If you know Jesus as your Saviour, how did it happen that you came to know Him? What was the series of events that led up to that moment when you understood what Jesus had done for you on the cross to pay for your sin? What was that moment like when you realised you needed Him as your Saviour? That moment and the time leading up to it is different for everyone. No two experiences are exactly the same.
Matthew 4:18-19 reads “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, throwing a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Regardless of how or where we heard the Gospel, everyone of us can trace our experience back to 2000 years ago when Jesus called some fisherman to be “Fishers of Men”. If you are a saved believer it is because you heard the Gospel. Someone told someone, who told someone, who told someone… who told you. There are different ways we come to hear and believe the Gospel. Someone close to me shared it with me in person, my wife heard about the Gospel and her need for a saviour over the radio. Some have come to know Jesus watching a television program, others reading a tract. The late Billy Graham shared the Gospel preaching to thousands in stadiums. Some have heard it from a friend.
But there is one common thread in everyone’s experience, the Gospel is counter intuitive we can’t figure it out for ourselves. We have to hear about it or read it and that only happens through words. For people to know Jesus they have to hear about Him through the words of others.
Joy is something that many people would associate with Christmas. When the angels announced to the shepherds that a Saviour had been born they made it clear that the news they has to share was joyous news indeed. Luke 2:10 says, “But the angel said to them, “Listen! Do not fear. For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people.”
The shepherds were not very popular, socially, culturally or religiously. They spent more time with sheep than people and were generally looked down upon. The sheep they cared for generally belonged to someone else but they were expected to care for them as if they were their own. Smelling like sheep probably didn’t do them any favours either. It’s interesting that God chose the shepherds to share the good news with. He sent an angel to those who were out in the field in the dark, separated from everyone else.
God didn’t randomly do that by accident. We can learn a valuable and very personal lesson from this part of the Christmas story. God send a saviour for those who are separated and in the dark. God does not forget those who are unpopular or separated from the rest of society. Matter of fact this part of the Christmas story shows us that God cares for people in that position greatly. He shared the good news of great joy that a Saviour had been born with them first. Even in the darkest and farthest place we might find ourselves. God still cares deeply for us and want to us to understand the good news of a saviour that brings great joy.
Gift giving is a part of Christmas celebration and tradition for many people. Most of us have likely received some great gifts and maybe some not so exciting gifts over the years. What would you consider a good gift? That’s an interesting question for me because as I think about what I might consider a good gift, a good gift may not necessarily be something that I like or am excited about… kind of like a pair of socks for Christmas when you were 6 years old. It’s a needed gift, it’s a good gift, but not something you would be very excited about receiving.
In Matthew Chapter 7:9-11 Jesus says, “What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Our heavenly Father knows how to give us good gifts better than an earthly father, but that doesn’t mean He is always going to give us what we ask for. We don’t share God’s perspective what is really the best gift for us, therefor he may not give us the things we want. He will gives us a gift but it may not be what we asked for, it may not even be something we like, but it is what is best and therefore a very good gift.
Pastor Chris Miller
At some point in my life I remember, probably more than once, someone referring to where they lived as “their own little slice of heaven”. Every believer has a desire to be with the Lord in heaven. You could probably even say that every person has an innate desire for heaven even if they don’t really understand the how or why.
Sometimes this desire for God’s heaven leads us to rush things along and try to create our own heaven here on earth. Unfortunately, we aren’t capable of doing that, but that doesn’t keep many of us from trying anyway. In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Many believers put a lot of themselves into creating their own heaven on earth. Our own versions of a terrestrial heaven would probably take a fair bit of money to create. It would also require us to dedicate ourselves to the task of accumulating wealth. If we are not careful wealth can become our master. I always feel the need to clarify that there is nothing wrong with wealth, it’s just wrong to serve it as our master.
Jesus says we can’t serve two masters, because we will love one and hate the other. We might think, “I certainly don’t hate God”. The idea of hating one master and serving the other might be easier to understand it we look at it in terms of only being able to choose one master. Whichever one we choose to serve we will neglect the other. Ultimately we can only choose one master. The choice is up to you.
Pastor Chris Miller
When it comes to personal finances or possessions how often do you hear someone say, “That’s enough, I have plenty”. Not to say it doesn’t happen but it’s not something we don’t hear very often either.
Finding contentment is not easy for most of us. It seems there is always something that keeps it just out of reach. It may be fear of what might happen, greed, or just that constant desire for something more.
I believe there are 2 reasons we have such a difficult time finding true fulfilment. One is because we seek contentment in the wrong places. Every time we manage to gain just a little bit more, it’s not long before that little bit loses it lustre and we are again unhappy with what we have. We will never find satisfaction in material things, no matter how much we have.
The second reason I believe we struggle with being content is because we view it as something that is going to happen to us. We might think, “When I have enough, I will be happy”. That is a misunderstanding of contentment.
Contentment is a spiritual discipline we practice not something we receive or that happens to us. We have to exercise it like a muscle. Practicing a spiritual discipline requires that we first choose to practice, then tell ourselves we are going to do it and then finally we have to actually do it. All of this happens before we ever “feel it”. How often do we expect that comfortable feeling of contentment to come before we apply the discipline and hard work of contentment? Look around at what you have and say, “that’s enough”. How does that feel? Maybe not great, but keep working at it, choose to practice contentment. In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul tells us how he learned to be content. He says, “I know both how to face humble circumstances and how to have abundance. Everywhere and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me.” He could do it because Christ strengthened him. Let’s pray and ask Jesus to strengthen us as we learn to be content.
