Who are your spiritual heroes?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Who are your spiritual heroes, was given at Waverley Temple Salvation Army on Sunday 18 August, 2013. The Bible reading was Hebrews 11:29-12:2.

Who are your faith heroes? In the bible reading today, we’ve heard a few of the faith heroes that were of importance to the faith community that this epistle was addressed to. We’ve heard of Moses and of Joshua and Rahab. We’ve heard of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah – Judges of the early Hebrew tribes, and of David, the king, and Samuel, the prophet. We’ve heard all their actions attributed to their faith – by Faith, these great people did these things. These are people that they hold in high esteem in their faith, because of the things that they have done. Continue reading “Who are your spiritual heroes?”

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The Requirements of the Lord

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The Requirements of the Lord, was given at Mornington Sanctuary Salvation Army on Sunday 5 May, 2013. The Bible reading was Micah 6:1-8. It was recorded, and is available for podcast download through iTunes or directly.

So I’m going to ask a question, and as a bit of warning, If you put your hand up I am going to ask that you prove yourself and answer it – this is not a hypothetical question. So, Who is able to name all ten of the Ten Commandments? No-one? I think we’ve got a bit of work to do here. Ok, so how about something a bit easier – what book and chapter is it found in? Did you know that it’s actually found in two places – in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Anyway, here are the 10 commandments.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me
  2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water underneath the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house.

And then it goes on to list a few other things that you shall not covet.

What do you notice about the 10 commandments? There’s a lot of “shall nots”! In the New Living Translation of the bible, they actually translate the phrase as “You Must Not” and it appears 10 times in their full text of the ten commandments.

Now, I don’t know about you, but for me I find it hard to do something when I am told that I “must” do it, even if I think it’s the right thing to do. I would rather do it my own way, and discover the mistakes myself.

When we’re told that we’re not allowed to do something, or that we shouldn’t do something, it often makes us want to do it more. Tell a child not to touch the kettle because it’s hot, and they’ll want to touch it even more. Tell a teenager that they’re not allowed to go out, and sure as anything they’ll find a way to get out.

god people usOk, let’s try something different? What are the two greatest commandments? We read about them in Matthew 22:34-40.

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

As a former Anglican, these two commandments are a lot easier to remember, as they are read in 90% of the Sunday services (the other 10% they read out the full 10 commandments). But they are still easy to remember

They are also easy to apply – Love God, Love Others, Love yourself.

Micah 6 – how have I burdened you?

In Micah 6, the Lord asks his people what he has done to them to burden them. Takes place in a metaphorical court case argument. He asks how he burdened them, and follows that with an account of salvation – He brought them out of Egypt, redeemed them from slavery, highlights the stories of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, Balak and Balaam, and their journey from Shittim to Gilgal.

The Lord has done many wonderful things for us – most of all, he sent Jesus to redeem us from our sin, so that we may live in relationship with him. Yet we often still turn Christianity into a burden. You must not do this. You must not do that. We often do it in the Salvation Army ourselves – When someone asks you about soldiership, what do you say? Well, we’re not allowed to drink, smoke or gamble. Is that really what we want setting us apart – what we’re not allowed to do? We need a paradigm shift – from what we’re not allowed to do, to what we’re required to do.

The Lord Requires us to Do

Now we hear in this passage what the Lord requires of us. Now for some that might be a great word, but the Hebrew word can actually be translated a number of ways. It can also mean to seek, or to ask for, or to practice, study, or seek with application. Basically, what does the Lord ask for us to practice and apply to our daily lives? It’s a much nicer way of putting it, and something that is practical and easy for us to remember, and to put into our daily lives. And there are many who are living out the Micah 6:8 promise who we can turn to for inspiration.

Act Justly

There are a number of examples of people who we can model our lives on who have acted Justly, or fought for justice. You could very well argue that the Salvation Army’s founder, William Booth, was a prime example of someone who acted justly, seeking justice for the oppressed and forgotten of society. Or what about William Wilberforce, who fought against the injustice of slavery.

