In this message from September 2022, Rev Keith Bell explores the time marker in the ministry of Jesus – something found all through the gospel of John and something so prominent in John 12:20-39, explaining the purpose and the timing of His death for sinners.
In thie last of this series on ‘tensions’ in the Christian life, this message explores the tension the believer faces by simply being ‘in the world’. If this is a world that ‘God so loved’ (John 3:16), how is it that we are urged to ‘not love the world’ (1 John 2:15)? How can this tension be resolved? Perhaps by understanding 1 John 2:15-17…
Please continue to pray for our nation. We have much to be thankful for, but much that is far from the will of God.
But how to pray? Take a lead from Rev Dr Peter Adam, emeritus of St Jude’s Carlton, formerly principal of Ridley College Melbourne, who has shared this prayer (as a model for us to regularly pray).
“Gracious Heavenly Father,
We thank and praise you for your creation of this world, including this land of Australia. We praise you for its beauty and its bounty, for mountains, hills and plains, for rivers, creeks and seas, and wonderful variety of animals, birds, and sea-creatures.
We praise you for the peoples to whom you first entrusted this land, each one made in your image, and all loved by you. We thank you for their careful management of the land, for the strength of their communal life, and the richness of their culture.
We lament the damage done to them by the arrival of the British in 1788. For the loss of life, land, language, livelihood, culture, and the damage done to structures of their communities. We grieve the sins of coveting, theft and murder committed by the invaders, and their failure to recognise the God-given human dignity and rights of the indigenous people. We lament the damage done to this land by greed, bad management, arrogance and ignorance. We pray that indigenous people may find their rightful place as citizens, and that their voices would be heard in our society. We pray that you would help us close the gap in the provision of health, education, housing, justice, and opportunity.
We praise you for Christians who came to Australia, who continued in their faith, who prayed and read their Bibles, who lived to honour you, who loved their neighbours, who planted churches, and who worked for gospel growth in their own generation, and for generations to come.
We thank you for Christian people who tried to defend the indigenous people, who provided for them, who brought them the gospel of the Lord Jesus, who translated the Bible into their languages, and who recognised their common humanity. At the same time we grieve their mistakes, and any damage they did, while trying to do good.
We thank you that Australia has provided a new start for people from many countries in every generation. We especially praise you that many who arrived with very few resources have been able to find education, training, and employment, and have enriched our common life.
Please forgive Australia for our greed, our worship of money, possessions, comfort and happiness, and our neglect of you, your Son, and your salvation. Please reform and revive your churches, that we may be a shining light for our nation, may serve your will for this country, and may bring many to saving faith in Christ. We thank you for indigenous Christians, and pray that they would continue in faith, love and hope. Please raise up the next generation of leaders for their communities and churches, and prosper their work and ministry.
Please give us good government, wise policies, justice and equity, and the ability and wisdom to tackle the major issues long-term of our day. Please rid us of corruption, incompetence, selfishness, greed, inequalities, and self-indulgence. Help us to contribute generously to our neighbouring nations, and to our world.
Please have mercy on all Australians, and teach us to trust in your Son and our Saviour, to love you, and to love our neighbours. May your name be sanctified in Australia, your kingdom come, and your will be done.
In this message preached at St John’s in July 2022, Rev Peter Phillips explores the opening verses of the prophet Jonah, revealing God’s heart for those who are ‘beyond the walls’ and who do not belong to the covenant family of faith.
In further exploration of the theme of tensions between two truths, this message explores the tension between ‘loving God’ and ‘fearing God’. If the Apostle John can say, ‘perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:18) and yet Jesus clearly tells us to ‘fear God’ (Luke 12:5), how can this tension be resolved? Perhaps 1 Peter 1:17-18 may help us!
As we further explore the idea of there being tensions between two truths in the Christian life, this message seeks to explore the tension between joy and sorrow. Are believers always meant to be joyful? And if so, wasn’t Jesus referred to as a ‘man of sorrows’? There is a definite tension here – one that will only be resolved when what is ‘not yet’ becomes ‘now’.
There are all kinds of tensions in the Christian life. Tensions as in truths that seem to clash. In this message, the idea of being ‘free’ in Christ is contrasted with the need to ‘submit’ to Christ as Lord. How do freedom and submission fit together? Maybe Matthew 11:28-30 has the answer!
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put vour hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
There have been a lot of words written and spoken about the central meaning of Christmas. The Apostle John, in his prologue to his gospel (John 1:1-18), hits the nail on the head in just 4 words from verse 14. These words are so deep and profound that we need to get our heads around them… and it will take 5 words for us to do just that!
It’s almost 38 years since John Webster was inducted as the Minister of the Bendigo Presbyterian Church, and yet the news of his illness and subsequent death on 14th December 2022 were received with a sincere measure of sorrow by current members who remember him fondly.
John began his ministry in Bendigo in 1985 when the Charge consisted of two congregations, Eaglehawk and St John’s, at a critical time in the Church’s history. Just a few years earlier, the St John’s congregation had voted to join the Uniting Church and the Property Commission left the remaining Presbyterians with only the Eaglehawk Church to meet in – which was, sadly, almost on the point of being condemned. However, following on from the pastoral ministries of the Rev John Aitken, and then the Rev Colin Harrison, the ‘continuing Presbyterians’ found themselves in a good space, when they called John (Webster) to come and build on what had been begun. And ‘build’ is just what John did, and he did it as ‘God’s man’ for the hour. Faced with congregations who had been used to a more ‘liberal’ flavoured theology rather than Reformed or evangelical, John’s ministry was exercised in the context of a certain measure of opposition and criticism from some quarters. But this did not deter John nor the eventual growth of the congregations. His faithful and strong preaching, his firm commitment to the Church’s theological standards and his Presbyterian convictions shone through over the 10 years in which he served both congregations, resulting in significant growth in the Charge – especially in the St John’s Bendigo congregation, paving the way for it to become a full charge in its own right, something that John had been working towards and planning for, soon after John accepted a call to Hamilton (NSW). He could not have foreseen the fruit of his ministry in this city where now three Presbyterian congregations are flourishing under the teaching of God’s Word and days of opposition from within the church have long passed. Truly we are reaping where he has sowed.
John will be remembered for his love for and his labour in the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he served faithfully and in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 15:58, ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’