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The Journal

Commissioning Daisy with Interserve

Commissioning Daisy with Interserve today we are sending Daisy out to serve at a school in SEAsia with Interserve. We believe that it is right under God to send Daisy out to share the word of God and her life with people in the community where she will live and work. She will be looking to us to pray regularly for her and to give financially and also to keep in touch by email. The passage set for today is Galatians 2:1-10. It speaks of Paul defending the truth of the Gospel and of the fact that this Gospel of Jesus was effective because Titus , a non Jew who was not circumcised had come to faith in the Lord. Behind this passage lays the great issue of how the Jewish and Gentile Christians would learn to relate to one another. There were some who were seeking to impose Jewish practises upon the Gentile converts such as the need to be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses as a basis for salvation. Paul is directed by the Lord to go Jerusalem and is concerned that the future of Gospel message is at stake because of these false teachers who were perverting the Gospel. Paul is teaching us that it is through Christ alone that people are saved and come into the Kingdom. We see this conflict play out in Acts 15 as the Jerusalem Council discussed this issue of Gentile converts and what would be required of them. Paul makes a strong stand refusing to accept these requirements be added. He saw it as an attempt to attack the Gospel freedom which they had found in Christ. God accepts people from all nations who put their faith in Jesus alone. This is the message Daisy carries with her to SEAsia and we believe people will come to faith. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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The one who forgives

SRE Invitational Sunday we have invited students and families to attend our services from local schools where we teach SRE to give thanks to the Lord for what He is doing in our schools and to pray for our local schools and principals and teachers. Shion and David teach SRE at Leichhardt and Kegworth PS and we have children from our church who also attend Orange Grove PS. At our evening service we will focus on Sydney Secondary College, Balmain and Leichhardt Campuses where Katie Stringer teaches. In Mark 2:1-12 Jesus heals the paralysed man whilst he has been preaching the word. This was Jesus’ core business to explain what is the Kingdom of God and how we enter through repentance and faith in Jesus. In this particular incident Jesus heals a paralysed man before He performs physical healing . He prioritises spiritual healing by first declaring that the man’s sins are forgiven. The sequence is instructive because Jesus indicates that our greatest need is forgiveness of sins. Further his declaration of forgiveness of sins is a recognition by Jesus of his identity as the Son of God. The teachers of the Law understand that Jesus sees himself as God, the son. David O’Mara 

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Leopards can change their spots

God’s amazing grace I remember growing up hearing an old saying - a leopard can’t change its spots meaning that people can’t change. Whilst we recognise that change is very difficult and involves hard work and discipline we do believe that change through the power of Christ is possible. Paul in Galatians 1:11-24 shares his testimony that in his previous way of life 1:13 he persecuted the church. He says that he was very zealous for Judaism but things changed when God broke into his life through a revelation of Jesus. Today many people think that it is too difficult for Muslims to come to faith in Jesus. However there are many well known and documented stories of Jesus revealing himself to Muslims and them coming to faith. Paul wants the Christians to understand that this message of Christ is not made up. He does this by indicating that he didn’t go immediately to see the apostles. In fact he went into Arabia for a time. Paul would have been praying and listening to the Lord and studying the Old Testament Scriptures because these testify about the Lord Jesus and the coming of God’s servant and Messiah. Paul sees that his conversion to Christ was purely by the grace of God. In fact he sees that this was no accident because God set him apart from the womb 1:15. This should give us confidence when we are sharing our faith. We can’t make people become Christians rather it is the power of the Gospel of Jesus which can transform people and open their hearts. Paul reports in 1:23-24 that the churches which Paul began to visit reported that the man that who previously persecuted us is now preaching the faith. Let us be bold to believe that God can break into the lives of unlikely people in our community. Rev David O’Mara  

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The uniqueness of the Gospel

