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.


You need Jesus


God desires to have a living relationship with you and give you salvation, purpose and eternal life. It is an important decision that only you can make, but you need to make it.

1. You have a past: Scripture – the Bible – states clearly that everyone in the world is guilty of sin – and that includes you and me. The Bible says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

2. Sin has its price: The Bible also tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) The wages of work is money, but the wages of sin is death. Death in this context means separation from God forever. But there is good news.

3. Christ paid for your sin: Even though we are sinners, Jesus Christ loves us so much that he died in our place to pay for our sin. He took the punishment in our place. “But God demonstrated his own love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

4. Believe in Jesus: To become a Christian and have the assurance of eternal life is a personal decision only you can make.

The Bible says: “If you confess with you mouth, Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) The word “believe” here means to entrust your life completely over to Jesus Christ. That’s what real faith is – asking Jesus Christ to be Lord of your life.

The next step

If you’d like to begin a personal relationship with Jesus today, we encourage you to pray this prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner. I believe that you died for me and that your blood paid for my sins. I ask for your forgiveness. I want you to be my Lord and saviour. Thank you for dying for me, and for forgiving my sin and for giving me eternal life. Help me to turn away from my sin and follow you as my Lord and saviour. Lead me and guide me from this day on. Amen.”

You have made an important and life-changing decision.

We encourage you to contact us (click here). We will promise to pray for you. If you live within easy travel of our church in Murray Bridge, South Australia, we would welcome you into our church and help you on your journey.

Adapted from “The Word for today” written by Bob and Debby Gass (Nov-Jan 2013 edition). UCB Australia.

Used with permission.


Follow The Star

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A bright and significant  Christmas symbol is the star. “Follow The Star” is the theme of this morning’s message.

A Christmas hymn the words of which were written in 1976 by Lorraine Clout and sung to the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” has as its final verse, a call to give one’s life to Jesus:

If you would this Christmas Day
Know the Lord, then simply pray,
“Jesus, Saviour cleanse my sin

Take my heart and enter in.”

Would that many people who are not-yet Christian might pray this prayer and have their lives transformed.


I commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Amen. (Acts 20:32)


This fragile life

This fragile life: A tribute to Phillip Hughes


I have to admit that I am a very keen cricket fan. I have spent many hours enjoying the coverage on the television, or on the radio when travelling. Even as a teenager I had my ear stuck up hard to my transistor radio listening at all hours to Ashes Test matches being broadcast from England late into the night. I made sure that the radio sound was muffled under the covers so my parents didn’t hear. Later, on marrying, I graduated to an ear piece, listening well into the early morning hours and often falling asleep in the process.


It was with a great deal of dismay that I have followed the events of the last week. I refer to the sad passing of South Australian and Australian batsman Phillip Hughes. Phil died several days after being struck on the neck during a match between SA and NSW last week. The bouncing ball – probably travelling in excess of 140kph – severed a major artery causing massive bleeding in the brain.

Tearful funeral

This afternoon I tearfully watched his funeral, telecast on several channels throughout Australia and to other parts of the world. The global outpouring of grief for this young player has been astounding. Dying just a few days short of his 26th birthday, his short life has impacted the sporting world like few other sportsmen before him. I guess it was the circumstances of his death which created a ripple effect which just grew and grew like a tsunami.

This fragile life

This incident, and its aftermath, has made me ponder upon the fragility of life. None of us know the precise time of our passing from this life. For many of us it will come unexpectedly. For those who are ageing, or who are suffering a terminal illness, we may know in advance that our passing from this life may come in weeks or months. With most of us though, it will probably catch us unawares and unprepared. A devastating example occurred only yesterday in the south east of our state. Four members of one family died in a tragic road accident, and so much sadness must result from such an event, for the family left behind and for a community united in their grief.

A personal grieving

In all of this I was taken back a few years to an incident involving my eldest brother. He and his wife had just returned from a caravan holiday. Before he unhitched the caravan, he decided to mow the grass where he normally parked the van. He never finished. A heart attack – and his life ended. I am so pleased that he knew Jesus Christ as his saviour.

A certain hope

I guess that I am close to the mark when I say that most people do not think much about death until a tragedy strikes close to home. It may change some for a few weeks perhaps, and then life goes on – as it should. Even fewer people consider their eternal destiny. Jesus Christ died on a cross for each one of us, and he was victorious over death and rose from the dead. The hope that Christians have is in a risen saviour; His tomb is empty.

