Monday, May 29, 2017

Blessed are those that mourn

“Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted” Mathew 5:4

By Hayley Boud

Blessed are those that mourn.  It doesn’t sound like a blessing.  When we mourn we are more than sad.  Mourning is something very difficult.  It is extremely hard.  You lose your peace, you don’t feel like eating or doing anything, you lose your motivation.  We usually mourn because we have lost something very important to us.  How can that be a blessing? 

We should mourn when we sin or see sin in others.  When we fall into temptation, we should feel that it is difficult like losing something important because we have lost the most important thing of all, our relationship with Jesus.  We also lose our relationship with others, our reputation, our opportunity to share Jesus and maybe even lose the souls of others. 

This should make us lose our peace and makes us feel sad and not feel like eating.  When we let God down and others down, we should feel that sadness of losing something important to us.  That feeling is a blessing because at that moment, we have true repentance and we can be comforted because Jesus can now remove the sin from us.  We can be comforted knowing that when we repent, Jesus’ blood can clean us and we can get back what we lost and no longer lose it again.

When we repent we make a decision to never go back to the same temptation and by doing that we can be comforted knowing that our relationship with God is restored.  It can also restore our relationship with people and our reputation.  However, we should know that sometimes we lose things for good when we sin.  For example, we can lose the souls of those around us because of our bad example.  E.g. the Anglican minister who was really mean to me.  This made me think that I would never, ever go to an Anglican church.  Had I not been a Christian I would have been put off Christ all together.  This lady would have lost a soul.

Let’s feel that sadness in our hearts for lost souls so that we can be a good testimony and not lose our reputation.  Very often once our reputation is lost, it is lost forever.  This should make us mourn and then we can be comforted by Jesus knowing that He can work through us to save souls so long as we make that decision not to fall into temptation.  If we sin, we should feel the burden of our sin and the consequences of our sin so that we can truly repent and then we can be comforted knowing that Jesus purifies us and He wipes the slate clean.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Family First

By Odon Bulamba

Special day for me and possibly for you too.  Why? First for me, I was not supposed to be here this morning.  Due to what I faced for the past several days it is only by the grace of God that I am here among you?  Where I went last time I was overseas, I didn’t go as a tourist to look around but I went to a place where I saw terrible things and did not expect.  Imagine someone telling you Shari, your son is in the hands of ISIS.  How will you feel?  You will be shocked, you will see death, torture and I went across that situation. 

I had to leave New Zealand without knowing where I was going because I had to visit someone who was sick and that sickness was started because she was captured by ISIS and taken from place to place.  I will talk about that more on 19 march.

Thanks to God first of all when I went to Congo last time, our small group here has given birth to a big church there that is maybe 40x bigger than this one.  Like a seed of beans that you sacrificed and then it gives a harvest that is more than one seed.  These people have been watching messages on line.  Now have they started a branch of Little Bethlehem Church.  When I was invited I was shocked to see hundreds sitting on the ground, on stones without a roof, no microphone and they are adoring God and have giving their lives to God.

How can your prayer be the key to opening doors to new churches somewhere else?  When you are praying to save people and telling God, “I want your word to reach others”, God answers.  I would be happy for you to see this church and the fruit of your work and prayers.  I praise God for that.  Now we need to do something for those people.  They want the trust deed so they can register their church and follow us and be a branch of this church.  We are now parents of this small new born church. 

My message this morning will be about family first.  When we talk about family we see mother father and children.  A family is not something that you just pick up but something that God has chosen.  You didn’t have a choice of who will be your mother/father/sister in family.  God made that choice for you.  Ange you are now living in Hockley family.  When God created the world, the Bible doesn’t tell us that He created a space for seven days for angels to live but He created the world for us.  We have fish, birds, and animals just for humanity to survive.  He has created a place just for you and me on earth.

