Newsletter September 2019

Rivers of living water

 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  (John 7:37-38)

     With these words Jesus announced the coming of the Holy Spirit following His glorification.  God’s Spirit had been with His people as they worshipped and by the Spirit God had spoken to them through His prophets.  Now, however, a new era was to begin; through the baptism of the Holy Spirit God would not merely be with them but in them (John 14:17), bubbling up in them as a spring of life and flowing from them to others to impart that life.  Jesus, who is the Life, came to bring life to all who believe in Him. 

     John the Baptist had testified concerning Jesus, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.  I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:32-33)  Now at the Feast of Tabernacles, which reminded the Jewish people of God’s supernatural provision of water in the desert during the Exodus, Jesus was announcing the fulfilment of this promise. 

     When we look at the world in which we live it can feel like a spiritual desert; our society seems to be falling apart.  The ever increasing self-centredness is resulting in the breaking-up of families, a relentless competition for power and material possessions and an alarming increase violent crime.  Yet we get the feeling that the worse things get around us, the less people are willing to hear the truth about God’s love and redeeming grace.  Why is it that we as God’s people are not impacting our society as we should?  Why are even we ourselves often so affected by the spiritual death around us?

     Water in the desert is a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament (Isa. 43:19; Ps. 63:1).  For us in Britain it may be hard to imagine actual physical drought, but the people living in the region of Israel were very conscious of their dependence on the seasonal rainfall, without which they would suffer hunger and thirst.  Therefore they could relate to Jesus’ words, “If anyone thirsts …” And they would also have understood His reference to spiritual drought.  Their land was occupied by a foreign nation, they were suffering material deprivation due to the heavy tax burden imposed on them, and their political and religious leaders, rather than offering them a solution, seemed to be accommodating the oppressors for their own personal gain.  When would God intervene on their behalf?  When would the promised Messiah come to deliver them and establish His kingdom of righteousness?  When would the ‘rivers in the desert’ become a reality?

     This is what Jesus was announcing: He was that deliverer, that fountain from which God’s living water would spring (John 4:10).  And those who would drink from Him would not just experience the quenching of their own thirst; they themselves would become springs of living water through the Spirit who would come to live in them.  Jesus came not just to give life, but to transform all who believed in Him and were reborn of His Spirit into a fountain of life.  Through His death and subsequent resurrection and exaltation He would remove the barrier created by humanity’s rebellion against God, making the way for Him to live within His people.

     God came to His creation by taking on human flesh and thus restored those who received Him and believed in Him to Himself.  He brought life to a dead world, and He makes those who believe in Him into agents of that life.  Let us become conscious of what God has placed in us.  Let us not focus on the drought around us but rather on the source within us.  Let us turn our spiritual eyes on God in true spiritual worship (John 4:23) and allow His life-giving presence to flow from us and bring life to those around us. 

     Before Jesus returned to the Father He said to His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  (John 20:21-22)  Jesus is still sending and He is still breathing His Spirit on those who will answer His call.  It is for us to obey His call, depending not on our own ability but on the life which He has placed within us.  That way we will be agents of life, capable of bringing new life to a dying world.  It is for this purpose that He has called us.                                        

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter August 2019

The glory of His name

 

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech.  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.  Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar.  And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4)

     This story of the Tower of Babel reveals to us humankind’s desire to be one.  The people in the story are able to communicate with each other and therefore to agree with each other and make plans as a group.  Their concern is that they might be scattered abroad and lose their sense of community.

     We were created for community.  When God made Adam, He said, “It is not good for man to be alone” and gave him woman, made of his own flesh and bone. (Gen. 2:23) Adam and Eve were one, as they enjoyed God’s presence and the blessings that issued from it.  There was no lack in the garden and life could have continued eternally in that way.  However, Adam and Eve were also united in their disobedience, as they succumbed to the temptation (Gen. 3:5) to be like God, knowing good and evil – i.e. making their own decisions independent of God.  Consequently, they lost their fellowship with God and the resulting blessings, and before long envy and selfish desire led to the fist murder in history (Genesis 4:8).  The first family community was destroyed.

     In the story of the Tower of Babel, we see humankind’s innate desire for unity and community, but we also see the original sin of Adam repeated.  Instead of turning to God, they wanted to reach heaven themselves and make a name for themselves.  They had the resources required for this task and they were of one mind and one language, so they could work together to accomplish it.  However, they left God out of the picture, and He came down to confound their plans by confusing their language.

     As a result of original sin, our society is dominated by human ambitions.  Like in this story, the quest for our own greatness manifests itself through celebrity culture and a one-sided focus on personal achievement and material success at the expense of a living relationship with God.  Even religious endeavours are far too often motivated by a desire to make a name for ourselves by being the most popular church, having the greatest ministry, rather than by a desire to glorify God.  In the value system of this world, prominence and recognition seem more important than faithful service to God and others.  Yet when things fall apart, as they did in Babel, because we have left God out of the picture, we find ourselves in the very place that we had tried to avoid – scattered and left with nothing but a pile of rubble.

     As we consider history, we find that human efforts to create unity have usually been based on oppression.  Strong leaders unite a group of people at the expense of others.  Nations conquer and rule over other nations.  Political ideologies dominate and oppress those who oppose their ideas.  Today the world seems more divided than ever before and many are crying out for strong leadership – and it will come, as the Bible foretells, in the form of the Antichrist.  Yet, one final time, God will confound human attempts to create a unity without His presence.  While humanity endeavours to make a name for itself, JESUS will return to confound its efforts and establish His everlasting kingdom of peace.  In that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:10-11)

     Meanwhile we, as Christ’s body on earth, are called to be a community that declares His name and reflects His glory.  Jesus is the Head, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:11-15).  Therefore let us be different to the world; let us not strive for our own individual greatness but rather, as living stones, be built up together into a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5) – a dwelling place of God’s presence (Eph. 2:22) to the glory of His name.


