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CHRISTMAS – WHEN THE ULTIMATE LIGHT SHOW SUDDENLY BEGAN

(December 16) Ed Delph shares a Christmas thought-provoker…

1. Here’s a Christmas-linked thought. ‘I opened two gifts this morning. They were my eyes.’

2. Here’s a Christmas-linked question: ‘What good is sight without light?’

Sight requires light. The same is true with insight.

Insight requires the light of revelation
A definition of revelation is when something that was or is hidden in darkness comes into the light. It’s a ‘reveal-a-tion’ and it could be physical, mental or spiritual.

Prophesies from God’s prophets given 750 years before the birth of Christ were fulfilled in the birth of Christ at Bethlehem.

Please read the account described in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke…

  • Suddenly light appeared, leading to the  revealing of the presence of the greatest ever freely given ‘Christmas present.’
  • Information given 750 years earlier became revelation.
  • Knowledge became understanding.
  • The ‘Word of God’ became the ‘God of the Word’ now in flesh appearing.
  • Truth hidden by time and darkness became truth highlighted by the light.
  • Chronos (progression of time) became kairos (the right time) – the future became the present.

(more…)

WILLINGNESS – MARY’S KEY

(December 5, 2017) Geraldine Brandt reminds us of a special lady who willingly trusted God to fulfil his word…

May I bring a particular aspect to the Christmas story – the biblical Mary that I see!

When we think of Christmas we naturally think of Jesus Christ, born of Mary, a virgin – born in a manger, born to die on a cross for the sins of the world. That’s as it should be!  There is no greater message to be proclaimed, nor any other focus that should be given.

But can I add that one of the greatest messengers of this truth is the mother of Jesus, Mary herself.

Mary does not preach this message, she lives it!  When we take time to go through the gospels and study this woman of God we find a very humble woman, great in faith, persistent in prayer and steadfast in her trust in God, specifically trusting that what he said about her son, Jesus, would come to pass.

Willing to obey
From the very beginning – Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, the archangel of God Most High – we see a woman who is willing to do the will of God, and to do that will without fanfare, complaint, or requested recognition. (more…)

KEEP GOING!

(November 26, 2017) Brian Bell encourages keeping on track

 We live in a world where in sport of every kind athletics enjoy a high profile.  The apostle Paul says ‘bodily exercise is of some benefit, but godliness with contentment is of greater gain’ (1 Timothy 4:8).

Paul’s words remind us about priority, if you are able to exercise, it is good to do so, within your limitations.

At the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, Tanzania was represented in the marathon by John Stephen Akhwari. Part way through the race, Akhwari fell and was injured. He decided to get bandaged up and continue, which he did, finishing in last place over an hour behind the other runners.

When interviewed later Akhwari was asked, Why did you bother to get up and finish the race’ to which his reply was: ‘My country didn’t send me 5000 miles to start the race, they sent me 5000 miles to finish it.’

What a lovely perspective. You see, Akhwari could have stopped running; he was injured, he could not have won a medal position, so no one would have faulted him, but he decided to keep going.

As we approach another new year has there been an experience in the last year when you felt you couldn’t keep going? (more…)

THE TRUTH ZONE

(November 26, 2017) Stuart Reynolds challenges the church about subtle ‘twilight talk’ …

‘The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey….You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone….’

Many of us from more than a generation ago will recall these words from Rod Sterling, as he would introduce another episode of that cult classic TV show, The Twilight Zone, where there is no ‘up’ or ‘down’ or ‘out.’

Reality
The world without God has always lived in a Twilight Zone of darkness, desperation, destruction and death.

The burden of this article is over the increasing journey of retreat and regression the church has made back into that same zone of vagueness, uncertainty, and indistinctiveness, where …

  • Less and less is clear, sound and sure.
  • Commands have become suggestions.
  • Truth is a matter of opinion and feeling, resulting in a muddled-morality.
  • We have a mixed message that leaves us bereft of a truly ‘blessed assurance.’
  • Christian fundamentals have been replaced and succeeded by subtle and dangerous baseless assumption!

(more…)

‘HAPPY HALLOWEEN’? – IT’S NO LAUGHING MATTER!

(October 26, 2017) Stuart Reynolds challenges so-called October 31 ‘fun’ …

Unfortunately me and mine have had the horrendous experience of having our home burgled … and more than once!

The most frightening occurrence was the time I was actually in the house. In anticipation of my wife Helen returning home from a night out, I had left the front door closed but unlocked.

Assuming it was Helen returning I didn’t react and check when I heard the door opening – it was a shock to discover later that some intruders had quickly stolen a mobile phone and snatched some car and house keys with the intention of returning later for more plunder!

Just five minutes prior to the break in, I had taken my two young children to bed – right past that closed but unlocked door! No danger at that moment – but what might have happened had we been there in that spot when the thieves came? Even now I shudder to think.

