It is early as I write this. All is quiet. It is about 4.30am. Very soon, I will head off and go and speak at our Sunrise service at 6am, then head back to Church for our two morning services. Our Sunrise service is held down at North Wollongong Beach. As I look outside, it looks like it is going to be a great day.
My mind stops and ponders…What day is it I ask myself?
It is Sunday the 1st April…but not just any Sunday.
It is Sunday the 1st April…yes, I think I just wrote that, but it is also my son James birthday. He is 33 years old today. I am reminded that this is the age of Jesus in his last year.
It is Sunday, oh and it is the 1st April…April Fools Day they call it. No doubt there will be many practical jokes played on people today.
But yes it is Sunday, the 1st of April. It is Easter Sunday. This is the day that millions will stop and echo the words He Is Risen. This is the day that makes senses of Good Friday. This is the day, that our salvation was secured. This is the day that changed everything.
While I too will join others in saying He is Risen and the response will be He is Risen indeed. I notice in John 20:26-29, when Thomas saw the risen Christ this was not his response. Instead, he said, “My Lord and My God”.
So today, go well, enjoy your Easter weekend, but remember just one thing. He or she is no fool who believes in the risen Christ.
Yes…he is risen and yes the world has never been the same since.
Today’s readings are Isaiah 11 and Acts 16:16-40.
A week after the passing of Billy Graham, there is little doubt that the question that has been asked by the jailer after he had witness the miracle of the jail doors being open (v26) is a question s that I wished more people would ask.
We read, that at about midnight when both Paul and Silas were praying and singing (vs25-28) and the doors were open wide, such shock struck the jailer that he was prepared to kill himself as he feared the prisoners had escaped. Thankfully there was time for Paul to tell him not to fear as they were all still there. The jailer then called for the lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. We read at that point that “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs what must I do to be saved?”
I am not even sure hat the great Billy Graham could have done better. In fact I am sure he couldn’t. But I am also confident that he would have responded in the same way. Simple and direct, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household” (v31). Such a question and such a wonderful response that brought a man and his household into faith in Jesus Christ.
In fact as you read these verses you actually discover that the converts from Philippi were a business man, a slave girl in bondage to an evil spirit and a Roman jailer. Here we see first hand the reality of a new community in Christ being established. Where there were no divisions over race, class or creed.
Today remember that Christ breaks down barriers that separate us and creates a new community for us.
May his name always be praised.
p.s. Thanks Jane for your fellowship in Christ.
Todays’ readings are Joshua 13-17 and Luke 24:1-12.
So here we are, at the last chapter of Luke’s gospel. So much has been said by Luke, so many things have happened. And what can be said of the one who is centre stage in this gospel? In fact in all the gospels…Jesus.
Here we are presented with the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus. Evidence before us of all the fulfilling of the promises that have been made. As we read in 2 Cor. 1:20…”for no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ”. Yet, even the disciples were shocked by all that had happened. They certainly had their doubts…”while they were wondering about this” (v4). and they had to work hard to overcome these doubts. What were they to make of what they were seeing and hearing. Makes you wonder what we would have made of the same events?
However, and the very thing that we must keep at the forefront of our minds by every generation and that is that God’s plans were not derailed by what they saw but in fact fulfilled by what they saw. I love the comment that “the resurrection was not created by the church but the church was created by the resurrection.” So true.
It has been said time and time again that the women were more responsive than the disciples. This should never be forgotten as it validates the resurrection, as the disciples themselves, thought “their words to them seemed like nonsense” (v11).
What is interesting to me is that the disciples would have had some experience of miracles, yet on this occasion they had to be persuaded. Their initial response is typical of our own world today.
Let us be honest the resurrection is often a had doctrine to understand, so we should always show patience and kindness as we hold out the hope of such a resurrection. Remember no change can happen without the spirit working in the lives of others.
Today, ask the spirit to work in the life of someone you are close to and then be courageous as you speak to them.
Blessings from Ian B.
Our readings are from Joshua and Luke.
In both chapters 5 and 6 of Joshua there is much to occupy ones mind. For me, I am captured like the Amorites by chapter 6:20-23. What stands out for me is the amount of time God gave the Canaanites to repent. While he did indeed punish them he also gave them ample time to repent. However, as a result of their rebellion God was going to bring in Israel as one writer puts it as “His executioner”.
The lack of repentance would result in devastation for the city, “They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed every living thing in it, men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” (6:21). Things could have been so different. The case of Rahab the prostitute in v 23 is evidence of this. Any Canaanite could have saved his or her life by sincerely accepting God’s will and repenting from their past actions.
