God saved the Queen

God saved the Queen“God Save the Queen” has been the anthem of Britain for the last 70 years; the phrase used as an expression of patriotism and royal support. But what did the Queen need saving from? Did she need saving from republicanism, from the decline of the Commonwealth, from foreign invasion, or the collapse of her own family? In her own words, Queen Elizabeth II explained she needed saving from something far more insidious and universal than outside enemies. “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves—from our recklessness or our greed,” Queen Elizabeth said during her Christmas message in 2011. This remarkable woman, who has since her passing been described as dutiful, faithful, servanthearted, forgiving and stable, recognised that she still needed saving from her own sin.

We see our own and others’ sins everyday – in snarky comments and cold shoulders, in fights over parking spots and the need to lock our doors, in our addictions and our distractions, when we hear another story of abuse, murder and corruption. Yet, perhaps because we see it so often and in so many places, we seem oblivious to how ugly and painful sin really is. How much we really need to be saved from sin’s dirty destructive grip. But we do. And so, as Queen Elizabeth II continues in her Christmas message, “God sent into the world a unique Person—neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Savior, with the power to forgive. …”

God saved the Queen from her sin because of her faith in Jesus Christ to forgive her. As the Bible says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9NLT).

Our sins bring us condemnation but Jesus brings forgiveness and salvation to all who trust Him. Though the end of Queen Elizabeth’s long reign may be a somber occasion, God truly has saved the Queen. With faith in Jesus He can save you too.

Prayer: Dear God, Please save me from my sin. Please forgive me for my sin. I believe in Jesus to bring me forgiveness and salvation. Amen.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2022

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Be who were born to be, a child of God

Be who were born to be, a child of GodWhat would your ideal parent be like? This question may feel a bit awkward or even painful to answer, but I invite you to consider it for a moment. If you’re anything like me, your character list of the ideal parent might go something like… caring, gentle, wise, compassionate, capable, stable, fun. Then, if I was really going all out with a wish list I might add powerful, rich and well respected.

Who our parents are has a profound and life long impact on who we are. Putting aside the genetic influence they have over our lives such as skin colour, physical abilities, predispositions to particular health issues, personality etc, who our parents are
and how they have treated us is carried with us long after childhood. If your father has been outed as a womaniser you can’t help but absorb some of that shame. If your mother is known as a hero in your community you can’t deny a feeling of pride. If your father always spoke words of encouragement and love to you you will probably have a deep sense of value. If your mother gave you up as a baby it may be hard not to feel rejected.

But whoever your parents are, you can still have the perfect parent. The Bible says whoever has faith in Jesus Christ becomes a beloved child of God.

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26

Now let me tell you about this Heavenly Father who can be yours through Jesus – He is kinder than the kindest person you’ve ever met; He is wiser than the most enlightened person you know, He is more patient and compassionate than Mother Theresa, He is richer than Elon Musk, more powerful than Vladimir Putin and more forgiving than Nelson Mandela.

Now can you imagine this perfect parent wants you to be their child? Really! He gave up His precious son Jesus to pay for your rebellious ways, so, when you trust His son, you too become His precious child. He loves you so much He not only calls you to be His child He transforms you to be like Him.

Call on the truly perfect, compassionate, wise, powerful and loving parent and become His child today.

Prayer: Dear heavenly father, I want to be your precious child. I really want you as my perfect parent. Please forgive my rebellion against you. Help me to trust your son Jesus. And make me more like you. Amen.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2022

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Lord’s Supper rebuke

Chest pain is the most common warning sign of a heart attackPain is part of our body’s warning system. If you touch something hot, it hurts so you automatically pull away before it does much damage. And chest pain (angina) is the most common warning sign of a heart attack. Pain is an alarm and warning signal to the body. It indicates that something needs our attention.

In 1 Corinthians 11 there is a description of the Lord’s Supper (v.23-26), followed by a rebuke (v.27-32).

The description gives two reasons for celebrating it – one internal (for us) and one external (for others). The first reason was to remember what Jesus has done for us. The second reason was to “proclaim the Lord’s death” to others. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are declaring the importance of the Lord’s death. That Christ’s death on our behalf provides eternal forgiveness of our sin. And it says we are to carry out this remembrance and proclamation “until He (Jesus) comes” again and all believers will be with the Lord forever.