When you make the decision to trust in Jesus as your saviour, you have a hope that is absolutely certain. You can face tomorrow knowing that God, through Jesus Christ, has your eternal destiny in His hands, and will not let you down, or disappoint you. You will no longer need to fear death.
For more information, or help in any way, please use our contact details near the top of this page.


Has God changed you?

What understanding do you have of the salvation of your soul?

The work of salvation means that in your real life things are dramatically changed. You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new and the old things have lost their power to attract you.

One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you?

Quoted from Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His highest.

Available from the Murray Bridge Church of Christ Bookshop, 32 Seventh Street, Murray Bridge 5253.
Phone: (08) 8532 4400

Reaching Jerusalem

“Jerusalem was the place where our Lord reached the culmination of His Father’s will upon the cross. Nothing ever diverted our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned Him even the slightest degree away from His purpose.

The same things will happen to us on our way to our ‘Jerusalem.’ When our Lord reached Jerusalem, they crucified Him, and that event is the doorway to our salvation. The saints, however, do not end in crucifixion; by the Lord’s grace they end in glory.”

Oswald Chambers,

from the My Utmost for His Highest Perpetual Calendar.

Hosanna in the highest heaven

One of my earliest experiences is etched indelibly in my memory. I had only just started school when I went on my first excursion. It was a warmish day and we headed to the Renmark Oval. I remember sitting quite bored on the grass for hours. Suddenly the thousands of children around me burst into cheering and wildly started waving their flags. I waved too as the young Queen Elizabeth went past on the back of a Landrover ute. In just a few seconds all the excitement was over.

Australia is about to experience another royal visit, this time the Queen’s grandson. Her great grandson is the centre of everyone’s attention. It seems that our country is not yet ready to embrace the idea of a republic. The royal family can still pull an appreciative crowd.

In his day Jesus could also pull an appreciative crowd. Throughout his ministry the multitudes flocked to him, pressing in on him, crowds looking for healing and miracles. Many also came to hear his teaching for when he spoke they heard someone ‘speaking with authority.’

Today, Palm Sunday, we remember his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding on a colt. ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ they all cried out as they spread their cloaks on the ground in front of him. Imagine the contrast with a few days later when Jesus stood before Pilate. Listen to the yelling, jeering, angry crowd. ‘Crucify him!’ was their cry.

Look afresh as the mob pressed in upon his recently flogged body as he was led to Calvary carrying that shameful cross. The cursing and jeering continued, even from the thief on the cross. Oh, how our Saviour suffered in our place, for our sin, and so that we could enjoy eternal life in Him.


Rejoice in the Lord

‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ (Phil 4:4)

Rejoicing in the Lord can be a daily experience in our lives. After all, we have so much to rejoice in when we are in Christ. Here is a list of just a few of our blessings in Christ from the first chapter of Ephesians:

  • In Christ we have the forgiveness of sin.
  • In Christ we have an eternal hope.
  • In Christ we have been redeemed through His blood.
  • In Christ, the riches of God’s grace have been lavished upon us.
  • In Christ we have been adopted into God’s family.
  • In Christ we have a guaranteed inheritance which cannot be taken away.
  • In Christ we have cleansing from all unrighteousness – from all sin.
  • In Christ we have the promise of eternal life.

Rejoicing in the Lord can be a natural state for us, no matter what is happening around us, if we have an attitude of rejoicing. It should be our normal state of mind. We need to make a deliberate choice to rejoice in the Lord and what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

In the midst of challenging and sometimes terrible social changes all around, in the distress of family troubles, in the pain, turmoil and uncertainty of illness or bereavement, our position in Christ never changes. That should bring us a deep, satisfying joy that no-one and nothing can take from us.

‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil 4:7)


Saint Valentine’s Day

Although Saint Valentine’s Day has its origins in the early Christian Church, we don’t celebrate the day in our church.

The original Saint Valentine was an interesting priest in the early church. He was imprisoned and later executed by Roman authorities for secretly marrying Roman soldiers, something forbidden in his day in early Rome. He also ministered to early Christians who were severely persecuted in the first few decades after the death of Jesus Christ.

According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell. This started the modern craze to send a card or gift to the one you love.

Through giving his son Jesus as our saviour, God demonstrated his love to us who follow him. His Word – the Bible – is his love letter to each one of us. Through the words of the Bible we can begin to understand the depth of God’s amazing love for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

What amazing love; He died for me.

What an amazing gift; eternal life.

You can read more about Saint Valentine’s Day here.


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.”