We live in a world where we are saturated with people’s opinions on different things. And often we look to please people instead of pleasing God.
We have just passed that time of the year when we celebrated God in the form of a small, innocent & vulnerable human baby coming into the world.
But babies have to grow up to attain to all the purposes that God has for them as adults.
The twin themes for The Church in the Market Place for 2019 were “Moving from Maintenance to Mission” & ”Praying that God’s Kingdom would come down here on earth at CMP as it is in Heaven”.
These two themes still need to be at the forefront of our prayers and activities for 2020 but might I suggest that for 2020 we add a third strand- “To Grow Up” to be the mature church that God seeks us to be.
We will look more deeply into what this means for each of us as we explore the theme in this week’s message.
Research has shown that the healthiest emotion a person can have is gratitude. It makes us feel better. It makes us live longer. It’s a stress reliever. If we’re a grateful person, then we’ll live happier and healthier lives.
The idea of having an attitude of thankfulness permeates Scripture. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us to - “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
So how do we develop the attitude of gratitude?
We do it by appreciating other people; we appreciate their loyalty, their differences and their efforts. And that appreciation needs to be genuine, recognizable and regular.
What a great resolution for a new year – to be more appreciative and thankful.
We can be sceptical of the “miraculous”. But, that’s what Christmas is. It’s a miraculous time of year.
There’s the miracle of who came at Christmas – Jesus, and
the miracle of how he came - as a human infant.
There’s the miracle of who he came for - you and me, and
the miracle of why he came - to bring truth, life and salvation (our past forgiven, our future secured and purpose for our present life).
Now that’s miraculous.
Have you ever had one of those days when everything went wrong and you thought - “I shouldn’t have got out of bed today!” Well Christmas must have felt like that for many of the key characters – for Mary and Joseph, Herod, the religious leaders of the time, the inn keeper and the shepherds. Everybody’s plans got changed.
So, the story of Christmas can teach us what’s happening when it seems that God messes up our plans. Christmas is a great opportunity –
for God to get our attention
for us to discover God’s purpose for our lives, and
to trust God.
May God bless this Christmas time for you as you reflect on your life in 2019 and commit your life into God’s care in 2020.
We spend much of our Christmas season searching – searching for the perfect gift, searching for the bargains, searching for just the right decoration, searching for a parking spot.
Many people at the very first Christmas missed it because they were too busy. They were searching for other things. The politicians missed the first Christmas. The business community missed the first Christmas. The innkeeper missed the first Christmas. Even the religious establishment missed the first Christmas. They were just looking at other things.
The only people who really enjoyed the very first Christmas were the people who were looking for it – shepherds and wise men. Luke tells us - "The angels told the shepherds, `You'll find the baby wrapped, in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And the shepherds said, “’Let's go and see!’” (Luke 2:12&25) and Matthew says of the wise men - "We've come from the east, and we've come to worship Him." (Mathew 2:1&2)
When we search and find Jesus at Christmas we also find three gifts. We find forgiveness, peace of mind and eternal life. And they’re something worth searching for!
It is important to understand that there is a power at work when we pray. Do you know that prayer has the power to demolish strongholds and arguments against the knowledge of God [2 Corinthians 10]?
Jesus never had an unanswered prayer and He is our greatest example of the power of prayer. Because of Him we can pray 'Abba Father’ and have direct access to the Holy of Holies. We can come boldly to God with our prayers and we are able to intercede for our friends and family who do not yet know the truth of Jesus.
Join us this Sunday as we explore the power of prayer.
The well know Proverb says- “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves but when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.” (Proverbs 29:18)
More traditional translations like the King James version talk in terms of vision – “Where there is no vision, the people perish …”
Jesus, who best shows us ‘what God is doing’, talked about and lived out, God’s kingdom “come on earth as it is in heaven”. For Jesus that kingdom of God is multinational; it’s powerful, eternal and inevitable. In practice it meant that Jesus shared “good news” with other people, He trained leaders, He helped the poor, He cared for the sick and He taught children.
What a great starting point for a church’s vision!
Relationships are a big deal. Relationships are how we live. Relationships that work with our spouse, in our family, with somebody we’re dating, with friends and acquaintances … relationships, are just an important part of life.
Sometimes though relationships get broken. Sometimes we find ourselves in “toxic” relationships and “abusive” relationships. That abuse can be physical, verbal, sexual, emotional or some combination of those dysfunctions. And we can carry the pain of abuse through our entire life. Job said - “The churning inside me never stops; each day confronts me with more suffering.” Job 30:27
Scripture isn’t silent on the matter of abusive behaviour in relationships and has some principals to -guide and help us. We needn’t suffer in silence. Jesus said - “The truth will set you free.”
"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from the all." Psalm 34: 17-19 NIV
We are living in the midst of unprecedented economic challenges and shattered dreams. Lost homes, broken marriages, hunger, unemployment, and so much more is raging all over the world. But even in the midst of these shattered dreams, there is hope!