God with us

Last week, as we moved towards that special time of year once again, one word has been foremost in my mind: Immanuel. This word does not appear many times in the Bible, but perhaps the most significant occurrence is in the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Imagine that: God with us. The God who created the amazing universe came as a little babe in those humble circumstances in the little town of Bethlehem. How amazing, and how wonderful that He humbled himself and dwelt amongst us. This, truly, is the wonder of Christmas.

However, we all know that the narrative does not end there. The baby Jesus and his parents were under threat from Herod, so they fled to Egypt, becoming refugees. Later they return to their homeland where Jesus grows and becomes the teacher that we know so well as it is recorded for us in the word of God.

The wonder of Christmas week cannot be divorced from the events of Easter week. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the cries of “Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest”, the poignancy of the last supper in that upper room, the agony of the garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal and arrest in the dark of night, the sham of a trial, and the shame of the cross of Calvary. This is all part of the story which has drawn millions of believers in Jesus Christ to acknowledge him as Lord and Saviour.

Furthermore, the narrative does not end there. The multitude of witnesses who saw our risen Lord, the doubters who would not – could not – believe unless they saw the nail prints in his hands and the countless believers down through the ages who take comfort in the resurrection from the dead, and His victory over sin and death.

This is what we celebrate.

Not just a babe in a manger.

Not just the heavenly host singing hallelujahs.

Not just the adoring shepherds or the worshipping magi.

We worship a living Saviour. We remember his death in our place and his resurrection. We remember his sinless body sacrificed in our place. We remember his precious blood poured out so that we might have forgiveness of sin, and cleansing from all unrighteousness.

We remember him.

Until he comes again, we remember that God is with us.


Trinity Sunday

A personal Prayer of Invocation :

Lord, you have promised to meet those who seek your face. Come now and reveal your presence to me as I make myself present to you. May my worship be acceptable in your sight. In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.


How good it is that once more on another new Sunday we gather to offer our worship to God! May He be pleased with what we offer to Him. Leading us as we do so is our Worship Leader for the morning, Ted Smith. When it comes to that time in the service when we share in the Lord’s Supper together our leader will be Trevor Purdie.

To any who are present as visitors it is our pleasure to welcome you and we trust that you will feel right at home. After the service is over you are most welcome to stay for a cuppa and a chat in our coffee shop.

Guest speaker:

With May being a five Sunday month, Grant and Helen are away for the weekend and so today it is special to have Dave and Joy Althorpe back with us. Dave is now ministering at the Hawthorn church in Adelaide as well as serving part-time as one of the Ministry Care & Development (Minister to ministers) team. As the title for his sermon today, Dave has given “Alive to Love.”

Trinity Sunday:

Today, the first Sunday after Pentecost, is known as Trinity Sunday when the focus is on the three Persons of the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity is central to the Christian faith.

To help us try and understand how the three can be co-eternal and coequal together we have the symbol of an equilateral triangle the sides and angles of which are equal and form one figure, inside a circle which signifies divine unity and divine eternity.

As the three Persons are coequal in honour and power, so they are co-eternal, not one before the other. Any such illustration of the Trinity, verbal or visual, is at best an approximation of the truth of God’s being. We cannot grasp the nature of God with our minds. But we can accept in faith what God has revealed of himself in his Word and together with the apostle Paul exclaim in our worship of the Triune God, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33).

Benediction :

May the power, peace, and presence of Jesus Christ uphold, sustain, direct and keep you in this week ahead. Amen.


True surrender

“God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs.

He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him.

True surrender is a matter of being ‘united together [with Jesus] in the likeness of His death’ (Romans 6:5) until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him.

And after you surrender–then what?

Your entire life should be characterised by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.”

Oswald Chambers, from the My Utmost for His Highest Perpetual Calendar.

worship god photo: w worship.jpg


Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens near Adelaide, South Australia

Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens near Adelaide, South Australia

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Genesis 1:31–2:3

Justified by Faith

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5: 1–2)

The doctrine of justification is one of the cornerstones of our faith. God is a just God and His holiness requires sin to be punished. We read that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) How then can anyone escape?

Praise God. It is only through the death of Jesus Christ and faith in Him that we are justified. The clever pun on the word “justified” says it all: it is “just-if-I’d” never sinned. Jesus took the punishment in our place. He paid the price by dying for our sins. No longer do we stand in the dock condemned: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1)

Two friends grew up living next door to one another. They sat together in class, played together in the school yard and in each other’s back yards on the weekend. As teenagers they grew apart. One of them continued his studies and became a lawyer. Later in life he became a judge.

The second boy mixed with the wrong crowd, dropped out of his studies and pursued a life of crime as a thief. The inevitable happened, he was arrested and he appeared before the judge – his childhood friend. The charges were read out, detailing the many crimes he had committed. After a few moments of silence, the judge took off his robes and wig, stepped down and moved to the dock.

