“Christ first, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence – Motto for 1902.”
So reads a small framed panel we have in our entry hall, rescued years ago from an antiques store. Someone – who lives on only in memories and faded photographs and in this inscription – wanted a daily reminder of the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
The author of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament writes with a similar thought in mind. So Mike reminded us yesterday as he began a new series looking at this important letter.
Hebrews was written to encourage Christians in a time of trial – a time when the pressure and temptation to abandon their faith seemed almost overwhelming.
That may just make it the perfect medicine for Christians today in the face of the global Coronavirus pandemic and the associated fallout.
So, the author begins the letter by establishing the supremacy – the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ – for his audience.
But why not start with encouraging words like “God loves you and has a plan for your life” or something similar? Why talk about such ethereal things as the nature of Jesus Christ, and His power in creating and sustaining the universe?
“Do you want to be healed?”, Jesus asked the paralysed man laying by the Pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-16.
At first glance, it would seem to be a strange question to ask a man who has been paralysed for 38 years. “Are you blind? Can’t you see my condition? Of course I want to be healed!”
But the answer isn’t always thot obvious.
True worshippers, that’s who the Father seeks, according to Jesus.
So, does that mean the ones with good voices, or musical talent, or the most ‘spiritual,’ whatever that means? Is He seeking those who know good songs to sing to Him?
And does that mean worship is reserved for church on Sunday morning (after all, it is called a ‘worship service) when we gather to sing for 30 or 40 minutes? Of course, the more spiritual among us might do it privately during the week too, but surely the Father doesn’t expect that of all of us?
“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…
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
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
Well, that’s another Christmas done, and another year behind us. Many of us are on holidays, and many away travelling. It’s a great time to reflect – if you’re not holidaying too hard!
As we mentioned in last week’s Sunday Reflection, City Edge Church had the privilege of joining brothers- and sisters-in-Christ from Bread of Life Church for a combined service.
I had the pleasure of visiting a small church plant down near Geelong on the same day for their Christmas Carols service. I must say, it was refreshing to be able to join in without needing to think about or prepare for the next part of the service.
But what was even more refreshing was to spend time with other believers – all of whom were strangers to me at the time – and connect immediately and deeply with them. Continue reading
This week, City Edge Church had the privilege of joining with Bethel Bread of Life Chinese Church for a combined service. It was a great Sunday of worshiping together in both English and Chinese. What a privilege to be united together worshiping Jesus with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We should not belittle this. Where in the world can we find people of different nationalities, languages, cultures, backgrounds, experiences put aside their differences, and come together for a common purpose – that of exalting our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Continue reading
As we approach another Christmas, we are reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah 9;
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” [Isa 9:6-7].
We had the pleasure of Paul and Monika Zanardo’s company yesterday, and Paul shared with us from this – and many other – Scriptures about the kingdom of God.
The first thing Paul pointed out is that “of the increase of his government … there will be no end.”
We sometimes look at our society becoming increasingly hostile and intolerant towards Christians and despair for ourselves and for Christianity. We hear of the slaughter of Christians overseas, and watch the march of Islam, the New Age, and Secularism and wonder how the gospel can survive in the face of such opposition. Continue reading
I must confess to being surprised recently to discover that Universalism is gaining in popularity. Even a good friend is leaning in that direction. For those who don’t know what Universalism is, it is the belief that everyone without exception will be saved.
There are a few variations of this belief. Some believe that everyone immediately goes to heaven. Others believe that some punishment will still be required for sin – a time spent in purgatory – but the guilty person will get to heaven eventually.
Regardless of the timeline, the common understanding is that all will get there one day, no matter what they’ve done in this life. (Does that include Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Kony, and serial killers, and paedophiles??)
Given that God is love, and God so loved the world [John 3:16], this would be a reasonable assumption, would it not? Continue reading