#4 In series: Christmess
Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 1:57-79
The preparations are almost complete. The trees is up. The cooking is done. The presents are wrapped. The food is bought. The tinsel sparkles. All is ready for the picture perfect Christmas. And yet, deep within, we know all that glitters is not gold. For despite the festive decorations, shiny baubles, beautifully wrapped presents and aromas of togetherness, there is one thing missing…peace. We’re on edge, wound tightly like a spring, in a defensive mindset and at a heightened state of sensitivity and fragility. All it takes is a misunderstood action, a thoughtless word, a dissatisfied response to a gift given, a cold reception, or an inebriated spirit to shatter the mood, leaving splinters of discomfort and pain, tearing scabs off wounds you thought were healed, breaking relationships into a thousand pieces. Into this mess, the Prince of Peace comes to bind all things together in love, to heal broken relationships, to forgive sin, and to restore things to the way they are supposed to be.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called…Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
The most difficult circumstance, the most broken relationship, the deepest pain — none of these is beyond Christ’s reach. The Commander of Peace comes into your mess to bind himself to you for eternity and to calm your heart and mind in the present. No one brings peace like Jesus.
1. Share a time when you felt your life was “peaceful.” Why was it like that?
2. What feels fragile in your life at the current time?
3. How does Jesus bring peace to your life?
# 3 in series: Christ- mess
No Audio today but you can read the sermon below.
READINGS: Isaiah 9:2-7; Matthew 1:18-25
Christmas is fast approaching. Have you finished shopping for presents yet? Buying is one thing - wrapping them is all together another thing. It creates a mess! There’s paper and scissors, and sticky tape and ribbon…everywhere. Oh and don’t forget to take off the price sticker or label. Speaking of labels…how many labels are attached to you? Maybe others have stuck them to you, or perhaps you’ve even attached them to yourself. Sometimes as hard as we try to peel them off, they rip leaving a tell tale sign of what was there. Today as we continue to explore Christmess, God reminds us of his gift to us, the Everlasting Father, who cares for us deeply, sees what we need explicitl. He alone can remove the old labels and give us a label that we can stick on everything that we might be clearly identified and beautifully presented whatever shaped mess we were in.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called…Everlasting Father. Isaiah 9:6
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Don’t be afraid. Whatever labels have been applied to you or are attached to you, the Everlasting Father sees beyond them. He enters into the mess, into the scandal of our lives to wrap us up in grace, to place on us a new label that can never be removed, that our lives may be a beautiful present to the world.
1. What brand labels do you find yourself always buying? Why?
2. Complete the sentence: "When people look at me, all they see is ________________________."
3. What does it mean to you that Jesus is the “Everlasting Father?’
#2 in series: Christmess
READINGS: Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 1:26-55
It's all the rage in house design - open plan living with easy sight lines to all parts of the house and the gorgeous island bench you've always wanted. There's just one problem. Open plan living has meant that everything is out in the open...everything Your everyday messes are literally on display for the world to see. The solution - create a 'Butler's Pantry' where the dirty dishes, coffeemaker, food preparation messes can be hidden away behind closed doors, your little secret! Many people wish that God would be like that - the butler who is there to clean up the mess of our lives. The butler who is there to fix things up, serve us and make us look good. But God's ways are not our ways. God’s call to birth his presence into this world inherently messes up the order of life that we establish - the mess is on show, the mistakes are obvious. But that’s the power of the Mighty God; who comes into the womb of the mess of this world, to live in a mess he didn’t create to redeem those whose life was a royal mess. And when we receive that word of promise in our lives, and that presence comes to us…all things are possible…all things are made new…but it gets a little messy when the Mighty God takes hold of us.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called…Mighty God. Isaiah 9:6
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
When we receive the impossible, we will get a Christmas treat that is better than anything we can consume this Christmas season. For as the Wonderful Counselor — God makes the plans. As the Mighty God —he makes the plans work, no matter how messy the situation seems. All of God's plans for you are carried out with all of his infinite might in those tiny fists born for you.
1. What is your favourite Christmas treat to bake/cook?
2 How has God 'messed up' your life?
3. What does it mean for you that Jesus is the 'Mighty God?
Sorry, no audio for this week - a technical breakdown.
#1 in series: Christmess
Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 21:25-36
Christmas…it’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? Our serene expectations of peace and joy, are not always matched by the reality of this season with its bustling activity, stress and impatience. Life is messy, even when it’s dressed in tinsel. When it comes to Christmas, we all come with expectations, and sometimes those expectations aren’t met the way that we hope and even get a little bit messy. The Wonderful Counselor helps us to acknowledge and own up to the mess that exists within this messy world and in our own lives as we cross off the first thing on the list and put up the tree! Whatever mess we find ourselves in, there is hope which we will explore today
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called…Wonderful Counselor. Isaiah 9:6
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
We don’t celebrate Advent because our lives are perfect; we celebrate it because they aren’t. But in the midst of whatever mess we find ourselves in, we have hope. For neither death nor life, neither big or small messes, or endless Christmas to-do lists will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.
1. What is your favourite Christmas “thing.” Song? Food? Memory? Thing to do?
2. What makes a perfect Christmas for you?
3. Have your Christmas plans ever been…messed up? How? What did you do?
#3 in series: The presence of Joy
BIBLE READING: Philippians 4:1-23
Memories. We all have a mixture of memories - some of great times, some of difficult times. Some of successes, others of regrets. Some we are proud of, others that fill us with shame. The memories that we choose to dwell on shape not only our view of the past but dominate our present and largely define our future. That's why Paul invites us to shape our imaginations – individually and collectively – around those things that are honourable, just, true, and commendable. He wants us to be inspired and transformed by what God is up to even in the worst of circumstances or experiences. Come and let God fill you with new memories as you live for joy in every moment.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Every day we fill our lives with many different things in an attempt to discover joy. Whatever you think about and fill your life with will flow from it. There is only one source that will fill you with contentment and peace and enable you to rejoice always and live for joy in all situations. It's Jesus. Fill your life with him and the joy will flow out abundantly.
