Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

Living on God’s earth (1)

Bible Readings

  • Genesis 1:26-2:3
  • Psalm 8
  • Romans 8:18-25

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

During our time away over Christmas, I made a point of it to have a date with our grandchildren.  I took them for a milkshake.  Discussions ranged from every-day topics to the progress in their education. NSW experienced a few sweltering days, and just to be mischievous, I threw in a few questions about what they know about climate change.  I was amazed to discover that for them, everything they hear through the mass media is actually what they are taught in schools as absolute fact beyond doubt.

At that point, I decided to prepare a few sermons on the Christian worldview about creation and living on God’s earth.  

How do we as Christians understand what is going on around us?  What is our role as human beings being placed on earth?  Are we perhaps running out of resources to live meaningfully?  Is the world overpopulated? Is there reason to be stressed and go into panic mode about these issues?  What are the do’s and don’ts?  How do we understand the calls for caring for our environment?  Is there any direction in the Scriptures about these issues?

In the sermon for today I will not endeavour to give exhaustive answers;  in the following week or two, we might go there.  But today we will look at some basic principles of the Biblical worldview.

Worldview 

What is a “worldview”?  In short, it provides us with guideposts to understand and interpret the world we live in.  We might ask questions like, “Where does the world come from?”, “Where do we as humans beings come from?”, “What is our purpose on earth?”  “What is the future of the world?”,  “Where will all of this end?” This is not a comprehensive list we as Christians may ask, but let’s stick with it for the moment.

The Marxist has a different worldview, and the atheist holds to a different worldview.  In our day environmentalists have a different worldview.  They will answer these questions differently, and they might even ask completely different questions. Each worldview represents a different angle, depending on a different belief or philosophical system.  But are they correct?

But what is the Biblical worldview?

God, the creator

We take the Bible seriously when it declares: 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, ESV)

Who does not take the very first verse in the Bible seriously, undermines the authority of the Scriptures, and logically forfeits the right to believe anything in the rest of the Bible says as worthwhile to believe in.  

Out of nothing God created the universe and everything in it.  He created the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the sea, every living creature on the earth and under the earth.  He created everything according to their kind, which means that plants since the beginning of time were plants, animals were from the beginning animals,   insects from the beginning were insects, and human beings were from the beginning human beings.  Evolution between the different kinds never happened, but evolution within species meant that, for example, dogs with the genetic material already available within the original pair of male and female dogs, could rearrange itself to adapt to different environmental demands.   

Man as God’s representative

Mankind was created to be different from the animal kingdom.  God created man and female and He Himself put his breath into them, something not attributed to the rest of what God created.  We read:  

then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7, ESV)

Adam and Eve were the first human begins, and they were directly created by God.  Of them the Bible says more in detail:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26, ESV)

The purpose God had with Adam and Eve and their offspring was to represent Him and to have dominion over the rest He had created.  God gave them a special blessing for this task:  

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28, ESV)

God created everything within the space of six days.  Then we read this statement:  

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31, ESV)

What do we deduce from this? 

  • This world belongs to God who created everything according to plan.
  • God gave everything needed for his creation to reach its fullest potential 
  • What God created is for his glory.
  • Mankind was created in the image of God, as God’s representative to act as stewards over God’s creation.  Mankind is separate from other created things.
  • Mankind is called to have dominion over all other created things.
  • Nothing you and I see, perceive, touch or possess belongs to us.  This world is God’s dominion.
  • Mankind has a responsibility to care for creation.  We will be held accountable for the way in which we stewarded what belongs to God.
  • To have children and populate the world is a command from God who will provide what we need for as long as we live under the Headship of God.

Man as under-creator

There is something else we need to keep in mind:  When God finished creating, He rested.  His rest means that He did not create any further.  It does not say that God withdrew from creation as He was only involved in what He created for six days and then in some way became absent from what He created.  When God rested, He made everything which man needed to live to the glory of God, and in principle, He provided all the raw materials required by mankind to be his representatives.  He even made it possible for Adam and Eve to have children.  In this sense then can we say that God made man his “under-creator”.  

To be extremely blunt we can say that God never built a house, but he provided man with the raw materials and the know-how to build a house.  God never build a power station, but He created the world with all the potential, and man with the intellectual expertise to build a power station.  As man developed his skills and employed the God-given raw-materials, he exercised his dominion of creation as God indented.  

God planted into Adam and Eve an affection and love for one another to have communion out of which they (in a limited sense) then became the creators of Cain and Abel.  They did so because they received from God their breath—which is life—to pass on to their children.  But Adam and Eve did not have the potential to become more than human beings.  They could never become God, although the serpent trapped them into the idea that they could be like God!

This aspect of being under-creators and having children according to God’s plan within the relationship of marriage is critical.  The abuse of sex for own pleasure, or for any other desire or purpose, distorts God’s design for man to be under-creators, and instead of the intimacy between husband and wife, sexual relationships become a curse and the original blessings are removed.

Therefore same-sex marriage carries with it the curse of no procreation.  Sexual relationships of any kind, be it of the heterosexual or homosexual kind, outside of God ordained marriage is an aberration of God’s design and instead of children considered being a blessing from God, they are found to be a curse which has to be aborted. Sexual desire then become an instrument to satisfy sinful man and stand opposed to a God-given gift to glorify his name.

Fallen man

Our biblical worldview prevents us from glorifying man.  The Bible is clear that man fell into sin.  The consequences are devastating.  Instead of living in a world which was created “good indeed”, man faced a world which became his enemy.  Every effort of mankind to have dominion over creation became a struggle against pests, drought, pain, sickness, floods, natural disasters, etc.  

“… cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17–19, ESV)

Instead of childbirth being a joy right from the beginning, God said:  

To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16, NKJV)

The word in Romans 8: 

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20–21, ESV)

I buried my puppy that had a brain tumour.  I cried my heart out for the little fellow in full knowledge that he was part of this creation which was subjected to bondage, not because he committed sin, but because my sin caused his suffering and death.

Paul in Romans 1 writes of the result of sin:  

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18, NKJV)

What is this unrighteousness and ungodliness of men?  

