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Archive for June, 2017

Worship and Mission

June 29th, 2017
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We have said before that we share in the worship done by Jesus. He is our worship leader. But we also share in the mission of Jesus. This is the on-going mission of Father, Son and Spirit. We thus share in Christ’s worship and mission. Worship and mission go together led by Christ.

Notice again in John 20, the risen Christ appears among his disciples. He is creating a community. This brings joy to his disciples.

John20:19-23

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders,

Their emotional state is fear.

Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’

This is a community built around him – the one who has conquered death.

They would as Jews know that shalom had yet a fuller meaning still. More than just about them. It ultimately involves everybody and the whole creation.

20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

They change from fear to joy.

21 Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

Jesus says: As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. (v.21) This means: “I am forming you as a community of the Spirit. You are to proclaim the gospel message of forgiveness.”

The character and content of mission is the shalom of the gospel.

23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven

The Father sent the Son through the Spirit. In the same way Father and Son send the Spirit as they commission and send us.

God is outward looking. We in the church are to be outward looking.

You may remember a little while ago I shared this incident in WW2:

An old man in Poland lived near Auschwitz concentration camp. He described how the railway tracks that lead to Auschwitz past through his village and as the trains loaded with Jews went past the houses, the men, women and children screamed to draw attention to themselves in the hopes of making someone hear.

And he described how on Sundays, when he was in church with other villagers, as they heard the rattle of of the carriages in the distance, coming nearer, the minister would tell them to sing louder. To drown the screams of the victims passing by, he would urge the congregation”Sing, sing sing!”

Can our worship become a self protection from the harshness of the world? Do we have this self-contained world which doesn’t allow the realities of life to come in?

Or is worship a motivator to take the greater realities of God into a world built on lies​?

Hebrews 3:1

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

We are to share with him his apostolic (sent forth) mission to the world. His oneness with the Father motivated him to come into the suffering of this world and to bear it for us.

We are to share his priesthood with the word of forgiveness to a world condemned to die in its sins.

We wait for Jesus’ return to complete all things. But our lives are not to be lazy.

We exist for others! Just as Jesus’ whole birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension and return is for us.

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer claims:

The Church is the Church only when it exists for others… The Church must share in the day-to-day problems of ordinary human life. We are not above anyone. In fact we help and serve.

Too often the church is only seen as a street preacher. But it also must take a bowl with a towel and soap and water to serve. As I said last week that image is not glamorous or heroic. It is very messy and probably not something most people want to do.

God gave his Son to save the world. So too God gives his church to the world. The church is a small part of the world. God’s work with it is a firstfruits of the work God is doing through his Son and Spirit to make all things new.

Christians – together as the church – point to God’s future as we go about our day-by-day lives. We are not to change the world according to some idea we have. We are to be truly human. We share and bear the pain of the world. We are in it just as much as Jesus was in it on the cross.

The crucified love of God in Christ is how we live. Paul described his preaching and life as Christ crucified to counter the values of the Graeco-Roman world.

Cathy Deddo wrote:

In this world, it is considered savvy to look at everything in terms of how one can turn it to their own advantage. We wonder what will benefit us. …The worldly person is more tempted to see this person as an object, as a means to his/her own ends.

…The pure in heart, however, long for integrity. They long to have their inner life and their outer life be the same. They want God in every part of their lives and they look forward to the time when there is no slippage between their outward behavior and their inward character. It will be wonderful, they think, when there is nothing left to hide inside, no dark or shameful secret left….

Jesus also has nothing hidden or dark in Him. All that we see Him say or do comes out of His heart and can tell us truly who He is. Jesus is what He says and does. And this enables us to totally and completely count on Him and to know that as we learn more about Him our new knowledge will not contradict what we have already see of His great character…

This approach to life brings healing and shows the Kingdom of God. It is in our worship we see new ways of doing this. Our worship challenges us to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. We want to be like him in the world.

That is why we share the realities faced by our worldwide family and friends. That is why we enter into partnerships around this world and make this a part of our weekly meetings.

At the heart of Christian community is a sense of kinship – we are in this together as family and we seek to equalize our fundamental human needs where possible.

As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.

Many times it is their faith and zeal for God we need.

The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.

That last section is a reference to the Exodus story of the manna from heaven. It takes faith in God to deal fairly and equally.

He gives different gifts for us to share with one another.

How do you think the view that all of life is both missional and worshipful change the way we view our lives?

