The Family Together in Corporate Worship

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 NIV). 

The opposite of infuriating our children is bringing them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Parents have the primary (but not the only) responsibility to train and teach their children about the Lord Jesus. Part of this training and teaching happens as parents, by our example, reveal the meaning and value of corporate worship. Children need to see dad and mum bow their head in prayer, sing with joy praises to God, listen hungrily to the Word of God. It is a parent’s responsibility (not the Kid’s Church leader, youth leader, etc) to form the attitude and behaviour of their children in worship. 

Children absorb a tremendous amount that is of value; this is true even if they say they are bored. I suspect the accumulative effect of over 850 church services spent together up to the age of 18 would be incalculable. Music and words become familiar. The message of the music starts to sink in. The form of the service comes to feel natural. Even if most of the sermon goes over their head, experiences show that children hear and remember remarkable things. 

On another level, the content of the prayers and songs and sermon gives parents unparalleled opportunities to teach their children the great truths of the Christian faith. If parents queried their children after the service, and explain things, a child’s capacity to participate would soar. Not everything that a child experiences has to be put on their level in order to do them good. Church services are not useless to children because much of it goes over their head. They will grow into it faster than we think – if positive, joyful and earnest attitudes are fostered by parents.

As a church we need to be careful from reinforcing ideas that you only go to church if it is interesting, or that the service is good up until the sermon then you can leave. A deep moving of the magnificence of God can come to a young heart through certain moments of great songs, Scripture saturated prayers or authoritative preaching.

It would be a mistake to under estimate the impact of corporate worship in the spiritual development of our young people. The setting of the family focussing towards God together in corporate worship will be a nonverbal picture growing richer and richer in a child’s mind and heart.

As a church we want to equip parents to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. We do this in many ways, both formal and informal. Right now I am very grateful for the work that Sam Freestone is doing in producing the Parent Pastors sheets. As it says on the sheet the idea of these studies is for you, as a parent, to spend time each night with your child, going through the Bible, praying and re-enforcing what they learnt on Sunday. I commend them to you as an excellent way of engaging our children, and yourself, in corporate worship.

Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister

A Week of Prayer

Sunday, February 05, 2012

One of our core values at St Paul’s is Devotion to Prayer. It reads:

Prayer is an expression of our relationship with God our Father. It is one of the great privileges of the Christian to be able to talk to the sovereign, all powerful, Creator of the universe about the big and small issues of life. As our heavenly Father, our deepest delight is to be in him and we need to acknowledge at every level that we can do nothing apart from him.

As a church we are committed to: * consistently bringing to God in prayer all things; * intentionally building prayer into the centre of our life together; * developing a culture of natural and unstructured prayerfulness when interacting with each other; * encouraging and equipping for prayer on a personal and family level; * incorporating prayer into every church activity.

(Colossians 4:2-4; Philippians 4:4-6; Ephesians 6:18)

St Paul’s will begin this ministry year with a week of prayer. I want to see us all stirred up to pray earnestly for me as your pastor, for the staff, for the Parish Council and leadership teams, and for the whole ministry of the gospel as we all strive, with the strength of God, to enlarge and purify the body of Christ in this place.

I hope that a week of prayer will go some way in reminding us of our dependency upon God. We have a big vision of what we want to see God do amongst us. But know this: we can work our heads off in pursuit of our objective to see 500 in church each week and 150 core members by the end of 2014; we can have countless meetings, and go through the motions of worship, but if God isn't in it, it will be hollow and merely human with no divine spiritual life. Psalm 127:1 is a great reminder: Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

Nothing troubles me more as a Christian than prayerless-ness. Nothing makes me feel more hypocritical as a pastor as ministry activity without prayer. There are few things more fearful to me than running a church on the momentum of tradition and habit when the power has been severed. Didn't Jesus say, I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5)? But how easily a church can become deceived into thinking that its activities are something, when in fact Jesus says they are nothing without him.

History proves beyond doubt that the way God effects revival, spiritual power, joy in worship, the healing of animosities, and zeal for outreach is by putting a burden for prayer upon a congregation and then pouring out blessing in response to their pleas. God give us such a burden!

So I begin this year with a plea to you for myself. You must help me by prayer, or I will not make it. You should include staff and leaders here, too. The weight of the responsibility of the spiritual welfare of this church is immense. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul lists his hardships as an apostle, and then he adds with tremendous feeling these words in verse 28: Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.Would you all please resolve to help me/us by prayer in 2012? Pray that I might learn to rely only on God, that I might be delivered from evil, that I might hear the Word of God daily and deliver it to you with life-changing power, that I might do the work of an evangelist and see many won to Christ, and that I might have vision for our future and the wisdom to equip you, the saints, for the work of the ministry. And I promise to pray for you.