Newsletter July 2018

Conformed or not conformed

 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:1-2)

     When Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, conquered Jerusalem in 586 B.C. he looted the temple of the true and living God and took its precious articles to his home country to be used in the worship of its idols.  (Dan. 1:1ff)  He also took some of the most gifted young nobles of Israel as captives and instructed his chief officer Ashpenaz to form them into a new elite for his kingdom.  He gave them Babylonian names and presented the best food from the king’s table to them, hoping that after a three-year period of training they would be ready to serve him.  However, the young men from Judah were determined to keep their identity as God’s people and refused to eat meat that was unclean according to God’s Law. 

     Ashpenaz feared that they would grow weak and that the king would notice this and would punish him with death.  So he urged them to eat, but Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah made an agreement with him: they requested that they be allowed to abstain from the forbidden meat for a trial period of ten days, fully convinced that God would keep them strong and healthy.  (Dan. 1:11-14)  And so He did.  At the end of the trial their appearance was healthier than that of any of their fellow trainees who had eaten the king’s food.  And God blessed them for their faithfulness and gave them great knowledge and skill, and to Daniel He gave an understanding of visions and dreams far beyond that of any of the Babylonian learned men.

     As God’s people today, we live in a world that seeks to shape us into its image.  The enemy of God, the devil, constantly tries to lure us with his attractions in order to distract us from serving God.  Before we know it we are conformed to this world and find ourselves serving the idols of greed and selfish ambition.  This is why Paul pleads with the believers in Rome that they present their bodies to God as living sacrifices for God’s glory.  He warns them, and us, not to be shaped by the surrounding world but instead to be transformed by God’s Spirit so we can fulfil His perfect will for our lives. 

     As Daniel received spiritual understanding of God’s purposes, we need our minds to be transformed to think God’s way in order for us to understand His purpose for us and the world within which we live as foreigners.  We are citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom and, as such, His ambassadors in this world.  His purposes are ours and therefore we must be determined, like Daniel and his friends, not to adapt to the ways of this world.

     Daniel always remembered who he was and put his God first in everything.  Therefore, when Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that none of the wise men of Babylon could interpret, it was Daniel who interpreted it to him.  (Dan. 2:1ff)  Giving glory to God, the Creator and Ruler of the universe and the source of all wisdom he explained the dreams meaning.  Consequently the king too gave glory to the God of Israel, the true God of gods, and appointed Daniel chief administrator over all his advisers. (Dan. 2:46-49)

     If we follow Daniel’s example and seek God and His kingdom first, He will open doors for us and add to us all that we need to progress in this life.  (Matt. 6:33)  We may be tempted to trust in our own ability as we strive to make it in this life, but we will always find that we come to a place where we recognise our limitations.  With God there are no such limitations!  Therefore let us always put Him first, live in obedience to Him and allow Him to transform us into the perfect image of Christ.  Let us give ourselves as sacrifices to Him as He gave Himself a sacrifice for us.  God is able to do far more than we can imagine when His power works in us and through us – to His glory.  (Eph. 3:20-21)     

Newsletter June 2019

Open eyes

 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1-3)

     Jesus is in Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.  His disciples have heard Him debate with the religious leaders and declare in the Temple “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12).  Now they come across a blind man sitting by the wayside to beg from those going to worship in the temple.  This man has never seen light; all he has known in his life is darkness.  Surely somebody is to blame for his condition – if not he himself then maybe his parents.  Jesus, however, corrects his disciples; the man’s plight was to reveal God’s glory.      

     Then Jesus goes up to the man and does something rather unusual: He spits on the ground, rubs the dirt into a clay-like mixture and puts it on the man’s eyes and sends him to wash out his eyes.  The man obeys His instructions and, amazingly, the he returns seeing.  Those who knew him as the blind beggar are confused – is it really him or just his lookalike?

     The man confirms that it is truly him.  Now they want to know how this was possible.  He tells them “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.” (John 9:11)  A miracle!  This must immediately be reported to the Pharisees – the religious leaders!  The Pharisees, however, are not enthused.  Rather than rejoice with the man and those who witnessed his healing, they point to the fact that it is the Sabbath when no work may be done.  Surely someone who heals on the Sabbath cannot be from God.  Rules are there to be kept.  This Jesus must be a false prophet.

     These religious men could not rejoice with the healed man.  They did not understand what it was like to receive sight, when all one has known is darkness.  They could not receive the Light of God that had come into their midst.  They saw Jesus, but did not recognise him.  As Christians today, we confess our faith in Jesus as God’s Son.  Yet do we really recognise Him?  Do we know what His priorities are?  Are we concerned about those who live in darkness?  Or are we too blind ourselves to perceive what matters to Him?  Is our focus merely on maintaining the religious routine we have become so used to?  Is our ambition to advance God’s kingdom rule or to promote our own causes. 

     Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”  Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (v.39-41) 

     Jesus divides – into those who believe in Him and those who reject Him.  He came into this world of darkness as the Light of God.  He came to open the eyes of the blind that they would see.  He told his disciples, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (v.3)  Jesus has ascended to the Father, but He has sent us His Spirit – that same Spirit who worked in Him when the Father raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:20)  May our spiritual eyes be opened, that we may know what is the hope of His calling.  May we not be blind to what He is doing, but rather engage in it. May we truly be His body on earth, the fullness of Him who fills all in all, so we can fulfil by His power what He has begun – to bring light to those who sit in darkness.

Newsletter May 2019

Witnesses of Jesus Christ

 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.  Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.  Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)

     After Jesus had risen from the dead he appeared to his disciples as they were gathered together.  They saw Him and touched Him, and He showed them His wounded hands and feet and ate in their presence.  There could be no doubt – He was alive!  Jesus then explained to them from the scriptures the purpose of His death on the cross and commissioned them to proclaim to the whole world the good news of remission of sins in His name.  However, to be effective witnesses they needed more than just to see and hear; He would not leave them alone but would send the Holy Spirit to live in them.  That way His presence would be with them always, and He would guide them and empower them for the task that lay ahead.  For this reason they had to wait in Jerusalem before embarking on their mission.  Only by the power of His Spirit could they continue the work He had begun – to advance God’s kingdom, to bring His light into the darkness of a lost world.

     Ten days after Jesus’ ascension to the Father, on the feast day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, and immediately they began to preach the good news of the kingdom of God and demonstrate its presence through miracles of healing and deliverance.  And the Spirit in them brought about a love and unity among the disciples that the world had never witnessed.  Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr confirm that it was the love the Christians had for one another that convinced others of their message.  It was the loving community of the believers, as much as the miraculous signs, that appealed to people.