Martin Luther King, Injustice Abortion The man who comes to my mind when I think about justice is Martin Luther King Jr. The way that he fought against injustice within the American political sphere cemented his place in the American history books, and the hearts of the people. But he deserves our recognition as well, as a Christian man who acted justly. He saw an injustice, and he fought against it in a manner that was completely becoming of a Christian – he did it in a prophetic, non-violent style. What I mean by that is that his protests, and his speeches, presented a vision of what could be, a better way of doing things. In all these things as well, he was non-violent. He did not lift a hand in anger against those who oppressed him, instead he rallied public opinion (as did the organisations that he represented), and forced the politicians hands until there was nothing that they could do but right the wrongs of their nation.

If we were to look at the three men I’ve mentioned, and how they lived their lives, we would see that they have all acted justly through their lives. Yes, on the large-scale, but it is through these men that we can see how to act justly in our own lives – to treat everyone with respect, no matter their background, and to fight for the better treatment of the least, the lost and the last to the best of our abilities.

Love Mercy

mother-teresa-feedingThe second part of Micah 6:8 has also often been translated as to Love Kindness, and when I think of mercy and kindness, I think of Mother Teresa. This wonderful woman of God showed kindness to everyone she met. She practically showed kindness and mercy to “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” Through setting up her order, the Sisters of charity, she founded hospices that cared for the lowest of the low. One of the criticisms leveled against her was that she was friendly to dictators, and while we may say she could have lobbied for justice better, she did show kindness to everyone she met, regardless of their background.

It can be hard, but this is something that is very practical that we can do in our own lives. From things as little as offering your seat on the bus to someone else, or making sure you tip your barista, to inviting your neighbor over for dinner when you know that they’re struggling.

Walk Humbly with your God

When I first started putting together this sermon, I thought that i would put in a joke about how I did a Google search for humble Christians, but it returned no results. How sad it was when i actually did the search, and I got no answers. The thing is that the most well-known Christian figures are anything but humble, due to their being in the spotlight so much. On the flip-side  the truly humble Christians are there doing God’s work often completely unnoticed, and hence don’t show up in Google searches.

I think of one woman from my Church, who is always there willing to work and do whatever is needed, and rarely takes and thanks for the work. I’ve never heard a nasty word from her mouth, instead, the words of someone who is truly humbly walking with God.

Likewise, I think of my good friend, an old retired priest, who continues to serve his church through a prayer and healing ministry, and a wonderful widows and widowers ministry. So humble is his approach, that I’m sure there are many other things that he is doing that i don’t even know about.

2013-04-26 15.49.06

Being humble is probably the thing that we find the hardest as Christians  A lot of that is probably due to us needing to put ourselves apart and put God and others first. It’s not something that we like to do, but it is something that God has asked of us, and as such we need to do something about it.

So tonight, I’m asking you to commit to yourselves living out Micah 6:8, however that looks to you. Commit to acting justly, treating everyone with respect no matter their background. Commit yourself to loving Mercy, showing kindness to everyone. And finally, be humble in your walk with God – make everything you do be to the glory of God, not the glory of you.

Do not doubt, but believe

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Do Not Doubt, but believe, was given at Rosebud Salvation Army on Sunday 7 April, 2013. The Bible reading was John 20:19-31.

This past week has been a bit of a shock to the system. We came down on Maundy Thursday, got straight into things with the Haagidah dinner, Good Friday, Dawn Service and Easter Sunday. Then that afternoon, we headed back up to Melbourne for lunch with Liesl’s family, then we stayed in Melbourne to do some study on Monday, before heading down that night to be back here for the 8am prayer meeting, and starting our ministry here with Janette and Geoff. And already, I must say, that they’ve been great, and have shown us a lot already in this short time, but I do have to say that my head doesn’t really know where it is right now.

In the Church’s calendar, today is the first Sunday after Easter, and while through Easter, we focus in on the Death and Resurrection, it is this period that the church can really look forward to. We are in the time of remembering Christ’s days on earth post resurrection, and everything that means to us. Christ may have risen last Sunday, but he lives on in the hearts and the lives of those who worship him in his church. There are, however, so many who live just for the Big holidays. “CoE Christians” they’re sometimes called – Christmas and Easter. The two biggest days in the Church’s calendar, where we also get the largest congregations. Now I’m new to the Salvos, but I’m sure the same principle applies. In the Anglican Church, the Sunday after Christmas and after Easter were always known as Low Sunday. After the massive high of Christmas and Easter, the Sunday after was traditionally when we would get our smallest attendances of the year. Christmas, I can understand that. But Easter – the story isn’t over yet. Jesus is Risen! But that’s not the end of it. Christ rose from the Grave, but he hadn’t finished here on earth, and even though he had to ascend into Heaven, he left behind the Holy Spirit to continue the work here on earth.