God found that He needed a human being and that that man should never be by himself.  This was the beginning of the family.  He put Adam and Eve together to make the first family and said, “Multiply yourselves”.  Adam had no idea when he was sleeping what would happen but when he woke up, he found this is what I need.

Yesterday when you were young you did not know who you would marry tomorrow.  Then suddenly, here is Nathan for Shari.  Colleen has found Keith.  God will bring someone new in your life that you have never known before and you will make a family and then you will have your descendants.  The best gift ever that God has given humans apart from Jesus on the cross is the family but we always put our family last.

“These children make me crazy, what type of husband/wife have you given me, why did I get this mother?” We complain.  I wish my father was like this person’s parent’s.

Nehemiah 4:12-14, we find a text where Nehemiah came across a strategy of using families.  We have to build a wall in groups of families.  The Lord has given this message to Nehemiah which is opening our minds and hearts today.  Asking the people to look after their families and not be afraid of the enemy but to fight for the friends, family and homes. 

Does your family come first in your life or not?  If God has given me a family, I should put it as the first position.  We can fight for those around us but not for our families.  Who is your family?  We have two: (1) physical brothers, sisters and parents (2) spiritual church.

Physical side you will see a father who does not really love his family or mother who doesn’t care much about her family.  We church sometimes don’t care about each other.  We live as pieces of puzzles and we lose the shape when we are separated by the wind.

When God created the first family, satan was not happy and so he tempted them to divide them.  Satan knew that once the families stick together, then he will be defeated so he first wanted to separate them from the love of God.  Your first temptation in life will come from your family.  Your mother/father or sister can be a stumbling block for you.  That is why Nehemiah is saying fight for your families and your houses and then for your friends. 

It was not your choice to be born in your family but ask yourself why God put you in this family.   Ask yourself, what role should I play in this family?  What is the mission God gave me in this family?  Many fail in this.  Including pastors, preachers and prophets.  They can organise the church but at home there is fire. 

Someone can be a director of a big company but their family can be divided.  Satan is trying to separate you from your family to hate your family.  Do you love every person of your family?  No.  Do you share your opinion with all your family members?  No.  Can you walk proudly with each member of your family?  No.  Sometimes yes but not every time. 

You might defend your child but inside your heart you know where you stand face to face with God.  We try to avoid realities what God has given to us as responsibilities.  “Go to school now so I can have a rest.  My child is a burden.  I can’t move around because of my child”.  Some children as they are growing old, “oh mum this is old fashioned, you know nothing mum, my generation is different to yours.  You don’t belong to this generation so I have nothing to do with you.  I’m grown up now”. 

When you gave birth you can say proudly, “this is my baby” and some cry and hold the baby with joy.  “Who does she look like?”  Comparisons will begin on who they look like.  The baby is a gift from God.  Your first responsibility is to raise that child.  For no reason the child will cry.  “What is your problem?”  No reason.  “Angela, take care of your child I need to rest, take her away”.  The mother has to carry the child away.  As the child is growing older, you don’t realise that they are growing.  Yesterday a baby and today, no more a baby.

The seed that you put in the child is growing with the child.  If satan visited your family as a child, he will visit four times more.  The child stand up and talks harshly in front of everyone, you can feel ashamed.  Neighbours will judge.  This is what you get from not educating your child.  It can be satan, it can be a challenge that God is using to remind you that you have a gift from Him and you must help your child.

I once saw a court case where the mother said, “no my son will never do that” but finally the son said, “I did it”.  The mother was shocked.  Never say you know your children very well and you will defend them.  Possibly say, “as far as I know but I should ask my child first”.

When Nehemiah put the families together, he gave them tools to fight with.  What have you given to your family to fight the wars.  When you come home angry, with problems, when your children are not living safely, what have you given them to protect themselves?  Of course we pray to protect them but do they have any weapon to stand against the attack of Satan.  If yes, how did you train them to use that tool?  You can’t say, “I invited my child to church, that is enough”.  They need to practice. 