     While Jesus was still on earth with His disciples He spoke much about love.  The ultimate proof of His love for them and the world was His death on the cross, and this was to be the focus of their preaching and their lifestyle.  It was as they centred their lives on the cross, trusting in His grace, that they experienced God’s forgiveness and love and so were able to love and forgive others and experience the unity that comes only by His presence manifested through His Spirit.

     The message is still the same, and so is the path to true Christian community: the cross.  It is at the cross of Jesus that we see ourselves and others through God’s eyes.  It is when we recognise His infinite love and His undeserved acceptance that we are able to love and accept ourselves and others.  The sacrifice of God’s Son teaches us how precious we all are in His sight.  Fear of failure and rejection involve torment; but perfect love cast out fear. (1 John 4:18)  In Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross, we experience perfect peace – within ourselves and with one another.  That is why Paul’s answer to division in the church was the message of Christ crucified. (1 Cor. 2:2)  The day that He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-4) Paul realised his own deficiency and Christ’s sufficiency.  That is why He could say with full conviction, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)  That is why He could tell others with that same conviction that “the message of the cross … is the power of God.”   

     Have you truly encountered the One who was crucified and rose again?  Has your life been transformed by the power of the cross?  Does Christ live in you by His Spirit?  Can others see His life in you?  Jesus died and rose again!  It is by His Spirit alone that we can know true life and be true witnesses of His resurrection.                     

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter April 2019

From death to life

 “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.” (John 12:24-26)

     Jesus spoke these words in response to a request.  Some Hellenist Jews who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast had evidently heard about him and wanted to meet him personally.  So they asked the disciple Philip for an audience with his teacher.  Philip told Andrew and together they brought the request of these pilgrims to Jesus.

     Like every year, tens of thousands of Roman Catholic worshippers will be travelling to Rome for the Easter celebrations.  Very few of them will expect a personal audience with the pope but some may request it and, given the opportunity, few would decline.  What would it be like to see Pope Francis face to face and receive a personal blessing from him?

     What exactly the men who requested to see Jesus expected we do not know; however, we can assume that neither they nor the disciples who brought the request to Jesus would have expected the reply they got.  Jesus spoke of His death; and not just of His.  Anyone who desires to follow Him must be willing to die with Him.  Just like a grain of wheat needs to be given up to the soil in order to germinate we must give our lives up to receive true life in Jesus.  A farmer is willing to commit a portion of seed from his previous harvest to the soil, because he knows that this is the only way he will receive his next harvest.  He is confident that his sacrifice will bring much grain.

     So it is with our lives.  For us to grow into the fullness of God’s purpose, to become what He has destined for us, we need to be willing to die.  We need to surrender our will, our plans and our desires to him.  Only then can we experience true life. 

     The disciples wanted to introduce those pilgrims to Jesus, but Jesus’ focus was already on the next stage in God’s plan of salvation.  No longer would He be among His disciples in bodily form.  Through His death on the cross, He would make the way for God to dwell in His people by the Holy Spirit.  No longer would people have to seek an appointment for an audience with Him – they would see Him in those who are His.

     Jesus had told His disciples, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) but now He was leaving the world.  He was about to lay down His life as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin and then to rise again and ascend into the Father’s glory from where He had come.  His followers would now be His body on earth, the new temple, the dwelling place of God by the Spirit.  It is through their lives that people would from now on see God, as they would shine as lights in the world in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. (Phil. 2:15)

Do you hate your life?Are you fed up of being just another grain in the barn?Have you laid down your life for God?Are you allowing His Spirit to live in you, to direct your life, so others can see Jesus in you?Only a seed that dies can bring forth much grain; and God promises that it will! He will honour those who are willing to follow His Son to the cross so that Hislight can be revealed in them.

Newsletter March 2019

Visionaries

 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”  So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.”  So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”  Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ”   Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:41-45)

     After the Mount Carmel encounter, where fire fell when Elijah called on the name of the Lord, the prophet announced that it would rain.  Being a visionary, he was able to know the mind of God as God revealed to him in a vision. Seven times he sent his servant to look out for rain, because he knew what God had told him.  There had been no rain in the land for 3 years and 6 months, but Elijah saw in his spirit the vision of rain.  Even though his servant saw no sign of rain coming Elijah insisted that he should keep watching until something positive was seen.

     Visionaries see beyond the present situation and immediate occurrences.  Later at Mount Horeb, Elijah saw the Lord passing and heard a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-18).  When God needs to engage us, He comes to us at a time when we can be still in His presence to see Him passing; not when we are busy here and there, or distracted.

     When Isaiah saw the vision of the Lord, he was shown his imperfection and renewed his way before God as His prophet. (Isa. 6:1-6)  The Lord also revealed His mysterious works to visionaries like Moses. (Ps. 103:7)  He made His way known to Moses and His works and deeds to the people of Israel.  In Psalms 25:14, the psalmist states that the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him. Visionaries are like the sons of Issachar who had the understanding of time (1 Chronicles 12:32).  They have the ability to receive a vision and run with it, until it becomes accomplished in their hands. They see what the future holds.  John in his Revelation saw the vision about the seven churches and what God was saying concerning each one of them. (Rev. 2:3)

     Visionaries are unstoppable and not easily discouraged; they don't quickly give up. (Hab. 2:2-4) They receive direction on specific things and the appointed time for things. They are spiritually sensitive and act in faith, always avoiding discouragement and distractions in order to stay focused. When the going gets tougher, visionaries are determined, desperate and resilient. They know the mind of God.  They see, they hear, and they receive and focus on the activity of God in Christ Jesus.  They testify by transmitting what is revealed to them. (1 John 1:1-3).

     If we are visionaries, we need not to hide the gifts of God in our lives; God's presence of light, salvation and deliverance will be revealed to our family, community, neighbourhood, and the nation at large.  So let us rise up and watch.  When Elijah fled from Jezebel, he thought that he was the only prophet of God who remained during his time, until God revealed to him that He still had 7000 prophets in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal (1 Ki. 19:11-18). Let us pray to God to open our spiritual eyes to see beyond the physical, to be enlightened, and to know His purpose and the hope of His calling.