1. What is your favourite memory of the last year - personally, in the Church community and what emotions are attached to that?
2. What three things do you find that you are always thinking about or stressing about?
3. What would help you in living for joy in those stressful times?
#2 in series: The Presence of Joy
READING: Philippians 3:1-21
Everyone does it…accentuates their achievements, embellishes their accomplishments. It’s called a resume. After all what sounds better? A Vermiculturist or a worm farmer! A check out operator or a customer service representative. Resumes are nothing more than a document that shows off all the things you have learnt, all the experiences you have had, and all the abilities that you have mastered. It’s about finding that edge that makes you stand out above everyone else. So where will you be when you get where you are going? When you have ticked the box of accomplishments in your life? Will joy be yours? There is only one thing that will enable you to keep on going when your resume doesn’t cut it or real fulfilment is elusive. Today we’ll explore what living with joy is all about.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Every decision in life involves a cost-benefit analysis; weighing up the cost of investing in something verses the benefits you receive from that investment. There is only one thing that has ultimate value - it will cost all you are but you will gain everything you need - Jesus Christ. Go hard after him and living with joy will become a daily experience.
Name, may the joy of Jesus be with you. Amen.
# 1 in series: The Presence of Joy
Everyone longs for joy and happiness in life. Yet sometimes our daily circumstances seem to conspire to rob us of joy. Maybe you feel boxed in, trapped or like life’s thread is quickly unravelling and in danger of snapping. Paul’s life was just like that and yet the joy that oozes from his life is surprising, mind boggling and even infectious. So where does that joy come from? Is it possible even when life is painful or full of suffering. Paul’s answer is unequivocally ‘yes”. The presence of joy is not only possible but real. So today we will discover and taste Paul’s recipe for ‘Living in Joy’.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
What you don’t have is always much less than what you do!
Living in joy comes from living in Christ.
For in Christ joy is complete, whatever the circumstances.
1. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being Not at All and 10 being Absolutely
How much are you enjoying life at this present time. Explain.
2. What is a time in your life, where you experienced overwhelming joy?
3. Fill in the blank. If I had _______, I would experience joy
#8 and final in series: 'What if..."
1 Chronicles 16:23-29 Romans 12:1-2
Road testing - it's an important part of what car manufacturers do to ensure their cars live up to the consumers' standards and also to one up their competitors! Their aim is to flog their vehicles and push them to the limits to flush out problems and fix them. While a lot of testing is done on closed circuits, car makers know that real-world car testing needs to take place in real-world conditions. For that's when you see how the car really performs. Paul uses a similar illustration in Romans 12 today when it comes to our faith. What if we road-tested the Christian life like never before. What if, in response to the mercies of God, we worship like never before? For worship is what we were made for and when we depress the pedal of our lives in worship, offering everything we have in response to everything Christ offered for us, we experience a joy and love that lasts whatever real-life conditions or situations we encounter. You can't get better reassurance than that - for your family or loved ones! We'll explore and experience that today!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Worship locks us into a daily rhythm of harmonising, trusting, praising, breathing, loving, celebrating, and receiving from a God whose word is true in every condition of life. It protects in every crash, holds secure in ever changing situations and gives joy in every journey! The daily act of living is an act of worship that demonstrates to the world that there is nothing of greater worth in this world than Jesus Christ. That's what we were made for!
1. What’s the last thing that you truly gave everything you had to?
2. To what degree have you road-tested your faith?
3. How is your life, what you do in the body each day, an act of worship to God?
#7 in series "What if"
Colossians 3:1-17; Luke 10:25-37THEME
Limits. Life is full of limits. Speed Limits, alcohol in your blood while driving limits, weight you can tow limits, height on trucks using Sydney tunnels limits (which are often ignored), daily withdrawal limits on our bank accounts. But the limits in our life don’t stop there. There are internal limits to our patience, our charity, to how many times we will let others hurt us, use us, take advantage of us. We all have our limits. Today Jesus challenges us with a familiar parable that will confront and challenge us - “what if there were no limits to our love, to our mercy, to our compassion? What if we love our neighbour like never before? Is that possible? We’ll explore that question today as Jesus stretches us through a familiar story in a way that we don’t quite expect.
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. Ephesians 2:4-5
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
It is only when we recognise ourselves as the traveller left for dead in a ditch by the road, that we can arise to love and be a neighbour like never before, For when we have grasped and experienced the radical grace, mercy and love shown to us in Jesus Christ, then it’s hard to look at anything … or anyone … quite the same. That's where real love, mercy and compassion without limits, begins.
PRAYER FOR THE WEEK
Heavenly Father, we know that you have made us for yourself, to love you and to love our neighbours. Yet still we cannot help but live for ourselves, and every day we justify ourselves by our own standards, not yours. But Lord, just as you have found us in the ditch and rescued us, fill us with compassion and mercy, that our eyes may be open to see the needy and hurting all around us, and our hearts enlarged to draw near and and practically help them in their time of need. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
1 What do you think it means to love your neighbour?
2. Why is it sometimes hard to be compassionate in the world today?
3. What is the greatest lengths you have gone to in order to help someone in need?