Giants…

Life has its challenges, some we manage relatively easily, others, “giants”, significantly impact our lives.

The story of David and Goliath recorded in 1 Samuel 17 has several lessons worthy of our consideration.

* Giants reveal who we, bring to light our character.
* Victories are won in the training. Our life training is preparation for our challenges.
* Faith practiced in the lesser battles equip us to overcome.

Even with these lessons in mind we can still face doubts and failure, and the “if only” question is on our lips. If only I had more faith?

This leads us to a greater lesson.

* REMEMBER THE SIZE OF GOD

So often we look at the giant then look at ourselves and see our inadequacy.

Listen to the words of 1 Samuel 17:45-47 NIV,

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. [46] This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. [47] All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

So often we read a Bible story in isolation however, the story is a part of the unfolding revelation of God. This same God wants to reveal himself to us, give us an ongoing revelation of himself in the midst of our circumstances. We are not alone, he is with us. Furthermore we belong to God’s community and so we face our giants in community.

This is my paraphrase of Deb Sorensen’s sermon this morning. Deb is the. Associate Pastor @ one2one church.

Advertisements

Keeping the Faith

Another post from my friend Paul…

Many years ago a man named John Bunyan was in jail, locked up for the way he had openly been expressing his Christian faith. He was just a poor simple tradesman but in that jail he penned a short book that has become legendary and has encouraged countless Christians to ‘stay the path ‘ that leads to righteousness. The book is all about staying on the path the Lord has set out for us instead of being led astray.

This concept comes straight from the bible and is reiterated many times. And it is of vital importance to young adults, who represent the largest ‘drop off ‘ group in the church, with up to 80% walking away from their faith.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14, “Broad is the road that leads to destruction… But narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” How do we stay on the narrow path?

Both Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2 tell us, “The Lord will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.”

There are many things that will lead us astray. The desire to make lots of money to buy flash cars and big houses has led many astray, thinking things like, “My heart belongs to Jesus and that’s enough; he wouldn’t deny me the fruit of my labour.”

Or stupid, self-serving teachings have led astray many young people to focus on a charismatic personality, who is not actually grounded in the gospel and so misuses God’s word and creates a sect. Invariably this house of cards comes crashing to the ground and leaves its members disillusioned and with a destroyed faith.

Or sexual temptations, being drawn away by our out of control emotional desires , where we become hooked at our weakest point and choose this ‘love ‘ over God’s love. This is often a big wide fork in the road.

How do we stay on the path? By walking with the Lord…He promises to teach us his ways. But we never walk with someone in silence. If we have a real relationship then we talk as we walk. We unload our burdens and we listen to our Master. We are uplifted with encouragement, “Were not our hearts burning within us as He talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

We are shaped, corrected, matured with His focus and purpose for our lives, to stay on track.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path ” Psalm 119:105.

image

Blessings Paul.

Sunday Evening

I greeted Anne when she arrived just before the start of the Sunday evening service. It was the second time I had met Anne. A few weeks earlier I had met her in the reception area to the church offices. Anne was leaving after attending a Woman2Woman craft activity.

It was good to see Anne again at the evening service. I was attending because my daughter was conducting the baptism of a lass, who was a member of the youth group.

After the service,  a friend, Amie, told me she would be conducting her first Discovery Bible Study Monday lunchtime in the food court in Central Square, and Anne, and another lady, would be joining in.

Monday morning I sent this text, “Hello Amie, You, Anne and Marg are in my prayers for your first DBS in Central Square today. Praise God, he is always at work drawing people to himself, through our Saviour Jesus. Bruce”

Monday afternoon I received this message, “Thanks Bruce. Anne came and we did knowing God  personally and she accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. She wants to do the 7 commands before baptism. Marg didn’t show so we will keep praying for her and invite again next week.”
The Kingdom of God is here and it is Growing.

Saturday Afternoon

Last Saturday afternoon when I arrived at the local Swim and Survival Centre the grandchildren were well into their long distance swims. I stayed for a while to chat to my son-in-law and my daughter, who arrived a little after me, before heading off to see Hamish, who lived nearby.

Hamish and his family had been attending church for several months and recently I asked, “Would he be interested if I could explain to him from the Bible how he could know God personally?” to which he answered, “Yes!”

It had taken a few weeks to negotiate a convenient time however, Saturday was the day and Hamish welcomed me warmly into his home. We settled into the lounge room with a coffee prepared by his lovely wife.

I explained that before I shared God’s story from the Bible I would like to tell my own story about knowing God personally. On this occasion I was prompted to start with a photograph I have on my smartphone of my immediate family. I introduced my wife, our two daughters, our son-in-law, and the two grandchildren explaining that we all worship at the same church, one2one Church in Ballarat where Hamish and his family were now attending. I then went on to explain knowing God personally had helped me personally in my multiple roles of husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather. I was not to know the responsibilities I would be carrying today when I committed my life to following Jesus and was baptised at the age of fifteen. However, through the years I learned to rely on God, who proved himself faithful over and over again.

After my story I asked Hamish if he had a Bible so that we could look at some Bible passages together. He disappeared from the lounge and returned with a King James Version of the Bible, which proved to have special significance. The Bible had been his father’s, now deceased, and was given to Hamish at an early age with the instruction to read it to help with his English.

As promised I then set about showing Hamish how he could know God personally starting with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” followed by Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8 and Acts 2:37-38.

