Today is our day of prayer and fasting. Let's fast and pray in Jesus' mighty name for repentance and revival beginning in our own lives, family, church, workplace, marketplace, neighbourhood, town, city, region, country and the world.
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. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
COURAGE AND HOPE WHATEVER THE OUTCOME Philippians 1:21-30
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:20-21 (NIV)
Have you any been in a win-win situation where no matter what happens something good comes out of it. Remember those times at the Olympic games when two Australians were fighting it out for gold. No matter what happened there would be a win. Australians watching such a game have no anxiety, but peace and confidence that whatever the outcome it would be good for Australia.
It is with that assurance that Paul wrote to the Philippians from his jail in Rome. If he lived it would be Christ. In the challenging situation he found himself, if he was released from jail and given a new life, he would rejoice, because his ongoing life would be in Christ and he would have time for more discipling of the many communities he’d brought to faith. If he died at the hands of the Romans he would also rejoice for his gain, because now he saw Christ only dimly, but then he would see him face to face (1 Corinthians 13).
What a peaceful way to live life. Paul had discovered “the secret of being content in any and every situation” Phil 4:20 even if it meant his life or death. He had great conviction that no one or nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8).
The Lord Jesus Christ is wanting us to live in a similar way. No matter what the outcome of the postal survey we can be confident in the Lord working all things out for good in our life and the life of His bride and this country of ours. (Romans 8:28). Even if the postal survey has limited authority, for those of us who believe in a traditional view of marriage from Scripture, a “no” vote will help to protect not only the sanctity of marriage but also our nation’s children and families. A “yes” vote and an eventual change in marriage and growing erosion and hostility towards Christian values, will purify and grow the body of Christ together in courage and conviction, as we face more severe consequences for standing for the truth we believe in. We are warned in scripture that before Christ returns it will get more difficult to stand for Christ and the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12), But the Lord promises those who endure to the end great blessings (Revelation 2-3). This assurance does not stop us from working for God’s purpose and kingdom for marriage and families in the present. But whatever happens, it’s a win-win with God. In every outcome, as individuals and communities of faith who love God and are called according to His purpose, God will be working for good and changing us more and more into His likeness (Rom 8:28-29) We do not need to live in anxiety or fear about the postal survey or even about North Korea and the US.
Let us rest in confidence in the one who never leaves or forsakes us.
Heavenly Father, forgive us when we place everything on a certain event and get very anxious about the outcome. Grant us the faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They had the confidence that you could deliver them from the flame but even if you did not they would continue to serve you alone. Help us rest in peace in the lead up to the results of the postal survey, the government deliberations and our church’s decisions next year. Give us faith like Paul who would say that to live is Christ, and to die is gain. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Ex 16:2-15; Ps 105:1-6; Phil 1:21-30; Mt 20:1-16 ...
Todays is our day of prayer and fasting. Let's fast and pray in Jesus' mighty name for repentance and revival beginning in our own life; family; marriage; church; neighbourhood; workplace; town; city; region; country and the world.
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, to HIm be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
OUR STRENGTH AND DEFENSE
Exodus 14:19-20 (NIV) then the angel of God, who had been travelling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side, so neither went near the other all night long.
Have you ever felt like a rock in a hard place? We can feel like that with no seeming answer to the divisions and decline we find ourselves in, with oppressive forces closing in and a dead end ahead. No way out! And the worst thing is that we thought the Lord led us here. Maybe we can feel like that with all the discussion on same-gender marriage, and North Korean’s growing aggression, and the spiritual forces coming against us, our families, our church, our country and world.
That is how the Israelites felt. After successive displays of the Lord’s power, Pharaoh had finally let them go. But Moses, God’s representative led them into a seeming trap. The Egyptians were closing in on them and the Red Sea was in front of them. There was no way out but annihilation or back into slavery.
However, we read that both the angel of God and the pillar of cloud that had been travelling in front of them guiding them now went behind them between them and the Egyptian army. When things became tight, God’s protection doubled. This defense separated out the two camps of the Egyptians and Israelites so that they could not approach one another all night long. At the same time Moses reached out his hand toward the Sea, and the Lord brought a wind that drove back the water to form dry land for the Israelites to cross. He made a way where there was no way.