… although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21–23, NKJV)

 Sin brought disruption between God and man:  God is holy and man is not!  Sin brought death.  The first person born to man became the murderer of the second:  Cain killed Abel.  

Conclusion

In part then, this is our Christian worldview.  In weeks to come, we will elaborate on it and also contrast it with other worldviews.

But there is something which gives sinful mankind hope.  This hope is in the Second Adam, Jesus Christ the Son of God, our Saviour.  The Bible teaches us:  

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15–17, ESV)

Our worldview includes underserved grace in Jesus Christ.  And he who trusts Christ for salvation his this hope:  

…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.(Romans 8:23, ESV)

Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 6 January 2019.

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Heavenly-shaped community

Bible Readings

  • Romans 12:9-21
  • 1 Peter 4:7-11

Introduction

My dear brothers and sisters,

Some 24 years ago the Lord led our family to leave our homeland and migrate to Australia. The buzzword for migrants was “culture shock”.  

Initially living in a different culture was somewhat interesting.  People expect you to be different, and quite frankly, we expected others to be different.  People went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and we tried our hardest to introduce them to South African food, customs and expressions.

After the first year or so things change.  The locals expect of us to assimilate and stop being different, and the migrants find it hard to interpret local customs and every day expressions.  That’s when culture shock comes in. It is easy for migrants to measure everything by their past and never become part of the culture of their new country.  If they don’t they are always referred to as foreigners.

Something of this dynamic applies to Christians and the conduct living in this world, but something of quite the opposite should be strived for: we are forever foreigners, but we need forever to win people in Christ for the Kingdom of God.

Our study of 1 Peter up to the reading of chapter 4 taught us about our heavenly citizenship, our rebirth by the Spirit of God, our status as aliens in this world—being built into the spiritual temple.  Remember this verse.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his [God’s] own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9–10, NET)

Back to the future

The paragraph we will study together today, 1Peter 4:7-11, in some way, looks back from the future. The gist of what Peter brings across is that the church, redeemed by the completed work of Christ, and having received a new birth by the Holy Spirit to become God’s holy people, should have their community life shaped by their future citizenship.

Christians live today by tomorrow’s standards, which are anchored with Christ in heaven.  Christians are called to have wisdom to influence their surrounding culture with heavenly shaped living. Our task is to serve our King, Jesus Christ, in a world which hates Him. We are called to not love the world, yet our calling includes a calling for compassion upon those who are facing eternity without hope.

In 1957 Nevil Shute wrote a book titled On the beach.  It dramatises an accidental nuclear explosion, with clouds of nuclear radiation drifting from the northern hemisphere down over the southern hemisphere.  Here is a quote from that book:  

There would be time to prepare, time to seek solace in religion, or alcohol, or frenzied sex, or in the thing that one had always wanted to do. To drive a fast, expensive car. To buy some splendid object with one’s life savings. To consume the best bottles of wine from the cellar of one’s club.  

In the end, when the sickness could not be stopped, the government would issue cyanide pills to those who waited, hoping they would not have to use them, knowing they would.

(As quoted by  Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 144). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.)

This is an apt description of the hopelessness of a world without Christ. The end of this world is gulping down a cyanide pill in an effort hasten death without hope.

This is not the view of the Christian.  Our hope is in the eternal sovereignty of God, displayed in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We live our today united with Christ, grounded in eternity.

This is the background for verse 7:

… the culmination of all things is near.

How can we possibly remain focussed, calm, collected and clear-minded when culture and community are crumbling around us?  Let’s get to the next points—and they are connected: prayer, love, service, keeping the glory of God in focus.

So, in what way is the life of the church then shaped by eternity?

Uncluttered minds

If someone knocked on your door to tell you that he saw your house is on fire, panic strikes and clear thinking flies out the back door.  To announce that the end of all things are near, might send panic into the hearts of unbelievers, but believers should react calm and collected.

We might even be alarmed by what is going on in this world and be overcome with fear.  Peter insist that Christians remain collected, single-minded, and mentally prepared.  It is easy to get distracted; it is easy to despairingly throw the arms up into the air over the persecution of Christians, the change in the marriage act, the stupidity about gender fluidity and how it may find it’s way into law; or become flustered about the so-called Safe School program, or the general direction of the United Nations and godless world leaders.

Now is the time that we need to think into the future and act back to the present—because we are seated with Christ in heaven.  We share his victory, and we will see his purposes worked out.  Do you remember our call to worship? 

I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure…’ (Isaiah 46:9–10)

Prayer

The time is near when all things will end. So think clearly and control yourselves so you will be able to pray. (1 Peter 4:7)

At our last assembly meeting our new moderator spurred us on in our task because of the urgency of our time.  He made this remark: the task of the church is not to pray so that we may embark on successful programs; prayer isthe task of the church!  A church which stopped praying can have all the programs they wanted, but it will not come to fruition if their first and foremost task—prayer—is neglected.

Commentators point out that in this paragraph Peter most probably had in mind the last night before our Lord was crucified.  More than once did Christ warned the disciples to not be “troubled”—which is opposite to our word “being sober-minded.” This was in connection with the announcement of Jesus Christ that his time with them is coming to an end.  Later that night they were with Christ in the garden, and repeatedly they could not stay awake to pray.  Jesus said: 

Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. The spirit wants to do what is right, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

I think the apostles looked back on that night with deep regret.  If only they could stay awake and pray with Jesus.  When Peter wrote the letter, the part we read from this morning, he most probably had had more than one experience of being in prayer to Jesus to help him in very difficult circumstances.  

Our bodies are weak and will certainly fall if be prayer we need to resist temptation.  Prayer is our connection with God in the Name of Jesus who overcame death, hell, sin and satan.  Prayer feeds our faith and helps us to be focussed as we trust God.

O, that we would once again rediscover the beauty of prayer, so that we can remain focussed when the waters around us are getting troubled!

Love for the brethren

I sometimes think Christians do not need a destructive force from without, because we can sometimes do a better job ourselves. How sad that we sometimes boast in our assertion that we are Christians, but if left to our own devices, we can easily tear one another apart, and sometimes even enjoy it!

