Mar 17, 2019
The Promise of Holy Ground
  • Mar 17, 2019The Promise of Holy Ground
    Mar 17, 2019
    The Promise of Holy Ground
  • Mar 10, 2019The Promise of the New
    Mar 10, 2019
    The Promise of the New
  • Feb 17, 2019The Promise of the Return of Jesus and Justice
    Feb 17, 2019
    The Promise of the Return of Jesus and Justice
  • Feb 10, 2019The Promise of ‘No More’
    Feb 10, 2019
    The Promise of ‘No More’
  • Feb 3, 2019The Promise of Enough
    Feb 3, 2019
    The Promise of Enough
  • Jan 27, 2019Promise of a Clean Slate
    Jan 27, 2019
    Promise of a Clean Slate
    Series Title: Travelling in Promiseland Message Title: The Promise of a Clean Slate Scripture Source: Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:1-5, Lamentations 3:19-24 As we Travel... The need to experience mercy will be acutely felt and thoughtfully admitted.  Without ‘tasting’ mercy, clean slates, fresh starts are impossible to anticipate.  Guilt closes in on us, causing the air to grow stale with shame and regret.  Is there a way forward when we have faltered and failed?  Yes. The promise of mercy is offered to people like you and me.  Proverbs 28:13.  Lamentations 3:19-24 Can You Identify?  With the ache and angst of these words?  Psalm 32:3-4 David penned these honest words as he remembered a time when he tried to outrun and outwit the fact of sinful choices in his journey.  His story can be read as a cautionary tale in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. Enter into the emotional turmoil David expresses...his insides are in knots of shame, fear and a deepening weariness of body and soul.  A guilty conscience hounds him relentlessly.  His soul is troubled. Can you relate?  Is David’s story, yours, even today? Experiencing a Clean Slate: Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13 Next Step # 1:  It begins with owning up to our sins, as specifically as we can.  Sin...the failure to love God, others and ourselves wisely and well.  Sin...ignoring God’s wisdom and ways of thinking, behaving and relating. David stopped ignoring the fact of his selfish choices and came clean with God.  He knew he had ‘missed the mark’ and had created much suffering in his own life and the lives of others, including God.  He stated his sins in specifics, not in vague generalities.   Consider Proverbs 28:13:  “He who covers his sins does not prosper...” sounds a lot like David...and is true to our own stories isn’t it? Next Step #2:  Genuine confession includes a resolve to leave the self-directed choices behind us and to learn to choose the way of love, guided and empowered by God’s strong and wise Spirit. Back to Proverbs 28:13 “whoever confesses and renounces them (sin)...” What does that stark and strong word mean?  Renounce:  to be done with, to leave, to abandon. Experiencing a ‘clean slate’ requires that we are serious about change in specifics, about turning from a self centered and self indulgent way of thinking and behaving and turning towards God and his truths, with obedience as a hallmark of our lives.   Next Step # 3:  Cultivate a ‘short accounts’ mindset and actions.  Be prompt in confession and repentance. Next Step # 4:  Sometimes it helps us to come clean with a trusted friend and ask for wisdom in dealing with our sins, and how to live with the consequences going forward. Pause:  Are you needing to come clean with God in specifics?  What do you need to confess and forsake?  A moral failure, a grudge, a lack of ethics, relational misbehaviour...what might that be? The Promise of Mercy and Forgiveness: Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:5, 1 John 1:9 Mercy:  “to love tenderly, show compassion and tender pity towards an pardon” When we come clean with God, He promises to show us mercy and forgive us our sins based on the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf.  