That incident of leaving the door open – unbolted – was definitely no laughing matter!

Neither are unbolted doors to the occult
Have I got your attention about the danger of ‘closed but unlocked doors’? Good – because I  want you to think about certain other unlocked door dangers… such as occult goings-on, the subtlety of October 31’s Halloween with its apparently harmless ‘Happy Halloween’/’Trick or Treat’/’Dress-up Fun.’ And, for that matter, other happenings that most people including ‘blindsided’ Christians regard as merely laughing matters! (more…)

STANDING IN THE GAP

(October 17, 2017) Tim Edwards brings another timely challenge

Sometimes in church services we can end up creating an environment which can appear to be a little insincere if we are not careful.

‘How?’ you ask.

Because although it can be a moment in time where we see people with smiles on their faces and even singing happy up-tempo songs, many may not feeling that way at all in their hearts. Some may be truly feeling really flat, miserable or unloved and need encouragement!

Life’s reality
The reality of life is that we all walk through difficulties in our lives at various times – and we must recognise this, acknowledge it and be honest about it. But not give in to it.

Despite how we may feel on any given Sunday when we gather together we do so to worship, sing and celebrate God, pray, learn – and be encouraged.

But it is also a time for us to help each other to look to God! Our togetherness can, if we will allow it, be an opportunity to serve by reminding those we sense are troubled to keep their eyes fixed on him and not on the challenges.

Stay focused no matter what!
We see this focus as we read the prophet Jeremiah’s heart-breaking, sorrow-filled writings in his book of Lamentations.
(more…)

IS THERE ANY WORD FROM THE LORD?

(September 30, 2017) Stuart Reynolds challenges preachers and church attenders…

It is said that one Sunday morning as Martin Luther ascended the pulpit to preach he prayed, ‘God, Thou knowest how busy I have been this last week, and my study for preaching hast suffered, please give me a word for today!

To which the Holy Spirit whispered to his heart, ‘Martin, thou art lazy!’

 

1. Preachers without fervour!
What about the rest of us who, unlike Luther, are not among the best? Are we preachers lazy? Are our hearers not hearing and practicing what they hear?

‘Is there any word from the Lord?’ asked King Zedekiah of Jeremiah (who had finally been brought from the prison to the palace). The prophet answered promptly and positively, ‘Yes…’

Today when this Jeremiah 37:17 question – which needs both to be asked and answered in increasing measure – is raised, a prompt Jeremiah-type answer has become conspicuous by its absence and consequent silence. (more…)

THE FATHER’S LOVE

(September 12, 2017) Tim Edwards brings a timely word from Jeremiah

Every day I see more and more reasons – and more and more need – for us to look to God for his love, guidance, strength and direction. And for us to call out to God for restoration. Why? Because we human beings…

  • Are messy.
  • Make mistakes.
  • Need him, our Father God!

And he is there, rock-solid and real, always inviting us: ‘Come home to me.’

Personal restoration
This means you and I stopping and thinking about where we find ourselves in relation to God as our heavenly Father.

I am completely convinced that we need God to restore and reshape us; we need to hold onto God and allow him to mould us and remake us. Life is hard enough with God – I don’t know how people live life without him! It is most definitely time now, today, to be hungry for God to live in and through us, changing us and changing the world around us in the process. (more…)

THE STING!

(August 12, 2017) Stuart Reynolds challenges today’s spiritual deception…

Some of us may remember the classic 1973 film set in 1930s Chicago and starring the strong acting trio of Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw. It tells the story of an elaborate con of a much feared criminal banker in retribution for a murdered friend.

The phrase – The Sting – refers to the moment a ‘play’ is completed, taking a target’s money. If successful, the ‘victim’ of the con does not realise what has happened and who has cheated him, until all are long gone.

Paul wrote about a particular ‘sting’ in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, ‘Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’

Ground of our deception!
‘Do not be deceived’ – If ever a warning text for our day, this is it! Among others, there is a two-fold implication to this command of counsel:

  1. The possibility that we can be deceived
  2. The protection that we need not be deceived.

(more…)

SO – BE QUIET!

(August  6, 2017) Tim Edwards brings a timely word based on 2 Kings 2: 1-8…

Sometimes life is tough. Sometimes in all our lives there are moments, days, weeks or even lengthy seasons where we struggle to understand what is going on, what to do about it.

As a pastor I have many conversations every week with a variety of people (and not only from my own church) – guess what I am seeing at the moment? Some tough times. I’m very aware that there are large numbers of people who are currently walking through difficult times.

Yes, life can be tough!
The reality is that that life can be tough, is tough, even for great Christians! And I am more and more convinced every day that we as humans, on our own and in our own limited capacity, have no answers at all to help us through the messiness of life.

Our search for purpose, meaning, security, stability, relationships and love is just not found in the things we as humans tend to value and count and attempt to accumulate – money, possessions, power, position, politics, business or anything else for that matter. None of it helps. (more…)