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First Service Ulladulla

October 13th, 2017
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Our tradition at the Ulladulla Festival is to rehearse last year’s messages.

Grace can sound like a wishy washy word. Very religious without much meaning. But at last years festival we learned how powerful it is. When one stands in the presence of a mighty waterfall, we sense the power –like an irresistible force that overwhelms all around it.

Ulladulla 2016

The Mighty Water Fall of God’s Grace
Where sin increased grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20(b))

We want to be assured that nothing can stop God’s grace achieving his purpose on this earth and the entire universe. And grace isn’t just a force or a quality of God. He is grace. Sin will not be able to resist who God is.

Andrew Purves:

Romans 5 Paul talks about grace. Overflowing. Three times he says, “Grace overflows.” perisseia Again he says grace overflows, and the third time he puts it in the superlative—grace super-overflows hyperperisseuō —it’s a Niagara Falls of grace, not just a little trickle-down effect. It’s with this huge grace so that sin has no chance.

But the really big question is “Is God’s grace really sufficient to take care of our sinful nature? Can God put right us and the world right when sin abounds so much?”

In his Son God provides the human faithfulness that we have failed to provide.

And so the human faithfulness of the man Jesus is the superabundance of the grace of God.

Thus in the place where sin abounded – within Israel itself –as they mocked and crucified their very Creator – he became the true Israelite who in his faithfulness to God, even unto death became the suffering righteous servant who by bearing their iniquities justifies many.

Colossians 2:6-7

“6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

The Christian life is a life overflowing with thankfulness.

We watched three messages from Cathy Deddo on the subject of Grace.

The first one showed that grace is a lot bigger than undeserved pardon. Jesus Christ is grace and through him God is extending his love to his creatures and drawing them into his life. God initiates grace. Grace is not just his response to our sins. In Christ the fullness of God’s grace breaks into time and space.

This changes reality forever. His grace makes everything right. God’s love wants perfection of the beloved. His grace is who he is.

Kerry spoke about how we can have a false response to grace like anything goes, or the opposite, we are motivated by fear. But it is the kindness and goodness of God that leads us to repent – to think again about our life. Grace in us is the life we live because he made us acceptable to him— not so that we are acceptable to him. We live out of a desire to know him better, to please him, to have a friendship.

Godspell: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, to follow thee more nearly, day by day.

We rejoice because God rejoices. We are receiving this good pleasure of God to give us the kingdom. We saw the delight of Jesus in the healing of the leper.

Our friendship with God rejuvenates us –to be relaxed, informal in our faith. Just delighting in being with God.

God’s grace is like a river of life, cascading, never ending, healing, rejuvenating.

Cathy Deddo said we are receiving everything. We are only here because God is gracious.To receive with thanksgiving. God is already here, faithful, knowing what is happening. He already knows our children. Thanksgiving helps us to receive the truth of who God is. Receiving God’s grace is to be free no matter what happens in life.

Helen Callaghan spoke on growing older in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is not good to get anxious about growing old. It is like we want to avoid it—we see suffering. The Bible does not put down older people. It respects the hoary head. Those that walk with God have learnt humility and patience. Death is a bridge we all have to cross to reach our final goal. A lie is that older people are irrelevant. We miss out on the elders by the label elderly.

Our hope is in the resurrection. It is not longevity but faithfulness that matters. We can waste away, but we are not worried about looks, strength. We are renewed.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

We remember throughout our life his blessings, his presence, his constant love with us. Our story is in him: his suffering, death and resurrection is our story. Only the grace of God can lead us gracefully into our senior years. Suffering does not break up our story. We are gathered up in to the grace of God in to a pain free, no more death and suffering for eternity.

