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The Journal

Good Friday

Dear Friends,

In our Gospel reading today from Mark 15:33 we learn of a great darkness which came over the whole land. This is not a natural solar eclipse because they last only a few minutes and they don’t happen during a full moon and Passover occurs during a full moon. This darkness is a supernatural event and it signifies something. We know that in many places in the Bible darkness is a symbol for sin and evil deeds. For example in John 3:19 and Ephesians 5:8 we see that there is a contrast between the light of Christ and the darkness of sin and evil. We also learn that the prophecies about Jesus speak of Him as a light shining in the darkness – Isaiah 9:2. 

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How Does God Guide Us?

Dear Friends,

Today we are on week 7 in our Alpha series. The topic is How does God guide us ? It is very important to understand that God has a plan for your life and He is interested in us. In Jeremiah 29:11 God said to His people that He has a plan for them and wants to prosper them & not harm them. Before we can hear God properly we need to understand that He is interested in us and wants a relationship with us. That is the whole reason why He sent Jesus to die for our sin. God’s plan for us is bound up in Jesus so we can be friends with Him. In the New Testament Paul after speaking about the fact that we are saved by grace through faith says that God has good works for us to do – Ephesians 2:10. 

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Temptation

Dear Friends,

In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God, the Messiah by virtue of the fact that where Israel failed in the wilderness Jesus here obeys God in saying no to the temptations which the devil brought. This is Good News because Jesus is the Messiah who doesn’t fail but rather obeys God. This Jesus can be trusted because He faces temptation by depending on God’s Word. This Jesus will obey God on behalf of us so we can depend on His obedience which takes Him to the Cross. The obedience of Jesus at the Cross brings salvation to us. In fact God leads Jesus into the wilderness or the desert region to test him.  

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Why and How do I Pray?

Dear Friends,

God sets you up to grow. God gives us the gift of prayer so we can grow in faith and get to know Him better. He gives us His Word so we can know Him and know how to pray. A very important ingredient and characteristic of spiritual growth is the development of your prayerlife. Today we are looking at our fifth topic in the Alpha Series :- Why and How do I pray ? There are 2 passages for investigation. In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul explains that the work of Christ on the Cross not only reconciles us to God through His blood 2:13 but also reconciles us to one another 2:14.  

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How Can We Have Faith?

Dear Friends,

The topic for week 4 of Alpha is How can we have faith ? In 1 John 5:13 John writes to Christians to encourage them to know that they have eternal life. There must have been at least some Christians who were struggling with assurance of salvation. As discussed previously it is very important to be sure that you are a Christian because this helps build confidence in Jesus and this leads to spiritual growth. God wants you to know that you are His precious child. In fact the Bible continually teaches us to approach God confidently because of what Jesus has done. 

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We Have Been Forgiven

Dear Friends,

Dr Leon Morris suggests that Romans 3:21-26 may be “possibly the most important single paragraph written.” Martin Luther the great reformer said that Romans 3:21-26 is the centre of the book of Romans and indeed of all the New Testament. The reason it is the centre is that this passage sets forth the death of Jesus on the Cross and the significance of what he has done. This has huge implications for our faith and it is not an exaggeration to say that your apprehension of what Christ has done as explained in this passage has eternal implications. To understand the power and beauty of this passage we need to understand the situation of people. From 1:18-3:20 Paul has been explaining that we the human race have a problem. 

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Who is Jesus?

Dear Friends,

Our focus this Sunday is Who is Jesus ? This is the key question of life because Jesus says in John 17:3 :- “Now this is eternal life: that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” God’s Word teaches us that as when we come to know Jesus we have eternal life. This is because Jesus alone is the source of eternal life. This life with Jesus starts when we put our faith in Jesus and His work on the Cross and repent of sin. This eternal life which God gives us means that we are connected to Jesus who is the source of all love, joy and peace.  

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Is There More to Life Than This?

Dear Friends,

Over  the next 3 months with a break for Easter the sermon series is going to follow the Alpha Course. So for example the topic today is: Is there more to life than this? Which is the topic for week 1 in Alpha. Next week at Alpha the topic is Who is Jesus? And we will also cover that topic next Sunday. The Alpha Course teaches us about God’s grace revealed through Jesus. This is a central theme of the Bible that the God who made this world seeks us out despite our sinfulness because He is gracious. 

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Growing Through Faith

Dear Friends,

Recently some asked me about persevering or keeping going in the faith. The New Testament regularly speaks about endurance – see Romans 15:5, 2 Cor 1:6, Col 1:11, 1 Thess 1:3. In my personal experience as a minister I have met countless people who have dropped out of fellowship for one reason or another. Sometimes it has been the failure of the church and most often it has been the failure of the people themselves or a combination of both. The teaching of the Bible and the experience of people raises an important question – How do we keep going ?  

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Book of Ruth - Part 4 - New Beginnings

Dear Friends,

As we look back over the 4 chapters of Ruth we have seen the movement of the book from death to the birth of a new baby Obed, from hopelessness to great hope and from emptiness to fullness. In fact Naomi is given attention in chapter 4 when the women of the village say in 4:17 Naomi has a son. In chapter 1 she appeared as one who is empty and hopeless and has lost her husband and her husbands through death but now God has blessed her and filled her with great joy. 

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