Embracing his childhood friend with tears pouring down his face he announced, “This man is my dear friend. Let it be recorded that I am charged with his crimes. I promise to repay all that my dear friend has ever stolen. Furthermore, he is free to go with no charges against his name.”

Imagine the sense of relief and overwhelming gratitude of his friend. That is exactly how we should respond to the news that Jesus did exactly the same thing. Through faith in Him we have been justified in God’s sight.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”



Building on the atonement


I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what is impure, or make holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God. Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? He has made the perfect atonement for sin. Am I in the habit of constantly realizing it? The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things.
The redemption of Christ is not an experience, it is the great act of God which He has performed through Christ, and I have to build my faith on it. If I construct my faith on my own experience, I produce the most unscriptural kind of life— an isolated life, with my eyes focused solely on my own holiness. Beware of that human holiness that is not based on the atonement of the Lord. It has no value for anything except a life of isolation— it is useless to God and a nuisance to man. Measure every kind of experience you have by our Lord Himself. We cannot do anything pleasing to God unless we deliberately build on the foundation of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.The atonement of Jesus must be exhibited in practical, unassuming ways in my life. Every time I obey, the absolute deity of God is on my side, so that the grace of God and my natural obedience are in perfect agreement. Obedience means that I have completely placed my trust in the atonement, and my obedience is immediately met by the delight of the supernatural grace of God.

Beware of the human holiness that denies the reality of the natural life— it is a fraud. Continually bring yourself to the trial or test of the atonement and ask, “Where is the discernment of the atonement in this, and in that?”

Extract from “My Utmost for is Highest” written by Oswald Chambers.

Copies available from our church bookshop.


All Scripture is Useful

Paul’s second letter to Timothy is thought to be the last letter he wrote before his death. What deep concern he had for this younger man who had been his much loved companion and fellow worker on his last two missionary journeys, and so he wrote to encourage him in his walk with the Lord and in his role, after Paul’s death, of giving spiritual leadership to the churches.

Timothy had learned the Scriptures as a lad under the teaching of his mother and grandmother and been introduced to the Lord Jesus by Paul who continued to train him in the way he should live for Him. While Paul was in prison, Timothy was serving God in Ephesus and Paul reminded him of the importance of knowing the Scriptures for his own personal walk with the Lord as well as his preaching the Gospel.

In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul writes – ‘Study (do your best) to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.’

Then in chapter 3:16 – 17 he writes ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped in every way.’

I like to think that God is saying to us, through Paul:

  • All Scripture is useful for teaching, and it shows us the path we are to walk on to be pleasing to Him.
  • All Scripture is useful for rebuking and it shows us where we left that path, when we stray.
  • All Scripture is useful for correcting and it shows us how to get back on the path.
  • All Scripture is useful for training or instruction and it shows us how to stay on the path.

Jesus said, ‘I AM the Way’ (or the path) and we are to follow Him. He said, ‘I AM the Truth,’ which is His Word and we need to know and obey it. He also said, ‘I AM the Life,’ and as we allow Him to live through us, His Life will be seen by others.

May this time of worship this morning enable us to praise our God for Who He is and what He has provided as well as our being better equipped for His service in the days ahead.


The Australian elections are over


 If you are feeling anything like me, you are totally over the Australian election campaign of 2013. It is a frenetic, in-your-face, ever-present factor of life today when we approach an election. In fact, on the very first day of this current event I posted on Facebook that I was already totally over it. Many friends sympathised with me.

In a democracy election campaigns are a necessary by-product of the process. Thankfully it is now over – until the next one. That will be the state election in South Australia next March. Oh, no, I hear you mumble?

What many do not realise is that the doctrine of election is an important topic in the Bible. One of the key verses is in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers.  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph. 1:3-4)

God chose us. Just like you chose the candidates you wanted elected, God chose you. Not only that, He chose you before the creation of the world. Isn’t that amazing? And it is so comforting too. It was His plan all along, since before time began. Wow.

But wait – there’s more – we were chosen to be holy and blameless in his sight. This was only made possible because He chose us in him, that is, He chose those who are in Christ. When we accept salvation through Christ, we are blameless and holy in his sight. What a wonderful and reassuring position to be in.

As we worship our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ today, may we rejoice in the fact that he chose us.

For more on the topic of election or God’s elect, study these passages:

  • Luke 18: 1 – 8 (esp.v.7),
  • Matthew 24: 15 – 28 (esp. v.22, 24),
  • Romans 8: 31 – 39 (If God is for us, who is against us?),
  • Colossians 3: 12 – 17 and
  • Titus 1:1.