In this passage of Scripture there are a number of crucial lessons for us to ponder on and yes even learn.
The disciples are arguing amongst themselves, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
They were not prepared for what the Lord was about to do, although I am sure that it did not surprise them, they had known the Lord Jesus long enough to understand what He was about- well to a point.
They were about to get a lesson on humility- and much more.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Like all households, and all organisations there is a pecking order, someone wants to be at the top, someone has to be in charge, others are there to follow- This is the worldly order of things and it has it good and bad points- Like that old story book Animal Farm- ‘all animals are equal, some more equal than others!’.
A proclamation by the pigs who control the government in the novel Animal Farm, by George Orwell. The sentence is a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
The disciples were not immune to the frailty of humanity.
‘True humility means knowing yourself, and being yourself-your best self- to the Glory of God’ W Wiersbe p64
It means avoiding two extremes:
1. Thinking less of yourself than you ought.
2. Or thinking more of yourself than you ought.
A small child trusts and is dependant. It is naïve and in need of great protection.
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
I believe that His meaning here is threefold,
i. Our attitude toward little children and
ii. our personal attitude towards faith
iii. And our attitude towards the faithful.
Each with a solemn warning and a solemn responsibility!
The Lord Jesus called his follower to have childlike faith one that would trust completely in the Lord their God.
The Lord Jesus called His disciple to have a good attitude and responsible attitude to all who would come to faith.
Here is a challenge to every believer:-
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
We all have a duty of care!
Being a parent, being a responsible adult is a solemn responsibility, a duty and a privilege one that God holds dear and want us to hold dear to our hearts.
The sad fact of life is that humanity will and does fall down in this charge- 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
God gives to each one of us a free will to follow Him and His principles; OR to reject- Along with this He makes us responsible for our own actions, thus this stern warning- When I see all the atrocities in this world I am overwhelmed, the only thing that keeps me going is that in God’s eternal plan there is a time of reckoning.
Hebrews 9:27.Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
And to be honest with you, I thank God that I am not the judge.
The old age question: ‘AM I my brother’s keeper’ comes to mind.
In the Gospel we see a high regard for human dignity- for mankind is the object of God’s love, compassion and forgiveness.
I would rather preach one sermon on the love and Grace of God than 100 on God’s wrath and judgement.
Having said this we should not kid ourselves, as the apostle Paul puts it to the Galatians:
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7
Sin has entered the world- and humanity is fragile- the Lord Jesus can heal that which ails humanity. But many will not receive they will reject.
I believe that too many people look at what they believe to be the negative of the Gospel and Christianity and not the positive.
If we examine the Word of God there is so much about the positive that we should major on.
For example who wouldn’t want:- Love, Joy, Peace, Forgiveness? In their lives.
Who wouldn’t want fulfilment in life and purpose?
Who wouldn’t want true humility and strength?
The Lord Jesus wasn’t finished with His disciples there is more for He underlines what he is saying with another parable: Verses 12-14
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
This is perhaps one of the simplest of parables. This is important; too often people make things so complicated.
It teaches us a number of vital facts.
The Lord Jesus uses an illustration that all would be familiar with.
A shepherd has lost one of 100 sheep.
The shepherd leaves the 99, under the care of another shepherd presumable. To search for the one lost sheep.
The purpose of the parable is to outline the Love of God.
1. The Love of God is an individual love. Yes there were another 99 but that one was just as important as the rest.
2. The Love of God is a patient love.- the sheep might be foolish but the shepherd would still risk his life to save it. God is patient with each one of us.
3. The Love of God is seeking love. The shepherd could have waited for the sheep to come home, unlikely though- he was not content to do so- there was a sense of urgency.
4. The Love of God is rejoicing love, no recriminations, just forgiveness and joy when the sheep is brought back into the fold.
5. The Love of God is protecting love. T is his love that seeks and saves.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
In our Journey through the book of Acts we have seen that the Disciples Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch for three years, encouraging, teaching and establishing the church. Their faith and commitment is a great encouragement to me and I am sure to every missionary that followed them.
One observation that I SHARED WITH YOU WAS: That it did not take long for difficulties to appear-
1 Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
The apostle Paul was not impressed, he had strived all his life, prior to his conversion to the Christian faith to fulfil all the requirement of the Law- God had shown him that he couldn’t, even though the OT Law was good, all it could do was to point to something greater and better, a new covenant one of Grace, love and freedom. This is seen in the wonderful Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
The author of Hebrews puts it this way.