God promises not to hold our sins against us.  Romans 8:1-2. Please note:  the promise of forgiveness doesn’t mean the erasing of certain consequences. There may well be physical, financial, relational, emotional consequences that need to be lived with. Yet, we can breathe deep and know that God has forgiven us.  The stain of guilt has been thoroughly removed.  I John 1:9  Experiencing the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus requires faith, a thoughtful and honest faith.  Do I believe God’s word of promise or not?  Will I take God’s word seriously...or ‘buy the lie’ of our spiritual enemy that we are beyond the scope and reach of mercy?  Will I believe in the fact of God’s forgiveness or continue to let others determine how I see myself and the failings I bring to the table?  Whose voice will have the final word?  Immerse your mind and heart in Gospel stories that feature ‘mercy in motion’ in the words and actions of Jesus.  John 8:1-11, Luke 15.  Mercy and Forgiveness Received We will begin to experience a sense of relief, an inner poise and peace, hope and gratitude for mercy extended to us. We will want to grow as those who ‘love mercy’...extending in words and actions mercy and forgiveness to others along the way...not always easy, but possible. As a church we will mature as a community of mercy where people discover hope and help along the way. Moments of Mercy Is this your moment to ponder the need for mercy and forgiveness?  Will you turn God ward and ask for mercy?  Will you own your sin and accept the promise of mercy and a clean slate?  What holds you back?  Shame?  Fear?  Pride?  Please, consider the cost of rejecting the mercy of Christ, how does that sit with you going forward? Lamentations 3:19-24 Reflection Questions:
    1. What sin do I need to own?
    2. What sin do I need to ‘leave behind’?
    3. What promise of mercy and forgiveness Scripture do I need to hold onto?
    4. Is there someone I need to make amends with?
    5. Is there someone I trust who can help me experience a ‘clean slate’?
    Series Title: Travelling in Promiseland Message Title: The Promise of a Clean Slate Scripture Source: Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:1-5, Lamentations 3:19-24 Date: Sunday, January 27, 2019  CONNECT: Can you recall a time when you were at the mercy of someone?  Of God?  What did that feel like?  ENGAGE:
    1. Read Psalm 32:3-4: Can you identify with David's emotional and spiritual plight?  What kind of shape is David in? 
    2. Experiencing a 'Clean Slate': Psalm 32:5 and Proverbs 28:13 If we would experience the 'tender and kind 
    3.       mercy of God', what must we actually do?   What choices do we need to make according these verses?
    4. What makes it hard for you to 'come clean' with God? 
    5. The Promise of Mercy and Forgiveness: Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:5 and I John 1:9
    6.       What does God promise the repentant person who comes clean with Him?  What adjectives and verbs stand out to you...and why? 
    7. 'Confession is good for the soul.' In what ways have you experienced the truth of this phrase? 
    8. How can mercy received affect your relationships with others? "Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7
    RESPOND: What one 'next step' can you take from this message/questions? 
  • Jan 20, 2019God in the Mix
    Jan 20, 2019
    God in the Mix
  • Dec 24, 2018Is Your ‘Night Light’ Reliable?
    Dec 24, 2018
    Is Your ‘Night Light’ Reliable?
