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The Journal

God keeps on keeping on his promises

Dear Friends,
One of the keys to understanding the Bible is that God makes promises and He keeps His promises. Therefore as we read the Bible we need to keep in mind Bible promises and see how God fulfils them in Christ. God has promised Abram in Genesis 12:1-3 that he will bless him and make him into a great nation and make his name great and all peoples will be blessed through him. The power brokers of the era led by King Kedorlaomer from modern day Iran attack the kingdoms in the Jordan Valley and defeat them. They carry off Abram’s nephew Lot and when Abram hears this news he is catapulted into action. We can’t understand Genesis 14 and Abram’s rescue of Lot without reference to God’s promises. Abram is a hero and this is God’s blessing on him because his military victory is spectacular. God’s blessing on Abram brings blessing to the Kingdoms which were subject to Kedorlaomer’s power and especially Lot. We also see Abram’s name is made great as the mysterious appearance of the person of Melchizedek blesses Abram and honours him. So Abram is honoured by this servant of God and he gives credit to God. But the person of Melchizedek is also interesting because he entwined with Abram through whom the whole world will be blessed. This Melchizedek like Abram points to the coming of one who is greater than both. In Psalm 110:1,4 David speaks of one greater than him who would come and be a priest in the order of Melchizedek and then in Hebrews 5-8 we learn that Melchizedek foreshadows and point to Jesus being a priest and king appointed by God himself. The passage in Genesis 14 also shows Abram giving allegiance to God and not compromising by refusing to take the spoils of war which the King of Sodom urges him to.take. Abram shows us that as we follow God there will be temptations to compromise and the key to not compromising are the promises of God understanding that God is calling us to follow Him and leave other gods or idols. At 5pm Jesus in John 9 heals a man born blind and exposes the blindness of the pharisees. In fact we are all spiritually blind and only the Gospel of Jesus can open our eyes so we understand the Gospel of Jesus. Like the blind man may we believe in Jesus and see our eyes opened ! The blind man then worshipped Jesus as God showing his eyes have been truly opened !God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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With God there is no FOMO

Dear Friends,
Genesis 13:5-18
is so encouraging because we see that Abram has learnt some lessons from his failure when he went down to Egypt and put both his wife and the promises of God at risk. There are problems between Lot and Abram’s herdsmen because the land is not able to support both groups of people and their livestock. Abram who has the right of decision as the older man foregoes his right and gives Lot the choice. Before Abram was fearful for his future but now he is trusting that God’s promises are powerful and that the Lord is in charge. When we trust God’s promises we recognise that we are not in control and if we have let this truth sink in we are not driven by fear or striving and grasping and we avoid FOMO. Abram is demonstrating the life as portrayed in the New Testament. Hebrews 11:16 recognises that people of faith see that their true home is in heaven because they a longing for a better country and this means that what they get or don’t get things in this world it may but be disappointing but it is not critical. Abram is wise with his wealth but he sees that the promises of God are much more precious. In contrast Lot is focused on transitory values of wealth now but fails to see the value of eternal promises. It is short sighted. In todays world one of the great resources which we have and which is a gift from God is time. We need to ensure that we don’t waste time but use it for our spiritual growth. It is good to reflect and ask am I using the time the Lord has given me to grow spiritually or am I wasting time on things which lead no where. At the 5pm service we are looking at people who met Jesus and tonight we encounter the Samaritan woman in John 4. It is no accident that Jesus meets this woman because John 4:4 says that Jesus had to go through Samaria. It is not the direct route but Jesus is calling this woman to God. The conversation revolves around Jesus asking the woman for a drink and then Jesus talks about the thirst which we all have. We are thirsty for the Lord. The great tragedy of life is that people run after other things thinking that these will satisfy their thirst for love, or security or acceptance. Only Jesus can satisfy your deepest thirst which is to know God and to know His love. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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Everyday pictures

Dear Friends 

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You can’t be neutral with Jesus

