Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why Jesus is Better than Santa Claus

Santa lives at the North Pole...
JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh...
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year....
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies...
JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited...
JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa...
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap...
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?"...
JESUS knew our name before we were born. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly...
JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO...
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry"...
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

Santa's little helpers make toys...
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but...
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree...
JESUS became our gift and died on a tree... the cross.

JESUS is still the reason for the season.

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life."
(John 3:16 The Message)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Crown is Finally Given

By Odon Bulamba (20th November 2011) summary only

“After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days….“So I stood beside him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. And I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.” II Samuel 1:1,10

David was the last born of a family consisting of 8 boys. He was skinny and maybe weak but he was very intelligent and he had sharp eyes and yet he was somehow considered useless according to his father. His father gave him the job of shepherd while his brothers went to train in the army. Because he was looking after the flock of his family, he was sure that if he did it properly, he would be rewarded but all he got was a nice coat and some milk. David had to look after the flock, face lions and other dangerous animals without a gun or arrow or javelin and this was a big responsibility.

Samuel was sent to find a king from the family of Jesse. Samuel knew there was already a king (Saul) and that he might be killed for choosing someone to replace him. God told Samuel to tell Saul that he had to go somewhere to make a sacrifice to God.

When Samuel saw Jesse, he knew that the time had come to put oil on someone’s head; the anointment is here. The first son of Jesse was big and strong and Samuel thought, ‘yes, this must be the one that God has chosen as king’ but God rejected him and all is other brothers. Then Samuel asked, ‘isn’t there anyone else’ and Jesse said there was another son out with the sheep. Maybe Jesse was ashamed of David and didn’t want Samuel to see him because he was weak and he couldn’t imagine that someone so weak could become king. Sometimes we too feel rejected and pushed out.

God said, ‘bring that man, he is the one’. Sometimes when we are rejected by others, God brings us close and anoints us. The blessing you have compared to others, your neighbour and other people around the world is greater (eg. some people have never seen a cell phone or even stepped inside a car – you have been blessed). Some people work very hard with no blessing while others try something small and the blessing flourishes.

David was chosen and if I was David I would say, ‘hey, I’m a king now, I’m different to you, I’m not looking after the sheep anymore’ but David didn’t, he continued to look after the sheep. Imagine that God has chosen you as a leader but God hasn’t given you any advisers except your sheep. Sheep only baa, there is no other language and some people are like sheep, the only language they have is complaints or arguing.

Jesse continued to expect David to watch the sheep while his brothers were being trained in the army. Sometimes people try to put barriers in your place so you can’t progress. Sometimes you know God has chosen you but people tell you to wait, sometimes because people are jealous.

David was sent by his father to take food to his brothers and although he knew that he was a king, David was a good boy and never said no.

Goliath was a giant that the whole nation was afraid of and very often when we see a monster of a problem rising up (no money etc) don’t you sometimes feel like passing away with fear (when you see your bills and no way to pay them). You can see people losing control sometimes because of fear.

David didn’t fear, he said, “I can fight Goliath” and his brothers told him to be quiet. David had never used a sword or shield but as a shepherd he had learnt how to use a sling shot because of the danger. David also learnt how to play music and to sing while he watched the sheep eating.

David killed Goliath and although he was promised everything (including the king’s crown) he didn’t receive what was promised. This wasn’t the end of his mission. Later, Saul needed him to play music for the times when an evil spirit would attack him. One day Saul tried to kill him but he didn’t quit. What would you do? I’d call the police. Very often your boss is mean to you while you are trying to help the situation. The same person who employed you and thought you were useful is now mistreating you.

David eventually ran from Saul and became his opponent and had to fight for his life. Where is God in all of this, wherever David goes Saul is attacking him.

In life, there is pain, even if we are the winner. If we win a boxing match, we will still feel the pain of being punched, even though we won. If we win a marathon, we will still feel the pain. You will never be a winner without pain, without going through a battle, without going through suffering.

Later, David fought a battle and won and all the soldiers came home with victory but they still had the cuts and bruises and broken bones. Once they arrived home, their family members were gone and everybody blamed David for they had been kidnapped. Imagine everybody against you, how would you feel? Have you ever faced a problem with someone in your family or a close friend? This is the hardest kind of problem, when someone close to you is against you.

David encouraged the soldiers to go after their families. Some were unable to continue the journey due to the pain and tiredness from the first battle but others kept on the journey despite the pain.

Then at Ziklag, Saul is killed and the crown is taken and after many years given to David. Sometimes we fight something for a number of years and we keep praying with no answer and we feel like giving up. We start to doubt that God gave the promises and sometimes we fight and win the battle but there is no crown; God doesn’t answer at the right time for us and we start to doubt and think that God is not on our side.