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
Paul’s argument in Romans 5 makes this clear.
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.
This is God’s work; this is GRACE for we are not saved by works but by Grace.
We are not saved by works; Grace is God’s unmerited favour: For God is not under any obligation t man. The very thing that separates man from God is dealt with through the Lord Jesus- this is God the Father’s grace in action.
YOU ARE LOVED
YOU ARE FORGIVEN
YOU ARE RECONCILED WITH GOD THE FATHER
1. God’s love is undeserved
2. We do not have to work for it
3. All Spiritual blessings are a gift from God
This is why Grace is so important; this is why the Apostle went to the church in Jerusalem. This is why we are here today.
Mother’s day means so much too so many people; personally I see mother’s day and father’s day as a great opportunity to celebrate parenthood and to focus on the love of God the Father. In the western world, mother’s day has its origins within the Christian church.
Mother’s day celebration is attributed to a lady by the name of Anna Marie Jarvis; the first mother’s day service was celebrated on 20th April 1887.
Born on the 1st May 1864 her mother was Ann Reeves Jarvis was a social activist, founder of Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, and a unifying force within her community during the American Civil War Ann was friends with Julia Ward Howe, who had first advocated in 1870 for the idea of a Mother’s Day as a call for mothers throughout the world to work together for peace. As a woman defined by her faith, she was very active within the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church community. It was during one of her Sunday school lessons in 1876 that her daughter, Anna Jarvis, allegedly found her inspiration for Mother’s Day, as Ann closed her lesson with a prayer, stating: “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” ? Ann Reeves Jarvis.
On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, Anna Marie Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honour her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church.
Jarvis valued the symbolism of such tangible items as the white carnation emblem, which she described as: Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying.
Jarvis struggled against forces of commercialization that overwhelmed her original message. [Excerpt from Wikipedia]
It is not unusual to see the Christian Church celebrating or setting aside time to commemorate mother’s day.
But our society is changing, attitudes are changing- the idea of family and parenthood – how to bring children up-the idea of gender all these things are experiencing a revolution in our society. And for some of us it is unsettling!
Anna Jarvis struggled with the commercialism of Mother’s day as she experienced some of those changes.
I recently read where a school in Canada decided that it will no longer celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day as it may isolate a small percentage of its students the school didn’t want them to feel displaced or embarrassed. Think what you may it is obvious that for some it is an important issue.
• Is the idea of family, cultural or a Biblical concept or maybe both?
• Is the idea of family some big con job or conspiracy to trap free thinking people, or is it a ploy of the advertising giants to make a financial killing?
• The cynic might well say that this family thing is a conspiracy designed to repress true sexuality and freedom.
As Christians we are left with a dilemma, one that will always divide and cause great conflict and concern.
Some feel strongly about what they see as political issues and the separation of state and church.
While others see that there is nothing that is not under the Christian doctrine.
I must admit that I often cringe at both positions. What is a Christian to do in this current political and social climate?
Personally I fall back to my default position.
“When all else fails try reading the makers instructions.”
Unfortunately there are those who would like to make drastic changes to the maker’s instructions bringing doubt to their clarity with new knowledge.
What is one to do?
Again I would go back to my default position. “When all else fails try reading the makers instructions.”
It was C. S. Lewis who said:
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
I am sure that many a Christian has said or thought of this over the years.
As a young man in my late teens I asked my father for his blessing, I wanted to go into Bible college, having been brought up Greek Orthodox, seeking to apply as a student at a Protestant Bible College this was a big deal and it could have gone so wrong, Dad being much wiser than I had given him credit, asked an important question: ‘if I do not will you still go?’ I thought about it of a second or two, and said ‘probably’, he then said, ‘you have my blessing’, He then followed up with the following:
There is one word of advice that I want to give you as you leave home. Yes dad I said, his reply was short and simple and alas I did not follow his advice.
He said: – Don’t talk about politics, sex or religion and you will do well in life.
Wether we like it or not politics does have a vital impact on each one of us, it is important for Christians to be at least politically literate. In saying this I do not believe that the church is the place to advertise any political party, years ago when I stood as an independent for local elections I didn’t mention this from the pulpit, I didn’t solicit the congregation in their support. But I did stir them to vote and to prayerfully consider their vote.