Cathy Deddo gave a concentration camp story: I am willing to stay here for the rest of my life only if I know you better. Sanctification is receiving and living in God’s love. We are to abide, never moving from a position of receiving. Always looking to Jesus. We can be tempted to live in anxiety, guilt, past sins and mistakes. Our perfection is perfectly received. The more we receive the more perfect we become. Too often we are more concerned about what God is doing through me. God is concerned about what he is doing in us. Every day God’ s grace is at work, giving us his life, his ministry. We can see where he is working and join him. His grace is always sufficient and full. He is fully present. He breaks in and reminds us I am here – deeper than ourselves. He is faithful and nothing can separate us.

Randal Bourchier said we need to know our limitations with one another. We need to bring matters to our High Priest. He lives forever. Fully human he is the leader of our worship.

Hebrews2:12

He says,
‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.’

As Jesus leads us in our worship to the Father, he reveals the Father to us. We are filled with gratitude for what he has and is doing in our lives. We offer the entirety of our lives and share in the life and work of our High priest. We have the freedom of standing in the wonder of the only acceptable offering to the Father.

Kerry Gubb asked if our focus is on the process of salvation with its pain or the joy of the outcome? When we look at Jesus prayer in John17 we see him presenting us as a finished product.

John17:6-8

6 ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

This is the mind who is judging us.

13‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

The joy of the done deal, very intense. This is the one who intercedes for us. And the whole world will be put right. This joy will flow over the whole earth until God sees his image in us.

Drew Garratt referred to

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    ‘I find no pleasure in them’–

Remembering requires action. Don’t waste time. Build a habit today to serve his people. What can you give to others. Strong, healthy, understand technology, have a license, can speak clearly –use whatever you have to serve.

We concluded with another emphasis on the Superabundance of God’s grace in three areas:

God ‘s grace can offend – we saw that in the parable of the workers and Jonah’s reactions.
Jesus is the superabundance of God’s grace.

God is restoring beauty into this world. His weaving his beautiful tapestry. God is beautiful. Humans are beautiful, the Gospel is beautiful and Jesus is the most beautiful life. At the cross we see the beauty of God’s inner life.

The superabundance of God’s grace includes all. He has broken down the barrier that separate Jew and Gentile to God and to one another.

The superabundance of God’s grace is at its most glorious in this new reality.

Ephesians 2:15(b) -22

15(b) His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

All have sinned. Grace superabounded in the very place sin abounded. And if both Jew and Gentile needed this superabundance of God’s grace it removes any human superiority and resultant hostility to one another. By removing the hostility with God, by the peace of reconciliation, he destroyed the basis of hostility between Jew and Gentile.

18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

The key to all of this is the Holy Spirit. There is an unifying fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This was the evidence to accept uncircumcised Gentiles into the people of God.

The Holy Spirit works in a way that brings glory to Christ as the Saviour of all mankind.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

To view a song by Chris Tomlin Waterfall about the outpouring of God’s grace over our lives please click here.  

Message for the Day

Ulladulla Last Day Part 2-Restoration of God’s beauty into this world

October 23rd, 2016
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The fullness or superabundance of grace in all its beauty is revealed to us in a very pivotal moment in history.

Jesus on the cross

There’s a particularly poignant line in the account of Jesus’ death which says that, when he died, “the veil in the sanctuary was torn from top to bottom.”

What the gospel-writers are saying is that, at the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil that sits between us and the inner life of God was ripped open so that we can now see what God looks like inside.

I think it is important to remind what was said last year on this:

The cross shows us the beauty of God’s heart – what his inner life is like. How is this so?

We see Jesus, the Son. What’s he doing? He’s suffering and dying, but in a particular way. He hangs on the cross in anguish, dying, but he also hangs there in trust and faithfulness, giving his life away without resentment, recrimination, and bitter questioning because he knows and trusts God even when God seems silent.

Luke 23:34

 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

We see Jesus on the cross, but we see him there clinging to someone else with a trust that turns hatred into love, curses into blessing, bitterness into kindness, recrimination into understanding, and God’s seeming silence into faith. On the cross we see one person, but as being held and empowered by somebody else.