Today we’re looking at a reading that takes part firstly still on that Easter Sunday, then on the following week. Jesus has risen – but he still has work to do. But just like my week this week, the Disciples are not quite sure where their heads are at right at the moment.

Despite the knowledge, there’s still doubt

The disciples had a really crazy day. It started with their teacher, that they had devoted three years of their lives to, being dead. The one who had taught the revolutionary message of a new way, of a new kingdom, the one they believed to take this new kingdom to fruition, was dead. The seed of doubt had been planted. Then one of the women, Mary, had come saying the body had been stolen. Peter and the beloved disciple confirmed that the body was gone. The seed of doubt grew – had someone stolen the body? Had something miraculous happened? Even when Mary returned saying that she had seen Jesus, they still weren’t certain.

They met that night, ten of the apostles, and a number of disciples, to discuss the events, and to worship. They locked the door, because they were still fearful as to whether the Jewish leaders still had it in for them or not.  They knew Jesus’ teachings, they knew the events of that day so far, yet when Jesus appeared, he still deemed it necessary to show his wrists and his side to show where he had been pierced. They then realised what had happened and they celebrated.

Thomas had even more information than the disciples who were there that night. Thomas wasn’t at the meeting that night, and despite being told by the disciples that Jesus appeared in the room with them, he still couldn’t bring himself to believe. This was a big thing for Thomas. Earlier – on the way to see Lazarus’ dead body, Thomas had exclaimed “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” This was a statement of blind devotion to Jesus – he was willing to follow him even to death. Yet when doubt had crept in, unless he saw with his own eyes, he couldn’t be brought back to that faith.

When there is doubt, faith flourishes

It’s so easy for us to have doubts these days. There is so much pressure from the world to have us doubt our faith, or for us to have to prove it beyond doubt. Even last Sunday, Easter Sunday, I was watching on Sunrise a creationist who was willing to put up $10,000 for an evolutionist to disprove the bible in a court – even if this guy wasn’t the most convincing of creationists himself. People want us to prove, beyond all doubt, that Christ is saviour. The problem comes is that Jesus himself said that there would always be a need for some doubt, because where there is doubt – that is when faith can flourish.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” We have not seen with our own eyes. We can read the stories, we can study the biblical accounts, we can know our own accounts of God in our lives, but there will always be people who try to explain away those experiences. This is where faith comes in. In Hebrews 11:1, Paul writes that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Though we did not see Christ crucified and risen, we have faith that this embodies our hope – that on the cross Christ paid for our sins, and in the resurrection God accepted that payment.

When we embrace this doubt, that is when our faith can grow. The doubts that we may have actually provide the space for our faith to grow, and when that happens Jesus provides us with a rich reward.

With faith and belief, comes life

At the end of this passage comes a little epilogue from the writer of the fourth gospel. Verse 30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” The signs that are written in the Gospel of John are written so that we may come to believe that Jesus IS the Messiah. When we have faith in that, when we come to believe, the result is that we are given life in Jesus’ name.

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have a guarantee that tells us that we are free. We have a new life, where we can live in the hope that Christ has paid for our sins, and we no longer need to live in them. The guarantee that we have in Christ’s resurrection tells us that we are free – so let’s live that life! Let’s give up the sins that we hold on to, because we’re holding onto a bit of doubt. Jesus commissioned his disciples with the words “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” God sent Jesus to bring people into a relationship with him, to know him, and to know the life that he gives. As his disciples, we are commissioned with those same words – we are sent, and the Father sent Jesus. We are sent to spread his message, and to tell others about what Jesus has done in our lives, whether that’s through words, or through actions, or just through our lives.

Live the life that Jesus gave, and share your faith

Some of you may know that I have just recently come back from Manus Island, working in the Refugee Processing Centre there. In our role there, The Salvation Army is not allowed to proselytise, however despite this I had many opportunities to share my faith. This was just through living life with the community members, and when they asked why I did the things that I did, it all basically comes back to one answer – Because of Christ, who lives in me. As an Anglican, evangelism was a difficult thing for me – we weren’t very good at it, and I never saw myself as gifted in it. How surprising it was in my first college review for one of the staff to say that they saw in me a strong gift of evangelism. See for me, evangelism isn’t just telling people about Christ, and seeking converts. It is living the life that Christ has asked of us, and being open for the opportunities when they arise.

