Tag Archives: grace

mmmm Notre Dame Cathedral: House of God mmmm

mmmm Celebrating Easter with Chocolate Eggs mmmm

Just couldn’t resist all the chocolate in supermarkets

Restricted myself to the mini-eggs this year

#Love to #share & #eat #Chocolate with #family & #friends this #Easter

 

Horrified to see photos & videos of the #NotreDameFire in #Paris in #France yesterday

Notre Dame is the most visited Paris monument with 12,000,000+ visitors annually [1]

It’s one of many fine examples of Gothic architecture in Europe & the Western World.

This #church has national historical importance and a special place in French hearts

Privileged to visit this Paris church as independent travellers many years ago

Smiled as hordes of tourist groups were herded through this iconic building

Many tourists are unaware of the spiritual significance of this cathedral

The official Notre Dame website says it is a “House of God and the abode of men” [2]

 

So what is a “House of God”?

What is the origin of these stone buildings across the Western World?

The origins start with the first temple in Jerusalem in Israel

Before the Israelites settled in this city, God’s presence was symbolised by a tabernacle [3]

King David built his Jerusalem palace & saw that God was still living/dwelling in this tent

He wanted to build a “House of God” to replace the temporary tabernacle

But God responded to David through his prophet Nathan:

“When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne for ever.”
1 Chronicles chapter 17 verses 11-12

So King David’s son Solomon built the temple and declared to God:

“I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell for ever.”
2 Chronicles chapter 6 verse 2

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed asking:

But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built!”
2 Chronicles chapter 6 verses 18

What did the Israelites think of the temple?

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
Jonah chapter 2 verse 7

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 20

The temple was a place to pray and be silent before God in His dwelling place

 

So what happened to Solomon’s temple?

On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.
2 Kings chapter 25 verses 8-9

Less than 400 years after Solomon, his temple was destroyed in 587 BC

The Israelites were then enslaved and taken to Babylon as exiles

However 50 years later, the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem

In 538 BC, King Cyrus declared:

This is what Cyrus king of Persia says, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.”
Ezra chapter 1 verses 2-3

God also spoke to the Israelites through his prophet Haggai:

This is what the Lord Almighty says, “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured.” says the Lord.
Haggai chapter 1 verses 7-8

The foundations of this Second Temple in Jerusalem were laid in 537 BC

Governor Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the Second Temple.

When he completed this task, he prayed:

“Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”
Nehemiah chapter 13 verse 14

 

So what happened to this Second Temple in Jerusalem?

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and never rebuilt

Jesus famously spoke about the Second Temple:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in 3 days.’ The Jews replied, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in 3 days?”
But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
John chapter 2 verses 19-21

This is what is celebrated at #Easter:

  • 2000 years ago, Jesus died on the first Good Friday
  • His death symbolised the destruction of the temple and the old ways of the Jewish religion
  • God raised Jesus to life again as the King of the Universe 3 days later
  • Jesus’ resurrection is now celebrated on Easter Sunday worldwide

Jesus’ resurrection body replaced the importance of the Second Temple

Jesus is where we can now meet God through saving grace

We no longer need to go to Jerusalem to pray and worship God

In fact there is now a Mosque on the site of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

 

So what are the roles of cathedrals and church buildings in the 21st Century?

Are they still the “houses of God”?

Followers meet in church buildings to encourage each other by remembering Jesus

But God does not actually “live” in these buildings:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.
Acts chapter 17 verse 24

Instead God now actually “lives” inside His followers:

[Jesus’ follower Paul said] “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16

[Paul continued to say] “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ “
2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 16

God now dwells in the hearts of His followers, instead of buildings made of stone

In Australia, some groups of followers do not own their own building

Instead they meet in rented halls and school buildings as their “church” on Sundays

  • The “church” is not actually the physical building
  • The “church” is actually the spiritual community of followers worldwide

 

So is it important to renovate & repair Notre Dame cathedral?

This evening, I heard that already $900 million has been raised for Notre Dame [4]

As long as we remember its spiritual significance in the life of followers this Easter

How to donate to the Notre Dame appeal [5]

Is the physical beauty of your church-building important to you:

  1. Stained Glass Windows
  2. Gothic Architecture
  3. Traditional Wooden Pews

Or do you love the actual church-people inside the building more?