 Minister Deborah Olaoti

Newsletter February 2019

First place

      Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”  So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother.’” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” 

(Mark 10:17-20)

     As Jesus travels along, He is approached by this man, commonly known as the “rich young ruler” (cf. Matthew 19:20 & Luke 18:18).  The man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  He appears to be quite sincere: he addresses Jesus respectfully as “Good Teacher” and nothing is mentioned that would suggest ulterior motives.  This man clearly knows the requirements of the Law and seeks to fulfil these to the best of his ability, yet something is lacking in his life.  He senses that there must be more to serving God than he has experienced so far.

     Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21)

     Jesus knows this young man; and He loves him.  He knows that his trust is in his possessions, and therefore He challenges him to let go of them.  For the young man, however, this is asking too much.  He would probably have been willing to give away something of what he had.  But everything?  Surely God would not require such a great sacrifice of him.  Had God not blessed him with his wealth in the first place?  Is God not a rewarder of those who serve Him?   

     Yes, God rewards of those who seek His face.  He blesses those who serve and worship Him.  But God wants us to trust in Him alone.  He knows our hearts; He knows where our affections are.  And He will challenge us on the things that are dearest to us.  Are we willing to forsake all for Him?  Will we set our minds on things above or on things on the earth?  (Colossians 3:2)  Do we find confidence and security in what we have and can do?  Or do we rely entirely on the Eternal One, the Creator, who holds the universe in the palm of His hand?  

     God has blessed us in many ways.  Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. (James 1:17)  Yet we are not to focus our lives on the blessings we have received - our careers, our wealth, our reputations, our ministries, or even our families. God wants to know that our sufficiency is in Him alone.  He will test us with the things dearest to us.  He will challenge us to see where our affections really are.

     So what if we do put God before everything else?  What if we really give up all to follow Him?  What if we have truly made Him the centre of our lives and live to fulfil His will rather than our own?  Jesus assures us that there is no one who has left [all] for His sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time …and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30) 

     We can only experience the fullness of God’s presence if we truly make Him the centre of our lives.  Therefore let us live our lives for God.  Let us invest in His kingdom.  Let us not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18). 

     In what area is Jesus challenging you?  Are you like the disciples, who let go of everything to follow Him?  Or are you like the rich young ruler who held on to what he deemed his and walked away sorrowfully.  Jesus loved him but He could do nothing for him.  One day we will all have to give account and many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Mark 10:31)                  

Pastor Konrad   

Newsletter August 2018

From idols to God 

 

“I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.  And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey … (Exodus 3:6-8)

     While Moses was tending sheep in the wilderness, God appeared to him in the miraculous sight of a bush that burnt but was not consumed by the fire.  As Moses turned aside to have a closer look, God spoke to him out of the fire, revealing Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the forefathers of the nation of Israel.  He tells Moses that He has seen the suffering of His people in Egypt and promises to deliver them out of slavery. 

     Half a century earlier, Jacob’s sons had sold their brother Joseph into slavery out of jealously.  However, God had turned his situation around by making him the most powerful man in the land of Egypt besides Pharaoh.  Through his position Joseph was able to provide for his family during a great famine in the land of Canaan, where they had dwelt (Gen. 45:5-7).  God spoke to Jacob in a dream, telling him to go and settled in Egypt where He would make them into a great nation until, one day he would lead them back to Canaan (Gen. 46:3-4), the land He had promised to Abraham for his descendants (Gen. 15:19-20).

     However, while the Israelites lived in Egypt, a new Pharaoh came into power, who did not know of Joseph.  Under his rule, the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years during which they lost not only their freedom but also their knowledge of the Almighty God who had called their ancestor Abraham out of idolatry to serve Him.  Yet God had not forgotten them.

     This God appeared to Moses at Mount Horeb, revealing Himself as the eternal I AM and calling him to lead His people out of Egyptian slavery to the land promised to Abraham so long ago.  He would be their God and would make them a special people for Himself.  He displayed His power over the pagan idols of Egypt through great signs and wonders before leading them through the Red Sea and the desert to Horeb, the same mountain where He had appeared to Moses.  There they were to meet the God of the promise before they could enter into the land of His promise. 

     At Mount Horeb, God revealed Himself to the people and gave them His Law that would distinguish them from all other nations.  This divine Law would govern their worship and every aspect of their daily lives.  At the centre of it would be the reminder that He was their deliverer and they were to worship Him alone.  Thus the Ten Commandments begin with the words (Exod. 20:2-3): “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”  Israel’s exodus from Egypt was not only their deliverance from bondage to a place of blessing but also a call to be a new people dedicated to God alone.  Thus they would be an example to all nations.

     Now just as God called the Israelites out of Egypt, He has called us from this world into His kingdom.  We are a new people chosen and redeemed by Him.  Therefore we are to leave behind the idolatrous ways of this world and worship Him alone.  And we are to be a witness to those around us by our example and by proclaiming the gospel message of deliverance and new life, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church,

you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess. 1:7-10)

     What about us?  Have we turned from the idolatrous ways of this world to the living and true God? Does He take the first place in our lives?  Are we an example to those who are lost without knowledge of Him?  Does the message of God’s salvation sound forth from us?                                                                    

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter January 2019

Words of Life

 

Another Jewish boy reaches adolescence,

Gets to read the Scriptures with the men.

Yet this one is different:

The things He says,

The questions He asks

Bring ancient texts to life.

Scholars turn into students,

As God’s Word is opened up to them.

 

Suddenly they are interrupted:

Worried parents enter the room.

“Son, why have you done this to us? 

Look, your father and I have sought you anxiously.”

“Why do you seek Me? 

Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”

Memories come back:

Had not the angel announced,

“He will be called the Son of God.”?

Light has come into darkness;

Truth is revealed.

But new wine requires new wineskins.

 

Are you prepared to receive His truth?

Are you ready to be transformed by His words of life?

              

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter December 2018

What child is this?

