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Ulladulla – I will make all things new part 3

October 20th, 2017
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3. Nothing is permanent except the will of God.

1 John2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.

Again we encounter the youthful, dynamic, creative Father. Not an ageing grandfatherly figure. He is not a jolly Santa Clause , close to retirement, ready to hand over to his youthful son and followers. The Son and the Spirit proceed from the Father in his dynamism. They renew, strengthen, and change us from him.

But we have a sin problem. It distorts us. We are meant to bear God’s image : to love God with all our hearts and minds and our neighbour as ourself. We fall so short of that.

Somehow God has to rescue us firstly from the results of sin: the condemnation and secondly the hold sin has over our behaviour. We are to be responsive to our Father’s will.

Salvation must be total to be effective. We have to be remade – become new. Otherwise we just given a fresh start to do all over again what we did before.
It has to be so complete that all of God has to be involved all of the time. It is a work –a very difficult work. Not something we achieve.

New identity

When we talk about the good news of the gospel we are talking about a new creation in Christ. This means that we have a new identity.

How complete is this new identity?

Paul wrote The past or old has gone. The new has come.

What does that mean?

Our lives have three sections: the past, the present and the future.

Our past is something we have basically by accident of birth and through many circumstances we had no control over. The reason I exist is partially because of a wounding at Gallipoli of my grandfather, who then met my grandmother when he was convalescing in the UK. If we looked at our existence mathematically there are impossible odds that any of us were conceived and born.

One of the most interesting observations in Robert Hughes book the Fatal Shores was how a whole underclass in the UK who was written off by their superiors as having bad blood, irredeemable, came to Australia with a fresh start and created one of the most law abiding societies on earth.

In many ways they lived “ The past is gone. The new has come.”

It is interesting to read who basically came in to the early church in Corinth

1 Corinthians1:26-31

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

In their past they were seen as nothing. Slaves, ordinary, expendable people at the bottom of the pile.

People outside the Temple because of their impurities came to Jesus and not only did he physically heal them, he restored them into the community with ‘Go in peace”. He called them a son or daughter of Abraham. He had changed their past by taking their sins, regrets, pain and suffering upon himself and freeing the person from their past.

Their past was no longer there— gone. Their past was now given a new identity in Christ. They could stand before God with all their sins removed.

But we live in the present. In Christ we live in our new identity daily. We are not only reconciled by his death, but we are saved by his life. He comes to dwell within us. We are now the children of God, holy, beloved without accusation. Today we are God’s dear children who in the Spirit say Abba. So we also have a new present – a new identity that allows us to boldly come in to the presence of our Father as his children.

But there is more.

Revelation 21:5  

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

And God completes our new identity by giving us a new future. I make everything new.

And we are not fully able to grasp how wonderful this will be. But we know it will exceed all our desires and imaginations.

So we have a new past, a new present and a new future.We have a new identity in Christ.

One can begin to understand the sense of liberation ordinary people, particularly slaves felt when they heard this good news. They were not trapped in the identity this world gave them.

There are incredible difficulties in really practicing the new life we have, particularly in a world that does not know who we are in Christ. Just imagine how a Brahman caste in India would have accepting equality with a untouchable if they were called together in Christ.

Or a black slave attending the same church with white masters throughout history. Or the Lord of the many with his servants.

Revelation21: 6-8

6 He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.

Notice the contrast- the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.

Live your future today. Go forward , fresh, energized by the life of our youthful, dynamic Father who is always fresh with living waters.

Message for the Day

Ulladulla – I will make all things new part 2

October 19th, 2017
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2. God continues to work

During a feast of the Jews -the festival could either be Tabernacles or Passover.-in which they are rehearsing the great things God had done in saving his people, Jesus heals an invalid of 38 years. This pictures salvation – being rescued from what held us prisoner, set free to obey God. He is warned to stop sinning. But the point is that it was done unnecessarily on the Sabbath day.

John5:17

In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’

Notice this defence is based on what the Father is doing. Jesus as the human Son of God is fully in apprenticeship with his Father. Everyhting he does is modelled on his Father.

I was going through a bible study on John 6. It really hit me how Jesus was revealing who his Father is. The beautiful loving one who initiates and sends him into the world for us.

John5:19-20

19 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.

The reason Jesus works on the Sabbath is that the Father does not cease working on that day.

This is to correct an interpretation of Genesis that God has completed his work.

Jesus is basically saying that this work today is our salvation. The physical world is sustained but its is effectively completed to be a separate entity with all the wisdom God gave it to function.

So when you look at the wonders that science keeps discovering that was completed and it says in

Genesis 2:1-2

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

But he didn’t retire. Walk away, no longer involved. His greatest and most difficult work was still to be done.