Happy Easter!
Footnotes:

[1] SMH News online (16 April 2019) Macron promises to rebuild, but Paris monument suffers ‘colossal damage’ https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/historic-notre-dame-cathedral-in-paris-catches-fire-20190416-p51eh7.html

[2] “A cathedral of Art and history” http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/la-cathedrale/

[3] The tabernacle was the portable “tent of meeting” that moved with the Israelites when they were heading to the Promised Land after escaping Egypt. The tabernacle symbolised God’s Presence with the Israelites. For more info, see the “Tabernacle” article in the New Bible Dictionary (1962, republished 1996) InterVarsity Press: https://www.ivpress.com/new-bible-dictionary

[4] ABC News Radio (17 April 2019) ABC 702AM News bulletin (Sydney, Australia)

[5] How To Donate To Help Rebuild Notre Dame (17 April 2019) https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/04/how-to-donate-to-help-rebuild-notre-dame/ 

PS. After I published this blog post last night, I saw the Philanthropy Australia CEO on ABC24 TV evening news (17 April 2019) trying to protect Australian charities from losing funds to Notre Dame. She acknowledged that donors had become “numb” to frequent Emergency Aid appeals and this unique overseas appeal had captured the imagination of the whole world.

So don’t forget your local Aussie NFPs!

mmmm Bible mmmm

Note about advertising on WordPress:

I do not endorse or receive payment for the advertisements that you may see above, beside or below my blog. WordPress is the sole beneficiary and solely responsible for advertising on its own platform. If you see any inappropriate advertising, please report this to WordPress directly. Thanks & Happy Easter!

mmmm ecclesiastes 3 mmmm

mmmm Turkish Gozleme in Sydney mmmm

#Love to #eat multicultural #Aussie #food from #Asia!

Have you tried #Gozleme from Turkey?

Over the last decade in Sydney, this Turkish flat-bread has increased in popularity.

It is cooked in front of you with a choice of meat or vegetarian fillings.

These lovely Aussie-Muslim ladies from Turkey always serve me graciously.

Like most peaceful Aussies, they contribute greatly to multicultural Australian society.

But sadly peaceful Muslims face racial discrimination and xenophobia all over the world.

They are unfairly blamed for the Syrian War and extremist Islamic Terrorism.

Now the peaceful Muslim community in New Zealand has been attacked.

The world has been shocked by the Christchurch terror attack in March 2019.

2 mosques in Christchurch were attacked and 50 Muslims shot dead during Friday prayers [1].

This is easily the largest mass-shooting in New Zealand’s history.

Even peaceful New Zealand (far away from the Middle East) is not immune to terrorism.

This follows a terrorist attack in my home city of Sydney just over 4 years ago [2].

The visibly-shaken NZ Prime Minister condemned this unprecedented act of violence [3].

Regrettably the arrested gunman was a NZ resident originally from Australia [4].

This White-Australian (Anglo Saxon) is from rural Australia where there’s less cultural diversity.

However this is no excuse for his premeditated shooting of innocent victims.

Aged 28, this radicalised man posted a White Supremacist manifesto online.

This deluded man’s right-wing ravings have been linked to racist neo-Nazi groups [5].

I join with many globally in rejecting this racist ideology and condemning violence.

The time for killing, war and hate is over.

I hope and pray that this unfortunate event will not spark revenge attacks.

The time for healing, love and peace is now.

This week, I have been reading these verses from an Old Testament book:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 1 to 8

From this book, this passage is probably what is most remembered by followers.

The author has the Hebrew pseudonym “Qoheleth”.

This may be translated into English as “Assembler” or “Teacher” or “Preacher” [6].

He suggests that human life consists of a series of major life events.

There appears to be a time and season for every human activity:
1. Birth
2. Death
3. Planting & Building
4. Laughter & Dancing
5. Weeping & Mourning
6. War & Hate
7. Love & Peace

In the context of the whole book, the author claims that life is “meaningless” [7].

The author despairs that all human activity is pointless because we all die anyway.

He observes that work is hard (toil) and we cannot take our money with us when we die [8].

Death is the same fate for everyone, no matter if you are rich or poor [9].

But death is not the end, there is a glimmer of hope:

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 11A

This may mean that God has placed a desire in our hearts to search for eternity beyond death.

In the context of “life is meaningless”, our hearts may also desire to know the “meaning of life”.

Philosophers have pondered the “meaning of life” for thousands of years.

The New Testament offers us the answer to “meaning of life and death”.

