St Andrew Rakaia
In these recent weeks, all that we have heard and seen is the build up of the elections. Parties campaigning for us to vote for them because of what they will do that we see that is important and close to our hearts right now. In amongst the campaigning there has been disappointments and rage publicly expressed of the broken promises made by parties who said will deliver but didn’t and so, people have changed their minds by looking to another who will.
I’m not here to talk about politics but rather about the way people tick and function in a time of crisis. If nothing is happening, then we might as well look to someone who can make it happen. Sometimes we find it hard to just sit and wait.
God’s people couldn’t wait for Moses who went up the mountain to meet with God. It must have been awhile since they have last heard from him because they began to get agitated, hoha…just waiting for him. To let them know how and when they will enter this so-called promise land that Moses goes on about.
So, anger and impatience is stirring up in the camp and rumours and gossips are echoing through the camp of what has become of Moses and who do we turn to.
We know what its like when something we think needs to get done but isn’t, we get frustrated. we know when those in charge have gone quiet and nothing is happening, we wonder why. We know when those we look too are absent, we begin to look to another to fill the void to lead.
Back at the camp Aaron is looked too, to do something about it. Upon the demand of the people to make God’s formed in an idol that is a golden cow made out of acacia wood and melted gold from their earrings. A false God that stemmed from their slavery in Egypt. A false God they have adopted into their DNA.
Aaron was deputised to be the one people should come to settle any quarrels or concerns while Moses was away. Aaron a priest of Yahweh’s service and who knew better, might have felt threatened or under a lot of pressure to give what the people wanted.
Those under leadership role can understand the pressure and stress Aaron felt to keep the people happy.
Little did the people know that God saw and heard and was angry. He was ready to obliterate them from the face of the earth. But because of Moses interceding and appealing to God to change his heart and mind toward the people. God said to Moses, “Go! Leave me alone!” why? Because he was heartbroken by their betrayal, but Moses did not leave, but stood in the gap for the people and God was persuaded.
We can understand God’s anger and frustration, brokenness, and pain. That no matter what he did, the people did not embrace and trust him fully as their one true God because they relied heavily on Moses. They were still walk by sight and not by faith.
2 Corinthians 5: 7
“we walk by faith not by sight.”
Paul reminds the early church not to rely on what they know and remember but on God all though not seen is always there ready to provide and protect.
The people of Moses would need this reminder of Paul constantly on their wilderness journey.
I think about the parable of the banquet in the book of Matthew where a King hosted a party for VIP’s but they had all kinds of excuses and it made the King very angry and so, the King extended the invitation to anyone and everyone because his very own rejected it.
In Philippians reading there is anger, division and conflict amongst the women leaders and the community of who is wrong and who is right. Paul encourages and persuades the leaders to be of one mind and one accord. Be of good cheer, rejoice and hold fast to what you have learned as Christ followers.
Ephesians 4: 26
“Be angry but not to sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
There are some people who are able to control their anger and get over it but there are some who find it really difficult to calm down and there are some who are always angry all the time. If not dealt with straight away, it could lead to some regrets later.
God was furious and angry of what the people did and made up his mind that he was going to destroy them.
Psalm 106 records, “Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.”
God love his people that it hurt when they turned away from him. Moses reminded God of his covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God turned aside from his anger and was merciful and gracious once again toward his people.
Throughout his people’s journey in the wilderness, the people complained, moaned was angry regardless of his provision for them, God turned aside from his wrath and extended his mercy and grace.
The Exodus reading says, God changed his mind to bring about disaster instead he once again gave his people another chance to repent and return to him.
We ourselves can get distracted by the day to day worries and uncertainties of the world. We absorb the negatives, anger and woes that entrench us to look for a way out instead of looking firstly to God. This is not to say that if we look to God, Jesus that everything will be fine, no, it is that we put our hope and trust in God who knows what we need not what we want. Put our hope in God who is first and foremost a gracious and merciful God whose love is definitely and surely steadfast.
Who expressed his love through his Son Jesus Christ so that all who believe will have this amazing relationship with the God of grace who does changes his mind because God is love.
Some food for thought today.
Rev Arii Taimataora
The essentials God Provides
If you have read my recent article in this week’s newsletter, it touches on the direction where Alpine Presbytery is heading. I said that periodically I will bring forward some of the strategic guidelines we, together with the Presbytery hope to accomplish and include into our DNA fostering and strengthening our faith to make Christ known. One of the guidelines in our plan is “Care for Creation”.
Our recent bible study was based on, “Life, the universe and God.” It touches on the crafted beauty and the complexity of the natural world derived from God’s perfect goodness. Yet, slowly but surely this world is being depleted of the essentials that is, the natural resources that provides for all living beings both great and small. The phrase, “essential” is now a common word in our everyday vocabulary because of COVID. What is essential? The dictionary meaning is, “absolutely necessary”. Something that one cannot do without or, a crucial element for something to continue to thrive or exist.
My introduction may have misled you to think that this is about the “care of creation” but I want to draw your attention to story of God’s people in the wilderness. We have heard this story I’m sure many times. People do crazy things when we find our very life is being threaten. We kick into survival mode where we become irrational and It is hard for any of us to understand how they were feeling as they followed Moses and the elders on an arduous journey to the promise land. They have faced many challenges and have seen many miracles displayed by God.
The reading of Exodus is no different. The people have journeyed by stages and came to Rephidim where there was no water and once again complained to Moses. Reflecting on their journey they are still in the early stages going into the wilderness to the promise land that is they have just left Egypt over a month ago. Within that period, God had provided the quail by evening and manna by morning because the people complained. He gave specific instructions of how much to take, when not to take, when to keep overnight. But it seems to no avail the people were so worried about the day to day provisions of where it will come from and how will they get it because they were out in the wild. The people were not listening to God’s word, not paying attention to God because they were so worried about the reality, they were currently in. But God was patient and compassionate towards them.
We have seen what desperation looks like when we realise that our essentials are depleting. We have seen it during the covid. It changes people to kick into survival mode to take more than they should rather than taking for your need so that others can have some too. Kindness and care has gone out the window and complaints to the supermarket of not having enough essentials or why there are only limited quantity per customer. We have heard of the frustrations that supermarkets had to deal with, where they too were pushed in their limits to provide as well.
Coming back to the story of the wilderness. The people only had one thing in mind, remembering Egypt where their needs were met and so they complained and tested God. Yet, God out of his grace, mercy and steadfast love responded with care to the needs of his people. It wasn’t long ago in the story the people spent time at a place called “Elim”. There, it was said to have 12 springs of water and seventy palm trees (Exodus 15: 27). No complaints recorded whatsoever here. No conversation about God’s undivided care and attention for his people there either. Isn’t it interesting when God is not noticed when things are well, but God is noticed when circumstances are not well.
When our essentials on a global scale are becoming scarce who do we blame? Who decides who gets to have and have not? Who do we complain to for the depletion of essentials? We look back at our history and reminisce of the once was glory days of things that were bigger and better to what is the world coming to and why? Forgetting God has been and still is present with us.
God said to Moses to take the elders with him ahead to a place called Horeb and strike the rock and water will flow. God heard the complaints and cries of his people and even though God was sad his people still didn’t get it that he alone is their only essential to survive in the wilderness.
God said to Moses take the elders with you why? Because the elders represented the people. Their hopes, trust, suffering history and they were going to participate, to witness and experience God’s saving power and presence. They were the ones who are going to unlearn things they have depended upon over the decades and learn afresh the God of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who has come to save his people.
The elders represented the people. They were the leaders who were going to return to the people after seeing God’s power displayed who will engage with the people, this time with a fresh understanding of who God truly is. That is, their God who has been there since before time began.
The provision of water from the rock follows from the assurance that God is indeed present with this people: “I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb” (Exodus 17:6). This place where God delivered Israel from their thirst is the same place where God first called Moses (Exodus 3:1, 4), appearing in flaming fire “from the midst” of a bush (Exodus 3:2). The people have thus returned to the sacred ground where Moses learned of the presence and power of God. God’s stance upon the rock (Exodus 17:6) is continuous with that first theophany to Moses that set-in motion the people’s journey to freedom from slavery. God continues to ensure that this people will have what they need to live.
Who are those in our midst who thirst for water, who lack what they need to survive? What surprising resources will our landscape yield to meet their needs? On what rock is God standing in their midst?
From this story, what can we unlearn and learn from?
What is the lesson to be learnt here today?
God cares deeply for each of us and helps move us from places of fear and doubt to places of trust. God provides for us and reveals Godself to us, and then God asks us to trust when the good provision doesn’t come as quickly or in quite the form as we would like. Look back, remember the provision of God in the past journey; it will come again in future journeys. For God says, “I am the LORD your God.”
Rev Arii Taimataora
30th August 2020
The story of Joseph is a story of a man who God was with all along. A familiar story from the book of Genesis 37 through to 50, as we know out of all 12 of Jacobs sons, Joseph was his favourite because he was the son of his old age. To refresh our minds, the sons of Jacobs were brothers and stepbrothers from his 2 wives Leah and Rachel, and his concubines Bilhah and Zilpah. At the age of 17 Joseph started having dreams, and God blessed him with the gift of interpreting these dreams. As a father’s favourite, Jacob made a special robe for Joseph. When Josephs brothers found out, there was jealousy amongst them. Joseph caused more problems when he continued to have other dreams, in each of his dream God revealed that his brothers, his father, his family, and nations would bow down to him. When his brothers heard this, they got mad and angry, even his father Jacob rebuked him!
I would be upset if my sibling said, “hey, I had a dream that you bowed down to me” Imagine the look on their faces and maybe a slap across Joseph’s head to follow. After hearing Joseph speak, the brothers plotted to get rid of him. They seized the opportunity while working, they stripped him of his special robe and beat him, now Reuben the eldest, delivered Joseph out of their hands and encouraged his brothers not to kill him but instead throw him in a pit to teach him a lesson. How do you think Joseph felt, what was going through his mind, his brothers were determine to kill him, alone all day in a dark pit and there’s no-way of escaping, he would have been terrified and scared. But God was with Joseph all along. Judah the 4 th eldest of the brothers said let us sell him for profit (sounds likes the same line used from Judah Iscariot in the time of Jesus), when later that day a group of Ishmaelites were passing by, and Joseph was sold to some Midianite traders. Although he was sold, God did not abandon him but instead had plans for Joseph. Reuben was not with his brothers when they sold Joseph, when he returned and discovered Joseph was gone, he tore his clothes because he knew it was going to break his father’s heart.
Joseph’s brothers hurried back home to tell the grim news to their father Jacob, that Joseph had been attacked and killed by wild animals. When Jacob saw the robe was covered with blood, he tore his garments and cried out for Joseph. Broken and shattered, Jacob grieved for many days and he refused to be comforted by his sons and daughters.
