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The Journal


Rejoicing Dear Friends, Paul gives us some very good reasons why we can rejoice. We are not alone because the Lord is near and this means that He is interested in us and he cares about us and He wants to help. Paul also teaches us that because the Lord is near we can be gentle. It is easy when we think that everything depends on us to boss people around or be pushy. Paul is teaching us that we can be gentle because the Lord is near and He helps us and we are given the privilege of casting our burdens on the Lord. We don’t have to carry them ourselves. Notice that the invitation comes with an expectation of giving thanks which means that we trust that God is good and we begin to already see the benefits He provides for us - not least of these is forgiveness of sins and friendship with God and the gift of His church and people. The giving of our burdens to God leads to 2 benefits. One of these is that as we let go of trying to keep control over our problems and hand them over to the Lord and we will find His peace come upon us. Notice that this peace transcends all understand. It is not about manipulating the mind or just the power of positive thinking but a tangible experience of God’s presence touching us personally. We do however still have a responsibility to exercise quality control over our minds. God’s peace is a gift which God gives and this also leads us to ensure that we think about what is pure and good. Conversely if we fill our minds with fear or untruths then it becomes a breeding ground for anxiety ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Eyes on the prize

Keep your eyes on the prize Dear Friends, We live in an age of distraction. Technology and multiple options mean we struggle to focus. In Philippians 3:12-4:3 Paul calls us to focus. He reminds us that Jesus has taken hold of us and this power from God at work in us moves us to forget what is behind and strain ahead to the prize we have in Christ Jesus. The prize we have in Jesus is to know Christ 3:10 and be resurrected from the dead where our bodies will be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s heavenly body 3:20. All the parts which don’t work well now will work well again. It is a glorious hope and one which is very encouraging. Paul offers himself as an example. We need good models because the Christian faith is both taught and caught. The importance of examples also reminds us that we need to spend time with God’s people so we can observe how mature and godly Christians behave. It is good to ask ourselves what type of models do I have in my life ? Paul warns about ungodly models in 3:18-19. These are people who are enemies of Christ and they are driven by their stomachs or bodily instincts. They have their minds set on earthly things whereas Paul tells us to have our minds set on heavenly things 3:20. He continues this theme of the importance of models by speaking of a pastoral problem in the church of 2 women who are not getting on well. We don’t know the details of the problem but Paul requests an elder to help them. These women are co-workers with Paul and yet even they have got into problems. None of us are immune from conflict or disagreements and we need godly people who will encourage us to be gracious to one another and forgive one another and choose to have a fresh start with people . Often conflict doesn’t resolve but we still need to forgive ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Right not wrong

Being righteous Dear Friends, We have really enjoyed a number of celebrations recently. There has been a number of birthdays including my own. We also rejoiced with Eva Jones who has reached 100 recently as well as our baptism service with Freddie and Rory. One of the distinctives of the New Testament is that we are to be people of joy and celebration. Today in Philippians 3:1-11 Paul chiefly celebrates the righteousness of Christ which means that before God because of what Christ has done and through faith in Him we are counted as right before God. God sees us as beautiful and perfect because of what Jesus has done. It is hard for us to appreciate this because we are so use to doing things to achieve our value whether in education or work but salvation is totally a gift based on what Christ has done. Paul says this gift is so much more valuable than anything else and he calls it the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. He says that everything else is a loss compared to knowing Christ. He uses quite strong language to warn the Christians at Philippi to not lose their joy and to warn about people who would change the gift of God’s righteousness into something we achieve or earn by our own merits. He calls these false teachers dogs and he reinforces this perspective by saying that his old life despite the high status he had as a Pharisee and a Jew was rubbish or dung compared to knowing Jesus. This righteousness is won for us by Jesus as we remember that he died on the cross for our sin and carried God’s judgement for our sin and conferred on us the status of being righteous. This is what actually builds joy when we remember this incredible gift of God won at the cost of Jesus’ death and suffering for our sin. This is a precious gift which brings joy to us. We must turn away from all attempts at self salvation where we justify ourselves or find value in what we do as a basis for salvation. We trust alone in what Christ has done ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Joyful Service

Joyful service Dear Friends, Today we will be engaging in the Festa Celebration Event at the end of this service. I am excited that we have many people from church who will be helping with the event as we promote our church as a place of sanctuary and have food available & run an Anglicare Pop Up clothing store. Joyful service is a mark of our church and in Philippians 2:19-30 Paul speaks about Timothy and Epaphroditus his fellow workers who serve Paul and the churches with joy. Their joy is a product of sacrificial service. May their example grow in us. God’s blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Party Invitation

Party Invitation Dear Friends, Today we are celebrating the baptism of Freddie and Rory Lawrence. Their sister Poppy is a regular at AllKids and at SRE and we are thankful that our relationship with the whole family (Flora and Rob) is growing. The passage set for today is Luke 5:27-32 and Jesus is eating a meal at a tax collector’s house. His name was Levi. For all intents and purposes Levi was a religious outsider but Jesus is offering “party invitations” to all people to come to faith and accept His love and friendship. Jesus loves people and loves eating with them. Recently I attended a children’s party and it was a wonderful day with party games, great company and of course great food. The banquet is a picture of heaven where people are invited to the heavenly banquet with Jesus as the host. Eating a meal is a very important picture in the Bible because it speaks of us being considered friends with God & able to enjoy intimacy with Him and the benefits of His gifts, especially forgiveness of sin. Celebrate ! God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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Blessing Machine

