All Souls Anglican Church | 02 9569 2646
The Journal

Biblical Marriage

Dear Friends,
In this last year we have been through a revolution in terms of our societies understanding of marriage. This has left many people confused about marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s plan for the healthy development of children and the enjoyment of intimate companionship. Today we are looking at Ephesians 5:22-33 which speaks of the different roles of a husband and a wife. At the end of this passage in 5:32-33 Paul teaches us that a Christian marriage points us to the relationship of Jesus with His bride, the church. Good marriages remind us that Christ loves his church and laid down his life for her and and that He wants His people to enjoy a close and intimate relationship with Him. There are many pressures on marriages and one of them is busyness which results in couples not communicating regularly. At our church we do the Alpha Marriage Course and the Alpha Marriage Preparation Course. One of the key aspects of this course is the need to set aside each week “date nights” where a husband and a wife spend time sharing about their day and listening to one another. Paul quotes from Genesis 1 that a husband and a wife become one flesh. This speaks of sexual union but it is much more. It speaks of spiritual, emotional and psychological union also. We are united as a team. Paul teaches that the husband needs to serve and nurture his wife. He makes the point that husbands should care for their wives and the argument for this is that just as a husband cares for his own body so he should care for his wife. If we neglect our wives or hurt them we end up hurting ourselves. Domestic violence is a huge problem in our society and from a Christian point of view it is wrong because it goes against the teaching of Ephesians 5 and is an abuse of power. It is never acceptable. In this passage the wife is taught to submit to her husband. God wants order in our relationships and wants us heading in the same direction. A wife should respect the leadership of her husband and when he is following God’s instructions to serve and build up his wife then this is a joy for her. At our evening service we are looking at Matthew 10:16-42 which speaks of the inevitability of persecution for a Christian. Persecution in some countries in the world takes the form of violent opposition but it can also be ridicule and as we are now seeing in Australia Christians are being vilified their view of marriage as between a man and a woman. In this passage Jesus is preparing his disciples for persecution by teaching that if they persecuted Him (Jesus) they will persecute his followers. We should not be discouraged because Jesus reminds us that the very hairs of our head are numbered. We are valuable to God. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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Copy God

Dear Friends,
Just as children copy their parents so we are called to copy God - Ephesians 5:1. Of course with our parents we can both imitate their good and bad qualities which is very humbling especially when you become a parent and see your own blindspots. But with God it is totally different because Jesus lived a holy and perfect life. The copying of God focuses on living a life of love and this involves giving ourselves to God and then to others 5:2. Our world is self focused but living a life of love involves being Christ focused. When we love others we don’t necessarily do everything they want but do what is right and good for them according to the Bible. It is God who defines what is good and right in His Word. So far in our reflection on the book of Ephesians we have recognised that we can only copy God because He has made us new people who are alive to God - Ephesians 2:4-6. So living life of love is possible because we have a new identity in Christ and the power of God is at work in us. This is the same power which raised Jesus from the dead. Our new identity therefore involves having different standards and values. In particular our attitude to sex is very different to the standards we see around us in the world. Sex is not dirty, rather people treat it as dirty. Sex is a gift from God for the procreation of children and the enjoyment of God given pleasure. An important aspect of sex involves being intimate with another person and so wisely God requires that the proper place for the expression of sex is within a committed married relationship where both husband wife are safe and can be vulnerable. It is a tragedy in a marriage when a person doesn’t feel safe. Further in 5:4 we are instructed that the way we use our mouths is important. Our mouths should not be foul. As Christians we believe that the Word of God is powerful and life changing. God’s speaks Words which bring life and so as imitators of God we should use our mouths for building others up not cheapening God’s gifts and others. In 5:8 Paul reminds us what motivates us. We do all this because we were once darkness but now through Christ we are light and so we behave in line with our new identity which consists of goodness, righteousness and truth. We live godly lives not so we can become Christians but because we have already been saved by God. Paul continues that we shouldn’t waste time but rather make use of the gift of time we have so as to know His will, understand what pleases Him and serve Him 5:15-17. In Matthew 9:35-10:15 at 5pm we see Jesus’ compassion for a lost world. Jesus instructs us that we are to pray for the Lord to send out labourers for the harvest. The problem is not a lack of people who are open to God but there is a lack of people ready to take the message to a lost world. Pray for the Lord to raise up labourers for the harvest. Rev David O’Mara

 