Many will consider their parents as evil.  How will God think about that?  You are treating the person I gave you as evil.  If my parents are evil, then I should pray for them and love them.  But if I just tell people my parents are evil, God who made that selection for you will be shocked and ashamed.

Genesis 49, this is the time when Jacob wanted to die.  Jacob was a good friend of God who was chosen in the womb of his mum.  He was dodgy and tricky but he was a friend of God and God named him Israel and we are the children of Israel.  God has chosen this same Jacob who was naughty to give birth to the 12 tribes.  God has chosen the one who could lie in order to earn and gain and God thought this is my choice.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad your child is, keep praying, keep fighting for your family.

What does it mean to fight?  It means you engage yourself in a battle and you forget your jeans, your glasses and put them aside and use your strength.  Some are born weak but because of practising, they build up their strength and become strong.  In your family who do you think you should fight for?  Should you only fight for your sister or yourself and forget the rest.  Joshua said, “my family and I will serve the lord”.  Us today, “Lord I want to serve you” but we forget our families. 

Jacob was given 12 children, and in Genesis 49, he started to bless them.  Rueben you are this but I don’t like this.  He was attacked.  Simon and Levi, you are my children, your anger is not good.  Those two gentlemen had a sister who was raped and they became angry against the man who raped their sister and they waited for the time of circumcision and so they attacked the men for revenge.  Now, Levi is cursed and Simon are cursed while it was the time to get the blessing. 

As you can see Jacob invited the family.  How often do you invite your family, how often do you have time to talk to your family, not for a party but talk as a family and bless them and pray for them.  How often does that happen?  Never.

God has made you as a light of your family but at zero occasion you invite your family to talk and bless them.  We don’t have time for that but to hold a party we can have ideas and we can make something special for you. 

Your anger is not good.  To become angry is not a sin but your anger should look at the sky and once the sun is going down, your anger must stop.  You can become angry but once sun goes down, stop your anger.  Don’t bring back what took place two years ago. 

Families have secrets.  This is a family issue, we can’t talk about it outside of our compounds.  Jacob kept secret in his heart and now the time came to tell off his family so they could learn from their mistakes.  “I, Jacob, your father, I was a terrible person, I lied to my father, my boss” but he didn’t want his children to go through the same mistakes.  He didn’t want them to be on the wrong path.  Be careful because the curse is following you.

From my mistakes, what do I teach my children and myself, my cousins or am I just there to point my finger and blame them.  After talking to the children, Levi was the only one that was not cursed because of his behaviour.  Those children continued to live but they were supposed to put aside anger.  Your family breaks apart because of anger.  How often do you become angry against your mother, wife, children for small things and that anger doesn’t stop there but after two weeks you continue to talk about it, “I will never forgive that, it is unacceptable”? 

We go back to the past and dig it up to bring back to the presence.  Your anger is destroying your family.  Your anger must stop when the sun goes down.  “Triden, you are my son but you promised not to do this anymore but why are you doing this again” and sometimes we are proud to show others that we are angry with them.  God is looking at you and asking, “do you want me to remove these people from you?” Sometimes mothers will say, “Stop it, I will kill you” and we can sometimes even swear.  How will you feel if God takes away that child from you?  Yesterday you were complaining and today you have a rest but you don’t want to rest anymore.  Levi and Simon knew they were wrong and knew they should deal with anger issue.

Same with us.  When Pete does something wrong you will see Ange’s hand become strong.  We are in a battle.  When a child does something, parents become angry and vice-versa.  Anger is one of the best tools to divide families.  Once angry, how will you pray for me?  How will you ask God to help me and save me?  When you hear stories about your father, you become angry but is that really from God?  It is our task to protect our family.  Whenever Leah is doing something wrong, instead of helping Leah I judge Ange and make her angry so she can attack Leah.  Some enjoy breaking peace in families.

