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

Newsletter January 2018

Rebuilding the wall

 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” (Nehemiah 1:3)

     As Nehemiah was serving in Susa in the palace of the Persian king, some men came from Jerusalem and reported to him the state of the city and the plight of their Jewish compatriots who were living among the ruins of that once great city.  King Cyrus of Persia had issued a decree allowing the Jews to return home, but the task of rebuilding was great and made even more difficult by the opposition they faced from those who had since taken over their land.  When Nehemiah heard the bad news, he immediately turned to God in prayer.  He repents of the sin that had led to God’s judgment upon his people and asks the Persian king for permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild its defensive wall. 

     We too face an enemy, albeit an invisible one.  When we look at our lives, our church and our community, we too see distress and reproach.  As God’s people, we expect our lives to be blessed and yet we so often feel overcome by the adverse circumstances we face, not realising that our spiritual enemy, the devil, is doing everything to hold us back in our walk with God and experience the life of fullness we have inherited in Christ.  Maybe we too need to repent of sins we have committed or simply of our complacency when it comes to matters of God’s kingdom.  What are our priorities?  What are we doing to rebuild the walls that the enemy has torn down?

     Nehemiah’s initial response was to weep, to lament the situation, but his sadness moved him to action.  He prayed and soon realised that he himself would be the answer to his prayer.  God was calling him to leave the comfort of a foreign king’s palace, where he held the eminent position of cupbearer, and return to Jerusalem to rebuild its dilapidated wall.

     What is your response when you see the distress and hardship in your life and in the lives of those around you?  Do you simply lament and feel sorrow for yourself?  Or do you turn to the Almighty in prayer?  Do you recognise that He has called you to labour in prayer to rebuild what the enemy has destroyed? 

     As every New Year, our church will begin 2018 with a focus on prayer.  There will be prayer meetings locally and nationally where we can come together to pray and fast.  However, let us not be limited to those meetings; let us seek God in our own homes in our own time.  Let us experience God’s victory in Christ as we tap into His power through concerted prayer.  Before Jesus went to the cross He said to His disciples, “…the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. (John 14:30).  Let us share in Jesus’ victory that He purchased for us when He disarmed principalities and powers, [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in [the cross].  Let us stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11b) and, through persistent prayer, build God’s wall of protection around ourselves, our church and around all those the Lord is calling in our community.      

               Pastor Konrad

Newsletter December 2017

The King has come

 

     We have arrived at the end of another year and will be celebrating Christmas to remember the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into the world.  The prophet Isaiah foretold this event more than half a millennium before it occurred (Isaiah 9:2; 6-7):

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined….

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

     Isaiah describes the condition of man before the coming of Christ as walking in darkness.  God had revealed Himself to the nation of Israel and had given them His Law and spoken to them through various prophets.  Nonetheless, they were still living in darkness, unable to discern the things of God.  Since Adam and Eve had turned from God, the intimate relationship they had previously enjoyed with their Creator had been severed.  As a result of their disobedience they lost their place in the perfect world of God’s garden and, instead of enjoying His loving presence, they now lived in the kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan, the prince of darkness.  This is the state that Isaiah was describing – until the coming of God’s Anointed. 

     The birth of Christ would usher in a completely new era, as those who would answer His call to follow Him would be born anew by the power of His Spirit and restored to the relationship God had always intended for them.  In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul expresses this transformation as follows:

     He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (1:13-14)  He then goes on to explain to his readers that this man Jesus is in fact the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

     The miracle of Christmas is that God, who created the universe, came to us, his creation, became one of us.  He came in the flesh, fully man and fully God.  He lived among His people, but they did not recognise Him.  Yet those who received Him, those who believed in Him, received power to become children of God.  They were delivered from spiritual death and restored to true life through the miracle of the new birth.  (John 1:10-13) 

     What about you?  Do you recognise who He is?  Do you receive Him as your Saviour?  Do you believe that He came to die for you and to restore you to God?  As we celebrate Christmas, let us reflect on the miracle of Bethlehem, let us worship Jesus and thank Him for coming to give us new life.  And let us live the new life we have received in communion with our heavenly Father.           

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter November 2017

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

     From the time that the first humans turned away from God to follow their own ways, God sought to restore that special relationship which they had broken through their disobedience.  God took the initiative by calling Abraham and promising that He would bless all the families of the earth through him (Genesis 12:3).  When Abraham’s descendants Israel find themselves enslaved in Egypt, God remembers his covenant with Abraham and comes to their rescue.  He leads them out of slavery into the land He had promised Abraham.  However, before they are ready to enter that land they must know God who has chosen and delivered them.  He leads them to Mount Horeb, where He reveals to them His purpose for their lives: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ (Exodus 19:4-6)  Israel are to enter into a special relationship with Him, the Creator and Ruler of the universe.

