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28/11/21

​​​​​​​​​​Losing the WEIGHT of UNFORGIVENESS

 

 

Matthew 18:21-18:35

 

ILL…………A number of years ago one of the most ironic moments in television occurred when more than a million people around the country become couch potatoes and watched a show that advises them to, above all, do something else.

It's something of a victory for Channel Ten's The Biggest Loser that so many people are keen to learn how they can lose as much weight as the contestants that they'll give up almost anything, especially the chance to exercise, to watch.

"It's a bit funny," said Loser trainer Bob Harper. "Because really, the message we're trying to get out there can be distilled down to one sentence: eat less and move more.

"But if it takes people watching television to learn that, I guess that's the trade-off."

With the series finale this week, Harper must be quietly happy that a lot of people are getting that message.

 

In spite of the fact that a lot of Australians are overweight and that losing weight is often the number one thing we can do to improve our health, our energy and our longevity, todays message is not about losing physical Kilograms.

What I want to talk about is weight of another kind--emotional weight. You might be tempted to say that you don't have any emotional baggage. Perhaps you consider yourself emotionally fit. And you may be right.

 

 

ILL…………My wife recently had a friend who experienced a positive emotional crisis whereby she became lighter before her eyes as she expressed something she had long hidden. It was a big thing. It was something she had felt dreadful about, feelings she didn't want to share for fear of rejection and hurt to to herself. When she did, she felt a weight removed. She felt and LOOKED lighter.

Everyone asks why questions. "Why were you going so fast?" asks the police officer. "Why do I have to go to sleep?" asks the little boy at bedtime. "Why did you decide to become a school teacher and major in psychology?" asks a friend. The answers to these "why" questions often lie in our motivations and emotions: psychological mechanisms that prompt us to move in one direction rather than another. These inner mechanisms can be called many things--habits, beliefs, feelings, wants, instincts, compulsions, drives--but no matter what their label they prompt us to take action. Indeed, the word motivation and the word emotion come from the Latin word movere, meaning "to move."

The Latin word, exmovere literally means energy in motion. Unfortunately, our hurt and misguided beliefs often cause us to stop the flow of our emotions. Our feelings are blocked in our bodies and this inhibits us from being free. When this happens, our feelings are no longer in motion--they're dead weight. This saps our energy and spoils our clarity and spiritual growth.

 

Purpose: To illustrate the destructive nature of unforgiveness and to give opportunity to forgive.

 

1. To aid us comprehending that just as individuals at times may eventually need to lose weight to stay healthy. People in like manner may also need to lose emotional weight or baggage to remain physically and mentally healthy? Hebrews 12:1, "Let us throw off everything that hinders."

2. I recall working with (Ron) back in the middle seventies, he was a hardworking, grey headed, tall and wiry carpenter who spoke few words, but when he did speak his spoken words were generally brief, harsh and pessimistic in tone. (Ron) was the type of man most folk avoided if you did not want any trouble. He had few friends and trouble at home. Ron understood that I was a Christian and treated me accordingly. He told me that he had no time for God and Christians because God had allowed his best friend and mate who served with him in WW II to be cruelly killed.  (Ron) was very bitter he blamed God and those who represented Him. Before the seventies were out Ron had taken his own life. He died through a botched shotgun blast to his head. It took him three days to die on that lonely bush track, shackled by bitterness and hate. Ron was trapped with deep emotions of anger, hate and unforgiveness that finally destroyed his family and life.

 

3. Let’s look this morning at "Losing the weight of unforgiveness."
 

4. Matthew 18:21-35.

 

 


1. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you forget.
· "Forgive and forget" just rolls off the tongue and we feel that if we truly forgive someone that we have to forget the incident.

· Psalm 103:12 "East and west can never meet. This is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness—when he forgives our sin, he separates it from us and doesn’t even remember it. We need never wallow in the past, for God forgives and forgets. We tend to dredge up the ugly past, but God has wiped our record clean. ***If we are to follow God, we must model his forgiveness. When we forgive another, we must also forget the sin. Otherwise, we have not truly forgiven."

· That’s a wonderful thought, but that’s not what the Scripture says. The Scripture says that God remembers our sin no more, therefore doesn’t hold it against us any more. I’ve never seen in the Word that it says that human forgiveness results in our forgetfulness.
· Cut that guilt loose. Our brains don’t blindly forget painful experiences.

 

2. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’ll trust again easily.
· There is no directive in the Scripture to be gullible. While we can’t bear a grudge, we can certainly learn from past behavior and use the common sense God gave us.
· In this parable, the ruler didn’t stop the forgiven man on the way out of the throne room and say, "By the way, pal, do you need any extra cash." The man had proven that he couldn’t handle money.

· I have lent money to a friend named Wayne money on a number of occasions, generally its $10 at a time to buy a packet of cigarettes. If I found out that he spent it on harder substances then he would lose my trust. Could I forgive him? Yes. Will I send somebody else next time to pick up the smokes? YES!
· Trust is difficult to rebuild. It must be earned, even when there is forgiveness. (A parent giving their teenager a little "leash" with which to prove their trustworthiness. When they prove they can handle the leash they have, they get more. When they prove they can’t handle it, they’re drawn back in a little closer)

 

3. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re to be a doormat.
· The parable doesn’t end with a final verse that says, “And from that day forward the King gave away his money to anyone who wanted it. Day after day people lined up for cash. He just couldn’t say no. He never demanded repayment and couldn’t have been happier about going completely broke.”
· Jesus commands that we forgive 70 times 7 times. That is possible. But the Word also teaches (Proverbs) to be a people of wisdom. Use your brain.
· Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek. We should do that figuratively and literally. But He doesn’t command us to follow the guy asking for more blows.

 

4. Good Christian people live under the weight of unforgiveness for decades. They feel the weight of it every day spiritually, emotionally and physically. The teaching of Jesus points out that we’ve been forgiven a Mt. Everest-sized life of sin. How are we to hold Mole Hill-sized sins against others?

· "Steve, you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know what I’ve gone through. You don’t know what this person did to me."
· Maybe. I’ve just told you what forgiveness isn’t.

 

5. Here are a few things that forgiveness is.
 

· Forgiveness is h a r d.
· All of us here this morning have at some time been hurt deeply. We’re not talking about misunderstandings. We’re not talking about petty family disputes. We’re talking deep, ugly, horrible hurts.

"Forgive and forget" just doesn’t cut it.
· So when Christians struggle with forgiveness, there is usually a lot of guilt that comes along with how hard it really is. God said we must forgive because he has forgiven us. It wasn’t easy for God (it cost the blood of Jesus), so why do we assume it should be easy for us?
· Our natural instinct is to exact revenge on the hurt that someone causes us. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we forgive.

 

6. Forgiveness releases us. ( We Lose emotional weight)
· We’ve been programmed to believe that forgiveness is for the forgiven. When someone has done wrong to me, my forgiveness will benefit that person. That might be true, but it might not.
· I have a friend who is bound by unforgiveness to several people. She bears grudges and holds on to (distant) past wrongs, spending emotional effort she doesn’t have balled up in unforgiveness.
· What she doesn’t realize is those against whom she bears a grudge against wake up every morning, go to work, live and pursue happiness without a thought as to whether she has extended forgiveness. They’ve either moved on or could care less. They’ve forgotten the incident or forgotten her.
· The true beneficiary of forgiveness is the forgiver.

 

7. Forgiveness is commanded
· Forgiveness is not an option. When the King extended forgiveness to the man with great debt, he expected that same mercy to flow through him.
· Col. 3:13 says “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
· When I have wronged my Heavenly Father, He could say, “Steve doesn’t know what he’s done, how serious is his offense. I’ll withhold forgiveness from him until he’s learned his lesson.” Jesus doesn’t do that.
· So if Jesus is so irresponsible with his grace, shouldn’t we do the same? Like in the parable, Jesus has forgiven billion-dollar sin in our lives; each one of us has that kind of mercy at hand at any moment. How does he react when we withhold 10-dollar forgiveness from one who has wronged us?

 

· Say the Lord’s Prayer with me. 6:9  Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

Mat 6:10  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

Mat 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread;

Mat 6:12  and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.

Mat 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

 

…" Did you catch that? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” How do you want God to offer forgiveness to you, with an open hand or with a tight fist?
 

· Look at Matthew 6:14-15. Following the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus himself says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

 

8. Conclusion - I’m sure this sermon was for all of us this morning. I have a feeling that this message applies to each one of us on differing levels.
· Sometimes it is the petty offense of a friend or a spouse that we refuse to let go of. Sometimes it is deep wounds from the past that have dug deep into our personalities and forms us into angry, spiteful people.
· Whatever it is this morning, perhaps it is time to let go, allow God to lead you into the supernatural realm of forgiveness and allow Him to lighten your load.
· Let God’s forgiveness extended toward you be the motivation for you to forgive others.


Years after her concentration camp experiences in Nazi Germany, Corrie ten Boom met face to face one of the most cruel and heartless German guards that she had ever contacted. He had humiliated and degraded her and her sister. He had jeered and taunted, leering at them as they stood in the delousing shower.
Now he stood before her with hand outstretched and said, "Will you forgive me?" She writes: "I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart, but I know that the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. I prayed, Jesus, help me!...............

Play Video clip…….Corrie Ten Boom

What a story of release and freedom. “Unforgiveness sours your outlook and breaks your back. The load of bitterness is heavy. Your knees will buckle under the strain and your heart will break beneath the weight. The mountain before you is steep enough without the heaviness of hatred and unforgiveness on your back. The wisest choice – the only choice – is for you to drop the load of anger, bitterness and unforgiveness.”

 

"We are injured and hurt emotionally, not so much by other people or what they say and don't say, but by our own attitude and our own response." 
-Maxwell Maltz

Ron the carpenter chose death, by holding onto his hurts. Corrie chose life through forgivness by letting go and letting God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14/11/21

 

Where Was God When Covid Pandemic Hit our World?

 

 God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 
(Mat 27:46)


Intro

Some events in human history impact us so greatly, that we will never forget the circumstance surrounding where we were when we heard the news. Like 9/11 I’ll never forget waking up in Carrington to the news that JFK the first USA Catholic President had been assassinated. Just the night before my father had taken my brother & I to see the WW11 film PT 109. The plywood fast patrol boat was Captained by JFK, sank in the Solomon Islands when a Japanese destroyer sliced through it, setting into motion the survival odyssey that became a cornerstone of the JFK legend. 

 

​Nor will I ever forget waking up at home to our TV set rocking back & forth & blaming my son for jumping around too much when in fact the Newcastle  earth quake was occurring.

Nor will I ever forget the scenes on the TV that early morning in 2001 of smoke billowing up from the North Tower of the World Trade Center and moments later see the second plane crash into the South Tower. Those images are forever embedded in my memory. You no doubt remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news. 

Today, I want to ask and attempt to answer the question that no doubt has puzzled so many now & when this Pandemic is finally over. 

Where was God when the Covid Virus escaped from China? …

1. The same place He was when Adam rebelled in Eden – waiting to cover his sin. (Gen 3)

From the very beginning of human history man has acted in rebellion against God who made and loved him. Creating man in His own image, 
placing him in a perfect environment, making him master over all creation, 
providing for his every need, and spending time with him in the beautiful garden were ways God demonstrated his love for the crown of His creation. But, deceived by the evil one, man made a conscious decision to rebel against His Creator and Friend.

Where was God when man first raised his ugly head of defiance and rebellion? Couldn’t God have stopped it before it began? Oh, it is not a matter of whether or not He could have. It is a matter of His design for humanity and His plan of redemption. God designed us with a freedom of choice. In His supreme foreknowledge He made provision before the world was ever created for man’s redemption; knowing full well that man would make disastrous choices from the beginning. When Adam and Eve finally “fessed-up”, He was there with a covering for their nakedness and shame; exacting the ultimate punishment on His son Jesus Christ an innocent victim to cover man’s sin. But, He was there!

Where was God When the Covid Virus escaped from China?  

2. The same place He was when Noah built an ark – protecting him from disaster. (Gen 6-9)
Sadly, man’s rebellion did not end with Adam and Eve. Their sons, and their son’s sons for every generation followed in their rebellious path. Until such time that the rottenness & wickedness of man filled the whole earth and its stench rose as an offense to God. Yet in the midst of such ungodliness, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8). Here was a man, not a perfect, but a righteous man, who faithfully proclaimed the righteousness of God. (2 Pet 2) And when God, grieved by man’s wicked rebellion, determined to wipe man from the face of the earth, He furthermore determined to spare Noah and his family, and re-populate planet earth. So in mankind’s greatest natural disaster, God was on His throne protecting His own.