Viewing Ecclesiastes with the lens of the New Testament reveals:
1. The promise of eternal life [10]
2. Life after death [11]
3. Peace with God through Jesus [12]
4. God demonstrating His love by sending Jesus [13]
5. A place with Jesus in heaven [14]
6. The undeserved gift of salvation [15]
7. Salvation by trusting in Jesus [16]

Despite all the war and terrorism in our world, we can find peace with God through Jesus.

Unfortunately we cannot predict where war and terrorism will strike next.

But we can find hope knowing that life and death are not meaningless.

In life and death, the only true meaning is “Jesus”.

Leading up to Easter, let us reflect on God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Another glimmer of hope: Christchurch shooting survivor forgives his wife’s killer [17].

Questions to consider this Easter:

Do you think life is meaningless and then you die?
Do you know the promise of eternal life?
Are you at peace with God?
For followers: how is Jesus the “meaning of your life” in your daily activities?

 

Footnotes:

[1] ABC News online (originally published Friday 15 March 2019, updated Sunday 17 March 2019): “Christchurch shootings: what we know”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/christchurch-shootings-what-we-know/10904982

[2] ABC News online (16 December 2014): “Sydney siege: Two hostages and gunman dead after heavily armed police storm Lindt cafe in Martin Place”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-16/sydney-siege-gunman-two-hostages-dead/5969162

[3] ABC News online (15 March 2019): “Christchurch shootings mark ‘unprecedented act of violence’, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says“ including the Full Transcript of NZ Prime Minister’s press conference statement
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/christchurch-shootings-unprecedented-pm-jacinda-ardern-says/10904950

[4] ABC News online (18 March 2019): “Christchurch shooting investigation reaches NSW, police raid Brenton Tarrant’s sister’s house“
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/christchurch-terror-attack-investigation-prompts-nsw-raids/10910798

[5] ABC News online (17 March 2019, updated 18 March 2019): “Accused Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant used same radicalisation tactics as Islamic State, expert says“
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-17/christchurch-shootings-brenton-tarrant-social-media-strategies/10908692

[6] Longman & Dillard (1994, updated 2011) An Introduction to the Old Testament: Ecclesiastes (IVP) p279

[7] Ecclesiastes chapter 1

[8] Ecclesiastes chapters 2 & 5

[9] Ecclesiastes chapter 7

[10] John chapter 3 verse 16

[11] 1 Corinthians chapter 15

[12] Romans chapter 5 verse 1

[13] Romans chapter 5 verse 8

[14] Ephesians chapter 2 verse 6

[15] Ephesians chapter 2 verse 8

[16] Romans chapter 10 verse 13

[17] BBC World News online (17 March 2019) Video: “Christchurch shooting survivor says he forgives his wife’s killer“
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-47602781/christchurch-shooting-survivor-says-he-forgives-his-wife-s-killer

mmmm Bible mmmm

Note about advertising on WordPress:

I do not endorse or receive payment for the advertisements that you may see above, beside or below my blog. WordPress is the sole beneficiary and solely responsible for advertising on its own platform. If you see any inappropriate advertising, please report this to WordPress directly. Thanks & Happy Easter!

mmmm 3 john mmmm

Mmmm Aussie Asian Food Mmmm

Australia has a great variety of food because we are so close to Asia.

But that’s not the only delicious food on offer.

There is food in world news and current affairs.

What is truth?

Journalists seek the truth when reporting the news.

But how do we know they are telling the truth?

The USA government has challenged traditional news channels.

An official spokeswoman presented her own “Alternative Facts”.

The USA President complained that traditional news channels spread “Fake News”.

He prefers that we only follow his Twitter account instead.

But he was caught out spreading his own Fake News about Sweden.

He claimed that a terrorist attack occurred in Sweden.

The Swedish government confirmed that there was no terrorist attack.

A senior USA senator claimed that the President was trying to control the News.

This is reminiscent of news channels being controlled by dictators like Hitler.

Democracies rely on free and independent news channels.

Traditional news channels are competing with Social Media for our attention.

We increasingly rely on our smartphones for information and news.

Journalists need to write sensational headlines to attract more click-throughs.

How trustworthy and reliable is your source of news?

Celebrity gossip pages have infiltrated traditional news channels.

News editors have discovered that gossip attracts attention and sells newspapers.

There is a fine line between the truth, embellished facts and celebrity gossip.

The following Bible passage tells of a different truth that is more important:

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

3 John 2-4

The author of this letter wrote to a leader of congregation, possibly a small house-church.

He calls them his children and prays for good health for them.

He expresses joy that this church is continuing to walk in the truth.

He encourages hospitality to support the work of the truth.