Blessing Machine Dear Friends, We are learning in Philippians that the foundation and source of all our blessings is the death of Jesus for our sins. This is not only a truth to believe, though it is not less than that. This work of Christ on the cross is God’s power for salvation to both forgive our sins and give us new power to obey God and for the church to be a blessing machine. Faith in Jesus means we are united to Christ 2:1-4 and then God commits Himself to help us obey Him. In 2:12-13 God through the Gospel and the work of His Spirit works to direct our wills to obey God. Carson says God himself is working in us both to will and to act: he works in us at the level of our wills and at the level of our doing. God works in us not merely with us. The thought of synergy which is my work plus God’s work gets it done shrinks the scope of what God actually does within us. This is very important. Listen to Augustine “Our deeds are our own, because of the free will producing them and they are also God’s because of his grace causing our free wills to produce\ them. Augustine continues - God makes us do what he pleases by making us desire what we might not desire.” This is pure grace and God wants us to learn to bless others and this begins with those in our church. We must shun complaining and arguing with our fellow church members because they are precious gifts to us. God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara. 

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Called to Serve

United with Christ and with each other to serve Philippians 2:1-11 is one of the most beautiful passages in the NT describing how Jesus as God humbled himself and became a man. His death for our sin takes the punishment for our sin so we can united with Christ 2:1. Not only are we united with Jesus but we are also united with other believers. In 2:6-11 we see the enormity of what Christ has done and this is both the power for us and the example for us to have the same attitude as Jesus towards others. Our culture is focused on being consumers & we can bring this same approach into the church looking for what we can get out of church & we in effect become spectators only. God has something greater for us. He wants us to be servants who look for ways in which we can build others up and honour Jesus because one day all people will either willingly or grudgingly bow rot Jesus and honour Him ! God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara 

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Being godly in the world

Being godly in the world Philippians 1:27-30 says that godly conduct flows from the Gospel. The death of Jesus & our acceptance of Jesus by faith means that we have new passports stamped with Heaven. We have a new identity in Christ and spiritually we are already citizens of heaven and this must affect the way we live. The expression “manner (of life)” is a Greek word meaning to have one’s citizenship. Later in 3:20 Paul explains that our citizenship is in heaven. So we are not to allow the dictates of worldly citizenship to dominate our priorities and how we live. Of course we should obey the law except where it would cause us to disobey God such as near the end of the 1st C when citizens of Rome were commanded to worship the emperor. This new citizenship means that Christians need to be united in one Spirit striving for the faith of the Gospel. God wants us to work together as a team 1:27. It is interesting that in the next verse 1:28 Paul raises the issue of not being frightened by opposition which must have been a temptation to compromise over the Gospel of Jesus and so lose their unity. Paul says that when they suffer for Jesus it is a sign that they will be saved & also a sign to those who oppose Christ that they will be destroyed. Christians experience both great joy and suffering at some level. God’s Blessing Rev David O'Mara. 

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Nothing can stop God’s work

Nothing can stop God’s work In Philippians1:12-26 Paul wants the Christians in Philippi to know that not even chains and house arrest can stop the message of the Gospel going forward. Apparently some critics of Paul had thought that he had let the team down by getting arrested - see Acts 26. Paul is not worried about his own comfort but utmost is his concern for the message of Jesus’ Gospel. He offers 2 reasons. The first reason is that the palace guard have heard that he has been arrested because of his faith in Jesus and this is a witness and secondly his arrest has strengthened his fellow Christians to be more confident in sharing their faith. One of the great truths of the Bible that is absolutely essential for growing as a Christian is to know that God is sovereign and can work His good purposes in all circumstances - Romans 8:28. Paul has at the centre of his concern the advance of the Gospel. He doesn’t fear death and he explains that for him if he lives it is for Jesus and if he dies he goes to be with the Lord which is gain 1:21-22. Paul in his personal testimony about his motivation as a Christian testifies that he has learnt from God’s Word and in his experience that the great purpose of life is Jesus. This means we ensure that we give our best time and energy to the work of the Lord. Paul is able to have this confidence because in Christ’s death he has been delivered from the fear of death and this
has resulted in a clearer vision of what is valuable and important. Rev David O’Mara 

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Joy is our DNA

Jesus is interested in the vertical and the horizontal The Gospel of Jesus works in both a vertical and horizontal direction. God’s anger at our sin has been satisfied and turned away (propitiated) by the work of Jesus dying on the cross for our sin and receiving the punishment we deserve. This means that through God’s initiative our vertical relationship with God has been restored and so we can approach him with confidence and enjoy His friendship. But God’s work doesn’t stop there. Jesus through the power of the Gospel also reconciles us to other people who accept Christ. This is the horizontal dimension. In Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi he speaks of the partnership or fellowship which he has because of Jesus. God creates a family or a new community of people who experience God’s love and then learn to love other people. Paul says in 1:4-5 that he has joy because of the partnership which he has with the Christians at Philippi. This is not something which is achieved by us rather we share together in God’s grace - 1:7. Conversion to Christ teaches us to love other people and reach out to them. Paul speaks of longing for these other Christians and having an affection for them 1:8. This leads to him prayer to God that their love may grow. When we really grasp the Gospel we are brought into a new relationship with other Christians and they matter ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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