The rebuke begins with a warning about how not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper – not in an unworthy manner (v.27). Then there is a command that addresses the warning, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (v.28NIV). The self-examination being asked for here was to reveal their sins (like wrong attitudes and wrong relationships) and to repent by getting right with God and getting right with one another.

Then there is another warning, “For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honouring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself” (v. 29NLT). This is like the warning in verse 27 that malpractice at the Lord’s Supper leads to God’s judgment. Verse 27 said that disrespecting the meaning of the Lord’s Supper brings the guilt of disrespecting the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross. As verse 29 mentions the body of Christ, but not the blood it seems to indicate disrespecting other believers in the church. For example, there was a lack of unity at Corinth.

Then there is an observation, “That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died” (v.30NLT). Because of this persistent sin many were weak and sick and some died. We may minimize the seriousness of sin, but God doesn’t. God has the right to discipline believers (Heb. 12:5-11). It’s a physical judgement like a parent disciples a child; not a spiritual death. God knows that pain gets our attention and often makes us stop and think. So the Lord’s Supper is a solemn and serious affair. It should bring confession, repentance and unity.

The Corinthians were careless, selfish, and indifferent to the needs of others. They were going through the motions of the Lord’s Supper as a routine, but living as though the death of Jesus meant nothing to them. They were self-centered, not Christ-centered. They had divisions and not unity. They were coming together mainly to eat and drink. They had ignored their sins and continued in them. Pagan culture had infiltrated into the church at Corinth.

If Paul was here, would he give us a rebuke for how we practice the Lord’s Supper? Are we living like a follower of Jesus Christ? Are we coming to the Lord’s Supper reverently and humbly and with the right heart? Don’t be a hypocrite like the believers in Corinth. They took part in the Lord’s Supper and continued to be sinful. They didn’t consider themselves “to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Their conduct didn’t match their position in Christ (Col. 3:3, 5-11).

Then there is a summary of the rebuke, “But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world” (v.31-32NLT). The purpose of divine discipline is correction, not punishment. If we judge ourselves by taking corrective action by confessing and repenting our sins, then God will not have to judge us. But if we don’t take corrective action, God’s discipline is evidence that we are a believer. If we are not disciplined when we are sinful and unrepentant, then we are probably not a child of God.

Let’s attend the Lord’s Supper regularly to remember the Lord, having examined ourselves and with love for others. But don’t take the emblems unless you are a follower of Christ. And be sure you’re up to date with God regarding any unconfessed sins.

Prayer

Father, we know we are prone to sin and that this separates us from you and from each other. That’s what happened at Corinth and it happens to us as well. Help us be aware of this so we can confess and repent of our sins. Also, when we strike difficulties in life help us remember that the pain may be to remind us to get back on the right track with you.

We thank you for sending Jesus to die so that our sins might be put away forever. We share the emblems together in remembrance of His death and resurrection. Declaring that it provides eternal forgiveness of our sin. So, we offer thanks and praise for all that you have done through Jesus.
In Christ’s name, Amen.

G Hawke

Posted in Blog | Tagged | Leave a comment

Strangest thing – Jesus will come again

Strangest thing - Jesus will come againThe day of reckoning – it’s an exciting moment in the movie or TV show we’re watching. Finally the wrongdoers get exposed, the evil monster is overpowered and defeated, justice is served. It appears to be a universal longing played out in film and television across cultures and time. We also hope for a judgement day in the real world as we watch televised court cases about abusers, big corporations causing harm in the interest of making money, corrupt politicians using their power for personal gain and the actions of despotic dictators. But when it comes to a universal, ultimate day of reckoning we’re not so keen. The Christian doctrine of a final judgement day is often seen as archaic, incompatible with a loving God or just plain laughable.

Just before His arrest the Bible records Jesus telling His eleven closest friends and followers (though somewhat obscurely) that it’s time for him to die, be resurrected and return to heaven (John 13:31-33). But He also reassures His dear friends –

I will come back.” John 14:3

This second coming of Jesus is described as a world-wide final day of reckoning when all human secrets, hidden (and not so hidden) wrongdoing will be exposed and judged with perfect justice. Doesn’t that sound like a moment when we can all stand up out of our seats and applaud? Or perhaps not. Perhaps we are scared of our own secret wrongs being judged. Perhaps we’re not sure if we’ve done enough good or are good enough.