  • Dec 16, 2018Joseph’s Dilemma in Four Words
    Dec 16, 2018
    Joseph’s Dilemma in Four Words
  • Dec 9, 2018Mary’s Dilemma…and The Questions Christmas Asks
    Dec 9, 2018
    Mary’s Dilemma…and The Questions Christmas Asks
    Pondering the Meaning of the Story                The story of inquisitive travellers who missed the meaning of the moment at hand and who were impoverished at a spiritual and emotional level as a result.  Quote David Brooks:  “In the Hermitage we paused momentarily in front of Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Return of the Prodigal Son.”...The painting is a masterpiece, emotionally gripping and morally complex.  But on this tour, we talked about none of its meanings.  The guide did not tell the story.  There really was no time to pause before the passion.  The painting was just another notable thing to notice on the way to a dozen more notable things.  It left no mark.”                Most of us are aware of the Christmas story, yet it is possible in the busyness and noise of daily life to fail to grasp the meaning and relevance of the story.  It is possible to yawn our way through the Christmas season because we are familiar with the story.  But...are we gripped afresh by the wonder, meaning and relevance of the story of the birth of Jesus?  Are we taking time to ‘pause before the passion’ of God’s love in sending his Son to our planet?  Let’s step into the lives of those integral to the Christmas story and see if the questions they asked are pertinent to us. Mary’s Story and Unexpected Plot Twists:  Luke 1:26-34                Some background:  Gabriel the angel sent by God with a specific message for Mary.  Gabriel is one of only two angels named in Scripture.  The other one?  Michael the archangel.  The name Gabriel can mean two things...’God is my hero’ or ‘mighty man of God.’ Gabriel speaks words of thoughtful reassurance.  Vs.28-30  A little more background!  Mary is a virgin, pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. In a sense ‘legally married’ but without physical consummation.  She is a virgin.                Now, this is where things get very interesting!  Vss. 31-34.  The angel informs Mary that she will become pregnant and give birth to the Son of God.  If you are Mary that statement will give you pause for thought!  She doesn’t have to worry about working through a list of names and making a choice.  “You are to call him Jesus.” Vs.31.  Gabriel gives further details about her son. Vss. 32-33 As a young Jewish woman she was well acquainted with ancient prophecies regarding the promised Messiah. Eg. Isaiah 7:14, 53, Micah 5:2.  The name and titles given to the baby are massively important to understand the Christmas story accurately.                The name Jesus means ‘the LORD saves’...the Greek form of the name Joshua. Consider Matthew 1:21 “he will save his people from their sins.”  The name reveals his life and death purpose.  Further:  “he will be great and be called the Son of the Most High.”  Jesus is “the divine Son of God and the (promised) Messiah born in his time... Most High, a title frequently used of God in the OT and NT...the Messiah descended from David (Psalm 2:6-7 and Isaiah 9:6-7)...his kingdom will never end.” And his kingdom is first and foremost a place of authority, leadership and love in the human heart.  Yours include, if you are willing to respond to him. Pause and Ponder:  The Questions Christmas Answers:   Question# 1:  Who is this baby laid in a manger?                This baby is the fulfillment of the promise of God to provide a Saviour from sin.  A Saviour for you and me.  Will you thoughtfully consider the name given, Jesus?  Will you consider the meaning of the name and the relevance to you?  Will you investigate the story as revealed in the Bible?  Will you ask questions of people you trust so that...and this is huge...that you would consider asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and reconnect you with God the Father in a personal way?   Question # 2:  How will this birth come about given Mary is a virgin?  Luke 1:34-37.  A legitimate question is posed by Mary.  Gabriel answers her in a clear and direct manner.  God will perform a miracle.  God will intervene.  Will you and I believe that God intervenes in human history...or not?  This is where faith comes into play.  Not a blind/unthinking belief, but a thoughtful faith that gives room for the existence and powerful and purposeful activity of God in human history.  That embraces supernatural reality.   Question # 3:  Why does God intervene in this way?  Love for people, one at a time like you and me. John 3:16-17. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son...” Mary’s Response: Luke 1:38-39                Thoughtful submission to the authority and purpose of God that involves her.  This is amazing, knowing that eyebrows will be raised, the scent of scandal trailing her, yet a resolve to trust God and do his bidding as utterly unexpected and mind boggling as it is. Now...the Question Christmas Asks                What will you make of this story found in the Bible?  What will you do with this person called Jesus and the offer of forgiveness of sins extended to you?  What next steps will you take in your spiritual journey of investigation and inquiry?                As a follower of Jesus, how goes your availability and obedience to God’s call currently?  What can you learn about faith and obedience from the life of Mary in hard to imagine circumstances? We want to invite you to pause and ponder the passion and purpose of God’s great love in sending his son...the Word made flesh...Jesus revealing God the Father to us.  John 1:14-18.                Let this Christmas season be thoughtfully reflected upon and pondered...moving you to consider Jesus, to believe in Jesus, to follow Jesus in the journey of life, a following marked by faith, hope and love, ready to help others find answers to their questions.