One thing that is worth reflecting on is, “Why did God seem to go beyond the normal actions required of any conquering nation?” (see Deut. 20:10-18). Could it be considered that the destroying of everything that could be destroyed was actually “overkill?”. Yes. However, we would then have forgotten that this was not a “normal” situation. This action did go beyond the normal, to show that Israel were not just common plunderers but were in fact acting as God’s hand of judgement.
Yes as we read on 6:27, “The Lord as with Joshua”, but even then, to try and picture in my head the actual situation is quite hard. It must have been awful for the inhabitants of Jericho. The marching, the wailing of ram’s horns, the falling if the walls and much much more.
God was calling a people and a city to account. Their time was up. One even feels the weight of this in reading Luke 22:24-38.
So today, give thanks that God has not called time yet on our own rebellion and maybe we still have time to turn back to him with our whole hearts.
We have arrived.
My wife and I will start the day, with a quick prayer, all the kids will call us. We will say hi to our grandchildren before I leave home around 7.15am to attend the first of our service for Christmas Day.
I will get ready as I prepare my mind and heart ready to speak to those who gather. I will put on one of my favourite Christmas Carols as I drive to church. O Come O Come Emmanuel or O Holy Night often does the trick to get me thinking.
As I drive to church, I still find it hard to believe that another Christmas is here and it won’t be long before it is night and the day has come and gone. This year I am praying that it goes really slow. Why you ask? Thanks for being so kind to enquire. In two days time I will conduct the funeral service for my sister-in-law who passed away just before Christmas. I have known her since I was a pimple faced teenager. It will be a tough day. In fact this Christmas Day will be tough for my whole family.
Yet, I can make sense of the bible when it says “I bring you good news of great joy…Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Even in the midst of sadness, I can still find the ability to rejoice at such news. Not only do I know this truth but so did my sister-in-law. Christ’s arrival was for her, for me and for all people (Luke 2:10).
In a very real sense, no matter how you will spend this day, Jesus story is our story. It is a story told to us and for us. It is a story that arrives in this world at the right time and with all the challenges that we find ourselves experiencing on a daily basis.
Christmas is about Jesus and it is about us. This day is a reminder us that we are in need of saving. Thank God he sent us a saviour.
Merry Christmas to all our readers.
Nearly there. Just one more sleep.
Been busy have you! Same here. Tired are you? Likewise! Just one more sleep, you are thinking and then as soon as Christmas Day has come and gone, I can get back to normal. Of course it may just depend on what is normal for you when you are not experiencing the rush of Christmas.
Can I ask, what thoughts do you have the day or night before Christmas? What occupies your mind? The year that has nearly past? Will the presents you have purchased make the person happy and thankful. Or is it more, I can’t wait for 2018 to arrive.
What abut God? What images of him or Jesus comes to mind the day or night before Christmas? For me this year it is from Luke 2:7, “…because there was no room for them in the inn”. The creator of the universe is just about to be born in a stable. Wow. So familiar, yet no doubt we don’t give it too much attention. Why? Because it is just like any other fact about the birth of Jesus. We see so many skits at this time of year, especially with our children or grandchildren, with stables, inns, cows…you name it, we know what happens. No room, indeed. I think most of the time I am better at being busy than allowing the simple facts of Christmas to penetrate my soul.
I wonder if I could ask you somehow, before this day ends, to just spend a moment thinking about what it must have been like the day or night before that first Christmas. And before this day ends, ask yourself, “Have you allowed Jesus enough room in your life to enter in?”
If not, do not worry, 2018 is just around the corner.
From pastor Ian.
Today’s readings are Hosea 14 and Luke 12:35-48.
No matter what is said by me today, the words from Luke 12:48 speak so powerfully to us all. “…From everyone who has been given much, much more will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked“. There can be little hiding from the simple fact that Jesus, in highlighting the master in the story that he tells, wants us to see and feel that if a servant knows the will of the master but ignores his will he will, then he will be held accountable. Therefore, a disciple who has acquired much learning and insight over time, should when the master returns, be expected to be judged on what they did with what they knew.
This also goes for the disciples in being watchful as they wait for the return of their master from a wedding banquet. They, like us have no idea when he will return, but whenever he does they will be glad that they were watching.
The need to be ready and waiting in anticipation actually goes hand in hand with what we know of the Lord and his return. We do not know the hour or the day, but just like a thief who breaks into the house when the owner least expects it, we too need to be ready for the return of the son of man as he too will come suddenly and will either see us ready or unprepared.
Teacher and leaders of churches know that we need to be ready, but we also know that we should teach others to be ready as well. As I write this it occurs to me that the Lord could come back tonight or tomorrow. However, if he does not it remains still a relevant truth that we must anticipate it and remain alert for his eventual return.
May Christmas remind us all of his first coming and prepare for his second.
Blessings from Pastor Ian