Be Encouraged

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40

Our Refuge and Strength

Mountain stream in Nepal Photo: Trevor Hampel

Mountain stream in Nepal                                                                                              Photo: Trevor Hampel

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Psalm 46.

Resurrection Sunday

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Jesus Has Risen

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

The Crucifixion

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The Crucifixion of Jesus

 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).  Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.  And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.  The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,  come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way, the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome.  In Galilee, these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Crucify Him!

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

 The chief priests accused him of many things.  So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested.  A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.  The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

1The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.  They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.


They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  

“Abba Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

A Saviour has been born for you

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2 NASB)

This passage is a familiar part of the Christmas account. It will be read in most Christian churches this, and every, Christmas Day, or in the lead-up to Christmas. The scene has been imagined by countless artists, from the great masters of old through to Christmas card illustrators of today.

Capture, if you will, the terror that these shepherds must have felt. This was not your normal event in the life of a humble shepherd. The Lord’s angel suddenly appeared before them. God’s glory lit up the dark night. And then the angel spoke to them. No wonder they were frightened. I am so pleased that the angel told them not to be afraid.

As the angel went on with the message, I am sure that their hearts were still pumping madly. I’ve been scared by an unexpected fright like that. Not an angel, mind you, but by a venomous snake slithering over my shoe. My wife tells me that my face was quite white with fright. It took me a few minutes to calm down.

In the same way, these shepherds must have had thumping hearts and blood-drained faces. After the initial shock, they were overjoyed by the good news. A Saviour, Christ the Lord, had been born that very day. It was not what they were expecting, nor were they prepared for the heavenly hosts which appeared next.

What a night, what an experience.

No wonder they hurried off to see this saviour. No worries about the animals that they were supposed to be caring for; they had something of greater importance ahead of them. After they had seen the baby Jesus, they eventually went back to their duties. As they returned to their flocks, they went “glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen.”

This Christmas, pause for more than just a moment. Meditate upon the true meaning of Christmas, what it really signifies, and how this impacts your daily life. This day celebrates the birth of your Saviour, Christ the Lord. The baby Jesus, born in humble circumstances, adored by simple shepherds, came to this earth to save you.

That is reason enough this Christmas day to be glorifying and praising God for the rest of your life, not just for a night.

God’s richest blessings to you and your loved ones this Christmas.


Taking the Initiative Against Despair

Sahara Desert (Photo: Trevor Hampel)

Sahara Desert (Photo: Trevor Hampel)

In the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples went to sleep when they should have stayed awake, and once they realized what they had done it produced despair.

The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, “Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying any more.”

If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair.

But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, “Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing.” In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.

There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus.

But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, “Get up, and do the next thing.” If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing? It is to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the basis of His redemption.

Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.


Have mercy on me

Have mercy on me, the sinner

Reading: Luke 18: 9 – 14

This account tells of one of the many parables that Jesus taught. He compares two different men: a Pharisee and a tax-gatherer. Now the Pharisees were a group of Jewish religious leaders who were fanatical about their observance of the Laws of Moses. Today we would call them legalistic. Jesus often criticised them and their practices and attitudes, especially their self-righteousness.

The tax collector on the other hand was a much hated person in the society of the day. Because they were directly employed as tax collectors by the Romans they were regarded as unclean, they were mistrusted and were generally just hated. They usually set out to make a profit from their position, often at exorbitant rates well above that set by the Romans. Extortion was a common practice.

In the case of the two men in the parable told by Jesus, he paints the character of the Pharisee in a very poor light. The Pharisees often thought of themselves as righteous and looked down their noses with contempt at others whom they regarded as terrible sinners.

11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

He certainly thought highly of himself.

Listen, however, to the account by Jesus of the tax collector.

13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 

One of the things we have discovered in our home group is that we need to look carefully at the little words in the passages in the Bible we are studying. Only last Monday someone pointed out that a prominent word in the second chapter of Peter’s second letter is the word “if”. In the devotional I led the coffee shop staff in this week I emphasised the word “but”.

Here I would focus our attention on the word “the”. We tend to gloss over such words. ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  The tax collector acknowledged to God that he was not just “a” sinner, but “the” sinner. Some translations do render it “a sinner” so don’t be confused.  By calling himself “the sinner” he is personally taking responsibility for his sin.

When I come before God such as in taking communion, when I consider the righteousness of Jesus, when I truthfully and honestly examine my life in his sight, I also have to come to the conclusion that I need to call on God to be merciful to me THE sinner.

Thanks and praise be to our God and Father, and our saviour Jesus Christ, that our sin has been dealt with – on the Cross of Calvary.



Valentine’s Day

Floriade, Canberra (Photo: T. Hampel)

Floriade, Canberra (Photo: Trevor Hampel)

Valentine’s Day

Today, like other ‘special’ days of the year in which there is the opportunity to express one’s self e.g. Christmas, Easter and Mother’s and Father’s Day, is being turned into an ever-increasing time of commercial exploitation. More flowers will be sold for this day than any other day in the year.

While there are a number of possible origins as to how Valentine’s Day came to be called such, a noteworthy one is that it is named in honour of a monk who, in defiance of the Roman Emperor’s orders, was prepared to conduct weddings for young legionnaires and their brides. His actions ultimately cost him his life.

John 15:13 tells us, Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. It’s the message of life contained in arguably the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

Worship and Communion

It is because of God’s love that we are able to enter into His presence this day and present to Him our worship. As we do this our leader will be Phil Manning, and when it comes to that part of the service when we remember Jesus’ death on the cross for us, our Communion Leader will be   Trevor Hampel.

Welcome to our visitors

To any who may be present as visitors it is our pleasure to extend to you a special “Welcome!” We are pleased to have your company with us today. After the service you are most welcome also to stay and enjoy a cuppa in our coffee shop.

With Pastor Grant having been away all week in Melbourne, David Mills has prepared today’s  message for us from God’s Word.

Rose (Photo: Trevor Hampel)

Rose (Photo: Trevor Hampel)

Marriage partners

Dr H. N. Wright in his book Premarital Counseling, expresses a concern about individuals and the choices they make about a suitable marriage partner. He says that too many choices are made on the romantic ideal of love based on feelings. He writes, “Love is necessary, but many people have an inadequate concept of what it is. Perhaps a typical definition can be expressed in this homespun statement: Love is a feeling you feel when you feel that you’re going to get a feeling that you never felt before!

Is romantic love sufficient?

David Mace, a family life sociologist asks, “Is romantic love sufficient?” No doubt those of us who have been married for some time would say, ”No.” By way of an answer, Wright continues, “What about common interests, common background, vocational goals, spiritual similarities? What about liking the other person as a friend and enjoying his or her company? .. There are many elements that should go into the selection of a mate, but too many people bypass them.”

What does all this mean for us? Never take one’s spouse, or the significant relationships we have with others, for granted. Appreciate too, the reality that God loves each one of us dearly.

As you go forward into this new week, be filled with hope, joy, and peace by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Paper daisies, Coonalpyn (Photo: Trevor Hampel)

Paper daisies, Coonalpyn (Photo: Trevor Hampel)