It is only logic that Christians who are united with Christ, who has open heavens gate to now intercede with the Father, for Christians who are filled and guided by the Holy Spirit, would demonstrate in their lives and conduct something of their their heavenly origin.  It is not unreasonable to expect Christians to live together in the church as a community of God’s people, to live together in love.

We’re suppose to not hold grudges one against the other.  Instead, love helps us to act proactively:  we forgive and forget.  That’s what is meant by Peter’s words, “love covers a multitude of sins”. We need to learn to say, “It’s okay. I forgive even before you ask for it.” Love does not keeping harping about wrongs done.  This sort of love covers a multitude of sins.  Self-righteousness on the other hand, keep uncovering things, it always open the wounds, and it always wants to wring out apologies.  Christians don’t do this sort of thing.

John writes, as he too recalls the night on which Jesus stooped down as a servant to wash their feet, giving them the command to love one another—he writes: 

We know we have left death and have come into life because we love each other. Whoever does not love is still dead. Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderers have eternal life in them. (1 John 3:14–15)

Service to build one another up

I remember the exercises in the Army to drill it in that a unit of soldiers is indeed a unit.  There was a thing called “buddy” training. We had to pick and carry a “wounded” soldier and care for a fellow soldier who seemed to be caught up behind the line of fire.  Officers issued us with a backpack with canned food of which the labels were removed, so that we would share with one another, just in case you opened a can of beetroot for breakfast—if you had to rely on your own supply you were stuck, but because you had buddies, you could share. 

For the upbuilding of the church God gave some people different gifts.  We even refer to a preacher as a minister—which only means “servant”. Whatever the God-given gifts may be should be used to mutual upbuilding, and not personal boast; or even worst, to look down on others who do not have the gift we have.  That was the problem of the Corinthian church. Paul took them to the most useful of all gifts:  love!

Something of this must be seen in the life of every church.  Therefore the command to be hospitable.  If my brother or sister in the Lord is in need, my house becomes their house.

It was quite common in those days that itinerant Christians, mainly because they lost their jobs elsewhere, or maybe they were on a journey looking for scattered families, or maybe even as missionaries, travelled far and wide.  There was no money to pay for accomodation, but it was not needed, because the home of a fellow-believer should be open to travellers. It was not the custom in Rome  for unbelievers; for Christians is was the normal thing to do.

Another circumstance arrived:  people became Christians are converting from paganism to followers of Christ.  How would they find shelter in a hostile world?  Go to your fellow brother and sister: they will treat you like Christ did.  What if they can afford it?  God will provide when He demands of us to give which we cannot afford.

The glory of God

We need to tell one another over and over again, each one should keep in mind, we are citizens of heaven.  Whatever we do, we need to do as unto the Lord.  It is always for his glory.

Conclusion

Christ’s community on earth is unique.  It is a community with its foundations in heaven.  It is a community of aliens living in a world which doesn’t understand them.  They are called to shine their light in this world and show practical Christian living, but by doing so, Christians live counter-culturally. When the world seems to be in a mad rush, Christians keep their heads and stay focussed.  Christians live on the oxygen of prayer.  Christians love when others follow their natural instincts and rather live for themselves.  Christians always serve with the upbuilding of all members of the church in mind.  Therefore when the call for hospitality presents itself, they open their homes, because they understand what they have, is in any case a gift from God.

Let’s live like that.  Let’s follow God’s command and make the church a slice of heaven for those we come in contact with.  Let’s make God look great in a world without hope.  Amen.

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 8 February 2018

 

Kammerphilharmonie, Cologne visits Hervey Bay

Chamber Philharmonia Cologne 2018

After several successful european tours in 2017 and 2018 the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne (Germany) is coming back to Australia in winter 2018 with a powerful and lovely new programme. 

“Classical music the world over” – this is the motto of the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne. It is irrelevant for our musicians whether they are playing in a little village church, in the open air, in Cologne Cathedral or in the Sydney Opera House – their enthusiasm to play music is the same every time.

The objective is simple – we want to inspire as many people as possible across all generations to enjoy classical music. The popularity of our ensemble is reflected in the fact that the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne gives around 300 concerts a year around the globe and listeners throughout the world look forward to a musical encounter with our exceptionally talented musicians.

The Chamber Philharmonia Cologne was founded in the city whose name they bear: Cologne. The city that is famous throughout the world for its University of Music and its musical and instrumental teaching. Generations of musicians have been trained here for many decades who, in terms of their musicality, are unparalleled around the world. Taking advantage of this pool of talent, a stock of outstanding musicians has accrued that in a changing cast of musicians take our motto across the world. 

Since November 2009, the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne has a very special partner at their side – the Mercedes-Benz Centre in Cologne. As part of a creative cooperation, this world renowned company, via its branch in Cologne, thrilled by our musical concept provides the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne with a comfortable tour bus. It enables our musicians to travel quickly and comfortably to the many varied concert locations. In return, the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne, in close cooperation with the Mercedes-Benz Center Cologne, organises special concerts for the car company’s special customers. The remarkable construction of the Mercedes-Benz Center is transformed in the process into a really top-class concert palace. This results in the smell of new cars mixing with the sounds of classical music. 

The Chamber Philharmonia Cologne is at home all over the world. Our tours regularly take us to New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Great Britain, Ireland and many other countries – and of course to Germany. In this context, the selection of works and soloists takes on a special significance. The multifaceted composition of the ensemble provides every member of the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne with the opportunity to perform as a soloist.

The permanently expanding repertoire of the Chamber Philharmonia Cologne consists primarily of hand-picked pieces. The real appeal of our programme lies in the meeting of popular and unknown works from a wide variety of musical epochs. This sees familiar greats like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Vivaldi in dialogue with works from people such as Sergei Prokofieff through to the “King of Tango” Astor Piazzolla. This mix promises great diversity of the very highest order, without us having to preach to the audience in the process. After all, music is for entertainment and not for instruction.

To inspire people across the world to enjoy classical music – that’s what we view as our maxim!

Quite simply:

Classical music the world over!

Prices for tickets for are Adults:

  • $40.00
  • Seniors/Pensioners $35.00,
  • Children/students $30.00.