As Hamish read from the New International Version of the New Testament I gave him, with the passages highlighted and although he commented it was helpful to read from a more recent translation, it became evident that God used his father’s old Bible to make clear the truths of the Scriptures.

Hamish readily answered, “Yes,” to the series of questions printed on a bookmark that I handed to him, “Are you a sinner?”, “Do you want forgiveness for your sins?”, “Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for you and rose again?”‘ Are you ready to surrender your life to Christ?” and “Are you ready to invite Jesus into your heart and into your life and express this through baptism?” Although there was a question over the last question a simple explanation readily yielded the “Yes!” response.

We then prayed together, “Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. I want forgiveness for all my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Heavenly Father, I give my life to You, to do with as You wish. I want Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen”

A divine transaction occurred there and then in Hamish’s lounge room, and there was much rejoicing in heaven.

We then confirmed this transaction by reading Romans 10:9-10.

I left knowing that I was privileged to be part of God’s Kingdom work. See 1 Corinthians 3:5-9.

On the way home I called into the Swim and Survival Centre. My granddaughter had finished her five kilometre swim, two hundred laps of the twenty-five metre pool. My grandson was the only person still swimming. He still had three kilometres of his thirteen kilometre swim to go, a total of five hundred and twenty laps! That’s perseverance!

Tourist or Labourer

Hi friends. Pardon the length of this one. Just back from State Youth Games. As I reflect on the weekend I think for me it was a mixture of greatly encouraging, slightly disturbing and deeply enlightening. I have come back motivated more than ever, focussed on just one thing: enabling and equipping people with the powerful word of God. We have such riches in people at our church. Such great hearts of love, such open hearts to God,such committed hearts to each other. And that is such a massively wonderful privilege to be part of. The sense of nurture, belonging, acceptance, community- there is nothing else like it, the family of God.
But that is not enough, if we are to fulfil our purpose in the world, our commission under the guidance of the saviour and master we serve. We must take in his word as it has been delivered to us, for “the gospel is the power of God for salvation ” (Romans 1:16). And we must learn to handle that word correctly, just as Jesus taught his disciples to do . Once we allow His gospel- the whole gospel- to inform and direct and equip is, with the help of the Holy Spirit, then we can truly live and act as His powerful agents and ambassadors to change the world we live in. And it only really happens one person at a time- that’s right, one – to – one. Discipleship that moves a person in a relationship with the Lord , from awakening to rejoicing to fellowship, from a thirst for learning to a desire for serving, until we each in due time reach maturity- fully equipped, fully faithful, United in purpose, power, Spirit and Word (Eph 4:1-16). Discipleship is the name of the game. We have the pattern laid out for us in the Gospels. We have the power laid on for us in the gospel. But we must become serious learners if we are to become the productive people of God, who see and understand and act upon the harvest that’s been laid out before us.
Alas, too often we are on the bus of tourists who enjoy the ride past the fields , having fun together as we pass through rather than the bus of labourers who go into the fields with vital purpose and get their hands dirty, who handle the equipment correctly and follow the directions of the Master Gardener, to feed the world on the true food that nourishes for eternity- the gospel of God. This is the bus load that saves starving people all around us. The bus of sacrifice rather than selfies, full of deep joy rather than fleeting fun.
There is much to be learned in the 2 or 3 year journey of discipleship from spiritual teenager to spiritual adult. And this means advancing in our spiritual diet from baby food to solid food (Hebrews 5:11 – 6:2).
Everything we need is open and available, right in our hands, no longer hidden away in secret like in ages gone past, but now shining out in brilliant light, full of grace and glory and truth (John 1). The gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Blessings, from Paul

Discovery Bible Study in the Marketplace

Earlier this year I started a Discovery Bible Study for my friends. We meet at Piper’s by the Lake, 10.30 am every Tuesday, for coffee.

Some of my friends aren’t available each week because they work shifts. So I’ve kept the structure simple. Come whenever you can, enjoy good company, read the Bible together, have lively discussion, improve your English and invite others.

I chose the venue. Piper’s by the Lake, deliberately. It is one of the common meeting places in Ballarat where people enjoy a coffee or a  meal. In other words I wanted our Discovery Bible happening in the “marketplace”, not a local church or a home.

Recently a second group started in Central Square, another marketplace in Ballarat. This group started reading the Seven Stories of Hope while our group recently started a series on the parables. Last week we read Luke 15, which contains the stories of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son.

After the reading we address five questions, “What do you like about this passage or story?”, What does this story tell us about people?”, “What does this story tell us about God?”, “What does this story tell us about me?” and finally, “Who needs to hear this story?”

The simple structure, a public venue, a Bible reading and five questions, is purposeful. It is easy to replicate, and as mentioned a second group has already been established.

Because people aren’t always able to attend I send our a text message with the Bible reading, usually the Sunday beforehand so that they can keep up to date.

It has been interesting and encouraging to see the various people who have associated themselves with the group.

I forgot to mention that two of my friends have been meeting in Shepparton, another regional centre in Victoria. That’s three groups. How many more?

Currently I’m writing this blog in one of the several food courts in Stockland Village. Another public place ideal for a Discovery Bible Study.

It’s time! The church needs to move more and more into the marketplace.

Recently Paul, in support of the Discovery Bible Study initiative, began attending our group. My next post is a copy of his reflections following the State Youth Games where several thousand young people were engaged in a long weekend of “competitive” sporting events.