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The Journal

The greatest miracle !

The best harvest ! In Luke 5:1-11 the disciples caught more than a boat load of fish. The obvious miracle is the catching of the fish especially as they had already been fishing and the fish were not around. Jesus asks them to put out into deep water and let down their nets. Simon speaks up on behalf of the group and is reticent to do so. Fortunately he obeys Jesus’ Word and experiences a great catch but the greater miracle is that Simon sees his sinfulness. When he sees the catch he asks Jesus to go away from him because he realises that he is a sinful man. Why does he suddenly see his sinfulness ? The miracle of the fish caught reveals the power and glory of Jesus. When we see God’s power and greatness at work His perfection reveals how far short we fall of God’s goodness. We are exposed as sinners. This is the greatest miracle in the story. Without this miracle we will never make progress in the Christian life. This miracle is also followed by another great miracle. Jesus says to Simon - Don’t be afraid. Simon is afraid because he realises his sinfulness and wonders how he can stand before a holy God. This is the greatest miracle that Jesus is able to say to sinners Don’t be afraid. This means that our sins have been dealt with and forgiven and we can be friends with God. This is what the death of Jesus has done for us - We don’t have to be afraid of judgement. Jesus takes Simon a step further after forgiveness. He says to him that He is going to use him (and others) to bring people into the Kingdom of God. We all crave purpose in life and God gives us a wonderful task to help bring other people to faith in Jesus. May the Lord help us catch people. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara
 

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Do you want to get well ?

Do you want to get well ? In John 5:1-15 Jesus encounters a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. He was lying at the Bethesda pool in Jerusalem which was renowned for its miraculous powers when the water was stirred, presumably supernaturally. Jesus after learning that this man had been in this condition for a long time asked : Do you want to get well ? John 15:6. It seems an extraordinary question because one would think his whole purpose was to get well. However, sometimes we can learn to function on our disabilities and even find some sort of security in them. This is a great question and it is helping the man to face his illness and also focuses his attention on Jesus who is intimating that He has the power to help. Jesus doesn’t use the miraculous powers of the water but speaks words - Get up. Pick up your mat and walk. The man was cured and we would expect that everyone who saw him and realised his healing would be overjoyed. But this is not the case with the Jews (leaders). When they saw the man walking they told him that it is not lawful to carry his mat on the Sabbath. This healing brings the man into conflict with the religious authorities. We see that this man didn’t know who Jesus was and so when Jesus seeks him out he urges him to stop sinning or something worse may happen. We learn that God’s blessings are not ends in themselves. When we receive God’s grace and kindness God expects obedience. Rev David O'Mara

 

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Testing develops faith!

Testing develops faith! Today we explore Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus has just been baptised and confirmed by God as His Son who is the suffering Messiah & servant. He is then led by the Spirit into the desert to be tested. It is important to see that despite the attack of the devil God is in control and uses this difficulty to test Jesus. The purpose is not to cause Jesus to fail but to strengthen Him. We know that God’s purpose in trials for His children is to strengthen and grow faith. There is a pattern to Jesus’ experience. In chapter 3 at the baptism He experiences a powerful and wonderful revelation of God and His purposes for Jesus and then He is thrust into a great trial. We should not be surprised that there are often times of great trial and struggle following spiritual breakthrough. We see throughout the Gospels that as the Kingdom advances and Jesus proclaims God’s rule so the devil seeks to counteract. The same is typical of our Christian life and the life of a church. The devil’s attack is to pressure Jesus to deny His Sonship which is characterised by obedience to God and His plans. In particular by offering to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world He is encouraging Jesus to not go to the cross. We also notice that the way that Jesus defends Himself against the assaults of the devil is through the Word of God. He is quoting Deuteronomy 6-8. These recalls the trials which Israel went through in the wilderness and failed. In this regard Jesus is being presented as the new Israel see Matthew 2:5 who will not fail God in the desert but will be obedient to God’s call on His life. The obedience of Jesus confirms that He is qualified to be God’s King and Suffering servant. What is quite deceptive about the devil’s attacks is that he misuses the Word of God. There is a great need for us to grow in the skill of handling the word of God. Jesus was able to resist the devil’s lies because He was saturated with God’s Word. May that be so of us in 2019. Rev David O'Mara 

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Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus? This is the big question which is asked throughout the Bible. We have had the Christmas stories in Matthew 1-2 and now in Matthew 3:13-17 John baptises Jesus. At first John doesn’t want to baptise Jesus because He knows that Jesus is righteous and John himself says that Jesus should baptise him because he is unworthy. However Jesus insists because all righteousness must be fulfilled. What does this mean ? We know from Isaiah 53 that God’s servant would come in righteousness and so Jesus is the righteous servant who would also carry the sins of people. So for Jesus to die for the sins of the world He must identify with people who are sinners and baptism is a picture of that identification. Further after Jesus was baptised the Spirit of God descended on him and this also is confirmation that Jesus is the servant of the Lord - see Isaiah 42. But wait there is more. Then God speaks from heaven and identifies Jesus as His son whom he loves. This is also a reference to Psalm 2 where God installs His son as king. So here we have 3 pictures of Jesus as Son of God and King and suffering servant. The Jews could understand God’s Son coming as King but not also as a suffering servant. This suffering servant saves us from sin though his weakness on the Cross. It is truly beautiful and because of this we are counted as worthy. We all want value in our life and the good news is that because of the death of Jesus and His obedience God says to us I am pleased with you. What a wonderful way to commence 2019 that through faith in what Jesus has done on the Cross we please God. This is uplifting and empowering and will bring great blessing to us on 2019. May the Lord Bless you. Rev David O'Mara 

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