But here’s the plot twist, when Jesus tells His disciples He’s coming back He tells them as a
reassurance. Jesus said He was going to die on the cross, rise from the dead, and return to heaven to make a way for His followers to join Him there. And that’s what He did. By dying and rising again Jesus takes on the judgement and punishment of all so that any who want to receive forgiveness can follow Him into heaven.

The Bible assures us that a day of reckoning is coming. Year after year passes by – seemingly without end. Corruption and abuse continues often without consequence. But Jesus will return. He will judge and punish all wrong with perfect justice. And He will take any who trust Him with Him into eternal peace and glory. Will you be cheering or cowering on that day?

Prayer: Dear God, I confess I have done wrong. I know I can’t stand before your perfect judgement. Please forgive me because of what Jesus has done. I want to be with you in perfection forever. Amen.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2022

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Self-examination before the Lord’s Supper

Self-examination before the Lord’s SupperEvery year I have a medical checkup. But do you know about the weekly checkup?

The best description of the Lord’s Supper is in 1 Corinthians 11. It gives two reasons for celebrating it. The first reason was to remember what Jesus has done for us. The second reason is to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are declaring the importance of the Lord’s death. That Christ’s death on our behalf provides eternal forgiveness of our sin.

And we are to carry out this remembrance and proclamation “until He (Jesus) comes” again and believers will be with the Lord forever.

Next there is a warning about how not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper – “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (v.27). The reason the Lord’s Supper is mentioned in this letter is because of the unworthy manner that it was being celebrated in Corinth.

Then there is a command, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (v.28). The verb “examine” (dokimazo, Strongs #1381) means to prove something by testing it. Is it genuine or fake? Earlier in this letter this word is used to say that in the future God “will test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13).

At Corinth they were selfish and greedy and the rich discriminated against the poor (v.18-22). Because of these sins many were under God’s fatherly discipline – there was weakness and sickness and some had died early (v.30). Sin grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:29-3). The self-examination being asked for here was to reveal their sins and to repent by saying, “Lord, I’m sorry; I have sinned. Please forgive me. I must not act this way because it displeases You”. Christians are to judge themselves and stop sinning. If they didn’t judge themselves, then God would judge them as a father disciplines their child.

In preparation for the Lord’s Supper it is essential that we examine ourselves. This is a command from the Lord. It’s like a weekly stocktake. A spiritual audit. A checkup. A self-examination. A self-evaluation. Or a “sin inspection”. Look at our thoughts, attitudes and behaviour. When have we failed to love and obey the Lord? When have we failed to love our neighbour or Christian brother and sister? Look for sins of commission and sins of omission. Are we seeking to please God more than anything else? (6:33).

We need to confess and repent of the sins that come up. Forgive others and seek forgiveness from others. On the cross Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for them do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). We need to get right with God and get right with one another. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are accountable to God.

When we do this our fellowship with the Lord is restored. 1 Jn.1:9, which was written to believers, says “If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. In order to maintain fellowship with God, sin is to be confessed and forsaken. There can be no hiding of sin.

Prayer

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to die so that our sins might be put away forever. We share the emblems together in remembrance of His death and resurrection. Declaring that it provides eternal forgiveness of our sin. Help us to examine ourselves regularly and continue to confess our sins to receive your temporal forgiveness that restores our fellowship with you on a regular basis. So, we offer thanks and praise for all that you have done through Jesus. In Christ’s name, Amen.

G Hawke

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Strangest thing – Jesus rose from the dead

Strangest thing - Jesus rose from the deadThe existence of another dimension. A character with the ability to influence and change the physical world without physical force. A powerful evil monster out to kill. These are the elements of a science fiction narrative. But what if there is truth in them?

The message of the Bible is pretty strange. It talks of a spiritual dimension – angels and demons and an all powerful, all knowing God in control of it all. This spiritual dimension is generally unseen by us ordinary humans with our physical eyes. But the Bible records a special time in history when the supernatural burst into the world in the very natural form of a new born baby. Jesus’ birth, life and even His miracles are recorded in numerous ancient historical accounts. Turning water into wine. Healing a paralysed person with only His words. Bringing a man who has been dead for four days back to life. This is not the kind of thing we see outside of science fiction and fantasy.