Let this week of prayer be a launching pad for your new life with God in 2012. I invite you to join me in praying for a fresh outpouring of Godʼs Spirit to intensify our love to Christ, deepen our grasp of truth, strengthen our trust in Godʼs promises, endear to us the word of God, free us from personal vices, enliven family love and faithfulness, embolden our witness to unbelievers, make our personal involvement in worship authentic, move us out in acts of justice as responsible citizens, increase our compassion for the needy, convert the lost in our midst, and make oaks of righteousness out of new saplings.

Seeking for prayerful support in 2012, 

Steve Jeffrey Senior Minister

The cost of discipleship

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thank you so much for your prayers in the lead up to and during Summer Camp, it was a significant time of encouragement and challenge from God’s word and for the deepening of relationships within our youth ministry.

We spent the five days looking at Chapters 9 and 10 of Luke’s gospel wrestling with the call to deny ourselves.  It was so exciting to see God’s Spirit challenging both the leaders and the kids with specific areas in their life that they needed to surrender control to God.

We had fantastic weather for the whole week and only  one injury involving a shell from the rock pool.  It was very apparent that God was protecting us and removing anything that might have distracted from our main focus.

Each day on camp consisted of personal time in Gods word, singing and praying together, a message from the bible and small group time to dig deeper into the passages.  It was a particular answer to prayer to see the kids taking the initiative to get fed from God’s word by themselves during hang time each morning.

There were opportunities for our senior kids to step up and lead as they planned our hoedown night, it is exciting to imagine what these 15 and 16 year old young people will accomplish for God as they continue to treasure him and seek his glory with their whole lives.

Saturday night was particularly important as we looked at counting the cost of discipleship, choosing to hand over our whole lives to Jesus no matter what the cost.  For both leaders and kids it was a confronting message and an exciting one as God lifted our eyes to his sufficiency and the joy that is only found in him.  Please continue to pray for those who were challenged on this night, that the Holy Spirit would continue to convict and empower them to count the cost and treasure Jesus every day for the rest of their lives.

We are really excited by the year ahead as we continue to support our kids in their ministry to their friends, as we encourage them in their relationship with Jesus and as we seek to equip them for lives given completely to God’s purpose and call.  Please pray for the youth leaders this year as they disciple our teenagers, pray for wisdom, for energy and for their own godliness that they might be an example not only to our young people but to all of us.

Sam Low, Next Gen Minister

Planning for God’s Glory in 2012

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My project for January is to build a deck. The first thing is to sit down and make a list of all the materials I think I will need. Next I go and buy what I need, and unload it close to where I need it but where it won’t be in the way of the work. If I put the materials right where I need to dig a hole then I would call that a failure to plan.

Without some basic planning you probably won't have anything to eat when you get up in the morning. Without some detailed planning no one can build a house, let alone a skyscraper or shopping mall or city. 

Nothing but the simplest impulses gets accomplished without some forethought which we call a plan. All of us know it and practice it in relation to the basic physical necessities of life. But do we take our spiritual needs that seriously? 

What I would like to do here is to try to persuade you to set aside time each week in the coming year to plan—and specifically to plan your life of prayer and devotion and ministry. The way I hope to motivate you to do this is to give three examples of planning in the Bible.

The first, and ultimate, reason for planning is that God is a God who plans. I don't think it is even possible to conceive of God as having knee jerk responses rather than deliberate actions that fit into a wise purpose.

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Since God is a God who does all things according to plan it befits us to approach the most important things of life with forethought and plan, not haphazardly.

Secondly, Jesus had a mission to accomplish, and he finished it with forethought and planning.

When his mother urged him to do a miracle at the wedding in Cana, he said, My time is not yet come (John 2:4). There was a planned and appointed hour for the revelation of his power. He would stay with the plan. Luke 9:51 says, As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He knew that the plan meant death in Jerusalem and he didn't shrink back from the plan.

Thirdly, we will take just one example of Paul's planning from the many that we could take from Acts and from his letters.

Romans 15:20-28 is a typical example of how the apostle Paul carried out his mission. I think we should learn from him that planning is essential to a productive ministry (personal ministry as well as the more complex organism of church ministries). Paul accomplished more in his life for the spread of the reign of Christ than any other person, so I think we would do well to take seriously his method. Part of his method was his planning.

