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The Journal

The full extent of Jesus' love

God serves us & empowers us to serve us John 13:1-17 – the setting for the washing of the disciples’  feet is the Passover Feast. The passover feast commemorated the time in Israel’s history when God  rescued them from slavery. The Passover is about God saving His people and so what Jesus does when He washes the feet of His disciples points to a new saving work. When Jesus  washes the disciples feet He is teaching them that the full extent of His love is revealed in the Cross - see 13:1. The washing of feet is a symbolic act which points to His death. To be a Christian involves allowing Jesus to serve us by accepting His death and allowing God to work in our lives. In fact the encounter with Peter teaches us that unless Jesus serves us through the Cross we are not part of His family and are also unable to truly serve others. Foot washing was the task of the lowest servant and so Jesus by washing the disciple’s feet is teaching them that He is willing to take on the lowliest task for their sake and because of His love for them. Jesus’ love is not motivated by what He can get out of the disciples. His own source of love is the basis for His love not what they can do for Him. In this passage we also see Peter misunderstanding what Jesus is doing but right at the end of the Gospel Jesus restored Peter after His failures and begins to change Him. God both expects and enables transformation of our lives through the power of the Cross and the work of the Spirit in our lives. In this short passage we see another individual who is highlighted. Judas is identified as the one who would betray Jesus and who has allowed the devil to enter him. Judas is a shocking example because he was one of the disciples and lived closely with Jesus seeing His example day after day for 3 years. Yet he falls away because he doesn’t have faith. Judas is a warning to us that we can be close to the Christian faith without actually ever accepting the Lord Jesus. We must ensure that we have come to know the Lord and submitted to Him. Jesus final command is that we are blessed if we obey Him. Obedience brings blessing and is the key to transformation through faith in God’s power. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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An affectionate reverence !

Fear God and Obey His commands
Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 the writer now brings his teaching to a conclusion. He says that the whole duty of people is to fear God and obey His commands. Charles Bridge says that the fear of the Lord is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law. When the power of the Gospel is at work in our lives God through the preaching of the cross and the work of His Spirit captures our heart so that a fear of the Lord grows in our life and this leads to a desire to obey the commands of the Lord. The teacher expects that his teaching is more than information. It is transformative. Our primary sense organ is the ear. We are to focus on listening to the Lord. In the New Testament our Lord Jesus reveals Himself as the Word of God
John 1:1 and so He is 
a speaking and teaching God. We also learn that the Word of God is powerful Hebrews 4:12 and can penetrate our lives and reveal truths about ourselves and about God. The Word of God also corrects and rebukes 2 Tim 3:16-17 and can equip us to know the Lord and do His work. The teacher has studied life under the sun and he says that all this knowledge is meant to bring us 4 things. God blesses us with pleasure. In 12:10 the teacher describes God words as words of delight and truth. God’s pleasure can’t be separated from His truth. This is a reminder that people will often try to find pleasure apart from the Lord and this will not bring satisfaction. The key to this is that we delight in things which are beautiful and good and true. In Psalm 27:4 the Psalmist wants to dwell in the temple of the Lord so that he may gaze on the beauty of the Lord. Seeing the beauty God in the face of Jesus Christ brings us the greatest joy and delight. Secondly God bring us an unexpected gift which is pain. He uses the picture of a shepherd with a goad embedded with nails. Shepherds used these staffs with nails to keep sheep on the right path. God will allow pain into our life that we may not turn away from Him. This is a very hard lesson but we must not forget that God himself fully understands how pain can be used to bring joy and salvation - Jesus death on the Cross for our sin. His third observation is that God gives us a perspective that the totality of life is to fear God and obey Him. Finally the teacher instructs us to prepare to meet God for we are all accountable and good will bring his good and right just so that evil is dealt with and wrongs are righted. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 
 

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Remember your creator now before it is too late

