The sermon for November 29th is now available on the New Life web-site.
In this sermon, which is based on Jeremiah 33, I talk about Advent Hope.
From his perspective as an Indian academic and a christian, Vishal Mangalwadi looks at the factors that brought modern Western civilisation into being. As he points out, there have been many cultures that have achieved limited progress. Uniquely, the Christian-based (particularly the Protestant-based) cultures of Europe and North America have led to tremendous advances in science, literature, commerce, the rule of law, democracy, and so on.
Mangalwadi convincingly connects the availability of the Bible to quantum leaps in social and material wealth in numerous cultures around the world. He argues that where the Bible is available in people’s own language, it provokes a rise in literacy as people want to be able to read the Scriptures. But more than this, cultures which embrace Biblical values, become more prosperous as honesty and trust promote business. Cultures which believe in the creator pursue knowledge of the world and develop science.
Secularists claim that many of the benefits of modern culture go back to the Enlightenment or to Greek and Roman society. However it is only Biblical values that allow the free flourishing of freedom, of science, of democracy and law. Sadly, as our elites seem determined to cut off the connection of our society with its christian past, it is likely that our culture is headed for rapid decline.
This book is a great read. Mangalwadi’s knowledge of history, cultures and of history is very extensive. He makes his case with an easy story-telling style and will open readers’ eyes to how we got here and why.
“Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus teaches about His coming. There will be a lot of distress. The nations will be in turmoil and even the heavenly bodies will be disturbed. People will faint from fright. Then the Son of Man will come in a cloud with power and glory.
The fig tree shows the seasons, so when we see these things take place we will know that the kingdom of God is near.
We must be on guard, looking to Jesus rather than being weighed down by drunkenness and sin. We must be ready to escape opposition and ready to stand before the Son of Man.
Jesus’ words about the end are always given in the context of being ready. We must be alert so that on the day we are called we will be ready to stand before Him.
Christians are not called to live good worldly lives. We are called to lives of obedience, often living radially differently to our neighbours.
Being alert means that I pay full attention to what Christ is doing and respond to Him at all times. That means taking no thought to my own plans and desires. Everything must be for Jesus,
Lord, please transform me. Help me to see where my ambitions and plans hinder me from obeying your plans for me. Amen.
From the Bible Society:
The first time Lance Jackson taught Scripture at a one-teacher school west of Ivanhoe in outback NSW he asked the class to tell him what they knew about Jesus.
“They all looked a bit dumb … Anyway, I pressed the issue, thinking they were shy, but at the finish a 13-year-old girl up the back put up her hand and said ‘Look, I don’t think he lives anywhere around here but I’ve heard Dad talking about him,’” Lance recalls.
“It was an isolated area but what struck me was I’m less than 500km from Sydney and there’s a whole room of kids who don’t know who Jesus is.”
It is experiences such as this that have kept the 82-year-old Presbyterian pastor teaching Scripture for the past 61 years. The record shows that in that time he has brought the gospel of the Lord Jesus to children in 48 schools in NSW, three in South Australia, 12 in Queensland and two in Victoria, all in bush areas.
“That motivated me to just keep pressing on – because you had to really discipline yourself,” he says.
“I grew up in a climate and a church where you made a commitment for life and you didn’t rust out, you burnt out.”
Now based in Glen Innes, in the northern tablelands of NSW, Lance still coordinates Scripture for 18 classes in three local schools and the annual training courses. He also still works on a voluntary basis as a pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Glen Innes.
Read the rest of the story here
How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?
The apostle Paul is filled with joy because of the Thessalonian believers. He prays night and day that he will be able to see them face to face to restore whatever is lacking in their faith.
Paul concludes this chapter by praying that the Lord makes them increase in love for one another and for all people; and that they will be strengthened in holiness to be found blameless on the day of the coming of the Lord Jesus.
Paul is passionate in his love for the church of Thessalonica. He is filled with joy over them and prays for them day and night.
The local church should be a source of joy for each of us. That’s not always true of course. We can take our faith community for granted. Perhaps people don’t meet our expectations. Some churches, like some families, are abusive or toxic.
Regardless of the state of the church, we have a duty to pray for it “day and night” as Paul did for the Thessalonians. Pray for God’s grace for the pastor and leaders; pray for the mission of the church; pray for the really annoying people.
Lord I thank you for my church and for the joy I find in the people you have brought into my life. Amen
If, like me, you are challenged in the artistic area and believe you can’t draw, grab a pen and some paper and watch this video.You too can learn to put pen to paper and draw cartoons.