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"Do Whatever He Tells You."

Posted on January 27, 2013 at 7:07 PM Comments comments (41)
On Sunday, January 27th, 2013 I was blessed to preach my first mini sermon in our new home town in Tasmania.  It was based on John 2:1-12.  It's the story where Jesus and His disciples are at a wedding.  Then, catasrophe, because there is no more wine!  Mary turns to Jesus for help but Jesus doesn't seem that interested.  Yet Mary still tells the servants to "Do whatever He tells you."  Once Jesus gets involved in the situation, the water is turned into wine.  It's this water turning into wine  that grabs our attention most of the time.  Either that or the way Jesus spoke to His mother Mary when she sought His help.  However, it is so easy to pass over five words that Mary spoke to the servants.  "Do whatever He tells you."
When Jesus told the servants to fill up the stone water jars with water, they did so in complete obedience and filled them to the brim.  I may have been happy to have left a little gap at the top, but these servants filled these jars to the brim.  In other words, they obeyed Jesus 100%.  Bear in mind these jars held about 100 litres of water, so it would have been tempting not to fill them as much.  Yet the servants did as Jesus told them.  They filled them.
Next, Jesus tells the servants to take some of the water and give it to the Master of Ceremonies.  By this time, the water has turned into wine and the wedding celebration continues on with the best wine and John tells us this is the first miraculous sign Jesus performed. 
Let's go back to Mary.  She appears intermittently throughout the Gospels.  The last recorded words of Mary are: "Do whatever He tells you."  These five words contain such power.  I don't suppose Mary intended them to, but for us - His servants in 2013 - we can take them to heart and learn to trust and obey even when it seems crazy to do so.
Three months ago, my wife and son and I followed the call of Jesus to Tasmania.  It's a state in Australia, and it's an hours flight back to Victoria - our home state.  But to get here with all our belongings we had to sail in a boat overnight.  We were very comfortable in our home in Victoria.  There were times when we doubted His call on our lives to move to Tasmania, but whenever we did the promises of God flooded in.  God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  In our new home town, we continue to seek to obey the call of Jesus upon our lives because we believe He has called us here for a purpose.
Sometimes we can shortchange Jesus.  Instead of giving Him 100% obedience, we do most of what He asks of us and hold back a little.  Or maybe we simply just ignore Jesus.  Take a look at the servants at the wedding celebration - they obeyed Jesus 100% - they did what Jesus asked of them.
WWJD or "What Would Jesus Do?" is a popular term among Christians.  But I always believe it should be DWJD.  That is, "Do What Jesus Did."  By the time we ask WWJD and seek an answer we may well have missed the opportunity to serve Him.
When we do what Jesus did, we show love.  But as Bob Gass wrote recently in his devotional, "Love is spelt T-I-M-E."  Love is a doing word, and when we do it for Jesus He blesses it.
For today and the coming years, as individuals and as brothers and sisters in Christ gathered throughout the world, the five words for us to remember are "Do whatever He tells you."  But please, don't just remember them - act on them!

The Shepherds Find Him

Posted on December 11, 2011 at 5:42 AM Comments comments (167)
Luke 2:15 - 20.  God chose not to let nanny and pa know about the birth of Jesus as soon as He was born, nor was an advertisement called through to the local newspaper.  The angels proclaimed the most wonderful news by first telling the shepherds who were out in the fields, tending their sheep.  What was their response?  Well, they did not go to sleep.  Instead, they moved quickly and went to find the baby in a manger.  They left their sheep out in the fields, unprotected.  I reckon God made sure not a sheep went missing while these shepherds went to see Jesus.  The sheperds received a message from the angels, and they believed it was from God.  Finding baby Jesus confirmed this message, so no wonder they went out and told others about Jesus.  In effect, they became the first witnesses.

People were amazed when they heard about Jesus.  Mary simply took it all on board and allowed the deep truths to resonate in her heart.  Ordinarily, someone coming in and telling you angels appeared to them would be unbelievable.  However, Mary also had experienced an angel up close and personal.  Mary did not understand why Jesus had come, but she did know He was someone pretty special.

I get so excited when I read about these shepherds.  I pray the excitement they experienced will rub off on us so we can also get excited about Jesus.  When excited about Jesus, we will want to go and tell others about Him and what He has done for us - just like these shepherds.