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. … He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5; 10; 14)

     As we enter another Christmas season, we focus on the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  We are well acquainted with the scene of the Nativity: baby Jesus lying in the manger, Mary, His mother, and Joseph standing next to Him, and shepherds bowing down in adoration.  Yet there were many people in Bethlehem that night, who do not feature in this scene: people who were in the vicinity, maybe had even seen this newborn child, yet did not recognise Him and therefore missed that miraculous moment, when the Eternal God stepped into time, when the heavenly Creator took on human flesh.  

     Some had come from far to Bethlehem, like Mary and Joseph, to be counted.  There were Roman officials around, who may have registered the couple upon their arrival, ticking off their names on seemingly unending census lists.  Inn keepers had sent them away, until finally one of them - be it out of compassion or simply to make an extra shekel from their misery - had offered the couple a place with his livestock.  Then there were neighbours, passers-by, people who were simply getting on with their lives in the midst of all the commotion.  None of these people are found in the Nativity scene, because none of them recognised who He was.      

     Instead we see a group of shepherds come to see baby Jesus.  They had been watching their flocks at night, just as they did every night.  Nothing had suggested that this night would be different until suddenly angels appeared to them, telling them to leave their flocks and go to Bethlehem, where they would find the Saviour lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-12).  They believed the message of the angels and hurried to Bethlehem where they were able to behold the glory of the Son of God (John 1:14). 

     Do you recognise who He is?  When you look at the baby in the manger, do you see the image of the invisible God?  (Colossians 1:15)  When you read of His miracles, do you see the Almighty Creator?  When you think of the cross, do see the Holy One who took your guilt upon Himself?  When you consider the empty tomb, do you see the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25) who conquered death for you?  As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, let us pray that God would give us a deeper revelation of His Son, so that we can see Him for who He really is.   

     And what about those around you?  Your family and friends, your neighbours and colleagues?  What about all those you meet in the shops, when you buy your Christmas gifts, or at the post office when you post your Christmas parcels and cards?  Do they know who He is?  Let us pray this Christmas that God would reveal His Son to them as well.  Let us ask Him to give us opportunities to point them to Jesus.  How will they know if no one tells them?  How will they perceive if no one shows them?  (Romans 10:14)  Will you be that signpost?  

              

Pastor Konrad   

Newsletter November 2018

See His glory

 

“Please, show me Your glory.” (Exodus 33:18)

Moses prayed this prayer at a time of crisis.  He was a great prophet of God, the greatest the world had ever seen.  He had experienced God’s power in the miracles that God had wrought through him: the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and miraculous provision in the midst of the desert. Yet he reached a point where he could go no further – not without a fresh and deeper revelation of God’s glory.

     In the previous chapter, we read how Moses had gone up to Mount Sinai to meet with God and to receive instructions directly from Him.  As he delayed coming back down from the mountain, the people’s faith began to wane.  So they gathered together and persuaded Aaron, who was left in charge during Moses’ absence, to make them a god: one whom they could see and touch, one who fitted within their limited human minds.  And Aaron granted them their request.  He collected gold from the people and made them an image after their imagination, built an altar before it, and announced to them, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD (in Hebrew YHWH).” (Exodus 32:1-5)  So when Moses descended from the Mountain of God, carrying with him God’s Law written by God’s own hand on tables of stone, he saw the people dancing around a golden calf.

     Reading these verses, it appears that Aaron somehow tried to reconcile the making of this idol with worshipping YAHWEH, the invisible I AM who had delivered them from the Egyptian bondage by His powerful hand.  What a fallacy!  How can an image made by man represent the Almighty God?  “To whom then will you liken God?  Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” (Isaiah 40:18),

     It is easy for us to condemn Aaron or to pity him for his ignorance.  Yet could it be that we too have an image of God in our minds that falls far short of His Glory?  We may not actually make a physical idol, as the Israelites did, but so often our conception of God limits Him to nothing more than a human construct.  Instead of answering the call to serve the King of Kings, we all too often create for ourselves a god whose purpose it is to serve us – on our terms. 

     Moses had led the people of God up to this point.  He had been faithful in everything that God had called him to do.  Consequently, the Israelites had witnessed God’s power and experienced His loving care.  Yet they had failed to honour Him as God.  Moses recognised that in order to convey to them the awesomeness of the Almighty, he needed a fresh and deeper revelation of who God really was.  So he prayed, “Please, show me Your glory.”    

     Like Moses, we need a deeper revelation of who God is.  Only He can reveal Himself to us – by His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-12).  As we put aside the flawed images we have created of Him and seek His face, as we read His Word with an open heart, God will reveal Himself to us as He really is.  As we stand in awe of His Majesty, we recognise how far we fall short of His glory and, at the same time, we experience the infinite love of the Father welcoming us into His presence.  It is there, in His holy presence, that we become conscious of our sin and experience the joy and the freedom of complete justification through the cross (Rom. 3:23-24). 

    Our God is an awesome God.  Therefore let us plead like Moses, “Lord, show us your glory!”     

 

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter October 2018

Spiritual victory

 

Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. (Exodus 17:8-13)

     As the Israelites approach Mount Horeb, they suddenly encounter opposition.  Without warning and with no apparent reason, the Amalekites attack them just before they reach the place where they are to meet with God.  Moses immediately responds to this attack by appointing Joshua, a young man who has not been mentioned thus far, to lead an army of people who have not been trained in warfare and have never fought a battle before.  Meanwhile, Moses himself goes to the top of a hill overlooking the battlefield and raises his rod.  He knows that this battle cannot be won in the natural, but he also knows that every time he raises his rod, God’s power is released to bring victory to His people.

     We too have an enemy who attacks us when we least expect it.  How often do we progress in our spiritual journey and, just as we are about to enter into God’s presence, something happens that sets us back to where we were before.  We become discouraged and begin to doubt whether we will ever experience the fullness of His presence, which we so long for.  Our spiritual enemy will do everything in his power to stop us from reaching that place.  There seems to be nothing we can do in the natural realm, but, like Moses, we have a weapon that will release the power of the Almighty God – prayer. 