From the hands of the Midianite Joseph was then sold in Egypt to an Egyptian official whose name was Potiphar, one of Pharaohs royal guard. During this torment and terrible experience, God was with Joseph all along. With God along his side Joseph became a successful man. In Chapter 39 Joseph’s master saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord caused all that he did prosper. He had everything going for him, his master trusted him, and he placed him in charge of everything in his court. Now, Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph, he was young, handsome, intelligent and overtime she tried to lure him unsuccessfully. One day she trapped him and accused him of making a pass at her, he was reported to Pharaoh and then thrown into Jail.
You know…… Joseph could have easily given up and followed her wishes, he probably would have gain other things for himself, but instead…. he denied his natural desires and reflected what please God. We have all fallen into temptations and the desires of this world, we live in a culture that is full of distractions. These distractions come in many forms, wealth, material goods, pleasures. The truth is… disruptions blinds us, teaches us to be greedy, some instil fear into our hearts and most keeps us busy. Worthy or unworthy it prevents us from having a relationship with God. Joseph kept his faith and trusted God and God responded.
While in Jail, the Lord showed Joseph steadfast love, he gave him favour in the sight of the chief jailer who committed to Josephs care. The story continues, while in prison he helps a cupbearer, and when he was released, he forgot about Joseph. Finally, 2yrs later Joseph is called to interpret the dream of Pharaoh that no one in Egypt could decipher. Joseph was made Prince and leader over the lands and stocks; he was in charge during a great famine. God’s timing brought Joseph’s family together again. God was working in Josephs family and was with them too all along. Because God is faithful and true to his promise to Abraham. The Bible Proverbs 16 tells us, we can make our own plan’s, but God has the last say.
And now chapter 45, Joseph confronts his pass with his brothers. A pass that caused him pain, hurt and suffering. A pass that we all would want to forget. How would you feel? I say, most of us would wish that it had never happened, a memory that is not so easy to erase. If we choose to hold to onto it, it can weigh us down and become a heavy and distressing burden. I recall those painful memories and I =’m sure you do too. During this distressing time of the pandemic, and other worldly events, people are looking up and wondering, asking, “God, where are you and why is this happening to us.”
How did Joseph deal with his pass? Did he take revenge? did he give his brothers the same treatment he received? did he let his anger and hatred control him? No, Joseph looked at his brothers through the eyes of God. He saw them the way God saw him. Joseph had the power in his hands to put his brothers to death instead, he chose to forgive, he chose to give them life. Joseph chose to be merciful. Our human nature if we choose to be bitter and angry can lead us into dark places, it can affect our relationship with our families, friends, in work and society, more importantly our relationship with God. Here, we learn through Joseph’s action that forgiveness and healing can happen when we receive God’s forgiveness and grace.
Joseph could no longer control himself, he cried out revealing his true identity and showing compassion towards his brothers. The very compassion that God showed him. His cry was not a cry of pain but happiness and joy. He embraced his brothers with brotherly love, forgiveness, and mercy. All along, God was moulding and shaping Joseph’s life for this moment and time with his brothers.
Because God is true to his word, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that his descendants will thrive. The Lord is gracious and compassionate to those who believe and place their being in his hands like that of Joseph.
The question for us today, is God at the centre of our life? Is God at the root of everything we say and do? God wants us to have a personal relationship with Him, He has a purpose for us all, big, or small the reasons belongs to him, He wants us to put Him first when we wake up in the morning, when we are working throughout the day and when we close our eyes at night. He wants us to reflect the nature of His son Jesus Christ, he reminds us daily not to worry about what is going to happen but to put our trust in him as Joseph did.
You might say, well, that’s easy for you to say, to learn from Joseph life’s story and I am not saying it is. What I do believe, is that, God has always been with each one of us from the very beginning. Pouring his steadfast love and mercy upon us even when we don’t deserve it. This is the amazing and wonderful grace of God. Sending his son Jesus Christ to demonstrate how much God absolutely loves and cares for us. Through Christ, he sent a helper, the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us along our journey of life.
Let me finish with this.
Joel 2: 13 says,
“Don’t tear your clothing in your grief but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
23rd August 2020
Matthew 16: 13-20
This week’s lectionary reading is a carry on from last week’s text in Matthew 15. You will find this reflection on our website. Just a quick overview of last week’s text so that we get an idea and continuity. It is an interesting text of the pagan woman who was persistent to have Jesus respond to her. But the woman caught Jesus unawares at a time that he was looking for a place to reflect or evaluate on his ministry. The one thing that stood out from this woman was that she called Jesus by his true identity that is, his true names that have been prophesied by prophets and written in text in the OT, Lord, Son of David. She recognized Jesus in a light that Jesus was constantly teaching his disciples in many ways of his true identity so that they understood who he really was and his purpose for coming.
Now, we are looking at Matthews 16 where Jesus and his disciples are now in Caesarea Philippi after having spent so much time with the pharisees and the crowds following them. We are told that Jesus asks his disciples these profound questions. “who do the people say I am?” “who do you say I am?” I’m certain most here have read or heard this story often in past sermons.
Just recently, I was at a meeting with a colleague at a café. As we were sitting there, my colleague looked across the room and saw someone we knew. He said, “is that so and so?” I looked around and thought who is he looking at? I had not responded yet and my colleague said, “oh, yes, it is him.” and proceeded to wave at him. Then I realized who he was looking at and told him that actually, that was not who he thought it was. We had a little laugh.
My sister in Australia would tell me that often when she is out and about that she would be mistaken to be me. People would greet her and just start chatting to her and of course, she didn’t want to be rude and didn’t want to embarrass them that she sometimes just went along. But most times she would stop them and tell them who she really was.
Have you experienced this? I have now and then done some mistaken identity of people and have been embarrassed a number of times.
Jesus is with his disciples who are out and about hearing the gossips of the day and what people are saying, so Jesus asked the question, “who do people say I am?” What are they hearing in the community? The disciples heard quite a bit that they responded that people say, “you are Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist or one of the prophets.” I imagine the disciples sitting together with Jesus and responding with enthusiasm and are loving what they are hearing in the community about their rabbi because he is considered to be one of those great people or leader chosen by God. As if to say to Jesus, “they consider you to be great! A prophet! so the response is
Throughout chapter 15 and 16 Jesus in a way was frustrated with his disciples because they keep missing the point of his teaching to them. Verses 9 and 11, “Do you still not perceive?” “How could you fail to perceive?…”
At the beginning of this text we are told that Jesus and his disciples were in Caesarea Philippi. Of all places why here? Caesarea Philippi is known to have tensions between Jews and Gentiles, it was also a pagan city where anyone, everyone can worship any and all kinds of foreign Gods like Zeus mythology God of thunder, Pan the God of the dancing goat (used pipe music to entice his victims), Nemesis Goddess of retribution and many others. Some commentaries also suggest that Caesarea Philippi might have believed in reincarnation that is, a person rebirth in another person or body for they misidentified Jesus as one of the prophets hence some people of Caesarea may have been speaking of Jesus in light of this understanding.
We need to ask the question of all places why Jesus brought them here? As it was dangerous and could have caused violence and more tensions amongst the Judaism and Hellenist in Philippi.
Jesus asked his disciple “who do people say I am?” They answered what the people said. But now, Jesus turns his attention on them and now says, “who do you say I am?” It now becomes personal, “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus looking to his followers, “well, what about you? What say you?”
Peter is mentioned as the only who responds to Jesus. What happened to the rest of his disciples? Why did we not hear what they had to say? Sometimes you go into group meeting or conference and a question is asked. In some cases, you will get only one person who is brave enough to respond. Especially if the question is personal. Jesus question was personal, “who do you say…”
If Jesus asked us right now that question, what would you say?
I think about last week’s text of the woman who went to ask Jesus for help. Her problem was personal, but she responded to Jesus and because of her great faith, her plea for help was given. But most importantly She understood who Jesus truly was.
We are told that Peter’s answer was not made of his own accord, that it was given him the knowledge by the father in heaven. And with that, Jesus continues to say, “you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.” This section has had its fair share of scrutiny and ambiguity around who or what this rock is. Some commentaries suggest that the “rock” is alluding to the profession of Peter’s affirmation of faith. “you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” This “rock” this proclamation that the church of Jesus will be built.
The prophet Isaiah instructed those who were righteous and seeking God to look to the “rock” from which they were carved and molded from, that is, the promise the blessing that flowed from Abraham and Sarah, their heritage from where their Saviour will come. Peter’s response, “you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus brought them to the worse place Caesarea a pagan city to open the eyes of his disciples. That is, the divine revelation of who Jesus truly is.
- The revelation of the foundation of God’s church to be built on the confession
of faith that Peter professed.
- The revelation of their mission will begin in the least likely places in building
the church that is, Caesarea Philippi.
Today, people are still asking the question “who is Jesus?” the question is, do we have an answer when they ask. We are reminded to not be misunderstood of who Jesus is. We are reminded of the foundation of the church is built on. We are reminded of our mission and ministry of “making Christ known” through our confession of faith in building the body of Christ ie the church in the least likely and most challenging times and places.
-Rev. Arii Taimataora
16th August 2020
Call to Worship
Love is… offered to one and all. Love is… stronger than hate. Love is… willing to learn and change. Love is… brave and bold. Love is of God and God is love.
Hymn: All People that on earth do dwell
Hymn: Make me a channel of your peace
Matthew 15: 21 – 28
Hymn: What a friend we have in Jesus
Prayer of intercession
Hymn: Brother, sister let me serve you.
Matthew 15: 21 – 28
It wasn’t long ago I was on my way home from Christchurch. It was a long day of visits and appointments and all I wanted to do was get home. But I was hungry in fact, starving so I decided to pop into a cul-de-sac of takeaway shops. My tummy was rumbling and so I was on a mission to fill it. I don’t know about you, when I am hungry, I get pretty grumpy. I managed to get my meal and was heading to the car when a homeless man came out of nowhere walking alongside me and just started chatting to me about his traumatic journey from Queenstown to Christchurch. He lost everything had no job and now just trying to survive. I was annoyed because I was tired, restless and needed to eat so I just ignored him and went into the car. I was going to park somewhere else so not to be bothered while I fill my tummy. As I was going to turn the car on, I just stopped to think what just happened!
Jesus in today’s reading did exactly that. A Canaanite woman approached him and asked him for help as she heard of him as the one who set the captives free and performed miracles and wonders. She came out of nowhere calling out to get his attention. In fact, Matthew says she knelt before him because she needed Jesus help for the sake of her daughter who was possessed. It appears that the woman did not care who was there, yet there was a crowd following and his disciples beside him. She was desperate to have Jesus respond.
But what did Jesus do? Jesus ignored her walked right pass her and did not answer her at all.