“Where was God When The Covid Virus escaped from China?  …

3. The same place He was when Job lost everything he had, {except an angry wife} – proving Himself to be God despite Jobs unfortunate circumstances. (Job 1-2)
Just as Noah’s generation experienced earth’s greatest natural disaster, Job would surely rank among the top in man’s history as experiencing the greatest personal disasters. Again we see a man, a good man, a godly man standing for what is right and hating what is wrong. Did being “blameless and upright” immune Job from problems, of personal disasters?

Of course not!

Job lived on a planet that at times experienced natural disasters such as tornados, earthquakes and fire. There were evil men in his day, too, who were willing to kill and steal to get what they wanted. Then, he became the special target of satanic fury.

As a result, Job lost everything of value; even his precious children.

 

Where was God? Had He turned His back on Job? Would Job return the favor by turning his back on God? Absolutely NOT. God had not deserted Job. And Job would not curse God, even though he was urged to do so by a less than faithful wife. 
 

Where was God when Job was losing all?

Where was God when Job’s children were killed?

Where was God when Job’s flesh was wracked with pain?

 

 Job maintained his integrity and recognized that it was God’s prerogative to give and take, and it was his duty to “Bless the name of the Lord.”
 

Where was God When the Covid Virus escaped from China?  …

4. The same place He was when Abraham lapsed in faith – safeguarding the fulfillment of His promise. (Gen 12-15)
It might be successfully argued that the past struggles with radical Islamic fundamentalism are traceable to this unfortunate incident in Abraham’s life. Abraham, the father of the faithful, had no descendants. He had a beautiful wife, lots of servants, and many possessions, but no descendants. How would God fulfill his promise? How could He? Abraham was already an old man. Sarah was well past the years of child bearing.

Did God need a bit of helping hand?

Well along comes Hagar. She was young, and fertile. It was not uncommon in his day to find a surrogate mother to bear a child for a barren wife.

Maybe God did need some help.

There’s nothing wrong with helping God out, is there? God does His part, and we have to do ours. So, to Abraham and Hagar is born a son, Ishmael, father of the modern Arab states. BUT > Not the son of promise. That distinction was to be reserved for Isaac, whom Sarah would eventually bear to Abraham when he was 100 years and she was 90. 


Where was God When the Covid Virus escaped from China?  

5. The same place He was when Joseph was rotting in jail – accomplishing God’s perfect will. (Gen 37-50)

 

If ever there was anyone who was misunderstood and ill treated, it was Joseph. If ever anyone suffered wrongly, it was Joseph. Yet with all his hardships, problems and abuse, Joseph was able to honestly say, “You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.” This was certainly true in the case of his brothers selling him into slavery, Mrs. Potiphar falsely accusing him of attempted rape, and the lapse of memory of his Butler friend. Yet each step of the way, God was able to take Joseph’s trying circumstance and mold him ever more closely into the man he would one day become.

God was there all the time, though I am sure Joseph must have wondered at times.
 

Where was God at the start of the Pandemic?

We could go on and on and tell of experiences such as …

6. … Moses (Ex. 1-4) on the backside of the desert – being prepared for greater service.

7. … Samson (Jud 14-16) groping in darkness – being strengthened in his hour of weakness.

8. … Jonah (Johah 1-4) being swallowed by a fish – learning that God’s way is best. 

9. … Daniel (Dan. 6) being thrown to hungry lions – resting comfortably on a “lion-skin-rug” while jealous men sought to end his life because of his faithful testimony.

10. … Peter & John (Acts 3-5) beaten for preaching the Gospel – being given greater opportunities for sharing the good news of Christ.

11. … or Paul (Acts 14-28) being stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned – yet being assured that all things work together for good to them who love God.

But maybe the greatest insight into the heart of God when a tragedy strikes such as the Covid Pandemic is how we respond to it with God’s purpose in mind. even though we may not clearly understand the why…


Where was God When the Covid Virus Hit our World? …

12. The same place He was when Jesus hung on the Cross – enduring the pain for the benefit of others. (Matt 27)
The horror! ,the agony; the anguish! Oh the pain! Not just the thorns on His brow. Not just the lashes on His back. Not just the bruises from the reeds and fist of his captors. Not just the plucking of the beard from His face. Not just the spit being hurled at Him. Not just the nails in His hands and feet. Not just the spear piercing His side. All this, yes; plus the weight of the sins of the world pressing down on His shoulders. 

 

Where was God when His one and only Son hung dying on the cross? Didn’t He know? Couldn’t He have prevented it; or stopped it? Was He helpless? Was He not aware? Didn’t He care? 

 

Of course He knew!

Of course He could have prevented it!

Of course He could have stopped it!

Of course He cared! God knew it was happening, could have stopped it, … but He didn’t.

Of course not!

 

He had a larger picture in view. There was a greater good to be accomplished by the suffering and death of Jesus.

Through the suffering of One, many would be made whole.

Through the sacrifice of One, many would have their sins forgiven.

Through the death of One, many would be made alive. 

God wasn’t just sitting idle and helpless as His Son suffered. He was using the schemes of wicked hearts to bring about the redemption of mankind. He reminds us that … “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)

So we ask again … 

Where was God when the Covid pandemic first hit our World?

The Bottom Line:
God was not surprised by the Pandemic 
But He was saddened by it.
God did not cause Covid 19. 
But He does comfort those affected by it.
God may not prevent future Pandemics or Wars, 
But He will provide peace to those whose hearts are filled with sorrow if they will only turn to Him.

14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.








 

 

 

14/11/21

 

 

​​​​​​​Where Was God When Covid Pandemic Hit our World?

 

 God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" 
(Mat 27:46)


Intro

Some events in human history impact us so greatly, that we will never forget the circumstance surrounding where we were when we heard the news. Like 9/11 I’ll never forget waking up in Carrington to the news that JFK the first USA Catholic President had been assassinated. Just the night before my father had taken my brother & I to see the WW11 film PT 109. The plywood fast patrol boat was Captained by JFK, sank in the Solomon Islands when a Japanese destroyer sliced through it, setting into motion the survival odyssey that became a cornerstone of the JFK legend. 

 

Nor will I ever forget waking up at home to our TV set rocking back & forth & blaming my son for jumping around too much when in fact the Newcastle  earth quake was occurring.

Nor will I ever forget the scenes on the TV that early morning in 2001 of smoke billowing up from the North Tower of the World Trade Center and moments later see the second plane crash into the South Tower. Those images are forever embedded in my memory. You no doubt remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news. 

Today, I want to ask and attempt to answer the question that no doubt has puzzled so many now & when this Pandemic is finally over. 

Where was God when the Covid Virus escaped from China? …

1. The same place He was when Adam rebelled in Eden – waiting to cover his sin. (Gen 3)

From the very beginning of human history man has acted in rebellion against God who made and loved him. Creating man in His own image, 
placing him in a perfect environment, making him master over all creation, 
providing for his every need, and spending time with him in the beautiful garden were ways God demonstrated his love for the crown of His creation. But, deceived by the evil one, man made a conscious decision to rebel against His Creator and Friend.

Where was God when man first raised his ugly head of defiance and rebellion? Couldn’t God have stopped it before it began? Oh, it is not a matter of whether or not He could have. It is a matter of His design for humanity and His plan of redemption. God designed us with a freedom of choice. In His supreme foreknowledge He made provision before the world was ever created for man’s redemption; knowing full well that man would make disastrous choices from the beginning. When Adam and Eve finally “fessed-up”, He was there with a covering for their nakedness and shame; exacting the ultimate punishment on His son Jesus Christ an innocent victim to cover man’s sin. But, He was there!

Where was God When the Covid Virus escaped from China?  

2. The same place He was when Noah built an ark – protecting him from disaster. (Gen 6-9)
Sadly, man’s rebellion did not end with Adam and Eve. Their sons, and their son’s sons for every generation followed in their rebellious path. Until such time that the rottenness & wickedness of man filled the whole earth and its stench rose as an offense to God. Yet in the midst of such ungodliness, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8). Here was a man, not a perfect, but a righteous man, who faithfully proclaimed the righteousness of God. (2 Pet 2) And when God, grieved by man’s wicked rebellion, determined to wipe man from the face of the earth, He furthermore determined to spare Noah and his family, and re-populate planet earth. So in mankind’s greatest natural disaster, God was on His throne protecting His own.

“Where was God When The Covid Virus escaped from China?  …

3. The same place He was when Job lost everything he had, {
except an angry wife} – proving Himself to be God despite Jobs unfortunate circumstances. (Job 1-2)
Just as Noah’s generation experienced earth’s greatest natural disaster, Job would surely rank among the top in man’s history as experiencing the greatest personal disasters. Again we see a man, a good man, a godly man standing for what is right and hating what is wrong. Did being “blameless and upright” immune Job from problems, of personal disasters?

Of course not!

Job lived on a planet that at times experienced natural disasters such as tornados, earthquakes and fire. There were evil men in his day, too, who were willing to kill and steal to get what they wanted. Then, he became the special target of satanic fury.

As a result, Job lost everything of value; even his precious children.

 

Where was God? Had He turned His back on Job? Would Job return the favor by turning his back on God? Absolutely NOT. God had not deserted Job. And Job would not curse God, even though he was urged to do so by a less than faithful wife. 
 

Where was God when Job was losing all?

Where was God when Job’s children were killed?

Where was God when Job’s flesh was wracked with pain?

 

 Job maintained his integrity and recognized that it was God’s prerogative to give and take, and it was his duty to “Bless the name of the Lord.”
 

Where was God When the Covid Virus escaped from China?  …

4. The same place He was when Abraham lapsed in faith – safeguarding the fulfillment of His promise. (Gen 12-15)
It might be successfully argued that the past struggles with radical Islamic fundamentalism are traceable to this unfortunate incident in Abraham’s life. Abraham, the father of the faithful, had no descendants. He had a beautiful wife, lots of servants, and many possessions, but no descendants. How would God fulfill his promise? How could He? Abraham was already an old man. Sarah was well past the years of child bearing.

Did God need a bit of helping hand?

Well along comes Hagar. She was young, and fertile. It was not uncommon in his day to find a surrogate mother to bear a child for a barren wife.

Maybe God did need some help.

There’s nothing wrong with helping God out, is there? God does His part, and we have to do ours. So, to Abraham and Hagar is born a son, Ishmael, father of the modern Arab states. BUT > Not the son of promise. That distinction was to be reserved for Isaac, whom Sarah would eventually bear to Abraham when he was 100 years and she was 90. 


Where was God When the Covid Virus escaped from China?  

5. The same place He was when Joseph was rotting in jail – accomplishing God’s perfect will. (Gen 37-50)

 

If ever there was anyone who was misunderstood and ill treated, it was Joseph. If ever anyone suffered wrongly, it was Joseph. Yet with all his hardships, problems and abuse, Joseph was able to honestly say, “You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.” This was certainly true in the case of his brothers selling him into slavery, Mrs. Potiphar falsely accusing him of attempted rape, and the lapse of memory of his Butler friend. Yet each step of the way, God was able to take Joseph’s trying circumstance and mold him ever more closely into the man he would one day become.

God was there all the time, though I am sure Joseph must have wondered at times.
 

Where was God at the start of the Pandemic?

We could go on and on and tell of experiences such as …

6. … Moses (Ex. 1-4) on the backside of the desert – being prepared for greater service.

7. … Samson (Jud 14-16) groping in darkness – being strengthened in his hour of weakness.

8. … Jonah (Johah 1-4) being swallowed by a fish – learning that God’s way is best. 

9. … Daniel (Dan. 6) being thrown to hungry lions – resting comfortably on a “lion-skin-rug” while jealous men sought to end his life because of his faithful testimony.

10. … Peter & John (Acts 3-5) beaten for preaching the Gospel – being given greater opportunities for sharing the good news of Christ.

11. … or Paul (Acts 14-28) being stoned, shipwrecked and imprisoned – yet being assured that all things work together for good to them who love God.

But maybe the greatest insight into the heart of God when a tragedy strikes such as the Covid Pandemic is how we respond to it with God’s purpose in mind. even though we may not clearly understand the why…


Where was God When the Covid Virus Hit our World? …

12. The same place He was when Jesus hung on the Cross – enduring the pain for the benefit of others. (Matt 27)
The horror! ,the agony; the anguish! Oh the pain! Not just the thorns on His brow. Not just the lashes on His back. Not just the bruises from the reeds and fist of his captors. Not just the plucking of the beard from His face. Not just the spit being hurled at Him. Not just the nails in His hands and feet. Not just the spear piercing His side. All this, yes; plus the weight of the sins of the world pressing down on His shoulders. 

 

Where was God when His one and only Son hung dying on the cross? Didn’t He know? Couldn’t He have prevented it; or stopped it? Was He helpless? Was He not aware? Didn’t He care? 

 

Of course He knew!

Of course He could have prevented it!

Of course He could have stopped it!

Of course He cared! God knew it was happening, could have stopped it, … but He didn’t.