Our sexuality is also vital. God made us He knew what He was doing. Are Christians experts on sexuality NO! There will always be more to learn. Again the Bible is helpful and instructive.
What I believe to be a tragedy is when the Bible is reinterpreted to fit into our present cultural thinking instead of interpreting or viewing life from a biblical perspective.
There is much happening today that some would call the sexual revolution, is it a revolution or the rehashing of the very things that brought the fall of many a civilisation?
And religion, wow if Christianity is wrong we have nothing to lose, if it is right, we have a lot to gain. You cannot go wrong in life if you embrace the teachings of the Lord Jesus- you can go one step better if you embrace the Lord Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour.
What am I struggling to say today?
The Bible says that:-
“He made them male and female”.
• It teaches us about life, love, morals and ethics, it points us to the Lord Jesus and new life in Him.
• It doesn’t sugarcoat the problems that we may face, nor does it encourage us to escape from life or from each other.
• The Word of God challenges our very existence, and it is interesting to see that thousands have given up their lives so we can have a copy of the Bible in our hands.
• The Word of God is more than a written history or instruction manual for it points to the living Word, the Lord Jesus.
It is possible that we may never get everything right, and our judgement and attitudes may falter along the way. This is why it is important to go back to the makers instructions.
I believe that the maker has a lot to say about family, and human dignity.
For Example: when it comes to marriage, family, children parenting there is much in the scriptures.
There is much about human dignity, love, care, respect and so on.
I suppose one of the difficulties I have is what do you do when others hold an opposing view?
Do you jump up and down, and call hell fire and brimstone upon them getting on one’s soapbox and letting them have it!
Or do you leave it in God’s hands? I like the latter.
I thank God for the order of things, even if we get it wrong at times.
I thank God for parenthood, and for the wonderful responsibility of being able to influence a young life for the better.
I thank God that he is called Father and as a father his love never ever fails.
There are two people who stand out in Acts chapter 11.
1 The Apostle Peter
Both these men were a great blessing to the early church.
• Their words, faith and integrity are a great example for each of us to follow.
• They loved the Lord Jesus with all of their might! This sort of commitment should not surprise us it is consistent with what God asks of us:-
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
In Acts 10 we saw that God wonderfully blessed Peter and the Gentiles.
The high that Peter may have experienced was about to be challenged.
“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
• Everyone has an agenda.
• It is the foundations of the past that in many ways sets out agendas.
Sometimes we are not aware of what makes us tick, why we do what we do or say what we say.
In The Apostle Peter’s case the foundations were set in concrete, religion and the law played a strong part in who he was.
The Good news is that his agenda changed when he had an encounter with the living Lord Jesus Christ along with a life changing experience of the Holy Spirit that transformed his past agenda to a new and living hope!
The church in Jerusalem should have been happy to see the Gospel spread and Gentiles saved! INITIALLY this was not the case-
• They did not rejoice in the Gentiles coming to faith!
• Their concern was that Peter broke the law-2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him and said,
“You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
AFTER HEARING PETER’S TESTIMONY they saw things from a Godly perspective.
Thank God that we do not have to rely on knee jerk reactions, for this is what the early church did. This is what we do so often-
There should always be a time for the dust to settle so we can gather our thoughts- before we make any important decisions or react to situations.
By the way- never make a decision out of anger or fear.
My personal experience has been that the urgent is not always that urgent and what we believe to be of paramount importance today may not be tomorrow.
Like Peter each one of us has a past and a TESTIMONY!
Like Peter each one of us has a story to tell!
Our past should not inhibit or hold us back- it is series of stepping stones to the future. There are many directions for one to turn, many questions that seek answers and so on-
It was to individuals, for a personal response that the Lord Jesus said:-
“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
OUR AGENDA SHOULD BE THE KINGDOM OF GOD;
1. LIVING AS PEOPLE OF THE KINGDOM
2. SEEKING ITS GROWTH THROUGH OUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE MISSION OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.
We have all heard of He is one of those guys who sort to live out the kingdom of God in his life:-
Peter and Barnabas took seriously the words of the Lord Jesus.
1. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
2. and God into all the world and make disciples of all nations!
When we allow the Holy Spirit to work on our lives, ‘He takes that which is good and makes it better and he deals with that which is bad’. He does this with our cooperation and He works with us.
It is the same with faith walk! We must come to God and invite Him to work in our lives
We must trust Him and allow Him to bless us. THE BIBLE SAYS; ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed!’
Peter and Barnabas trusted the Lord and became a blessing to others their agenda was the kingdom of God what’s yours?
12th February 2017 Commissioning service Psalm 27 Galatians 6:1-10
Last week I asked you the question, what business is the church in?
I said that our primary responsibility as God’s people is to be people of worship, private and corporate and the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.
What a great place to start as we meet together today, as we commission our church leaders.
The how we do these things may vary- culture, and past practices will obviously influence us in the how- This is why it is important to go back to the word of God, for teaching and instruction in what it means to be a servant of Christ. 2 Timothy 1:13
”What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
There are many Biblical principles spelt out for the child of God.
A W Pink 1945
What is a servant. “to “serve” Christ is to love Him, to give Him the supreme place in my heart and life, to devote all my powers and strength unto the doing of what He requires, and abstain from all He prohibits. Love to Christ is to be expressed in obedience unto Him: “If you love me—keep my commandments” John 14:15. “
I like the way Pink sums up what it is to be a servant of God: to “serve the Lord” is not to do something for him—as though we showed Him a favour—but it is to render something unto Him. It is to perceive His just requirement of me, to own His absolute authority, to dedicate myself wholly unto Him.
This does not negate my freedom of choice; on the contrary it should challenge and sharpen it.
How should we live as God’s servants? The answer is found in Philippians 2, the supreme example is that of the Lord Jesus. John 6:38 (did the Fathers will, He was a servant)
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
I have chosen two readings today the first from Psalm 27 one that I have shared on many a time, and Galatians 6:1-10 they both speak of servanthood, a deep desire to serve, not a group of people but God the Father himself.
This is why I said that we are initially in the worship business, both private and cooperate- our personal relationship with God the Father, with the Lord Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit will in fact influence all that we do.
In saying these things, my personal experience has been that there is always a tug o war between my desires, my will and the interpretation of what I think God wants and what God may actually require of me. I believe that this is a normal thing- a struggle that each one of us faces, and I have a suspicion that this is how it is supposed to be.
To struggle with what I call “God’s will verses my will” is healthy.
It shows that we are alive; it also shows that we are at least thinking and open to change. Yes open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
For many Christian service is a list of things that we do- I know that there is an element of truth in this, but strongly believe that this is not Christian service-
Christian service begins in the heart and mind it starts with worship and an attitude of submission- not to man but to the Lordship of Christ.
I believe that once my heart attitude is right then my service will be in the right direction.
In life each one of us has responsibilities, these responsibilities are not exclusive to the Christian faith and the Christian way of thinking for they are part of being human. Many who have faith and who do not have faith take their responsibilities seriously and this is how it should be.
What sets the Christian apart?
What makes a difference is the fact that we begin with an attitude of servanthood, where we seek to serve one master and do His bidding. Or to use the words of our Lord Jesus in Mark 12 : 29
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
This will inevitably influence the how we serve the Lord question.
The Psalmist struggled in life as he did so he did not waver in his faith and acknowledgement for what God had done for him, and can do.
It is in his testimony that we can find encouragement as we seek to ”walk in a manner worthy of the calling.”
I would like to leave you with 5 thoughts that come form this psalm, five thoughts that should encourage us in our commitment to faith.
1.Salvation- clarity, strength is found in the provision of God to all his people- Acts 1 speaks of ‘being endowed with power from on high’.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
2. I believe that worship is important- a desire to fellowship with God is the beginning of the journey.
4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
3. If God is for us Who can be against us? Seek to be in the centre of His will.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
3. Desire in your heart to be taught by God’s word, to be led by His Spirit.
Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
4. Our strength and confidence in life is in the Lord- for He will never leave or forsake his you.
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
Changed by the Spirit of God
Rev Con Despinidic 5th February 2017 Isaiah 49:1-7 Acts 11:1-19
When we look at the Bible it is easy to lose sight of the fact that many things that happened, happened over period of time.
