see how this promise develops in the Bible. In Genesis 4-11 we
see the downward spiral of the human race with sin and wickedness growing. But then in Genesis 12 , a critical chapter which outlines God’s call on Abraham and His promise to bless the whole world through the descendants of Abraham. The New Testament shows the way that this blessing to the whole of humanity will come. Galatians 3:8,14 indicates that the promise to Abraham is fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Glory to Jesus. God’s blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Sin - Distorts our identity

Dear Friends, Genesis 3 teaches us why the world is in a mess and why there are difficulties and struggles in relationships & work. The heart of the problem is our sin and our rebellion against God. In Genesis 3:1-5 the serpent who is the devil (Rev) tempts Eve. His first temptation is to doubt God’s Word and imply that God hasn’t provided for all our needs. We know from Genesis 2 that God is generous and provided for all our needs. The devil’s next approach is to oppose God’s Word and encourage Eve to disregard God’s truth and assert that they won’t certainly die. Genesis 1-3 puts before us a very important aspect of being created in the image of God - we are morally responsible and we have the ability to choose between right and wrong. Eve ignores God’s Word and Adam is right there with her and he says nothing, The devils’ temptation is to be like God & so the essence of sin is to rebel against God’s rule and run our lives without God. A consequence of this rebellion is that our hearts become corrupt and God banishes people from the garden. God doesn’t leave us without hope because 3:15 speaks of the Lord providing a way for Satan’s plan to be crushed. The Bible unfolds how God calls us home & provides
forgiveness through Jesus. God’s blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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People - identity found in God

Dear Friends, Genesis 2:4-25 sets before us the ideal of how the world was created by God to work well and how we were to live. It seems that this account is placed before us to give us the ideal and invite a response in us to long to return to God’s paradise. This is especially so as the next chapter speaks of the fall of people or the sin of people and the loss of paradise. But we also see hope because in 2:4 God is named as Lord God. We have seen the title God in cop 1 meaning almighty and powerful but Lord or Yahweh is a new descriptor which refers to God’s desire for a covenant or a relationship and His power to save us or redeem us. In effect God is wooing us back by showing us what was lost by sin and He offers us a way back through His son Jesus as the story of the Bible unfolds. We also see God’s generous provision for us and that work is a gift from God to serve Him. By providing us with work God affirms the dignity of all work. God expects that we will work not so much for our own status but in service of the Lord. Similarly the first marriage is presented as an ideal where man and woman were naked and felt no shame 2:25. There was ease and nothing hidden between them. May we seek our redeemer earnestly. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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God - Creator and identity maker

Dear Friends, Genesis 1:1-2:3 is a foundational passage in the Bible. It reminds us that God is our Creator and we owe our very life to Him. Genesis unfolds by indicating that we were made for God and we only find our true purpose and contentment in a relationship with Him. The creation of the world is very ordered and intentional and good. This world worked well according to the purpose God had made it for. It is amazing that God gave people to the task of ruling over the world. This Biblical worldview encourages us to be stewards to care for the world because it is a gift from God. He has made this world for our enjoyment and that involves using it responsibly and not recklessly. In 1:26-27 we learn that people are the high point of God’s creation and we are different from the animal world and natural world in that we are made in the image of God. This means that we have the capacity to have a relationship with God. In essence God’s person is relational and loving and so at the heart of being made in God’s image is to enjoy a relationship with God and other people and His World. To be created in His image means that we will honour people and treat them with dignity and respect. On the 7th day after creation God rested and this day is left open and we are invited to rest in all that God has done. This is a picture of salvation - rest from our labourers and enjoying rest in God.God’s Blessing David O’Mara 

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