     As long as Moses holds up his rod, Joshua is victorious; as soon as Moses lowers his rod, the enemy gains the upper hand.  The real battle is not fought on the battlefield below but on the top of the hill, where Moses is.  And it’s no different with us.  When everything suddenly appears to go wrong, when problems take over at work or in our family lives, when we are struck with sudden illness – all these things can cause us to lose focus and to regress in our spiritual journey.  Rather than respond to such setbacks through natural means, we need to recognise our spiritual enemy (Ephesians 6:12).  We need to be vigilant and resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9).  We need to be aware of his devices, so he cannot take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11).  And as Moses lifted up his rod, we need to lift up our voices in prayer.

     Eventually, however, Moses’ arms become weary and he struggles to hold up the rod on his own.   Aaron and Hur have to come to his assistance.  They sit him down on a stone and hold up his arms, one on each side.  None of us can manage on our own; we all need each other.  Just as Aaron and Hur bore up the arms of Moses, so that he could continue to hold up the rod, we too need to bare one another up in prayer.  That is why we are encouraged to pray together (Matthew 18:19-20).  That is why we have corporate prayer meetings, where we pray for one another’s needs.  That is why we are exhorted to pray continually for our spiritual leaders (Ephesians 6:18-19; Romans 15:30).  The victory is ours – but it comes only through prayer!                                                                    

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter September 2018

Led by God

 

So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. (Exodus 12:20-22)

     When the Israelites left Egypt, where they had been in bondage for almost 400 years, God led them on their way.  In Moses, He had given them a leader to follow, but He wanted all of them to know that He Himself was showing the way.  That is why He gave them a visible sign of His presence to follow: a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 

     As children of God today, we too have God’s presence in our lives.  We may not follow a visible cloud that goes before us, but we have God’s Spirit to guide us.  Just like God had a route planned for the Israelites to travel, He has a plan and purpose for us.  He does not leave us to wander about blindly, hoping that somehow we will get where we should be.  God directs our every step by His Spirit – but will we follow?

     The Israelites had their doubts about God’s leading, when they reached the shore of the Red Sea.  Having trusted in God’s leading, they suddenly found themselves closed in with the Egyptians hard on their heels.  What would have gone on in their minds?  Why had God brought them to this place?  Was His plan really to destroy them? 

     We too may be led by the Holy Spirit to a place in our lives where there seems to be no going further.  We may begin to question: was it really God who led me here?  Did I get it wrong?  Or, even worse: does God not care about me?  Has he led me to this place in my life to abandon me?

     The Israelites asked these questions.  They complained to Moses, saying it would have been better for them to stay in bondage rather than die in the wilderness (Exodus 14:11).  Yet God knew what He was doing.  Not long after, they watched from a place of safety, as God caused the water of the Red Sea to come crashing down on their pursuers, killing every one of them.  God had led them to this place, not to destroy them, but their enemies.  He always fights for His own, even if it may not seem so at the moment.

     When Paul and Silas found themselves in a Philippian prison with their feet in the stocks (Acts 16:24) they too could have felt despondent.  Had not the Holy Spirit led them to Philippi after preventing them from preaching elsewhere (v.6-10).  Would it not have better to remain in Asia?  Could they not have avoided all this hardship?  Such thoughts never crossed the minds of these men of faith.  They knew that God had brought them there and that He would see them through.  They knew that He had a purpose for them in Philippi.  They planted a fellowship that became the bedrock of God’s church in Europe and supported their missionary endeavours in the whole region.

     Do you sometimes wonder where God has brought you?  Do you question His love and His purpose for your life when things seem difficult?  Well, think again.  As long as we follow God’s leading, He will protect us and fight our battles.  As long as we remain in His will, we will overcome by His power.  God doesn’t leave us to wander about blindly.  He wants to direct our steps in every area of our lives.  We may not always understand what He is doing, but if we trust Him we will experience His loving presence and enter into His purpose, no matter what the circumstances seem to suggest.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

Newsletter July 2018

House to house

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:46-47)

     These two verses sum up the nature and impact of the Early Church.  Having been baptised in the Holy Spirit, the disciples boldly declared that Jesus had risen from the dead and that He was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world.  And Jesus was not only at the centre of their message, but of every aspect of their lives.  Everything they did was modelled on what they had seen in Him and inspired by His Spirit who now lived in them.

     The Early church did not have a church building.  Yes, being of Jewish background, they would meet in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was one of the most magnificent edifices of their day.  They would go there to observe the worship requirements of the Law of Moses and to proclaim Jesus as the fulfilment of that Law.  However, for them the temple was not the equivalent to our church buildings today – a place where they could come together and worship with those who shared their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  On the contrary, it was a rather hostile place; the religious leaders who oversaw the temple worship were, for the most part, opposed to their message and soon persecuted them as they had persecuted their Master.  When we think of the temple, we must rather think of a public place where all kinds of people gathered – a place where one could preach the message of the risen Christ to those who had not yet heard it.  

     So where did the first century believers meet?  Where did they worship the Lord and fellowship with one another?  It was in their houses.  As more and more people responded to the message to follow Jesus, the disciples opened their homes to these new believers.  They did not regard what they had as their own, but as God’s, and therefore it was natural for them to welcome others who shared their faith to also share their food, their fellowship and their entire lives.  This is what they had experienced when they had been with Jesus while He was on earth, and this is what they continued, as He continued to walk with them in the Spirit.

     Our understanding of church today has been shaped largely by what we have seen around us rather than by the experience of Acts.  Most people associate church with a building where we gather once a week on a Sunday morning to take time out for God.  Our busy lives and varied responsibilities do not allow us to “get involved” any more than that.  When we face struggles, we either keep them to ourselves or maybe share them with those whose “job” it is to look after the flock.

     Not so the Early Church: they had all things in common.  No one was left alone with their need – be it material or spiritual.  Everyone knew that the others cared for them, because their God cared for them.  Therefore they were not afraid to share their needs with their brothers and sisters in Christ and not too busy with their own lives to support those who were struggling.  Their faith was not merely a religious exercise tagged on to the end of a busy week – it was a lifestyle.  It reflected who they were in Christ; and it helped them survive and grow ever stronger, even in the face of constant persecution.

     Now this model of church was not limited to Jerusalem.  As the church grew and spread throughout the Roman Empire, fellowships sprang up everywhere, meeting mainly in homes and gathering only sometimes in larger groups, as they were able.  For the first three centuries, the church was built on caring relationships within small groups.  This fact is reflected in Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8.  

