15th October 2017 - Growing Strong In God’s Grace

October 15, 2017

Grace the most authentic of Christian words.
 
It facilitates the best of attitudes e.g. gracious and grateful.
 
It is a unique Christian contribution and is the life transforming power of God, which reaches into people’s lives and brings them new possibility.
 
This coming Sunday Rev Keith Garner will be talking about how grace is applied to our lives.
He will be speaking from Matthew 20 but will clearly be making reference to the cornerstone of our understanding God’s grace “For by grace you have been saved by faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8
 

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8th October 2017 - The Seasons of Life - Loss

October 8, 2017

The writer of Ecclesiastes says - "Sometimes something useless happens on earth. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people."  (Ecclesiastes 8:14)  We don’t always get what we think we deserve in life.
 
Life is full of losses. And it's sobering when we realise that nothing around us is permanent. We will go through times of tragedy and seasons of grief and loss.  We can lose our finances, our job, our health, our relationships, and one thing that is inevitable for all of us; people we love will die.
 
The Bible gives us some clues about how we might approach a season of loss.  They include:

  • releasing our grief to God

  • letting others help us

  • refusing to be bitter

  • remembering what’s important, and

  • relying on God

 
May God hold you in your times of loss.

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1st of October 2017 - The Season of Self-Doubt

October 2, 2017

Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul said - "I came to you in weakness - timid and trembling" (1 Corinthians 2:3).  Even Paul, apparently, had times of self-doubt.  It’s a season of life, which we will all face at one time, or another. 
 
Later on, Paul tells Timothy how he faces such times - "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)
 
We can listen to our doubts, try to ignore or contradict our doubts or respond to our doubts in a faithful and helpful way.  Paul identifies some of our doubts and tells us how we can respond -
we are influential >   set an example
we are inadequate > depend on God
we are invaluable > use God’s gifts
we are incomplete >  grow

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24th September 2017 - SEASONS OF LIFE - LONELINESS

September 24, 2017

In the beginning God says - "It's not good for man to be alone"  (Genesis 2:18)
 
All of us will face seasons of loneliness.
In 2 Timothy 4, we have the last words the Apostle Paul ever wrote. 
The last book, the last chapter, the last words.
He's dying, in prison, in Rome. 
He's about to be executed by Nero, the Caesar. 
All of his friends have left him. 
He's struggling with loneliness. 
 
Paul’s story reveals 4 common causes of loneliness -
life transitions,
separations,
opposition, and
rejection. 
 
Paul faces this season in his life by -
utilising his time,
minimising his hurt,
recognising God’s presence, and
emphasising other’s needs.
 
May God help us to do the same.

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17th September 2017 - GROWING - IN THE SEASONS OF LIFE

September 17, 2017

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says - "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." 
 
Growing in our faith doesn’t happen in isolation, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  We exercise faith, we put it into practise and we grow in our faith, all as part of the lives we live each day.  Ecclesiastes reminds us that we experience our lives, and we practice our faith, in seasons.
 
It’s true of the natural world that growth depends on seasonal changes.  And the same is true in our lives that we have to go through various seasons in order to mature and grow.  Those seasons are beyond our control, they’re sometimes confusing, and they include both good and bad times.  We sometimes experience them like times of “planting” and “harvesting”.  Looking back on our lives, each season seems to have had its purpose.
 
Each season of life is, in God’s purpose, an opportunity to learn, focus, enjoy and help others.  May God bless you in this season of your life.     
 

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10th September 2017 - WORSHIP - A WAY TO BE

September 10, 2017

“The One who sent Me stays with Me.  He doesn’t abandon Me.  He sees how much joy I take in pleasing Him. When He put it in these terms, many people decided to believe.”  John 8:29-30
 
“How shall we worship?” - it’s a misleading question.  Because worship is more than certain religious behaviours and practices.  It’s more than singing.  It’s more than being at church.  It’s more than a ‘spiritual’ feeling.  It’s more than a compartment of our lives.  Worship isn’t situational, it’s relational.  Worship isn’t a way to act, it’s a way to be. 
 
Worship is our life. And just as it was true for Jesus, it’s true for us that we can have a great joy in living lives of worship, lives that are ‘pleasing’ to God.

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3rd September 2017 - WORSHIP WHEN IT DOESN’T ALWAYS MAKE SENSE

September 3, 2017

“Therefore I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies, as living sacrifices, wholly and pleasing to God.  This is your spiritual act of worship.”  Romans 12:1
 
Worship isn’t limited to singing.  Worship isn’t limited to the time we’re in church each week.  How we live our lives is an act of worship.  When It comes to our worship, the question isn’t “how was church” (the music, the message, the people or the parking), but “how was my worship” (did something come alive in me, that makes me want to know God in a more intimate way?)
 
We can enhance our “spiritual act of worship” as we focus less on ourselves (quieten ourselves, look to God’s word and the Spirit’s nourishment in our lives) and prioritise God (rejoice and marvel at the things of God).
 

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27th August 2017 - HOW TO BE AN E(CELLENT) DAD

August 27, 2017

None of all life’s challenging assignments is greater than parenting. Nothing else comes close to demanding the energy required for this role. It’s not an accident that we call its beginning “labour”! No matter what we expect in the beginning, we soon realise our theories were wrong.

As parents, God asks us to:

(1) prepare our kids for life;

(2) protect our kids in life’s storms;

(3) play with our kids for fun; and

(4) point our kids to God.

The problem is, about the time we’ve got it figured out, they’re gone. Parenting doesn’t last that long. The truth is we only have a brief window of opportunity.  May God bless all our dads today.

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20th August 2017 - WORSHIP WHEN WE’RE WOUNDED

August 20, 2017

If worship is an “all of life” experience, then how do we worship when we’re feeling wounded; 
because every one of us gets wounded in life. Not just physically, but emotionally, spiritually and relationally.  In fact, those can be the deeper wounds. 
 
Often, we don’t remember the physical bumps, bruises and scars we got growing up but we surely remember the put-downs.  We remember what was said to us by teachers, friends, even our parents.  Things like - “you’re not going to amount to anything …, or you’re no good …”  Those wounds stick with us.
 
Whatever the wound - emotional, relational or spiritual and whatever it’s source - a person or a circumstance, worship is the antidote. 
 
In worship we can grieve and still honour God.  We can ask God for strength and wisdom and join with others for support.  And we can persist.  Our “keeping on keeping on” is an act of worship.  

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13th August 2017 - WORSHIP INSTEAD OF WORRY

August 13, 2017

“Don’t worry about anything.  Instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.”  Philippians 4:6-7
 
Have you ever had one of those days when just nothing goes right?  It seemed like every single thing in your life that day just goes wrong and you think - “I’m just going back to bed!” 
 
When we do, when we feel overwhelmed, when we’re stressed out, when we’re at the end of the rope, then we’ve got two alternatives.  Worry or worship.  We’re going to do one or the other. 
 
The antidote to panic is prayer and praise.  God’s antidote to worry and anxiety is worship.
Worship which …
asks for God’s help,
believes in God’s purposeful presence,
confesses our inadequacy,
depends on God,
gives thanks to God, and
finds God blessing our circumstances.   

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