Dear Friends
It seems that as Jesus nears Jerusalem to die on the Cross His parables become more pointed at the hardness of hearts of the religious leaders. In Matthew 21:28-46 Jesus teaches us 2 parables both of which focus on His mission. In the first parable about 2 sons both sons are asked to work in the field. The first son agrees but doesn’t go and the second son said no but later changed his mind and obeyed. Jesus applies this and says that the sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes are like the second son. They initially resist God but many have changed their mind & repented and are following God. This is in contrast to people like the first son which refers to Jews and especially the religious leaders. They said they would obey God but didn’t. Jesus is looking for people who will by faith listen to Him and obey him. In the second parable about tenants in a vineyard Jesus speaks about how he provided everything for the tenants. He was generous in His provision. In 21:34 the owner of the vineyard sent His servants to collect the harvest but the tenants beat one, killed another and stoned a third. He decided to send His son thinking they will respect him but they killed him. In 21:45 the chief priests and the pharisees knew that the parable was directed at them. Jesus teaches them that He is the cornerstone and that what people do with him is critical. People can either believe and accept or not believe and reject. You can’t be neutral with Jesus. In 21:43-44 Jesus raises the prospect of judgement and that those who reject Him will be crushed. God is generous to us and this is most fully seen in sending Jesus. God has been generous and provided everything we need for salvation - Jesus. We have no excuse because Jesus has come to earth and died on the cross for our sins. Other parables such as John 15 and the vine and the branches speak of the fact that God provides us with the power and resources to be fruitful. We have no excuse. May our faith lead us to be obedient and fruitful in knowing and serving Jesus. In the passage at 5pm we look at John 4:43-54 and Jesus comments that a prophet is not honoured in his own country. Jesus goes to Cana in Galilee and the people welcomed him. John is making the point that outsiders ie people from Galilee welcome Jesus whereas those from Jerusalem don’t. The royal official teaches us what true faith is :- v50 the man took Jesus at his word and departed. He trusted Jesus’ Word before he saw the results. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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The great hope of Jesus power

Dear Friends,
In Matthew 20:1-16 the clue to unlocking this parable is in the literary markers or bookends. This passage is framed by a similar phrase in 19:30 and 20:16 that act as bookends which mark it off as a unit. The verse which is repeated is :- But many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first. This parable is about reversal. In chapter 19 Jesus has encountered the rich young man who comes to him and asks “What must do to inherit eternal life ? 19:16. This man finds it difficult to accept Jesus instructions to go and sell his possessions and he goes away sad. The response of the disciples is instructive - 19:25 Who then can be saved ?” When they see that the rich young man who was privileged in his society they are shocked because they believe that someone of his status must be close to God yet walks away from Jesus. In response they wonder what hope they themselves have in knowing and following God. Jesus reassures them with God all things are possible. Jesus then introduces the parable of the vineyard workers who get hired at different times of the day and yet each one received a days wage (the same). Those who were hired first protest at this and consider it is unfair because they have born the heat of the day. This parable is quite pointed as Jesus is close to Jerusalem and he is teaching that the Jews who had the great privilege of the Law and Moses are in a dangerous position spiritually because they have rejected Him and questioned the Gospel being offered to outcasts. The religious leaders reject the generosity of God to offer the kingdom to those who are considered last or least such as tax collectors and sinners. Throughout church history there has often been resentment from various people when the Gospel is offered to those who are outsiders. This was the big issue the early church faced in learning to accept that the Gospel is also offered to Gentiles. There is another possible application :- in response to Peter’s statement that they have left everything to follow Jesus 19:27 Jesus is assuring them that God is generous and will provide for them. We must be wary of resenting and envying the generosity of God through Christ to offer salvation to all. The passage for the 5pm is John 11:1-47 which contains the great hope of Jesus power to defeat death and sin. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this ? 11:25-26 God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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The compassion of Jesus

Dear Friends,
In Matthew 18:10-14,21-35 we see the compassion of Jesus. In the first parable Jesus teaches about the initiative of the shepherd who goes looking for his lost sheep. Throughout the Bible we learn that it is God who makes the first move towards us. God’s grace is expressed in God in seeking us even before we think about him. This initiative of God to seek us and find us is what gives us security ! One of the most well known verses in the Bible - John 3:16 For God’s so loved the world that He gave His one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life speaks of God’s initiative and the motivation of God. God seeks us because He loves us. He does this because He sees that we are sinners and under judgement and lost and that our only way to get out of our mess is by God’s grace. He does this because He wants to see our relationship with us restores and for that to happen our sin must be dealt with. Jesus out of compassion deals with our sin by dying on the Cross and taking the judgement for it instead of us. Remembering the compassion of Jesus or his grace is what refreshes us. We all need to know that we are loved by someone who knows us at our worst and still loves us us and has power to deal with our greatest problem - our sin. This gives us courage to face sin and pain and be willing to grow and change. In the second parable we learn about the merciful master who forgives a huge debt of his servant. This debt cannot be repaid by the servant and he begs for mercy. The master is merciful and cancels the debt. What happens next is that the servant who is forgiven encounters a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller debt. Despite his experience of incredible grace his response to his fellow servant is harsh. The master when he hears of this is angry because He expects that our experience of His compassion to us will in turn empower us to be gracious to others. A failure to forgive others is a failure to understand God’s grace and kindness to us. God expects that on the journey of faith we will through the work of the Spirit begin to resemble Jesus and especially grow in being compassionate and merciful to other people. At the 5pm service the passage set is Ephesians 5:1-21 which encourages us to be imitators of God. Paul reminds the Christians that we are dearly loved by God and so we should live a life of love. When we sin against God and against people we are not loving them and in fact are rebelling against God and His good purposes and failing to treat people with dignity and respect based on their creation in the image of God and redemption through the blood of Jesus. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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The parables of the weeds and the net