The uniqueness of the Gospel Today we begin a new series on the book of Galatians. In 1:1-9 Paul informs us that the Christians at Galatia are being led astray by a false Gospel 1:6. It seems that there are other people, most likely false teachers who are perverting the Gospel of Christ 1:7. Paul is very strong in his use of words and says about those who preach a false Gospel :- let them be cursed. Some people may be surprised by this but Paul knows that a lot is at stake. A false Gospel has no power to save people because it ultimately depends on self effort. Right at the outset of this letter Paul affirms his credentials or his CV and says that he is an apostle sent by Jesus Christ. We remember that Paul was called by a vision of Jesus while he was on the road to Damascus to persecute and imprison Christians - see Acts Acts 9. We are reminded that our faith is not made up by people but is revealed through Jesus. We can only know what God is truly like because Jesus has revealed Himself to us. There is always a temptation to change God’s message and substitute it with our own ideas. That is why we can’t change the Gospel because to do so would distort God’s Word. Paul reminds us that at the centre of this Gospel message is Jesus and his death and resurrection see 1:1,3. It is a message about God’s grace. This is God’s favour and kindness offered to us even though we don’t deserve it. Grace is essential because we can’t save ourselves nor deliver ourselves from sin and so God’s grace provides hope that we can come to God and find Him and He welcomes us. Rev David O’Mara 

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Growth is from the Lord

Growth is from the Lord Today we welcome James and Brittany Daymond from BCA working in Narromine. James operates as an evangelist which involves both telling people about Jesus and also training people to do evangelism. He is ably supported by Brittany as they see their marriage as a partnership in the Gospel. This is a nice segway into our passage today as it speaks about a partnership in the Gospel and co-operating together. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul is reminding the church that the key player in the work of the church is Jesus. We all have a part to play but when we realise that growth comes from God we learn to work co-operatively and without envy. Paul’s emphasises this co-operative aspect of church ministry by stating in 3:9 that we are engaged in God’s service and that we are God’s field and that the church meaning people is God’s building. Ministry is all about the Lord and what He does rather than all about me. The original sin in Eden Genesis 3 was to become obsessed with what we wanted and this meant that we ignored God and His purposes. Envy destroys people working together because we are threatened by the success of others. Each of us is valuable in God’s service but we must remember that this is the Lord’s church. There is a warning in 3:10-15 that we are accountable to the Lord in the way in which we serve and so we are encouraged to serve depending on the Gospel. It is encouraging that we are reminded of being rewarded and that reward is Jesus. Rev David O’Mara 

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More Grace please Lord

More Grace please Lord We continue our series in the sermon on the mount as Jesus corrects the teaching of the Pharisees who have twisted the Law. We know from Matthew 19:7-8 that the Pharisees challenged Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce. They said Moses commanded a certificate of divorce be written whereas Jesus says that he permitted it to be written because our hearts are hard. We know that this teaching was abused and in particular women were treated badly so Moses provision was to protect women against mistreatment. Matthew 19:1-9 instructs why Jesus says the only condition for divorce is immorality. In marriage 2 people come together and are made one flesh before God. This refers to sexual union but also recognises that that marriage entwines people physically, spiritually & emotionally & provides an opportunity for children which brings ever deepening bonds. God’s purpose for marriage is a lifelong commitment and this means that we need to be careful about not entering into marriage lightly as the Anglican Marriage service exhorts us. Jesus then speaks about the need to be truthful and to keep our Word which is an important compliment to the teaching on marriage. We recognise that marriages do fail because of various reasons. Any divorce is painful and difficult and we believe that in the midst of the high standard of this teaching there is always the offer of God’s grace which brings healing and forgiveness. Rev David O’Mara 

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Integrity in relationships

Integrity in relationships Whenever you reflect on the teaching of Jesus it is important to remember that however hard God’s commands seems they are for our good. Jesus continues to show us that our righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisees - Matthew 5:20. For Christians we are more righteous than the Pharisees because we have Christ’s righteousness credited to us by faith. But we also learn that God is not only interested in outward obedience but is concerned for what is happening in our hearts which is where sin comes from - see Mark 7:20. Jesus teaches us that murder flows from anger and we must deal with this issue. At the heart of anger is pride and treating people with contempt and looking don on them i.e. calling them “Raca” or “fool”. In the same way Jesus affirms that adultery, sex outside of marriage is wrong and this time he focuses on the consequences of this disobedience with a warning of judgement. Why is Jesus so strong about adultery ? For Christians sex is a gift that can’t be separated from the whole relationship of love and commitment. Marriage is about a covenant or commitment of all we are and all we have. The wrong attitude behind adultery is to approach sex from the perspective of being a consumer and what I can get from the person. This attitude is essentially selfish. In fact the word Jesus uses for “lust” is a word connected to greed. This means that adultery or lust is about being greedy and making an idol out of sex. Marriages work well there are no idols and we seek Jesus as the centre of our life. Rev David O’Mara


 

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Blessed by God so we may bless others