This Gospel story witnesses to a tension in the life of Jesus, and one that we experience in our own: we can’t do everything. Being human involves being limited in time and in place. While our desires and hopes, not only for ourselves but for others may be as wide as the world, the reality is that we live one day at a time in our own particular body. Jesus, too, experienced that. He had moved out of Jewish territory because he needed space. On one hand, he had the religious authorities hounding him, picking up on his every word. On the other hand, he had the crowds clamouring for miracles – understandably, he was healing their sick. While miracles were a part of Jesus’ mission, they were not the core. The core of his mission was to call people to faith in God and his
promises. Given the way everyone seemed to be missing the point, both he and the disciples needed space. So, for the only time in his ministry, he leaves the land of Israel.
Then out comes this pagan woman, almost uncontrollably wanting a miracle. Jesus states that his personal calling is to the loss of the house of Israel. She did not have a problem with that, she was more than ready to acknowledge the primacy of his Jewish mission, but she still wanted her daughter healed. Her passionate love for her daughter opens her to the possibilities within this person of Jesus: three times she calls him ‘Lord’; she names him ‘Son of David’; and she kneels to worship. This was personal for her. I know sometimes we ourselves are not very good the personal particularly if its suffering or struggles. We don’t what to do. She went to the one whom she saw as her only hope, her daughter’s Saviour. Her calling all of Jesus true names that were prophesied by the prophets, and written text of the OT, one would assume, that she is truly a Jew. But, Jesus response to her tells us otherwise that she is not. “It is not fair to take the children’s food and give it to the dogs.” This does not paint the “Jesus” in the light we usually read who offers hope
and blessings to all. Who says, He came to bring life, life in all its fullness.
Imagine…. imagine yourself as this woman after pleading for help that you know and believe that Jesus can do. Only to get this response from him! To be judged as a lesser equal to the Jews. To not be included in the company of the blessed. To be excluded from receiving grace and mercy. To be Compared to a dog. Commentaries tells us that the word, “dog” is a terminology given to gentiles during that period that is, a person who is not a Jew. I gather, we can speculate the other side of Jesus here that we may not be inclined to agree. At worse, we would see this as discrimination and racist. Was Jesus trying to make a point here of his response? Was he communicating something to his disciples? the crowds? The pharisees? The disciples had a lot to say and may have missed the point. Sometimes we too, miss the point as well of what it’s all about.
The pagan woman answers Jesus and it’s a response I suppose seemed blow him away. “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” The woman was saying to her Lord, any little bit you have Lord, I know will meet my need. Even a tiny bit I believe it is enough. I think about a familiar saying most know is, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I don’t know if that compares.
We tend to forget that Jesus was as fully human as he was divine. Remembering this, perhaps we might consider the possibility that this was a ‘teachable moment’ for him. Maybe Jesus was the one who needed to be taught. And the Canaanite woman was the vessel for this powerful teaching:
Well that homeless guy I encountered. As I sat in the car about to go. I thought about my reaction and response to him. It wasn’t because he was homeless, filthy and dirty, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to scoop low to acknowledge him and it wasn’t because I felt I was above him. It was purely because I had a long day busy tiring day, and needed space to gather, breathe, and collect my wits. I went and offered to buy him a meal because that is the right thing to do. His response was, “Thank you for caring and may God Bless you.” I hope and pray that what I did restored his faith. Faith in God, faith in humanity and faith in one another.
What the pagan woman did was the very faith that Jesus was wanting – not even the disciples had come to see what she had recognised. Jesus said to her, “Woman! Great is your Faith.” Her commitment to her particular calling as mother, when brought before the person of Jesus, enhanced her faith. She returned home, just as Jesus returned to his land. In later life, how she must have wondered about this person, Jesus, who she had so remarkably understood. A few moments in her life at the service of her daughter and her vision of reality was changed forever. Yes, our lives can seem to be confined by the particular, but with faith, they can reach beyond our imaginings!
- Are we called to be like the Canaanite woman? To not let any barrier to stand in the way of love?
- Are we to learn to see Jesus in a new light — as one who could be changed — and so therefore we can, too?
- Or are we to stand still in the end of the story where the Canaanite woman’s faith is commended as ‘great?’
- Are we to be like Jesus in this way — that we are those who can learn anew that faith can be discovered and lived out in and with people whom we might least expect?
- Are we called to recognize that the boundaries of who belongs and who does not are ever-expanding?
- Is it any or all of the above? Or is the point simply to be open to such holy surprises?
Some food for thoughts today.
6th August 2020
Study week 1.
Please indicate your interest to participate whether via zoom or face to face. Study will start on the week of the 16th (Sunday) on wards.
Life, the Universe and God
Six Big Ideas about Creation
A six-part study on God’s Creation in Christian Theology including:
• an overview of leading writers in eco-theology
• a range of perspectives
• questions and suggestions for discussion and prayer
• issues raised by the Covid-19 pandemic
This study may be copied and used, with acknowledgement. Photos were taken by Silvia Purdie on Lake Ellesmere at the mouth of the Selwyn River, NZ, from a kayak. Silvia is a minister of the PCANZ, and Co-Convenor of A Rocha Christchurch. June 2020
Planet Earth is in a bad way. The incredible beauty and complexity of the natural world, crafted from the goodness of God, is under threat, and we have a nasty feeling it might be our fault. We fear for our survival, and for the world our kids will inherit. The multiple crises that threaten the world seem overwhelming. Faith and hope are more vital now than ever before. Yet we need more than a sense of crisis, or a determination to do something about it at a personal level; “earth keeping initiatives will not be sustainable in a Christian context unless we are able to relate it clearly to the deepest convictions and symbols of the Christian tradition.”1 This means doing theology in the face of environmental degradation. It means understanding with fresh eyes the gospel of salvation in Christ from the destructive power of sin, and the Christian hope for a new heaven and a new earth. Christian faith cares for the created world because of God, and God’s love for all things. This is our starting point. This six-part study is a framework for a Christian understanding of ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’, exploring six central Christian claims about the environment when seen as God’s Creation, and the implications for faith and hope. Sections conclude with questions for discussion and suggestions for deepening reflection in prayer. This study was written during the Covid-19 lockdown and includes some ‘points to ponder’ about the connections between the pandemic and care for creation. Footnotes at the end list references for further reading.
Comment: Peter Harris (founder of A Rocha) – “Only life in Christ”
Christians would say that as Christ takes hold of our lives, he calls us into a profound engagement with his world in all its complicated and messed-up reality. If our calling is to bring hope to the whole world then any continuing creation-blindness in the church is deeply troubling. It will be even more of an anomaly for those of us in the Christian community who claim to recognise biblical authority for what we undertake, because it is Scripture itself that brings creation into the story of redemption. We are called to be signs, in our times, of God’s coming kingdom and final redemption of all things. The transformation that will enable us to endure can only come from a renewed relationship with the Creator. Only life in Christ will release us all, rich and poor, from seeing creation as merely raw material to meet our human needs. The care of creation, like compassion for people, is the true consequence of knowing that we share a loving Creator. We care for creation because he does.
1. God is Creator
The Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The Nicene Creed begins, “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.” The identity of God as Creator and the universe as Creation is the undisputed starting point of Christian theology. The foundational claim of the Judeo-Christian tradition is that God is the source, initiator and sustainer of the physical universe. Before the act of creation time and space did not exist. There is an emerging consensus among scientists around the origins of the universe, that it began in a single moment in an explosion known commonly as the ‘big bang’, dated at 13.8 billion years ago. There is no evidence of anything existing prior to this. Theologically the significance of creation being ‘ex-nihilo’ (out of nothing) refutes the dualism (common in other religions and in some strands of Christianity) which sees God as eternally opposed to matter, and the spiritual and the physical as fundamentally different and irreconcilable. In Christian theology, spiritual realities as well as tangible realities are created by God, dependent upon God for their continued existence. The created universe is not alien to the divine but is as able to be an expression of God as the human, the spiritual or the intellectual.3 The inherent value of the universe is underlined in the Genesis 1 creation liturgy as God repeatedly declares “It is good”. “Despite everything, the created world we live in is a good world, and it is good to be alive in it … Christians do not affirm the world because they are optimistic about the world as such, or unrealistic about all the suffering and injustice in the world. They affirm it because God says Yes to it … An other-worldly religion may seem very pious but it is not Christian.”4 Reformation theologians such as Calvin taught a world affirming faith, in response to the medieval monastic emphasis upon “contempt of the world.”5 The Old Testament emphasis on God as Creator is radically monotheistic. Nature is affirmed but not worshiped. Other ancient religions saw things such as the sun or moon, or local features such as mountains, as divine beings. The Old Testament celebrates natural things as created, as in themselves expressing in their own way worship of God. Traditionally ‘God the Father’ has been equated with ‘God the Creator’. However, many theologians now draw attention to the inherent relationality of God as Trinity, from before time, in the beginnings of the creation of the universe, and continuing in creation in the present. Our theology of creation begins from “The triune God’s resolve to create ‘in the beginning’, ‘out of nothing’, or better, out of the overflowing love of God.”6 South African theologian Conradie suggests that “knowledge of God’s character is what enables us to look at the world in a different light, in the light of the Light of the world. Then we recognize that the soil on which we are standing is holy ground.” Worship enables Christians “to look at the world through new eyes, having been trained to see it through God’s eyes, with compassion, mercy and justice, as something so valuable that it is worth dying for (John 3:16).”
Comment: Ernst Conradie – “The universe as God’s child”
“An image worth exploring is to see the universe as God’s beloved child. Christians are used to thinking about themselves as God’s children. But what if the universe itself is God’s child – which requires nourishment, formation, education, respect and wonder from the parent? Consider the agony over a sick, injured or a lost child. … the mission that is proclaimed here is that the world is being embraced by God’s love. The message is not primarily the imperative that we as humans should embrace God’s creation (for we are part of that), but the gospel that the world only exists in God’s embrace.”
1. Discuss: What is your understanding of God as Trinity? Is ‘God the Father’ the same as ‘God the Creator’? How are Christ and Spirit involved in creation?
2. Explore what the Bible says about God, ‘maker of heaven and earth’. When the Bible affirms God as Creator, why is this important? What flows from this?
3. Sing The Doxology: Praise God from whom all blessings flow Praise him all creatures here below Praise him above, ye heavenly host Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Spend time in prayer with each line, offering your praise and worship to God. If any of the words in the Doxology jar for you, re-phrase it.
14th June 2020
Where are you?
The lectionary reading for the next couple of weeks is based around Abraham’s story. I would like to encourage us to stay tuned as we explore the life of Abraham and Sarah these upcoming weeks.
Abraham, for some, is a well-known story that has been scrutinized over the centuries. It is a story that rings true about the rawness of our human nature. It is a story that makes you want to look again. We are given a peek into their ordinary lives once again. I say ordinary, because it is just another ordinary day of daily chores, routines, and rest from the heat of the day. This part of the story, God once again connects with Abraham and Sarah through three strangers who supposedly were passing through.
You will know that God had already connected with them earlier in the story. God came to Abraham initially with a three-fold promise in chapter 12 of Genesis that is 1.) Abraham would have lands. 2.) Abraham would have a great nation that is, descendants will come from them and 3.) Abraham will be a blessing to all families on earth and the father of nations. When Abraham heard this, he was in awe and humbled and I guess for Sarah, hearing this, would be exciting news that descendants will come from them.