Isn’t that, after all, what Jesus did? He lived the life that God had sent him to. He engaged in the community, and lived according to God’s will. Because of the way he lived, people were attracted to him. That’s what he meant when he says “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” So start living the life that Jesus has called you to, and living out the faith in your everyday life. Jesus died that we may have new life. Let’s spread that new life to everyone that we meet.

What is it that you’re looking for?

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, What is it that you’re looking for, was given at Arthurs Seat as part of the Easter Dawn Service for the Rosebud and Mornington Salvation Army on Sunday 31 April, 2013. The Bible reading was John 20:1-18.

Who is it that you’re looking for? It’s a question that Jesus posed to Mary, but it’s one that is apt for us today as well. Who is it that you’re looking for? Are you looking for chocolate eggs or hot cross buns? Are you looking for the faith you once held as a child, or at your first conversion? Or maybe at this time in the morning, you’re looking for the nearest barista? Continue reading “What is it that you’re looking for?”

The gifts that we bring to offer our King

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, The gifts that we bring to offer our king, was given at the Church of Christ Wembley Downs on Sunday 6 January, 2013. The Bible reading was Matthew 2:1-12.

Annabelle in Wrapping PaperToday is the last day of our Christmas season. I hope it’s been a good season for you. It’s been a very special season for me, as it has been Annabelle’s first Christmas, and it was very special to be able to spend it here at home. But that presented itself with some other challenges. Everyone wanted to give Annabelle lots of presents, but we had to remember that everything that we received, we had to make sure that we could fit it all in our suitcases to take back to Melbourne. Thankfully we didn’t receive many large presents, but we’re still hoping that we’ll come in under our baggage allowance. Continue reading “The gifts that we bring to offer our King”

Release the shackles of sin, and praise God!

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Release the shackles of sin and praise God!, was given at The Salvation Army Broadford corps on Sunday 18 November, 2012. The Bible reading was Acts 3:1-16.

Ex-leper or lame beggar?

When I think of the miraculous healings in the bible, my mind always gets drawn to the scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where Brian meets an ex-leper, begging for alms. “Spare a talent for an old ex-leper” Through the scene, we find that this ex-leper spent 16 years behind the bell, before Jesus walked up to him and said “You’re cured” without so much as a “by your leave.” As such, he’s now healed, but doesn’t have anything to do, as all he knew how to do was to beg for alms. So despite being healed, he stays in his old life, begging, and wishing that he was just a bit of a cripple during the week – enough to beg, but not as annoying as full on leprosy.

But, today, we hear of a man whose response is quite different to that of the ex-leper. I wonder what life story he would tell to Brian, if he were to run into him. Continue reading “Release the shackles of sin, and praise God!”

Steve – Chief Steward to Zaphenath-paneah

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon was given at The Salvation Army Moonee Valley corps on Sunday 7 October, 2012. This was my first attempt at a narrative sermon, based on the story of Joseph.

Have you ever wondered what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? You’ve probably heard at some point that your entire life is in God’s hands, and that he has a path paved out for you. He has a plan for your life. But that’s kind of hard to see when things are going bad. Today, I’m going to do something a little different, and tell you a story that you’re probably familiar with, but from a different perspective. Through it all, I want you to hear how God has a magnificent plan for your life. Continue reading “Steve – Chief Steward to Zaphenath-paneah”

When the Lord became zealous for his land

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon was given at The Salvation Army Moonee Valley on Sunday 9 September, 2012.

January 2010 started off what was going to be a great year. I was getting married, I was working doing what I loved – teaching violin – and I started off the year with a holiday down to Mandurah – about an hour south of Perth. It was great to get away from everything, and just escape. However, my whole year was about to take a dramatic shift. I received an e-mail from one of the schools that I taught at, saying that they didn’t have any students for me, and I wouldn’t be required at the school any longer. This was one week before the school term commenced. By that time, all of the school teaching positions would have been filled, and it meant that I was now living off effectively one days income. With a wedding to pay for, a house to find (as I was still living at my parent’s house), I really needed to find a job, and preferably quickly. Continue reading “When the Lord became zealous for his land”

Schrödinger’s Faith

This is a sermon I gave at Mooney Valley Salvation Army on Sunday 5 August, 2012, on the text from Colossians 3:4. 