Blessed by God so we may bless others In the next section of teaching from Jesus in Matthew 5:13-20 Jesus shows us how the new life that He is growing in us is to be expressed in the world around us. He uses 2 pictures of being Salt and light to communicate God’s purpose for our lives. Salt was used in the ancient world to stop food from rotting and so Jesus expects that we will engage in the world around us and bring hope in Christ. Salt also brings flavour to food and the Christian life invariably points to the beauty of Jesus. The other picture is that of being the light of the world. This implies that our world without Christ is in darkness and needs the light of Christ. As we engage with the world and do good works we will point people to Jesus and what He offers is much better than what the world offers. In the last section 5:17-20 Jesus says that He has come to fulfil the Law. This is great news for us because even though we have failed to obey God’s Law fully Jesus has completely obeyed the Law on our behalf and so now we can rest in His obedience. The Law is still very important for the Christian because through the Law God shows us what He is like and what He requires in terms of Christian living. Our great hope is that in Ezekiel 36:25-27 God writes His law in our hearts so we may obey Him. God’s Blessing - Rev David O’Mara 

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The way down is the way up

The way down is the way up Matthew 5:1-12 is known as the Beatitudes and speaks of the qualities of the Christian life. The first 4 beatitudes focus on our relationship with God and the next 4 focus on our relationship with each other. The first beatitude in v3 and the last beatitude in v10 ends with the same reward which is the Kingdom of heaven. So these verses focus on life in the kingdom of heaven and the qualities which God grows in us. Some of the translations use the word happy instead of blessed. Jesus is not declaring how people feel but rather he is making an objective statement about what God thinks of them. Blessed means that people have God’s favour on their lives. So being blessed is the pronouncement of what we are - approved. Blessed indicates that the smile of God is upon us. These beatitudes are not something we achieve through our own strength and power. Like all obedience and growth in godliness it is brought about by faith in God and His promises and is the fruit of His Spirit. This is why the first beatitude about being poor in spirit is absolutely critical to the rest. Being poor in spirit means that we see our spiritual poverty and this is when we are open to depending on God and not on ourselves. Progress in the Christian life begins by humbling ourselves and seeing that we are spiritually needy. The second beatitude is about mourning or crying over our sin with the promise of being comforted. As we see our sin God promises to comfort us as we mourn over our sin. He comforts us by providing forgiveness of sins and granting us peace - Romans 5:1 and removing condemnation from us Romans 8:1. Each of these beatitudes build on one another and they are all a work of God’s grace in us ! Jesus speaks about the importance of being poor in spirit in another way - For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted - Luke 18:14 God’s Blessing - Rev David O’Mara 

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Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene

Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene John 20:1-18 is packed with spiritual encouragement. In v2 Mary is not expecting that Jesus is risen. Her first reaction is to go and tell the disciples that someone has taken Jesus body. Later on she is crying and upset at what has happened to the body of Jesus and she sees 2 angels who ask her why she is crying v13. For some reason she suddenly turns around. Perhaps the angels looked behind her. Jesus appears before her but she doesn’t recognise Jesus v14 and He asks Mary who she is looking for ? v15 Again we learn that Mary thought this person is someone other than Jesus perhaps a gardener but when Jesus calls her name :- Mary recognises Him. Earlier in John 10:16 Jesus indicates that His sheep, that is those who are His children listen to His voice. Mary is demonstrating that she is one of His children. People will often say in regard to Christianity that seeing is believing. It is interesting that when Mary first sees Jesus see she doesn’t recognise Him. There is deep truth here that without God revealing Himself to us we can’t truly see Jesus. To put it another way that unless our eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit we are unable to recognise Jesus. Later in John 20:30-31 John explains that the purpose of writing the Gospel is that we may hear God’s Word and believe. Faith opens our eyes. The early disciples saw the risen Christ and this was important because they are the eyewitnesses so that our faith is based on evidence as it forms God’s Word. Even Thomas is painted as an anti type. He says unless I see I won’t believe but Jesus says in 20:29 about Thomas - Because you have seen me you have believed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. The pathway or route to saving faith is now to hear the message. Many people saw Jesus and walked with Him and talked with Him but didn’t believe. Seeing Jesus physically doesn’t guarantee belief because our hearts are hard. Only a miracle can open our hard hearts and that is what the power of the Gospel does. Jesus is revealed to us as the death of Jesus for our sins and His resurrection is preached. Believing is seeing ! God’s Blessing and Happy Easter - Rev David O’Mara 

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