Descent of the Holy Spirit Acts 2:1-13:- AD 30
Setting Up of the Church Acts 2:40-47:- AD 30
Conversion of Saul Acts 9:1-9:- AD 36 6 years after the Day of Pentecost
First Gentile Converted Acts 10:1-48:- AD 40 10 years have now passed by.
IF NOTHING ELSE THIS SHOULD ENCOURAGE US TO BE PATIENT.
2. I believe that sometimes we spend too much time trying to do the work of God, we sweat over it and we agonize and so on when we should rest in Him and trust God to do His sovereign work in our lives and in the life of His Church.
3. God the Father wants He wants each one of us to be.
a. Ready for service and
b. Obedient when we hear his call.
So far the church was growing; lives were being challenged and changed.
Peter is on a roll, God has spoken to him and he responds by being obedient.
This was not easy- as we saw in Acts chapter 10- for Peter’s perception of life and the Gospel had to change!
Over many generations Peter and his fellows Jews had been told by God that they had to follow certain rules, this impacted what they ate and activities in the world. God had good reasons for the many restrictions that He imposed on the Jewish nation.
They were to be a Holy people.
They were to Trust God for all things.
They were to be a light to the world- God’s representatives- untainted by the practices of the world.
Yet, they became proud and arrogant.
They saw that the only way to God was to embrace the faith of Israel- become a convert to Judaism, be circumcised and obey the law.
When we first looked at chapter 10 I said that this chapter was the beginning of something new, the church is about to change direction- This is the fulfillment of the Lord Jesus’s command to Mark 16:15-16 “Go and preach the good news to everyone in the world. 16 Anyone who believes me and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe me will be condemned.” Contemporary English Version
Peter had to be reprogrammed:- Peter’s words — “I now realize” (10:34) — registers his own surprise at the new understanding he has just received, the great thing about this new revelation is that he can share it with others!
He speaks and challenges his hearers and himself:-
“I believe that the best sermons are those that enlighten the preacher as well as the preached to.”
Ten years have passed by since the day of Pentecost- and news has reached the church in Jerusalem that the Gentiles have been saved, Peter had experienced a beautiful thing, and one might be tempted to say that he was on a high!
I’ve’ been there on a high, God has wonderfully blessed!
And then someone challenges you!
Just when you thought that it was safe to go out!
Acts 11 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
You would have thought that the church in Jerusalem would have been happy to see the Gospel spread and Gentiles saved!
This was not the case-
There are always those who lose sight of the forest because of the tree!
In other words the small details that take so much time and effort become so important that the overall picture is missed!
What businesses are we in? THINK ABOUT THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.
1. Worship- privately and cooperate
2. The proclamation of the Gospel.
Peter goes to Jerusalem to share the good news of the conversion of the Gentiles.
They did not rejoice in the Gentiles coming to faith!
Their concern was that Peter broke the law-2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticised him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
To this Peter’s reply was a simple one- This is my story.
This is how God dealt with my prejudices- This was my learning curve. Acts 11:4-10
“Having fellowship with the Gentiles was a new experience for these Jewish Christians who all their lives had looked on the Gentiles as pagans and outsiders. Tradition said that ‘a gentile had to become a Jew’ in order to be accepted.”
P 477 Wiersbe.
A couple of things come to mind here’
1. Why did Peter go up to Jerusalem?
2. Why did he explain himself?
This incident was a turning point.
a. Peter gave an account of himself because he knew that he was under authority-
We are all under authority. God is a God or order’ 1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace–as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”
b. Secondly this was the opportunity to share what God had done IN HIS LIFE- in RELATION TO HIS ATTITUDES. (Attitude adjustments are not always that easy!)
Peter wanted to show the church that they were to spread the Good news to all. Look said Peter, I will not defend myself, this is what God has Done!
They accepted the gentiles. 11:1-18
The truth always prevails!
May our eyes always be open to the wonderful truths of God.
Sermon 1 1st January 2017 ‘A new Beginning’ Psalm 118, Acts 9:1-19
Hebrews 10:20 20 ” by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,”
There is a chorus that goes something like this:
“It’s a new and living way walk ye in it It’s a new and living way God has planned
It’s a new and living way I am walking day by day
I am guided and led by His right hand. ”
It is this though that is in my mind as we come together on the first day of the week, on the first day of a new year.
