Today’s Sermon

The sermon for November 18th 2018 is now available on the New Life web-site.

In this sermon, Tania talks about Fear.

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

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How To Hear God

Many christians struggle with the issue of hearing the voice of God. Some have been wrongly taught that God doesn’t speak to us. Others believe that He does speak to us but still seem unable to hear.Whole books have been written on the topic whether it is framed in terms of “Hearing God” or “Guidance” (The latter term is often used by christians who don’t believe that God speaks to His people but still want to know how to discern the will of God.)

In the 1980’s I came across this little book and it revolutionised my spiritual walk. Mark Virkler simplifies the whole business of hearing God’s voice to a few easy steps and an important concept. 

The concept is this: God speaks to us in the flow of our thoughts more often than through an audible voice.

The steps to hearing God are simple

  1. Still your mind. When our brains are racing away with our own thoughts it is very hard to hear what God might want to say to us. Some people like to use the “Jesus Prayer” to help this process.Settle your breathing into a regular rhythm. As you breathe in say slowly “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” and as you breathe out say “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
  2. Ask God a question. “What do you want to say to me?””What should I do about …?”
  3. Listen to the thoughts that go through your mind in response to the question. Write them down in a notebook or journal- this process of writing your thoughts is vital, because often we start to analyse what is being revealed, but that breaks the flow.
  4. When you finish, look back over what you have written and check if it agrees with Scripture, with the things happening in your life, with other things the Lord has shown you, and so on.

This is a wonderful method to help us hear God’s voice. Like many things in life, it may seem difficult at first but with practice the process of discerning God’s voice becomes more fluent.

Reflection on Mark 13:1-8

Scripture
“When you hear of wars and rumours of was, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

Observation
Jesus and His disciples leave the Temple building, and one of them exclaims, “Look at these magnificent buildings!”

Jesus replies that the Temple will be so obliterated that not one stone will remain on another. He goes on to tell them that many will come claiming to be Jesus and to speak in His name, and they will deceive many people. There will be wars and rumours of wars, but the disciples are not to be alarmed.

Application
Although people often look at this passage as being about the end times, it primarily refers to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, when the Temple, which seemed so magnificent and indestructible, was totally destroyed.

There are two warnings in this passage that apply to us.

  1. Do not be deceived by false messiahs claiming to come in the name of the Lord. The people of God must exercise discernment. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice.” When celebrity preachers or political leaders offer a different gospel or a different salvation, we must recognise that they are a false messiah, a false teacher, a false leader- even if they claim to be born again.
  2. We must not be alarmed by the tumult of the nations. Wars have always been a part of human existence. In fact, we live in an era of unprecedented peace, yet people are more fearful than ever. Our focus must always be on Jesus rather than the affairs of the nations.

When people offer “peace in our time” without Jesus then we can be certain that they are a false messiah. Only Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Peace without Him is a false peace, brittle and short-lived.

Prayer
Help me, Holy Spirit, to discern what is true, edifying and from you. Let me see the truth in every situation and trust my fears and anxieties to you. Amen

China Leaps Forward With Fusion Power

From the ABC, an exciting step forward in cheap, sustainable power generation

China’s ‘artificial sun’ reaches 100 million degrees Celsius marking milestone for nuclear fusion

By Jack Kilbride and Bang Xiao

Chinese nuclear scientists have reached an important milestone in the global quest to harness energy from nuclear fusion, a process that occurs naturally in the sun.

Key points:

  • The ‘artificial sun’ is designed to replicate the fusion process that occurs in the sun
  • Dr Matthew Hole said the achievement is significant for fusion science around the world
  • Fusion is seen as a solution for energy issues as it is clean, sustainable and powerful

The team of scientists from China’s Institute of Plasma Physics announced this week that plasma in their Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) — dubbed the ‘artificial sun’ — reached a whopping 100 million degrees Celsius, temperature required to maintain a fusion reaction that produces more power than it takes to run.

To put that in perspective, the temperature at the core of the sun is said to be around 15 million degrees Celsius, making the plasma in China’s ‘artificial sun’ more than six times hotter than the original.

The news comes after China shocked the science community last month with plans to launch an ‘artificial moon’ bright enough to replace city streetlights by 2020.

A moon, which replaces the globe in a light globe, hangs over Chengdu's cityscape.

PHOTO: Chinese scientists plan to send three artificial moons into space in the next four years. (ABC News: Graphic by Jarrod Fankhauser)

Speaking to the ABC, associate professor Matthew Hole from the Australian National University said the achievement was an important step for nuclear fusion science.

“It’s certainly a significant step for China’s nuclear fusion program and an important development for the whole world,” Dr Hole told the ABC, adding that developing fusion reactors could be the solution to global energy problems.

“The benefit is simple in that it is very large-scale base load [continuous] energy production, with zero greenhouse gas emissions and no long-life radioactive waste.

“It provides a silver bullet energy solution … providing that one can harness it.”

Fusion vs fission

How close are we to having nuclear plants that fit the clean, green bill? We explain the how different nuclear technologies work and where the research is up to.

He added that nuclear fusion reactors also avoid risks associated with the currently employed nuclear fission reactors, which can be adapted into dangerous weapons and are prone to possible catastrophic meltdowns.

The news went viral on Chinese social media, with most users excited by the achievement.

“There is nothing China can’t make,” one user on Weibo said.

Another proclaimed that “if this technology is put in use, the world will no longer feel anxious about the energy crisis.”

So how did China manage to pull it off?

China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), dubbed the 'artificial sun'.