He warns against troublemakers spreading malicious gossip.

He hoped to see them again face-to-face.

So what is this truth that is so important in the church?

This truth is a person.

This truth is Jesus.

God lovingly and mercifully gave us His son Jesus.

We deserved to die for our sins.

Jesus died in our place and took the punishment we deserved.

Through Jesus we can be at peace with God.

Jesus graciously offers us forgiveness and eternal life with him.

This is the eternal truth that shapes the lives of Jesus’ followers.

Ultimately celebrity gossip is meaningless.

Fake News and controversial governments will soon be forgotten.

They will all be replaced by eternal truth.

Can you differentiate between Fake News and the truth?

Do you know the truth that offers forgiveness and peace?

For followers, how does the eternal truth shape your daily lives?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm 2 john mmmm

Mmmm Sydney Desserts Mmmm

Sydney has great patisseries, bakeries and cafes with great desserts.

But that’s not the only delicious food on offer.

There is food in public thought and conversations.

2016 is a year of political elections.

Australia held its federal election earlier in July with a cliff-hanger result.

USA is currently in a long and bitter battle between Clinton & Trump.

There is endless news coverage of their verbal sparring & tweeting.

Both claim to be speaking the truth.

Both claim the other is speaking lies.

How do we know who is speaking the truth and who is lying?

Is the American public tired of their claims and counter-claims?

Ultimately their claims will be forgotten as the 24-hour news cycle reports wars & disasters.

The following Bible passage tells of a different truth that lasts forever:

The elder,

To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth – and not I only, but also all who know the truth – because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us for ever:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

2 John 1-3

The author of this letter wrote to another congregation, possibly a small house-church.

He expressed joy that this church was walking in the truth.

He warned against false teachers preaching lies.

He hoped to see them again so that his joy would be complete.

So what is this truth that lasts forever?

This truth is a person.

This truth is Jesus.

God lovingly and mercifully gave us His son Jesus.

We deserved to die for our sins.

Jesus died in our place and took the punishment we deserved.

Through Jesus we can be at peace with God.

Jesus graciously offers us forgiveness and eternal life with him.

Jesus lives in the lives of his followers giving them meaning and purpose.

His followers love one another because God first showed love to them.

Politicians come and go and their claims are soon forgotten.

Are you tired of political spin?

Do you know the truth that lasts forever?

For followers, can those around you see the truth that lives in you?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm luke 23 mmmm

Mmmm Freshly baked Buttermilk Scones with Cherry Jam Mmmm

In Australia, we have the freshest produce to make awesome food!

But that’s not the only food that is mouth-watering.

At Bible College last semester, I ate big mouthfuls of the New Testament.

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.’ So Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man.’ But they insisted, ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.’ On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies. Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.’ With one voice they cried out, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!’ (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ For the third time he spoke to them: ‘Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.’ But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Luke 23:1-25

There has been debate about 2 Aussie men facing the death penalty in Indonesia.

Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were convicted of drug trafficking in 2006.

The punishment for this crime in Indonesia is death by firing squad.

Australia no longer has the death penalty for any crimes.

Some have argued that Indonesia should show mercy and let them live.

Others argued that they should be punished as they knew the consequences.

Interestingly, Andrew became a Christian in prison after his conviction.

He even started studying at an Aussie Bible College by distance education.

He led a Christian fellowship inside the prison and cared for other inmates.

It is a shame that he cannot continue pastoring those who need his care.

The New Testament passage above tells of another man who faced the death penalty.

2000 years ago, Jewish leaders falsely accused Jesus of crimes against their nation.

However, they needed the permission of the Roman government to execute him.

The author Luke recorded the trial of Jesus before Roman leader Pilate.

Three times Pilate declared that Jesus was innocent and did not deserve to die.

But the Jewish leaders insisted that Jesus be crucified.

Crucifixion was a punishment reserved for the worst criminals like murderers.

Pilate gave into their demands and sentenced innocent Jesus to death.

The Jewish leaders thought they had triumphed by getting rid of Jesus.

But his death was foretold in the Old Testament as the way of salvation.

God raised Jesus to life again as King of the Universe.

Jesus now offers eternal life to those who trust in Him.

Jesus will return to judge the world.

Are you afraid of dying?

Do you have the hope of eternal life that Jesus freely gives?

Or will you be judged by Jesus to spend eternity in hell?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm titus 3 mmmm

Mmmm Aussie home-made Apple & Apricot Pie Mmmm

In Australia, we have the freshest fruit to make awesome food!