Genesis 15 after sometimes later, God connected with the couple again reminding them of the promise through the news that they will have a child. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into years. How do we know this? Because the bible says that Abraham and Sarah were getting on in years and Sarah is still barren. God reconnects with Abraham once again to remind and renew the promise he spoke into their lives some time back.
I want to share a personal story. When our older boys who are now 23 and 26, back then were 13 and 11, I was going to get them an Xbox based on an agreement that they worked hard at school and did their chores. At first, they were excited and started out great then over time which was only a couple of months I noticed the novelty was wearing off and because they were beginning to slack off with chores so, I reminded them again of our agreement and said they we’re nearly there so don’t give up.
God helps Abraham to get an idea of the promise by taking him outside at night to gaze at the stars to grasp the magnitude of what God was about to do for him. You know, some nights I go out and look at the stars and I’m sure you have too. And I wonder about this what Abrahm was thinking when God showed him what his descendants will look like. Its big! Its vast! Its beyond Abraham’s imagination to fathom this promise yet they remained childless and growing old as time passes.
Over time for Sarah, the excitement and joy to expect has lost its purpose as time passed, she was unhappy that she still did not have a child. So, Sarah took it upon herself to fix the problem that is giving her servant girl Hagar to Abraham to conceive a child for them. Later down the track, this becomes a big problem but that, is a story for another time.
God once again reconnects with Abraham. God has been present in the couple’s life from day one! Again! speaking into their lives and reminding them once again of the promise and again the reminder that Sarah will have a child. We always need reminding, don’t we? I know I certainly do. I have my alarm clock to remind me. I have notification bells that reminds me what appointment or meeting is happening soon. We need to be reminded constantly that God is in our lives, speaking to us, showing us what is in store for us.
Now, this is the part I want us to pay more attention to, because, Sarah, throughout the story, was very much an instigator and major contributor to Abraham’s story behind the scenes. As I mentioned, she took it upon herself to maybe try and make the promise happen by giving Hagar her servant girl to Abraham. At another part of the story, Sarah was the saviour for Abraham when they entered Gerar and Abimelech was king. Here Abraham lied to the king and said that Sarah was his sister and she did save him. And at another part of the story, Sarah persuaded Abraham into removing Hagar and his son Ishmael from the household scene and don’t forget Ishmael was born before Sarah had a son.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this chapter remember the three strangers passing through. Somehow Abraham recognized these strangers. Some commentaries suggests that Abraham recognized one to be the Lord! On my reflection, I was curious and thought long and hard, why three strangers? Why not just the Lord himself. Maybe the three heavenly beings was the Triune God himself in the flesh! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who came to visit! Regardless, Abraham recognized the Lord because it seemed he was familiar with them he bowed to the ground.
The couple entertained their guests with their kind hospitality all the while Sarah is working in the background. Here is the pivoting point I want us to listen carefully to is, when the Lord asks Abraham this question, “where is Sarah?”
“Where is Sarah?” the Lord asked! It really got me thinking. Why was the Lord asking this question? And yet he knows where she is? He knows what she has been up to. He knows what has been going on in their lives and yet the “omnipotent”, “omni-present”, “omniscient” God was asking where Sarah is! This reminds me of the well-known Psalm (139) of David when he was in his intimate time with God said,
“Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
This question really got to me! then it took me back to the very beginning of Adam and Eve. When God was walking in the garden one day and could not find Adam or Eve. The Lord called out, “where are you Adam?” “Adam, where are you?” It struck me, like Adam, Sarah was hiding in the tent behind the walls. Maybe like Adam, she was hiding from God?
I want us to pause, take a moment and think about this. (pause)
Sarah was in the tent listening in the conversation. It must have caught her by surprise when her name was mentioned. When you hear your name mentioned you wonder what is said about you. But Sarah heard it quite clearly that she will be pregnant. She will have a child. When she heard this, the text tells us that she “laughed” A laugh could mean many things. A laugh or a smile can sometimes disguise what is really going on deep inside. Maybe Sarah’s laugh was hiding the pain of barrenness, hiding guilt and shame, maybe hiding the unworthiness she feels.
I think about the Lord asking for her. “where is she?” It reminds me of us who are parents when we are at the playground with our kids and they wander off, we call out to them, “where are you?” or if the child is near an unsafe place you call out “come here!” and when they come to you, you look at them face to face and tell them why they shouldn’t wander off or be at the edge of the cliff.
Why would the Lord ask for her? Did he expect her to be right there? Did he want her to come out? Did he want to speak to her directly? Did he want to look in her eyes and tell her how much she mattered? Did he want to tell her personally how much he loves her?
The Lord responded with another question, “why did Sarah laugh?” and his response to her answer was, “yes, you did laugh.” As if to tell her off because she denied it.
“Is there anything too wonderful for the Lord?” says the Lord.
Is anything too hard me! That you laugh? Says the Lord.
Maybe God is calling out for you, me, to come out from our hiding place. Calling us out from our own bondages, calling us out from the institutional, political, social strongholds that are embedded in us. Maybe God is calling us to come close to him. We need to be in proximity with God, when need to strive to be close to God to know God more deeply in order for God’s will to be revealed to us and for us.
Sarah’s life and wellbeing mattered to God.
It matters to God where we’ve been, it matters to God where we are, it matters to God where we are going and what we are doing. God wants to be up close and personal with you to look at you in the eye to tell you that you matter to him. To tell you that he cares, to tell you that he absolutely loves you.
Maybe God is calling out to you asking, “Where are you?”
May you be encouraged, inspired, and challenged by God’s words this morning. May you hear his voice as he speaks into your life as you lean on him for strength in this ever-changing world. Amen.
7th June 2020
God the Illustrator of Paul.
Good morning, and “it is good” to be back in this space of bubble and to fellowship with you all. For those that don’t know, over the past 7 weeks or so, I have been sharing and providing the “Word of God” through online streaming via Visual and Podcasting. I started Wodcast which means sharing the “Word of the Day” through podcasting. I covered a series on “kingship” titled “Walking with King” and more recent another Journey series called “The life of the Apostle Paul” which I will be wrapping up this morning.
Before we continue with the final part of the series of the life of Paul, let us look back and get an understanding of what we know about Him.
Firstly, he was a devout Jewish to the law, a Roman citizen. A man on a mission to oppress, to act cruelly to others causing pain and suffering. A man who had only one thing on his mind and heart that was to threaten the followers of Christ. An encounter with Jesus changed him.
Secondly, we recognise that the heavenly encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus tells us two things? a conversion and a call. A calling by God to be a servant.
God the Illustrator of Paul. Our final chapter
Pauls life in prison, can be illustrated like of an artist reflecting on his artwork with no regrets. What once a dull canvas is now full of life, full of colours, values and shapes. Light or dark in contrast, shallow or deep in grooves, a story big or small, the visual canvas becomes a characteristics artwork.
Looking back on our own canvas I guess allows us to discover the nature of our true self. A canvas that is full of life, sketches become paintings, images that also helps us recognize whywe do what we do.
Looking back on it all, we can be amazed how much we have done in our lifetime and manage to do. I love the word “Reminisce” do you? One can say it’s a “dreamy word” or “dreamy way” to remember the past. For myself I love the fact, that we can look back, and reflect on a captivating life, laughter at all the silly things we used to do, but more deeply the recollection of those happy and joyful memories.
If we read through most of the epistle in the new testament, it tells us where Paul has been, his ministry his life where he has gone through out that region. Paul’s list of skilled Instruments as I previously spoke about in Part 2 of the life of Paul was used and tested. He preached the gospel, he shared to others through studies, he prayed for them, he demonstrated pastoral caring while visiting people, he also helped raise funds for the needy. Or the while holding true to the fundamental of the faith which is being grounded in Christ.
Back and forth to towns & cities, across oceans his journeys was not an easy task. Travelling to these foreign lands was not done in a few days, but over a cycle of many years. He did not travel first class, neither economy, we can also identify most of his trips were not safe and very risky. Resembling a nomad moving from place to place and often staying at one place for a very long time, during these founding visits, Paul was determined and focused into doing the things that were necessary to help the believers of Christ to grow. Wherever he went threats and conflicts also followed him. Ignorant of anything else around him, and in the face of danger he still praised God and proclaimed the faith.
Paul was on a mission; obedient in what he believes is his calling, and that is, to share the gospel of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Along the way Paul wrote many letters of hope to the Churches and Christian communities of the Corinth’s, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians sharing the teaching of Christ, encouraging them, and responding to specific crisis. Paul also had friends, travelling companions like Barnaba’s, Ananias, James, Mathias and Timothy just to name a few. He also supported the ladies in ministry Priscilla who housed him, and Lydia after her conversion while listening to Pauls message. All these individuals were not only companions and friends, but they played a part in the account of Paul’s ministry and journey.
And now Paul is in a place, a prison. Reflecting on that artwork, echoing on the strife and struggles, the relationships that he formed, the fellowship the challengers, all those things that he was wrestling with.
Paul is looking back at his life as a canvas. He is in awe of the artist here, not himself but God. God artistically hand stroked his life. One can look at a canvas and see something different and another looking on can also see something different. Some can see perfection and others can see imperfection, and God sees in the canvas of our lives both perfection and imperfection, and in his eyes it is good. That’s what God said from the beginning of creation when he looked back at his work after 6 days and said it is good. He is pleased, he is well pleased, he is satisfied and in (Gen 1:31 it says, then God looked over all that he had made, and “it was excellent in every way”).
In my words I would say, Paul was looking back at his canvas and saying wow what a journey, what a ride and what a picture.
Paul was a prisoner for the cause of Christ. Paul writes with the perspective of someone who was in the game and not a spectator. He writes of his own personal experience of the suffering and constant perseverance. The fully covered masterpiece reminded Paul of all the things he has done, was not in his own strength, but through his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul believed that his mission in life was God’s mission.
The late Reverend Billy Graham was a globally renowned evangelist, he was a person who preached the good news. We could say that he was the apostle Paul of the 21st century. His message about God never changed. For half a century his message remained simple. He preached an unchanging message that he firmly believed was meant for all humanity. He declared “God has not changed, nor has the nature of the human heart changed,”. He goes on to say how he would like to be remembered. In his words he said:
“I hope I will be remembered as someone who was faithful—faithful to God, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithful to the calling God gave me”.
Glancing back at our own canvas, the picture is yet to be finished. Right at this moment we are still being painted by the hand stroke of God.
Maybe today, God is stopping us in the middle of our “business as usual” to recognise his ongoing hand stroke in our journey of faith.
Maybe God is challenging you to do something different, may be God is challenging you to be BOLD, may be God is challenging you to step out in faith, may be God is speaking to you to let go and trust him. And maybe the painting is telling your story, a reflection of your life? what is God saying in your picture. Amen.