We’re going to continue looking at Colossians, and today we’re looking at chapter 3:4 which says, “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” We’ll get onto this in a bit, but first, let me share with you a bit of my story. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. While some may have fantastic stories of their conversion, of a miraculous about-face from the depths of despair to the heights of glory, my story seems bland in comparison. My parents were Church of Christ ministers, I went to Church every Sunday, went to Sunday School, for all intents and purposes, I was a good Christian boy. When my parents switched to the Anglican Church, I went along as well, and continued to grow up in the Church. I made decisions along the way, but to be honest, I’m not certain it made that much effect on my life. As hard as it is to say, sometimes, I was a Sunday Christian – I would be there on a Sunday, but the rest of the week, my life didn’t exactly reflect what I was being taught. There was something missing. Continue reading “Schrödinger’s Faith”

Engaging with God

As has been my tradition, every sermon that I preach will be posted here. This sermon, Engaging with God, was given at The Salvation Army Carlton corps on Sunday 3 June, 2012. The Bible reading was John 3:1-21.

Engaging with God

Today, the Church celebrates Trinity Sunday, a day where we look at this concept of the Trinity. The trinity is a vibrant and living concept that is very important to us. In fact, the Salvation Army’s third doctrine is the doctrine on the trinity – which is a nice link, as the Trinity is all about the three persons in the Godhead – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, who are “undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory” to take from the doctrine. There are many different ways of trying to understand the Trinity. One that I like is that of the

English: Photograph of a Mars bar.
Photograph of a Mars bar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mars Bar – without the Caramel, it’s just a Milky Way; without the Nougat it’s just a caramello, and without the chocolate it’s a great big mess – but none quite get the understanding that the Trinity is both One in Three, and Three in one. One God in Three Persons, and Three Persons in One God.

The reading we heard today contains these three persons in some way, but the basic passage comes down to how Nicodemus – and how we – choose to engage with God – and in doing so, engaging with the Trinity.

Choosing

English: Jesus and Nicodemus
Jesus and Nicodemus at night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Nicodemus approaches Jesus, when does he do it? Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Why do you think he might do that? There are a few possible reasons. We read that Nicodemus was a Pharisee. Pharisees were teachers, and we read through the Gospels that they were often against the teachings of Jesus. And Jesus was often critical of them – many parables were often directed at them, and in Matthew 23, Jesus declares seven woes on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. So you could say there was a bit of bad blood between them. By coming at night, Nicodemus is avoiding being seen, so as to avoid the backlash from the rest of the Pharisees.

And he does so with good reason. He comes to Jesus, and says “We know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Nicodemus knows exactly who Jesus is. He has chosen to come to acknowledge this teacher from God.

Our spiritual lives are full of choices. A lot of the key moments in my life have come from my choosing to engage with God. I was baptised by my dad in the Church of Christ when I was 10 – my choice to engage with God, and to follow him. A few years later, having moved churches, I chose to stay there while my parents took up ministry at a different church – my choice to engage with God, and to grow with him there. Jumping forward 10 years or so, in checking out the Salvation Army where my then Girlfriend went, I heard God’s call to ministry in The Salvation Army, and I chose to accept that call – I chose to engage with God, and to spread his Word.

Coming back to Nicodemus, one of the major themes through John’s writings is the concept of Light and Dark. Basically, believers are said to be in the light, while non-believers are in the Dark. With Nicodemus coming at night, we see that he does not yet believe. I say yet, because Nicodemus appears twice more in John’s Gospel. In chapter 7, Nicodemus stands up to the Pharisees by asking whether there is a law to condemn a man without hearing from him first. Secondly, Nicodemus appears with Joseph of Arimathea to lay Jesus’ body in the tomb. Jesus engages with Nicodemus’ unbelief by saying that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he must be born again. Or born from above… depending on what translation you’re reading from. The word used, Anothen, can be translated quite validly as either option, and here, Jesus specifically used this word, Anothen, because it meant both things. Jesus was saying to Nicodemus that he needed to be Born again AND Born from above.

