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The Journal

A different type of king

Dear Friends,
Palm Sunday reminds us that God’s King is coming. But as we look at the crowds they were expecting a different type of king to Jesus. The use of Palm branches and the singing of Psalm 118 was the same as what happened about 100 years earlier when Judas Maccabaeus, a Jewish hero drove out the Greeks from the temple. Palms were the symbol on the coin of the second Maccabean revolt. Just as the great heroes of the past had challenged Greek power so there was hope that this Jesus would challenge the power of Rome. You can understand how exceptions about Jesus were building as he healed people and raised Lazarus from the dead and had fed the 5000 and earlier had thrown out the money changers from the temple. But the great problem then and today is that people don’t really understand the type of King that Jesus has come to be. The crowd cry out Hosanna which means Save us and they see that Jesus comes in the name of the Lord and is the promised King but their expectations are very different to the reality of how Jesus has come.
In John12:14-15 we are told that Jesus rode a donkey and then there is a quote from Zechariah 9:9 that speaks of God’s King coming to his people but this King comes in gentleness which could appear as weak to people. It is no

wonder in 12:16 the disciples don’t understand all this. They didn’t understand the significance of this until after Jesus was glorified - that is died on the Cross. Throughout this

extended teaching Jesus is trying to communicate that the central reason why He has come is for

the hour of His glorification 12:23 which is His death. The great mystery of this king is that His power and life is released in weakness and humility and gentleness. The metaphor of the seed of wheat falling to the ground and dying speaks of His death bringing life to others. In fact this is also the pattern for the disciples that they too must learn to die to self and follow Jesus. Jesus explains this in 12:25-26 that we need to lose our life for Christ’s sake meaning that we put HIs Word and HIs purposes and His priorities above our own. At our 5pm service we are looking at 1 John 3:1-20 and the fact that we are a loved image. In v1 John speaks of Jesus lavishing his love on us to make us His children and this love is most fully expressed in Jesus laying down His life for us - 3:16. May the Lord reveal His love to us in Christ and may we enjoy this love. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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Praying for love

Dear Friends,
Paul’s prayer in
Ephesians 3:14-21 is one of the greatest prayers in the Bible it. It is a prayer that seeks God’s power to strengthen our inner being. So often as Christians we pray for our circumstances to change or for healing but not for spiritual strength to face our problems. We need spiritual strength so we can face doubts and fears and the pressure of the devil to turn away from God. We are strengthened by Christ dwelling us through faith. This is an amazing prayer because these people are already Christians. Why does Paul pray for these Christians that Christ may dwell in our hearts. Paul is concerned for Christian growth. This prayer for power is focused on God helping us to know the love of Christ more deeply. Paul uses 2 images, one from the agricultural world and the other from the building world. Paul is praying that our lives will be rooted in Christ’s love. That is that there will be depth in our relationship with and experience of Christ and His love. The second image speaks of being established meaning that we have our lives founded on Jesus and His love. This of course is revealed to us through the power of the Cross. In v18 Paul’s prayer recognises the importance of other Christians in the process of growing in faith. This has been the consistent message in Ephesians. You can’t grow in love by yourself. This growth comes within the context of the church. We need each other to grow in faith. Paul prays that we grasp this love. That is that God’s love takes hold of us. Ashley Null a renowned theologian who is an expert on Thomas Cranmer one of the English reformers says that Cranmer recognises that reformed faith is a faith of the heart. This is not synonymous with emotions. The heart includes mind and will and our affections. Our affections are what we love. Let me share a quote from Null. “According to Cranmer’s anthropology, what the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies. The mind doesn’t direct the will. The mind is actually captive to what the will wants, and the will itself, in turn, is captive to what the heart wants. “The trouble with human nature is that we are born with a heart that loves ourselves over and above everything else in this world, including God. In short, we are born slaves to the lust for self-gratification, i.e., concupiscence. That’s why, if left to ourselves, we will always love those things that make us feel good about ourselves, even as we depart more and more from God and his ways. Therefore, God must intervene in our lives in order to bring salvation. AT 5pm we will look at Matthew 8:18-34 and it contains one of the saddest responses to Jesus in the Bible. The people saw the demon possessed men set free by Jesus and in their right mind and they begged Jesus to leave. They rejected Him despite seeing his power. This is shocking and still happens today. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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God's multicoloured wisdom