Well that wraps up our series on the “Life of the Apostle Paul”. Thanks for joining me, Its been an amazing journey and I hope this message has given you some food for thoughts and I just want to encourage you also to, stay in the race, we serve a wonderful God, wonderful God.
Looking forward to catching up with you on the next Journey.
References Note “The life of the Apostle Paul”
The NSRV Bible
Institute of Museum and Library Services
New Dictionary of Theology
The Bible Project
The Bible Gateway
BBC Religions – Christianity
A Man’s Guide to a Life Worth Living: Lessons from Ephesians By Drake
McCalister, Mike Sullivan
The Bible Org.
31st May 2020
Apostle Paul Part 2
The Calling and name of Paul
Have you ever heard of the Loon call or tremolo call? If you didn’t know like me, the loon is a water bird. They are powerful, agile divers and fast underwater. You will find them close to shore on most seacoasts and a lot more on inland reservoirs and lakes. Another characteristic of the loon bird, they have this unique eerie but beautiful call. When they give out this call, they are not only communicating but also making an announcement of their presence on the lake.
1 Corinthians 15: 8 – 10 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
Here in Corinthians Pauls is talking about his past life and his new life, he was saying I was once lost but now I am found
Recap of part 1
Let us look back at what we know and have learnt about the apostle Paul. A devout Jewish to the law, a Roman citizen. A man on a mission to oppress, to act cruelly to others causing pain and suffering. A man who had only one thing on his mind and heart, and that was to breathe threat on the followers of Christ. His encounter with Jesus changed him. The converted Paul, who was once a persecutor, is now a follower of Christ, as they say in ancient Greek, a slave for Jesus Christ. A person, who was touched by the incredible power of Christ, called by God, and forgiven through the divine grace of God.
The heavenly encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus tells us two things? a conversion and a call. A calling by God to be a servant. The calling was the announcing of God’s presence and reminder of His words in Jerimiah 1: 5, Before you were formed, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. WOW!!
What does this mean for you and I? Can you remember, how you were called by God? The bible says in 2 Timothy 1: 9 (CEB) God is the one who saved and called us with a holy calling. This wasn’t based on what we have done, but it was based on his own purpose and grace that he gave us in Christ Jesus before time began.
A bright light, a beaming ray appeared to Paul and was directed only to him. He was called!! not by man, not by leaders, not by a church, but by Jesus Christ. You could say this was a heavenly calling as mentioned in the Philippians. Paul was chosen, set apart, to be used by God like an instrument to preach the gospel of the good news.
Saul becomes Paul. It intrigues me why there is a name change? In Hebrew Saul is pronounced Sha’ul? And Paul pronounced in Latin Poulos? Why did his name change? What did this mean? Is name changing a practiced custom? do names reflect reputations? if names are changed, does this suggest, to make a difference?
Throughout the Bible we note God did name changing. He changed Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel. Jesus called one of his disciples whose name was Simon and changed it to Peter. Peter, meaning the “rock.” What is in a name? Maybe each of us have a heavenly name with our call?
In a commentary from The Christian Forum explains “Paul” in Greek means “least” or “small”, and may have been a way for him to recognize his place as someone humbled, as the scripture says, as “least of the apostles” “as one born out of due time” etc, called to suffer for Christ’s sake in remembrance of his former life.
You might know people whose names have changed? Did they act differently? Did their life take on a new journey?
Acts chapter 9 verse 15 and 16 says, 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
The scripture tells us that this was Gods plan all along for Pauls life. Paul was intellectual and smart, a recognized scholar, a profound writer, a skilled speaker. Proficient in literature credits his confidence. Drawing back to “he is an instrument” What is instrument? It is understood to be the learned skills and life experiences engraved in our lives that equips us for the different paths ahead.
Perhaps we can self-reflect, self-examined on our own forming and shaping of instruments. What does it look like? What did it look like over the years? Where do we utilise our instruments?
We are apostles of the 21st century a servant of Jesus Christ. We are called to serve whatever that may mean. God speaks to each of us, in our own capacity. We are not the same in where God calls us to. Our lives are shaped by God right from the beginning. We have been fashioned in everything that we have learnt about God who is our instrument, our tool to share the gospel of the good news. Like Paul, we are called to the body of Christ. With a new name and calling.
Coming back to the loon call, the loon call is equivalent to Gods call. God extends his call daily, as believers in the faith we are called to reach out to families, we are called to reach out to our neighbour, we are called to reach out to communities and we are called to reach out to the unbeliever.
Paul without warning, while on the road to Damascus got the call from Christ.
What about you? Do you recognise God’s call on your road to Damascus?
Do you Recognise Christ call for you today?
Do you Recognise your new name today?
Do you Recognise that you are an instrument for God’s work today?
Well I hope this encourages you, as we explore together the life of Paul.
The Bible gate-way
The Christian Forums
Open Bible Info.
Gods Word Theology
24th May 2020
Elisha Journey Part 4
2 Kings 4: 18 – 30 – The child dies
This is the final part of the series Elisha’s journey. If you have not kept up with the series both on youtube and wodcast regarding the Shunammite woman’s encounter with Elisha. I am happy to send the links if you would like to follow the series. I hope and pray that you have enjoyed the journey thus far and your faith journey with the triune God has been strengthened and encouraged.
We are exploring the last part of the Shunammite woman. Recapping on the previous series. Elisha wanted to bless the woman for her kindness and so prophesied over her life the very desire of her heart that is, to have a child.
As promised, God blessed the woman with a son. She would have been so happy to finally have what she always desired. When I see my first born, he reminds me of God’s fulfilment of his promise, and I find myself giving thanks for God’s goodness in my life. Maybe there is something of a sign that reminds you of God’s goodness in your life that keeps you grounded and giving thanks.
Coming back to this wonderful blessing of a child the woman received, that suddenly takes a turn for something not good. The child is now several years old (either between 7 – 10 years of age) and is out in the fields with his father where he begins to feel sick. Like some fathers do, he sent him home to his mum for nurture and comfort.
I think about the father having to maintain the farm, for some of our farming families know what this is like, know how is tough it is. Not only do you worry about the farming business but also the affairs of home as well. Its hard to balance the worries and concerns of life. Here, we see the parents shared role of nurturing. The father who teaches the boy how to provide and the mother whose role is to care and nurture. There is a sense of trust the parents have in each other to fulfil their role. Maybe, this story is a humble reminder of our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit based not only on faith but of trust as well.
The next part happens quite suddenly and without warning. The boy came home with such a terrible headache he laid on his mother’s lap and by noon died! To lose someone you love is a tragedy. Not only is it tragedy it happened so suddenly. Tragedies happens in our lives. Covid19 has caused many tragedies, loss of homes, jobs, businesses, relationships, and loss of lives. When we experience tragedy, we seek comfort and refuge from our love ones or from God. We think about them whose lives have been devasted by these tragedies around the world and pray for God’s continual provision, grace, and love upon all affected.
Returning to the woman. What she does next I find hard to fathom. She waste no time, lays the boy on Elisha’s bed, and prepares to make a journey to see Elisha. There is no time to mourn, no time to seek comfort. Many would prepare for a funeral, but the woman prepares to seek Elisha. She seeks God through the prophet who blessed her with the child. In her heart, she believes God who gave life will give again.
She calls her husband to send for a servant for her quest. Her husband does not seem to know that the child had died because his curiosity tells us. I found it difficult to understand why she did not tell her husband and I guess we will never know. Maybe she could see nothing good comes out of disagreements and arguments.
We can relate to this scenario. Sometimes it’s just too difficult to tell others what is really going on. Sometimes, its hard to explain the emotions or stress that is raging within us. And sometimes we think that nobody understands what I am going through. Can I encourage you if you are feeling this way that you are not alone. Don’t feel that nobody understands. Please talk to someone you trust and seek God’s help to show and lead you to that someone.
Matthew 11: 20
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Galatians 6: 2
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
The Shunammite woman is on a mission. She sets off.
Now Elisha is on the scene. From a distance, Elisha notices the woman and sends his servant Gehazi to ask her why she has come.
He finds it odd that the woman is coming to him not at an assigned time that is customary but at an off-duty time. Elisha is wondering, what is going on here? Its not Sabbath, New moon, or Holy day! Why is she visiting now?
He sends his servant Gehazi ahead to ask her if everything was ok. Her response to the servant tells us that she is determine, to personally speak to Elisha. “Is something wrong? Are you all right? Your husband? Your child?” in which she responds, “everything is fine.”, “it is well”.
We all have responded this way when we are asked, “how are you?” we say exactly that, even when things are not well at all, even when our world has fallen apart we say, “yes, I’m fine, thank you.” Or “I’m good.” And yet there are things going on in our lives we would rather not talk about.
Particularly at a time like this, the drastic changes forced upon us where consistent flow of income is not guaranteed, where security of work and business, where drop in sales and production are fallen at an all time low, where the comfort of the home and family provisions and wants are now having to be reprioritized, we say, “all is well.”
We learn that this woman is determined and only seeks to find comfort and refuge in God’s servant. As she gets closer to him her emotions become evident and now is pouring her heart out to him as she falls to his feet. God calls us to come to him and pour our heart out to him this morning. Jesus said, “come to me all who are tired and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The woman would not let go of Elisha till he reached her son and brought him back to life. Elisha on the other hand, God did not reveal to him what was going on. Sometimes as believers, God, at times does not reveal all his plans to us, and we must learn to really put our faith in action by truly trusting in God’s direction and guidance for our lives. The woman in her steadfast faith, acted upon her faith and trusted fully that this is God’s work acting out in her life. Because of this the rest of this wonderful story is history.
What an adventure! I hope and pray that you have enjoyed Elisha’s journey. There is still more to explore of Elisha, but we have come to an end to this part. Tai will be back next week to continue with the life of apostle Paul. Look forward to seeing you here same time, same place.
This prayer I am sharing with you this morning comes from our Presbyterian website as it fits our message this morning.
Let us pray.
Prayer of Intercession
God of peace, you have called us all to work for peace and justice. Wherever we are, we can find opportunities to stand with people, and identify with their needs and hopes. We can no longer be silent – where there is need, there is a task for us. Wherever there is unfulfilled hope, we can be the inspiration of a new future. God you call each of us to be the vehicles of hospitality.
When we speak out against injustice and for your kingdom, give us courage and the right words to say. We pray particularly for the prophets in our community. Open the ears of their audience, we pray, so that the words of challenge, even if hurtful or difficult, will be acted upon. But, loving God, you know that speaking out, by its very nature, can leave behind bitterness and anxiety – in the heart of the listener, and in the speaker too, who can feel so alone. Surround those who speak out, we pray, with the warmth of your love and acceptance. Give them at least one true friend prepared to act as both sounding board and comforter.
