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The Journal

It's all about God, not us

Dear Friends,
In Genesis 15:7-21
we have a strange story (at least to our ears) of Abram being told by the Lord to bring different animals and cut them into 2 except the birds and lay them on the ground. Abram then falls into a deep sleep and God spoke to him about the future captivity of Abram’s descendants in Egypt and God’s promise to bring them back to the land promised to Abram. After this God made a covenant or an agreement with Abram confirming the promises as a smoking firepot travelled between the pieces of animals. In the ancient world when a covenant was made the cutting of the animals was symbolic of the fact that if one of the parties fails to keep this promise then what happened to the animals will happen to the person who fails to keep the covenant. But what is interesting is that this covenant is one sided in the sense that God promises that he will ensure that this covenant is kept and if it isn’t God himself will pay the price through death. As far as we can ascertain Abram is asleep so the covenant is totally binding upon the Lord to keep it. It is breathtaking that God is saying that He is willing to take the curse of the covenant if Abram or his descendants don’t keep it. That is how much God is committed to us and His promises. He is willing to die to ensure that His promises are upheld. That is what Jesus did. He died to ensure that the covenant is kept and He paid the price for our failure. That is amazing grace. Praise Him. We also see that the Lord doesn’t hide the difficult bits from His servants. With the Lord there are no hidden agendas or secret clauses. He expects obedience and provides the promises and encouragement and strength to follow through even as we face hardship ! At the 5pm service we conclude our final message on people who met Jesus. Tonight we meet a man with leprosy Luke 5:12-16 who falls at Jesus’ feet and begs Jesus to make him clean. This man shows great faith by saying “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus responds to the man’s request and heals him. There is a deeper truth here because leprosy was a sign of being unclean and Jesus’ healing of this man points to the fact that He can make unclean people clean. That is the great blessing of faith in Jesus and His death on the Cross. We who are unclean because of sin are made clean through Jesus’ blood. That is amazing grace. Praise Him. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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God's great gift to us is himself

Dear Friends,
One of the joys of Genesis 15:1-6 is that it reminds us that God has always been concerned about the need for faith. The need for and importance of faith is often seen as a New Testament requirement for salvation. But Abram believes God’s promise and is declared righteous. Abram’s faith access God’s acceptance. It is interesting that it is not until chapter 17 when Abram is 99 that he is circumcised. Abram is right before God and it is not because of circumcision nor is it because of the law. In Romans 4:1-3 Paul takes up the case of Abram who is right before God because of God’s grace. That is Abram’s right status before God is not based on his works nor even being religious. It is simply trusting in God’s promises. Of course saving faith leads to obedience to God and the Bible again and again shows us that obedience is the product of God’s grace and faith. In Romans 1:5 Paul tells us obedience comes from faith. Obedience to God is a response to having already been rescued by the Lord. That is the case today with the baptism of young Hugo. Baptism is a sign of God’s work on the Cross through Jesus. Hugo is made a spiritual member of God’s family as a gift. He doesn’t earn it and it is the same with salvation - it is a gift. In chapter 14 Abram has just been engaged in a battle with the local power brokers and through God’s help has defeated them and rescued Lot. Further he has shown exclusive allegiance to God by refusing to take money from the King of Sodom. Then in 15:1 God’s Word says “After this” and God comes to Abram in a vision to reassure him. He reminds Abram that He himself is His shield. That is God will protect him and the second promise is even more incredible. The promise is that God is your great reward. Friends salvation is not just that we make it to heaven. Salvation is that the Lord himself is our reward. The greatest gift which the Lord gives us is Himself and a personal relationship with Him. This is what the Lord has offered Hugo and His family today - a personal relationship with Him. It is the greatest and most precious treasure you can ever have. Tonight at the 5pm service we will look at Luke 5:1-11 and the title is people who met Jesus. This time the disciples meet Jesus and there is a miraculous provision of fish and Peter on seeing this realises how sinful he is and asks Jesus to go away from him. Jesus reassures him and says Don’t be afraid. This is a word of acceptance and forgiveness which propels him into mission to go and catch people for God’s kingdom. The Christian faith is firstly and primarily about what the Lord does for you. We see that in the story of Abram and in the story of Peter. But the Lord expects a response of obedience ! Romans 1:5 is right - obedience comes from faith. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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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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