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What a church! (Colossians 3:1-17)

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Church-Self-Portrait

In Colossians 3:1-17 we find a vision for an incredibly amazing church.  A church where the people are living out holy lives in response to the wonder of the Gospel of Jesus.  They have and are putting to death old sinful life-patterns which affect their attitudes, actions, speech & behaviour (vs5&7-9).  They are living in a right reverent fear of their awesome God who is holy and yet their Father (vs6).  These people in this church have put on the new nature that is theirs as the children of the living God – they are beginning to look more and more like their Saviour – Jesus.

This church is a multi-cultural church, a community of faith that has formed because of the Gospel.   They have come from all walks of life but have all been united in their common need and their common faith in Jesus who answers all their sin-problems (vs11)!

These people know that God literally chose them to be His beloved children, His holy ones on the earth (vs12).  They live with this truth shaping their thinking and their lives.  They were chosen to be holy ones, chosen as sons and daughters of the most High God.  And because of this knowledge, these people live differently!

They are confident because of God’s love and yet humble and compassionate & kind because they know God loved them when they were unlovely.  They love others, are gentle, patient and forbearing with one another because that is how God has treated them (vs12).  They don’t hold on to wrongs done to them but forgive one another because they know that they have been forgiven (vs13)!

This church is characterised by love, pulsing through everything that’s done and said and this results in a deep community and a deep unity and peace in their community in spite of their diversity (vs14-15).  The people of this church are characterised not by anxiety and worry but by peace that comes from knowing that your Saviour holds the whole world in His hands (Colossians 1:15-20)!

These people are a gospel-centred people in that they are supremely grateful to God.  Thankfulness saturates everything because they keep looking back at who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for them and that discipline fills them continually with thanks and praise and faith for the future, that thanks glorifies God and fuels their worship and the lives (see thanks 3x in vs15,16,17).

They are a Scripture-saturated people!  They love God’s word, read and honour God’s word by obeying it.  The Scriptures form the basis of their conversations, their relationships, their counsel and their worship.  They aren’t just taught by preachers but in fact they all teach each other continually from the Scriptures in TRIO’s and Community Groups(vs15-16).

Worship, songs of thanks, songs that tell of the greatness of God and express praise that makes Him the centre and their preoccupation are forever in their hearts and on their lips (vs16).  In fact they’ve turned anything and everything in their life into worship as they do everything from a place of wanting to represent Jesus, to bring Him honour – whether they are employing people, studying, working for someone, being a husband or a wife or a neighbour…  They do everything for Christ and in the power of Christ knowing that they are His ambassadors in the world (vs17).

What a church!  Where do I find such a church?  

You don’t find one, you and I all make one!  You and I and others all saved and rescued by Jesus together form a community, work out our salvation, keep Jesus the centre, saturate ourselves with Scripture, and keep being transformed by the incredible power of the Gospel and then this is the type of incredible church that will form!  Don’t look for a church like this – play your part in making one!

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Nehemiah…

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I invite you to track with our church through the month of February as we read the book of Nehemiah…

Introduction
Nehemiah is the Old Testament narrative history of God’s people in the time of Nehemiah as they under Nehemiah’s leadership they came out of Babylonian captivity (which had lasted 70yrs) and rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem thereby restoring life back to the capital city of the Promised Land.

As we read the book of Nehemiah it’s important to know the context. God’s people had repeatedly sinned, and although God had told them through many of the OT prophets that if they don’t repent from their sin He would punish them – they continued in their sin.

Eventually God judged their sin by exiling His people to Babylon, however God’s justice is restorative because God is just and God is love.  He is not one or the other but both always.

Because of this, God’s plan was to redeem His people, and so God promised through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10-14) even before they went into exile that He would restore Israel to the Promised Land after 70yrs of exile.

In the book of Nehemiah we witness that restoration starting as a group of people under Nehemiah’s leadership return to broken down Jerusalem and begin to rebuild the fortified wall that was so essential to the restoration of normal life in Jerusalem.

Through the book we will discover that a work of God like this requires good leadership who will follow God, requires people who follow God’s leaders, and people who have faith.  We learn that restoration will often not be easy and we learn that doing what God wants often faces tough opposition.

Finally, we learn that restoration is not just a physical thing but ultimately is about our restoration back to right relationship with God!

As you read the book this month, my prayer is that you’d grow in your knowledge God and His ways. May you grow as you read the testimony of these God followers and their journey of redemption challenge and restoration.

Jesus’ Identity & Purpose (John 18:38-19:27)

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Jesus’ trial before Pilate oozes truth about Jesus’ true identity and His purpose on the earth.

“I find no guilt in him” (18:38) – Pilate said.

And yet, he released the real criminal, the sinner.

And so Barabbas walked free, a fore-runner of you and me!

Yet the innocent One was condemned – all of our gospel story.

Pilate had Jesus flogged by soldiers, they mocked Jesus mercilessly.

Jesus was silent just as had been prophesied (Isaiah 53:7)

Pilate then repeated same verdict two more times; “I find no guilt in him”! (vs4&6)

Dripping with irony, Jesus is accused of claiming to be exactly who He was – God! (vs7)

Pilate then questions Jesus again and lectures Jesus on authority!

Jesus replies; “You would have no authority over me unless it had been given to you from above.” (vs11)

Pilate shivers in his boots & tries to release Jesus again having found nothing wrong with Him, but the Jews revolt…

Pilate pronounces the truth about Jesus to those present, “Behold your King!” (vs14)

But Jesus is rejected by the Jews again, they don’t want Him as king they want him dead.

Pilate re-checks with those present, proclaiming truth as he does; “Shall I crucify your King?” (vs15)

Blasphemously they cry out; “We have no king but Caesar!” (vs15)

And so Jesus was condemned to die by crucifixion.

Pilate, God’s agent in the moment states the truth again as he inscribes on the cross; “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (vs19)

The Jewish officials try to get Pilate to change the wording to soften it’s meaning

Pilate would not budge; “What I have written, I have written.” (vs22)

Jesus, King of all kings, came to die in our place for our sin, the Lamb of God, the suffering servant, He the sinless One was bound so we could be freed, He was crushed for our iniquities and the punishment that God put on Him paid the way for us to be forgiven, His death and resurrection gave you and me life!  Behold your King!