Less visible, but clearly there as the recipient of this trust, present as the one about whom this drama is ultimately about, is the Father. He is suffering with the son, holding the son in this darkness, showing himself worthy of trust, and trusting the son not to short-circuit the tension so that God’s response, the resurrection, can be what it should be, not an act of vengeance, nor a bullying definition of whose in charge, but an act of unfathomable redemption, understanding, forgiveness, and love, an act that, more than anything else, defines God. The Father is there too at the cross, suffering, waiting in patience, empowering another to trust.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is also at the cross, uniquely generated and released by what unfolds there. As the drama of the crucifixion, this deep interplay of giving and receiving in love and trust, is taking place, a forgiving warmth, a healing fire, and an unfathomable patience and understanding are being produced, revealed, and released.

Hebrews 9:14

 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

When the veil inside the temple is torn, what we see, what flows out, is only forgiveness, patience, gentleness, understanding, and warm invitation.

The cross defines God as love and gives us a picture of what that kind of love looks like.

Andrew Purves described:

Romans 5 Paul talks about grace. Overflowing. Three times he says, “Grace overflows.” Again he says grace overflows, and the third time he puts it in the superlative—grace super-overflows—it’s Niagara Falls of grace, not just a little trickle-down effect. It’s this huge grace so that sin has no chance.

Sin has no chance. All that despoils and makes ugly God’s good creation doesn’t have a chance. If these living waters are flowing into our lives, sin doesn’t stand a chance.

John 4:14

but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

On the last day of the Feast

John 7:37-38

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them

Being under the reign of God’s grace means we are restorers of God’s beauty wherever we go. What we saw on the cross is meant to flow out of us as living waters.

We have been called to participate in the restoration of God’s beauty into this world. We can live today in the reality of this beauty.

An analogy I heard several years ago was that God was weaving a beautiful tapestry.

God is weaving throughout history his beautiful tapestry that will be for eternity.

What is Beauty? And how do we respond to this in our appreciation of God’s tapestry? And how does this liberate us from the anxieties that can naturally surround us in this mortal life?

We see beauty in the Hebrew word shalom.

Many people know that this word is usually translated as “peace” but it has a much richer meaning than this. The Old Testament uses this word to describe the ultimate goal and end of history and all that God is doing– peace. Now, when we think of peace, we usually define it negatively- no fighting, no war, no hunger, no pain.

But this word in the Hebrew carries with it the meaning of reknitting the very fabric of the universe. It paints a picture of a world that is made up of an infinite number of “strands” of sorts, and shalom is when these strands are re-woven together into a sort of tapestry.

Let’s think about what we know as beautiful.

Just think of God. He is the perfect and complete tapestry within which all things are woven together in the first place. He is peace. He is shalom. He is Beauty.

Seeking to enjoy the Beauty of God protects us from becoming careless in our worship or tempted to limit God to be like us.

We need to see our humanity as beautiful.

Psalm 139:13-16(a)

13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16(a) your eyes saw my unformed body.

Humans are the crown of God’s creation. In the opening chapters of Genesis you see that with each day of creation what God creates grows increasingly complex and nearer to the heart of God, until you reach that final creative act, where God intimately makes humans in his very own image. What an honour to be God’s image bearers!

God loves all humanity, and so should we. Being God’s image-bearers gives us all innate worth and innate beauty.

The Gospel is Beautiful.

God, being rich in mercy, though we have abandoned God’s beauty and our own true beauty, God has not abandoned us. He loves his Beauty. And he loves the Beauty of His creation.
The ultimate, infinite, precious, all-consuming, King of Kings and Lord of Lords takes on the form of a child born in a manger. Oh the humility. Oh the beauty in this act we call the Incarnation, where the infinite God takes on finite humanity. That is beauty.

Thus our definition needs to make God the most beautiful Person in the universe, it needs to make the cross the most beautiful event in history, it needs to make Jesus the most beautiful man who lived the most beautiful life this world has ever known, and lastly, it needs to make the Gospel (or the message of Christianity) the most beautiful thing anyone could ever hear or believe.

And history revolves around this cross. Because at the same time that Christ, Beauty Itself, was literally being torn apart, he was reconciling all things to himself.

