Today’s Sermon

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The sermon for February 28th 2016 is now available on the New Life web-site.

In this sermon, which is based on Exodus 3:1-15, I talk about hearing God in the flaming bush.

Click here to listen in your browser, here to download the mp3

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What Is Wrong With This Picture?

All you need to know about the terminal decline of Western culture is in this news item.

When a society so glorifies sexual licentiousness, the end is not far off.

Only a full-on move of God’s Spirit bringing people back to Him can save us from ourselves.

From the ABC:

Giant pink condom put onto Sydney’s Hyde Park obelisk to remind residents to have safe sex

Giant pink condom goes onto obelisk

In a move to promote safe sex, a New South Wales health promotion organisation has put a giant pink condom onto the obelisk at Sydney’s Hyde Park.

The 18-metre tall condom was put onto the heritage-listed structure on Friday night in the lead up to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, to be held next month, by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) health promotion organisation ACON.

The organisation’s chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said the Mardi Gras was a good time to remind people that using condoms was one of the most effective ways to stop transmission of HIV.

“Every year around 80 per cent of HIV transmissions in NSW are among men who have sex with men, so it’s vital that we use opportunities like Mardi Gras to remind gay men about the health benefits of using condoms,” Mr Parkhill said.

“While new drugs are starting to provide other means of protection against HIV, condoms remain central to the fight against the virus because they remain one of the most cheap and effective ways of preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmissible infections.”

He said the giant condom was first put up for World AIDS Day in 2014.

“It was a huge hit … so we thought we’d roll it out again for this year’s Mardi Gras to act as a highly visible safe sex reminder, not just for locals but also for the thousands of international visitors who come to Sydney for Mardi Gras.”

ACON also held a launch for its Stay Safe campaign at Bondi Beach today, as part of efforts to put an end to HIV transmissions in NSW by 2020.

The organisation gave away 1,000 pink inflatable rings, which they called “lifesavers” and described as “condom-like” to the public at the beach.

Established in 1985 as the AIDS Council of NSW, ACON works to end HIV transmission among gay and homosexually active men, and promote the lifelong health of LGBTI people and people with HIV.

It is funded by the NSW Government through the NSW Ministry of Health.

The obelisk was built in 1857 to vent Sydney’s first sewerage system and now provides ventilation for the city’s stormwater system.

Reflection on Luke 13:1-9

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Scripture

No, I tell you: unless you repent you will all perish just as they did.”

Observation

Some people tell Jesus about some Galileans whom Pilate has had killed. Jesus asks them, “Do you think that they were worse sinners than anyone else? Unless you repent you will all perish as they did.”

Jesus tells a parable of a man who had a fig tree that refused to bear fruit. He tells the gardener to cut it down. The gardener asks him to give the tree another year in which he will fertilise it. If it doesn’t bear fruit then he will cut it down.

Application

Part of our sinful nature is that we try to minimise our sin by comparing ourselves favourably with other people. I might sin, but at least I don’t do that terrible thing. When others suffer it must be because they did something awful to deserve it.

We can assume that just because we aren’t judged or punished now, then we can’t be too bad. The fig tree got another chance, but its fate was not guaranteed. The time of reckoning will come.

While offering us another chance, God makes it clear that there is not an infinite number of chances.

The only remedy for sin is to take it seriously and trust in the forgiveness that God offers us in Christ. We are then in a position to be able to receive His ongoing work of sanctification which makes us more like Him.

Prayer

Father forgive me for judging others as more sinful than me. Help me to be honest with you about the state of my soul. Thank you that Jesus died for my sin. Amen.

An Aussie Legend

I have family members who would aspire to this kind of greatness

From the ABC:

Burping world record claimed by Darwin man with fizzy drink-fuelled 110.6-decibel belch

Fizzy drinks, cold water and a perpetually stocked beer fridge — these are just a few trade secrets from a Darwin man who has unofficially broken a world record for the loudest burp.