And as strange as these things are, they are not the strangest thing in the Bible. The strangest thing is that the omnipotent creator of the universe would deign to become a mere mortal. Jesus is the eternal, unlimited, divine master who becomes a newborn baby – subject to hunger and tiredness. He becomes a man, driven to serve His rebellious creatures. The all powerful being allows Himself to be mocked by weak and jealous men. The source of all knowledge and wisdom quietly listens to lies and false accusations against Him. The creator of life subjects Himself to humiliating death on a cross for criminals. And then…the big reveal.

A few faithful followers of Jesus go to His tomb to anoint His dead body with the customary spices. They are heartbroken women whose compassionate leader has been killed. However, when they get to the tomb Jesus’ body is missing and what appears to be
a heavenly messenger tells them: “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who
was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” Mark 16:6

Jesus showed His true power, His true self, by conquering death. As it says in Acts 2:24 “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” Jesus’ resurrection shows He conquered death and He did it for us! God is eternal. He didn’t ever have to die. But we do. Because of our rejection of God, death is a reality for everyone of us. But because of His unfathomable love for His rebellious creatures, Jesus conquered sin and death on our behalf. Will you receive God’s promise of eternal life for all who trust Jesus? Though we will die physically we can live eternally because of this strangest thing.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for conquering death and sin on my behalf. I acknowledge you have the power over death and want to receive the gift of eternal life you offer me. Amen.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2022

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

A warning about the Lord’s Supper

The best description of the Lord’s Supper is in 1 Corinthians 11. It gives two reasons for celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The first reason was to remember what Jesus has done for us – it was to be done “in remembrance of me”, as Jesus said. The second reason to celebrate the Lord’s Supper is to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are declaring the importance of the Lord’s death. That Christ’s death on our behalf provides forgiveness of our sin.

And we are to carry out this remembrance and proclamation in this way “until He (Jesus) comes” again and believers will be with the Lord forever.

Next there is a warning about how not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The reason the Lord’s Supper is mentioned in this letter is because of the unworthy manner that it was being celebrated in Corinth.

1 Cor. 11:27-32 (NIV): “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.
29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.
32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.”

It says, “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (v.27). What could be an unworthy manner of observing the Lord’s Supper?

It could be without ever trusting in Christ for our salvation. This person can’t discern the body of Christ (v.29). Or understand the reason why He died.

It could be without recognizing the seriousness and importance of the event we are remembering. It’s a solemn occasion that demands our respect and reverence. In Corinth, some treated it as a common meal and were getting drunk. They were irreverent and treated it as an ordinary meal.

And it could be without recognizing our unity in Christ. In Corinth, the rich were discriminating against the poor.

When we look at how Paul uses the word “worthy” (Strongs #515, #516 ), in Romans 16:2; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:27; Col. 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; and 1 Timothy 5:17, the unworthy manner could be any attitude or action that would: harm or hinder other believers, or impede the work of believers to be salt and light in the world; or impede the message of the gospel – the good news about Jesus, or that promotes disobedience.

Prayer

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to die so that our sins might be put away and we can remember you in a worthy manner. Help us to confess our sins and change our ways to remain in fellowship with you. Today we share the emblems together in remembrance of His death and resurrection. Declaring that it makes us worthy before you. And our common faith provides unity amongst believers. So, we offer thanks and praise for all that you have done through Jesus as we share the bread and the cup together.

G Hawke

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Dargan Arch and Mount Banks

Walk with Sydney Christian Bushwalkers on 4 June 2022

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sydney Christian Bushwalkers (opens in a new window)

Posted in Bush walk | Leave a comment

Pray with us for justice, mercy and peace

Pray with us for justice, mercy and peaceWhen a maternity hospital is bombed; when a 55 year old woman with multiple sclerosis has to be carried from her home to escape shelling; when a 5 week old baby is shot dead with his family as they try to drive to safety… What words are there?

Whatever our political views, whatever our beliefs or our circumstances, in all of us something cries out in protest against the horror of the vulnerable and innocent people of Ukraine suffering.