In other words, he was taking every stray strand in the universe – every bit of evil, suffering fallenness there will ever be in history and he was making himself the common glorifying thread that would reknit the broken fabric of a broken creation. And so we live now in the process and story of God putting all those strands in their proper place.

This is the beauty of being baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

And we, His people are his Bride,

Revelation 19:6-8

6Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Those that are “in Christ” are woven into that tapestry that is the new heaven and the new earth.

We’re not just going to live in it, we are part of it. 2 Corinthians 5:17, reads: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

We are the new creation. The new tapestry. The good news of our salvation is that all that has been ugly with the world and in ourselves has been conquered. Beauty is here, and Beauty is ever increasingly filling the earth, and this Beauty is our salvation from ugliness and sin.

And we receive this salvation by seeing its Beauty, turning our affections toward this God, and trusting that we cannot reknit our own lives but Christ has reknit them for us.

 

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Ulladulla First Service(B)

October 21st, 2016
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Grace can sound like a wishy washy word. Very religious without much meaning. But at this festival we want to lean how powerful it is. When one stands in the presence of a mighty waerfall, we sense the power –like an irresistable force that overwhelms all around it.

To get an idea of the power of a waterfall watch a few seconds of  The Largest And Most Powerful Waterfall in Europe by clicking here.

His voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

Our theme for this year’s festival: The Mighty Water Fall of God’s Grace

Where sin increased grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20(b))

We want to be assured that nothing can stop God’s grace achieving his purpose on this earth and the entire universe. And grace isn’t just a force or a quality of God. He is grace. Sin will not be able to resist it.

We are a joyful people because we increasingly know the graciousness of the one who wants us to abide in him and to be at home with him.

Psalm 1 uses an image about a tree being planted by a stream of running water. It’s Psalm of the exile. It’s all desert—emotionally, spiritually desert, but also physically it’s desert. And yet the Psalmist used, “In the Lord you will be like a tree planted by a stream of running water.”

So no matter what our circumstances we have the continual stream of living waters. We don’t have to be feeble and dry, stumbing around dying in a desert.

Andrew Purves:

Romans 5 Paul talks about grace. Overflowing. Three times he says, “Grace overflows.” perisseia Again he says grace overflows, and the third time he puts it in the superlative—grace super-overflows hyperperisseuō —it’s a Niagara Falls of grace, not just a little trickle-down effect. It’s with this huge grace so that sin has no chance.

Let’s examine the context of that statement more closely.

Romans 5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

We are standing in this grace.

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

So we are confident that grace will achieve its purpose in us.

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

No matter what happens in life we live in hope. A real hope. Not a wishful hope.

Why?

5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Grace flows through the working of the Holy Spirit imparting the love of God into our lives.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s the power of that love that we receive.

This is where we left off last year. You can hear a lot of what we spoke about last year in these verses.

But the really big question is “Is God’s grace really sufficient to take care of our sinful nature? Can God put right us and the world right when sin abounds so much?”

What does this mean for all of us and this darkened world?

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

There is a living new way in him. Grace is on-going, not just one event.

The grace of Christ is not freedom from obedience, it’s a gracious obedience given to us to empower us.

Mike Feazell:

That good news is not some kind of sloppy permissiveness. It’s not some like, “Okay, I’ll just forgive you, and you’re off the hook.” It’s an accountability. Grace…because Christ is our life, sin would be to say, no, he’s not. But he is our life, he is living our life for us, and there is an accountability to that grace.

The church is a group of people who want to live into this reality, they want to help each other and hold each other accountable.
In Titus, Paul is writing to Titus and he says, “Grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness.” [Titus 2:12]

Whatever obedience is required of us, we already have the obedience of Jesus to empower us. By the Holy Spirit we are brought into the life of Jesus in his obedience – it empowers us.

11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Everything we are today and will be tomorrow is in him.

But how universal is this grace? Can it really save all and rectify the world from evil.

Read more…

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