Lord God, we need also the healer and the peacemaker. When we offer healing and work for peace, give us gentleness and compassion. We pray particularly for doctors, psychiatrists and counsellors – all those whose job it is to help heal the hurts of mind and body. May their hands and words be full of your love. We pray too for the peacemakers – for those, and thankfully there are many, who rise above their own hurts and prejudices to work with the ‘other side’ for peace and understanding – the mediators in our courts, industry and international arena. And for all those who work and identify with oppressed people or minority groups. Give them courage and understanding, and a discernment to know your way ahead. We thank you God of love and justice for all these people who have taken your command seriously to love others just as you have loved us.
(prayer from PCANZ)
17th May 2020
My name is Tai and I will be taking you on another Journey, this time my series is based on “The Life of the Apostle Paul”. Some of you may be saying, that’s a big topic to tackle or great I know this guy, either way the topic was place into my heart.
To begin our series today we will be looking at Who is Paul? and what is Paul all about?
If you have followed and listen to my last Wodcast, this sequence is, in some kind of way, is an extension, re-connecting the “The Kingship Series” to the book of Acts. In the “Kingship Series” my final topic was “Walking with the King”, describing the relationship with Jesus and the disciples. Jesus tells them 2 things, go share the gospel and wait to be baptise in the Holy Spirit. The disciples then go on their mission, and while all this happening, they have an opposer, and this is where Paul enters, connected in the books of Acts.
Chapter 9 of the book of Acts is an introduction of the Apostle Paul, his belief, his conversion, his faith and how he became an influential figure in the beginning of Christianity and the Christian Churches.
This first part of our series is a breakdown of Paul, his background, getting to know him better, you could say a basic biography or a one pager of his life as I see it, and why I chose this topic. Let us begin with my “why”?
Well what captivated me the most was his life transformation. His very nature, character, and everything about him altered by the power of Christ. And why is this so important to me? Well because it is the very same power of Christ that changed my life and many believers today.
I also want to say, that I can’t fully understand and make sense of all of this and how it happened because my own human nature cannot comprehend the Phenomena of God’s grace and that’s why God said to me “I will” help you.
I started reading through the book of Acts as I mentioned as a flow-on from the “Kingship” series because I wanted to know what happen to the disciples and other followers after Jesus left and ascended to heaven. Where did they go, what did they do? How long did they live for?
As I continue to read, and a few chapters later, my curiosity led me to Paul, and how Paul burst onto the scene! Who is this Paul? and what is he all about?
Yes, we are talking about the same and one person known as Saul, Paul and Paul of Tarsus, the very guy who opposes the Jesus movement understood then, as, “the way of Christ.” Commentaries tells us that Paul was around the same time of Christ and the disciples, but behind in years of age maybe about 10yrs?
After knuckling down with some deep researching, learning about Paul and wrestling with my own personal thoughts, I am came to a conclusion and how I perceived him was…….. basically a religious bad guy, a persecutor after turning good, establish the movement of the early churches.
Paul is Jewish descent and comes from the tribe of Benjamin, which is the same lineage of King Saul and Jacob. He was born in Tarsus a roman citizen with a Hebrew name Saul.
A Pharisee, a Greek scholar, a writer, and a Roman citizen growing up in Jewish law and traditions and surrounded by pagan beliefs. To the Jewish people and especially the Jewish leaders, he is seen as a good man, devout in the Jewish law and traditions doing a good job persecuting and wiping out those that came against their beliefs.
A very conservative character in “monotheism” the belief that there is only one God, a single God, creator of the world, and that Jews to be faithful to the one God, focussing on the doctrine of the law, the (Torah). Referring to the first 5 books in the Hebrew Bible, ascribe to the law of Moses. Judaism is the oldest religion, from the time of Abraham and Moses. The Jews believe God made them special, set apart as the chosen people of God.
There is only God, who is Jesus? Paul sees Jesus as another prophet, a threat, he hears that Jesus claims to be equal to God, the same as God and is the Son of God. This is totally against Paul’s belief and you wonder why he is so aroused, full of rage and determine to persecute all the faith believers of Christ.
Bad guy turned good and how did this happen? Our reading today from the book of Acts 9 1-9 says, while going to Damascus, the bible described that a bright light appeared to him and he fell off the horse and then an encounter with Jesus. Wow! wasn’t that a dramatic transformation, bright lights!
An encounter with the King, that most of us may never experience, I certainly haven’t, my fond memory of my calling with Jesus was quiet and humbling.
The radical conversion of Paul is perhaps Jesus saying to him “I am the way” to God why do you persecute me. As I mentioned before it is the same “Power” of Christ that changes lives and it is the very same “Grace” of God shown here to the unbeliever.
Blinded by this vision of light Paul carries on to Damascus where he was prayed for, healed, and baptized. He is given instructions and waits for the Holy Spirit, during these moments we see a change in Pauls thinking and belief theology in the light of Jesus Christ. Paul says in Galatians,
Galatians 2:20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,[a] who loved me and gave himself for me.
Pauls words from the scripture remains the same for us today. They are alive in each one of us as believers in the faith. I think about the words of Paul and reflecting on my own life, I know its active because I am sharing to you now which I never had before. My life is also is like a mirror of Pauls life, the conversion of old life to a new life. Touched by the same power and grace of God. How do you know if this scripture is alive in your life? You may have had some, or many experiences of God’s gifts, and I’m sure some wonderful stories to share too. In the like of Paul, we all have our own transformation story to tell.
What can we learn from the Apostle Paul today?
* He is a changed man, divinely change through the power of Christ.
* We recognise God’s unseen grace and spirit changing the unbeliever.
* The God of Pauls time is the same God yesterday, today, and forever.
I hope these words encourages you in many ways, either through Wodcast or any other means. God Bless let us pray.
From Reverend Malcolm Gordon
Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ above me and below
Christ beside me, Christ within me, Christ around me wherever I go.
References Note “The life of the Apostle Paul”
The NSRB Bible
Institute of Museum and Library Services
New Dictionary of Theology
The Bible Project
The Bible Gateway
BBC Religions – Cristianity
10th May 2020
2 Kings 4: 16 – 37 Shunammite woman and Son
Kia Ora and Good Morning. I am glad you could join me here in this worship space. My name is Arii minister of Plains Presbyterian Church at Mid Canterbury and I welcome you here in this worship space on the Word for Today, that is, our spiritual workout of the day.
We are in the days leading up to whether we will be moving into level 2 that is yet to be determined. We have read some of our church folk who shared their thoughts on their lock down which has been encouraging. Maybe you yourselves would like to write your thoughts and send it to Miranda for our newsletter.
Let us start with a Psalm a place of bringing our Spirit and thoughts before God.
Let us begin with the Psalms
Psalm 42: 11
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God..”
Lord God, we take this moment to give you thanks. We thank you for goodness and love that continues to flow upon and through us. We thank you that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead to give us new life. We thank you Jesus that you are the way, the truth, and the light. Holy Spirit rest upon us in this space as we ponder afresh God speaking into our lives here and now, Amen.
This is the third part of the journey of Elisha.
There is a lot of wonderful treasures in this section of the story that it is impossible to cover it all so we will look at some of these gems of God’s wonderful grace and blessings in action.
Reading: 2 Kings 4: 11 – 37
Carrying on from last week of the Shunammite woman who out of the kindness of her heart set a room for Elisha and because of her kindness, Elisha felt that he wants to thank her for her kindness.
Elisha has been coming back and forth on his journey and is pleased that the Shunammite woman had made a room for him out of the kindness of her heart even though he did not ask for it. One day, while resting in his upper room he asked his servant to call the woman as he wanted to do something for her in return.
This part of the conversation is interesting as Elisha does not speak directly to the woman but through the servant Gehazi. It has been understood that this has to do with a cultural understanding and custom, that one speaks through a third person. It seems to be common practice. If you note throughout parts of the bible there are scenarios of third person communication and you wander why there is confusion, or the wrong message given.
The conversation began by Elisha asking the woman what she wanted. “what do you want me to do for you?” Her response was admirable. “I am among my people.” Which was understood to mean, I am content, there is nothing I need. Before asking the woman what she desired, Elisha said to her I can put in a good word for you to the King? Or to the commander of the army? Indicating that he had some influence in the political sphere.
But because of the woman’s love for God, she was simply happy to help Elisha providing for his needs. She too did not ask for anything and yet God through Elisha is going to bless her kindness and faithfulness. She had the opportunity to ask anything she wanted!
If you had the opportunity what would you asks God and how would you respond if what you ask for is not what you expected? Hmmm…
I recall asking God in my early years as a new born Christian for a job. I asked for a specific sign to confirm the job for me and he answered my prayer. Now God did not always heed to my prayers of how I would like him to answer, he would answer in unexpected ways and when I am least prepared.
This woman had a huge amount of faith and wanted to please God.
The bible tells us that it is hard to please God. Hebrews 11: 6, “without faith it is impossible to please God,” What the woman did was good but what pleased God was her faith. She did not ask for anything but desired to please God by looking after his servant.
Some do good to others with the hope that God will bless them in return. Some do good so that they can be recognized as being good, but their motives are far from good. Anyone can do good, be good but it is the true measure of the heart that God is interested in.
God saw right through this woman and was pleased that she had a genuine heart and solid faith. It is not what she did but why she did it, that is, to please God because she loves God and she was satisfied with that.
There are some who are never satisfied with somethings in life. There are some who are not content with what they have or received. We in same way have felt like that ourselves.
Coming back to Elisha, Elisha was not satisfied with her answer so Gehazi gave him a thought, that is, she was barren. Remember the third person conversation? Sometimes it can go badly, or it can go well.
With that, Elisha blessed the woman by prophesying her a child. It seems that, for this woman, she had accepted the reality that she was barren., but to hear this prophecy, it seems, has reopened a deep wound that she has long buried.
This is sensitive for her because her answer tells us. “Please man of God don’t get my hopes up just to be disappointed?” That boat has sailed, and I am fine with it. I am happy and content right now.
To be barren during that period was thought to be a sign of God’s curse because of some historical sin. The opposite of barrenness is life, hope, future, and continuity of lineage that is, your name, your DNA will continue to live through the next generation and so forth. Barrenness is no life, nothing, dead, you cease to exist once you are gone.
You might recall a friend, someone who has or is going through this experience. It is difficult, I know how the woman felt. I have experienced it.
I know what is going on deep within her. The sadness. The why’s. The “maybe God has other plans.” The fear of asking God for a child only to be disappointed. She is wrestling with her emotions, her mental state, and her faith in God.
To hear Elisha prophecy of a child would have made the woman skip a heartbeat. Something happened within her spirit. I call it renewed hope followed with a little joy. Could this be? The life I longed for. God’s mercy and grace extended to her.
God wants so much to bless and love his people like that of this woman. God opens her eyes to his possibilities, his wonders, and miracles. “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
God opens our eyes that regardless of what is ahead of us he blesses, protects, and provides. This is the genuineness of God’s heart is the desire to shower all with his love and blessing.