Dear Friends,
In Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 & 47-52
Jesus teaches about God’s Kingdom through the parables of the weeds and the net. In first parables we learn that there is a time of waiting until the final harvest but judgement will finally come. In the parable of the weeds we learn in 13:25 that an enemy of kingdom came and sowed bad seed and this brought growth of weeds. The lesson is that when people listen to the lies of the devil this produces unhealthy spiritual growth. The wheat and the weeds grow together and servants of the King ask if they should go and pull out the weeds immediately. He says that they are to wait till the harvest and then the weeds will be separated from the wheat, collected and burned. Jesus is speaking about the fact that there is an end time judgement when people will be excluded from God’s kingdom. The same theme appears again in the parable of the net. This parable is about God’s Kingdom in that it teaches us how God’s Kingdom works and what are the essential elements. Jesus is teaching us that judgement is not immediate but a final judgement will come at His return when the righteous will be separated from the wicked. In both parables we learn that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (13:42,50). When Jesus returns and people have to give an account of their lives there will be a realisation that the rejection of Jesus in this lifetime has eternal consequences. There will be regret and frustration because people have missed out on eternal life and will go to hell. Hell is characterised by eternal frustration and regret and anguish. Jesus warns us because He loves us and says in 13:43 that we must listen carefully and seek to understand this 13:51. IT is important to note that the separation of the righteous from the wicked and the good from the bad is not primarily based on moral character but on people’s response to Jesus in this lifetime. None of us get into the Kingdom of God because we are better than others. Salvation is a gift and we enter by faith or trust in Jesus and what He has done on the cross. Nevertheless those who put their faith in Jesus will over time see a growing obedience to God (Romans 1:5) and that their character will increasingly grow to be like Jesus (Galatians 5:22-26). In the passage for the 5pm service John 5:1-15 a lame man meets Jesus and Jesus asks him a question:- Do you want to get well ? This is an important question because sometimes people would rather keep their problems than change. It seems that the man’s faith is small but that is enough for Jesus and He heals him. Jesus told him to stop sinning. Jesus recognised that sin can destroy us now as well as result in us missing out on eternal life. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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Rev Hugh Isaacs preaches from Mathew's Gospel

Dear Friends,
Today we welcome Rev Hugh Isaacs to our morning service. He is the executive assistant to our Bishop. Hugh has kindly agreed to preach on a series about God’s Kingdom from Matthew’s Gospel. The first message today is from Matthew 13:1-23. In Mark 4:13 Jesus identifies the parable of the sower as an interpretive key to understanding other parables. This parable is about spiritual growth of the Kingdom and the key ingredient is the word of God. Jesus describes the seed as the Word of God 13:19-20. The seed falls on different types of soil or people’s hearts respond differently. When God’s Word doesn’t produce spiritual fruit in the lives of some people it is not a failure of the Word of God or the sower. People are responsible for how they respond to God’s message. In fact God’s Word always works because when some don’t respond the Word of God confirms people in the hardness of their hearts Matthew 13:11-15. In this sense the Word of God is always powerful and effective and exposes where people are really at spiritually. We should have confidence in God’s Word and the parable accordingly encourages us to keep sowing or telling other people about the Lord and about His love and death. We are encouraged that even though many reject God’s Word there will be some who hear and respond and their lives are changed forever. We must maintain a confident stance because the power for the Kingdom to grow in our lives is in the Word of God and not in ourselves. If we are discouraged we may neglect the important task of telling others about Jesus. Faith in God means that we trust Him with the results. At our service tonight Anton Triyanto who is Daisy Hong’s brother will be preaching on Philippians 1:21-30. Anton works for AFES seeking to reach students with the Gospel of Jesus on university campuses. Our church has just commenced supporting him financially and praying for him. He will share about student work in Qld and will also teach us from God’s Word about Paul’s testimony. In this section Paul who is a prisoner under palace guard is not discouraged by his circumstances but recognises that the Lord is in control of his life and in fact looks forward to the time when the Lord will take him home to heaven. In the meantime Paul seeks to encourage the Christians at Philippi that not only has God granted them faith and salvation but also the privilege of suffering for Him. May God strengthens us with this truth. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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All of us want a life which counts