When finally, they were safely across the other side and the Lord had dealt with the forces that sought to destroy them, a song rose up from the people.
The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation Exodus 15:2
Our battle isn’t against people who may be voting differently to us in this survey, but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV).
We are to defend ourselves, our loved ones, our church and nation. Our armour is not earthly armour. Rather we are to take up: the belt of truth; breastplate of righteousness; shoes the readiness to announce the good news of peace; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the spirit – the Word of God. (Ephesians 6)
But our greatest defense our greatest strength is our Lord himself. The Israelites discovered this as they looked across the red sea they had just crossed and acknowledged the Lord’s victory in song. The Lord was truly their strength and defense!
God protected them on all sides and made a way where there was no way.
The Lord is asking us to rest in His abiding presence and trust in his love and protection. His son Jesus Christ has already won the victory on the cross of Calvary over all these spiritual forces and we can rest in his might and his everlasting arms of mercy.
Heavenly Father, forgive us when the forces around us that seek to devour our world, country, church and families seem larger to us than you. Help us remember that you are God and that you have placed all things under Jesus’ feet. Teach us in the coming weeks to place upon ourselves daily your heavenly armour, but especially help us to remember that you yourself are our strength and our defense. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen. ...
Matthew 16:24-26 (NRSV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
Take up your cross and follow me
Have you ever thought you knew what the Lord was doing in the church and in your life? And then something happens to threaten it. You rebuke the opposition and before you know it there is a distance between you and the Lord?
Peter found himself in this boat. Jesus had been doing some amazing miracles, healing people and feeding thousands. When Jesus asked the disciples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, it is Peter who says to Jesus “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”. Jesus acclaims him for this revelation.
Faith was rising in Peter and the disciples. Then Jesus began to tell them that he had to suffer, and would be killed and rise again. Peter thought that he knew better than Jesus at that point. He would not allow this outcome. He cries out “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” Peter rebuked the opposition to all that he thought God was doing but in the process, he rebuked Christ and stood against God’s will. “Get behind me Satan!”, Jesus says. “You are a stumbling block to me”.
Jesus then explains not only to Peter but to all of us what following him is all about. It is not about elevating ourselves and our ministry, or even our church. In fact to follow Jesus means to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ. This is a most difficult journey of surrender, but it is also the most wonderful, freeing and joyous way to live life as individuals and together.
When we lose our life we will find it. When we lose our church we will find it. Whatever we are holding tightly to it is time to let go and trust. Holding on to it we will discover it trickling through our clenched fists.
Why did Peter find it so hard to let go and trust Jesus to know what God’s will was? Jesus said that he was setting his mind “not on divine things but on human things”.
What are we setting our minds upon? What are we worried about, in our own lives and in the life of our church, our local church and the wider church, the Uniting Church? The Lord works in mysterious ways. Our very efforts to control and save the church may instead put us in a place where Jesus says to us as he says to Peter “Get behind me Satan”.
It is the Lord who will build the church. He is the foundation. He is the builder. We are but the building blocks. Let us surrender and trust the Lord, for it is Christ who “calls people into the fellowship of his sufferings, to be the disciples of a crucified Lord; in his own strange way Christ constitutes, rules and renews them as his Church”. (Basis of Union paragraph 4)
Let us trust the one who goes before us from death to resurrection.
Heavenly Father, we confess that so often we are like Peter. We believe we know what is best even above you and when things start happening in a way around us that is difficult we rebuke the opposition. Forgive us because sometimes we are rebuking not the enemy but you and your deeper purposes for our life and the life of our family and church community. Teach us what it means to set our minds on things above rather than earthly things. Teach us to take up our cross and follow you. Grant us the wisdom to understand the truth that it is when we lose our life that we find it. Help us to let go our fear for our own lives and the life of the church and surrender and trust you with everything. For your glory.
