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The Journal

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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United by Christ's love

Dear Friends, Today we celebrate Australia Day and remember as the Psalmist says 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. The first thing we remember about Australia is that God is the owner of this land and this means that it is a gift from Him to us. We are to live in this land in a way which honours the Lord and respects every person we encounter. As our society becomes more fractured through various identity groups we find that we have less in common and we need something to draw us together. More than ever it is knowing the Lord and being part of His family that creates community and identity. As we celebrate Australia Day may we treat all Australians with respect and dignity and may we care for this nation in a way which shows good stewardship and honours the Lord. Our reading for today continues our series in the parables of Jesus. In Matthew 13:44-52 we learn that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field. When we experience faith in Jesus He fills us with great joy and His presence and we refuse to hold back anything which would stop us from receiving this great gift from God. The great barrier to God’s Blessing is often unforgiveness which prevents us from enjoying the blessing of God. As God has been gracious to us may we show His grace and mercy to others. May God help us to bless us with Christ in 2020. God’s Blessing David 

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Parable of the mustard seed and yeast

Dear Friends, In Matthew 13:31-35 there are 2 parables - the mustard seed and the yeast and both are not easy to interpret. The popular interpretation of the first parable of the mustard seed is that the Kingdom of God grows from humble beginnings into something good and great which provides refuge for the birds. There is much to commend this view. However there are some jarring notes. A mustard seed doesn’t grow into a large tree even though the seed is small. Also the birds in the parable of the sower were symbols of the devil. Further in the OT there is a picture of a tree representing a king and that is Nebuchadnezzar - see Daniel 4:20-21. The tree represented his arrogance and finally he was chopped down. Jesus may be saying that on earth the church can appear big and successful but it may not be. The second parable about yeast also has a jarring note because yeast is usually a symbol of evil - see 1 Cor 5:6-9. So if this view is followed then we are reminded that the church will never be perfect on earth. That gives a more realistic view and helps us to love the church despite all its failing. The church shows signs of the Kingdom of God but is not totally synonymous because it is a mixture of good and evil. Please reflect further. God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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Parable of the weeds

Dear Friends, In Matthew 13:24-30 & 13:36-43 Jesus explains how there is evil present in the world. This can often be a presenting issue for people struggling to come to faith in Jesus. They find it difficult to reconcile a loving God with evil present. But in this very important parable Jesus explains that we need to be patient because there will be an ultimate division between evil and good. Jesus promises that justice will be done and we see that at the Cross because at the cross evil and sin have been judged. We must be patient and trust God’s timing even when others ridicule faith or speak in a derogatory manner towards our Lord. Jesus explains the meaning of this parable and the one who sows the good seed is Jesus. The field is the world and the good seed stands for those who belong to the kingdom and the weeds are the people of the evil one and the enemy is the devil. The harvest represents the end of the age when those who are the Lord’s people will be vindicated. We of course are only good seed because of God’s mercy. Today is a day of opportunity and I urge you to cry out to the Lord for His mercy. Don’t delay ! God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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