||Pastoral Passage|| Church life in New Zealand – like that of tourism and hospitality – has been disrupted and constricted these past two years, and it seems now that the times of lockdowns and gathering restrictions have come to an end. The Lord’s response to the despondent Jews at their return from exile also speaks today to church communities who are rebuilding.
||Pastoral Passage|| It is fine to pray for help, thank God or ask his forgiveness. But texts like Colossians 4:12 add something more – prayer in light of God’s promises and purposes, asking him to hasten these things.
||Pastoral Passage|| How has God defined the relationship between himself and humanity?
A short while ago I came across a summary of the gospel from John Stott’s commentary on the book of Acts. I appreciated the summary but wondered what place gospel-motivated social transformation has in it. How does the gospel make us make the world better?
Experiences don’t make or break the Christian life. They can be a great boost for faithful Christian living, but in the end they count for nothing if what God has already clearly spoken has little value to you. Do seek to hear God, but make sure you aren’t neglecting to listen in the right place. He has already spoken.
The parable of the Unforgiving Servant spells out in severe terms the necessity of forgiving those who wrong us “from the heart”. An issue that arises here is the very real difficulty people can have in bringing themselves to forgive.
Difficult texts that say unexpected things are worth a harder look.
When we sing together as a fellowship, we join the reality hinted at by the coming of the wise men to Jesus. We who are not ethnic sons and daughters of Israel have joined the ‘wise men’ in their wisdom when we come to Christ and raise our voices together to him. One day we will join that multitude of Revelation 7. Today we sing as a small sample of that.
The Christian faith frequently conflicts with current ideas. Given this has happened since Christianity’s inception, this should neither surprise nor dismay us. Rather, we should establish its difficult teachings in our hearts and minds so we can preserve them, present them, and faithfully pass them on.
The wise men were prompted to travel far and bring costly gifts and worship him because of what they understood about this new-born Jesus.