Remember your creator now before it is too late Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8 in this famous passage the writer uses graphic pictures to illustrate the effects of the ageing process. He speaks about windows (eyes) growing dim & when the keepers of the house tremble (arms) and the grinders (teeth) are few and the almond tree (grey hair) blossoms. By youth he doesn’t mean just someone in their 20’s but refers to any person before they get to the stage of rapid decline. What is most urgent ? The first thing which is most urgent is to enjoy life 11:7-10 and to remember our Creator 12:1,6. The command to remember is more than thinking about God. Rather it is an incentive to rejoice because God is the Creator and the giver of joy and life. As we get older it is all too easy to slip into a grumpy disposition. We must guard against a cynical attitude that causes us to forget God’s goodness to us. We are praying that people will come to All Souls and come to faith. What will they find when they get here ? Joy or gloom ? God has given us everything we need to be full of joy and so we are called to choose joy. There is also a danger that if we don’t choose to rejoice and enjoy God’s good gifts now, then as we approach old age when life becomes more difficult our resources for coping will be drawn from what we have stored up and if that is grumpiness or cynicism or a lack of graciousness then we will become increasingly more difficult people to be around. Of course there is always God’s grace and mercies which are new every morning and it is never too later to ask for God to change us and to repent of grumpiness. Last Sunday 24 March we held our AGM. Ministry reports were discussed and audited financial statements were presented. The results of the election were : Malcolm Rich & Tracey Rowe were elected as wardens and those elected to Church Council were : Guy Evans, Eugene Baidjurak, Sue Steinmetz. I appointed Suzannah Gaulke as my Rector’s Warden and Doug Kelaher as my Church Council representative. A short meeting was held after the AGM and the wardens appointed Nigel Bailey as Treasurer to replace our outgoing treasurer Rob Ryan and Shion Inomata was appointed as our Safe Ministry Representative. Our Church Nominators elected were : Eugene Baidjurak, Claire Graham, Sue James, Katie Stringer and Ian Cathers. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Stepping out in faith produces growth

Stepping out in faith produces growth the writer is seeking to instil humility into our character by helping us to know that life is uncertain and we can’t know the future but God does. In v1-2 we may receive a return for our investment or disaster could strike. However this inability to predict the future is not an excuse to retreat and play it safe. Rather we are encouraged to ship our grain across the sea and invest in 7 yes 8 ventures. God wants His people to engage in life and use the gifts they have to witness to His goodness and love. The writer continues to instil humility by reminding us that our knowledge of life is very limited. In v5 we do not know the path of the wind nor how God puts His Spirit into a baby in their mother’s womb. There are so many things in life which are beyond our understanding and control. We are encouraged to focus on what we can do which is to sow our seeds in the morning and not be lazy v6. As we move to the New Testament we are reminded to lay up treasure in heaven. This is not a scheme to encourage us to buy our way in heaven. Rather when we invest in spiritual things which have eternal significance it is showing that our heart has been captivated by Jesus love. That is what the power of Jesus’ death does. He captures our hearts with His love and then this changes our focus so that His priorities and values become ours. In the New Testament Jesus told a number of parables about sowing seed and many of these have links to Ecclesiastes. For example in Luke 12:15-21 Jesus told a parable about building up treasure in heaven. A rich man yielded an abundant harvest and said to himself what shall I do. This was his major mistake because he forgot that this harvest was a gift from God in the first place. He makes a decision to take life easy, eat drink and be merry. This sounds very much like Ecclesiastes which has encouraged us to enjoy God’s gifts but this man has forgotten God and so God’s values and priorities are far from his mind and his heart. Ecclesiastes 9:1-6 is encouraging us to step out in faith and use our gifts and abilities and resources to build relationships of love and sow God’s seed or Word of life. May the Lord enable this to increase. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Looking for the real thing

Looking for the real thing In chapters 1-9 the writer has been teaching us through his careful investigation of life under the sun that pursuing pleasure and education and power and wealth as ends in themselves will not bring satisfaction which we all long for. He has reminded us that we all must face death and that this is the great leveller of all people. Effectively the writer has been demolishing the false idols which people trust in for significance and joy and once he has shown their hollowness he seeks to move us onto his purpose of building a sure foundation to trust in - God Himself. In Chapter 9 the writer brings his argument to a conclusion and reminds us that all people face a common destiny of death but this is not a reason for despair. In 9:7-10 he teaches us that we are to embrace life and enjoy the good gifts which God provides for us such as food and wine and clothes. Within this section he is using wedding imagery. This is very interesting because the picture of God being a husband to his people is very strong - see Isaiah 54:5, 62:5. This picture of the celebration of God with His people reaches its climax in Revelation 19:7 where God invites His people who have accepted salvation as those who are invited to the wedding supper of the lamb - our Lord Jesus who takes away sin through His death on the cross. It is a rich picture of celebration. Despite the uncertainty of this life and at times its seeming unfairness we are being directed to look for certainty and sure hope beyond this world. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Don't be scared of death