Tickets will be sold at the door, but may be purchased at Mary Ryans Books, Musicand Coffee, 414B, Esplanade, Torquay (Telephone: 4194 21111)

 

Christians and Industrial relations

Bible Readings

  • Philemon 1
  • 1Peter 2:18-25

Introduction

Our study of Peter’s first letter taught us these things:

Christians are people who once were lost, but:

  • who received a new life from God by grace
  • who come to Christ and honour Him
  • who spiritually sacrifice praise to God
  • who draw from eternal hope to overcome present suffering
  • who now live as aliens 
  • who are now satisfied in Christ, and say “no” to sinful desires
  • who now freely submit to worldly authority for the honour of God
  • who respect worldly authority because kings are under God 
  • who only fear and ultimately obey God as their highest authority

Today

Holiness in the workplace:

  • Christians are always mindful of their salvation in Christ Jesus
  • Christians always follow the example of Christ Jesus
  • Christians always respect those in authority over them
  • Christians demand no right other than what they enjoy in Christ

 Introduction

It is reasonable to think that all politicians, once elected into parliament, would aspire to become a minister of some department, or even become Premier of Prime Minister.  In Australian politics, especially in the current climate, there are two departments considered to be prickly ones:  Industrial Relations and Immigration.  Both departments can prove to be full of land mines; think about dealing with Unions on one hand, and refugees on the other hand.

Our text deals with both:  we are refugees on a working visa, without any right or citizenship; and we find ourselves in the workplace every day, either as employer, or as employee.  The question is, how do Christians live as employers and as employees – sometimes in hostile environments?

Christians belong to Christ

In a seminar I recently attended the question about what the church has to offer to this world was on the table.  The short answer was:  the greatest gift the church of Christ can give to this world is to live like the church of Christ.  if we apply this to the workplace we can sum it up by saying that Christians need to radically live out who they are in Christ in the way they do their work, and in the they they treat their workers.We are Christians because we belong to Christ; our very name connects us to Him who we serve – we slaves of Christ, and we need to seek his glory in anything we do because Christ connected us to Him.  How?

Let’s begin at the end of this chapter, verse 24-25:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24–25)

Verse 25:  We were like lost sheep, going our own way. We faced danger and death and, like the lost sheep, we could not find our home back to God.  We were not born with spiritual compasses to find our way back home.  Delivered out into the snares and pitfalls of our archenemy, the devil, our life was hopeless, without sense and meaning, without future.  Paul puts it this way:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10–18)

But God…

But God … The grace of God in Jesus Christ is this:  Christ bore our sins in his body on the tree – and if we skip a few words in this verse – by his wounds we have been healed.  These words come from Isaiah 53, that wonderful chapter in the Old Testament referring to Christ as the suffering Servant.  When Philip explained to the Ethiopian in his chariot (Acts 8) the meaning of this chapter about the promised Messiah who is Jesus Christ, he was saved.  He was made a new man in Christ.  He became a servant of Christ.  He became a Christian.

This is what happens to every Christian: out of the darkness, as Peter puts it earlier in this chapter, God calls us into his marvellous light.  His call is based on the work of Christ who is the Cornerstone once rejected by the builders.

What now?  No-one walks away from Christ the same way he or she came to Him.  Listen:  “So that we might die to sin and live for righteousness”.  We are united with Christ, we are forgiven and healed, we return to Christ on the calling of God through the Gospel to die to sin – and live for righteousness.  The Bible calls it first of all repentance, and repentance for the Christian never stops – it continues in the daily repentance of sanctification:  to more and more say “no” to the world” and say “yes” to Christ.

With this in mind let’s go to the second point.

Christians need to live like Christ

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21, NIV)

There is not an moment in the life of a Christian that he or she should take his eyes off Christ.  In every situation, under all circumstances, by and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit we must follow Him.  A true disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who walks with Christ and learns from Him.  I find it interesting that Jesus demanded of his disciples to follow HIM, not in the first instance remember his words.  How important that might be to know the Bible, read it and even drill into our memory some verses of the Bible, these things cannot take the place of our complete submission to Christ and to walk with Him.  Listen to John 15:

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4–5)

O, may we as church of the Lord Jesus Christ understand these words – it will make all the difference.  This is exactly what Peter wanted those who read his letter wanted to understand:  Christian living is not memorise and a set of rules; Christian living is to walk in the shadow of Him who healed us by his wounds.  At his command we do, and for his sake we follow his example.

What does all of this to do with the workplace and the way we are good employers and employees?   In short, we need to do as He set the example.

Respect for bosses and labourers

As workers

Submit to your masters in all respect.”  Another way of translating this is “Show your bosses all the respect possible.”

When Peter wrote this letter working as a slave was very common.  Slaves outnumbered free people in cities like Rome. Not all of the slaves were uneducated; in fact many of them had a very fine education, so much so that the majority of the teachers, doctors, and so-called professionals belonged to this class. Can you remember how the old Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey sneered at the young lady teacher, saying that education is of no use to high society for as long as there are people of the lower classes who know how to do arithmetic and can write? 

Slaves had no rights; they were completely owned by their masters, who did with them as they pleased.   And some master were horrible.  The text in 1Peter 2 refers to “crooked” masters; they were unjust and treated the slaves harshly.  

Some of Peter’s readers became Christians after they had been bought as slaves.  If they were free in Christ, and if they now belong to another Kingdom, did that imply that they were free from their masters, even the bad ones?  No, Peter said, take your salvation as Christian into your workplace and live as Christian by the example of Christ, as someone saved from the slavery of sin.

Christians are not called to be Christians only on a Sunday; that’s where we make a big mistake.  The way we do our work every day is in itself an enormous witness.  Paul writes: 

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, (Ephesians 6:5–7)

Colossians 3 puts it this way:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23–24)

The worker on the workshop floor, the mechanic under the oil-dripping car, the office worker trying to make the books balance, the effort of the teacher to instil some knowledge into their students, do what they do for Christ.  Yes, our trustworthiness, punctuality, honesty, integrity, self-control, endurance, kindness, patience, goodness, joy, and reliability are things that adorn our message of Christ.  Not all kind and loving people are Christians, but Christians surely are kind, trustworthy and honest. We need to do what we do very well; if we did, talking about Christ becomes so much easier.  If the attitude of Christ is reflected in our everyday work, then there is something of a holiness in the workplace.  Even if it means that we take it on the chin when we are treated badly – because this says our text, is what our Lord did, and have have to emulate the attitude of our Lord.