The Father initiated the plan, the Son of God carried out key steps in the plan, and the Holy Spirit also has an ongoing role in the change that we all need.

But we shouldn’t think that these are past tense roles or separated roles. This is an all of life of continual shared purpose. God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is 100% working for our salvation full time.

So completely is the Father”s commitment to us we read in

John6: 35-40

35 Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’

That’s how big salvation is.

We live and pray to the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit. We were bptized into that one name. We live every day in this.

True worship lifts us into this life of oneness.

Thus life is not an endless meaningless cycle.

God wants us to really be his children in a way that is like Jesus’ own sonship.

Again we can look at children and learn a lesson about all of this. God is involved with every generation –sometimes with a new song, new ways at looking at and doing things.

There is no righteous generation which has it perfectly right. It is a nonsense to try to be like the past. So many churches start of with a false restoration idea-that we will become like the first century church as if that is the only way to do church or the only way God does things.

When a baby is born it is a humbling reality to all of us older people. Our generation is not the centre of everything.

Where there are children we are saved from seeking personal aggrandizement through our own immortality – I am so great, I cannot bear to stop. It reminds us that we are part of a passing parade and that God is the only one who exists forever.

We can now learn to give way, to give place to others, because our death is not the end of the story of God with his people. God gives us children in order to free us from this self-centredness. Many people learn to delight in giving rather than receiving when they care for children. We do not need to make so much of ourselves when we can delight in another.

Children are a sign of the presence of hope and love. God is present and working inall generations with the same dynamic youthfulness. Hi purpose does not depend on us. It doesn’t depend on us being in the final bell lap. It doesn’t depend on our accumulated wisdom or experience.

God works with every generation in different ways.

The Father who generates life, always looking to the future with hope and expectation. Able to make alll things new. Not static, conserving the past but dynamic , creative for the future.

New songs, new ways of doing church.

God is not odd, living in the past but dynamic.

Even the birth of Jesus himself was something new – and that brought new understanding of scripture.

Pentecost was new. The book of Acts challenges the church by going into new countries, situations, cultures and this continues today.

Yet the Father is dynamically young always working towards making everything new as we see in the last section.

Message for the Day ,

Ulladulla 2017 – I make all things new part 1

October 18th, 2017
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Past
1. Ecclesiastes 7:10 

“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’
For it is not wise to ask such questions.’

I think a lot of people remember the past through the lens of the carefree irresponsibility of their childhood.

People will say the good old days and I say what good old days?

The early 20thth century when life expectancy was around 44years.

1914-1920 WW1 Followed by a devastating flu epidemic.

The Great Depression and WW2.

The 1950s with the Korean war, all the colonial wars such as the Belgian Congo, the Cold War with potential for nuclear annihilation, Middle East Wars etc
1960’s -Vietnam, student and race riots, Cuban missile crisis, middle eastern Wars and the genocide of 100,000s of Chinese in Indonesia. And I have left out the millions who lost their lives under communism.

It is a foolish nostalgia. It is a sign of getting old when we say such things. It is not the way God looks at things. As I said before he is not like us getting old and insecure – or wearying of life.

He has seen all the generations and he knows fundamentally we are evil and there is none that is righteous. And yet his love for all humankind has not changed and the hope he has for us in Jesus Christ has not diminished. The Holy Spirit leads us forwards not backwards.

In fact the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes tell us fundamental truths about human existence:

Ecclesiastes 1

1The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem:
2 ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’
    says the Teacher.
‘Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.’
3 What do people gain from all their labours
    at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains for ever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.

On the first day I referred to a quote G.K. Chesterton. He has a brilliant quote on the ability of children to rejoice in the ordinary and monotonous. Here is an excerpt from his book, Orthodoxy:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.

But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

That ability to enjoy all the ordinary things of life flows from our Father. It is not a desperation for novelty.

Yet paradoxically we still want to live.

The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.

There is a tiredness and yet we still want more of life.

9 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    ‘Look! This is something new’?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Everyone thinks that their generation is special with fresh insights. I suppose that’s why each generation of the church thinks Jesus must return in my time. I live in special times. Yet it all continues. Older members die, ministers retire and die and life goes on.

The memory of each generation usually lasts no more than two generations- and even that is very selective. After that it is as if one never existed. How many young people are aware of the lives of older members who died before they were born?

So each generation seeks for meaning – to somehow be different to those who have gone before..

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

Even attempts to put things right can go no where. Problems always seem to be there. Fix up one thing and three other problems pop up. Elect a new government and they do somethings better and other things worse.

Each generation tries new ways to rear children. Some are better than mum and dad and other practices are not as good. And so it has always been.

There is no room in God’s eyes for generational pride.

Read more…

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