Of course not!

 

He had a larger picture in view. There was a greater good to be accomplished by the suffering and death of Jesus.

Through the suffering of One, many would be made whole.

Through the sacrifice of One, many would have their sins forgiven.

Through the death of One, many would be made alive. 

God wasn’t just sitting idle and helpless as His Son suffered. He was using the schemes of wicked hearts to bring about the redemption of mankind. He reminds us that … “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)

So we ask again … 

Where was God when the Covid pandemic first hit our World?

The Bottom Line:
God was not surprised by the Pandemic 
But He was saddened by it.
God did not cause Covid 19. 
But He does comfort those affected by it.
God may not prevent future Pandemics or Wars, 
But He will provide peace to those whose hearts are filled with sorrow if they will only turn to Him
.

14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegemite Towns & Colored Glasses        10/10/21

TEXT - John 9:1-25,39

 

INTRODUCTION

The story of Jesus healing the blind man in the Bible is not only describes the miracle power of Jesus in helping a blind man see but also an account of how people in general see our world. The blind man’s declaration of faith was – I know this: I was blind but now I see.

One of the main mandates of Jesus ministry and the anointing & gifting of the Holy Spirit is to open the spiritual eyes of our, bat eyed humanity.

I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” V39

Luke 4:18 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me (to bring) …. recovery of sight to the blind,….

Can Jesus open the physical eyes of blind people, “No problemlo” the story we just read just proofs that, but I also believe what Jesus was announcing here was the opening of the eyes of people’s perception.

The Word of God tells, Christian’s we were blinded by the devil in our minds & heart’s, but we have now been translated from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom light. 2cor 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Niv

 

However there is a continual work we must do & need to do to keep that light pure and not colored.

Paul’s prayer for the church was - (that) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18

The devil may not be able to stop the light but he sure tries to distort & color our perceptions.

 

He continually tries to make us wear his, prescribed ‘rose coloured glasses’ to taint the revelation, glory and vision of our God.

Understanding of principles of Christian perception can be a blessing in our lives which releases our Christian lives to new levels of growth & power.

 

 

Ill. Coloured glasses may be a very big fashion trend these days but interestingly, some people do wear these not just because they want to look hip. Over the years, coloured glasses have helped a lot of people to see more clearly.

Individuals who experience difficulty in seeing letters, numbers and images because their visual cortex could not process light properly are able to ease their problems with the use of these glasses. Medical corrective glasses are OK the Devils are Not.

 

 

T.P.     In this story there were 5 groups of people surrounding this ‘once blind’ man’s life, each had their perception that limited or restricted their view. Let’s note each of them now.
 

1. THE DISCIPLES - PERCEPTION OF GENERATIONS.

The disciples looked at this man and asked if his condition was because of his sin or his parent’s sin. In other word’s they saw him through the colored glasses of past generations.

Their Generational perceptive looks at how, when, why, to whom, where people were born.

 

Ill - You will always live on welfare. You’re a third-generation welfare person. Dad was on the dole. Grandparents had the invalid pension. Your uncle gets a pension. You come from a vegemite & bake bean town.

Ever heard similar words. There are generational labels, perceptions that people place on others and that can limit and box them in.

You are just like your father. If that is said from a negative perceptive is can be very dangerous. However even if it is positive and an encouragement don’t let it set the ceiling to your life. Surpass your father, set a new standard of excellence. Be what you wanna be.


Sometimes we ourselves use the generational glasses as an excuse. “I can’t help it, I’m like my mother!” You maybe like your mother, but you are not your mother, there is opportunity to take off those colored glasses and see yourself as God see’s you through the clarity of His pure light.

Yes, we can, break the generational perception and begin a new generational link. You can be the first generation to get a job, own a home, raise godly children, go to university etc.

 

Ill. My wife told the story about when she was teenager, she once told her father that she wanted to be a policewoman, her father said. that no daughter of mine is going to be one. Back then the working class had a dislike for coppers.
 

2. NEIGHBOURS - PERCEPTION STUCK IN THE PAST

The man’s neighbors missed seeing their ‘new’ friend because they could only see-through colored glasses of the past. Listen …. the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”9 Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.” He said, “I am he.” John 9:8-9
Their vision and perception of this man was based on what they had previously seen.

 

Ill. - Before and After Photos.
Sometimes we find it very had to relate to miracle's of change in people’s lives. We keep referring to and relating to them according their past lives.

Now I believe in some instances we need to wait for the ‘fruits of change’ to become evident, we can’t be silly. But once that appears we need to change the label on the person.

The neighbors could only see a beggar, some said it looks like him but it can’t be.
Their perceptions restricted a relationship they could have had with this man.

 

3. PHARISEES - THE PERCEPTION OF RELIGION

The Pharisees missed seeing the miracle power of God in this man’s life because they could only see through the colored glasses of religion.

What is religion? Religion is man trying to do the impossible – reach God, so then they bring God down to man’s level. True Christianity is God reaching down to man and bringing him up to God’s level.
Listen to how they refer to Jesus (God) - This man Jesus is not from God …. we know Jesus is a sinner. v16, 24.

The religious perceptive of these warped Pharisees’ not only bought Jesus down to the level of a man but even a lower – a sinner.

Religion is also more about keeping rules than changing lives. Never join a church that’s more for the rules than Jesus is. They are “cult & cut” churches, they cultivate you to their teachings & then cut your lives & families to pieces.

A person’s life had just been transformed, a miracle had happened in a person’s life yet the Pharisees could not think about the fact that this transformation, this miracle happened, but on the Sabbath.

They said - This man Jesus is not from God, for his is working on the Sabbath. Essentially, they were saying Jesus was of the devil and the credit for this miracle belongs to the devil. Bad religion always has a low view of Jesus.

 

ILL.   Over the years I have seen the blessings & awesome moves of God, lives had been saved, changed and people come to love Jesus more passionately than before. Yet some too quickly question the moves of God.

Religious rules, will push people down, limit their potential, hold them back and keep them small.
Christ’s commands will lift us up, release our potential, motive us forward, and cause us to grow.

 

 

4. JEWISH LEADERS - THE PRECEPTION OF UNBELIEF

The Jews missed it because they looked through their colored glasses of unbelief.
Unbelief will cause people to always look for a natural explanation. Faith enables you to see the impossible; unbelief can only see the plausible, it has to find the natural answer even when there is none.

There will come times in the Christian walk when you have to break the limits off and get out of the boat and that take a walk on the water in faith.

Unbelief always distorts the potential of God to work.
 

5. THE PARENTS - THE PERCEPTION OF FEAR.

His parents missed out on a new dimension of relationship with a new son because of their coloured glasses of fear.
His parents distanced themselves from their son rather than be expelled from the synagogue.

In Christianity always expect the unexpected!

 

In Isaiah 43:19 For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

Fear will keep us attached to the old ways, rather than press into new things.

Fear will block our ventures into new ways.

Many times, through scripture when God showed up, or angles appeared the first thing they had to say was fear not.

Fear is a major player is holding people back or making then preferring the status quo.
 

WEARING OTHER PEOPLE’S GLASSES

Now I want to imagine a scenario with me. Here is this man, born blind, Jesus comes along and heals him, removes the glasses of darkness from his life.


One day after touching his life with the power of God, he comes in contact with 5 groups of people all wearing their own-colored glasses.

Imagine with me that each time this man came in contact with these people he believed what they said about himself, the about the miracle, about Jesus etc. and began to wear the colored glass of each group.


So he hears the disciples generational perceptive of his life - agrees and puts of their glasses

Then gives up proofing to the neighbours that he is not blessed and returns to being a begger – puts of their glasses

The words of Pharisees become too strong and so he surrenders to religion and puts of their glasses

Then the Jews convince him that is what not a miracle that there has to be some natural explanation – maybe some healing properties in the mud – and so puts on their glasses.

And finally he doesn’t want to see his parents hurt and expelled from their local synagogue and wants to keep them happy so he puts on their glasses.

(After putting on 5 layers of different colored glasses you just cannot see through it.

The end result? Now he is blind again.

This is the story of many of us today. God has saved us and changed our lives. Even since then we have seen his power at work in and through us. Yet we still struggle to live full victorious because we allowed ourselves to pick up the devils rose colored glasses of other people, and limit what God has done and can do in us & through us.

Some of us live under the generational perspective.
Some of us live in the past perspective
Some of us live according to the religion perspective.
Some of us live limited by the unbelief perspective.
Some of us live bound by a fear perspective.

We need to stop being mutilated by past conversations

We need to stop listening to those inner voices & seeing their defeatist talks.

We need to say………..

No way shall I allow the perception of others to limit his life.

No way shall I go back to blindness.


CONCLUSION

Titus 1:15 Everything is pure (clear/clean) to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt (contaminated) and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled (stained or dyed another colour as in the staining of glass)

We need to remove our Devil colored glasses and put on the pure clear perceptive of Jesus.
Remember Jesus statement to the disciples at the beginning of the account. “This is all about the power or glory of God being seen in this man’s life.”

All these people chose to stop seeing the power and glory of God because of their perceptive.
Are you missing the glory of God because of your perceptive? Is it pure or colored?

 

We need to be the person God sees, so others can see Jesus.

 

Lets Pray

To wish or not to wish ?        17/10/21

 

 

To wish is to be human. God created human beings with emotions and passions. When we wish, we acknowledge that there is something outside of our control that we strongly desire. In Revelation 3:15, Jesus says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!”

 

He gave human beings free will and, in doing so, intentionally allows us the freedom to choose Him or not. When on earth, Jesus expressed another “wish” when He said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). He knew the crucifixion was approaching, and after that He would pour out the Holy Spirit upon His followers (Acts 1:8). Jesus longed to send the Spirit, but knew He first had to undergo the horror of the crucifixion. His “wish” was not wrong. It was human.

A wish can be the forerunner of change. If the wish is based on truth and positive change, it can become a goal and then reality. However, a wish can be wrong if we give it precedence over God’s plan for us. When Jesus, in Gethsemane, “wished” that His Father would find another way to redeem humanity, He did not end His prayer there. He did not allow His human desire to overrule God’s will. He wrestled within His spirit until He could truthfully say, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Wishing can also be wrong if our wish is directed toward something other than God Himself. To “wish upon a star” may have romantic appeal, but the star cannot help anyone. We must look to the Maker of the stars for answers to prayer, not to the stars themselves.

Wishing can also be wrong if the object of that wish is sin. For a married person to wish for someone else’s spouse is wrong (Deuteronomy 5:21). To wish obsessively for more material things or to wish for more money than you need is wrong (Proverbs 23:4; 1 Timothy 6:9–10). When a wish is based on dissatisfaction with what God has ordained for us—race, nationality, body type, or family—it is a wrong wish. Our real need is to learn to be thankful for what God has given and learn to use everything for His glory and purpose (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:16).

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When pleasing the Lord is our greatest joy, He adjusts our wishes. He changes the desires of our hearts to line up with His desires for us—His desires become ours so that we wish for the things that delight Him. In the process, we find ourselves delighted. We can pray boldly, in accordance with His will, when we know that we want what He wants. When we wish for things that are congruent with His plan, we can pray with confidence that He hears and will answer (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14; Matthew 21:22).

The Bible actually commands us to wish for/desire wisdom (Proverbs 24:14), spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1), the Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12), the final revelation of who the children of God really are (Romans 8:19), and the salvation of others (Romans 10:1). When our wishes are centered on what God desires, we can ask God for them in faith. When we have heaven’s perspective, our wishes are sanctified, “and if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:15).

Growing beyond anxiety anger & rage into hope and healing    7/11/21

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Psa 148:1-10

 

Intro

 

The ongoing government restrictions & mandates have separated many families & loved one’s over these last two years, having provoked understandable anxiety & anger in many people even rage in some.

The news this past week said that 5,000,000 people died worldwide from the Covid Pandemic. Some media commentators believe the figure is much higher. Our world has changed substantially creating covid stress, anxiety & divisions in our societies. Could the state & federal governments have handled things better YES

What about us, how have we handled the stress, that’s assuredly made us cranky at times, like many others around the world?

Because we’ve been restricted in our movements,

Because we’ve been restricted in seeing loved one’s?

Restricted in the type of grocery items we could purchase.

 

Who would have believed two years ago that we’d be seeing people arguing & fighting over toilet rolls in a supermarket?

Who would have believed the government stopping us from going to church?

Who would have believed the government stopping us visiting family?

Who would have believed state governments stopping family visiting dying relatives?

If I had known beforehand about what was going to happen in 2020/2021 & preached on these events 2 years ago, I’m sure people would have called me a religious conspiracy theorist or worse a NUT.

 

1. Today I want us to think about growing beyond anxiety/anger & rage into hope & healing?

 

By focusing on the Biblical Christian way of thinking & relating to ourselves & others.