PHOTO: China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), dubbed the ‘artificial sun’. (Supplied: Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences)

While current nuclear power plants rely on nuclear fission — a chain reaction where uranium atoms are split to release energy — nuclear fusion effectively does the opposite by forcing atoms to merge.

One way of achieving this on Earth is by using what’s known as a tokamak, a device designed to replicate the nuclear fusion process that occurs naturally in the sun and stars to generate energy.

The EAST that pulled off the 100 million Celsius feat stands at 11-metres tall, has a diameter of eight metres, and weighs around 360 thousand kilograms.

The metal insides of the EAST

PHOTO: High-powered magnets line the ‘doughnut shaped’ inside of EAST. (Supplied: Institute of Plasma Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences)

It uses a doughnut-shaped ring to house heavy and super-heavy isotopes — atomic variations — of hydrogen known as deuterium and tritium.

The isotopes are heated by powerful electric currents within the tokamak, tearing electrons away from their atoms and forming a charged plasma of hydrogen ions.

Powerful magnets lining the inner walls of EAST then contain the plasma to a tiny area to maximise the chance that the ions will fuse together.

When the ions fuse they give off a large amount of energy, which can then be harnessed to run a power plant and produce electricity.

The Chinese research team said they were able to achieve the record temperature through the use of various new techniques in heating and controlling the plasma, but could only maintain the state for around 10 seconds.

The latest breakthrough provided experimental evidence that reaching the 100 million degrees Celsius mark is possible, according to China’s Institute of Plasma Physics.

Nuclear fusion a global mission, but not in Australia

Aerial shot shows the construction of the ITER

PHOTO: ITER is set to be completed around 2025. (Supplied: ITER Organization/EJF Riche)

Dr Hole said that while the energy possibilities of nuclear fusion as a clean energy source has attracted large investment from countries all over the world — including China — Australia has lagged behind.

“As a nation, Australia is about to lose its capability in fusion,” Dr Hole said, adding that many of his colleagues have changed field or are looking for work overseas due to a lack of investment in fusion science.

“Australia used to have good investment in this space, but it has really been neglected in recent years.”

He said that the achievement by EAST will be important to the development of the next major experiment in global nuclear fusion science: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

Currently being built in southern France with collaboration from 35 nations including China, ITER is set to be the first fusion device to consistently produce net energy, producing 500 Megawatts of clean and sustainable power.

As EAST has a similar design to ITER but on a far smaller scale, it is likely to be an important testing device during the development of ITER, according to China’s Institute of Plasma Physics.

ITER is expected to be ready to create its first plasma and begin operations in 2025.

An aerial view shows the ITER site spanning across the French countryside

PHOTO: ITER will be the first in the world to produce more energy than it takes to run. (Supplied: ITER Organization/EJF Riche)

Reflection on Hebrews 10:11-25

Scripture

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as we see the Day coming.

Observation

Priests offer sacrifices over and over, but Christ our High Priest offered the one perfect sacrifice and then sat down at God’s right hand. This one sacrifice atoned for all sin and so there is no longer any need for sacrifices.

Therefore we have confidence to enter the Holy Place knowing that our hearts and consciences have been made clean. We should spur one another on to good deeds, continuing to meet together to encourage one another.

Application

There is a wrong belief amongst some people that we don’t need church to walk with Jesus. Apparently that belief was there from the beginning, but in our increasingly individualistic and fragmented society it is becoming more common.

On the one hand, the New Testament reassures us that we have the Holy Spirit and don’t need anyone to teach us the ways of the Lord. On the other hand, the New Testament also emphasises frequently the corporate nature of the church which is described as the Body of Christ,

We need each other to ensure that we keep growing in Christ. We need each other to complement one another’s spiritual gifts. When we are left to our own devices it is easy to be deceived into believing that we are doing well. When we meet together the exuberance of others might encourage us to go deeper in Christ. Seeing others grow in the Lord can encourage us to see that we have more to learn, more to repent, more to grow.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for the church, the Body of Christ in the world. Help me to be an encourager to my fellow christians and to be encouraged by them. Amen.

Reflection on 1 Samuel 1:1-20

1-Sam.jpeg

Scripture

In due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”

Observation

Hannah, one of two wives to Elkanah, is desperate for a child. One time after the sacrificial meal that the family shares at Shiloh, she goes into the Tabernacle to pray.

She is in such anguish of spirit that Eli the priest thinks she is drunk. When she explains her anguish and sorrow, Eli blesses her.

The family returns home, and Hannah eventually has a baby. She names him Samuel, and he grows up to be the great prophet to Israel.

Application

This passage tells us four things about prayer.

1. God reacts to real faith. Hannah knows that God can hear our prayers and she is certain about His faithfulness. Her faith is so deep that when Eli says to her, “May God grant your request”, she accepts that her prayer has already been answered.

2. God reacts to our struggles and the distress of our prayers. Prayer is not an intellectual exercise where we think nice thoughts. It is a deeply spiritual process that can engage our emotions. Hannah’s prayer was so emotional because it was fuelled by the distress in her heart. It was s emotional that Eli the priest thought she was drunk.

3. God is not limited by the corruption or godlessness of a religious system. Eli’s sons were notorious for eating the best parts of the food brought for sacrifice, which was against the religious law, but God was still at work. The voice of God was not heard in the land, but God was still at work.

4. God’s timing is not always the same as ours. Sometimes He delays answers to prayer to provoke us to a deeper faith in Him. Sometimes He gives us blessings and responsibilities before we think we are ready for them. His timing is always perfect, even if it seems inconvenient.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the knowledge that you answer our prayers, the fervent prayers of a heart that is surrendered to you. Amen.