As employers

Not all of us work for someone – we have people working for us.   We don’t always have paid employees, but there might those who come into our homes who are employees who deliver services to us — they might be cleaners, people doing the ironing, or shower those who can’t do it themselves anymore, other may cook or deliver meals.  

Our text in 1 Peter does not deal with it directly, so I am not going to elaborate on the subject, other to mention what Paul writes to Philemon:  A slave-worker who became a Christian – and all Christian employers should pray for, and work towards the salvation of their employees just we need to pray for those delivering the services into our homes: Paul says a Christian worker is better than a slave, he is a dear brother.  If they are not there yet, treat them as Christ would have in love and respect. Pay their wages or their services on time, and don’t expect more of them than what you would do if you were in their shoes. Always remember your Saviour and display your salvation by your care for those in your employment. 

One “right” – my standing in Christ

I think we would understand the Bible wrongly if we think it endorses the practice of slavery – especially as it was practiced in the time of the Roman Empire.  What the apostles wanted the new Christians to understand very clearly, is that they did not become Christians to overthrow all laws and customs.  Surely the outcome of their testimony and the way they practiced their walk in the Lord did call for better work practices, and rightly so did Christians take the lead in the abolition of slavery, while the rest of the world clung to it purely to exploit their labourers.

So, ultimately, for the Christian at least, we do not claim as absolute standard and rule our rights under present governments.  My worth does not lie in my rights; my worth lies in my standing before God who called me to be his own through Jesus Christ who took my sin upon Him.  Therefore, in some cases Christians might work the extra hour or two without pay; they might need to take it when they are not treated according to the standards of this world.  Christians take into consideration that those who deliver services are human beings with every-day needs;  for example, they might not be as good one day as the rest, just because a loved one lies sick in hospital, or they just experience a bad hair day.  They way we can accomodate that as Christians will go a long way to support our testimony that we want to be like Christ to them.  

Christians should always approach their labour as service, first of all to God:  it is He who enabled us to work and to earn a living.  If things are going hopelessly wrong for Christians in the workplace, their first port of call is not industrial action, but a bended knee before the Saviour.

Amen.

Summary

  • Christians are always mindful of their salvation in Christ Jesus
  • Christians always follow the example of Christ Jesus
  • Christians always respect those in authority over them
  • Christians demand no right other than what they enjoy in Christ

Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 3 June 2018

What do we make of Christ’s death? (Crucifixion Day)

Bible Readings

  • John 18:1-11
  • Luke 23:26-49

Introduction

My dear brother and sister in Jesus Christ,

Our Lord once said,

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2–3, NIV)

In another place our Lord said, praying to his Father,

I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. (Matthew 11:25, NIV)

The reason why I quoted these verses is to stress the point that trust and faith, although based on true knowledge, demands humility.  It does not require intelligence; cleverness harbours arrogance and pride.  What the mind rejects as implausible there is no room in the heart for trust.

Christians cannot defend God and Christ, as if He needs our endorsement before others will believe in Him.

To come to God in faith is to trust that, how He revealed Himself in Scripture, is the truth and worthy of trusting because our lives depend on it.

So, can we believe Jesus? What is of crucial importance is that we understand that all of Christ’s life and teaching on earth was God’s revelation of Himself.

What Christ taught was and is crucial, how He lived was crucially important too, but what about his death? Was his death any different than the death of any leader of other religions?

Was Christ’s death separated from who He was and what He taught all his life, or was his death the culmination of his teaching of who He was and what his mission was?  My death will not necessarily have any meaning; flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.  I will die because it is destined for children of Adam to return to dust. But it was different with Christ.  So, what set the death of Christ apart from all who died before and after Him?

Put it in other words:  does the death of Christ back up his life and teaching?  It it doesn’t, we are gathered here for no particular reason.  The opposite demands our attention:  if his death indeed was the culmination of his earthly ministry, all gathered here today are left before a choice: reject the truth of the Gospel, or live by the truth of the Gospel.

The ministry of Christ did not happen in a vacuum

Skeptics may look at the life of Christ without the wider context of his ministry.  His birth of a virgin, his claims, his teachings, his life and indeed his death happens without context.  He then is purely a human being who made the most preposterous and farcical claims which no intelligent person can believe in.  He then recklessly and senselessly ventured into territory where no one in his right mind would dream to tread:  who would take on the Roman Empire and claim to be King?  Who would dare stand before the Jewish Council and claim to be the Son of Man?  Who would overturn the tables in the temple and in bright daylight declare the He would rebuild the temple in three days.  Is his death not a logical consequence of repeated stubbornness and foolishness?

But Christ’s ministry did not happen in a vacuum.  It is only when we understand God’s power to create out of nothing and his claim on all creation, his righteousness, his sovereignty, his holiness, his judgment, his grace, his love for lost sinners, the fall of mankind into sin, God’s promise to restore and rescue and renew what is fallen, that we will understand anything of the ministry, teaching and death of Christ.

All the main historical markers of fallen mankind pointed forward to God’s gracious work of restoration.  God’s promises to Abraham was ultimately fulfilled in Christ. When God rescued his people from slavery it pointed to the ultimate rescue work of Christ.  Moses was a type of Christ, but where he failed Christ succeeded.  The Promised Land of Israel was a precursor to the eternal rest of heaven made possible by Christ.

Aaron, the High Priest, brought sacrifices in the form of sacrificial animals, which pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, after which neither more sacrifices, nor any High Priest would be needed.

David was a type of Christ, but Christ was the ultimate fulfilment of all kings who would lead the people to the celestial Promised Land.

The ministry of Jesus indeed did not happen without context.  Therefore his life and death did not happen without context.  The context gives it meaning.  So what do we make of the death of Christ?