Dear Friends,
All of us want a life which counts and which has meaning and we invest great resources and energy and time to achieving this. God wants to give us significance as a gift. In Genesis 11 in the story of the tower of Babel as sin spreads throughout the world it reaches a new “pinnacle” as people want to make a name for themselves by leaving God out of the picture and resisting God’s call at creation to go further into the world and be stewards of the whole earth. The people try to make a name for themselves and in effect misunderstand God and His purposes. The great and fundamental sin revealed in Genesis 3 and now repeated in Genesis 11 is to be our own masters and live independently of God. In contrast God calls Abraham in Genesis 12 and promises to bless him and make his name great. What people strived for and failed to attain by their own efforts God gives to people as a gift within the context of developing a friendship with Himself. Our names can be great because God is interested in us and wants a relationship with us and this is what gives meaning and significance in life. The story of Abraham is the story of God’s response to the downward spiral of sin from Genesis 3-11 being God’s plan to rescue the world and reverse the effects of the sin of Adam and Eve and the curse. God called Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household Genesis 12:1 and to go to land he will show Abraham. Faith for Abraham means trusting God for the future and His bare Word that He is good and has Abraham’s best interests at heart. God then promises to make Abraham into a great nation and to make His name great and for all people’s on earth to be blessed through Abraham and his decedents. Paul interprets this in Galatians 3:16 and says that the promises to Abraham were to his seed and the seed is Jesus. The NT teaches that the promises to Abraham are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ who brings blessing to all people through His death on the Cross for our sin. We noticed in 12:4 that Abraham travelled throughout the land of Canaan to claim it symbolically. Abraham is an amazing man of faith because the main promise he saw was that God gave him a son to whom his name could be passed on. The promise of the land and nation and a great name would be fulfilled much later long after Abraham’s death in the person of Jesus. Abraham had to be patient and wait for God’s timing and trust him.This is still the same for us today. At the 5pm service we are looking at the people who met Jesus and tonight is the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume - Matthew 26:3-13. She honoured Jesus by anointing him for burial and Jesus recognises that she has done a beautiful thing in honouring Him. May God help us do the same. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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A new beginning with Jesus

Dear Friends,
The miracles of Jesus are displays of God’s Kingdom or rule coming in power. In Luke 18:35-43 a blind beggar cries out to Jesus : Son of David have mercy on me. This is an extraordinary proclamation because He understands that Jesus is God’s long awaited Messiah or king. This is more than just an account of physical eyesight restored. Jesus power to heal the eyes of this man shows that Jesus can also help people to see spiritually or understand the things of God. All of us are spiritually blind and just as Jesus has power to heal physical eyes he can also heal us spiritually. Before this incident Jesus has told the disciples about His need to suffer and to die for them and rise again. The key to having our eyes opened spiritually is the death of Jesus and His resurrection. When the message of Jesus is proclaimed God opens people’s eyes. In many ways the service of baptism is a testimony of God opening the eyes of people to see Jesus. In the baptism of Luka Wrege it is all about God’s grace and initiative and power to help Luka (and his family) understand Jesus’ love as he grows up. Before Jesus met this blind man he had an encounter with a rich man. The rich man didn’t understand how the Kingdom of God operated. He asked Jesus a question in 18:18 Good teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life ? Firstly if something is an inheritance you can’t do anything to earn it rather you just receive it as a gift. The rich man is contrast to the blind man. One is rich and though his eyesight is good he leaves Jesus sad and spiritually blind and the blind man though poor leaves Jesus with able to see and spiritually rich. It is interesting that Jesus asks the man in 18:41 What do you want me to do for you ? This may seem a strange question because the obvious answer is that he wants to see. But we must remember that this man had earned his living as a beggar and the healing of Jesus is going to change his life forever. Often people don’t want to leave their problems behind because they have learn to function on problems. This man was healed by Jesus and we learn he followed Jesus immediately and praised God for Jesus. He embraced the new life of Jesus. When the Lord blesses us the natural response is that you want to get to know Him. The baptism today it is about a new beginning with Jesus and there is so much more to learn. What about you - What do you want from Jesus ? At 5pm we are continuing our series in the Parables and we look at Luke 15:11-32 and the prodigal son. It is a beautiful picture of the father welcoming him home. This is what grace is all about - God gives us what we don’t deserve : love and forgiveness ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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