This woman received his love. My story of barrenness is somewhat like hers and yes, I was prophesied over to have a child. God does loves us and wants the best for us.
Coming back to the barrenness. It was difficult for women then and still is difficult today regardless of what culture it is. Women have a maternal instinct it is part of our DNA and creation.
There is also another kind of barrenness we all, including men have experienced or, might be experiencing, that is, bareness of the spirit. Our spirit goes through a journey of being lifeless, nothing growing, no hope, no joy. Some say spiritually dead.
I want to take a moment here to pause and think about our spiritual wellbeing. How is our spiritual wellbeing? Is it empty? Lifeless? Dead? Does God exist there? What might God be saying to you here?
Like the woman who was given a glimmer of hope God wants to inject his Spirit of hope, peace, love, joy, mercy, and grace into our lives our spiritual wellbeing.
King David came to God realising that his heart and spirit was far from him. He said these words.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
The woman was stirred because of this unexpected blessing. Stirred to rejoice. Stirred to hope again. Stirred to newness of life.
God wants to stir our spirit and come to us in unexpected ways.
There is another part to this wonderful journey but that will be left for another time.
May our spirits be stirred by your goodness and love for us as we continue to grow in our faith. Show us your truth and light when things seems unclear that may hinder our spirit to be awaken. Give to us the joy of your salvation that can only come through your son Jesus Christ.
Sustain us in the days ahead as we manoeuvre through the challenges we face. Help us to trust your leading as we as church rethink about ministry and mission in these ever-changing times.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
19th April 2020
Walking with the King
This is the final part of our 3-part series of our Loving Lord the King.
Today’s topic is “Walking with the King”.
Wow imagine walking side by side with the King, loud trumpets and people cheering. People singing his praise. People lifting hands in adoration to him, would not that be an amazing experience. Last week, I know we have been part of that journey during holy week, Good Friday and Easter.
Well, throughout the series, we talked about Kings and Kingship, about Israel response to this King. We read and talked about, how the people of Israel did not want to be set apart as God said. But they wanted to be just like the other Nations with a real King.
This King has been prophesied, but yet he is nothing compared to the world’s standard and view. They had their own ideas and expectation of how their king should be, and Jesus did not fit into that mold.When we look back at the king of psalm 47, and the Journey of the King, both alludes to Jesus, as the true King.
So now we are going to look at the Relationships of Jesus and the disciples.
Jesus the King died on the cross and now has risen from the dead. Jesus returns to life and the disciples realize that not only is Jesus king but God himself choosing to walk with them. Wow! Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of the disciples to be part of God’s plan of salvation! I’m sure that they had renewed energy, vigour and surely a steadfast faith more so now than ever. But the disciples work is not done, in fact, it was only the beginning!
If we remembered, that before Jesus went to the cross, they walked with him and learned so much from him. Things of the heart, the spirit and the kingdom.
I wonder if we could compare it to our time of learning? No, not quite. Jesus return to them, was to continue where he left off! He came to finish the work that he had started, that is to equip the disciples to carry on sharing the good news of the kingdom of God.
Before Jesus was going to ascend to the father, he gave them two instructions. The first, from Matt 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations.” baptising them in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit. Second, Jesus must return to the father so that the helper will come and continue the work. As written in John 14: 26 The Holy Spirit will continue the work of helping not only the disciples but all who believes in Jesus! It was no longer the disciples who was going to go out and do mission for the kingdom but all who believe in Jesus! Isn’t that awesome!
Today, because of what Jesus has done, we who believe have the Holy spirit walking with us! teaching, equipping, guiding, and helping our response to Jesus instruction is to “make disciples of all nations.”.
Like the disciples back then, who walked with Jesus, had experienced all the human flaws and failures that hindered their walk in recognizing the king, God made flesh, made tangible in their presence! But thank God for his amazing grace and mercy upon us.
Tai – I like to share a bit about my own journey.
Right now, I’m at a different point and space in my walk, with a fresh understanding of Jesus as King of my life. I understand not everybody will see in the way I see it, but this is where I am at with Christ.
I guess I saw myself like of the disciples, after receiving the Lord there was still some unsureness, too many things going on, especially during my spiritual growing phase, wrestling with my relationship with Christ throughout my walk. One of my experiences I’ve had, and you may be able to relate to or not, I recall a time where I was kinda lost, ok maybe more than once, not physically lost but to a point where I had no sense of direction. I had no goals in place, which meant that I had no real desire to strive for anything. I found myself too often standing at this crossroad. I think a lot of fear crept in too, the fear of losing friends, the fear of becoming a different person, and the fear of how people that knew me would react. Back in my days when I became a Christian, my mates had all these funny remarks about me, they’d say oh your holy one now, or you’re one of those Churchie guys, here’s a classic, oh Christian now, you won’t last. Back in my days when I became a Christian, my mates had all these funny remarks about me, they’d say oh your holy one now, or you’re one of those Churchie guys, here’s a classic, oh Christian now, you won’t last. But all that has change, they have all matured up, and have been touched by the Lord in their own special ways. I’ve recently caught up with a couple of them who like myself are still strong in the Faith.
Focusing back on the walk with the king. We understand that Jesus was no ordinary King, he was the king who Sacrifice, he was the King that came to serve, he was the King that came to teach, he is the king that came to forgive!
The road with the King will be filled with trials, there will be lots of challenges and plenty of rejection but, along the way there will also be a road with plenty of hopes, a road filled with love and peace, a road full of grace and forgiveness.
Zechariah 14; 9 And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.
John 6: 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.
Hebrew 11; 1 Faith assurance is the assurance of things hoped for,
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
A prayer for Hope
Help us, Lord Jesus, to hold
steadfast to prayer,
Relying on the word of God, in all
That our Hopes in You will ever
While our doubts and fears slowly
Help us, Lord, to be a light of hope.
To those who are in need.
To be an example of Your love and
And to tell others of Your great
Grace and glory,
To encourage our faith journey, here is a couple of steps to help you.
- Listen to WODcast
- Read today’s passage
- Discuss your thoughts with someone over a phone, or through email.
- Think about what you read and apply it to your life
– Tai Taimataora
(Audio version can be found on YouTube.)
12th April 2020
Good Friday Message
From Rev. Arii Taimataora
12th April 2020
Journey of a King Part Two
Let’s open up with a prayer.
Lord this morning as we continue to explore your Journey, teach us to give you thanks and praises that you deserve. Open our mind and heart to receive your blessing, to receive your love and peace, and to receive your word. We thankyou for Jesus Resurrection and the hope that we have in Him. Amen
Ok last week (below), we started on the first of a three-part series of our Loving Lord the KING.
We started our series with the topic of “The King of Psalm 47”, the psalm tells us about a King, and people praising him. Psalms 47 does not only remind God’s people to praise and clap their hands, throughout the chapter, the Psalmist speaks also of the nature and character of who God is. God is mentioned here as a “great King over all the earth,” King over the nations, who sits on his holy throne.” But also we learn that, the people of Israel celebrations of wanting a King, yep sure they wanted a King alright but not an invisible one, no no no they wanted an earthly tangible person so that they can see him and boast up like the other Nations.
Let’s start connecting the pieces
Part 2 The Journey of a King is all about what Jesus has been up to and describing His Kingship.
The book of Mathew from Pastor Kris Langman of “Through the Word Ministry” explains, the gospel of Mathew is about who Jesus is. It started with promises long time ago, from a descendant of Abraham then David, that a king will come from his line who will reign forever. The prophecy fulfilled.
As we take a look at the life of Jesus, the Journey of a King, startedwell before his birth, In the vision of Daniel (Daniel 7; 1 – 28), through to the prophets Isaiah and Zechariah have already paved the way, the Coming of the King, the prophecy in Zechariah 9: 9 The Coming of Zion’s King
9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Let’s take a quick look at his Kingship, like a time-lapse of his life. Are you ready?
It starts off with; The Birth of a King, as we look at Jesus birth, he wasn’t born in a hospital and in a nice bed, the Bible tells us his birth took place in a stable. A stable? Isn’t that a wooden frame shelter in where lives-stocks are kept? That’s not a nice place to give birth to a child is it? Then there was a bright star hanging above Bethlehem his birthplace, the star was a symbol of a heavenly sign of a prophecy fulfilled long ago and the shining hope for humanity.
Read Luke 2; 40-52
At this point there wasn’t much we know about his adolescent years, Luke’s account of him in the temple as a child, at the age of 12 he was sitting in the temple courts with teachers, listening and asking questions and the teachers were amazed. Woah, now how many 12yr old’s do you know would be doing this? at that age all I thought about was training, throwing the ball around and…. more training. Luke gives us an understanding that Jesus is grown up and full of grace. Obviously not a normal 12-year-old.
The Ministry of a King continues let’s fast forward some years, Jesus begins his ministry with a miracle taking place and that is, the wedding in Cana, the transformation of water into wine. Here, begins Jesus long journey of ministry and mission all the way to the cross. On that journey, Jesus was recognised as someone of great importance like that of a king. People followed him everywhere, he had followers, his popularity was heard through the region. We can see that Jesus is being recognised as someone kingly. Firstly, his triumphant entry into Jerusalem we remember last week Palm Sunday.
We think about the modern monarchy Queen Elizabeth and the royal family? Think about the parade and how that looked, yeah it was pretty amazing.
Israel’s expectation of this King would be like that of Saul and David, but; the entrance of Jesus the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, is greeted by a crowd, some who only just heard, and others only came to see who this king is? He’s welcomed with palm leaves and dirty cloaks thrown onto the ground, there are no armoured guard and soldiers with him? Jesus enters on a donkey huh. A donkey? Ummmmm so what happen to the chariots like the other Kings?
We will read Mathew 21: 1 – 9. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as King
21 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.[a]” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Past Kings were remembered for their war victories and conquering of cities, possession of treasures and taking lives through songs and celebrations. Saul killed thousands of men, but David killed ten thousands more.
Jesus on the other hand, saved many lives and provided for the people’s needs and speaking of a kingdom that is not of this world. But his remembering was one of ridicule and screams to crucify him. This is the king that the prophets foretold that Israel did not recognised.
Jesus death was on a cross, the King of the Jews, his body wrapped in a cloth and laid in a cave. This is not the way it should have been done. What ever happened to the glory and honours like other passing kings.
Let’s pause for a moment!! Wind back the clock of the time of Jesus entrance into Jerusalem and freeze. Imagine yourself in the crowd watching His approach, where are you, are you at the back watching from a distance, or are you up the front reaching out to touch His cloak, are you silent when He walks by, are you silent or do you shout, as your eyes finally meet what do you want to tell Him. He knows you; He hears you, shout to Him from your heart He is your king!!
What would you desire from Him?
Thank you again for joining me, and I hope you have taken away something from this topic.
A prayer of Inter-session let us pray.