Praise God, we have eyes.  When your child is wrong, we don’t need to shout at them and tell the neighbours but talk nicely, responsibly with respect.  When you are angry, can you control your mouth?  You vomit everything on that person and destroy peace in your family.  If I attack Ken in front of Michelle, she will not be happy because I attack her brother.  If I attack Nicole in front of Leah, she won’t be happy because she is her aunty.  What we say under anger, we tear apart our families and then we are the first to complain and criticise.  Family is called to live in unity.

Some people show others that all is good but in their heart there is fire and behind the person’s back they say things like, “oh that person is bad, what they did to me, I can’t accept this.  I will judge, criticise, hate and show the world she is a monster”.  As family of God we are called to forgive and live one for another.  As the Bible says, let those who are strong help those who are weak.  If you are stronger than your family members, then why don’t you intervene and support them.  You are the first to stone them, expose them, mock them. 

Moses went to the mountain and came down and saw those worshiping a gold statute.  Levi was the only one who put up his hand and said we are on the side of the lord.  Yesterday we were wrong but today we put aside anger and learn.  Levi who was cursed in Genesis 49, if you read Leviticus you will see God has blessed those people because they were the only people to serve God, to carry the arc.  Don’t say that someone is a bad person in the family because they may change and you will be amazed that the weakest one, God will rise up and make the strongest one.

If God can change Levi and the people who did great things in Bible.  Why not in your family?  Who is the Simon in your family?  Who is the Reuben in your family?  Do you know very well your family?  You need to teach your family how to act and handle problems and situations.  Other parents because of pressure and stress sometimes they can teach the children, “look what your father did, look what your aunty did” and we start to accuse our family to our own children. 

If you can’t handle your situation, will your child be able to handle it?  How will your 4 year old child handle it?  We are called to kneel down and pray and not look only at the wrong side but look at what these people have done for your family in a positive way.  Once you start to see the positive, you will see no one else could do that for you.  What we do is unique.

My mother told me recently that when I was only two years old she misplaced a coin that she really needed for soap and I picked it up and she couldn’t find it while I was holding it and at front of the shop I put out my hand and she took the money without asking.  Other things our children do in our lives can change the situation.  If I had thrown away the coin or not offered it to her, she could not have bought the soap. Teach your children how to say sorry and then forget about it.  Don’t humiliate your children, father, husband in front of everybody. 

We are called to know that anger is not a good took to use in our families.  You were not born angry.  If so, be angry over good things.  I can’t read my Bible for two days, I’m angry with myself, I must read it now.  That is a good anger.  To destroy with your anger is terrible.  I have seen husbands run away from wives because of anger.  Control your anger then you will know how to help your family. 

If you don’t have love for one of your family members, now is the time to start to love them.  When Jesus used to fish, he never used the fishing rod but a net.  He would tell people, cast your net.  With a fishing rod you will only catch one fish at a time.  One time Peter cast his net on one side and caught nothing until God told him to cast the net on the other side.  Cast your net on the other side to help your family to be caught.  If you keep saying, no this is the way I want to treat them, then they will never be caught for Jesus.

The net is you and me and we can bring many in with love.  If your relationship is poor then go through another family member to bring you back together because it will be sad on the last day of judgement if you don’t see all you love in heaven.  Won’t God say it is because of you, “I gave them to you, what role did you give to your family to prepare for the battle?”  Pray and make a step and go out to ask for forgiveness and build your relationship.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Should Christians have secrets

By Hayley Boud

As Christians we are taught that we shouldn’t have secrets and that we should be transparent.  But is that what the Bible says?

I remember when Odon first came to New Zealand and he prophesied over each of us who were present in the meeting.  He then told us not to tell anyone what was prophesied because it was just between us and God.  Does that mean we were being secretive and not transparent? 