The Bible tells us that Gratitude and Connection with others creates space for Christian transformation.

 

For those anti vaxxers & some Christians among the anti-vaccinations voices their dominant emotional experience at this moment seems to be anger & for some it’s rage.

 

ILL. I was reading the YT comments about the anti vaxxers rally held in Melbourne yesterday. A lot were demonstrating against sacking nurses, police officers, health care workers, construction workers, & others. To me Sackings, should be the last straw, governments & businesses should hold back on their sackings & look for better ways of addressing the issues by redirecting these workers into other non-contact areas of work, if possible, till things change.  We have a family member who was sacked from her teaching job because she was waiting for a vaccine due in Australia at the end of the year. Fortunately, she has a new contactless phone job with another employer.

 

Of course, people are angry, sometimes, stubborn, difficult-to-control rage. Rage because they see these border politicians stopping families members from visiting their dying loved one’s.

Yes, people do have a good reason for anger bordering on rage.

I tell myself that this is a very human response to the sheer quantity of suffering were now seeing in our Covid ravaged world.

If you are alive and awake to the anger of others, you see it, too: a preventable pandemic that some say was created to be weaponized in a Chinese lab.

 

ILL. This past week we saw the rage of climate crisis protesters in Scotland angrily dismissing the in actions by world governments. While nobody mentions the real reason for our crisis which is, there are too many people on the planet requiring too many houses, too many cars, too much land cleared of trees to feed them. People are still angry about the abandonment of vulnerable Afghan people by the United States after two decades of a now meaningless war on terror. Leaders at every level who won’t own up to the consequences of their bad leadership especially in our local Central Coast Council under administration because of very bad oversight & decision making.

 

The conditions of your rage may be shaped by your work place changes due to Covid mandates which dictates your loss of employment & now possible housing because you can no longer afford the rent or pay the mortgage.

You & your anger & even rage with all its particularities is welcomed to our church by us & our God who suffered the ultimate; The Cross is God’s answer to our rage.

 

This Christian Church will not give you well-worn platitudes like “she’ll be right mate” or “all things will work out in the end” or “think positive, think right”

The stink of your rage cannot be masked with drugs or alcohol or living in party or shopping mode or like the stacks of people doing retail therapy at Coles, Woolworths, Aldi & Bunnings.

The stink of rage will not be masked with incense, body oils or a visit to the gym or hairdresser.. It will not dwindle away or be soothed into submission with Voltaren pain relief gel.

The anger & rage people are experiencing is the cumulative human response to our world been turned upside down, our jobs being closed down, our way of life changed by a virus we can’t see’. 

Being anything less than honest with ourselves & others will only increase the angst we feel and enable it to further isolate us from one another. It will exhaust us in the end, if we let it.

 

2.  What should we do with our anger & rage?

 

ILL. “Research School of Psychology at The Australian National University, Canberra, found that Depression and anxiety symptoms were substantively elevated relative to usual population data, including for individuals with no existing mental health diagnosis. In contrast, pandemic-induced impairments in work and social functioning were strongly associated with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as decreased psychological wellbeing. Financial distress due to the pandemic, rather than job loss per se, was also a key correlate of poorer mental health.”

 

ILL. Psychologists researching the mental health impact of Bush Fires point to the importance of social cohesion in preparing for, responding to and healing from these environmental disasters. Through connecting with others, we are empowered to act upon our concerns, build the relationships necessary to respond quickly when need arises, and learn to believe again that there is good in the world.

 

When Christians in historical times have gathered together in worship & for a purpose, they have often changed their outlook & understanding of their particular hardships & enjoyed each other’s company. They were more able to loosen their chains of isolation and create a path forward to confront their challenges. Galatians 6:2. "Carry each other's burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ."

We cannot heal ourselves from our anxiety & anger in isolation. No man or woman is an island.

People may discuss self-care or other options like personalized exercise goals, or purchase something that promises to soothe our bodies & emotions like a massage chair. These things might help our mood & relax our muscles. but anxiety anger or rage need a more existential or concrete solutions than these aids.

The problem with most self-care “solutions” is that they restate our individualized notions of self and our consumerist ideas that we can buy our way out of a problem. They rarely address the problems that cause our suffering or point us to the Christian community that surrounds us and can support us to a shared healing.

 

My anxiety anger & rage is welcome into the Christianity community and presence of God, who is not frightened by my rage or sorrow. God is for us, always pointing me to others on the road to healing, into the very presence of God. Matt 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I am not alone. We are not alone. God & His Christian community are for us’

Existential gratitude is a gratitude that points us beyond our painful circumstances and toward our capacity to love and care for ourselves and others even in the face of suffering. Cultivating existential gratitude is not about self-indulgent help; it’s about looking beyond the self toward the common good & care of the community, even to the fauna & flora.

 

ILL. My wife & I have a beautiful 45-year-old -45 feet tall deciduous Maple tree, we planted growing in our back yard, I just found out recently that it can grow to 60 meters.

We always find the view out our back windows refreshing & rejuvenating to our souls, we both love trees, as do the bird life it attracts. Our gorgeous Geisha Girl tree this time of year is blooming with hundreds upon hundreds of light mauve flowers.  One transformative practice of existential gratitude I have come to know is gardening. Every morning, when we open our blinds to welcome the rising sun, the trees, plants & flowers welcome us too with their greenery & bird life. Our grandson once described our backyard garden as a jungle, Life all started in a garden. Our back garden is a part of our life as God intended.

Our trees teach us that we are not alone in our world. I’ve learned that our neighbors share our trees just as we share there’s as do the birds. Our neighbors are not church goers, but decent people. By connecting with them every morning with our Garden they are better for it as we are. Even though our gospel words sometimes find hearts of hard soil.

 

Anger or rage doesn’t necessarily go away in our gardens. Rather, Gods gardens create a space for the anger to be transformed. In His garden, God is pointing us to the possibilities for collective Christian healing already among us. In the garden, I am not alone.

 

Job 12:7-10 NIV

7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
   or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
   or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
   that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
   and the breath of all mankind.

 

The book of Galatians 6:2 tells us “To carry each other burdens”, God’s plan for healing from anxiety, anger or even rage is to be found within the existential garden of the Church community. Too often we can underestimate Christ’s place & plan for healing. The greatest message & power the church has for a hurting world is LOVE.  John 15:12 Love one another as I have loved you.

 

Lets Pray

Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbors, as ourselves
and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.
In these times of stress & anxiety, give us endurance,

to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to reassure the isolated of our love, and your love,
because of your name’s sake.
Amen.

Plagues, Pandemics & Our Participation.

updated

3/10/21

 

Martin Luther’s response — and what is ours ?

 

 

How, then, are we to understand ourselves?

 

A time-honored way is looking to the past. Historically, Christians were no strangers to epidemics. Vivian Nutton, the esteemed historian of medicine, writes that from the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries, “A town would experience an epidemic of plague approximately every decade, and a serious devastation once in every generation.” Disease outbreaks were part of the rhythm of life. Those outbreaks caused by bubonic plague were particularly dreadful, boasting a fatality rate of 60–90 percent (for COVID-19, it is “only” 1–3 percent).

In response to these outbreaks, Christians wrote many “flight theologies,” exploring what measures Christians could take in good conscience (whether, for example one may flee a diseased town). Today, the most famous of these flight theologies is Martin Luther’s letter to his friend and fellow pastor Johann Hess, in response to Hess’s question,

 

“Whether it is proper for a Christian to run away from a deadly plague.” Luther himself was no stranger to suffering. He endured the death of many of his family and friends, including some of his own children, and a plethora of personal ailments. Indeed, Hess had to write twice entreating Luther for his thoughts, because Luther was too ill to reply to the first letter.

 

In 1527, plague struck Wittenberg — the university town where Luther lived — prompting classes to be moved to an unaffected town. Yet Luther refused to leave. He chose instead to venture his life on caring for the sick and dying and transformed his home into a makeshift hospital. So when Luther gave advice, he knew the consequences and the fear attending them.

 

For Luther, our loving God hiddenly but surely works for our good even in the places we do not expect, including amid the evil of deadly epidemics. The fear of bodily illness and death should drive us to pray and to care for our souls, remembering that this world is not our lasting home. An epidemic is one of many evils that beset us, and we have to take that seriously; but the greater evil is the evil within (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:4). Therefore, responding to an epidemic or any other crisis must involve turning from our sins — chief of which is the selfish love that gives thought first to self, and only secondly, if we can assure our own health and safety, to others.

 

Luther regarded the epidemic as a temptation that tests and proves our faith and love: “our faith in that we may see and experience how we should act toward God; our love in that we may recognize how we should act toward our neighbor.” Through faith in God and out of love for neighbor, Christians must think first how to contribute to the physical and spiritual care of those who are vulnerable, self-isolated, sick, or dying. Only then did Luther permit Christians to make private decisions about whether to flee. In an era without widespread institutionalize healthcare, Luther wrote that Christians are under a divine obligation to fill the gap: “We must give hospital care and be nurses for one another in any extremity or risk the loss of salvation and the grace of God.”

 

With lives at risk, Luther encourages Christians to find solace in the promises of God. The devil tempts us to “horror and repugnance in the presence of a sick person.” But striking a “blow against the devil is God’s mighty promise by which he encourages those who minister to the needy. He says in Psalm 41, ‘Blessed is he who considers the poor. The Lord will deliver him in the day of trouble’.” Therefore, “whoever serves the sick for the sake of God’s gracious promise … has the great assurance that he shall in turn be cared for. God himself shall be his attendant and his physician, too. What an attendant he is! What a physician!”

 

What does this mean for us and COVID-19? Our attitude toward COVID-19 should be marked by the Christian virtue of measured concern (“temperate prudence” in classical terms): measured, not panicking but heeding our Saviors encouraging warning, “Do not be anxious about your life ... Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 6:25, 10:28); and concern, recognizing the evil for what it is and not comforting ourselves with falsehoods. Instead of panicking and stockpiling so many masks that there aren’t enough for healthcare workers, or so much pasta and toilet paper that others can’t find any, we should be asking: How can we as a church and I as an individual help those in need?

 

Those who are researchers or health professionals should take courage in their divine calling to do good research, to seek truth and to care for the sick. Many of us in healthcare have taken oaths: “The health of our patients shall be our first consideration.” It is easy to take valiant oaths in times of tranquillity and bliss. Hardship does not nullify these oaths, but rather emphasizes their sacred, inviolable nature. For Christians, there is a special duty to fulfill them, since we have been told, “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’.”

 

For those of us who do not have special training to participate on the medical front lines, we are called to responsibly play our part in society: in our jobs that help keep our economy going; in our families as parents, children or siblings; in the way we communicate, listen and respond to news; in the way we care for our neighbors, cities and communities. Above all, we are called to pray for and do our best to support good journalism, research and medical care. For Christians, truth is distinctly important. Every Christian has the responsibility to find and rely on accurate sources of information, having nothing to do with either sensationalizes or scoffers.

 

A website like the Science Media Centre can help one interpret the headlines level-headedly, and every region has its public health bulletins with advice specific to the region. We listen to and respect our public health officials, with the expectation that their recommendations will inevitably be imperfect. Rather than criticizing them, we ought to pray for them daily.

 

COVID-19 reminds us that lasting contentment, security and happiness is not to be found in the present world but in the world to come. As Augustine put it:

 

As ‘we are saved by hope’, so we are made happy by hope. Neither our salvation nor our beatitude is here present, but ‘we wait for it’ in the future, and we wait ‘with patience’, precisely because we are surrounded by evils which patience must endure until we come to where all good things are sources of inexpressible happiness and where there will be no longer anything to endure. Such is to be our salvation in the hereafter, such our final blessedness.

 

I came across this interesting article on the ABC Religion & Ethics site part repeated here.

 

Dr Mirjam Schilling is a virologist at the University of Oxford and a DPhil student in theology (Science and Religion) studying the theological aspects of viruses under Alister McGrath. Joel Gamble is an MD student at the University of Toronto and postgraduate student in theology (Science and Religion) at the University of Oxford researching the philosophy and historical theology of medicine. Nathan Gamble, MD MA, is a bioethicist and internal medicine resident at the University of Alberta, and he is studying Clinical Trials at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Questions, we must ask of ourselves during this Pandemic & beyond.

How should we as a church or as Christian's respond?

Should we refuse to help those in physical, mental or spiritual need ?

Should we just sit in our nice little Christian isolation Bubbles?

Should we refuse to help those Luther, Hess & the many others helped?

Should we stand aloof from the Biblical & historical mandates of helping our neighbors?

What is the basic tenant of Christianity. Mark 12:3.................LOVE

Many neighbors can be annoying to the point of us saying & doing nothing for them at all, this  wrong. Yes some of them are weird, difficult, & down right obnoxious & we'd wish they'd move somewhere else, tomorrow maybe. But that's not the attitude Jesus expects from us.