Christ, the Priest mediating the grace of God

One of the major tasks of a priest was to make intercession for the people.  Not only did they stood with the blood of the sacrificial animal before God, they pleaded before God on behalf of the people.  The very fact that the breastplate of the High Priest had the names of all the tribes on it meant that he stood in the presence of God on their behalf.

Priests were the mediators of God’s covenant.

What did Jesus do?  Listen to this verse in John 18:8, Jesus answered,

If you are looking for Me, then let these men go. (John 18:8, NIV)

All along in his teaching an ministry prepared his disciples that He would be handed over to be killed. But He more specifically spelled it out in John 10,

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17–18, NIV)

Did not the curtain of the Most Holy tear from top to bottom when the ultimate High Priest cried out, “It is finished!”

The death of Christ backed up his teaching are his life.  He did not come to be served, but to serve.  He came to seek and save the lost.  And the reason why He was willing to do it is, firstly, because God loved the world and wanted to save sinners; secondly, sinners could not save themselves, not even the blood of bulls and heifers could make permanent atonement.

If you are looking for Me, then let these men go.

Can you hear the grace of Christ who deliberately stood firm and demanded that those He would die for would not die with Him, but go free?

“Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11, NIV)

This was the lonely road of the lamb led to be slaughtered.

And then, with the nails through his hand and feet, raised between two crooks, our Lord prayed,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV)

This is the prayer of a High Priest!  And why would his Father listen?  Because his Son was without sin, the Lamb without blemish. It even came from the mouth of Pilate,

Look, I am bringing Him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against Him.” (John 19:4, NIV)

And the centurion at the foot of the cross praised God and said,

“Surely this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:47, NIV)

And the one crook made the point:  He is innocent, we are not.  He does not deserve this death, we do!

As priest Christ mediated the grace of God.

What do we make of his death?  First and foremost:  He died in our place.  He surely could, because He was both sacrifice and High Priest. No one else could!  Therefore there is salvation in no other. If He did not die, we must die.  We must have obedient trust and faith in Him.

Christ, the king executing the grace of God

Although the soldiers mocked Him by clothing Him with a purple robe and gave Him a crown of thorns, Jesus instead that He was King.  “Are You the King of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say.”

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:36–37, NIV)

With a stubborn will unwilling and unable to see what Christ is teaching in this last moments of his life, Pilate mockingly presented Jesus to the crowd, “Here is your king! Shall I crucify your king?” Not wanting to be on the wrong side of the Caesar, Pilate handed Him over to be crucified.

Like Caiaphas in John 11, who had no idea that he had been arrested by God when he made an enormous prophecy about Christ when he said it is better for one man to die than the whole nation perish (John 11:49-53), Pilate unwittingly did the same.  In three languages, clear to read for all by-passers who came to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast from different parts of the world, he had the sign put on the cross.  “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”  In his eyes it was probably nothing more than a mockery, but it was still true.  He was and is indeed King!

Does a King die in agony being the ridicule of the world.  “If He is King, if indeed He is the Son of God, let He rescue Himself and get off the cross.”

Yes He is king, but He is at the same time High Priest and sacrifice.  It was precisely because He was King that He had to die;  all others would fail in miserable weakness.  By dying he would overcome death and Satan.

As King Christ executed the grace of God.

The claims He made during his earthly ministry were backed up by his death on the cross.  To be included into his kingdom is to believe that He is indeed who He claimed to be.

Christ, the prophet proclaiming the grace of God

When the King with outstretched arms on the cross gave Himself, He interceded for the lost, “Father, forgive them.

One of the crooks heard Him pray and asked to be remembered.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NIV)

 On what grounds could Jesus give this promise?  The only possible answer is that He reopened Paradise as King, that He as priest atoned for the sin of the children of Adam, and that He was the ultimate prophet who had the authority to make a prophesy like it.  The crook believed and entered paradise with our Lord.

As prophet Christ proclaimed the grace of God.

Conclusion

What do we make of the death of Christ?  His death was the culmination of God’s mercy towards sinners, the prophecies of the Old Testament, and his promises made true in Christ Jesus.  What Christ claimed during his ministry came to its fullest conclusion when He gave Himself to die in our place.

Amazing love, o what sacrifice, the Son of God given for me

My debt He pays and my death He dies that I might live.

Sermon preached by Red D. Rudi Schwartz on Friday 30 March 2014 (Crucifixtion Day) 

 

Christmas – God came to us

“People wish one another a ‘merry’ Christmas and a ‘happy” New Year.  But how can one be really happy?”

“Only God’s mercy in Jesus Christ can make a person really happy.  Human efforts are sure to

disappoint.

That’s why the message of Christmas is so important.

“What is grace? It has always been a bit of airy-fairy mist to me.”

Don’t allow the mist to hide the sunshine from you. God’s grace is not hidden; it is real beyond all other realities.  You can see Him in everything He created; He is also found on every page of the Bible; He came to live with us in Jesus Christ, his Son.  That’s why his name is Immanuel.

“How can I get through the mist into the sunshine.”

God made it simple and clear.  What God wants us to know about Himself, ourselves and salvation is written in the Bible.

“Surely, there must be obstacles on the way to find God!”

In one sense, a thousand; in another, none. Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, and I will give you rest.’  One can go to Him on this invitation; the rest He promises is freely available.

“I’m not sure about that!”

Jesus once said to a seeking sinner, ‘If you would have asked, He would have given the living water?’ (John 4:10).  It was a matter of asking and the Lord would give. The receiving follows the asking.   The whole transaction can be settled on the spot.

“But what about sin? That surely is an obstacle.”

That’s the point; Christ really only saves sinners.

“Is being a sinner, then, no barrier to being saved?”

No.  Being thirsty is no hindrance to drink water. In fact, when you’re thirsty, you need water.

“True, but I am not all that thirsty right now. I can get by for the moment.”

If Christ came for those who were only almost thirsty, it means they can do something for  themselves. But He did not come for DIY self-righteous people. The water is available for those who are thirsty, lost in the desert of life. In any case, halfway sinners don’t exist.

“A complete sinner! Is that really who I am?”

None of us can escape that fact. All of us are sinners; but there is a difference between saved sinn

ers and lost sinners. You don’t need a doctor when you are healthy, do you?