Dear Friends,
In Ephesians 3:1 Paul says that he is a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles as Ephesus. The church must be incredibly valuable to God because He sent His servant Paul to serve the church and be willing to suffer for the church. Paul counts it a privilege to suffer for the church in prison or at least be under house arrest because of faith in the Lord. In v3-6 Paul speaks of the mystery of Christ. Now we have to understand that the Biblical term mystery is different to our modern understanding of mystery. We are all familiar with crime shows which propose a mystery at the beginning of the show which is then solved by the end of the show. This mystery in the Bible is something which was hidden but now is revealed. The mystery is that the Gentiles are now joint heirs and members of of the same body and sharers in God’s promises through Christ. This mystery has been revealed through the proclamation of the Gospel that God accepts both Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Jesus to be part of His family. Many of the New Testament letters deal with the ensuing issues and practicalities of how Jews and Gentiles can get on with one another now they have become members of God’s church together through Christ. Paul has a very high view of the importance and centrality of the church, for in 3:10 he speaks of how the manifold wisdom of God has been made known to authorities in the heavenly realm through the church. Paul concludes this section 3:12 by encouraging both Jews and Gentiles that they both have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Jesus. Paul tells the Christians 3:14 to not lose heart over his sufferings because God is using these for His glory. Paul recognises that the sufferings have come because of his desire to bring Christ to people and that despite the hardships God will be shown to be great and glorious through Paul’s preaching of the Gospel and the love shown. Tonight at 5pm the passage is Romans 3:21-26 and we are reflecting on God’s image in people which has been marred. Paul has built an argument that in Romans 1-3 that because all of us have sinned we are corrupted and not the people we should be. We need God’s image to be restored in HIs image and in our relationship with God. Through God’s grace Jesus has come and died for us so that we are forgiven and right with God and then God works in us to restore His image in us ! This work of Christ reveals His righteousness so that now we are counted as right before God and forgiven and we can enjoy access to God through Christ. We have much to thank God for and to celebrate !  

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A new society

Dear Friends,
Conversion to Christ leads to a love of God’s people the church. Not only did the blood of Jesus bring reconciliation with God but the blood of Jesus also brings reconciliation with other people as God creates a new humanity. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul prays that we would know the power of God at work in our lives. This prayer of Paul is answered as Jesus’ power brings us from spiritual deadness to spiritual life 2:1-10. In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul continues to show how powerful this Gospel is because the Gospel also reconciles both Jew and Gentile. This was one of the great miracles of the early church that Jew and Gentile could be united in Christ. Paul speaks of God creating a single new humanity. When God brings us to faith in Christ he joins us with other Christians who are very different. There is great hostility in the world between different ethnicities but this hostility can also be expressed between different socioeconomic groups. Invariably when the Gospel is at work in church we will find that there are very different people with whom we would not normally mix. God is creating an alternative community which is united because we all share Jesus and His love and the Spirit. Further at times people will come to a church and find it hard to make friends because they see the people are so different. This is the very point at which the Lord is seeking to stretch us to learn to build relationships with people who are different and with whom in normal circumstances we would not mix. We are encouraged that this is not beyond us because God is building us into His church which is a holy temple where Christ dwells through His Spirit. Paul also uses the metaphors of citizenship and household to show that God creates a strong sense of belonging. Please pray that you will realise this and practise this. In the evening service we are commencing a new sermon series on Matthew 8-10. Tonight we will look at the authority of Jesus in Matthew 8:1-17. In this passage we see the authority of Jesus to heal and to deliver people from demonic oppression. It is very exciting that the Centurion understands Jesus authority because he recognises that Jesus has been sent by the Father. Jesus commends the centurion for great faith because He sees the source of Jesus authority is God. This is a wonderful passage for Katie’s commissioning because she goes forth to teach SRE in the authority of Jesus. Katie is teaching the approved SRE curriculum which is based on the word of God and which has an inherent authority from God. As Katie communicates the curriculum pray that God’s love is manifested as students reflect and engage with the material. Pray for Katie that she can serve the students and the staff at Leichhardt and Balmain. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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