He had a general guideline: he wanted to preach where no one had preached before. Then he developed a specific plan from this guideline: he would take the gift to Jerusalem; then he would go to Rome to establish a western base, from which he would then go to Spain.

What makes this especially significant is that as far as we know the plan fell through. He was arrested in Jerusalem. He went to Rome as a prisoner and probably never got to Spain. It's just like we saw in the Proverbs. God is the one who finally makes the future. But we plan nevertheless. God uses our planning even if he aborts it.

Very specifically my plea to you this new year is that you take time to plan the most important things in your life. Plan how you are going to spend time with your spouse to deepen and strengthen the relationship. Plan how you are going to spend time playing with and teaching the children. Plan how you are going to get the amount of exercise you need to stay healthy. Plan how you are going to get enough sleep. Plan how much you should eat and how you are going to limit yourself. Plan your vacation so that it really gives rest and spiritual renewal.

Most important, plan how prayer and meditation on the Word are going to be significant parts of your life. Without a plan these most important things always get pushed aside by urgent pressures.

But it won't work just to plan something tonight or tomorrow. Planning must be a regular part of your life. I expect the pastoral staff at St Paul’s to take a full day each month away from the church office just to pray and plan their ministry. This is in addition to the time I expect we are all taking each week to plan our week's work.

My plea to you is that you set aside time each week to plan, especially to plan your life of prayer and Bible study. Since Sunday is the first day of the week (not the last day of the weekend!), take ten or fifteen minutes each Sunday and think through when you will pray and what you will study that week. Give some thought how God might want to use you that week in a special way. Plan the letters you need to write, the Bible verses you want to teach your children, the visit you want to make, the book you want to read, the neighbour you want to talk to, etc.

Planning for God’s glory in 2012,

Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister

Why was Jesus Born?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I believe I speak for all the staff when I pray that during this Christmas season, and at all times, God would enable you to treasure his incarnate and risen Son above all else. Here are twelve short reasons for why Christ came, may they help you to treasure him this Christmas season:

1. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. (John 18:37)

2. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)

3. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2:17)

4. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)

5. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

6. God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. (Galatians 4:5)

7. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

8. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

9. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)

10. This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will  be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. (Luke 2:34f)

11. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed (Luke 4:18)

12. Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15:8-9)

So much was achieved from one birth! Have you ever asked yourself what would be different if Jesus had never been born? If Jesus had not come in the fullness of time and been born of a woman and fulfilled the law.

If Jesus had not been born:

~ This would not be the year of our Lord 2011;

~ We would never hear a single Christmas carol or Handel’s Messiah;

~ No city would be named St. Paul or St. Petersburg or Corpus Christi;

~ We would have never heard of William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, John Knox, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Hus, John Newton, Billy Graham, Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Swindoll, John Stott, JI Packer, John Piper, or… make a list of your own;

~There would be no organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Moore College, The Red Cross, Anglicare, The Salvation Army, Christian Book Sellers Association, CMS, OMF, Youthsurge and countless others;

~ We would have no such books as Tale of Two Cities, Dickens’s Christmas Carol, or even The Grinch Who Stole Christmas;

~ We’d have no movies such as Ben Hur, The Cross and the Switchblade, Chariots of Fire, Narnia, and scores of others;

~ We would never ever had heard such songs as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “We Treasure You,” “Fairest Lord Jesus,” “Joy to the World”;

~ Idioms would never have been brought into our language such as the Good Samaritan, the prodigal son, lost sheep, or any of Jesus’ other parables;

~ We would not have teachings that have entered our every day speech such as turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and love your enemies;

~ It could be easily argued that the Australian constitution would not be what it is;

~ There would be no St Paul’s Chatswood, and Sydney Diocese;

~ The Wuaorani Indians of Ecuador would still kill white men instead of baptizing their children;

~ The Arawakan Indians of the Caribbean would still be cannibals;

~ Descendents of the Mayans in Chiapas, Mexico, would still sacrifice their children instead of teaching them to praise the true Creator;

~ Prophecies would remain unfulfilled, Satan would not be crushed, we would not be delivered, God would be a liar, and death would not be conquered;

~ The New Testament would never have been written;

~ There would be no mediator between God and man, for the man Christ Jesus would not have been born;

~ We would remain dead in our trespasses and sins!

But Christ was born! May the realization of the sweeping impact of his birth, life, death, and resurrection join with the heartfelt greetings of the staff to bring you a very Merry Christmas!

Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister

Humility: A Christmas Virtue

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This Christmas I am marvelling at Jesus’ humility and wanting more of it myself. My favourite Christmas text puts humility at the heart of Christmas:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8).

Those are some of my favourite verses on humility. But there is a problem for us; Jesus wasn’t humble for the same reasons we are (or should be). How then can looking at Jesus’ Christmas humility help us? Our humility, if there is any at all, is based on our finiteness, our fallibility, and our sinfulness. But the eternal Son of God was not finite, he was not fallible, and he was not sinful. Unlike our humility, Jesus’ humility originated some other way.

What defines Jesus’ humility is the fact that it is mainly a conscious act of putting himself in a lowly, servant role for the good to others. His humility is defined by phrases like, made himself nothing...taking the very nature of a servant...he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 

Jesus’ humility was not a heart disposition of being finite or fallible or sinful. It was a heart of infinite perfection and infallible truthfulness and freedom from all sin, which for that very reason did not need to be served. He was free and full to overflow in serving.

Another Christmas text that says this would be Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus’ humility was not a sense of defect in himself, but a sense of fullness in himself put at the disposal of others for their good. It was a voluntary lowering of himself to make the height of his glory available for sinners to enjoy.

Jesus makes the connection between his Christmas lowliness and the good news for us: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30). 

His lowliness makes our relief from burdens possible. If he were not lowly, he would not have been obedient to death—even death on a cross. And if he had not been obedient to die for us, we would be crushed under the weight of our sins. He lowers himself to take our condemnation (Romans 8:3).

Now we have more reason to be humble than before. We are finite, fallible, sinful, and therefore have no ground for boasting at all. Now in Jesus we see other humbling things: our salvation is not owing to our work, but his grace, so boasting is excluded (Ephesians 2:8-9). The way he accomplished that gracious salvation was through voluntary, conscious self-lowering in servant-like obedience to the point of death.

In addition to finiteness, fallibility, and sinfulness, we now have two other huge impulses at work to humble us: free and undeserved grace underneath all our blessings, and a model of self-denying, sacrificial, servanthood that willingly takes the form of a servant.

We are called to join Jesus in this conscious self-humbling and servanthood - Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”(1 Peter 5:5).

This is my Christmas prayer for myself and for St Paul’s.

A humble and merry Christmas to you all.

Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister

A Call to Battle

Monday, December 05, 2011
Last Sunday1 we were reminded of the reality of the Christian life until Christ returns: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)
We are at war! We are at war against a formidable enemy. Satan has no conscience, no compassion, no remorse, no morals. He feeds on pain and anguish and filth. There is nothing in Satan which is redeemable. There is no virtue, but only a dark void. He is supremely cunning and he has been honing his methods for millennia. He is an accomplished philosopher, theologian and psychologist. He has studied for thousands of years - enough time to be astonishingly brilliant at every discipline. He is the ultimate manipulator and subverter and actor. 2 Corinthians 11 says that one of his deadly methods is masquerading as an agent of God’s. He hates Christ. He hates God’s children. He hates the Church. He hates the Mission and Vision of St Paul’s to see Jesus known, treasured and represented in such a way that more and more people are rescued from his evil clutches.

All would be despair except that this is only part of Paul’s cosmic perspective. On earth, amongst mortals, Satan has no equal, but in the heavenly realms he is far exceeded by the Triune God. There is no dualism. Satan is not the counterpart of God. Satan is finite and God is infinite. In fact, Colossians 1 & 2 says that the entire spiritual realm owes it’s existence to Christ, including thrones... powers... rulers... authorities both visible and invisible both in heaven and on earth.

But Christ is not only more powerful by virtue of being Satan’s creator, but because he defeated Satan at the cross. Satan and his crew are under Christ’s feet. He has sealed their doom, although in this present age they still exercise control over those who have not found freedom in Christ. If we are filled with the Spirit, Satan’s forces cannot subdue us. However, those of us who neglect Christ’s resources and rely upon their own strength and human wisdom, and especially those who give the enemy room in our lives, place ourselves in harm’s way.

The call last Sunday was to take on a wartime mindset. The call was to get rid of the deckchair, the cocktails and the beach umbrella. Trench warfare is what we are involved in. Take on the wartime mindset and commit your resources to the battle.

I think it is important to be reminded again that the battle rages in our world for the souls of people.

