Teaching

CELEBRATING THE LIGHT

(November 27, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, reflects on God’s light…

Ministering in England years ago, I was teaching about Jewish faith and practice. To help give my church members a better understanding, I asked a nearby rabbi if he would kindly give us a tour of his synagogue and explain various things done during their worship services.

Very pleased to do so, when we arrived on a suitable date, he was most welcoming, telling us to ask as many questions as we wished. We had a great time!

Later, a week or two before Christmas, he called saying that they were celebrating the Jewish Festival of Hanukkah and invited my church along. I readily accepted. The Jewish congregation sang some Hanukkah songs, and then the rabbi invited us to sing some Christmas carols which we did – with much enthusiasm! 

A wonderful meal followed that contained many delicacies that are traditionally eaten at Hanukkah.  It was a memorable experience.

Hanukkah 
This is celebrated about three months after the Feast of Tabernacles, and lasts for eight days. Another name is the ‘Festival of Lights’ and this year will be between December 18 and 26.

Although not mentioned in the Old Testament, a reference is in John 10:22, where it is called the ‘Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem.’

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DAVID’S ‘ON THE RUN’ PSALM

(November 05, 2022) Brian Bell shares about King David’s handling of despair while ‘on the run’…

Since his days as a shepherd the wilderness of Judea was a place known to David because he had spent much time there with his father’s flocks.

If you are familiar with the life of David before and after he became king of Israel, you will remember he also spent time in the wilderness ‘on the run.’

For David this was a literal experience as he first sought to stay away from the murderous intentions of jealous King Saul, and later in his life and reign when he ran from the rebellion of his wayward son Absalom.

Here I share a few encouraging thoughts from Psalm 3 NLT, which I believe give us a look into David’s heart experience as he was on the run from Absalom.

David’s despair
Verses 1-2 tell of David’s concerns – ‘I have so many enemies…so many are against me… so many are saying…’

Recalling David’s attitude as he faced Goliath – running towards the enemy – we may find despair a strange place for him to be and yet it is echoed in these words, particularly the use of the word ‘many.

Despair is a very real emotion for us in our human experience, even for God’s children. It is not a place any of us plan to be, it is not where we would wish to be, and certainly not a place in which we would choose to stay.

I believe despair it is not a lack of faith on our part but rather a reflection of how our natural weaknesses may be exploited by the circumstances of life or the enemy of souls so that we may be brought to a place where we feel overwhelmed.

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EXCUSES THAT COULD KEEP YOU OUT OF HEAVEN 

(November 05, 2022) Richard Winter highlights that there is no excuse for concealing wrong actions!

On the spur of the moment one day, my good friend Ray and I decided to ditch school and play golf. It was an easy decision; the golf course was behind a pine forest right that was itself behind our high school and we wouldn’t be seen from the school.

So Ray and I rode our bikes through the pines, retrieved some old clubs and balls from the golf shed, and took off our school blazers and ties that identified our school – and away we went.

We had only played five holes when conscious struck us, and we decided we’d better go to school. So, ties and jackets back on, we cycled down the hill and joined others who were going into the next class, hoping that no one had missed us.

What we didn’t know was we were seen ditching school by a passing driver who went to our school office and reported us! Suddenly an announcement came through: ‘The two boys seen riding through the pine forest this morning – come to the office.’

Well, Ray and I stood up and off we marched. But not bravely, we were really scared and everyone was watching us. What could we say, as we were ushered into the principal’s office – we were completely rumbled.

Excuses’ don’t excuse!
There it got scarier. The principal kept doing whatever he was doing, writing apparently. Occasionally he would look up, glare and start writing again. Minutes went by and soon we were perspiring!

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THE SAY IT AGAIN PSALM

(October 24, 2022) Brian Bell shares about repeating oneself…

Have you ever been told you talk too much?

Many years ago, I was told that I tended to repeat myself – no, not by my wife, Eveline, who says I am ‘the quiet man’!’

On the subject of repeating oneself, did you know that Psalm 107 is a chapter of repetition? As I share the following brief thoughts, I recall being taught that when scripture repeats a matter it is to emphasise a matter of real importance. So, I trust you sense that God is saying important to our hearts here.

Repetition of the Call for Praise (Psalm107: 8,15,21,31)
In Psalm 107 the psalmist’s desire is that we would ‘praise the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men.’

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FIVE ‘Ts’ OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

(October 18, 2022) Richard Winter shares comfort and a challenge…

Do you know who this is?

I’m sure you have seen him on an old TV show… it’s Mr T.

Mr T is known for his distinctive hairstyle inspired by Mandinka warriors in West Africa, his gold jewelry, and his tough-guy image. He is also known for his catchphrase, ‘I pity the fool!’

Today Mr T is a Christian who stopped wearing the gold jewelry and acting tough because it’s a contradiction to what he believes.

As we grow in Christ we begin to realise that our Christian maturity has many facets, just like  beautiful diamond and I want to make mention of five of them today that all start with T so that we can become a Mr T in Christ!

