Mark Craig – Life’s First Cry (Harvest Service) – Romans 8:18-27

“How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

In the remote villages of Afghanistan, something important is happening, with your support. Engaged in mission together, the church and BMS are helping to save the lives of mothers and babies who are dying from preventable illnesses and birthing complications.

On Sunday, through our video Life’s First Cry, we met Andisha, who gave birth to 11 babies, each of which died within a few months. For more than a decade, Andisha was a mum without any children. Your support for BMS made it possible for a group of local women and men to go to her village to teach the community a BMS-supported safe-birthing course. Andisha now has two beautiful children, and says: “The workshop you made possible has made all the difference in the world.”

Your gifts to BMS enable mission in remote, difficult places where you can’t go – but they save the lives of babies in Afghanistan, and help families who have been through unimaginable pain and suffering. As good disciples, we are partnering to labour together, in the here and now, to bring the new creation Jesus announced fully to life. And to try to make sure that ‘babies don’t die here anymore’. Thank you from everyone in BMS, but especially our Afghanistan team, for your support.

Tom Fisk – Press on for Christ! – Philippians 4:4-14

“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5b-7)

Last week Tom completed our series on Philippians by sharing about how to live a Christian life which reduces anxiety, stress and worry. Paul set out three ways of doing this:
1) Right Praying
2) Right Thinking
3) Right Living
Paul sets an example of all of these things by his faithfulness in prison, his joy and his positivity in the face of adversity. In life we can sometimes fail to pray, think or live in the right way due to our circumstances – Paul encourages rejoicing in the Lord, not to focus on our circumstances. This is a challenge to the church, especially a united church as amongst worries and anxieties we can sometimes fail to come back to God in rejoicing.
Paul also shared his gratefulness for the church supporting him, it is true that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us but it is still good to help, love and support others too. We need to live in the right way; we need to put ourselves in difficult places for each other to help each other out of anxiety.
The Lord is near; we do not need to fear anything, we do not need to be anxious about anything because He is in control. This doesn’t mean our situation will necessarily go away, (Paul was still in prison) but we can put our faith and trust in someone so powerful that He gives us strength to get through when the lies of our anxiety present themselves.

Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Press on for Christ! – Philippians 3

“Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14)

Let us consider the Who, the Why and the What of this passage in Philippians 3:8-14. The Who is pretty clear, Paul writes passionately about Christ Jesus. His love for Jesus is such that despite any confidence he once had, any impressive credentials and pedigree in the past, Paul considers everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness or worth of knowing Christ Jesus. And not just a loss, but rubbish (8)! The Why is also pretty clear. Paul loves Jesus because it is only through faith in Him that all people are made righteous (9). Jesus humbled Himself, became a servant and died on the cross so that through faith in Him we can be right with God. And the What concerns Paul’s response. He wants to know the power of Christ’s resurrection in his own life, he wants to share in the sufferings of Christ and attain to the resurrection from the dead (10-11). But he will strain and press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called him and us heavenwards in Christ Jesus (12 and 14). What stops you from loving Jesus as Paul does? What stops you from considering all else a loss in comparison to knowing Him? And what stops you from pressing on for Christ? We must bring these things to God in prayer.

Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Press on for Christ! – Philippians 2:1-11

“Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
(Philippians 2:2)

With Philippians 1:3-5 in mind, sadly there are some who do not share joy in partnering in the gospel. Yet we read in the New Testament about a God whose heart’s desire, and very action in Christ (as the temple curtain was turn in two), is for unity. In Philippians 2, the first major point made by Paul is that the church should be one – in love, spirit and mind. No easy task but agreeing to love Jesus, follow Him and live according to the gospel. His second major theme in this chapter is that we should be servants, exampled by the attitude of Jesus; “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7). This servant-hearted and sacrificial lifestyle was worth it, for “God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9). Whilst we’re not Jesus, the same promise is made to those who are faithful to Christ – we will be raised and seated with Him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:9). Praise God!

Tom Fisk – Press On For Christ – Philippians 1

‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 1:3-4)

Last Week, Tom began our series on Philippians and invited the congregation to join him in being partners in the Gospel. 3 key areas were drawn up to encourage this Christian unity in our church:
Intense Prayer: Paul prayed gratefully and for big things for Philippi. We as a church need to pray for everything to God in prayer. The key prayer Paul used was for ‘God’s abounding love’ for the people of Philippi and we can still pray that prayer for each other now.
Courageous Witness: Paul was in prison but shared the truth of Christ. We may not feel comfortable where we work, with our friends or in our social time sharing the truth of the gospel but we must be courageous and see God work in that. Bonhoeffer said: ‘being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.’ Are you doing God’s will where you are? Is it time for you to step out courageously for Christ?
Exemplary behaviour: How we conduct ourselves is pivotal to our Christian task. Paul stated that he would see that Christ was still moving in Philippi from how they conduct themselves and the same is true of us as Christians.
Paul and the church of Philippi set an example of how to live according to the Christian task in unity and in partnership in the gospel. We as a church need to follow this example and be united with each other and other Christians in our city to fulfil our Christian task.

Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – I Am: the Alpha and the Omega – Revelation 1:4-8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
(Revelation 1:8)

Recently I have been thinking about the words of Peter in 1 Peter 3:15 which say, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” There are many responses to this challenge, but for me, my hope is shaped by a firm belief that: (1) God is Creator and (2) God is Saviour, and also a strong faith in God who is Alpha and Omega. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and speaks of God and Jesus in scripture as the First and the Beginning of all creation. As Paul puts it, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17). Science did not just decide to put things into being and neither does luck sustain creation but rather it is God who is Alpha – the First, the Beginning and the Creator. This truth gives purpose and hope for not only creation itself, but for me. Despite being a speck in His creation, He created me carefully and meaningfully with days ordained before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16) – how awesome! But my hope in Jesus Christ also comes from a firm faith that Jesus is Omega. Not only the First and Beginning but the Last and the End. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). He speaks about this love but expressed it with His own death on the cross for us. This crucifixion gives us hope because in Him our end is not the end, our end is in His end which has no end! In Jesus, we have the promise and the prospect of everlasting life. Jesus described this end as the dwelling place of God among the people and where every tear will be wiped away, where there will be no more death, no more mourning or crying or pain as the old order of things pass away and He makes everything new. The Alpha and Omega says, “Look, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:12) so let’s take the opportunity of this new academic year to draw nearer to Jesus and be more deeply rooted in a relationship with Him.

Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – I Am: The Way, The Truth and The Life – John 14:1-14

“Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6)

I don’t know about you but I’ve become pretty reliant on the satellite navigation system. Even the simple, familiar routes are now accompanied by the technology in fear of getting my journey wrong! No sat nav can help us journey through life and reach our ultimate destination but Jesus clearly states that in Him we can find the way. Let us consider His three claims in John 14:6. First, He is the way. The One in whom we can find direction and guidance for not only our ultimate, eternal destination but the journey of life. With prayer, the reading of His word, listening and hearing His still small voice we can know the way. Second, He is truth. The One who does not mislead or lie, who has complete integrity and is 100% trustworthy. He is truth itself and will set us free (John 8:32). We must imitate Him, being people of the truth in a world where it is so lacking. Third, He is the life. This is why Jesus came, so that all who believe and trust in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Thanks to His death and resurrection, this life is available to us all for eternity! But also today, as the very presence of God lives within us as we walk this early life. Who is Jesus? Is He the way and the truth and the life? Is He the only way to the Father? Believe in Jesus as you also believe in God and may He lead us all to the way that is everlasting.

Tom Fisk – I Am: The Light of the World – Matthew 5:14-16, John 1:1-3,8-12

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” (John 1:9-10)

Last week Tom continued the series of I Am Statements, looking at “I am the Light of the World”. Three main points were covered:
1) Jesus is the true light and through Him all light is given
2) No amount of darkness can extinguish the light – the light will prosper every time
3) We should be good witnesses of the light in all that we say and do

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says that we are the light of the world, that we, much like a town on a hill should not be hidden and that we should share that light with others too. We often live in a dark world, the news does not always portray the light but God calls us to be a light in that darkness and to be a witness of all that is great about the light of the world – our God. When we behave like we have that light in us, even in the darkest times – our light will prosper. Finally Tom asked who you’ve shined your light on this week, and who has shared their’s with you. Let’s be a church of light, a church of encouragement and let’s let each other know when we receive that light and what that means to us. Let’s be people who help the world recognise the true light of Jesus Christ.

Hannah Putnam – I Am: The Bread of Life – John 6:35

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:35)

Last Sunday we started our series on the I am statements of Jesus by looking at John 6:35 where Jesus says ‘I am the bread of life’.

We all get a stomach hunger when we haven’t eaten, and we need food to fill that. But the Bible tells us that we also all have a life hunger – a hunger for meaning, for peace and for love. This hunger for real life, the life God gives, cannot be filled with things, which is so often where we automatically turn. Jesus here is saying that it doesn’t matter what stuff we have or how successful our lives look because it is only Jesus who can fill our life hunger.

The challenge here is 2-fold – first of all we are called to come to Jesus in the good and the bad times and commit to work through life with Him. Secondly we are called to believe in Jesus. It’s by doing this we get to experience life to the fullest.

Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – There is Freedom: For the Edification of the Body – 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:1)

For the last few weeks we’ve been exploring the Freedom of God, which is found in Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:1) and where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Holy Spirit helps the church to know this freedom with gifts distributed to the body of Christ according to His determination. Last Sunday, we explored the final three of nine spiritual gifts listed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, with the following explanations. 1. The ability to distinguish between spirits is useful when not only living in a physical but a spiritual world. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against dark powers and spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12) as the devil prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). 2. The ability to speak in different kinds of tongues is personally edifying, expressing our love and adoration to God but also when no human words can be found in our weakness (Romans 8:26). This gift is collectively edifying when; 3) we are given the gift of interpretation. The message of God is revealed, explained or expressed through a person as determined by the Holy Spirit. Throughout this series, I hope we have seen the importance and our need for these spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. They are good gifts, not to be afraid or grieved but eagerly desired for the edification of the body at CBC. Let’s not give up the journey but continue pressing into what God has for us as His church.