As you watch and hear the news perhaps you feel hopeless, overwhelmed, furious, powerless… Perhaps you cry out, like so many before, “Where is the God of justice?” or “Where is the God of mercy?” or simply “Where is God?” If you do, you are in good company. To be filled with sorrow and outrage over suffering and injustice is to share God’s heart. Jesus Himself, as He hung cruelly and unjustly nailed to a cross, cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

When we witness the horror of greed and power hungry destruction; when we follow the devastating consequences resulting from the actions of tyrants, we glimpse what life looks like without God. The evil that is being done in Ukraine, and in so many countries around the world, is godlessness. It’s what it looks like when people ignore and in fact live the exact opposite way to how God has designed us to live. It is unfair, it is horrific and it is heartbreaking.

Still, God is merciful and just. Jesus who came to earth to bring peace (Luke 1:79; Acts 10:36), will return to bring justice (Acts 17:31).

Jesus Himself said “… will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man [Jesus] comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).

So let us cry out together in prayer to the God of mercy, justice and peace. And in so doing let us turn from any godlessness in our own life and be one of those that do have faith when Jesus returns.

Prayer: Dear God, I hate the violence and injustice of what’s being done in Ukraine. Please bring your mercy, your justice and your peace to those suffering and the country as a whole. I admit that I myself have lived in ways that have ignored you and been unmerciful, unjust and caused conflict. Please forgive me and give me faith in Jesus as the just and merciful judge who will return. Amen.

Acknowledgement: This article was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2022

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Five reasons to go to Discovery Group

Vivid winter festival in SydneyThis post comes from Ian Carmichael who lives in Sydney, Australia.

We’re a few months into the year now. The weather is starting to cool as autumn transitions to winter. Work pressures are mounting, and the gradient on the ‘life fatigue’ graph is increasing. So how is your Bible study group going?

I know the train of thought—I have it too. It’s been a busy day at work, and it’s just beginning to wind down. My mind turns to the commute home and the evening ahead. Oh, that’s right: tonight is Bible study night. I was already feeling physically and mentally tired, and now I realise I’ve got to get home, do a quick turn around on dinner, then up and out in the cold to head to my home group. Or … I could stay home, get those nagging chores done, quickly watch the next episode of that Netflix series I’ve been enjoying, and get to bed at a time more in keeping with the level of fatigue I’m feeling. I’m sure my group and the leaders will understand. They always do.

Here are five quick reasons to intentionally derail that train of thought and go to growth group.

Because it’s grace, not law

Of course going to growth group is not about earning God’s approval. Being a Christian isn’t about rule-keeping: “thou shalt go to Bible study every week (or fortnight)”. And that’s why I should go—because studying God’s word is a joyous reminder of God’s amazing grace to me.

Because showing up is a powerful ministry

When I show up at discovery group, my action testifies to two things: that God and what He has to say is important to me, and that the people in my group are important to me. The fact that I gave up my comfortable (self-focused) night and made the effort to come to meet with God and you should be an incredibly encouraging thing for you, as indeed you coming to meet with God and me should be encouraging to me. When you think about it, before we even open our mouths in the group, we have encouraged each other deeply just by being there.

Because someone is giving you a gift

Have you ever given someone an expensive gift, only for them not to seem to value it at all—perhaps even leave it behind? That’s what it’s like for a Bible study leader who has invested considerable time preparing a study to help me understand the riches of God’s word, only for me not to show up at the last minute. That leader is giving me a gift; I should try to be an appreciative recipient.

Because habits matter

We all know the verse in Hebrews 10 about “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (v. 25). I wonder if we tend to read that verse as being all about Sunday church? But I’m sure it’s not limited to that; it’s about meeting together to encourage each other and stir one another up to love and good works. We are doing that in our home groups, not just in our Sunday church. So don’t neglect it. Don’t make it a habit to not go; make it a habit to go.

Because it always feels better just after growth group than just before

I don’t know where they come from—although there seems to be a bit of a sulfurous smell attached to them—but the negative feelings I have just before Bible study don’t prove right. I am almost always glad I went. Don’t trust your pre-Bible study feelings.

Perhaps you can think of other or better reasons for going to growth group than my five. Whatever they are, preach them to yourself every week.

Acknowledgement

This post was written by Ian Carmichael of Matthias Media in Sydney, Australia.

Posted, May 2022

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment