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The Journal

United by Christ's love

Dear Friends, Today we celebrate Australia Day and remember as the Psalmist says 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. The first thing we remember about Australia is that God is the owner of this land and this means that it is a gift from Him to us. We are to live in this land in a way which honours the Lord and respects every person we encounter. As our society becomes more fractured through various identity groups we find that we have less in common and we need something to draw us together. More than ever it is knowing the Lord and being part of His family that creates community and identity. As we celebrate Australia Day may we treat all Australians with respect and dignity and may we care for this nation in a way which shows good stewardship and honours the Lord. Our reading for today continues our series in the parables of Jesus. In Matthew 13:44-52 we learn that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field. When we experience faith in Jesus He fills us with great joy and His presence and we refuse to hold back anything which would stop us from receiving this great gift from God. The great barrier to God’s Blessing is often unforgiveness which prevents us from enjoying the blessing of God. As God has been gracious to us may we show His grace and mercy to others. May God help us to bless us with Christ in 2020. God’s Blessing David 

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Parable of the mustard seed and yeast

Dear Friends, In Matthew 13:31-35 there are 2 parables - the mustard seed and the yeast and both are not easy to interpret. The popular interpretation of the first parable of the mustard seed is that the Kingdom of God grows from humble beginnings into something good and great which provides refuge for the birds. There is much to commend this view. However there are some jarring notes. A mustard seed doesn’t grow into a large tree even though the seed is small. Also the birds in the parable of the sower were symbols of the devil. Further in the OT there is a picture of a tree representing a king and that is Nebuchadnezzar - see Daniel 4:20-21. The tree represented his arrogance and finally he was chopped down. Jesus may be saying that on earth the church can appear big and successful but it may not be. The second parable about yeast also has a jarring note because yeast is usually a symbol of evil - see 1 Cor 5:6-9. So if this view is followed then we are reminded that the church will never be perfect on earth. That gives a more realistic view and helps us to love the church despite all its failing. The church shows signs of the Kingdom of God but is not totally synonymous because it is a mixture of good and evil. Please reflect further. God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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Parable of the weeds

Dear Friends, In Matthew 13:24-30 & 13:36-43 Jesus explains how there is evil present in the world. This can often be a presenting issue for people struggling to come to faith in Jesus. They find it difficult to reconcile a loving God with evil present. But in this very important parable Jesus explains that we need to be patient because there will be an ultimate division between evil and good. Jesus promises that justice will be done and we see that at the Cross because at the cross evil and sin have been judged. We must be patient and trust God’s timing even when others ridicule faith or speak in a derogatory manner towards our Lord. Jesus explains the meaning of this parable and the one who sows the good seed is Jesus. The field is the world and the good seed stands for those who belong to the kingdom and the weeds are the people of the evil one and the enemy is the devil. The harvest represents the end of the age when those who are the Lord’s people will be vindicated. We of course are only good seed because of God’s mercy. Today is a day of opportunity and I urge you to cry out to the Lord for His mercy. Don’t delay ! God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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Parable of the Sower

Dear Friends, We thank the Lord for this new opportunity to serve Him in the year of our Lord 2020. During January we will study 6 different parables. They focus us on what our King Jesus is like and what He requires. The key question in the Bible is always :- Who is God ? meaning what is He like. The more we understand the character of our God the more we will grow in our relationship with Him. Today in Matthew 13:1-23 the emphasis is on the power of the seed to effect growth. In this parable we can see varying responses to God’s Word so we should not be discouraged when many seem uninterested or reject the Word of God. Jesus encourages us that there will be those who will respond to the Word of God and grow in faith. I am very encouraged that over the last 4 years we have seen our sowing or spreading of God’s Word increase and though we have seen many who have said “no thank you” we have seen others who have responded to the Word of God by hearing and understanding and this has led to spiritual growth. Keep sharing God’s Word with people and trust God’s power to open people’s hearts to His love. God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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Jesus grows in Wisdom

Jesus growing in wisdom and favour with God and man 

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Christmas Day 2019 - Giving Worship and finding pleasure

Giving Worship and finding pleasure !  

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The Word becomes flesh - one of us !