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Message for the Day

John 2

June 27th, 2017
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Our journey through the Gospel of John together is largely governed by

John1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We are to see his glory: The glory of the incarnate Son of God.

We want to see more of the greatness of Christ and to understand the reality of his grace

We will be looking at the Cana wedding. After the wedding event we read in

John2:11

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

His disciples saw his glory, and they believed in him.

That’s why John is writing this Gospel. He wants to reveal the glory of Christ to us. And he wants us to receive the grace of believing.

What is the glory of Christ revealed in this story of the wedding of Cana?

It seems like a minor miracle, more like a magician’s trick than the work of a Messiah. It prevented a little embarrassment, but didn’t really address human suffering the way that Jesus’ healings did.

It was a private miracle — done without the knowledge of the main beneficiary — and yet it was a sign that revealed Jesus’ glory

The literary function is puzzling. John knew of many more miracles than he had room to write about, and yet he chose this one to begin his book. How does it help achieve John’s purpose — to help us believe that Jesus is the Christ? How does it show that he is the Messiah, rather than a magician (as the Jewish Talmud later claimed him to be)?

John2:1 -4

1 On the third day

From Jesus’ baptism

a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.

Weddings were very special occasions. After the ceremony, the people went to a party.

Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

John says the mother of Jesus was there at the wedding and that Jesus and his disciples were also invited perhaps implying that they got into town at the last minute and were invited to come along.

This party continued for a week. The guests ate and drank together. Everyone was very happy. But if there was not enough food or drink for the week. the bride and the bridegroom felt great shame – especially the bridegroom. It was his duty to provide plenty.

3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’

Since guests were to provide some of the wine , it is also possible that the supply ran out because Jesus did not contribute, either because of his last minute arrival or because of his poverty.

It seems that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a special guest at this wedding. Mary had some responsibility for the wedding, because she worried about the wine. And she had the authority to give orders to the servants.

4 ‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied.

But Jesus says, “Woman.” His response isn’t disrespectful, but it is abrupt. It may be like calling her “Ma’am” in some contexts today.

This also seems brusque not only because Jesus calls her “Woman,” or “Ma’am,” but also because he says, “What does this have to do with me?”

That phrase (ti emoi kai soi) is used five other times in the New Testament, and every time it is spoken by a demon to Jesus. When Jesus intrudes in their domain and starts to exert power where they were in control, they say, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God?”

The gist of this phrase seems to be: “I don’t want you pressing in here. You shouldn’t be coming to me like this. This is not your affair.”

So Jesus is doubly abrupt with his mother: He calls her “Woman,” and he says, “This is not your place to be calling out my power.”

It does seem that his mother expected him to do something. We are not told what she expected, but we are told that Jesus did not approve of what she said.

What makes this so significant is that Jesus goes right ahead and takes care of the problem by doing a miracle. So he could have said very gently, “Yes, Mother, I know. I’ll take care of it immediately.”

That’s what he did, but that’s not what he said.

That makes us ask why he spoke to her this way. If you are going to do what your mother has in mind anyway, why don’t you simply agree with her and then do it? Why the off-putting words?

Is there something powerful for us in Jesus response to his mother’s request?

We live in a world of those who are in and those who are out. People get favours because they belong to the inner circle. Or you belong to the powerful families.

Jesus felt a burden to make clear not only to his mother and his brothers and sisters, but to all the rest of us, that because of who he was physical relationships on earth would not control him or oblige him. His mother and his physical family would have no special advantage to guide his ministry. And his mother and physical family would have no special advantage to receive his salvation.

The reason is that Jesus was absolutely bound to his Father’s will in heaven and to no one on earth. There could be no competing controls on his life.

John8:28

I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

John5:17-19

17 In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
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.

His miracles are not at his mother’s disposal—or anyone else’s. He is entirely in the sway of his heavenly Father. He and the Father are one, and they have one will.

One of the traits of human beings is nepotism.

We can define nepotism as the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.

The church can become a family business.

But there is no discrimination in God. No special privileges because you are part of Jesus’ earthly family.

Jesus had to work against the assumption of his day that his physical family had an inside track of influence and blessing.
We see this in

Luke11:27-28

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’
28 He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’

In other words, people thought there would be a special spiritual advantage in being the mother of Jesus, but Jesus cut off that assumption, and focused attention not on physical relations, but spiritual relations.

This was not downplaying the importance of the role Mary played in his birth and life. She is blessed among all women. She will always be remembered as the lowly Jewish young woman who was chosen by God to bring the Son of God into our humanity.

