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The Journal

God Can Heal

Dear Friends,

In Genesis 5:1 the presence of God’s image in people is reaffirmed. Despite the failure of Adam and Eve (Chp 3) and then the growth of sin in (Chp 4) God has not abandoned the world. Even though God is still committed to the human race death is a present reality. Chapter 5 says 8 times that various people “died”. We are brought face to the face that when Adam and Eve sinned death entered the world and this sentence of death continues to hang over us. Paul teaches us 1 Corinthians 15:26 that the last enemy is death. I have just read an amazing testimony from Bishop Ivan Lee as he faces death. He has pancreatic cancer and is currently in remission. As a Christian we know that God can heal but our greatest hope is that death has been conquered through Jesus.  

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Where Sin Abounds - The Right Reverend Dr Michael Stead

Dear Friends,

Introduction: An avalanche of sin. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning, to continuing your sermon series in the book of Genesis. This morning, we are looking at Genesis 4. In the preceding chapter, humanity committed just one sin, one act of disobedience, as Adam and Eve sought to be like God. You may well think – “Look, it was only one piece of fruit - what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that one act of disobedience triggered an avalanche of sin in subsequent generations. By the time we get to Gen 6, it says that man's wickedness had become so great “that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time”. Genesis 4 sits in between Gen 3 and Gen 6 to show us how humanity moved from ‘one piece of fruit’ to ‘every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time’! It shows how sin took hold of Cain… and how sin takes hold of us. The chapter shows how God responds to sin, and it also gives us a hint about God’s solution to the problem. As we look at Gen 4 together today, can I encourage you to have your bible’s open + sermon outlines…  

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Do Not Allow Sin to Grow

Dear Friends,

As we make our way through Genesis chapter 4 teaches us that the sin of Adam and Eve in disobeying God and thinking they knew better than Him is present in their children. The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). The disease of sin affects all human beings. We see this sin expressed in rivalry and anger and jealousy and that this sin escalates. The story of Abel and Cain is a warning to not allow sin to grow and develop but to face it quickly and repent of it. Both Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord (Gen 4:3-4) but God looked with favour on Abel and his offering but not Cain and his offering & Cain’s response was jealousy. Abel brought the fat portions or the best portions of the animal and Cain brought some offerings of fruits of the soil.  

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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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