This of course conjures up all sorts of images for a contemporary audience. We think of the Born Again Christians, such a powerful political power in the United States. Yet, in Jesus’ definition, all who are believers are Born again through the Trinity. It is in fact the whole reason that Jesus came. Verse 17-18 states “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned.” We need to believe in God, in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, so that we may be “born of water” – and this comes from choosing to engage with God and the Trinity.

Surrendering

But the choice to engage is only the first step in the journey. In specifically choosing the word anothen, Jesus is telling Nicodemus that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it is both/and that is required – both born again, and born from above. Both born of the water and born of the spirit. Both converted through the Trinity, and fully surrendered through the spirit.

In order to engage with God, we must be willing to surrender the parts of our lives that hold us back from engaging with God. Jesus warned Nicodemus about this: “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” These “evil deeds” are what we know of as sin. William Booth, in his tract, A Ladder to Holiness lists the following as sins:

  • Pride
  • Vanity
  • Bad Temper
  • Malice, Hatred, and Bitterness
  • Revengefulness,
  • Ambition
  • Lust
  • Sloth

And more, and he goes on to describe these sins as “evils.” As part of engaging with God, we need to surrender these parts of our lives, and be born from above through the Holy Spirit.

Now you may think that it’s tough. Some may say that it’s impossible. I’m here to say that Nothing is impossible through God. Earlier this year, I was having thoughts that were thoughts I didn’t want to have. I won’t go into them here because it’s not the place, but suffice to say that these were evil thoughts that were preventing me from engaging with God. One night, I decided that I no longer wanted these thoughts. I surrendered myself to God, I prayed for help, to say that I no longer wanted to live like that. It’s still early days, but I can testify to you today that while the temptation of those thoughts still enters my mind, through the grace of God, I no longer entertain those thoughts, and the temptation disappears as quickly as it enters. It is possible to surrender these things to God, to be born from above, and in surrendering these things we engage more fully with God.

Living

Once coming into the light, having surrendered ourselves to God, to the Trinity, we need to then live in the light, for it is by living that we engage with God. Jesus said, “But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” We need to surrender the parts of our lives that prevent us from engaging with God, but in doing so, we need to continue living in the light to engage with God, so that others can see that our deeds have been done in the light.

But, what are those deeds? Well, it all comes down to the overriding principle in the Gospel – Love. In today’s reading, we had the famous line, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” God sent Jesus because he loved us. In Matthew, we read that the two greatest commandments are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Or to put it another way, Love God supremely, Love others sacrificially, love yourself sincerely. Love. If everything we do comes out of a heart of Love – for God, for others, and for ourselves – then those deeds are in the light.

We need to live in the world, to be engaging with God. If our deeds are not seen, then how can others see the light that we share? We need to be actively working to bring the love of God into the world. How? Find an issue that you are passionate about, and actively work towards bringing about change in this world. You may feel passionate about caring for God’s world – then get out there and live it! Start living in ways that bring the least harm to God’s earth. Or maybe you feel passionate about human rights and equality? Get out there, and fight for the rights of those who have no voice. Or maybe you want to care for the poor, the hungry, the homeless. Get out there and start doing something! For me, one of the things I’m passionate about is the rights of refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. So I’ll be marching in the Welcome to Australia March Together on June 23, to show my support to those that I’m passionate about. So find something that you’re passionate about, and engage with God by living in the light.

English: General Eva Burrows, at The Australia...
English: General Eva Burrows, at The Australia Southern Territory Training College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

General Eva Burrows, talking about holiness – which is effectively what living a life surrendered of your sin – said “God sanctifies us in order to mark out character with the Spirit of Jesus, and then He wants us to take that same character out and mark the world with the Spirit of Jesus. True holiness engenders a compassion that will naturally reach out in ministry, mission and service.” We need to mark the world with the Spirit, With Jesus, with God – the Trinity. We do that through our ministry, our mission and our service. We engage with the Trinity – through choosing to engage, through surrendering our sins, and through living in the world.

Where are you at today? Do you need to choose to engage with God? Do you need to surrender some area of your life that’s preventing you from engaging with God? Or are you ready to engage with God by living in the light? As we sing “This is my desire”, I invite you to, as the song says, to “honour” god. The Mercy seat – a place of prayer with God – is open to all. If you want to engage, feel free to come forward as we sing, or if you’re more comfortable stay seated. But Honour god, and engage with him today.