It made me think of the story of Joseph in Genesis 37:5 onwards.  Joseph had a dream and then he told his brothers.  He dreamed that they were binding sheaves in the field and his one rose up and the brothers’ sheaves bowed down to him.  His brothers were angry at his dream and hated him.  He then had another dream and told his brothers again.  This dream was about the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to him (he had eleven brothers).  His brothers again became angry because Joseph was saying that not only will the brothers bow down before him but the parents would too.

In verse 10, the brothers rebuked him.  In verse 11, they were jealous.  Joseph made himself appear proud, while he was not.  Was it necessary for him to share this dream?  Couldn’t he just keep it to himself?  By sharing it, he caused others to stumble, he caused others to hate him, be jealous and later this hatred caused his brothers to want to kill him.

Another good example from the Bible is in Matthew 2:1 onwards.  After Jesus was born, magi arrived in Jerusalem saying, “where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him”.  When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled and he called the magi to find out the time the star appeared.  Herod had all the male children in Bethlehem, 2 years and under killed.  Had the magi just followed the star without spreading the news, those children may not have been killed.

We have to be careful to know what to share and what to keep between us.  We have to remember that when we share information, this can be a stumbling block to others.  It might make them angry, jealous, hate someone etc.  We have to think carefully about our reasons for sharing the information, e.g. gossip, lack of self-control (speak before I think).  We have to think carefully about the consequences of sharing that information, will it cause the other person to gossip, be curious, complain, judge others.  As Colleen said in her recent message, be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Colleen’s recent message reminded us that we need discernment and wisdom.  We need to have discernment and wisdom before sharing information. 

Recently, I was really disappointed in myself for sharing information that someone had told me not to.  I let that person down.  I betrayed their trust.  Even though this person and I are not best friends, I knew I had failed the test.

If someone asks us not to share information, we should respect that.  Maybe they have a good reason.  Maybe God has told them that this is not the right time for others to know yet.

I hear many Christians say that they don’t keep secrets because, “the truth will find you out”.  That is very true that eventually the truth will be seen.  However, we have to wise and know when to share information and sometimes it’s not up to us to share it but for people to discover on their own.  I used to have a boss who was horrible to work for but he had everyone fooled into thinking he was an amazing guy.  People would say to me, “you are so lucky to work for him”.  I couldn’t tell people he was horrible but eventually they discovered on their own.

I have aims and goals that I keep to myself because maybe God doesn’t agree with them or maybe I’ll change my mind.  It looks foolish when you tell people that you have decided you are going to live in Auckland next year and then you don’t.  People will judge you for not doing what you said you would.

I don't think there is a single Christian who is completley transparent.  If we are honest with each other, we will know that is true.  So why do we Christians who are not 100% transparent tell other Christians that they should be?  I’ve never read a verse in the Bible that says I have to be transparent in front of others.

There is a great Bible verse that says, “Walk in the light as He is in the light”, 1 John 1:7.  Walking in the light exposes us.  For example, my light in my bathroom is dull so when I leave home, I think I look great.  My light in the bathroom at work is very bright so I get a shock when I see my true reflection.  Where did all those wrinkles come from?

We need to walk in the light so we can see who we truly are and to keep walking in the right direction.  Walking in the light does not mean sharing everything with everybody.  We need wisdom and take time before sharing to ask ourselves, if I share this, how will others react?  With jealousy, judging, selfishness, anger, unforgiveness.

A good example where we need to be wise is when we know we have wronged someone and we know we should say sorry.  Be careful not to share too much.  The person may not even know you wronged them and you may create a problem that never existed.  I usually say, “I’m very sorry I wronged you”.  If they say, how?  I say, “If you don’t remember, then praise God because you have already forgiven me” and I leave it there. It’s not a good idea to create a problem.

Let's remember to think carefully before sharing information and let's not judge others when they keep information to themselves. 