 

Maybe the opposite is true & they'd wish we'd move. We need to continually look at ourselves & see if our lives & actions match our faith.

 

Loving is hard work, difficult work as it was never expected to be easy. Treating a neighbor like they don't exist is not the way of Christ. Loving our neighbors is the way of God. Does this mean we are agree with every thing they say & do, of course not! the only perfect neighbor you'll find will be in heaven when you get there. So stay the line marked with good deeds & intentions.

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Make your “life Worth the Living”         19/9/21

 

Do I Exist?” Just because of someone’s brief pleasure?

 

At some point in time most people wrestle with the question,

 

“What am I doing here?” “What is the purpose of all I’m going through?”

 

Let’s make one point very clear; Every life is no accident & every life is defined & lived for something or some purpose.

 

Some lives are driven by guilt, others by worry, or fear, or insecurity, or anger, or resentment. Some spend their life running from the past. Some live for possessions. The desire to acquire overwhelms them. A lot of us have spent at least a little time on that one. Some people are still living for their parents, still trying to do what mummy and daddy would approve of. Some spend too much time & money on their ego’s, trying to be somebody and to impress others. That’s why top Plastic Surgeons in Australia earn in excess of ¾ of a million dollars a year in wages.

 

Some live for the hope of that “perfect relationship”. Sadly, all of these purposes for living leave us empty and frustrated and wondering, Dionne Warwick asked the same question in her song, “What’s it all about Alfie?” I deeply believe the only life worth living is a life lived in a loving fellowship with our creator & for His purposes. In the Gospel of John, Jesus stated the fact that the greatest is love, (John 3:16) God’s love for us.

 

Everyone lives at one of 3 levels in life;

 

1 Survival. In pre Covid 19 times people were just getting by, putting in their time, dragging through the work-week and living for the weekends. They never really had any major goals or a major drive in life. If you find yourself frequently fantasizing about escaping to a deserted Island flush with tropical foods, sunshine & golden sands you are probably in this mode.

 

2 Success. Many of us are in the Western World live in this space. Most of the people in the world would love to have your problems. We worry about paying our mortgage or keeping a roof over our heads;non Westerners worry about whether they will have food for their children for the next meal. Success brings a lot of pleasures and luxuries. A lot of people at this level are so unsatisfied. People tend to think that if they just had a little more they would be satisfied. It doesn’t work that way.

 

3 Significance. These people know why they are here. They have a purpose for their life. This message & other following are designed to help each of us to live on the level of significance, the life worth living.

 

T.S.  Today we want to talk about the benefits of living the life worth living.

 

I. IT WILL REDUCE YOUR STRESS.

If you don’t have an overall direction in life, then daily decisions becomes fuzzy, difficult, & stressful because you have no foundation for making decisions.

It is terribly frustrating to finish a week of work and wonder, “Why did I go through all that?” We are very good at filling our weeks but for what purpose? The prophet understood that sinking feeling when he said that he had laboured to no purpose and spent his strength in vain and for nothing. So many people are living right there.
Isaiah 49:4

But, he also wrote in 26:3 that God will keep us in perfect peace if our mind is stayed on Him.

 

Peace and purpose go together. If we don’t have purpose in life we are going to be awfully frustrated, angry & unfulfilled.

After a while the pleasures and entertainments of life are going to leave you empty and frustrated if you are not living the life worth living. Most people are sick & tired of the large amount of forced screen time there had during the Covid pandemic.

If you find yourself frequently frustrated don’t just blame everyone and everything else. Look deeper. We tend to blame it on broken house hold appliances, the traffic, our children, our job, or even our spouse. But, ask yourself the question, “Am I living the life worth living?”

 

T.S. Having a purpose will reduce stress,move & motivate you.

 

II. IT WILL INCREASE YOUR STIMULUS LEVELS.

Do you ever have those depressive days when you’d rather stay in bed or feel like you have no reason for getting out.? You feel like nothing is worth making the effort. Most people just kind of drift through life. They are battered & torn by circumstances. After a while they just kind of give up. They keep going through the motions, but they have lost their passion. They have no reason for living, just existing seems to be their constant creed.

 

In Job 7:6,17 Job talked about how his life dragged by, day after hopeless day, how he was tired of living and his life made no sense. What a terrible thing it is to have no motivation, no reason to get up & move. But how wonderful it is to wake up with Son- light enthusiasm for the day because you know life has a purpose. It makes the difference between waking up and saying, “Good Lord, it’s morning!” and saying, “Good morning Lord!”

 

In John 10:10 Jesus said “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” Jesus wants you & I to have a full and meaningful life. In John 15:9-11 He tells us that He wants us to have complete joy. He tells us how to experience it. We experience complete joy when we obey His commands. This is the life worth living. We live for Him and with Him. Getting the focus on him & others instead of us is the way forward.

Do you want to be motivated? Get up believing Jesus wants you to experience complete joy today. Either we choose to believe this and live it or we are saying God is a liar, a fake an illusion of sick proportions.

 

T.S.  The way to joy is obeying the makers will & desire for our lives.

 

III. IT WILL ALLOW SYNCHRONEITY

 

This gives focus to your life. It gives us some life train tracks to run on. We don’t have time to do everything. The life worth living guides your choices of what to do. It synchronizes our lives with the makers intentions for our lives.

You have to choose what you are going to build your life around. There are only a few things worth doing anyway. When you have a purpose statement for your life it guides not only what you do but also what you don’t do.

As a person we can ask, “What is the purpose of my life?” and “Am I moving towards it?” This simplifies our decision-making. Proverbs 4:25-26 tells us to set our goals and then stick to accomplishing them.

 

We are to decide what really matters in our life and then stick to it. Most people don’t intend to waste their life. They do it because they get distracted from what’s really important. There are so many things that seem like they would be fun, that call for our attention, but only a few produce the results for our lives.

 

There is nothing quite so powerful as a focused & synchronized life, nothing quite so fulfilling. Most of us are trying to do too much. We have many irons in the fire that we are putting out the fire. We have too much on our plate.

We cannot accomplish the best without saying “no” to some things that are good or that seem good according to the values of our culture. We should encourage parents to avoid the stress of involving your children in too many sports activities, especially if they are going to keep you and your children away on Sunday. You are not going to experience complete joy by disobeying the Lord in something so basic as His command to attend church on Sunday.

 

IV. IT WILL ATTRACT SUPPORT.

 

When you know where you’re going other people want to come along & support you. The number one requirement of effective leadership is a clear vision of where the group is going.

We are all to be leaders in some way. We all influence others. At minimum you are to influence your children. There is nothing as powerful or as attractive as a life lived on purpose. Children flourish through directed guidance & Purpose.

Have you ever been on a committee and the leader didn’t really have a clear purpose? Didn’t it just drive you mad? You thought to yourself, “Why am I wasting my time?” You knew you were just killing time and didn’t want to go back.

In contrast a committee meeting where the leader knows what has to be done and has some good ideas of how to do it is energizing. You want to say, “How can I help?” Ezra 10:4,.  People follow a person who is focused on a worthy purpose. Children listen to parents who are focused on being parents

If you focus on the life worth living you will influence others to join & support you. That’s why the Lord put you here. There is no higher purpose for living

 

V. IT WILL PREPARE ME FOR GOD’S SURVEY.

 

God is going to survey us. Hebrews 9:27 and Romans 14:10,12 make that very clear.

 

One day God’s going to do an audit on your life. He is going to ask two very important questions;

 

1) How have you responded to my Son Jesus Christ? He’s not going to ask you what denomination you are part of.

He’s going to say, “I sent my Son Jesus to die for your sins so you could be brought back into a relationship with me. Did you ignore Him? Did you think He was just a nice bloke who died tragically? Or did you recognize that He died for your sins, accept Him as your Saviour, and make Him the Lord of your life by obeying what He commanded?”

 

 2) He’s going to say, what have you done with all I gave you? What have you done with the time, talents, money, opportunities, and relationships I gave you? Did you spend them on self-gratification or for the purpose for which I created you?

I created you to know me and accomplish my purposes in this world. That is the life worth living.

 

If you haven’t made the decision to accept Jesus as your Saviour you can’t really know real joy and you’re not ready for God’s survey. I encourage you to make the decision to ask God for forgiveness and trust in what Jesus has done to forgive your sins. Trust in Him alone, not in any effort or good works on your part.

Many have accepted Jesus and are still not living the life worth living. They are not able to answer the second question because they are not living to know and obey the Lord. They are living a life of emptiness and frustration.

 

T.S.    How do you get started living the life worth living?

Identify what’s been driving your life so far. Is it guilt, fear, resentment, money, sports, or ego? Is there something you have been using to try to desperately fill that emptiness?

 

Believe God has a purpose for your life. He created you for a special role in life that no-one else can fill. You are precious to Him.

 

Trust & receive Jesus as your Saviour if you haven’t done so already. That is the starting point of the life worth living, not the end. If you have already accepted Jesus as your Saviour but are still feeling empty and frustrated you need to take the step of obeying His commands so He can fill you with complete joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Job 8:1-9   25/7/2021

 

 

I. Wrong words at the wrong time.

 

WHEN FRIENDS FAIL

 

 

A. When your foot is in your mouth.

 

Have you ever said something that you’ve regretted? ,or said something that made you and others cringe? Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? Raise your hands if this has ever happened to you?

 

Ill.   Way back in the early 80’s My wife & I were shopping at a Coles Supermarket on the central coast when we bumped into a woman who was also a friend of a friend of ours named Rene. This nice lady spoke well of Rene and deeply admired Rene’s courage and the way Rene had raised her sons 3 children from a very young age despite her been wheel chair bound and in spite of having been disabled with Polio at a very young age. To most Rene had a tough exterior but when you got to really know her, she was just a kind sweet old lady who was sadly rejected by her well to do mother at an early age when she got afflicted with Polio. Rene suffered her mothers rejection because she did not fit her mothers social image.

 

My wife & I had been involved with Rene & her grandchildren for many years, Rene on a number occasions had referred to herself in a self-depreciative way as a spastic, because her wasted legs & shriveled arm diseased through Polio. I remarked to this lady in a stupid off the cuff careless way that “Rene had done a fantastic selfless job in bringing up her son’s children even though she had a spastic illness. As soon as I described Rene as having a spastic illness her friend’s face quickly distorted in disgust at my statement. The look on her face said volumes about my thoughtless & careless words. I felt like hiding behind the dog food shelf for life.

 

When I was about 5 I had a good play mate  named Stuart who got run over by a fire truck crushing his legs very badly. After the accident he had to always wear braces on both legs to get around just like those kids affected by polio. Back in those days parents & children seemed to give everybody nick names, Stuart was  referred to as spastic Stuart to distinguish him from other young Stuart's in our street. But back in those times the word Spastic was not an offensive term, as a lot of welfare associations used it & even Nadezda Hospital for Spastic Children was established to ensure children living in country areas were not denied treatment. But meanings & names do change over time & suffer derisive meanings.

 

Care needs to be taken as we choose our words when we describe people because certain names & words will come back to haunt & bite us, even 40 years later.

 

Note..... By the 1950s, polio had become one of the most serious communicable diseases among children in the United States. In 1952 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus; thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died. Hospitals set up special units with iron lung machines to keep polio victims alive.

Thanks to the polio vaccine, dedicated health care professionals, and parents who vaccinate their children on schedule, polio has been eliminated in most countries in the last 30 years.

 

B. Job's friends said wrong words, but didn't realize it.

 

 

1) Much of what they said can be excellent theology.

 

a) We can say it ourselves,

 

2) Unfortunately, it didn't apply to Job.

a) Conventional wisdom is not always the right wisdom in the wrong place.

 

 

​​​II. Lets look at Job's three friends.

 

A. Eliphaz, Deducts.   Job 4-5

 

 

1) His attitude.

 

a) Insulting.    "Who can keep you from speaking?"    4:2

b) Falsely religious?   "I had a vision."             4:12

c) Arrogant.     "It's true. Hear it and apply it."   5:27

 

2) His human deduction or argument.

a) My wisdom comes from personal observation.

1> God rewards those who obey him.

2> He punishes those who sin.

3> Job is suffering - he must have done something wrong.

b) God is discipling Job.                             5:17

1> Come clean and God will bless you again.       5:19

  

   Biblical deduction

 

2> Blessings don’t mean no harm whatsoever. Gen 45 7-8 Joseph God sent me to Egypt not your brothers.  

Why was Jesus & 11 disciple martyred? Answer >For our Good

 

 

B. Bildad, the Traditionalist.   Job 8

1) His attitude.

 

a) Heartless.    "Your kids died due to their sin."   8:4

 

2) His argument.

a) My wisdom comes from previous generations.