“A complete sinner, wow!  I think I should start living a better life before I can expect grace from God!”

No!  The man stuck in quicksand does not need to brush his hair and wipe the mud off his face to be saved, does he?  Sinful deeds don’t make us sinners: sinfulness causes us sin.  We therefore need a new heart and mind. Christ does not help you to save yourself, nor do you help Him to save you. He does not accept any BYO righteousness.

“Then I must be changed before He will look at me.”

We all deserve God’s wrath to die an eternal death, but Jesus died in our place to take away God’s judgement from us, although He never sinned.

God’s mercy is calling you to follow Him, irrespective of your past or background. Christ came on Christmas as Immanuel—which means ‘God is with us.’

“I still do not believe that I really need his  forgiveness of sins.”

We can’t be judge and jury of our lives.  God is the Judge. He knows there is no person who can claim to be without sin.  It is precisely for this reason that He gave his only Son to rescue sinners from eternal death.

In the settlement of the great question between the sinner and God, there is no bargaining

and no price of any kind other than what God stipulates. The basis of settlement was laid two thousand years ago when Christ paid the complete price. That mighty transaction on the cross did all that was needed to restore our relationship with God.

‘It is finished,’ is God’s message to all sinners. This completed transferred transaction supersedes all man’s efforts to justify himself, or to assist God in justifying him. God in Christ reconciles those who believe in Christ to Himself, not accounting to them their sins; and this non-accounting is based on what Jesus did on the cross on their behalf. There the sinners’ guilt was transferred onto Christ; He took our sin to become God’s Divine Guarantor to receive eternal life as His gift.

This transaction is “good news,”and all who  believe it inherit of all the riches secured by this transaction. At the cross that we meet the forgiving God to receive His mercy. Not only does Christ’s atoning blood cleanse, his righteousness also removes our guilt. God treats us as if Christ’s righteousness is actually ours.

Every person needs salvation, and needs to go to God for it. Every person needs forgiveness; God gives it freely.

This is grace. He loved us, even when we were dead in sins. He loved us, not because we were rich in goodness, but because He was rich in mercy. His welcomes us because of his grace, not because we are loveable.

CHRIST-mas was when God entered into our world with the good tidings of grace.

You ask how you can be happy?  Call on the Name of Christ, and follow Him! Put your trust in Him only.  Receive from Him the assurance that you may from now on live as his child, and also enter eterinty by the merits of

His finished work. Surrender the rights of you life to Him who paid the full price to save you.

“Is this really true? I don’t believe the Bible is the truth!”

I suppose you have read the Bible.  It is very unwise to reject something you know little about.  I beg you not to reject it’s message before you have read it!

SaveSave

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Youth Week Registration Form

Registration form

Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church – Youth Week Program

17  –  20 January 2017

(A form is needed for each child)

 

Name of Parent/Caregiver: _______________________________________________________

 

Contact details: Phone: ___________________ Mobile:  _____________________

 

Address: _______________________________________________

 

Doctor:  ___________________ Phone:  _____________________

 

Name of child: _______________________________________________________

 

Special needs: Allergies:  ______________________________________________

 

Medical condition/s: _____________________________________

 

Physical Restrictions: _____________________________________

 

I (parent/caregiver) _______________________________________  hereby give permission for my child (name above) to attend the Youth Activity Program of the Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church.  I understand that adult supervision will be provided and that all activities will be conducted in accordance with the Child Safe Protocols of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland (as outlined at http://www.pcq.org.au/childsafe.php)

 

Signed: _________________________________ Date:  _____________________________

 

The cost

A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.

(J.C. Ryle, in Holiness)

Be wise (3)

Mind your friends

Scripture Readings

  • 2Timothy 2:14-26;
  • Proverbs 1:10-19

Introduction

Dr Google is for the most part of our society the beginning and the end of knowledge.  So, I find this site to help me select friends.  It says make friends with people like this:

  • People who can never remember when your birthday is.
  • People who can’t stop correcting you
  • People who wait for YOU to make plans (and then almost always cancel).
  • People who never want to do what you want to do.
  • People who never tell you why they’re mad, even though you know they’re so mad.
  • People who can’t be happy for you.
  • People who never ask how YOUR day/weekend/life was.
  • People who make you feel like everything is the worst.
  • People whom you can’t trust as far as you can throw them.

One person in this list one can’t miss is “you” – always in the centre and always the most important. This runs contrary to the Bible where God is in the centre: what I do, and the friends a choose are determined by God’s choice for me.

When one grows up, particularly around our teenage years, friendship is important.  We suddenly discover the importance of being part of a group.  We develop lifestyles which reflect our choice of friendship circle, we choose to dress like the others, wear make-up and hear styles showing that we are “counted in” -and of course there is the ever important idol worship of music artists.

Today, as we look at the Scriptures the message is clear:  mind your friends, or: make sure you pick the right friends.  Friends can be a blessing, but many folks out there are on the ash heap of life because they over-valued friendship and sacrificed which was supposed to be the most important aspect of the life of a Christian:  friendship with God.

The saying goes, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

Pick your friends well

The verse to remember here is:

The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26, NIV)

Right at the beginning of the counsel of the parents in the book of Proverbs, even before they go into life advice about money, business principles, or minding one’s tongue, the teaching of the parents go to picking the right friends.

It begins with, “If they say, come along with us …” This is the language of the gang.

They offer comradeship. They share one purse and have a common circle; they act as a brotherhood. In addition, they promise riches; precious wealth, spoil from their victims, belongs to the fraternity.

They hold out the thrill of possessing and wielding the power of life and death. They lie in wait for the righteous law-abiding citizen; they identify themselves with the power of the grave and the pit. They are sort of hell’s agents, grim reapers who swallow the innocent alive. This excitement and pleasure beguiles and enlivens the band and calls to the youth to join.

I feel for our young people today; I think in some way we grew up in a more innocent age.  Yes, we had our friendship circles, and we did participate in mischief.  Yes, there was the enticement of cigarettes, and yes we raided the orchards of many townsfolk for grapes and peaches.  Even then there was the pressure to give in to the wish of the group.  It was definitely not a cool thing to not be part of the gang.