Today is our day of prayer and fasting. Let's fast and pray in Jesus' mighty name for repentance and revival beginning in our own life, family, neighbourhood, church, (local and national), shopping centre, workplace, village, town, city, region, country and the world.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Matthew 14:27-29 (NIV)
I wonder if you have ever had a go of something quite courageous, but half way into it you decide it’s too frightening and you want out. However the trouble is you have to see it now till its completion. Perhaps you’ve ventured out into the middle of the iceskate rink and literally “walked on water”, frozen as it was. Then you lose your balance and want to get back to the safety of the rail but there is a long way from the centre to the edge. Your friend that’s reaching out their hand to you seems too far too.
Peter went through this very thing. But the “walking on water” that he was doing was walking in Jesus’ miraculous footsteps. The stories that we have heard growing up, this one included sound all very nice on paper. This one can fill us with courage to face the storms in our life. We all have them. Yet I think something much more confronting is going on here. We are faced with the Jesus who acts beyond our rationality and not only that, but he invites us to join in so we end up doing things that clash with all that we think is possible. Some of you who are reading this may have grown up in a non western culture where the supernatural was more common place. So when you came to faith in Christ and Jesus started displaying signs and wonders in your midst, you didn’t freak out totally. It’s harder for us who have grown up in a Western European culture such as colonial Australia. We have been taught since we were very small that rationality and reason are what is real. We can have our faith in God, but that’s separate somehow. We aren’t taught that God can break through and do things that defy all thinking right into our everyday life. So when it happens we end up very afraid, and not a good fear such as the “fear of the Lord”. It’s a sort of fear that keeps God quite at a distance, thank you very much. Or perhaps we are like Peter and begin to question. It’s always good to test the spirits. Not all spiritual powers are good. In fact only the Holy Spirit. Peter knew something supernatural was happening, but he wasn’t interested in joining in unless it was the Lord. This is a very good model to follow. The only thing was that he lost his nerve halfway out. His eyes went to the strong waves instead of being fixed on Christ and he began to sink. But Jesus is the one who meets all those who venture out when he calls. It was Jesus who called the disciples to get in that boat without him, and it was Jesus who called Peter to come to him even though a water expanse separated them. And he met them all with grace, but also with challenge. Not one sank, not even Peter. But despite Peter’s courage he challenges him “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”.
The faith that Christ is looking for is faith that can not only walk on water, but faith that has such utter confidence in the Lord that we keep on walking on water, no matter what’s happening around us.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for your son our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the trust he had in you and the power that you gave him over creation. Forgive us when we place our spiritual life in another category and think that science is all that can teach us of what is real. Help us not to get so frightened when you break through in our lives with miracles in our lives that defy all reasoning. Grant us the grace, not only to not run away, but to have the wonder of joining in with you and to keep on “walking on water”. All for Your Glory. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.. ...
Kingdom Here - Kingdom Now. Seeking, Finding and Rejoicing in Christ the Healer and His Kingdom. Fri. August 18 (7pm- 9pm) and Sat Augusut 19 (9am - 5 pm) (Including Healing Service @ 3:30 pm open to the public)
VENUE: St Stephen's Uniting Church 197 Macquarie Rd, Sydney N.S.W.
Cost: $60 (Includes Morning and afternoon tea on Saturday)
Partial Attendance: Frid: $20; Sat: $50
Guest Speaker: Rev Mike Endicott Author of the "Blind Healer" and "Rediscovering Kingdom Healing"
THE ORDER OF JACOB'S WELL AUSTRALIA
Kingdom Here - Kingdom Now.
Seeking, Finding and Rejoicing in Christ the Healer and His Kingdom.
Fri. August 18 (7pm- 9pm) and
Sat Augusut 19 (9am - 5 pm)
(Including Healing Service @ 3:30 pm open to the public)
VENUE: St Stephen's Uniting Church
197 Macquarie Rd, Sydney N.S.W.
Cost: $60 (Includes Morning and afternoon tea on Saturday)
Partial Attendance: Frid: $20; Sat: $50
Guest Speaker: Rev Mike Endicott
Author of the "Blind Healer" and "Rediscovering Kingdom Healing"
The image has been used wth the permission of the artist.
THE ORDER OF JACOB'S WELL AUSTRALIA
is a group of ecumenical Christian communities rekindling enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God by walking in the footsteps of Christ the Healer
Register at - au-jacobswell.org/