1> God has always worked this way.                8:8

2> Job is forgetting God and acting godless.      8:13

b) Job needs to put his trust back in God.        8:14

 

 

C. Zophar, the Religionist.                 Job 11

 

1) His attitude.

 

a) Ticked off at Job.   "Will no one rebuke you?"     11:3

b) The Most arrogant friend.

2) His argument.

a) My wisdom comes straight from God.                 11:6

 

1> Some sin already forgotten - how does Zophar know?

b) If God speaks, he'll trash you, Job.               11:5

c) Don't question God.

d) Get right with God and put away your sin.          11:13

 

 

In every public organization,or church you’ll find judgmental legalistic members with their personal ideas & ledgers of specialized sins you must not commit, once you become a Christian. These people pride themselves on their special, knowledge of sin’s you should not commit, but rather oddly some of these stalwarts can be rather deficient in their “acts of kindness” to kindred Christians & others.  Job found the similar characteristic flaws in his so-called friends. Now don’t get me wrong, all Christians have their flaws & nit-picking ways in which we can become selfish & nasty. I guess that’s why we have more than 45,000 Christian denominations globally.  I like the older apt Bible translations where Christians are called “a peculiar people” even though “special people” seems more applicable in some of the more modern translations.

 

Christianity is full of diverse cultures & thinking, because God calls humanity from all walks of life into his kingdom. But God loves to prioritize the outcasts,the damaged,down & outers to His kingdom. Mark 1:40-45; Luke 6:20

 

My wife & I had only been Christians for a short time before we ran into small-minded Church legalism.

It all started with a non-Christian family we were asked by our pastor to invite to church. The mother & father both came along with their children attending Sunday school, both parents gave their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ not long after.

 

Then along came another beautiful baby boy; but tragedy struck. That beautiful baby was born with the devastating disease (Genesis Imperfecta, brittle bone disease) we were all stunned & shocked. We prayed intensely for the baby to be healed, but that was not to be, as he only lived 14 days on Earth with over 20 plus painful broken bones in his poor broken little body. Most people at Church were very saddened & heart broken.

 

Then one day my wife & I were sharing our sorrow outside of the Church building over the  baby with a long-time church man who had even helped build the church building. When he shocked us by saying he believed the death was a result of the mother’s lack of respect by not wearing a hat in church. I got angry, very angry with this man, I boiled inside, I clenched my fist, I wanted to knock him down to the ground where he stood for saying such a terrible heartless thing. But that would have been wrong on my part. I've learned in life ,"people who cause trouble have troubles at home".

 

We walked away from him very disturbed shaking our heads. Unbeknown to us there were other power dynamics going on in the church at that time. I sure Job was as disturbed by his friends words, as we in his time of heartache.

 

 

​​

​​​​​​III. What Job's friends did, and you shouldn't.

 

 

A. Make false assumptions about how our hurting friend feels.

1) Two statements to avoid at all costs.

a) "I know just how you feel."

1> You don't, at least they will feel you don't.

2> This seems to shift the attention to you, not them,

especially if you follow with a personal story.

 

b) "Don't feel that way!"

1> We tell them not to be depressed, or angry, or

negative.

A> We tell them God loves them so they shouldn't

feel that way.

2> Telling them not to feel this way, only gives them

one more reason to.

A> Let them know you'll stand by them, no matter

how negative they get.

 

B. Make false assumptions about God's plan behind the troubles.

1) Misusing religion is a big mistake, but common.

2) Many Christians say, "God is trying to teach you something."

 

C. Have a patronizing attitude.

1) You may have insight, but you don't have all the answers.

 

D. Be blunt, uncaring, and unsympathetic.

1) Job's biggest complaint is that they have no compassion

for him.                                                    6:14

2) When people are sick or in sorrow, there fragile.

a) Remember that they need extra affirmation, even about

little things.

 

ILL. A while ago I visited, Liz who was in therapy with her Leukemia treatment, her spleen was hurting, she was vomiting & in pain, I sat for one hour with her and just listened. She told me with pain & tears in her eyes about her son who had tried to reconcile with his father after 16 years of separation, the uncaring father gave him only 6 minutes of his time then said he had to go. Liz said she could handle the Leukemia & dying but not the father’s uncaring response to their son.

 

On the same Saturday night May rang crying, because she said her children were awful to her & showed no respect. Both ladies I encouraged & told them they were good mothers because they tried to do the right things as mothers.

Motherhood is hard & full of tears, but mothers are God’s great design for bearing & raising His children. Why? Because mothers are enhanced with the mothering gene.

 

Assumptions made in court rape case; in Victoria brings condemnation.

 

It was supposed to be a teen birthday party, instead it led to police investigation,two trials and & an experience one expert say should shock our moral consciousness; see, ABC article published online 18/7/2021 by Elise Kinsella.

​​​​​​IV. What can we do or what, should do?

 

A. "Be quick to listen, slow to speak."                  James 1:19

 

1) The key to good listening is; stop talking.

a) Eager to relieve another's pain, we are often too quick

to lecture.

 

b) Look at Job:

1> He freely blurts out his own troubles.        10:1

2> But he wants his friends to shut up.          13:5

2) How to respond to someone in pain.

a) Advice from an expert.

 

Ilust….Paul Welter says that "a response no longer than

12 seconds is usually an effective length in a

counseling or helping situation."

In 12 seconds, one can say two sentences, or a

total of about 25 words.

 

Welter says "a consistent response length of over

20-30 seconds presents a major problem."

 

What we communicate by more lengthy answers is,

"I want to talk TO you rather than talk WITH you."

If our responses are long, then the focus is taken

off the person we are trying to help and the

helping process is slowed down.

#58

 

b) One of the reasons we talk rather than listen is that

we do not like to face negative feelings.

 

1> We don't feel comfortable when friends are angry

at God, or feel they are losing their faith.

 

2> These feelings challenge our own faith - and we

don't have easy answers for them.

 

B. Listening requires an understanding spirit.

1) It is more than not talking.

a) Try to understand what lies behind the words we hear.

2) After listening, show your friend you have heard them.

a) Often a one sentence paraphrase is enough.

b) They can then clarify, or add more information.

 

 

C. Show compassion.

1) Just being there for them makes a statement.

2) Pray for them when they feel they cannot pray.

3) Extend a helping hand.

 

 

 V. The ultimate solution.

A. Three things that won't work.

 

1) Job cannot gloss over his pain.9:27                        

a) Pasting on a smiley face doesn't work.

2) Job cannot cleanse or spring clean himself. 9:30                          

a) If God doesn't want him clean, nothing will work.

3) Job cannot challenge God and expect to win.9:32                  

 

B. What we need is an arbitrator, a mediator. 9:30                

 

1) Someone to come between the two parties.

a) Someone to be an honest broker, not with own agenda.

b) Only then would the terror go away.

2) What Job longed for; we have in Jesus.

a) He is the mediator between God and humans.     1 Tim 2:5

b) He has "been there," experiencing pain just like us.

 

 

Conclusion

​​​​​Harsh WORDS

In order to uncover the processes that destroy unions, marital researchers study couples over the course of years, and even decades, and retrace the star-crossed steps of those who have split up back to their wedding day.

 

What they are discovering is unsettling. None of the factors one would guess might predict a couple's durability actually does: not how in love a newlywed couple say they are; how much affection they exchange; how much they fight or what they fight about. In fact, couples who will endure and those who won't look remarkably similar in the early days. 

 

Yet when psychologists Cliff Notarius of Catholic University and Howard Markman of the University of Denver studied newlyweds over the first decade of marriage, they found a very subtle but telling difference at the beginning of the relationships. Among couples who would ultimately stay together, 5 out of every 100 comments made about each other were putdowns.

Among couples who would later split, 10 of every 100 comments were insults. That gap magnified over the following decade, until couples heading downhill were flinging five times as many cruel and invalidating comments at each other as happy couples.

 

"Hostile putdowns act as cancerous cells that, if unchecked, erode the relationship over time," says Notarius, who with Markman co-authored the new book We Can Work It Out. "In the end, relentless unremitting negativity takes control and the couple can't get through a week without major blowups."

The Truth about Trials     1/8/21 

Romans 5:3-4   Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience; and experience, hope:



Introduction

Was the Apostle Paul a crazy man?

 

Rejoice/Boast/Vaunt; when we run into problems and trials?
Is God really serious in His word when he encourages us to rejoice when we suffer hardship?

Song: Be happy 30 sec sound bite

          The song only gets it partly right, be happy don’t worry.  

The Bible tells us not to “linger” in worry because God is in control.

 

Hold up Coloured glassware – we often view ourselves, through rose coloured glasses instead of the way God sees us.  We see the work God has done in us and we acknowledge the potters hand – and we are grateful for God’s grace.

 

Place the glassware into a bag.  Place sledgehammer next to the bag

 But we can become complacent with our human & spiritual characters to easily. 

But then the Lord allows us to face trials (break the glass into pieces).

He begins a work of brokenness in us. We may question God and ask Him “Why?”

But sometimes were unable to see that He is changing us into a more beautiful vessel, which reflects his light more fully!

 

ILL. This past week a Christian told me of his ongoing problems he’d been having with his neighbour. He was quite annoyed with antics of the neighbour’s children & the belligerent nature of their parents towards him. Words had been exchanged & he said that he was going to ring the local council to get them to address his problems. I listened to his problems & the oft repeated cry; why me? What did I do to deserve this?

 

Switch bags,  pull out the stain glass globes

God is in the business of taking broken pieces and reassembling them to make things of beauty.

But we have to allow God to do His work within us. Don’t we!


Brokenness is the pressure God uses to continually make us into the image of His Son. Jesus experienced brokenness – not because He had to – but because He wanted to – so that He may work His goodness in us.

But contrary to those who proclaim an unbalanced theology of health – wealth – and prosperity, the Bible tells us to expect to run into problems, trials and tribulations.

To expect them in the Christian walk & that God actually allows them, to make us more like Jesus.

Listen to what Paul wrote about in his own life in II Corinthians
 

2Co 6:3  We don't give people any opportunity to find fault with how we serve.

       4  Instead, our lives demonstrate that we are God's servants. We have endured many things: suffering, distress, anxiety, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, and lack of food. 6 People can see our purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives, our sincere love, 7 truthfulness, and the presence of God's power. We demonstrate that we are God's servants 8 as we are praised and dishonored, as we are slandered and honored, and as we use what is right to attack what is wrong and to defend the truth. We are treated as dishonest although we are honest, 9  as unknown although we are well-known, as dying although, as you see, we go on living. We are punished, but we are not killed. 10  People think we are sad although we're always glad, that we're beggars although we make many people spiritually rich, that we have nothing although we possess everything.

 

ILL.  Some name it & claim it theologies are so misguided that they have to say that Paul lacked faith because he did not exercise his power in Christ to overcome all the problems in his life to claim health – wealth – and prosperity! How twisted is that.

THE BIBLE IS TELLING US THAT OUR TRIALS CAN WORK FOR US AND NOT AGAINST US – BUT ONLY WE CAN DETERMINE THE COURSE.

 We often have a natural tendency to ask the question “Why” when we run into trials and hardship. This is our first reaction and it’s by no means wrong. However, when we move beyond the question of why to a place of hope and trust in the Lord – God is developing character in us through the trials. It is this strength – this character that enables us to hope in Christ when our difficulties seem hopeless. 
Read· I Peter 1:6-9

What does Paul mean when he tells us to rejoice when we run into trails?

· The Greek word Paul used for rejoice ( or in the KJV “glory”) is the word boast – meaning that in the midst of our times of trials we have the ability to praise God.

 

ILL.   Ever meet a woe is me Christian?I think we all have.

A woe is me Christian is one that has not learned the principle of giving God praise in times of trial. Like you I must admit I have been a woe is me Christian; as a matter of fact, there was a time when even the Apostles were a bunch of woe is me Christians just after the Crucifixion Jn 20:19.

They thought it was all over red rover. They thought Jesus was dead & buried, the end. No more is the Jesus way, it all ended at the tomb.

But we know different from Bible history. For Jesus death wasn’t the end, because you can’t keep a good man down, as a matter of fact no power in the universe could ever hope to keep the Lord Jesus down in the grave.

· You see our
woe is me Christian can sometimes buy into Satans best lie, that all is hopeless and will continue to be hopeless – Sadly the Christian can lose their ability to rejoice in the enduring & overcoming of their trials.

· What did this rejoicing in the midst of trials means for Paul? Paul was responding to a bunch of woe is me Christians at Corinth!

II Corinthians 11:23-30;          23 They say they serve Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 _ Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not.£ 27I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 _ Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. 29Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?
· 30 _ If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 31 

· In the conclusion of that chapter Paul sums it up by saying, “ Since I know it is all for Christ’s good…I am content…for when I am weak, it is then that I am really strong.

Questions
· Why is it then that Paul can say that in his trials he can be content?
· What is the truth about trials?
· Why must we run into hardships?
· Why doesn’t God just deliver us each time and keep us from experiencing pain?