The Birth Of Jesus

Posted on December 11, 2011 at 5:01 AM Comments comments (9)
Luke 2:1 - 7.  Isn't it wonderful how Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem?  Of course, the prophet Micah had given the town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Messiah centuries earlier.  But I just love how God used the political leaders of the time to make sure Joseph would travel with Mary to Bethlehem right at the time Jesus would enter the world.  God's timing is perfect.  Surprising that the Son of God would be born in a manger, and not a palace.  But then again, His parents were ordinary people who loved God.

Luke's telling of the birth of Jesus is so simple and matter of fact.  It is a wonderful event that happened and one that we can celebrate every day as we thank God for sending Jesus to live among us as Emmanuel - God with us.

The final words of our reading today mention how there was "no room for them in the inn."  Sadly, people still use the same excuse today when it comes to Jesus.  There is no room for Jesus in someone's life because they are too busy with work, making money, family, sport, addictions, and the list goes on and on.  Make sure you find space for Jesus in your life.  I know we are all busy.  Technology was spruiked as making life easier and less time consuming, yet we seem to spend more of our time with technology that it crowds out what is important.  Jesus is what is most important.  Make room and time for Jesus.  Invite Him in, because He will not force His way in. 

With Great Rejoicing

Posted on December 10, 2011 at 5:37 PM Comments comments (10)
Luke 1:39 45.  Having received the news from the angel, Mary goes and spends some time with Elizabeth, who as we know, is also pregnant.  We also know that both these pregnancies are miraculous, because only God can do the impossible.  As they come together, Elizabeth's baby leaps in her womb...dare I say leaps for joy?...and then inspired by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth goes on to confirm everything the angel had told Mary.  In our daily life, sometimes it is good to get confirmation of God's will for our life from someone else.  I sense this is what happens here.  I love the last bit of encouragement that Elizabeth gives to Mary, because Mary has taken a big step of faith to believe God will do all He has said He would.  Not all of us are called to be missionaries or evangelists, but I believe we can all be encouragers.  Being an encourager is so much better than being a discourager.  Try and encourage someone in their walk with Jesus today, and be a blessing to them.

Announced By The Angel

Posted on December 6, 2011 at 6:03 AM Comments comments (12)
Luke 1:26-38.  Gabriel was a busy angel.  He had an important message from God for Zechariah regarding John the Baptist, and then an even more important announcement for Mary, concerning God's Son, Jesus.  Imagine how Mary felt when Gabriel came to her.  Gabriel does not want Mary to be afraid, but to simply listen to his words.  We need to remember that Mary is a virgin, and Gabriel tells her she will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and His kingdom will last forever.

These are big words for a young girl to take in, and rather than accept it for what it is, she challenges Gabriel with a question relating to her being a virgin.  Mary knew it took a male and a female to come together before a baby could be born.  So Gabriel gives an answer.  Mary would become pregnant with the Son of God via the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High.  Gabriel goes on to explain how her relative Elizabeth is pregnant in her old age, and that nothing is impossible for God.  Rather than doubt Gabriel's message, Mary responds with an amazing attitude.  She is willing to be a servant, and accepts what God has in store for her.

Mary is obedient, and in her actions we are encouraged to obey God in any situation for nothing is impossible with God.  Too often we limit God and His power because we put Him in a box.  Our God is a mighty God and He can do whatever we class as impossible.

Do you ever give much thought to angels?  Have you ever seen one?  I would love for you to share with us your thoughts and experiences so we can all be encouraged in our faith journey.

Preceded By John

Posted on December 5, 2011 at 5:22 AM Comments comments (357)
Luke 1:5-17.  Following a brief introduction to his Gospel, (vs.1-4) Luke begins with John the Baptist, the first key figure in the unfolding of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we soon discover, John's birth was also completely unexpected.  Zechariah and Elizabeth are an older couple, unable to have a family due to Elizabeth being barren.  From various characters in the Old Testament, such as Sarah and Hannah, we know that God can do the impossible.

So He sent an angel to give a message to Zechariah as he served in the temple.  I love how the angels often say, "Don't be afraid!"  Hard not to be when confronted with a heavenly being!  However, this angel has a wonderful message for Zechariah and Elizabeth -they are going to have a baby boy!  This baby boy would grow up into a man on a special mission from God.  This mission would prepare the people for the coming Messiah.  God was in action.