There are approximately 2 840 000 000 persons in the world (41.1% of humanity) who are considered to either have no Christian witness or very little Christian witness.

Jesus said:
Matthew 24:14, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 9:37-38, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Matthew 28:18-19, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

John 20:21, Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

Until the Kingdom is finally established and there are no more unreached peoples, St Paulʼs Chatswood must be a mission base. Until the Kingdom comes, corporate worship at St Paulʼs must stoke the fires of love for the glory of a global God. Until the Kingdom comes, our small groups and leadership development must train the troops for tactical and strategic warfare with the weapon of truth and prayer. Until the Kingdom comes, pastoral care must be the field hospitals saving the wounded, relieving battle fatigue, transforming the traumas of spiritual war into veteran courage. Until the Kingdom comes, our fellowship and relationships must have the flavor of camaraderie under siege. Until the Kingdom comes, money must be the currency of combat, not convenience (I would strongly encourage you to pledge for 2012 if you havenʼt done it yet). Until the Kingdom comes, leisure must be re-creation for the cause of Christ, not self indulgence or escapism. Until the Kingdom comes, marriage must be a partnership in arms (double meaning intended!). Until the Kingdom comes, the family must be an enclave of Christ-centered joy equipping young insurgents to infiltrate occupied territories. Until the Kingdom comes, vocation must be an on-duty outpost, a solitary sortie, and a basic line of support for the war effort.

If we love the glory of God, and have compassion for the lost, no other mentality will leave our conscience clear.

Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister

Commitment Sunday 2011: why are you here?

Monday, December 05, 2011
Here we all are this morning in church for Commitment Sunday. I wonder why? I wonder why you’re not sleeping in? I wonder why you're not home watching Touched by an Angel or Seventh Heaven on Channel 11. I wonder why we're not down the road at the Bavarian Bier Cafe (I understand they now have a marvelous breakfast menu on weekends)? I wonder why we're not at the gym, or walking the dog? I wonder why you’re not visiting friends and family, or cutting the grass, or taking the kids to sport, or doing some retail therapy? Is being here at church now the best thing you could have done this morning? If there was something better to do, or something more pressing, would you have given church a second thought? Be honest, after all, it's only church...isn’t it?

I wonder if you're comfortable with the way those words run together - only church. Is meeting as a church only an afterthought? Does it fits in around everything else that's on. If you're comfortable with the words "it's only church," (or even if you’re not), I want to invite you to take a look at what God thinks of Church from Ephesians 3:

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. (3:10).

Manifold literally means many coloured. The church is God's brightly coloured neon sign to the universe. The church is the universal advertisement of the wisdom of God. Imagine that! Can you imagine that even the angels look down upon St Paul’s and marvel at God’s eternal purposes as they see it being worked out in us! Do you have that kind of purpose as you gather on Sundays? To think that you're here to demonstrate to this world - and the angels in the heavenly realms - the wonders of God’s eternal plan being worked out in Christ. Mmm, only church doesn’t seem to grasp it.

We've been called the STABO generation. It stands for Subject To A Better Offer. Once upon a time invitations to an event were sent and you'd ask people to RSVP (which was French for let us know if you're coming). Apparently hardly anyone ever does this nowadays. We're STABO people!

Often we take a STABO approach to the gathering of God's people, and we miss the point that gathering together his church is God's beacon of his glory in the universe. This is still the case even if your experience of church might be disappointment, something slightly boring, of relationships that have been less than what they could be. Gathering for church is more important than the weekend get away, going out for brunch, sleeping in, watching TV, Sunday sport, retail therapy, visiting family, or work. May God bless us with an enlarged vision of his glory through the Church!

Why are you here this morning? You're here to be part of God's church. You're here to actively love one another. There's always work to do to make the reality measure up to that but it will never measure up by not turning up! So he is the challenge: be here week by week and be part of it. Be part of it because church on a Sunday is just scratching the surface of what church is about. Get here on time and actively look for ways to love people. Keep looking at the love of Jesus as you see it at the cross, and look for ways to imitate it by taking initiative in loving others. Instead of looking for things to complain about, look for ways to love.

We are here today to catch a glimpse of God's intentions and recommit ourselves to it. Will you join me in making Paul’s prayer at the end of Ephesians 3 our prayer? That God's reputation in the world will be increased by us. That the way we love, that the way we care for one another, that the way we're united will bear the sort of fruit we can't even start to imagine. Pray that we would be a church that displays God’s eternal purposes to the universe with crystal clear clarity.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)

Steve Jeffrey, Senior Minister