Another time the people called to him while he was speaking in a house:

Mark3:32-34

32 A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’
33 ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked.
34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!

In other words, followers, not family, have a saving relationship with Jesus.

Jesus is basically saying to Mary at the wedding and here: Your relationship with me as mother has no special weight here. You are a woman like every other woman. My Father in heaven, not any human being, determines what miracles I perform. And the pathway into my favour is faith, not family.

This is very good news for us. It doesn’t matter what family line we come from. Your parents may be the most ungodly people you know. That will not keep you from the favour of Jesus. Faith, not family, makes you his friend.

So first we see the glory of an obedient Son. Part of Jesus’ glory is his radical freedom from family partiality and his radical allegiance to his Father in heaven. “We have seen his glory, glory of the only Son from the Father”

Message for the Day

Summary of PNG Trip Messages

June 21st, 2017
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The Women’s ministry because of the election were unable to get crops to market. Thus they were not involved in much fund raising this last year. They are determined to do more this coming year.

However they did continue to serve the church community and the wider community.

Their mission: Woman’s ministry plans to help the widows and wives whose husbands abuse them. They will have a reach out programme to the local community to visit patients at homes and in the aid posts and also clean up the aid posts.

They are doing this.

They made 8 billums for the Vanuatu women.This is building bridges between the Melanesian peoples.

Many ladies are realizing how important it was for them to start reading to their children. Learning English has become very important.

As a request my first message was Appreciating our Differences. We are all so different and that can cause problems if we don’t understand how God loves variety and uses that variety as he sees fit. The church is not a club in which we select a certain type we are comfortable with – it is chosen by God.

We all gathered around Jesus who knows all our strengths and weaknesses. He knows there is not a righteous personality or one way to organize things.

All sorts of churches for all sort of places for all sorts of people.

This lead to a discussion on leadership and organization. Our motive is to help one another. We are not lords over each other’s faith.

2 Corinthians 1:24

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

We have to be willing to die to the self for the sake of the other. One can’t truly lead until one can follow.This is incredibly difficult at times.

Our goal is to help one another grow up into being like Jesus.

I read from Ephesians 4 :15

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

How we are to speak to one another:

Am I upset and angry – do I need to calm down?

Is it based on real things –not my anger and selective emotional memory?

Will it help the other person at this time -or am I just trying to prove how right I am?

We need to recognize that some personalities are louder than others -  not everything is at it first appears.

1 Timothy5:24-25

24 The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden for ever.

It takes wisdom to understand this.

Over the last couple of years we have tried to build a safe place in our church for all.

The biblical word that describes this is Shalom.

Shalom means a people are safe, they are free from fear and danger.

They can grow and flourish.

A shalom place protects and cares for the smallest and the weakest. It respects young,old, male, female, all tribes. It doesn’t play favourites. Each is encourage to serve one another.

Do we have shalom – the peace of God?

Is there anything we need to do to grow to be more a Christian community?

The other message to the women was

Our God is a joyful God.

In one of Jesus’ parables the reward given to the good and trustworthy servants is described as :
“Enter into the joy of your Master!”

God lives in a world of joy!

Joy flows from a deep trust in God, who is the source of life. His life is a life of joy . Being in his presence will fill us with joy.
Many here live with difficulties. You have recently had a series on Joy so I won’t repeat the message.

I asked some questions;

What are some of the difficulties that take the joy from our lives?

Why did the early church leave Jesus after he was taken up into heaven with great joy, rather than with worry about future troubles?

The resurrection the crucified Jesus opens up a new world. It begins the new creation, over which Jesus himself is king. That is the root cause of joy.

When you think of Jesus what brings you joy in who he is and how treated others?

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1.What do you give God thanks for? Discuss.
2. In the light of what we have talked about are there any scriptures you find helpful to read to have this joy in the midst of troubles?
3. Do you experience joy when we come together to worship God or to celebrate festivals or keep the Lord’s Supper, remembering who Jesus is for us?

Are there any issues we need to pray about?

We prayed for several ladies. Afterwards the ladies were in the sun discussing for a long time what had been discussed and the questions that were asked.

Men’s Ministry

Thomas and William had officially organized a small men’s ministry since our last visit. They help physically build accommodation for the widows and orphans in the church and help in the development of the church facility. They recently built new steps up to the church.

We reviewed what we had discussed over the last two years:

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Message for the Day