T.S..... The text continues and gives us the answer…they help us develop in three area’s in our lives.

 


  1. It is said that when your come face to face with a difficulty – your up against a discovery!

    ILL. The year was 1995 I was lying in a Gosford hospital bed with a broken humerus bone of the left upper arm, which later turned out to be even less humorous, the result in falling off a house roof. Later to be supplemented with a free golden staph infection given to me as my GP indicated from another local hospital who’d plastered my broken arm. Before I landed in hospital with the Staph infection, I had been having my own pity party sleeping in an arm chair for weeks on end, unable to sleep in my normal bed because the broken bone was still mending & just the slightest movement or jarring caused pain. I was feeling rather down & depressed this particular day at home when my wife exclaimed YOU STINK. I said what! YOU SMELL she said. I felt rather indignant, I washed each day with face cloths as best I could. I tried not to be too demanding, but loved the attention I was given by my wife & children. At times I felt like King David in my arm chair come bed throne, other times I felt like a prisoner in Maitland jail. The stinky statement did hurt but was true, as I had developed a green slime Staph infection under my broken arm pit which migrated onto my back. Went & saw my GP told me to go back to the hospital straight away.                                                                                                    Went back to the hospital there the doctors asked if I had been putting butter on my back` I said what! Why would I do that? My pity party was now really getting near the speed of light. I was now in a woe is me state big time. I  feeling low & finding it difficult to read my bible or pray peacefully. Then I tuned on the hospital Chapel TV station & on came the Joni Erikson Tada story. God gave me a swift kick in the back side, He rebuked me. I remembered saying to the Lord, “I am sorry” I was to be only in the Hospital a week, but Joni accident cause her to be a wheel bound Quadriplegic for all her life.


· Parents learn endurance when faced with sick children.
· Spouses learn endurance when their husband or wife become ill or incapacitated.
· We all learn endurance when we encounter difficulties beyond our control.
· God often allows difficulties in our lives to teach us not to quit but to endure.

We learn that that GOD CAN BE TRUSTED THROUGH ALL OUR DIFFICULITES.

· So Endurance teaches us have confidence and trust in God.

T.S.....  Paul goes on to say that Endurance develops in us strength of character.

 

2. Strength of Character

· Do you know what a good definition of character is?
· Character is who we are when nobody is looking.

· The Bible tells us that God searches our hearts to determine the level of character that has been developed in us.

ILL· Often character is only refined in us through tribulation.
· Our English word “Tribulation” comes from the Latin word “Tribulum”
· When Paul wrote that we can rejoice in our tribulations he used a word picture that his readers could relate to.
· A Tribulum in Paul’s day was a heavy timber with spikes in it, used for threshing the grain. The tribulum was drawn over the grain and it separated the wheat from the chaff.
· As we go through tribulations, and depend on Gods grace, the trials only purify us and help us to get rid of the chaff in our lives.

· James echo’s this truth about character development through trials in

James 1: 2-4
2. Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. 3. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

God is not so much concerned with our comfort as He is in our character.

· Trials actually are good for us because

The only thing we will take with us when we stand before God – is the character traits of Jesus that we have allowed to be developed in our life.

T.S.... Endurance – Strength of Character – lead to one more quality that God wants to perfect in us through trials…


3. Hope

· Hope in its simplest definition is to have confidence and trust.
· This definition ties in well with the context of this passage. 
· The process that difficulties bring into our lives are these.

Tribulation – Endurance – Strength of Character – All eventually lead down one path – An unshakable confident Trust in Jesus!
· The truth about trials is simple: Though they are difficult to endure – if we allow God to teach us through the trials – we can rejoice because when the trial is over we will have learned to trust in Jesus better.

 

ILLMatt Redman sings a wonderful worship song that has given us hope & strength to endure the loss of two near full-term babies my daughter suffered due to a blood clotting gene she inherited. The loss & pain are still there, though diminished but our trust in God is strong by His grace.

Blessed be your name is the song and 2 stanza goes like this

 

Every blessing You pour out 
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering 
Though there's pain in the offering 
Blessed be Your name




· When we place our Hope in Christ it is then that we become the manager rather then the victims of difficulties.

Conclusion

· So How can I rejoice in My Trials?

Focus on the Process instead of the Pain

If you “hold the course” you’ll find that you have become a:
Stronger Christian
Stable Christian
And a Confident Christian

 

· One promise that the Lord makes to us, gives me great comfort in the midst of trial…
· Its found in Phillipians 1:6 “ And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.”

Closing Prayer

8/8/2021

Christian Values Matter:     Part 1

 

Using 4000-year-old Values to Raise, Responsible, Resilient & Caring Children. Proverb 26:6; Galatian’s 5:22-23

 

 

 

What are Values? (1)

We hear so much these days about how important it is for parents to in-still good values in their children being either secular or Christian values. The truth is that if parents especially Christian parents don’t accept this responsibility, then this void may be filled by negative forces mainly from the media & others in our culture that do not support healthy morals and Christian ethics for our families.

 

Society is changing it's ideas on how we speak to one another driven by the media money makers who care less about decency & more about profit. An recent ABC article tells How a mother letting her daughter swear has changed Penny's so called relationship with her daughter for the better. ABC Everyday / By Carin Pickworth  (2)

 

Parents need to be more aware of their own values, Christian or otherwise, the clearer they will be in expressing them and communicating them to their children.

 

A Value is the amount of worth we ascribed to something, the degree to which something is desired or has merit. Christian Values are the Biblical beliefs that under pin what we & others consider are important for themselves family and for humanity as a whole.

 
Christian values are very important in parenting since they deeply influence all behaviours and attitudes and effect our decisions and relationships.
Philippians 4:8

For a value to be a reality in your own life, you must act on it and your Christian behaviours must reflect it – not just verbally accept it or think that you should follow it.

These common sayings refer to the important concept of acting in concert with your values in order to have internal integrity:

 

  • put your money where your mouth is;

  • walk the walk not just talk the talk;

  • actions speak louder than words;

  • children do as they see, not do as they are told to do.

  • What would Jesus do.

 

 

 

 

Some Facts about Values

 

Values Can Cause Conflict

  • The closer the relationship to another person, the more a person feels responsible for that person. That partially explains why parents often have an intense drive to make sure their children accept their values and act according to those standards.

  • Values can be very personal and are often held with great conviction, including beliefs about how to parent. Strongly committed to their values, people can feel personally attacked when someone disagrees with them or tries to inflict their values on them. As a result, conflicts can occur if someone tries to tell another person how to raise his children.

For example, young parents often are very sensitive to comments and suggestions from their own parents about their parenting choices, as it often feels like criticism of a value the newer parents hold.

  • This strong commitment to one’s values can also lead to tension between parents when they disagree on fundamental issues about raising their children.

  • Strong adherence to one’s values is also a common cause of tension between parents and children (especially teens) when the children espouse opposing values.

Some Values Can be Subjective

  • Often values are not consciously chosen. They are based on deep beliefs that people learn from their parents when they are so young that they accept what their parents say and do without question. Assimilated values can & must be questioned as too their worth & goodness. Philippians 4:8

 

Ill. Have you ever heard the term "A White lie"?   I was introduced to the term by my father as a 7-year-old after a day spent fruitlessly fishing near Wollongong with my brother while my father spent most of  the day at the pub. I remember the day clearly as another avoidable commotion in my life that I had no control over. It was rather bleak & raining in patches, the fish weren’t biting but as a kid of 7 it was good fun just to get out & muck about around the lagoon’s water’s edges.

After my father returned to our fishing spot he left us at, seeing that we had no luck at fishing, he said no worries boys we’ll stop & buy some fish & tell Nana & auntie Sheila that we caught them, with that my brother & I said that it was not right, my father quickly said, yes we can say that because it will be a white lie & because a white lie is ok if nobody gets hurt.

Well, somebody did get hurt when we got back to Nana’s house at Auburn with our very good un caught decent size catch wrapped in fish shop wrapping paper that auntie Sheila smelled a rat fish & got suspicious. I can still remember her forcible interrogating my brother & I about our fantastic size fish we had caught.

 

Well, Aunt Sheila knew how to get the truth out of us both, & she sure got it & so did my dad get it from his sister for getting us involved in his slippery fish tales. To this day I found out from my aunt Sheila to keep away from getting involved in telling tall stories. Pro 12:22; Lips that lie are disgusting to the LORD, but honest people are his delight. 

+

 

Values & early beliefs are communicated to children to a large degree non-verbally and through the many interactions they have with their parents throughout their childhood. Children usually take on the values of those in charge until they are old enough & begin to think for themselves.

  • Values can be completely subjective or just personal opinions & not facts. Often people think that what they value is a universally accepted belief and that it is factual and objective.

 

  • Prejudices are formed when opinions, which are determined by our values and are interpretations of facts, are stated as facts and believed to be facts. These then are often communicated to children as absolute truths.

For example, a parent may value the qualities of studiousness and seriousness in a child, and communicate to a more boisterous child that his highly active temperament is ‘bad.’ This more active child may then grow up believing that there is something wrong with him. Children with special needs, need special care in framing our values to them.

  • An important part of increasing our understanding of values is to differentiate between facts and opinions.

In the above example, this louder and more spirited child may not be what a parent prefers (that is, what he values), but there is nothing inherently bad about those traits. Another parent may actually feel better about a child is who more boisterous and lively.

 

Sometimes our decisions are all a matter of personal opinion and preference, & sometimes not fact. The present debate on vaccinations reluctance & hesitancy has many opinions swimming around our state & nation as to why people are & are not getting the vaccine. Some have good hesitancy reasons based upon their medical history, some are basing their reluctance on the changeable medical advice been given almost on a weekly basis. Whatever the decisions people may take on the vaccines, judgements must be made because their decisions could have real life & death realities either way upon the value they place upon getting the vaccine or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Values Change Over Time

  • Values often change with age and are closely connected to a person’s developmental stage in life.

 

For example:

As teens begin breaking away from their parents, they closely identify with their peer group. These friendships become all-important, often taking precedence over family relationships & sometimes Christian values all too often. (2)

Once the teen matures and becomes more comfortable with himself, he can then break away from his peer group to form his own values, which often return to or become more similar to those of his parents.

When a person becomes a parent, values often change as rearing children and providing for them become priorities in the parent’s life.

  • One very effective way that teens separate themselves from their parents is by rejecting the parents’ values. If teens have not been allowed to voice an opposing view all along, they may rebel more strongly in the adolescent years as a way of decisively differentiating themselves from their parents. Thinking Christian parents will allow discussion & discourse on their teens questioning on faith issues like music. (3)

 

The Value of Christian Values

Understanding the concept of Christians values and the importance of teaching them to their children gives parents a powerful way to influence their children and to shield them from the adverse forces they may encounter in the outside world.

Proverbs 6:20

My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.

This verse is aimed more at children themselves, but it assumes that parents are commanding and instructing them in the first place. Verses 22 and 23 go on to say that these commands and instructions will lead and protect a person throughout his or her life.

Corrective discipline of parents is described as “the way to life”, and as a lamp that lights a path. Put simply, your guiding correction will keep your kids from all kinds of harm.

 

Parents are not helpless against the realities in our culture and in the media that assault their belief systems and that make practicing healthy parenting feel like an exercise in “swimming upstream.” Proverbs 13:24

Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

I understand this verse has been used to justify harshness and even abuse. God would never advocate or endorse the beating of children. “The rod” in this context is primarily an instrument of correction and guidance. However, it was better to strike a lamb’s weak legs than to let it veer off the path into danger (Proverbs 23:13).

While the rod wasn’t necessarily used to inflict pain, it was used firmly and consistently. Too many of us approach discipline flippantly and treat obedience from our children as optional. Ignoring direct disobedience can make a child vulnerable to an ongoing spirit of rebellion. If we love our kids, we will save them from the ruin of disrespect and an undisciplined life. Discipline must always be applied with love & especially care, angry self -interested parents on too many occasions have injured & killed their children through lack of love, & despicable parenting practices. Good balanced discipline must never, never endanger the life of a child.

 

Kaylee-Jayde Priest sentenced to 15 years jail for killing daughter because it interrupted sex with her boyfriend A 23-year-old woman has been jailed for killing her three-year-old child, who she was pictured with on CCTV hours before the girl’s murder. Britta Zeltmann, News.com August 7, 2021 (4)

 

 

 

Values Provide Clarity

  • Parents are more effective and clearer when they know what they value for themselves and how those values influence what they want for their children.

  • The more conscious Christian parents have values they wish to transmit and the more they know about effective ways of transmitting them, the more likely it is that their children will learn and incorporate those Christian values & have more effective adult lives.

