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The Journal

The Sins of Today

Dear Friends,

Understanding Genesis 3 is so important for our understanding of life as we experience it today. Genesis 1 and 2 explain that God has made this world good and He has blessed us with everything we need to enjoy in life. Consequently we may ask why do so many things go wrong & why is there is so much suffering in the world today? To answer this question we need to understand Genesis 3 and how the sin of people has brought pain and death and suffering into the world. Many years ago The Times London newspaper posed the question – What’s wrong with the world today? GK Chesterton an influential Christian responded :- Dear Sir, I am. Chesterton’s response has encapsulated the teaching of the Bible that the mess of the world is caused by our sinfulness and disobedience to God’s Word. The New Testament assumes the historicity of story of the temptation by Satan and the deception of Adam and Eve.  

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The Panoramic View

Dear Friends,

The book of Genesis is as its name communicates is about beginnings. We need to under-stand what God is teaching us because then we will understand ourselves just like a manual describes the purpose of a product so Genesis describes God’s purpose for us and how we work best. Chapter 1 of Genesis gives a panoramic view of God and His world and His purposes. Genesis 2 pictures for us a more intimate detail of God’s relationship with people and with the world. Interestingly in chapter 1 the name of God is His general name God but in 2:4b he is the Lord God or Yahweh. This is His covenant name which indicates that God’s purpose is for relationship with human beings. Human beings are like animals in that they are formed from the dust of the earth 2:7 but we are unlike animals in that God personally breathed his breath of life into us. Even the way we have been created indicates that God wants to be involved intimately with us.  

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God & Science

Dear Friends,

In preparing for Genesis 1 I have been reading John Lennox’s book - Seven Days that divide the world. Lennox is a professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and an apologist for the Christian faith. He is an excellent communicator and has debated with Richard Dawkins who is a renowned atheist. He says of Dawkins :- “One of Richard Dawkin’s main God Delusion arguments is that if God created everything, we would have to ask who created God. But the very asking of this question reveals at once that Dawkins has in mind a created God. However, the God revealed in Genesis is uncreated so that the “who created argument falls to the ground. Dawkin’s difficulty must be that he cannot believe in something eternal. Why not? Science certainly does not tell us that there is nothing eternal. Furthermore if Dawkins question is valid, it can be turned back on him. He believes that the universe created him. Therefore we are justified in asking him: who created your creator…. Thus for the atheist the ultimate reality is the universe and for the theist the ultimate reality is God.” Pg 95 

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Blessed

Dear Friends,

The sermon on the mount is one of the most well remembered teaching segments from the Bible. The repetitive phrase “blessed” is key to understanding the passage. Some people have interpreted this as “happy”. This is however too narrow a definition because happiness is focused on how we are feeling. Rather being blessed is God’s favour towards us. The sermon on the mount is not teaching a simple formula that if we do A we will get B. Jesus is explaining that when these character traits are evidenced in our lives we have God’s favour working in our lives ! In Matthew 5:1-2 we learn that Jesus is speaking to the disciples and so He is explaining what it means to be in the Kingdom. This is consistent with the fact that becoming a Christian is a gift which is offered to us and we receive by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus’ death.  

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The Beautiful Gift

Dear Friends,

When we get older we are prone to forgetfulness but Psalm 103 reminds us that all of us need to be reminded to give thanks to the Lord for His blessings. This generation in which we live has been described by some as “entitled” meaning that people see they are owed good things. We don’t see life as a gift. This country has an abundance of wealth and beauty and it is easy to think that we are entitled to it. Rather the Bible truth is that all good things which we have in life including material blessings are a gift from the Lord. James 1:17 says that every good gift is from Father in heaven. A true gift is not something which is earned nor are we entitled to it but it is graciously given to us by someone.  

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Jesus is the Centre of the Church

Dear Friends,

Peter is writing to Christians in Asia Minor which is modern day Turkey. These Christians are undergoing trials in their faith - see 1 Peter 1:6. They are most likely being ostracised because of their faith. Peter’s approach in dealing with the trials which these Christians encounter is to remind them of their identity in Christ. In 1 Peter 2:4-10 Peter explains our identity as the church. In v4 Jesus is identified as the living stone who is God’s chosen instrument to be the foundation of the church. Jesus is the centre of the church as the corner stone v6-7 who brings us salvation. It is the Gospel of Jesus and the proclamation of Him which both establishes the church and sustains the church - 1:23. It is very easy for churches to drift away from Jesus as the centre. To ensure that Jesus is the centre of the church we need to continually encourage the teaching of the Bible and encourage our people to hear and obey God’s Word as they gather on Sundays and in Bible study groups meeting during the week and individually in our homes.  

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Spiritual Gifts

Dear Friends,

Today we are looking at spiritual gifts from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. In 12:1 Paul says “Now about the gifts of the Spirit.” Paul has used this introductory phrase in 7:1 “Now about the matters you wrote about., 7:25 “Now about virgins” and 8:1 “Now about food sacrificed to idols.” Paul is responding to a letter from the Corinthian church in which they raised matters of concern. He has also received infor-mation which has been conveyed to him personally 1:11. Commentators have discerned 5 themes con-nected with congregational conduct and they are: church leaders (1:10-4:21), lawsuits (6:1-11), the Lord’s Supper (11:17-34), spiritual gifts (12-14) & Stephanas & Apollos (16:12-18).  

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We are Salt and Light

Dear Friends,

In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus teaches us about our identity as Christians. We are salt and light. Salt in Jesus’ day was used for flavour and preservation. Perhaps the main point in this imagery is that salt is meant to stop food rotting and so our role as Christians is to be distinctive and by our life and witness to point people Jesus who alone will stop communities deteriorating.  

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How to Resist the Devil

Dear Friends,

Today’s topic is “How to resist the devil.” When we become a Christian we enter God’s kingdom. We have transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of darkness are opposed to each other and unless we recognize that we are engaged in a spiritual battle we will find it hard to live the Christian life because we will not take advantage of the spiritual armour which God provides and we will fail to resist the “schemes” of the devil. In Ephesians Paul uses the everyday image of the Roman soldier to describe how God helps us stay strong as a Christian.  

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Seek to Discover God's Will

Dear Friends,

In broad terms Romans Chapters 1-11 has explained the work of Christ on the Cross for our sins and our new status as His children. Now in chapter 12 Paul explains that the logical outcome of this gift of forgiveness of sins and friendship with God is for us to present ourselves to God and to serve Him and His people. God’s recognises that when we come to faith in Jesus we bring all types of baggage with us. Some of it is good and some of it needs to be discarded. In effect we are exercising quality control over our lives so that our values and actions and motives increasingly conform to God’s revealed. God wants to use us and our lives and abilities in His service.  

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