Pastor Chris Miller
Why Are You Generous?
There are many generous people in the world. I would even go as far to say that there are more people who are generous than who are not. There are a lot of Bible verses about generosity throughout the Old and New Testaments that instruct how to be generous.
As with any “religious” practice, if we are not careful, we can forget the why behind the action, and then it just becomes a religious practice without any real meaning behind it. Something that Jesus and the entire Bible for that matter teaches is that the motivation behind what we do is just as important as the action itself. It’s so important in fact that doing religious things without the proper motivation can make the action null and void in the eyes of God.
Since we are talking about generosity, let’s ask ourselves, “Why am I generous?” Practising generosity is a command we are given in the Bible. Jesus takes delves into that command and goes beyond just the action itself, but also the motivation behind it. In Matthew 6:1 He says, “Be sure that you not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” This verse shows us that our motivation for obedience is important. So, “Why am I generous?” Is it to be seen as generous by other people and praise ourselves or is it because we want to glorify God?
Pastor Chris Miller
Not Greedy for Money
This week we are back in our series about the qualifications for church leaders found in I Timothy 3:1-7. Most, if not all, of these qualifications might seem like they really should just go without saying, but they were given to us for a reason.
In verse 3 Paul says that a pastor should not be greedy for money. This is one of those things that seem as though it shouldn’t even really need to be mentioned, so why is it? The reason Paul gives us these qualifications is because of the many problems that will come if someone who doesn’t possess them ends up in a position of influence within a church. Another motivation for Paul telling Timothy to investigate these traits in potential leaders is because we may not think to specifically look for them beforehand. Some of these things could be easily missed if we don’t make a conscious effort to look for them, greedy for money is definitely one of these.
We generally don’t go having a sticky beak into how someone handles their money, so how do we know if a candidate for church leadership is not greedy for money? There are usually indicators of these qualifications that manifest themselves in other ways. In this particular case you may not know how a man handles his finances, but you will be able to tell if he is generous. If a believer is generous with his time and resources, you can be pretty safe in assuming he is not “greedy for money”.
Pastor Chris Miller
Ups and Downs
I am writing this at the end of the first day of our School Holiday program. We are blessed to have many faithful workers involved this year.
Our theme today is “Live like you know God is with you”. My lovely wife taught the main lesson today using the life of Joseph as an example. Joseph had a lot of ups and downs in his life. He was sold as a slave into the land of Egypt, but by the end of Joseph’s story he had become the second most powerful man in the land and rescued his family from famine. Joseph definitely knew many good and also bad times. One thing remained consistent throughout his life, God was always with Joseph. He blessed the things he did, even when it didn’t seem like God was blessing him personally.
One experience that is common to everyone, regardless of who they are or where they live are the highs and lows that we all face in life. Some are more extreme than others, but they are always there. We can all learn a very important lesson from the life of Joseph. God was with him constantly in the best and worst times of his life. That same thing is true for you and me, God is always with us. That may be easy to recognise when life is easy and pleasing for us, but much more challenging when we are in a very low place. David was talking about this exact same thing when he penned the 23rd Psalm verse 4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” God is with you, always.
Pastor Chris Miller
Today we continue with our study on the qualifications of a church leader from the book of I Timothy. The last few words of chapter 3 verse 2 say, “able to teach”. What does that mean? Able as in willing to have a go, or able as in someone who is good at teaching. Let’s try to answer that question.
A church leader or pastor, often speaks in a public setting and teaches from the Bible. A classroom type setting is a great tool for teaching but something many may not realise is that the majority of teaching a pastor undertakes is outside of that context. Most of his teaching takes place after church, in the carpark, over a cuppa or maybe on the phone.
The first requirement for being able to instruct is to have something to teach. For that to become a reality a church leader must first be teachable. He needs to be willing to learn from others and from God’s word. He ought to be able to teach from an overflow of what he has learned himself. It is essential for him to share with others what has filled his own heart and mind. But just being full of information isn’t enough to meet the qualification of being able to teach. He also needs to communicate those truths to others. This is done with words, either spoken or written down. A word is a vehicle used to transfer something from the heart and mind of one person to the heart and mind of another. If he can do that with Bible truths in a loving, clear, and understandable way, then he is able to teach.
Obey Your Parents
We’ve probably all seen this scenario unfold at some point in our lives: You are in the grocery store and a mum is shopping with her child. The child wants something off the shelf or maybe wants to go home, or is just tired. Perhaps mum tells her child “no” or maybe the child has had enough of the current situation and decides to have a meltdown. The child flops onto the floor and either goes limp or kicks and screams like some kind of crazy person. The poor mum doesn’t know what else to do so she bends down and tries to reason with her child. She may attempt to debate with here child as to coax out some better behaviour, and may even resort to bribes. But it seems that no matter what she does, things don’t get better and can at times only get worse.
Ephesians 6:1 says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Even though this verse appears to be addressed to children, it probably wouldn’t help much for the mum in the above scenario to recite this verse to her child. That’s because obedience, at least at certain ages is unreasoning and implicit. At a young age, obedience is not reasoned out by the child, it’s imposed by the parent. To some that might sounds a bit harsh, but the reality is that it’s quite the opposite. A young child doesn’t have the capacity to reason, and trying to argue with them only confuses and frustrates. A parent needs to simply, clearly and consistently define what is expected of the child. For a child that doesn’t yet have the capacity to reason and can only make the simplest of decisions, these kind of clear guidelines provide a child with comfort and security. They often times can prevent a few meltdowns.
A weekly devotion, based on the same theme as the Sunday sermons.