The birth of John the Baptist was a clear sign that God was beginning to work among His people.  Praise God we know exactly what happens, yet we can still get excited when weread these passages from the Bible because of their miraculous qualities.  They are a reminder God can do anything, and He loves His people.  The God of 2000 years ago is the same God of today, so put your trust in Him and get excited about what He wants to do in your life.

By The Holy Spirit

Posted on December 3, 2011 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (9)
Matthew1:18-24.  Matthew relates very simply how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  Although Mary was pledged to Joseph, Joseph is not the father of Jesus.  Following the birth of Jesus, Joseph treated Him as his son.  But deep down he knew Jesus to be the Son of God.  So how did Mary become pregnant?  The simple answer is by the Holy Spirit.  There is no further explanation given by Matthew, except to quote from Isaiah 7:14, where we read that "the virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel" - which means, "God with us."  God kept His word from 700 years earlier.  Let us remind ourselves that Mary was a virgin, and so impossible to become pregnant - except for God's intervention through the Holy Spirit.

Of course, Joseph struggled with the idea of Mary being pregnant until an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and gave him instructions.  "Take her home as your wife.  She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son.  Name Him Jesus.  He will save His people from their sins."

No doubt, this is a lot for Joseph to take onboard.  Yet he does so.  Joseph was obedient to God and he sets a wonderful example for us today, too.  Even when everything may seem very confusing, when God is involved all we need to do is obey Him and do what He wants us to.

Jesus, Emmanuel - God with us!  Celebrate Him this advent and beyond.

Please share your thoughts on advent and how you are preparing for Christmas.  In Australia, it is summer time and might be a hot day.  But for you, maybe you will enjoy a white Christmas.  So take the time and share your thoughts.  I would love to hear from you.

At The Right Time

Posted on December 2, 2011 at 4:54 AM Comments comments (9)
Writing to the Galatians, Paul stated that at exactly the right time, God sent His Son into the world.  Jesus arrived not a second too late, or early.  He was born of a woman, so He knows what it is to be a human.  This leads me to that wonderful word: Emmanuel, which means, God with us.  He was born under law to redeem us who are under law.  Why?  So that we might receive the full rights of sons.  In the divine plan of the ages, God sent Jesus to redeem His people from the law and to give them their full rights as children.  This is why Jesus came to this earth.  He came for you and for me.  He came to give us a future, an eternity with Him.  The deal is sealed with the Holy Spirit alive in our hearts.  God is doing a work in us.  As we move forward by faith, let us keep looking to our mighty God to sustain us on our journey.

His Kingship Foretold

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 4:41 AM Comments comments (14)
Zechariah 9:9-13.  Does the opening verse of today's reading sound familiar?  If not, here's a hint.  Palm Sunday.  Have a look at Matthew 21, and you will notice that Matthew even quotes from Zechariah.  Not only was the birth of Jesus foretold, as well as His birth place, but also this major event as Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem on a donkey in the days leading to His death.  You will also notice that once again, the word "peace" is mentioned.  The baby born to be the Saviour of the world, and born the King of the Jews, enters Jerusalem as the King.  May we worship Him today, praising Him who is our King!

He is the King of Kings, He is the Lord of Lords, His name is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Oh.....He is the King!

His Birth Foretold

Posted on November 30, 2011 at 5:22 AM Comments comments (13)
Micah 5:2-5.  Already we have read about the promised Messiah in Isaiah, and now in Micah we even know where He will be born.  All I can say is how great is our God!  Notice that is not a question, but a resounding statement.  It is just another reminder that God had everything in control when it came to sending Jesus to this earth.

The promised ruler would come from Bethlehem and lead the victorious remnant in defeat of the enemy.  It also goes on to describe how the small would overcome the mighty "in the strength of the LORD."  Jesus is God's Son.  How wonderful it is to be reminded of all God has done for us in Jesus.

As we move through Advent, may we always know there is a future for us in Jesus, because He came in the past to complete the mission God had in store for Him.  This is the only way we can look ahead to a glorious future.  So we look forward with expectation, and look back with amazement and thanksgiving for Jesus.