Judge Not

By Colleen Podmore

Matthew 7:1 says that we should not judge others or we will be judged ourselves. In this context the judgement made is negative. People will quote this verse in response to someone who has pointed out their sin to them. But this is not what Jesus means when He says, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’ We have to read on to verse 6 to get the complete message.

Matthew 7:1-6 is teaching us about living lives that are authentic, changing our own wrong and sinful attitudes, words and actions (our ‘planks’) before trying to help someone else with the ‘speck’ in their own eye – or the small sin in their lives.

Matthew Henry puts it quite succinctly in this excerpt from his commentary:

Matt 7:1-6   We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people.

Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out.

That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own.

It is as strange that a man can be in a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world blinds their minds.

Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.

Keeping up appearances

The dictionary meaning of judgement is to ‘form an opinion about someone or something’. It does not have a value and may be either negative or positive, eg in my judgement they are a very fine person. In my judgement they could be less selfish.

We all make judgements when we meet people for the first time. We look at them and make a judgement about who they are, how they live and whether we like them or not. In the blink of an eye they are either ok or not ok. Have you ever been judged like this? Conversely, because others also do this to us, we learn to put on a certain appearance to become accepted or acceptable and we also act in certain ways especially around certain people who we want to impress.

I remember a sitcom a few years ago called ‘Keeping up appearances’ about a woman, Hyacinth Bucket, spelled bucket but pronounced bouquet. She plays the part of a real snob and desperately tries to make herself out to be upper class but her family is lower class.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) refers to a time when Jesus sat down to teach the crowds about how to live a life dedicated to and pleasing to God, free from hypocrisy, full of love and grace, full of wisdom and discernment. He preaches to crowds of people who have flocked to hear him. People who are maybe just curious, or maybe desperate to know God and how to live lives acceptable and pleasing to Him. Jesus has compassion on the crowds and he looks at them and begins to teach them! You can feel the compassion when Matthew says in Matt 5:1, ‘Now when he saw the crowds he went up on a mountainside and sat down’ – perhaps so that the crowds of people, men and women, young and old, rich and poor could hear him and see him? For no-one is excluded from the Kingdom of God.

The people did not have the benefit of Scripture, they were like sheep without a shepherd. The religious class known as Pharisees were hypocrites (Matt 6:2, 5, 16), who said one thing but did another. On another occasion Jesus told the people they were blind guides (Luke 6:39) and to do what they say and not what they do (Matt 23:3), as they do not practice what they preach! Perhaps these verse are mainly directed at them but because we can also be hypocrites at us also.

In summary then, these verses in Matt 7:1-6 are not telling us not to judge but to do so in a right manner and incidentally, verse 6 is also warning about people who will not listen and to be careful around them ie they are Pharisees.

Discernment is defined as the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure. When we make a judgement, we also need wisdom to discern the right way to act in a given situation. Perhaps it might be to be silent, or to pray or to encourage, or to warn. In addition, a discerning person needs to be self-aware regarding their own emotions and motivations for intervening. It also requires us to see through the lenses of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As I look at a person or consider a situation, I view through my eyes which are covered with the lenses of the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Perhaps we need them all or just patience. Discernment is making a judgement with self-awareness and wisdom.

Let us desire also spiritual discernment. Hebrews 5:11-14 says, ‘But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’. Solid food is understanding and grappling with God’s word. Reading it methodically and regularly, meditating on the meaning and allowing it to change us. Maybe we just like ‘milk’, that is easily understood and digested - passages that we don’t have to think too much about (Heb 5:12). We must know what the complete word says so that when the counterfeit comes along – we can spot it straight away. Know the voice of God so that we can distinguish it from the voice of the world (ie good and evil).

This is the gift of discerning spirits as Paul talks about in 1Cor 12:10, it is not being able to see Angels and Demons but it is about discerning situations and distinguishing between good and evil and being able act accordingly.

