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Sunday 3rd September 2017

Please come and join us at 10am this Sunday as celebrate “Dads”. New Zealand has a record of ‘father-hunger’ and many children are growing up fatherless. At age 15, only about 1 in 4 teenagers live with both their biological parents. Most teenagers in New Zealand have experienced multiple changes in household composition. About 1 in 4 children in New Zealand are growing up in single parent families and the majority of those single parents are female. Males are the parent in only about 12% of single parent families. I myself was raised by my widowed mother in a one parent family. Scripture has much to teach us about fathers: there we find men who lived with the pain of childlessness, fathers who were blending multiple parent families, and adoptive fathers. We see warrior fathers who sacrificed their children for their mission, and Dad’s who sacrificed everything for their daughters. There are rule-book Dads like Manoah, delinquent Dads like Eli, wounded fathers like David, and waiting Fathers like the prodigal’s Dad. There are fathers in the faith as spiritual Dads. Above all, we see God, the perfect father, who defines his identity toward us as our Abba Father who is in heaven. Jesus himself was co-parented by a man who was not his biological father. Just as Mary was specially chosen, so was Joseph chosen. He was probably much older than his young wife, and it seems likely that Joseph died before Jesus began his ministry. Certainly Joseph was around when Jesus was missing aged 12 but he doesn’t appear later in the Gospel record. Joseph was a man...

Sunday 20th August 2017

This Sunday we look at forgiveness, 10am kick-off. The Bible says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22b) which alerts us to its cost in terms of sacrifice – but also its importance. In Matthew 18, Peter was prepared to go to 7 times (cf. Luke 17:4). But in response Jesus said not 49 times which would be seven times seven, which is what I used to think he said. If you read this again you will see Jesus said 77 times – which is even more. What did the Lord mean and what was he emphasizing? And why 77 times? How many times have we been forgiven by the Lord? Are we already forgiven everything we will ever do? Where is the place then for confession of sin? I think you will see that the whole area of forgiveness is worth thinking into quite a lot. There is a saying, “To err is human, but to forgive is divine’. That’s not a Biblical reference. It comes from an essay on criticism by Alexander Pope. But Jesus did forgive sins and demonstrated that He had the authority to do so. He forgave a sinful woman and forgave the sins of a paralysed man who was lowered through the roof. But ultimately Jesus went to the Cross as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, grief and shame. Also, he forgave those who crucified him. We too are to forgive. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.” (Eph...

Sunday 13th August 2017

At the first Fish breakfast Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me”? That breakfast was Jesus seeking him out as He had promised, to eat with him, to confront him, to recommission him, and to release him from all his pain and guilt. This is the essential question and Peter was saying a huge ‘yes’ in answer to it. As a church, will we also have the courage for that to be our response as a church? Will you say, “Yes Jesus, we love you”? As a church we need to long for God to heal and restore us as a local church just as he did with Peter in John 21. Peter was incredibly discouraged, probably even disillusioned. He was very disappointed in himself because though he had been warned specifically by Jesus, he had still denied the LORD. Jesus had said to him that Satan had asked to sift Peter like wheat, and Jesus had told him that he prayed for Peter, that his faith would not fail. Jesus said, “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” See Luke 22:31-32. Peter had been so confident in his reply that he was ready to go with Jesus to prison, or even death. His remorse was enormous after his denied the LORD three times that evening, even with an oath to a servant girl. Afterwards he went outside and wept bitterly. Peter would have struggled with grief through the remaining events of Jesus trial, the beatings, and the eventual crucifixion. Afterwards, Peter was the 4th person to the tomb and saw the grave-clothes left behind. He saw...

Sunday 30th July 2017

Around the world the Christian churches of New Zealand became famous for David and Dale Garrett’s ministry of Scripture in Song. If you were a follower of Jesus back in the 1970’s and 80’s, you will have become familiar with the concept of singing Scripture. This movement literally went global as it was used by the Lord to bring a new emphasis to Christian praise and worship. Praise and worship are not quite the same thing. When we praise the Lord we are choosing to actively express our love to God for who He is. In Hebrew there are seven distinctly different words which are mainly used for ‘praise’. There are also many others. Likewise Greek uses many different words to express the range of meaning necessary. The biblical vocabulary about praise is particularly rich. Praise is an act of our wills when we choose, by faith, to offer our recognition of God’s character. While thanksgiving needs some faith, praise needs more. Praise is an act of the will; worship is beyond that. Many verses begin with, ‘I will praise the Lord”, signifying a deliberate choice to offer Him praise. As we move closer into a realisation of his presence, praise from our will changes into our adoration of Him. The Bible does not refer to worship as an act of the will in the same way. Worship seems to transcend our will. We become deeply aware of the Lord’s presence and respond with our desire to give him all our adoration. Many of us are very aware of the presence and enabling of the Holy Spirit in this...

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

Tena Koutou church. Following on from the Facebook post, giving thanks is an eternal privilege of God’s people. In  Revelation 4:9 we see thanksgiving as part of the eternal worship that is happening in heaven.  The living creatures before the throne of God ascribe holiness to the LORD God Almighty, and they are giving Him who sits on the throne glory, honour and thanks.   Here thanksgiving comes last in the list but often in Scripture it comes first or at the beginning (eg.  Psalm 100). In Psalm 30:12 the writer ends with a great declaration of joy saying they will give thanks to the Lord their God forever.   In short, we will never come to a time when we cease to give thanks to God!   Other examples are in Psalm 116:17 which declares the desire to offer the LORD a sacrifice of thanksgiving.   Psalm 107 has the repeated refrain of, “Give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love”.  We have much to thank God about.   Thanking God is literally a confession of faith and an expression of our attitude of gratefulness and appreciation to Him as the Giver of every good gift.    Only one of the 10 lepers who were healed (the one who was a Samaritan – see Luke 17) return to Jesus to thank Him.  In the Gospels we see Jesus thanking God in prayer at least 5 times. I want to say thank you for your giving and offerings – the positive result to 30 June 2017 is testimony of your generosity toward this church and to the LORD. ...