Christmas Day 2017

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.

Ian Barnett

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Eve 2017 – Is There Room?

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.

Blessings.

From pastor Ian.

 

 

 

I Know I Should Be Ready

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

 

Apologies to All Past and Present Bloggers

Hi everyone, today’s readings are Hosea 8 and Luke 11:14-28.

However , I just want to take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months of this blog. To the credit of many of our bloggers we have somehow been able to limp nearly to the end  of 2017.

It has been obvious to many, that a number of people, myself being at the top of the list, that we have been very tardy in keeping up with our blogs, for that I personally apologise.

I believe if it was not for the hard work of the many of committed members that this blog would have closed a long time ago. To them I owe them a personal debt of gratitude. Especially to people like James Boswell and Steve Bowden and no doubt many more.

It is my hope and prayer, that if you can extend your forgiveness to the ministry team than I would like to see this blog continue. It has been a long journey but I am not of the opinion that its time has come to an end.

So I hope and pray that you can join me in running well to the end of 2017 and play a role in keeping up our momentum well into 2018 and beyond.

Finally, may God use his words and our words to bring life to his people.

Yours faithfully Ian Barnett

The Journey Of Faith

The passages set down for today are Numbers 28-29 and Luke 6:20-26.

It has been a life time since I have taken time to write a post. The reasons are varied. But it is good to stop and reflect on the words that come from Luke 6. The passage itself has parallels of course to the what is known as the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 to 7. However, even though some may “hate you when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil “ I cannot say that it is because, under the circumstances due to the “Son of Man”. For me it has been more of a case of other priorities.

Because, let’s face it, the challenge that we read from Jesus, is not about what must be done to enter the Kingdom of heaven, but more what is expected of one who is already in the kingdom of heaven. It is clear that as Jesus speaks his words are for his apostles and disciples.

Jesus sermon calls for the implementation of these ideals coming from Isiah 61:1-2.

Though we may be poor and hungry now, we really are rich because the Kingdom of God belongs to us. Likewise though we may weep and men may hate and insult you, there will come a day when we will laugh and receive a reward in heaven.

Finally, the four woes are worth reflecting on as they turn the tables upside down. How others were treated back then is how people can be expected to be treated in the future. Luke in his gospel continues to concern himself with those who truly hunger and others who are truly wealthy. May this be our concern as we live the gospel.

While it is good to be back posting, many thanks goes to all those who have continued to post in my long absence. More to come over the following days.

Ian Barnett

Judging or Discerning

Todays readings are 1 Kings 9 and John 7:1-24.

“Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement”. (John 7:24).

Today, one verse is worthy of some reflection.

Jesus opponents had been judging by mere appearances. Jesus makes the point that they should stop judging and work much harder at making a right assessment. One can refer back to the OT and see many similar parallels in Dt 16:18-19 and Is 11:3-4. Both these passages deal with the  administration of public justice.

However, here Jesus appeal is far more personal. Yes, before you jump to conclusion I am very aware of Matthew 7:1 (Do  not judge, or you to will be judged). This verse forbids judgmentalism but not moral discernment.

In John 7:24 what Jesus s looking for is more moral, ethical and theological discernment. This is not about heresy witch hunting as one writer said. Nor is it about self righteousness either.

If those who were being quick to judge, used the approach of faith, they would be able to quickly discern that Jesus is not a Sabbath breaker, but the one who fulfils both Sabbath and circumcision requirements.

In today’s world, the man or woman on the street has probably become more aware of the call not to judge even more than the great John 3:16 passage. The challenge is, that if we try and be discerning in today’s world, most people are very quick to say stop judging others.

However, we are called to be discerning. Yes and not being quick to judge the actions or motives of others. We are called to make a right judgment abut issues that are presented to us on a daily basis. Look beyond that which we see and think a bit harder on the issues that we do face.

May it be that we seek to grow in wisdom as endeavor to make right judgments.

Pastor Barney

 

 

 

Hello Darkness

Todays readings are Job 34-37 and Acts 14.

Pauls Simon sings, “Hello darkness  my old friend, I have to talk to you again” in his song “The Sound of Silence”. Job while he had never heard this song, probably had the same thought with his friend Elihu.

Chapters 34  to 37 of Job provides many words and many thoughts from Job’s friend. After he finished speaking, the Lord himself will speak and he will have a word or two to say.

As you read the chapters, and I encourage you to do so, I am sure that Elihu’s motives were sincere, but he was way to presumptuous in assuming he had worked out Job’s life. We too can sometimes fall into the same trap. We know someone well, well we think we know someone and we watch their lives and then we believe even with good motives that we can correct their errors and put them back on the right path.

Unfortunately, like so many well meaning messengers of grace, Elihu was so fully convinced of his good intentions that he became insufferably overbearing.

One of the major mistakes Elihu had made was tied in with Job’s view of God’s justice. If God is so unjust, why did Job want to be vindicated by him? It did not make sense. But this was Job’s point to his friend. He wanted to be vindicated by God because God is just. God isn’t indifferent to his people as people are to God.

We always need to remember that God never takes his eyes of the righteous but uses their troubles for disciplinary instruction and to call them to repentance. Time and time again God uses pain and affliction to get people’s attention. But to his credit in Chapter 37, Elihu challenges Job to ponder God’s power of all the elements and over all of life.

That indeed is a good thing for us all to reflect on.

Ian Barnett