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Archive for October, 2017

How do Christians Pray?

October 31st, 2017
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Prayer is something we do as Christians. In fact as we will see it is one of the great privileges of being a Christian.

How do Christians pray? Is there a Christian pattern of prayer that is uniquely Christian?

Lets look at one of Paul’s prayers, which we have referred to several times in the past.

Ephesians 3:14-15

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Notice the direction of prayer. It is towards our heavenly Father. But prayer involves all of God.

Ephesians1:3,17

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Notice we pray to the glorious Father. But at the same time all of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are involved.

Notice how this is revealed in us.

Ephesians 3:16-17(a),20-21

16 I pray that out of his (the Father) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Our prayer to the Father, praising his name, is for the Father to work deeply in us through the Spirit so Christ is dwelling where our thoughts and desires are. It is a prayer of faith trusting the will towards us of our Father.

Such a prayer knows that despite our struggles we are never alone spiritually. We can be assured that this is the reality or truth of our lives.

This began when we were baptized into the single name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From Paul’s example prayer involves Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church

Glory must be given to God the Father by believers, not only individually, but together in the Church. Why? There the Lord is present and displays his grace.

and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This is to be done by “Christ Jesus”, or “in” him. This may refer either to the church, which is in Christ; or to Christ Jesus as the way all praise and glory are to be given to God.

Remember all blessings are in Christ, and come to us through him, and he is the only way of access to God the Father. Our praises and thanksgivings cannot be acceptable unto God, but through him.

How does this affect how we pray and to whom we pray?

We could say that Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is for them to experience more fully the life of God within them.

What do we mean by that?

In the eternal being of God, there is a Father -Son relationship that is expressed in the Spirit, and that Christian salvation is sharing in that Father- Son relationship through the Spirit.

This means the really central idea of being a Christian is being adopted by God, the Father, to become children of God. Children of God are led by the Spirit.

We go from a position of not being the children of God to being the children of God.

Read more…

Message for the Day , ,

Local Mission

October 27th, 2017
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One of the terms used to describe churches is missional. A church has a mission and perhaps the scripture that is most used to describe the commissioning of the church is

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

and perhaps we could add

Galatians 6:9-10

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

And another could be the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25.

We could call it “Living and Sharing the Gospel”.

This last one could be interpreted within the family of God but also expanded to be more general – as we see in the previous scripture.

Organizations tend to divide mission into local, national and overseas as geographical expressions of the big commission. The idea is that the church is not a passive self contained group but one that builds relationships locally, nationally and worldwide, caring about the needs of others.

We have also identified this for our local area.

National

We have continued to support through 25% of our income the work of the national church. We have paid for all the local areas expenses. We have been effective in reducing local expenses. We will continue to look at that as we examine the pastoral needs of the area with a smaller congregation.
We have young men working on the National Youth Council and SEP. Donations are made by individuals to the Generation Next fund and SEP.
We will continually support Mark Latham and the PNG Strategic Plan which is now an area under Australian administration. We process funds through the head office PNG account.

Overseas Mission

We have been blessed to be able to support brothers and sisters overseas.

We want the mission to be both sustainable (for the originating group, and the receiving group), and not fostering dependencies whereby we may do more harm than good in the long run. We seek mutual accountability. We want to help by providing tools and support for their long term sustainable growth and development.

We also work through our head office and also the Mission Developer in the country being supported. Sometimes we have had to turn down requests.
This requires major accounting support locally (thank you treasurers) and proper project feedback which is shared in our services and newsletter. The generosity of the area has sustained all of this.

Wollongong

PNG  $7,000

Kenyan/Tanzanian Orphans/Widows $2,000

Kenyan School $7,000 (rolled over from last year)
We believe the school may need one final payment to complete it. The money for that has already been budgeted in Wollongong last year. But we are waiting on clarity from Kalengule Kaoma to John McLean about governance and accountability and ownership with GCI.

If the school is finished our relationship should be only with the widows and orphans in the church.

Bangladesh Nurses Aids  $3,000

Katmandu Bible College $9,000

Bible Fund  $2,000

Canberra

PNG  $5,000

African widows/orphans $3,500

Bangladesh Gospel Workers $2,000

Nepal Mobile Bible School $3,000

Emergency Fund  $3,000

Sydney

1. Buduburam

All infrastructure has been completed.

At present we provide 4 times a year grain and provide medical insurance for families and pay the school fees for the children of the same church. We are cutting back here and redirecting towards Liberia.

We process funds for Buduburam through the central office Buduburam account.

2. We support the Mission Fund. We contribute to needs as they arise in places like Bangladesh, Nepal.

Another one is Liberia. We have been in contact with Jackson Flah and Kalengule about the registration of 6 acres of donated land. This has now in process. We are very grateful for the generous donation given for this. We are waiting further needs from this area.

3. We support ACCM training of overseas leadership when needed. We have supported the translation of ACCM into Spanish from already donated funds.

We re also looking at the edited material for PNG to see if it can be used in Vanuatu and other places. Already the PNG edited Discipleship series seems suitable. Sermon notes are already sent to three leaders in Africa.

Despite our ageing, or how scattered we are, even the declining attendance, each of the above remains vital and reveals commitment to Christian community. Our reserves are healthy.

But the question is often asked ‘What do we do locally?”

Read more…

Message for the Day

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