But that’s not the only food that is mouth-watering.

At Bible College last semester, I ate big mouthfuls of the New Testament.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared,
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:3-7

How can you live the good life as the New Year begins?

Will you live longer and be healthy, wealthy and wise?

There is a common misconception that you have to be “good” to get into heaven.

Some falsely believe that you “earn” your way by performing good deeds.

The Bible passage above reminds us that God saves us because of his mercy.

God does not save us because of the righteous things we have done.

Paul wrote this letter to Titus who was leading a church in Crete.

Paul reminded Titus of what Christians were like before they were saved.

We lived foolish and disobedient lives.

  • Some of us were even criminals and thieves.

We were deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.

  • Some of us were sexually immoral and slaves to alcohol, gambling and drugs.

We were malicious, envious and hated everyone around us.

  • Some of us were murderers.

No amount of good deeds can cancel out our former lives.

God cannot let our former lives go unpunished.

God punished his son Jesus for the sins of the whole world.

We were once enemies of God facing death and judgement.

God showed us kindness and love by sending Jesus into the world.

Jesus died on a cross and took the punishment that we deserved.

This is called “grace” – a gift that we don’t deserve.

God generously gives eternal life to all who trust in Jesus.

As you reflect on the previous year, how will you pay for all your mistakes?

As you start a new year, will you find freedom from death and live forever?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm 2 timothy 1 mmmm

Mmmm Vietnamese Pork Roll with French-style Bread Mmmm

In Australia, we have the freshest farm produce to make awesome food!

But that’s not the only food that is mouth-watering.

At Bible College last semester, I ate big mouthfuls of the New Testament.

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or ashamed of me his prisoner.
But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

2 Timothy 1:8-10

Australia was shocked by a hostage situation in Sydney 1 week before Christmas.

Peaceful Australia had never experienced this kind of ISIS terrorism before.

Sadly the Sydney Siege ended tragically with the deaths of 3 people.

There was an outpouring of grief across Sydney & the whole country.

Masses of flowers appeared in Martin Place to honour the dead.

Death is an unpredictable tragedy that robs families & friends of loved ones.

Grief is often raw and some mourners never get over their loss.

The passage above shows Jesus destroyed death by dying on a cross for us.

God raised Jesus back to life showing us that there is hope beyond the grave.

Immortality or eternal life is on offer to all who trust in Jesus.

Death does not have to be the tragic end, but the beginning of a better life with God.

The dark shadows of death are replaced with the light of life: Jesus.

This light is the gospel or good news that followers of Jesus share with the world.

No one can earn eternal life: only God gives this as a free gift – “grace”.

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy – a young worker leading a church.

Paul reminded Timothy that grace was the meaning & purpose of his life & work.

Gospel work was challenging but eternal life with Jesus was worth suffering for.

Fast forward 2000 years and Jesus is still at the centre of his followers’ lives.

Followers are saved by grace and called to live holy lives that reflect the light of Jesus.

Followers confidently know there is life after death – giving great hope & peace now.

Death is no longer a tragedy for those trusting in Jesus.

Followers will see each other again in heaven and genuinely rest in peace (RIP).

Those who die not knowing Jesus will not rest in peace – they are lost forever.

How do you face the tragedy of sudden death of a loved one?

Will you see your loved ones again after they die?

Is Jesus at the centre of your life, family, church & work?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm ephesians 2 mmmm

Come for a delicious journey through God’s Word with an inquisitive Sydney Bible College student!

Do you hunger for something more filling than yumcha?

If so, read on ….

Ephesians 2:4-9 (NIV 1984)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Growing up in a Christian family, I always thought I had to earn my way to heaven by going to church every Sunday and obeying the Ten Commandments.

But I was always worried that I wasn’t good enough. In my heart, I knew that I wasn’t perfect.

When I was 17, I read this passage in Ephesians and a wave of relief washed over me.

God is a God of second chances (mercy) giving me an amazing gift that I didn’t deserve (grace): His Son Jesus.

I didn’t earn this free gift and there is no way that I can repay God for saving me.

Suddenly a light dawned on me and I fully understood and appreciated the enormity of “grace“.

I was baptised soon after and now live my life in thankfulness to God for his “grace“.

Think about “love”, “mercy” and “grace” – they are  closely interconnected:

Grace is clearly the greatest gift we can receive in our lives – once you realise this, you can relax and be free from guilt and worry forever. Nothing else matters.

mmmm Bible mmmm