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WELL, WELL, WELL

(October 17, 2022)Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, challenges…

In 2008, Australian singing group, The Seekers, produced a gospel song called, Well, Well, Well, which was about God’s coming judgment.

Those three words are sometimes used when we unexpectedly meet someone – ‘Well, well, well. Look who it is!’ Or we might use the expression to express surprise when something unpredictable occurs – ‘Well, well, well. I can’t believe that happened!’

But that’s not how I am using the phrase. We are going to look at actual wells referred to in the Bible, some of which have great significance.

A well is normally considered to be a hole in the ground that has been dug to access a water source. We probably consider them quaint relics of a bygone age when people would go to them with a bucket to get some water to bring back to their house. Today all we have to do is go to the sink and turn on the tap to get all the water we need.

Wells really have little relevance today, but in biblical days they were of central importance.

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NO SLOPPY LIVING – PLEASE!

(September 11, 2022) Richard Winter charges us even as Paul did…

No doubt you are immediately thinking ‘Sloppy living? What do you mean?’ Well, one dictionary definition of sloppy is ‘not taking care or making an effort.’ Consider that definition in respect of your life…

Many people today ask themselves, ‘So, what am I living for?’ Some will say pleasure, money, family… but what if you are a Christian – what are you living for?

The apostle Paul’s answer would be this: The business of Christians in any age is to guard the truth which has been entrusted to them.

In fact he gave this answer as a charge to young Timothy – ‘Guard the truth which has been entrusted to you’ (2 Timothy 1:14).

The 1st century world in which Timothy lived was one of –

  • Distorted values.
  • Misleading commitments.
  • Confused thinking.
  • Dangerous misconceptions.

Today, we live in a similar kind of age, in a world deep in trouble. There are many manifestations of unrest and evil in our day too, such as…

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LEVELLING MOUNTAINS – NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER BUT BY MY SPIRIT! (Part 2)

(September 4, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, concludes his timely challenge on overcoming ‘mountains’ of various kinds…

Last month I shared reflections on Zerubbabel, how God helped this faithful prophet fulfill the challenge He’d been given him. I had mentioned two aspects regarding our accepting of God’s challenges to us, in brief –

1. Inflexible commitment to God’s will… God requires followers like Zerubbabel who are truly committed to Him, Christians whose integrity and commitment will be unshakable, no matter what ‘mountains’ we might encounter!

2. Intimidating pressure of discouragement… God also requires such dedicatedfollowers to bravely face and overcome pressure that comes when we commit to accepting His assignments. Such as the mountains of discouragement that not only come from Satan and outside the church, but sadly from within!

I now reflect on two other aspects, highlighting thatour all-powerful God who has all things already planned goes before us (Isaiah 45:2)!

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BARNABAS – ‘SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT’

(September 4, 2022) Brian Bell reflects on Barnabas’example…

‘Son of encouragement’ is a tremendous accolade for anyone to receive from their contemporaries. Not that it means a person is without imperfections, but it says something special about how other people find them to be in the general demeanour of their character and daily living.

As with other biblical characters, the life and witness of Barnabas has profitable lessons for us all to consider, and I share with you those which have spoken to me.

The disciple
We are introduced to Barnabas by Luke the writer of Acts, who tells us that the early believers were of one heart and mind. They freely shared their material possessions not considering what they each owned to be their own! Some even sold land or houses and gave the proceeds to the apostles to give to others in need (Acts 2:44-45).

Among those who sold land was a disciple named Joseph nicknamed Barnabas which means the Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:36-37). Luke also tells us Barnabas was a Jew from the tribe of Levi and came from Cyprus. Clearly the Holy Spirit had done a wonderful work in the life of Barnabas since he had come to faith whether it was before or even among one of those 3,000 who responded to Peter’s message (Acts 2:41).

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LEVELLING MOUNTAINS – NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER BUT BY MY SPIRIT! (Part 1)

(August 28, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares encouragement…

Facing mountains in these dark times?

I’ve been reflecting on a character in the Bible who faced a big mountain and discovered God had gone before him in an amazing way. His name was Zerubbabel – not the easiest name to say, nor would it be likely that you would give your new born child that name.

Most Christians know little about this man, but I find him to be inspirational and also encouraging as we cope with the ‘highs and lows’ in living in these days.

Contemporary scene
We are living in disturbing times. In my lifetime I have never known such worldwide hostility, political instability, social confusion and moral corruption. And according to medical researchers the global rates of anxiety and depression are soaring. News articles and television reports can often be quite troubling as they confront us with a stream of disturbing incidents.

Of course ours is not the only generation that has been confronted by tragedy and emotional stress. Historical records reveal many periods when war, oppression and disease have had a crushing effect on people.

God does not provide a protective wall around His people to prevent their experiencing the pain and struggles of life, but His presence in our lives gives us hope.

In the Bible, living in hope doesn’t mean that we whistle in the dark to keep our spirits up. No, biblical hope means looking to the future with assurance because we know that, regardless of conditions and circumstances, when it seems that everything is spiralling out of control, God has never lost His control! Jeremiah succinctly declared, Our hope is in you’(Jeremiah 14:22).

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