'Old habits die hard.' We all know the truth of that. Whether you bite your nails, twist your hair, talk with your mouth full, procrastinate, pull out a cigarette when your hands are idle, or reach for your phone first thing in the morning, we all have everyday things that we do on autopilot. Trying to break that habit, your default way of acting or behaving, is extremely hard when it is has become second nature to us. It's no different with sin. The good news of of the Gospel tells us that we have been ransomed, that we are righteous and that we are free from the law's demands, free from the curse of sin, free from the penalty of death. Christ has shed his blood for our forgiveness, to make us part of his family, to secure our future and give us freedom. So why do we still struggle daily with sin? Why does worry still consume us? Why do fears still overwhelm us and anger overtake us? Why do old habits die hard? Paul not only answers that question today but shows us how our identity in Jesus enables us to daily walk with new habits in Gospel freedom.
#4 in series: Operation Gospel
'You be you." "Be true to yourself." "Follow your own heart and your dreams and you will become your true self." It's the catch cry of the expressive individualism that characterises our generation. But if 'you being you' is supposed to increase your happiness why are we seeing a greater anger, narcissism, and anxiety in our culture? Why is there an increasing fragility in people's sense of identity when looking inwards is supposed to empower you to live authentically? Paul addresses this question today in part 3 of Operation Gospel as he shows us how Gospel righteousness requires a complete reset that restores our true identity and gives us full and complete access to the grace that enables us to live authentic lives in every circumstances. We'll explore and experience that Gospel Righteousness today.
#3 in series: Operation Gospel
It's a $20 billion-a-year industry that targets industry, business, schools and other essential services. Ransomware attacks encrypt and steal corporate data, threatening victims to release or auction the information if the ransom is not paid. They can be incredibly aggressive and call their victims using spoofed telephone numbers or actively email them if they don't respond to the extortion threats. Transfer and pay the bitcoin or ransom requested and you will be given a key to recover what has been taken from you. The ransom paid restores the information to the rightful owner. Today as we continue our study in the book of Romans, the idea of ransom is at the front and centre of Paul's mind. He knows the Scriptures, 'No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough." (Psalm 49:7-8) He knows there is no amount of money paid that enables people to re-access the domain of heaven and presence of God. There are no good works that are ever good enough to restore us to the relationship that we were created for. It is beyond our ability and capability. But Jesus pays the ransom, he tells us that the purpose of his coming was "to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). We'll explore and receive that Gospel ransom again today as we embark on Operation Gospel.
#2 in series Operation Gospel
Exposure. Any photographer knows that the more accurate your exposure are, the better your colours will be. Underexpose and your picture will be dark and important details will be lost in the shadows. Overexpose and important details are blown out in the highlights and the picture looks washed out. Exposure. Any parent knows that the right exposure to different influences in life is important in developing healthy children. There is a balance between protecting children from exposure to harmful and negative influences that enable them to succeed and thrive, but allowing them to be exposed to and learn from failure and wrong choices so they can develop independance, decision-making and resilence skills. Exposure. Today as we begin the book of Romans, Paul shows us how a Gospel exposure brings our life into sharp focus, exposing the dark areas and vulnerabilities of our lives in order to reveal the real beauty of who God has created us to be. It challenges us to look at our lives and the lives of others in a new way that will forever be life-transforming. We'll explore and experience what that Gospel exposure is today.
#1 in series: Operation Gospel
There are many moments, memories, experiences and embraces in life that are bittersweet. Happiness often comes wrapped in a sheet of sadness, longing or even regret. Whether it is watching children spread their wings, farewelling a loved one, achieving a milestone or success, we know the contrasting dichotomies of emotions that are simultaneously sweet and sour. As Christians, we are also fully aware that many aspects of our faith are filled with bitter and sweet. The cross is a reminder of a painful and torturous death, but the empty cross reminds us of the sweet and beautiful gift of resurrection and grace that gives us eternal life. We experience the deepest joy in life in relationship with Jesus and are simultaneously know that life in the world is deeply fractured, broken and full of suffering. We live in that bittersweet reality every day of our lives. God goes one step further today by calling John and us from standing on the sidelines as a spectator to being actively and intimately involved in God's judging and saving activity in this world. It's an incredible privilege that is bittersweet as God calls us to internalise, live and share boldly his Word in this world. We'll explore and experience 'Sharing boldly' today.
#5 in series: 'In Christ's Hands'
It's the stuff of fairy tales, blockbuster movies and novels galore. A knight in shining armour rides in town, defeats the bad guys and saves the day. Deep down we are all holding out for a 'hero' to save us from the suffering of life. We long for someone who will deliver us from distress. We will go to extraordinary lengths to maximise pleasure and minimise pain and hurt in our lives, at whatever cost or compromise. But God opens our eyes to reality: in life, pain is a given, suffering is to be expected and hurt will be experienced. Wherever there is sin, there will be struggle and suffering. That's the unavoidable reality we face and no knight in shining armour can deliver you from that, no matter what they promise. But wherever there is faith there is hope. The one who was slain, raised & opens the seals on eternity is the one who leads you through suffering with hope to victory with more joy than you can ever imagine. In Christ risen and ruling over all, the Father is Redeeming Suffering for his purposes in this world & for his glory to be seen in us. We'll explore and experience that together!
#4 in series: In Christ's Hands
The recent rains throughout NSW filled the dams across all the catchment areas and unleashed a torrent of water that overflowed with a power and force that could not be stopped. The resurrection of the Lamb-who-was-slain unleashes an unstoppable force that powerfully moves through this world sweeping up all before it, bringing hope and life, strength and healing. It’s God’s people at worship, singing a new song and revealing a new reality – out of darkness, light spills forth. Out of despair, hope arises. Out of discouragement, inspiration awakens. Out of death, life flows. The Lion roars and the Lamb-who-was-slain bleeds to open the scroll, redeem his people and release them for lives of unceasing worship. We’ll explore this unleashing worship today.
#3 in series: In Christ's Hands