The Word becomes flesh - one of us ! Dear Friends, John 1 is one of the most profound and sublime sections of Scripture. Whilst Matthew and Luke recount the events of the first Christmas, John focuses on the coming of Jesus and His identity and the meaning of that for us ! In particular John 1:1-18 describes Jesus as the Word of God. Being described as the Word shows God’s desire to communicate to us and reveal what He is like. Jesus was with God and was God and so Jesus is able to reveal God to us. In 1:14 the Word became flesh. Jesus existed with God the Father in heaven and then entered history and became a human being. Later in 1:18 John explains that no one has ever seen God but Jesus has come and made God known to us. Many people make the mistake of trying to guess what God is like or to make assumptions about His character and identity and what He requires from us. When we meet someone new it is very important for us to listen to them and let them explain who they are. If we don’t listen we are unable to know the full identity of that person. The Gospels are written to reveal Jesus to us. God calls us to listen to Him through His Word. John says that many people didn’t listen to Jesus 1:9-11 and in fact rejected Him. This is a tragedy because Jesus is the source of all life and light - 1:4. But the great privilege we have is that God is gracious and He offers us a fresh start and when we listen to God and trust His Word He gives us the privilege and right of being His children 1:12-13. We are hopeful because Jesus is stronger than the darkness and overcomes the darkness of our hearts through His death on the cross for our sin. HIs life is given through the cross. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Dealing with Joseph’s doubts

Dealing with Joseph’s doubts Dear Friends, Matthew in 1:1-17 has established that Jesus is God’s anointed King or Messiah who is descended from both David and Abraham. He now turns to the miraculous birth of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:18-25 points out that Joseph and Mary were pledged to be married but they had’t come together. There is a believability about this account because we also learn that Joseph couldn’t understand how Mary could be pregnant without having a relationship with another man. Joseph is described as a righteous man who decides to divorce Mary quietly because even though they weren’t married being engaged was binding and could only be broken by divorce. The Lord watches over his plan and intervenes by visiting Joseph in a dream and confirming that the child that Mary is carrying has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. It is interesting that Joseph is addressed as Son of David confirming again that this child is a royal descendent of David and so qualified to be the Messiah. Further Joseph is instructed to name the child Jesus which identifies his Messianic role to save people from their sins. This is the chief reason why Jesus came - to rescue us from our sins. Being born through the power of the Holy Spirit is also very important because it means that Jesus hasn’t inherited our sin and so He can be a perfect offering for sin because He is sinless. Matthew reminds us that this miraculous conception and birth of Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s plan and he quotes a prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 written about 700 BC. Matthew also is explaining that this Jesus who is Messiah, son of David is also Immanuel which is God with us. It is absolutely remarkable that God comes to earth and takes on human flesh. Marvel at this wonderful truth this Christmas and also be encouraged that the Gospel of Matthew has been written to convince us that this Jesus is the Christ so we can be confident in our faith and can grow. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Origins

Genealogy or the origin of Jesus Dear Friends, Matthew opens his Gospel with a genealogy. This is a word which is used in Genesis meaning an account of the origins. Matthew is wanting us to know where Jesus came from and who He is. These days many people are getting their DNA tested to see what ethnicities they have in their past as well as sign up for ancestry website searches. Our origins and background is fascinating and none more so that Jesus. He is clearly identified as the Messiah & as Son of David and Son of Abraham in 1:1. This identification is confirmed by His ancestry because He is from the tribe of Judah which Jacob prophesies in Genesis 50:10 that a ruler will come from this family origin who will rule and He will command the obedience of the nations. This Messiah is a world ruler. God promised that He would send His Messiah or anointed King who would come and help His people. Matthew wants us to know that Jesus is the one who was promised by God in the OT. The genealogy of Jesus is also interesting because unusually Matthew highlights 4 women which is amazing to include them as significant in the family tree. These women had unusual or even unsavoury aspects to their inclusion in the family tree. Matthew is reminding us that God at times does the unexpected and unorthodox and this helps set the scene for Mary who will give birth to the Messiah as an unmarried but engaged virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. Expect the unexpected with God. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Contentment

Contentment Dear Friends, Paul concludes his letter by urging the Christians to find their contentment in Christ - Philippians 4:10-23. It is Christ alone who can satisfy our deepest need to be loved and accepted and forgiven of our sins. If we try to find contentment in other things or people we experience restlessness. Twice in 4:13 and 4:19 Paul explains that Christ alone is the one who can meet our deepest needs. On the cross when Jesus died He carried the punishment for our sins. When he cried out “My God My God why have you forsaken me ? He was not only experiencing the separation from our Heavenly Father that God’s judgement on sin brings but He was also experiencing the frustration of being restless and not content which is a consequence of sin. This contentment in Christ also leads to a deep fellowship or partnership or sharing with other Christians. It is encouraging to know that we are not alone in the Christian life but God provides us with friends and fellow travellers in the journey of faith who share the burdens as well as the joys with us. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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