     … we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.  So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

     The New Testament model of church is built on small groups – now, as it was then.  It is in the caring environment of a small group that we can grow in the knowledge of God, discover the gifts He has given us, and bear one another’s burdens in true Christian love.  Let us share our faith and our lives with one another and discover the purpose and calling God has for us.  So sign up to join a small group if you haven’t already. 

 

Pastor Konrad     

Newsletter June 2018

Witnesses of Jesus

 

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:3-4)

     The apostle John describes the fellowship he has with Jesus by the Spirit.  The Word of Life, Jesus, came from the heavenly Father and was manifested to John and his fellow disciples and, after His resurrection and ascension, Jesus was present with them by the Spirit.  He had told the disciples before He went to the cross that His going away would be to their advantage for then the Helper, the Holy Spirit would come.  (John 16:7)  The Spirit would be in them and through Him Jesus and the Father would be present with them. (John 14:16-18)  John declares this to his readers so that they may share in the fellowship he is experiencing and that their joy too may be full.

     Are you experiencing the joy of God’s presence?  Do you know that fellowship with Jesus that John is talking about?  Does the joy you experience cause you to want to declare to others the truth about Jesus?  Is Jesus so real to you in your everyday life that you can’t stop talking about Him and sharing His goodness with those who do not yet know Him?

     Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus told His disciples to wait for the Spirit to come upon them.  They were to be witnesses of Him.  Not only had they been with Him during His time on earth and seen and touched Him after His resurrection – they would enjoy His presence and His leading by the Spirit, and so they could be witnesses not only of what they had experienced in the past but also of what they were experiencing every moment.     

     God calls us to be His witnesses in a world of darkness and confusion.  In Jesus we know the peace and joy that the world so longs for but cannot find.  We can declare to them that the Son of God came into the world in human form, just like you and me, to bring us back into fellowship with God through His death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection.  We have this message of hope for the world, not because we have rehearsed a script for evangelism but because we are true witnesses of His goodness. 

     Evangelism means sharing good news (from the Greek euaggelion).  The message of Jesus is the only truly good news there is.  That is why Paul says (2 Cor. 5:18-20), Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

     Are you an ambassador of Christ?  Are you a representative of His kingdom (His divine rule) on earth?  Are you a witness of His goodness and His love?  Do you declare what you have experienced and are experiencing to those you meet so they can share in your joy? 

     Or do you struggle to share the good news of Jesus because you are not experiencing it yourself?  If so, Jesus invites you to Himself.  He longs to share fellowship with you more than you can ever imagine.  He is knocking at the door of your heart.  Will you let Him in?  Will you make room for Him in your busy life so He can come and share fellowship with you? (Rev. 3:20)  As you experience the joy of fellowship with Him you will be His witness, for we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20)         

Pastor Konrad 

Newsletter May 2018

Fellowship

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)

     In this opening statement of his letter, the apostle John describes the intimate fellowship he had with Jesus during His time on earth.  The Word of Life, Jesus, came from the heavenly Father and was manifested to John and his fellow disciples.  They were able to see Him, hear Him, and even touch Him.  As reliable witnesses, they were therefore able to declare Him to those who had not had this experience.  However, John goes on to say that his reason for writing is that they might share that same fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ – now.  And as a result of this fellowship, they would experience complete joy.

     Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit with Jesus, to look in His eyes, and to hear His voice opening up to you the mysteries of the kingdom of God?  Have you ever imagined what it would be like to share with Him from the depth of your heart, knowing that one touch from Him could meet every need?  Wouldn’t it all be so much easier if He were present with us?  Well, when John wrote these words Jesus had died, risen, and ascended to the Father, and yet John declares in the present tense that his fellowship is with God the Father and with Jesus.

     John understood that Jesus had not gone away.  On the contrary – He was now more present than ever before.  Before going to the cross to die for the sins of the whole world, Jesus had assured them that He would send His Spirit.  That way, He would not merely be with them but in them (John 14:17).  There would not be a moment in their lives that Jesus would be absent (v.18-20).  This is what John meant when he declared, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”  He was keenly aware of Jesus’ presence constantly being with him and in him.  Therefore he was always able to call on Jesus for guidance, for strength (both physical and spiritual) and for power to do the works of God (John 14:12-13).

     So is this an experience reserved only for John and the other apostles?  Or is it something only a few chosen men or women of God can enjoy today?  Not at all.  John writes this letter because he wants every one of us to come to the realisation that this kind of intimate fellowship is available to all who believe – including you and me!  He wants us all to know the complete joy that can only come through fellowship with Jesus.  But there is a condition to experiencing such fellowship – obedience.   

     God is light, and those who live in fellowship with Him cannot continue to live in darkness (1 John 1:5-6).  If we love Jesus we must keep His commandments (John 14:15).  If we want to be truly His and enjoy the benefit of intimacy with Him we must endeavour to live according to His will and purpose.  We must make Him Lord of our lives and seek His will, not our own, in everything.  Let us therefore seek direction from His Spirit every day – all day.  … if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)             

Pastor Konrad 

Newsletter April 2018

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)    

    At this time of the year we will again focus on remembering the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul emphasised the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus because He understood – by revelation of the Holy Spirit – that it was the most significant event ever to have taken place in the history of humanity.    

    We can probably think of many individuals and events that “made history” – events by which something was set in motion that could never again be reversed, thus changing the course of human history.  Kingdoms that were once great and influential came to nothing as others rose up to take their place.  Discoveries and inventions opened up new doors, creating new opportunities, but also new dangers.

    All these events took place in the physical realm; they changed only the course of the history of this world.  However, when Jesus cried out on the cross of Calvary, “It is finished!” and His physical body died, the course of history was changed in the invisible, spiritual realm.  This moment that the prophets had foretold marked a change that could truly never be reversed.  The penalty of sin had been paid so that a lost world could now be redeemed.  The rule of Satan, which had brought so much misery to humanity and all of creation, had come to an end.  From now on humanity no longer had to remain subject to his devices.  Through His sacrifice on the cross, God’s sinless Son had taken away our guilt, thus restoring us to God. 