Yesteryear has passed and we are in a new year, a new era in our lives, as individuals, families and a church community.
For some last year was a terrible year and for other it was a great year, it all depends on your circumstances and how you perceive things. The glass is either half full or half empty.
For some it was an exciting year and others a year of grief and unsurmountable obstacles.
For the Child of God last year was the year we were supposed to have with its ups and downs, the good bad and the ugly!
It was the year of the Lord, as we walked forward in faith- for some our faith has been stretched and challenged and for others nothing much has happened in relation to what we believe and how we walk in faith, much of the same ….
Never the less we cannot take 2016 back- we can learn from its challenges and we can grow from our faith crises.
There is a verse of scripture that I go back to every January as I begin a new year, a timely reminder of priorities in life:- The Lord Jesus spoke of living one day at a time:
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Psalm 118:24.“This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
A new year, a new beginnings, with its new challenges and situations: How are we to approach this year?
We can do so with a sense of fatalism, ‘what will be will be’, ‘tis kismet!’
Or we can see the New Year as a doorway to new opportunities, stepping stones towards a life of faith as we seek to be the people God wants us to be in a world that He has placed us in.
I am not saying that everything will be the way we want it to. Nor am I saying that politically economically things will be well. There is so much that we just do not know.
But what I would like to say is that we can be encourage by the fact that every day is a new day a day of faith opportunities, a day that we can grow closer in faith to our God, desiring to be open to His perfect will for our lives.
Imagine for a moment that you are a dedicated person of faith- you have your life mapped out for you- you are going to achieve a lot, you have the intelligence, and the opportunity the education and the breeding in the eyes of the world to achieve whatever you want- the world is your oyster, You are a person of high ideals and you cannot tolerate the stupidity of others- and from your perspective you are on the right track.
This is how Saul felt, he had a prosperous future in his religious world, a Pharisee of Pharisees, a meticulous and dedicated man of God- yet he couldn’t see clearly enough to know the truth.
Have you heard of the phrase: “can’t see the forest for the trees” (Also, can’t see the wood for the trees. Focus only on small details and fail to understand larger plans or principles) The free dictionary Web page.
Saul was like that.
It wasn’t that there were no markers, signs and prophecies that pointed to the truth- he just wasn’t looking for them in the right paces- there were so many good truths out there in the world, his world- I believe that it is similar today, so many truths, so many messages, some of them really good and worthy- put forward by people of integrity and care- and like Saul they might not be looking in the right direction.
There is only one truth that counts and that is the Way the Truth and the Life- the Lord Jesus , this separates the Christian faith from all others.
Today’s Bible reading is the conversion story of the Apostle Paul, formally known as the Pharisee Saul- we were first introduces to Saul at the murder of Stephen. Stephen was the first person in the Church to be martyred for the faith- and Saul stood by holding the coats of those who brutally murdered him- all in the name of pure religion. He may not have got his hands dirty but he approved of Stephen’s assault.
The one who stands by and approves is just as guilty as the one who does the deed!
Why this reading for the first Sunday in January- well for Saul life was going to be turned upside down, there will be a new beginning- A broom will come and sweep all the mess on the floor of his life away and start with a clean slate.
• Was this transition easy?
• Was it simple?
• Was it painless? NO, NO, NO!
We can learn from his experience. There was not only a new life in the offering; there was also a lot of unlearning to do a new approach, a new allegiance and fences to mend.
• Many of us on the faith journey come to a place where we just stop and think, question and reason, rarely is a person stopped in their tracks-
What was Saul doing when God spoke to him? Vs 1: Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples
I believe that God often intervenes in situations and with people- this is not always seen for what it is- we are so busy focusing on ourselves or even others that we do not see or hear the Lord.
For Saul his moment of light and clarity was filled with awe and confusion as he was stropped dead in his tracks!
He was arrested by the one whom he was persecuting. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The Lord Jesus got his attention!
This was not the end but the beginning of a new and exciting life- a full life, a hard life for God had singled this man out for service.
For this persecutor of the faith, the one who hated the church of the Lord Jesus, the one who approved of murder and torture and the destruction of all we hold dear in the Christian life.
If this man can come to faith and experience salvation- then anyone can be saved.
For the Grace of God is far reaching. I believe that there is no such thing as a person who cannot be redeemed.