But there was no drugs, no ice, no internet pornography; surely the enticement to sexual immorality was not as strong.  Add to this the pressure of the group to disregard respect for parents, teachers and law officers.  It was as if parents cared more for their children – when they out, when they will be back and who they are going with.

I think we should pray more for our young people.  We should talk to them about who they should choose to hang out with.

Sure we all know one thing:  once part of a group, one can easily become very silly.  Social group pressure can be enormous.  Just look at how a group of footy supporters act when sitting in the group.  If they sat all be themselves they could easily be seen as well-behaved and civilised; they same group can become monstrous, more so when you add a bit of alcohol to the mix. Don’t give in:

Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26, NIV)

The Bible’s advice is clear this morning:  mind your friends.  Pick your friends well.

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24–25, NIV)

Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble. (Proverbs 24:1–2, NIV)

When you are wise – and you understand that beginning of wisdom is the fear of God – then what rules your choice of friends is not what you want in the first instance, it is surely what they want you to do, how you should act, how you should talk, and what activities you should be involved in – who makes this choice for you is God:  his will is the most important.

Very soon in there walk with God all Christians should learn the Lord’s prayer:  Hallowed by The Name, Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come.  Our example is the One who gave his life so we can indeed call God our Father, Jesus Christ:  that was his prayer, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”  He gave his life so that we can be free from the bondage of sin; He gave his Holy Sprit to bind us to Christ so that we will want to please Him an all we do.

Fact is, the gang cannot deliver on its promises. As birds are ensnared by the invisible net, so the gangsters cannot see the trap they have set for themselves. They lie in wait for their own blood. In the end, the grave swallows them, and the pit takes them.  The so-called freedom they promise through drugs is what in the end will kill them too; the so-called sexual freedom to do with their bodies as they like, in the end get to them in all sorts of physical diseases, not to mention the mental torment some have to live with.  How many women just can’t forget the unborn child they aborted because of their sexual immorality.  There are scores wandering the streets searching for the boy or girl they gave away through substance abuse and promiscuity.  Regret always comes too late!

Real wisdom is to consider end of a thing. To see where a path leads is to discriminate whether it is fit for travel. Consider the end of the gang and be wise. For all its promises, it ultimately cannot deliver anything but death. The voice of peer pressure requires the antidote of wise instruction, wether it comes through friends, or fellow members of your church family.

This does not just apply to the young people in our midst today.  It is for us all.  This wisdom of the Scripture applies to who we take as business partners, who we hang out with socially, who we take that oversees trip with.  it determines what societies and social groups will have my name on their membership roll.

We need to be wise here – we cannot withdraw from this world; we need to have a voice in our society.  The Bible does not forbid us to have an influence in even a bad society.  No, we are called to be the salt and the light in this world.  But we should never be dictated to be the world how we should conduct our lives.  Because the Bible tells us very clearly that same-sex marriages are against his will; we therefore are guided by what God says, not by the world.  But we will surely sound the trumpet for the truth when we called to do so.

We do so because God wants us to be his ambassadors for the truth. There is this verse we need to hold on to in the times we live is.

… if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15, NIV)

Take the message of God’s Word out of society – and that is our duty – and society has nothing to stand upon – truth is robbed of its meaning and replaced man’s idea of truth, which cannot stand the test of time.

The blessing of good friends

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17, NIV)

A real friend is a blessing from God.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NIV)

Your real friends, that is if you call yourself a Christian, should be a fellow Christian – which does not mean that all Christians make good friends, or that unbelievers can’t be good friends – we’ve got a long way to grow in our understanding of what the Bible expects of us as Christians to really love one another.

Your true, real friend will do as proverbs tells us this morning:

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:5–6, NIV)

True friends are not nice – there is no command of the Lord that we should be nice.  Being nice can be extremely dangerous; being nice sometimes evades the truth and dances with falsehood to avoid the boat from rocking.  A true friend tells it like it is: the truth and nothing but the truth.  Let’s be honest, truth hurts and it opens wounds – but that’s what doctors do to make you better.  Always remember, God is more important than friends – his will is supreme.  Love your friend to death, but do not withhold rebuke when necessary.  Listen to the next three verses:

One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. (Proverbs 27:7–9, NIV)

What does it say?  A friend in need is hungry for what is good in the same way a hungry person will eat honey.  A true friends heartfelt love and concern is like a spring of water in a barren desert. Such friends are people we should cherish and hang on to for dear life:

Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbour nearby than a relative far away. (Proverbs 27:10, NIV)

If you are in need a friend nearby is much more precious than a brother far away.  Remember:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)

Some friends will not get it

Of course we need to pour out Christ’s love on those we come in contact with.  We should be ready to give account of the faith that lives within us; we should spread the message of the Gospel to all, irrespective of who they are.  And we should do so with the prayer that God will use our testimony to his glory and to bring the sinner to repentance and life.

But if it doesn’t happen don’t be discouraged.  Keep these verses in mind:

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. (Proverbs 13:1, NIV)

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2, NIV)

Researchers not allowed to talk about the negative effects of abortion

Three women physicians, Donna Harrison, Mary Davenport and Martha Shuping, were invited months ago to give lectures on complications of abortion for the MWIA, the Medical Women’s International Association. Donna Harrison’s presentation demonstrated that nations with laws protective of mothers and unborn babies have excellent maternal mortality statistics. Mary Davenport had a talk about abortion as a risk factor for preterm birth, the cause of 15 million neonatal deaths each year internationally. Martha Shuping had a presentation that included two case reports of women who suffered severe psychological harm from abortion, even though they had obvious risk factors that were not discussed in the informed consent process. These risk factors were actually quoted from an abortion provider textbook endorsed by the National Abortion Federation! This was valuable information for physicians to hear, especially those from developing nations who are under tremendous pressure to legalize abortion due to the false belief that legalized abortion is a panacea for maternal mortality.

About 20 minutes into the interview, the Secretary General of MIWA, a Canadian woman, burst into the room (I kid you not. …and all of this is on camera), and came up to the table and said “What presentation is this? Donna Harrison said “it’s not a presentation”.

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Dr  Mary Davenport
Dr Mary Davenport