Facing death & wisdom Ecclesiastes 7:1-25 It is sometimes amazing the wonderful things you hear about people at funerals. A good eulogy helps us to understand a person’s life. But death is still a taboo topic for many. We will talk about sex but not death. The writer says it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. He is teaching us that as we think about death and face death it teaches us things about life and our mortality which will help us learn to be wise in this world. In 7:1 we are taught that the day of death is better than the day of birth. When a baby is born there is great wonder and celebration about the huge potential for the child but it is when we die there is fulfilment. In the NT Paul teaches us that to die is gain - see Philippians 1:21,23. At death we are freed from the trials of this world and can enjoy the Lord’s presence. Facing death is not just about going to heaven because there are lessons to learn now as we face death and these lessons teach us about what is important in life and our priorities. Relationships are most vital. When we face death we are reminded again at how short life is and we don’t want to waste it. As we face death we are encouraged to pursue wisdom 7:19 but we also recognise that our wisdom is limited and true wisdom always leads to trust in God and His purposes - 7:13-14. We are to consider God and trust that He is good. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Stop talking and listen carefully

Stop talking and listen carefully In chapter 4 a foolish king is one who would not listen to advice or warnings and now the teacher gives the ordinary person some wise direction also. Just like the King the ordinary worshipper needs to listen to God. In the previous chapter (4) a depressing scene has been painted where there is oppression and envy and loneliness and failure of leadership. As one surveys this world and what it offers it would be easy to lose hope. But God gives us good advice that all is not lost because we can turn to God and seek Him. However with God we need to go to listen to Him. Obviously this involves using our ears but it is more than just hearing words. Our lives can be so frantic or anxious that there is not space to receive what the Lord has to say to us. In 5:3 the writer speaks about how with many cares come dreams and so we need to come before God and stand in awe of His greatness and see the lessons that this book has been teaching us. He is big and we are tiny. This is encouraging because the Lord is much bigger than our problems. That means He has the power to deal with them. In particular the teacher warns us against making hasty vows lest we can’t fulfil our vows. When we are so preoccupied with ourselves we can be full of ideas which distract us from what is most important which is to seek the Lord. Today the place where we listen to God is through His Word the Bible as we fellowship with His people. One day one of Jesus’ disciples, Mary Matthew 10 decided to leave kitchen duties to others so she could listen to Jesus. Jesus commended her for choosing what was best. There are always many things we could be doing but we need to choose what is best. Listening to Jesus through His Word and standing in awe of Him is our greatest need. It is Jesus’ Word which strengthens us and gives us peace and direction in life. God’s Word is the most important advice in life. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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It is not all about me

IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT ME In Ecclesiastes 4 the teacher examines our hearts very carefully to see what they are like. He comes up with some disturbing evidence as he looks at various things which occur amongst humans. He encounters :- 4:1-3 oppression between people, 4:4-6 envy which impacts why and how people engage in work, loneliness 4:7-12 which is not God’s plan for us and finally 4:13-16 the limitations of political leaders. God set this world up with blessing that we would go forth and multiply and be good stewards of this world but sadly ever since our disobedience in the garden (Gen 3) we have failed to not only obey God but we have also hurt one another. The 2 great commandments instruct us to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbours as ourselves but we have failed to do this. When we see our spiritual bankruptcy evidenced by the way we treat each other our hearts cry out to God for help. We can’t solve the problem of sin by political solutions nor by our own ingenuity. It is true that we need a revolution and we need the Lord’s power to come and heal our hearts of sin. The glorious Gospel of Jesus not only brings forgiveness of sins but also heals our broken hearts so we learn to love our neighbour and care for one another. One of the symptoms of our broken world is loneliness and as the Gospel of Jesus’ death for our sins is preached He deals with this loneliness by bringing reconciliation with God and with each other. His purpose in salvation is to create a new people who can love and support one another and declare His goodness to the world. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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God is in control

GOD IS IN CONTROL This famous passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1-22 reminds us that there are seasons of life that are outside of our control. Of course we need to make good and wise choices now but only what God does endures forever - 3:14. God has put eternity in our hearts 3:11 and this reminds us that there is something better than than life just under the sun. God’s whole purpose in the various seasons of life we encounter is to humble us that we may fear Him and give Him the honour He deserves 3:14. In the second section the teacher speaks about injustice and how there is corruption in the place of power 3:16. We are created in the image of God and one of the qualities which comes from this is our concern for justice. Indeed this is at the heart of God who wants us to treat one another justly. God promises us that He will bring judgement in his time. The judgement of God gives us great hope because we know that everyone will have to give an account of their life and evil will be dealt with. Our decisions now to stand up for justice and to treat people with dignity carry significance and count and also when we have been denied justice by others we know that God has heard our cry and one day we will be vindicated. This concern for justice on the part of the teacher points us to the Cross where justice was done and our sin was punished with Jesus taking our place. God is totally just and judgement fell on Jesus that mercy may fall on us. This cry for justice by Jesus gives us confidence to face God when Jesus returns to judge all people. We must all be ready for the return of Jesus if we want to escape judgement and this means that we fear God which means to trust Him and recognise that He is in control not us. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Finding true contentment

Finding True contentment 

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