 

Values Provide Guidance   

  • Knowing your goals for your child helps you decide how to relate to your children. It focuses the parenting choices you make, helps you to guide your children, determine what messages you want to send and what behaviours and attitudes you want to reinforce. Do you want to re-in-force?

    • Salvation

    • Fruits of the Spirits

    • hard work?

    • kindness?

    • generosity?

    • assertiveness?

    • independence?

It helps you pick your battles, decide what is worth your time and attention, and what you can let go of.

 

 

Values Impact Relationships

  • Understanding your human & Christian values helps make clear when one value conflicts with another. You can then consciously determine what your priorities are in regard to the two conflicting values. Do you value:

    • neatness or creativity?

    • socialization time with peers or time with family?

  •        honesty or politeness?
  • One very effective way that teens separate themselves from their parents is by rejecting the parents’ values. If teens have not been allowed to voice an opposing view all along, they may rebel more strongly in the adolescent years as a way of decisively differentiating themselves from their parents.

Knowing that your Christians values can serve as a guide to determine when and how you want to intervene in a situation with your children. If you see your child misbehaving in a way that is contrary to a value you want to in-still, it can be a clue about something the child needs to learn, whether it be kindness, generosity, responsibility, honesty, etc. Good Biblical teaching & living through out a child’s early years by the parents is the best mentoring a child can get.

The special mentoring time that you’ll get with your child, is a once in this life time opportunity never to be repeated. It’s a wonderful time God has given you to develope a loving relationship & bond for all eternity. Our jobs as parents never ceases till the day we are taken home to be with our Lord & saviour Jesus Christ. Let’s do our job as parents,  teach them values that will last for eternity and Christian behaviour’s that reflect it.

 

 

 

1, Message adapted & revised from; The Center for Parenting Education.org

2.  How letting her daughter swear has changed Penny's relationship with her for the better.  ABC Everyday / By Carin Pickworth

3. How to ‘Disciple’ Your Kids into Church Dropout Status;  Jared C. Wilson  

4. 412teens.org

5.. News.com.au; Kaylee-Jayde Priest sentenced to 15 years jail for killing daughter. BBC News.

 

 

 

Part 2 & 3 to be continued soon;

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HEY! ….There is No Peace 

 

Jeremiah 8:10-8:11

 

12/9/21


Introduction

 

 It was 20 years, when we heard the attack.

Do you remember where you were when you heard the news.

You will always remember. You will tell your children and your grandchildren where you were when you first heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center.

You will tell them how you felt when you heard about another plane crashing into the Pentagon. Or the news of how passengers stood up to the terrorists of a fourth plane despite the fact that some passenger’s had had their throats cut with box cutters, and kept them from crashing into The White House?

And you will never forget the shock and rage you felt on September 11th.

But now the shock & rage has passed and rational thought had returned. Advocates for peace had loudly spoken against the war on terror. Allied troops have all been pulled out of Afghanistan which is now been ironically been overrun by the Islamic Taliban who were the ones who supported the 9/11 attacks.

 

When I was 18 years old, I was old just enough for conscription into the Australia army. But that all changed for me when Goff Whitlam became prime minister, he stopped national service & quickly withdrew our forces from Vietnam.

My generation had protested that war. We sang peace songs like, the Beatles hit "All we are saying, is give peace a chance." and the world wide peace standard “Where have all the flowers gone”.

In March 2003; a “No War” banner was painted large in blood colored red on the Sydney Opera house sails, for all the world to see, once again the peace movement were signing, singing & shouting peace again against the Iraq war.

 

Weeks later the Greens protested the fact that the brushes and brooms used to deface the opera house with red paint were going to be destroyed by police. They wanted them to be sold at a charity auction. People are Strange!, I guess in a certain way we all are weird, Just like the debate going on about getting the vaccine shot or not.

 

Conspiracy theories abound left right & center around the origins of the Virus in China & what a vaccine will do to you & your family. I’m glad that we have the Polio vaccine & flu vaccine, antibiotics, insulin & other miracle drugs that scientist have developed for humanity.

 

The advances in medicine have saved hundreds of millions lives over the last 100 years. Yes! we have had the thalidomide tragedies & overuse of antibiotics & the like, but the reality is many people would not be alive today without them & I am one.

 

Six weeks ago I was booked in to get my first Astra Zeneca shot,but  not all of my family agreed with the shot. But I did have to cancel that first shot after been taken by ambulance to the hospital with double pneumonia & sepsis 5 days before the vaccine shot. The excellent hospital care & drugs saved my life, that I’m very sure about. We need to be very, very careful in dismissing medical advice, but in saying that we should also have a right to reject it. Many good people are at war with taking the covid 19 vaccine & many are at peace. Some in their dying breaths in the news in recent times have denounced their anti-vaccines idea’s as sadly misguided & deadly wrong for them. We need to be very aware of the consequences of our decisions for us & our families. But I do believe people should also have the right to choose.
 

T.S.    I serve the Prince of Peace, but I’m troubled by the words of Jeremiah.

 

 

1    "There is no peace."

In the days immediately after the attacks of 9/11, meetings were held and signs were displayed along the Sydney Newcastle expressway everywhere saying, “GOD BLESS AMERICA” churches held special prayer services.

 

Most Australians felt sorry for America.


But that was our immediate response.

As time goes by, however, it becomes easier for us to realize there is a great spiritual struggle.

We responded to the attacks with a cry for war, but upon reflection, our memories begin to recall something very important -- or rather someone. Christ.

 

The Prince of Peace.

Christ -- who called us to turn the other cheek.

Christ -- who urged us to love all people.

Christ -- who commanded us to pray for our enemy.

So, as Christians, how do we respond to these attacks?


 

2    War has always been difficult for Christians.

Many have personally experienced this struggle, and one of the most notable was a simple boy from the mountains of Tennessee. He was a devout Christian, who was called to serve in the army during the first World War. He was filled with doubts as to whether or not he could actually kill another person. His captain was well versed in Scripture, and the two of them entered a long discussion. The soldier from Tennessee pointed out that the Bible said, "Thou shalt not kill."  The captain replied with a quote from Luke 22:36, "Jesus said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."(NIV)

Back and forth the two quoted Scripture to one another until the captain mentioned Ezekiel 33, in which God places a responsibility for defending one’s homeland.
"Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ’When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head."
Ezekiel 33:2-4 (NIV)


With that verse, the young soldier from Tennessee began to understand that sometimes it is necessary for Christians to engage in warfare. His name was Sgt. York and he did indeed fight in a war. In one battle, he faced more than two dozen enemy machine guns all alone in the Argonne Forest. For that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.


 

3.   We have lived at peace for many years.

That peace ended on September 11th, but in the time that has followed, many of us are struggling with issues of faith. These are struggles worth engaging. These are questions that need to be asked.

But as we ask them, let us be careful, lest we become more like the religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day:
"They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 8:10-11)

 J C Ryle, said peace without truth is a false peace; it is the very peace of the Devil.

 

 

4.   Like it or not, storms of war are approaching us.

….I remember as a kid of 12 my father stating that John Curtin was the best Prime Minister that Australia ever had, he said “he saved Australia from Japanese conquest”.

 

He was an 'ordinary man' but visionary as evidenced by:

  • his early recognition of the potency of air power;

  • his realization even in 1919 that the treaty of Versailles at the end of World War would make another war an inevitable consequence;

  • his acceptance that, committed as he was to the British connection (and to his dying day he still saw Australia as an inseparable part of the British Empire), we had to turn to the United States for help and that he had to stand up to Churchill when Australia's very survival was at stake;

  • the fact that it was his government which created the foundation of Australia's welfare state.

 

As wartime prime minister Curtin over and over again had to make pragmatic compromises as a lifelong pacifist and ex union official.

But he was humble, decent and dutiful to a fault.

 

Curtin never forgot his origins nor his sense of duty which he passionately believed should always take precedence over personal aggrandizement a trap for most leaders. 

 

Curtin was always fundamentally a man of the people and a passionate Australian (a 'natural Australian' as Professor Geoffrey Serle once described him).

 

In the words of his epitaph:

His country was his pride; His brother man his cause

 

Let me conclude with three short testaments, the first an extract from the verdict of official Labor historian Ross McMullin:

Talented, unpretentious and utterly dedicated, Curtin was a revelation as prime minister. In a manner that was beyond his predecessors he conveyed a genuine concern for the nation and its people, and a willingness to ensure that with Australia threatened, his government would take the drastic measures that were necessary.

 

Then in the words of Dame Mary Gilmore, the poet:

I never heard of him falling out with anybody, I never heard any vindictive remarks about him, I never heard any criticism of him as a man who wanted his own way, or was hard to deal with never anything like that ... and yet when the time came that was the most dangerous to Australia, he was the one man who seemed to fill the gap. It was an extraordinary thing. He was like the keystone in an archway, he kept the arch together, kept it from falling.

 

 

5.  We must be people of peace for a time of war; & we must respond rightly.

 

 

But no matter how much we would like to close our eyes and imagine that our world & life is presently peaceful despite the present Covid 19 Virus pandemic closing down our schools, shops, restricting all movement, causing our state borders to be closed. Peace has always been a fleeting illusion for humanity as any good history teacher would tell you.

 

A worrying belligerence of Wolf Warrior diplomacy is threatening our national peace & exports, that's being done by one of our biggest trading partners. Talk of war is again on the national agenda.

We must be people of peace for a time of war;  Just like Curtin, and we must respond rightly.

 

ILL.   Hugh Thompson, the My Lai massacre hero, died on the
07/01/2006

Hugh Thompson, a former US Army helicopter pilot honoured for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow soldiers during the My Lai massacre, died early he was 62.

Thompson, whose role in the 1968 massacre did not become widely known until decades later, died at the Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Alexandria, hospital spokesman Jay DeWorth said.

Trent Angers, Thompson’s biographer and family friend, said Thompson died of cancer.

“These people were looking at me for help and there was no way I could turn my back on them,” Thompson recalled in a 1998 interview.

Early in the morning of March 16, 1968, Thompson, door-gunner Lawrence Colburn and crew chief Glenn Andreotta came upon US ground troops killing Vietnamese civilians in and around the village of My Lai.

They landed the helicopter in the line of fire between American troops and fleeing Vietnamese civilians and pointed their own guns at the US soldiers to prevent more killings.

Colburn and Andreotta had provided cover for Thompson as he went forward to confront the leader of the US forces. Thompson later coaxed civilians out of a bunker so they could be evacuated, and then landed his helicopter again to pick up a wounded child they transported to a hospital. Their efforts led to the cease-fire order at My Lai.

In 1998, the Army honoured the three men with the prestigious Soldier’s Medal, the highest award for bravery not involving conflict with an enemy. It was a posthumous award for Andreotta, who was killed in battle three weeks after My Lai.

“It was the ability to do the right thing even at the risk of their personal safety that guided these soldiers to do what they did,” Army Maj. Gen. Michael Ackerman said at the 1998 ceremony. The three “set the standard for all soldiers to follow”.

Lt. William Calley, a platoon leader, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killings, but served just three years under house arrest when then-President Nixon reduced his sentence.

Hersh called Thompson “one of the good guys”.

For years Thompson suffered snubs and worse from those who considered him unpatriotic. He recalled a congressman angrily saying that Thompson himself was the only serviceman who should be punished because of My Lai.

As the years passed, Thompson became an example for future generations of soldiers, said Col. Tom Kolditz, head of the Army academy’s behavioral sciences and leadership department.

“There are so many people today walking around alive because of him, not only in Vietnam, but people who kept their units under control under other circumstances because they had heard his story. We may never know just how many lives he saved.”

 

 

6.  We have a God given right to defend our home land and those of our friends.

 

All of us would like to continue to live our lives as it has been before Covid 19, in air conditioned homes, going to movies, taking children and grand children to the park, complaining about petrol prices, and maybe taking a holiday cruise ships to Islands or a bus ride in London. We can’t without the thought in the back of our minds When will the Covid Pandemic STOP! “will war come from China as it invades Taiwan & Australia an allied nations combine to respond to its aggression.

 

We all want peace,….. But never at any cost;

                             ……..But never at any price

 

Conclusion

 

I never met my grandfather as he died before I was born, assailed by PTS from his war service in WW1. The family never talked much about him, but I remember my grandmother as a very sweet & caring old Nana having given birthed to 11 children, living in a rented home in Sydney, till it burnt down one night while I was asleep inside. Nana played the organ in the local movie theater when silent movies were the latest technology to earn a few coins to feed her family, as her husband capacity to work had been destroyed by his army service.

 

There are no real winners in war, those who have fought you’ll find, will be the first to argue for peace. But not at any price.

 

 

The best known words from the American revolutionary fighter; Patrick Henry’s ... "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

 

We must make war when we are forced upon!

We must make peace when our adversary calls for peace.

 

But! As God says we must be wary of those who apply band aids and say peace at any price.… Jeremiah 6:14