Humpty Doo man Neville Sharp decided to challenge a Guinness World Record for the loudest burp after being egged on by his mates at the local pub.

The record has been held by UK man Paul Dunn for a burp of 109.9 decibels.

The phone hasn’t stopped all morning. A Melbourne radio station is playing my burps. My wife actually woke me up at 5:30 this morning saying ‘you’re on telly’.

Neville Sharp, very loud burper from Darwin

Mr Sharp underwent a strict training regime before belching into a decibel reader at Charles Darwin University’s sound room yesterday.

“It would’ve been a 600ml Coke and some cool water,” Mr Sharp told 105.7 ABC Darwin.

“And my beer fridge is always full.”

Mr Sharp had one relatively extended yet audibly unsuccessful attempt of 97.8 decibels before a hearty and robust belch registered 110.6 decibels.

The proud burper told local Darwin media that he learnt how to belch as a child after his sister taught him to gulp air, and that breaking the record had “always been” a bit of a personal goal.

An unscientific comparison of sound levels, including Darwin man Neville Sharp, who has measured a burp at 110.6 decibels.

Mr Sharp will have to formally apply to Guinness World Records to claim the title, however in the eyes of both his wife and the Australian media, he is already a bit of a star.

“The phone hasn’t stopped all morning. A Melbourne radio station is playing my burps,” Mr Sharp said.

“My wife actually woke me up at 5:30 this morning saying ‘you’re on telly’. It’s gone off its head.”

Mr Sharp said he wished he could make money from his talent but, unfortunately, burping more loudly than a hand drill was not a particularly lucrative business.

“It would be very handy but I think it’ll be my five minutes of fame and then everybody will forget about it,” he said.

And what does his wife think of his training sessions at home?

“She loves me,” he added.

Reflection on 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

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Scripture

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he shall also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Observation

The Jewish ancestors were all under the glory cloud and all passed through the sea, being baptised into Moses. They drank from the rock that followed them and that rock was Christ.

The lives of these people were given as examples to us. We must avoid idolatry, sexual immorality and complaining as some of these people did and were punished.

God does not let us be tested beyond our ability to endure, but He also provides a way through the trial.

Application

We often see trials and temptations as negative things designed to trip us up. The Old Testament saints were tempted in many ways and often failed and were subsequently punished.

God allows us to be tested to take us deeper into Him. Temptation can be a cause for deeper trust, not just an undermining force.

As christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, we are not condemned to sin. No, our destiny should be to overcome sin as we are increasingly transformed into the image of Christ,

We must learn to recognise temptation and our unique individual weak points. When temptation comes, and it will, we should be so aware of our dependence on the Lord that our eyes are on Jesus and not the source of sin. As we learn to do this, we learn to overcome in every test.

Prayer

Help me Father to discern the weaknesses of my heart and to trust in your strength to stand firm against temptation. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 3:1-15

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Scripture

Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.”

Observation

Moses is tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He comes to Mount Horeb where he sees a bush enveloped in flame yet not burning up.

As Moses approaches, God speaks to him. He identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Lord says that He has heard the cry of His people and He is going to rescue them and take them to their own land.

The Lord tells Moses he is to go to Pharaoh to set His people free. Moses says, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?” The Lord promises that He will be with him.

Moses’ next question is “Who are you?” The Lord says, “I am who I am.”

Application

The Lord appears to Moses with a big mission- go to the leader of the world’s biggest power and demand that he set the Hebrew people free. This is huge, even for Moses who was raised in Pharaoh’s palace.

Moses asks for a sign and God tells him, “I will be with you. And you will know this because you will bring my people back here to worship me.”

In other words, God is telling Moses to trust Him, and after he has completed the task then he will see the sign.

I wonder how many people have missed out on God’s call because they wanted a sign up front. Sometimes God gives us a sign before we start, but His way often is to ask us to trust Him.

Prayer

Lord help me to trust you. Help me to see that you are with me even when it all seems too hard. Amen.