Living Water

“I thirst,” Jesus cried out from the cross.

And so do we. We thirst – we all thirst – for something more, something beyond ourselves. But we can’t quite put a finger on what we are thirsty for. We just know it is something we don’t have at the moment.

So we begin to accumulate wealth and possessions, hoping that they may satisfy our thirst. Or we seek fame, or power, as if that could quench the dryness within.

Or maybe we gather friends. If we have enough friends, then surely we’ll need nothing more. And if that doesn’t help, then we explore religion and spirituality.

But none of it satisfies the thirst within. There must be something more.

And there is…

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Living Water

“I thirst,” Jesus cried out from the cross.

And so do we. We thirst – we all thirst – for something more, something beyond ourselves. But we can’t quite put a finger on what we are thirsty for. We just know it is something we don’t have at the moment.

So we begin to accumulate wealth and possessions, hoping that they may satisfy our thirst. Or we seek fame, or power, as if that could quench the dryness within.

Or maybe we gather friends. If we have enough friends, then surely we’ll need nothing more. And if that doesn’t help, then we explore religion and spirituality.

But none of it satisfies the thirst within. There must be something more.

And there is…

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A much neglected teaching

‘Aseity.’ Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day of the week.

In fact, I’d bet most of you have never heard the word at all, let alone recently. And I suspect you would be in the vast majority of Christians if you don’t know the word or what it means.

And I also suspect that you’d be in the vast majority if you don’t care what it means either. Let’s face it, a word that rare and unused can’t be very important, can it?

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The Graciousness of God

Why is it so hard for us to understand the grace of God? Why do we go into our shell when we know we’ve done wrong, rather than reach out to our heavenly Father?

Is it because everything about our life is based on getting something in return for what we give?

We work 40 hours a week in exchange for a pay packet. No one gives us a weekly wage to do nothing – not even the government; you at least have to fill out forms and go to job interviews to get your payments.

Even our relationships are usually based on what the other person can give us in return for our friendship. We gravitate towards someone who is interested in the things we are interested in. No one gets our time if they can’t return to us in like.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” Is this why we don’t really grasp the wonder of the depths of the grace of God? Continue reading

COVID19 – Fear or Faith?

Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all looking on with befuddled amusement at scenes of empty shelves in the supermarkets and shoppers fighting over the last few toilet rolls. “Have these people gone crazy?”, many of us wondered.

Because only a few weeks ago, what triggered the panic-buying was still something ‘out there,’ not really expected to bother us much.

But now, wow! It’s all become uncomfortably real for us. And so quickly! How can things change so much in such a short space of time?

Welcome, Coronavirus, to centre stage.

The sheer speed that change has come to the whole world has left many of us confused, uncertain, anxious even fearful.

And I’m sure it has left many people wondering whether there really is a God, and if there is, whether He really is in charge.

Or is the devil running rampant at the moment, and God can’t (or won’t) do anything about it? Continue reading

Beacons of Light in Dark Times

What strange times we find ourselves in. Only two weeks or so ago, it was business as usual here in Australia, even as we heard reports of COVID19 spreading overseas.

One week ago, it was church as usual, albeit with great care taken to sanitise surfaces and avoid the usual hugs and handshakes.

This week, wow! The bombshell has hit, and the floodgates have been blasted wide open.

We had already made the decision to cancel all church gatherings as a matter of prudence and safety for our people. Many churches tried to continue to meet, albeit with significantly reduced congregation sizes.

But as I write this, I hear reports that all church gatherings will be banned. Sunday worship, Connect groups, corporate prayer – all stopped until further notice.

One of the most important aspects of Christian life is the regular gathering together of the saints. Not only does Scripture insist on it (see Heb 10:25, for example), it is part of our growth to health and maturity as believers (see Eph 4:11-16).

How can we possibly fulfill these requirements if we are forbidden to meet together? How are we to grow as Christians if we can’t worship and hear the Word as one body regularly?

How indeed? Has the devil finally found a way to destroy the Church?

You know what my answer to that will be, of course…

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He Must Increase

How do we measure successful Christian ministry? What are the indicators that God has blessed a preacher, a church, a ministry?

The most obvious sign is that they have lots of followers. John the Baptist certainly had lots of followers back in the day.

But then, so did Rev Jim Jones when he led nearly 1,000 of his followers to commit suicide in 1978. So sheer numbers may not be the best measure of success.

In fact, if we were to measure only numbers, then Jesus was an abject failure.

So, what is the best indicator of a successful ministry?

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Cockroaches! Yuk!

It’s a commonly held belief that cockroaches are the only creature that would survive a nuclear holocaust. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll have to wait and see…

They are certainly one of the most unpopular creatures on earth. I don’t know anyone who is not disgusted by the thought of cockroaches in their house – and horrified at the prospect that friends might see cockroaches when they come to visit.

This reaction is prompted by the belief that cockroaches are filthy, disease-spreading animals that thrive on our mess. The presence of cockroaches, then, must be an indicator of poor hygiene.

No doubt, every home has many more cockroaches than there are ever seen. For they rarely come out into the light, preferring to stay hidden in dark corners, and scurrying back there when exposed.

Just like us humans when we sin…

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Holy Smoke!

There have been plenty of strange “manifestations of the Holy Spirit” in recent decades, associated with what is supposedly spiritual revival.

People barking like dogs, falling backwards in waves, laughing uncontrollably, dancing around an auditorium oblivious to their surroundings. The list could go on.

There is also the reasonably common manifestation, getting drunk in the Spirit, whilst others have “connected with the Spirit” by “toking the Ghost,” a supposedly spiritual version of getting stoned “in the Holy Ghost.”

These things, as strange as they might seem, are nothing new. Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher and theologian, was instrumental in revival breaking out in New England in the 18th century. And he witnessed many strange manifestations in the course of that great revival.

Edwards wrote on this subject, concluding that the strange manifestations said nothing about whether revival was – or was not – genuine. Importantly, he also concluded that there were some genuine signs. See the link at the end to see what Edwards decided.

What’s all this got to do with the holiness of God, the attribute of God that Mike talked to us about on Sunday?

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The gates of Hell will not Prevail!

Jesus’ disciples were worried about the future. They wanted to know what to look for as a sign that He was on His way back.

“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” [see Matt 24:5-6].

Wars and rumours of wars… We don’t have to watch too much TV to see graphic footage of wars in the Middle East and Africa. Nor to hear rumours of wars between the US and Iran. Are they signs of the approaching end?

Well, Jesus said, “Not yet.” But that doesn’t stop apocalyptic cults and doomsday preppers from preparing as if the end was tomorrow. And it doesn’t stop many Christians from being fearful of the end.

But the truth is, these wars are far away from most of us. But there is a war much closer to home; one we tend not to give much thought to; one that should concern us much more than armed conflict in far-flung corners of the globe.

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