Finally, let us not be hypocrites keeping up appearances but let us be mature Christians who are being transformed by the renewing of their minds as we daily read the Scriptures, chewing the solid food and when we are called to judge, combine that judgement with spiritual fruit and wisdom to be able to discern correctly and act accordingly.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Communion - Riches of God's grace

"We have been bought through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trepasses
with the riches of God's grace"

Ephesians 1:6

This word “riches” in our world is measured in terms of monetary value.  Gold is considered riches because it’s worth a lot of money.  Food is like gold at the moment because it’s so expensive.  I went to the supermarket during the week and was shocked at what little amount of money can buy these days.  Everything is about 50% more expensive than a couple of years ago.  I used to buy lamb chops for $10 a packet and now it costs $15 a packet.  It’s only five dollars more but it adds up so that a $200 grocery bill is now $300.  That’s a whole $100 that we have to find while our wages haven’t gone up.

Then there is rent.  There are a lot of people who have had to endure rent increases every six months so that after two years, they now pay $200 more than what they used to, without a pay increase.  So each week we are paying $300 more for groceries and rent than just a couple of years ago.  To go to the doctor is more expensive, to get a Warrant of Fitness.  It’s all very depressing. 

On the positive side, registrations for cars came down.  That is a real bonus and now I can afford to register my car for six months at a time instead of three months (or one month when I was really poor).  This time of year lettuces are cheaper and I really love lettuce so this is great for me. 

The value of the New Zealand dollar compared to the American dollar can affect us quite a bit.  If the NZ dollar is a lot less than the $US then our exporters are happy because Americans will buy NZ products.  If the $NZ is closer to the $US then our importers are happy because us kiwis won’t have to pay so much for American products.

So in the world, what we consider riches goes up and down in value. But what God’s riches is His grace that never changes.  This is very comforting, to know that God’s riches are constant and always holds its value and is always true.  Jesus is our constant eternal value and while earthly riches may bring us bad news, Christ’s riches (grace) always brings good news.

The good news is that Jesus died for us.  Jesus paid the price for our sin and that price is constant, it doesn’t go up or down.  Jesus paid the price with his blood and with his body.  God the father accepted to pay the price for our sin with his own son.  Would you accept to let your child die to save someone who was a convicted murderer?  I wouldn’t.  Yet, God looked at me and said, “You are a murderer because you have hated people that I love, you are sentenced to death.  My only son will die in your place”.  What kind of judge would say that?  Only our God!

Then we sit at the right hand of the Father.  That means the Father is on our left.  Most women hold their babies on the left side.  Scientists believe that this is because when the child is held on the left of a person, that triggers the right side of the brain to work which is the side of the brain that helps us to listen and understand people.  So when the child is on the left side of the mother, she is able to listen and understand her baby. 

I don’t know God’s reason for putting us on his right (except that is a place of honour) but I want us to remember that now that we are His children, we have to be listening to God and understanding what He expects from us.  One expectation is to meet together and take communion so congratulations to all of us here this morning, we listened to God this morning and we obeyed His voice.  Well done to all of us because it’s not always easy.  Let’s keep listening to God’s voice and obeying Him.

It is also important to remember that God’s grace has an expiry date.  When Christ comes back, there will be no more grace.  If you know you are not living in accordance with God’s grace, then now is the time to ask God for forgiveness.  It’s important not to take the bread and juice if you are in sin.  Please make yourself right before God before taking it.  Making yourself right not only means to say sorry to God but also to make a decision not to go back to that sin anymore.

This morning as the bread and juice is passed around, let’s take time to search our hearts and ask for forgiveness where we have fallen short of God’s grace.  Then let’s remember Jesus and all that He has done for us.  Let’s remember His grace that is constant and true.  His grace which brings us good news of our salvation.  Let’s remember that God sent His only son to pay the price for our sin.  Jesus paid for us to be able to enter the Kingdom of God by dying.  This price is so much more valuable that money or earthly riches.  God Himself paid the price.  What could be more valuable than God Himself?

By Hayley Boud