Lord, as we continue with our Isolation at this time, we pray for others, those who have lost families and friends, we pray for comfort and your healing spirit. Lord, give our doctors and nurses the wisdom and strength to continue to fight this virus. Lord, we uplift our leaders into your mighty hands as they make decision about our living, may they know your grace, and may they lead with your wisdom. Be with us in the days ahead as we continue to put our faith and trust in you. Amen
Remember the word was brought to you today by WODcast
To encourage our faith journey, here is a couple of steps to help you.
- Listen to WODcast
- Read today’s passage
- Discuss your thoughts with someone over a phone, or through email.
- Think about what you read and apply it to your life
– Tai Taimataora
(Audio version can be found on YouTube.)
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Mathew 21
Daniels vision read the book of Daniel chapter 7
Adolescent Years in Luke 2; 40 – 52
5th April 2020
King of Psalm 47 Part One
Our topic is “King of Psalm 47”, Part 1 of a three-part series we will be encountering our Loving Lord the King!!
Firstly, its bit of a brave thing for me to tackle this topic. Somehow and by God’s grace it came to me. I’m not a theologian and I don’t claim to be wise;
The Bible is full of mystery, rich history, holds values to overcome all life’s situations, revealing of Christ’s nature and God ways to His Kingdom, so taking small stride at a time I believe lead me here.
On another note this topic may differ and may reveal to you in other meaningful ways. In whatever ways it does, I know the Lord will speak to you and I truly hope you will be blessed.
Psalm 47 verse 1 “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Today is Palm Sunday. So, it is fitting to have verse 1 remind us to praise and uplift God who is king entering into our lives this morning. Psalms 47 does not only remind God’s people to praise and clap their hands, throughout the chapter, the Psalmist speaks of the nature and character of who God is. It is understood that God is alluded here as a “great King over all the earth,” and again this phrase repeats itself that is, “King of all the earth, King over the nations, who sits on his holy throne.” God as king is the central figure here. Psalm 47, is one of seven “enthronement Psalms” which refer to the crowning of God as king at a festive occasion. It said that the “enthronement Psalm is a calling to others to join the praise of God precisely in light God’s lordship.
It has also been suggested that the theme of Psalm 47 is “universal rejoicing God’s universal reign”. That is, the God of Israel isn’t just lord over them but lord over all.
Let me read the Psalm to get an idea of this enthronement, calling, this universal that God’s people are employing the earth to engage in. (Read Psalm 47)
Reading this Psalm makes me wonder what were the people today, on Palm Sunday thinking about when they engaged in this call to clap their hands and praise Jesus waving their branches to one who they consider to be a king?
Would they have considered Jesus to be equal to this understanding of the king of Psalm 47?
Let’s consider some questions as we reflect on this passage.
Why a King?
What’s the role and purpose of the king?
You might like to write down your own thoughts about these Qs
If we look at Insights of Kings and Israel history in the bible, the platter of a King started from Saul, then David and then Solomon and the list goes on.
The book of 1 Samuels 8 highlights that “Israel wants a King” The Israel people complain to Samuel some heading says “Give us a King” in other words they demanded a king. Here is an answer, Israel wanted a King because the other Nations had one, Israel didn’t want Samuel cause he was too old, Israel didn’t want God because they couldn’t see Him, and maybe because was scary and the people were afraid of Him. Well wouldn’t you be scared; Imagined being zapped for touching the covenant box. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
“We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” There we go a picture painted of A king who may be young, all muscle, got the looks and so on.
An answer I was given which I thought was really good, because he is tangible, the people of Israel wanted to see someone physically? They wanted someone to rule over them as God wasn’t enough. If we think about the history of Israel before kings, they had prophets, leaders and judges but still, that wasn’t enough. So here lies the problem.
If we explore a bit more, many countries are still ruled by a king or Monarchy. Have you ever wandered what it’s like to live under sovereign rules of an Individual king or Queen? Let’s pause for a moment….
Well many of us may not have experienced it but for those living there it seems a normal life, ways of living by enforcement of being ruled without equality, ruled by principles and constitutional influences.
Currently we still hear and read about monarchies more notably Queen Elizabeth Royal Family. Have you ever experienced a Royal visit? I remember watching a documentary on the Royal family, how millions of people showed up just to get a glimpse. Millions more on worldview television. Some describe how privilege they were to shake the hands of the Queen or Prince, some quoting of never washing their hands again? Umm might have to re-think about that, others saying it’s a once in a lifetime experience, wow?
Coming back to psalms 47 verse 3 and 4, He subdued people under us, and Nationssss under our feet. 4 He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Here its saying that God has put people and Nations under their feet. But Israel didn’t want to be set apart from other Nations, the Israel people wanted to be exactly like the other Nationsss. They wanted to have a presence and earthly King to show how Great they are with this physical King. Why a king?
Set aside time to reflect the King of Psalms 47? Think about today, put yourself in the shoes of those of the time of Jesus, why a King? Put yourself in the shoes of the people of the time of Samuel, why a King? Imagine these words as a personal reflection guiding you. Let’s set our mind on the Lordship of Christ, rest in the presence of our heavenly father and devote our heart to the King of Heaven and Earth.
Well thanks for Joining me, and thanks to Arii for helping me out, the word was brought to you today by WOD podcast. – Tai
(Audio version can be found on YouTube.)
5th April 2020
“Living on a Prayer”
It’s been several days into Lock down and I tried to do some sort of workout in a home makeshift gym one early morning. The music playing in the background for motivation. My thoughts wondered pondering all that has unfolded upon our nation and the world these recent weeks and how we are coping. The lockdown has forced us to stop and retreat behind the four walls of our home for safety and security from a deadly killer virus that has no respect for age, gender or colour.
Like you, inundated with media coverage and level alerts pinging our phones has brought those pandemic movies we watch into reality and so surreal. We are reminded to, “keep safe”, look out for another and check on our elderly folk within the community. There are many who are terrified of what is taking place while others are trying to make sense of it and others who are trying to work out a new kind of norm behind the walls but, there are others who over the next coming weeks will be restless and anxious of being confined.
As the music plays during my little workout Bon Jovi’s (American Rock band of the 80’s) lyrics comes on, “Living on a Prayer” Some of the lyrics from the song goes like this,
“we’ve got to hold onto what we got. It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not. We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love.”
Although this song is focused a different context, I think about these words, in some way, they are true for us today. Many are trying to hold on to what they’ve got, many are trying to take control of an out of control situation, many are worried for their loved ones near and far. But there are many others across the nation and the world who, as Bon Jovi puts it, “Living on a Prayer” pinning what we are going through, to something bigger than ourselves, or, should I say someone bigger than ourselves who is the source of hope, light and love and that is, God. God holds us together during this time of uncertainty and hopelessness. God is with us even when we feel isolated or alone, God is the peace that can calm the fear and storm that rages within us. God is our refuge and strength that we can run to, call upon, to find solace and comfort. God is here and is hearing our prayers.
Bon Jovi carries on with, “……take my hand and we will make it I swear. …. livin’ on a prayer”
There are many out there right now, are “Living on a Prayer” looking to a higher power for comfort and security. Looking to a higher power to bring healing and hope.
I imagine God, taking our hands and leading us through. I imagine God saying, “wait here for a while.” I imagine God saying, “don’t be afraid.” I imagine God saying, “I am with you.”
In a time like this, we are “Living on a Prayer.” Praying that God is ever before us, behind us, above and below who will see us through.
Let me leave you with these words from Psalm. Words of hope and assurance.
Assurance of God’s Protection
A Song of Ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and you’re coming in
from this time on and forevermore.
Rev Arii Taimataora
29th March 2020
Choose Love in Difficult Times
Let us love one another,
For love comes from God.
Everyone who loves
has been born of God
and knows God.
1 John 4:7
Sometimes it feels like news updates are coming every few minutes. When we give so much of our attention to events beyond our control, we can lose sight of the power that we do still have. We can choose how we respond to our circumstances. And perhaps even more important, even in the midst of those circumstances, we can choose how we treat others.
Recently we reminded you about the time that Jesus’ disciples were afraid their boat might sink, but then He calmed the storm. Just like Jesus’ disciples, we’re all in the same boat with Jesus — but we’re also in it with each other. And we can choose to encourage one another, to support each other, to love each other, and to point each other back to Jesus.
Love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are in my disciples.
JOHN 13: 34-35
Here Are 4 Ways We Can Choose Love
1. Encourage one another.
We live in such an incredible time! Even when we can’t be physically present with one another, we can still call, text, email, connect on social media, attend church online, and more.
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.
2. Support each other.
Some of the most meaningful things we can do are simple and practical. Check in with your neighbors and ask how they’re doing. Share whatever you have. Drop off a meal for someone who can’t get out. Pay for the person behind you in a drive-through. Send an email gift card to a friend.
…our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do.
3. Love each other.
Jesus said that loving your neighbor was the second most important commandment. And in the parable of the Good Samaritan, He explained what He meant by that word, “neighbor.” Paul even suggested we turn loving each other into a competition!
Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.
4. Point each other to Jesus.
It’s Jesus who calms our storms. But it’s up to us to remind each other of God’s promises. And to pray for one another. You can do both these things — and more — in the same ways we mentioned in #1
Just remember: No matter what we may be going through, we’re all in it together. We all live on the same planet. We all breathe the same air. Jesus said we would have troubles in this life. But He gave us His Spirit. And he gave us each other.
Think about the disciples hanging out with Jesus on a boat when a life-threatening storm erupts on the water. They’re unprepared to face it and, panicking, realize they might die. The entire time this is happening, Jesus is sleeping peacefully. Instead of looking at Jesus’ reaction to their situation, the disciples allowed their situation to dictate their reactions.
After begging Jesus to do something, He calms the storm… But not before asking them, “Why are you afraid?”
His gentle rebuke over their lack of faith wasn’t because they didn’t believe Jesus could save them from the storm, but because they struggled to believe He would see them through it.
When we find ourselves in storms we can’t control, how do we respond with faith? Here are three encouraging truths to remember:
1. God has power over every storm.
If the wind and waves don’t concern Him, then they shouldn’t frighten you. You might not be able to change your situation, but you can choose to faithfully trust God in the middle of it.
2. Fixing your eyes on Jesus leads to peace.
Are you looking at the size of the storm, or turning towards the One who can calm it? It’s only by focusing on God, who knows every outcome, that you can navigate any situation with His wisdom and peace.
3. Jesus is always in your boat.
It’s easy to focus on your fears when you can’t control your future. But thankfully, Jesus knows your future, and He’s always by your side. And, He calls you to live by faith, not by sight.
Whenever you find yourself overwhelmed by life, you always have two choices: you can focus on your circumstances or fix your eyes on Jesus.
If you choose to look to Jesus above everything else, you will begin to see that the storms you face are not nearly as powerful as the Savior choosing to walk through the storm alongside you.
1 John 3: 16-18 NIV
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
22nd March 2020
The reading is Philippians 4: 1 – 14
Sharing the message of hope with you today.
From Rev. Arii Taimataora