    And He did not remain in the grave.  On the third day He rose again from the dead, demonstrating the power of God through His resurrection.  Because of this one event all those who believe have now been saved from sin and death and have received the hope of eternal life.  History had truly been changed! 

    The real issues of victory and defeat are therefore not decided on the physical battlefields of this world, but in the spiritual realm.  Through Jesus’ resurrection the real war has been won on behalf of humanity.  The victory over sin and Satan’s power is available to all those who believe and receive it.  Paul therefore prayed for the believers in Ephesus that they would realise what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion … (Eph. 1:19-20)

    As we remember the events of Calvary, let us look to our Saviour, knowing that He has already overcome the world for us!  And remember: with God nothing is impossible.

 

Pastor Konrad 

Newsletter March 2018

God’s table

 

After years of persecution and war, David was finally recognised as king over all Israel. (2 Samuel 5:1-3)  In all that he had gone through, he had committed his life into God’s hand.  Even when given the opportunity to kill the Saul (1 Samuel 24:4 & 26:8-10), he refused to take matters into his own hand.  Rather than stretching out his hand against the LORD’s anointed, he left Saul’s judgment to God’s.  Now at last his time had come and he was able to enjoy the reward for all he had patiently endured.  Now he had time to sit and reflect on God’s faithfulness in His troubles and on the faithfulness of those who had helped him in his time of need.  And he remembered his promise to Jonathan to show kindness to him not only during his life time but also to his family after his death.   

     So David enquired: “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  And truly, there was one – Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, who was just five years old when his father Jonathan died in battle with his entire family (1 Samuel 31:6 & 2 Samuel 4:4).  When she had heard the news of Israel’s defeat at the hand of the Philistines, Mephibosheth’s nurse had quickly fled and, in the rush, she had dropped the child, injuring both his feet so that he became lame.  The poor child grew up alone and forgotten in a place called Lo Debar, which means “no pasture”.  There seemed to be no hope that anything would ever change for him – until one day David remembered his covenant promise to Jonathan.  As soon as David heard of Mephibosheth he had him brought to the palace. (2 Samuel 9:1-5)  

     We too were once lost, having no hope and without God in this world (Ephesians 2:12).  We had no part in the blessings of God, but through the New Covenant in his blood, Christ Jesus brought us who were once far off into his presence.  Just as David invited Mephibosheth to sit at his table and to eat of the king’s food for Jonathan’s sake (2 Samuel 9:9-11), God has invited us to partake of His blessings for the sake of His Son Jesus, who died for us so we could be cleansed from sin and brought into His holy kingdom. 

     As Christians we often struggle to understand that God has accepted us – just as we are.  Like Mephibosheth, we see ourselves as unworthy of His blessings.  We come to God in prayer expecting nothing from Him.  Why, after all, should the Almighty look upon such a dead dog as I?” (2 Samuel 9:8).  Yet we are accepted – not because of anything we have done, but because of God’s love by which He accepted us in His beloved Son Jesus. And because we are accepted by Him we are made worthy to receive from His table, which He has prepared for us. (Psalm 23:5)

     Jesus tells us that we should not worry about anything in this life.  The Father’s storehouse is full.  He knows what we have need of, and He is more than able to look after His children.  All He requires of us is that we believe in His promise and respond to His invitation.  All that He expects is that we make His kingdom the priority of our lives, and He will take care of everything else. (Matthew 6:32-33)  If God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32) 

     Christ died so that we can live.  May God bless you, as you remember His death and His resurrection during this upcoming Easter season.  May all your worries fade away, as you trust in His unfailing grace.

 

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter February 2018

Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. (Genesis 12:1-4)

     God called Abram (whose name He later changed to Abraham) to leave his family and go to a new country that He would show him.  God promised to be with Abram and to bless him.  So wherever Abram went he made sure God was at the centre of his life; he knew that it was God who kept him and sustained him, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot.

      One day Abram had to make a choice: an argument broke out between his herdsmen and Lot's.  God had increased their herds and flocks so much that there was no longer enough room for them to stay together.  Abram recognised that the time had come for them to separate.  From now on Lot would have to make his own choices.  And Abraham offered him a choice.  He said to him,

     “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.  Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:8-9).

     Lot looked and saw to the west the arid hills of Judah and to the east the lush plain of Jordan.  To him there was no question which of the two he should choose.  So he made his choice and journeyed to the east.

     Abram could have made the choice himself.  After all, he was the elder.  Lot would have had to accept whatever he decided.  Yet Abraham left the decision to Lot.  For him it made no difference which way he would go; he knew that God could bless him no matter where he was.  While Lot looked with his natural eyes and made his decision based on what he saw, Abram looked with the eyes of faith to the Creator, believing that He was able to bless him anywhere and in every situation. 

     Are you like Abram?  Do you look to God as the source of your blessing?  Do you trust His promises?  Do you seek Him and depend on Him to meet every need?  Do you bring your requests before Him, believing that he will provide for you in every circumstance?  Do you believe He is able to sustain you even when things around you look bleak? 

     Or are you like Lot?  Do you live your life according to your natural perceptions and your own understanding?  Are you guided by what you see rather than by the invisible God who created you?  Do you limit the Almighty by thinking He can only bless you if the circumstances look right?   

     So often we limit God by what we see around us.  We say, things aren't looking good right now.  The economy is in decline.  People all around us are struggling.  We need to somehow get by; we can't expect too much in times like these.      

     Or we look at our own situation and compare it with that of others.  If only I could have the opportunities they have.  Surely things would be better if I were at the place where they are.  If only I could be like them.  Then God could truly bless me.

     Or we may say, if only my circumstances were different; if I lived somewhere else.  Then I could really serve God.  Then I could truly be used by Him.  Surely God could bless me if the circumstances were right. 

     Our God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  He is not limited by our circumstances.  He can bless us wherever we are.  He is not limited by the situation in which we find ourselves.  He can do far more than we can ever ask or think.  As He blessed Abram, He can bless us – that is, if we make Him the centre of our lives, as Abram did.  The only thing that will limit Him is a lack of faith.

     Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)

Pastor Konrad

1 Woodhouse Road, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG18 2AD