Finally David became king but in a way that was not expected (normally the person who kills the king will become king or the person who is next in line). Your crown will come sometimes in a different way than you expect. God may bring you the answer from a different direction. Are you ready to receive the crown? Then be a good fighter and remember your time on earth is short, so be a hard worker and become what God wants you to become.

David didn’t know all the rules of being a king (how to sit, eat, etc) and we also might not know the entire Bible but we can use what we have and remember we belong to God.

How would you prepare for the queen of England to sleep at your house? Would you let her see every room? Would she be allowed to sit in every chair? What food would you present to her? How have we prepared our body for the Holy Spirit? What room will we give Him? Is there a clean room? If not, why can’t we just make it clean?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


By Colleen Podmore

We live in relationships. We are related in terms of the human race. We are related as Christians in the family of God. We live in relationship with God. The Bible says that God is a Spirit. How do we relate to God as a Spirit? We can’t see him, we can’t touch him, greet him. He is spirit (John 4:24).

Often God is portrayed as a father, but maybe this is not a good image especially if you did not have a good relationship with your human father. God can be portrayed as a grandfather – benevolent, kindly a bit like Santa Claus just waiting to give us what we want when we ask for it. Grey hair and beard but a bit impotent, not really the Almighty Creator of the Universe.

Sometimes God is portrayed as a lover who woos us, pursues us, as a husband, as a friend, a comforter and a counsellor.

These are all human images to help us relate to God.

He can also be like inanimate objects, being described as a rock, a fortress, a deliverer, a strong tower implying strength, and reliability.

How do we relate to God? Is God a man or a woman, a myth, a legend, a dead man?

And conversely, the way we relate to God reveals how we see ourselves. If God is a father, then we are children. If he is Commander, Lord, then we are warriors, servants, slaves. In a recent exhortation Hayley used a verse that described us as prisoners; does that mean God is like a jailer?

We live in relationship, we don’t live according to a set of rules and regulations - do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that. This kind of attitude constantly asks the question - Have I done enough? Am I good enough? Does God really love me?

I like the analogy of the fenced paddock verses the free range with an oasis in the middle. Stock comes to the oasis out of free will because there is water there, shade and shelter. Our Christian lives are not bound by fences. Paul says in 1Cor 10:23 that, “Everything is permissible.” We return to the Living Water which is in Christ Jesus to the oasis of peace and shelter that is found only in relationship with Jesus because that is what sustains us, not because we have to but because we want to! We are in a relationship.

Last week, Tyrone brought us a timely message from Ephesians 4:22-24. Paul says that believers are taught – it is something we are required to do – to change our lives, to put off our old ways of acting, to stop doing the things we used to do before we came to Christ. Old attitudes, wrong ways of thinking, bad actions, things that God says are not in keeping with His character. Now that we belong to Him, we want to be like Him, we want to reflect His glory and not be lead astray by our own deceitful desires, the things we want to do.

Paul says we are to be made new in the way we think, once the old has been taken off there is now room for the new, which will lead to a lifestyle of true righteousness and holiness.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to become new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV.

This is separate to what God has done for us because it is created. It is something we do, in order to move closer to God. We already have a future and a foundation in Christ, every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3), and the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance (Eph 1:4), Hallelujah. Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I heard on the radio the other day a comment about grace (Bob Gass ‘Word for Today’ Radio Rhema 855am). The speaker made the observation that there are two responses to grace, one is to respond by working hard to create a Holy life, pleasing to God, the other is to just scrape by. Which one am I? We are in a relationship, let’s work to please God.

So how do we ‘put off’ this old self and ‘put on’ the new self? Paul goes on in the rest of the chapter in Ephesians 4 and into chapter 5 and half of chapter 6, to tell us how we are to do this! It’s that important, it’s no secret or mystery, it’s written in black and white.

Eph4:25 stop lying

Eph4:26 stop anger, don’t hold onto it; don’t give the devil an opportunity to turn anger into bitterness, resentment, envy, jealousy

Eph4:28 stop stealing

Eph4:29 stop unwholesome talk. This includes criticism, sarcasm, bad language, innuendo, derogatory statements, negativism....

You know what it is like when you are with someone who does these things. How do you feel? It kind of shuts you down doesn’t it, something is not right. Any relationship you might have with the person is broken. You could describe your relationship as ‘quenched’, like a bucket of water thrown on a fire, the fire goes out.

Paul says in Eph 4:30, ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit’ - some versions have quenched.

How do we quench/grieve the Holy Spirit? He is like a silent witness to all we say and do; our attitudes and actions. We have invited Him into our lives to guide and lead us. Is He comfortable or uncomfortable in this relationship? Do we need to bow our heads and say sorry, confessing our wrong doing, our sin, in order to restore the relationship with Him?

Nothing can separate us from this relationship that we have with our God.

‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38,39 NIV