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A clean and joyful life

Dear Friends,
In Ephesians 4:17-32 Paul helps us to understand the natural outworking of the Gospel for those who have come to faith in Christ. Commands and exhortations for obedience to God are based on the fact that we are His children through faith in Jesus. We don’t obey God to get in the family. We obey God because we are already in the family. In 4:17 Paul urges and uses the word “insist” that the Christians must not live like the Gentiles or how they were. Without Christ our thinking is darkened because we are separated from God and in fact our lives are “futile” because we have no purpose. Paul says that this type of thinking and behaviour is because without Christ our hearts are hardened which means they are not responsive to Christ and we don’t understand the Gospel and our need of Jesus. In fact Paul says that our behaviour is “sense” driven. There is no quality control over our thoughts and actions but rather without Christ we are driven by our desires which are impure. Paul says that things are different for the Christians at Ephesus because they have heard the Gospel 4:21 and so they have power to put off their old life and put on the new self. This passage carries the idea that we must continually put off the old self and put on the new self. This new self is created to be like God in holiness and righteousness. When we are converted we are instantly right with God but then we need to work at growing in godliness and this involves a daily repentance from sin. Paul gives some practical applications of how our new identity in Christ will affect us. Our new identity in Christ will change our attitude to speech so we speak truthfully to one another 4:25 and will mean that when we are angry with someone we will seek to reconcile immediately with that person. Our Christian faith also affects our attitude to property in that we won’t steal but rather use our hands and abilities to work honestly and share with those in need. In particular Paul speaks about the need to forgive as Christ forgave us. When we understand how kind and gracious Jesus has been to forgive us even though we don’t deserve it we see that we can’t withhold forgiveness from others. In the 5pm passage from Matthew 9:18-34 we see in the encounters of Jesus with the dead girl’s father and with the sick woman as well as the blind and mute man that Jesus’ word is trustworthy.This is central to building faith that we know that God’s Word can be relied upon & when Jesus speaks He delivers. Contrary to what the Pharisees say the miracles that Jesus performs are because His power comes from God and Hs is God’s Son. Rev David O’Mara

 

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An International community

Dear Friends,
In Ephesians 4:1-16 Paul is encouraging the christians at Ephesus that God wants them to grow in maturity in faith 4:16. To achieve this end God gives gifts to his church such as teachers and pastors and evangelists to prepare God’s people for works of service 4:11-12. Our society has developed great expertise at escapism whether it is a novel which takes us to a far distant land or a situation or whether it the latest movie or advent of holidays for the masses. What is happening with our society ? Are we bored and struggling to cope with reality ? God understands that we all have a need to have purpose and meaning in life. Not only does He save us to Himself but He places us in His people, the church to be involved in serving one another. It is interesting that one aspect of our maturity in faith is that we grow in unity with other Christians in the church. God doesn’t want anyone left behind ! In fact the way that this letter is structured is that a vital ingredient of maturity is being concerned for others that they will also grow in faith. It is not enough that we will grow in faith ourselves but that we will encourage others to grow in faith. In v14 Paul warns of the great danger of failing to be committed to growth in faith. If we don’t grow in faith we will be more susceptible to being tossed about by the many false teachings that prevail in our society. To put it another way if we are not growing in faith we are more susceptible to being deceived by false teaching and our Christian life will lack confidence and stability. Do not underestimate how deceitful people will try to lead you away from faithful Christian teaching and the truth of the Gospel. That is why we need to speak the truth in love to one another 4:15. It is easy to adopt a wrong thought or attitude or behaviour which is contrary to the Gospel and we need the loving support and truthful words of others to stay on track ! Real spiritual growth comes as each person see that they have something valuable to contribute to the whole 4:16. The direction of growth is into Christ who is the head of the church and that happens as we all grow in faith ! The passage for 5pm, Matthew 9:1-17 looks at the mission of Jesus. His mission is focused on bringing forgiveness of sins because that is our greatest need. It is interesting that to understand this mission we need to see that sin is a spiritual disease which we have all been infected with and Jesus is the only one who can heal us. Rev David O’Mara

 

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Don't look down, look up

Dear Friends,
Thank God for Thomas. Thomas didn’t see Jesus when He first appeared to the disciples the previous week - see John 20:19-31. Thomas wants evidence that Jesus truly has risen from dead. It is beautiful how Jesus meets Thomas at His point of need. Thomas had a unique role in the early church. He was an apostle and the key qualification of the apostles was that they were eyewitnesses of the resurrection see Acts 1:20-26. So Thomas had to see Jesus to be an apostle. The Gospels are written to present solid historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead and we can be confident of this because many people saw Him. We know that Jesus had at least 10 resurrection appearances and at one time He appeared to over 500 people at one time - see 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. The evidence for resurrection of Jesus is compelling. In John 1:29 Jesus tells Thomas that “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” This doesn’t mean that Jesus expects a leap of blind faith. No faith is based on rock solid evidence.The evidence is the testimony of the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus and whose testimony is written down by the apostles and their associates. People are blessed who come to faith in Jesus today and after He rose from the dead because they can experience the same power and love of Jesus now even though Jesus is not here. We can experience Jesus now and personally because the Holy Spirit comes and works in our lives as the Cross is preached. Jesus has risen from the dead and is alive now and that means we can talk to Him now and love Him and allow Him to love us. In John 20:31 we learn that John wrote the Gospel that people may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that by believing they may have life in His name. Faith in Jesus is based on evidence and this faith is personal and involves a relationship with Jesus. At the 5pm service we have another resurrection appearance of Jesus in Luke 24:13-35. It is interesting that these disciples were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead and at first didn’t recognise Him. The text says that their hearts burned inside. Faith in the risen Jesus affects us personally! Rev David O’Mara

 

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