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come The old has gone, the new is here!”
What a blessing! On the 23rd October 2016 we celebrated 161 years of witness and ministry in Wollongong.
The Congregation was officially constituted in 1855, and the Chapel was completed in 1857.
hear what our guest speakers shared with us on that day.
Rev Ray Green, Rev David Bartlett, Pastor Richard Donnelly and Pastor Dr Peter Atkins.
As I read through these notes and listen to the audio it is obvious that there are things that are said that are not in these notes. My prayer is that this message would be a blessing to you. Con Despinidic
Exodus 18, Acts 6:1-7
TENACITY– Drive and or persistence
FAITHFULNESSS – Faithful to God’s Call, trusting in the Lord Jesus no matter what.
BOLDNESS – Confident, standing firm, unmovable.
OBEDIENCE – Submitting to God’s will- taking the Lord Jesus’s words to heart and acting on them.
PERSEVERANCE – to endure to hang in there no matter what- I think I can I think I can!
These qualities or attributes of the Christian life were the wonderful result of the relationship with the Lord Jesus and the impact of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Perseverance is like that- every journey begins with a single step- not always the easiest of steps.
The faith journey begins with a simple step, not always the easiest of steps.
Nothing was going to shake these warriors from their God given task.
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
What a great example for each one of us.
Their obedience once again brought them into strife; It is the second time that they are before the Sanhedrin. The council was angry; they wanted to put the Apostles to death.
Evil is the opposite of God, and where God works wonders the devil will work overtime to destroy. His tactics are varied, he will sometimes come as an angel of light, with wonderful words and his intention is to destroy and to divert. Evil will seek to bamboozle us. It seeks to side-track us and in doing so will take us from the main thing.
It is all about The Lord Jesus. For the early church, the Disciples and the Apostles it was all about HIM.
Our faith and beliefs will determine our actions. For many their life contradicts their theology.
What does He want us to do as a Church?
Luke wanted the world to know the power behind the church and the process whereby the early church made various life changing decisions.
The world was at a crossroads, the Roman Empire was at a crossroads, the nation of Israel was at a crossroads.
I believe that 21st Century man is at a crossroads! This nation is at a crossroads, politically, morally and ethically.
We too as a church must face a number of important issues as we consider the future.
As we do so I would like us to be influenced in our decision making processes by taking a leaf out of the New Testament Church’s history.
I believe that when the church moves away from Biblical truths and principles it loses its direction and reason for being.
I believe in the principle found in 2 Timothy 3:16,17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
To know God’s will is a beautiful thing. There is so much that we know from the Word of God that gives us direction to know God’s will in our lives.
I understand that sometimes the specifics are hard to grasp, but there is no excuse for ignorance of God’s general will for our lives.
There are some questions that we ask God that need not to be asked. How many times in ministry have I been asked general questions about life style and conduct, forgiveness and care; as if the answer was difficult to find. The Word of God is plain and clear about these things.
As we saw early in the piece the church had to deal with dishonesty, people pretending to be what they were not, we also saw how God dealt with this.
In Acts 6 we will see another situation where there are murmurings, destructive murmurings that if left unchecked could bring the house down.
We will see how the Apostles and the early church dealt with these murmurings.
If you want to destabilise a situation start rumours, sow seeds of doubt, give people a sense of insecurity, and the job is half done!
Last week I said that: “Evil is the opposite of God, and where God works wonders the devil will work overtime to destroy. His tactics are varied, he will sometimes come as an angel of light, with wonderful words and his intention is to destroy and to divert. Evil will seek to bamboozle us. It seeks to side-track us and in doing so will take us from the main thing.”
• Luke’s desire to inform his readers of the churches Growth and God’s wonderful provision. Acts 2:41,
“So those who received the word were baptised and there were added that day about 3,000 souls.” (In Jerusalem.)
• Acts 2:47,
“And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (In Jerusalem.)
“Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about 5,000.” (In Jerusalem.)
• Acts 5:14,
“More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.”
• Acts 9:31,
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.”
• Acts 13:49,
“And the word of the Lord spread throughout all the region.” (In the region of Pisidia.)
• Acts 16:5, ”
So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.” (In the region of Galatia.)
• Acts 19:20,
“So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.” (In Ephesus.)