     Yet God’s chosen people do not keep their side of the covenant.  They disobey their Deliverer and turn to other gods.  For this reason, He allows them to be conquered and oppressed by their enemies.  At the time of Jeremiah, their capital Jerusalem is captured, the temple destroyed and the people carried away into captivity in Babylon.  Through the prophet Jeremiah, God declares His judgement on His people, but he also speaks to them of a time of restoration in the future.  They have broken the covenant relationship He made with them at Horeb, but one day He will make a new covenant.  This time He will transform them from the inside out by putting His laws in the hearts and minds. He will live in their hearts by His Spirit so they can all know Him intimately, from the least to the greatest. 

     For this to be possible, however, God had to deal with the sin that had separated his people from Himself.  He had to provide a perfect substitute who would die for their guilt so they could be declared righteous.  Therefore He sent His Son Jesus into the world.

     As we approach the Christmas season, we focus on the miracle of the Incarnation.  God Himself came to earth in the form of human flesh.  He became one of us in order to bring us back to Himself.  Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world to demonstrate God’s power and love as He announced God’s kingdom and set people free from the power of Satan.  The rulers of this world rejected Him and executed Him on a cross, not realising that by His death He was fulfilling prophecy: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

     Jesus’ coming into the world was the beginning of a new era.  Through His sacrifice on Calvary we are forgiven, and by the Holy Spirit we are made new.  God writes his law in our hearts so we can live in perfect relationship with Him as Jesus did while on earth.  So that we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever. (Westminster Confession).                                         

Pastor Konrad

 

Newsletter October 2017

Look up!

 

So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” 8 And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. 9 But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.”  10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony” (Luke 21:7-13)

     When Jesus told His disciples of the coming destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the centre of Jewish worship, they were keen to know when this would occur.  Jesus gave them a list of events that would signal the end, and when we read this list, we are reminded of things we see on the news and experience ourselves.  Just as he urged his disciples in their day, we too should look up, for our redemption is drawing near.  Jesus will return one day to establish his kingdom in all its fullness.  In that day, the world will be judged but those who have become part of His kingdom through faith in Him and forgiveness of sin will be received into their eternal home. 

     Throughout the past 2,000 years, people have time and again looked at such signs and expected Jesus’ imminent return.  Some even tried to figure out specific dates for the Second Coming of Christ, yet they were disappointed.  In the light of this knowledge, we can easily become cynical and question: Is His return really as close as we might think?  Or could it be another 2,000 years?  Or even, will He ever come?  Could Jesus just have spoken symbolically?  Was this message only for His hearers in the first half of the first century?  After all, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in A.D. 70 so all that remains today is the “Wailing Wall”. 

     While these questions are legitimate, there are current developments in the environment, in society and in politics that point to the ultimate fulfilment of prophecy.  We do not know the date; Jesus warned us not to speculate.  However, He did admonish us to take heed of the signs and look up and, as we do so, His words appear timelier than ever.

     As in those days, people’s hearts are failing them.  Scientists are considering where we could go when the earth becomes either too overcrowded or even uninhabitable.  People are feeling hopeless or looking for hope in populist leaders and/or new religious ideas.  Paul explains this to the Thessalonian church (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10): And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 

     Let us be alert.  Let us be true to God even in the face of opposition.  Let us not fear with those who have no hope because they do not believe.  And let us be ready to tell others about the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15) so they may share that hope in Christ with us.     

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter September 2017

Something new

According to our calendar, September is the ninth month of the year.  In many ways, however, it is a month of new beginnings.  After the holiday period, the pace of life once again picks up – be it at our workplaces or in church.  Especially for those in education, both teachers and students, September marks a new beginning.  For some among us, this September will mean moving from primary to secondary school, or from school to sixth form, or even from sixth form to university.  For some it will be the first time they leave their friends, their family, and their church.  Some will even be going to a different country for further study or work.  Leaving one’s familiar environment is exciting but also frightening.  We must therefore pray persistently for those who are embarking on a new journey into the unknown, and also for the families they leave behind.

     In the Bible, we see many examples of people stepping out into the unknown, not because of education or a career move, but in response to God’s call.  One such example is found in 1 Kings 19:19, where we see Elisha ploughing his family’s field as he would have done many times before.  Yet this time something extraordinary happens.  A man approaches the field and comes straight up to Elisha, and that encounter changes Elisha’s life forever.  The man is Elijah, the greatest prophet of that time.  He throws his cloak, a symbol of God’s anointing, around Elisha and calls him to follow.  Elisha recognises the call of God, leaves his oxen and plough, and runs after Elijah.  However, he makes a final request; he asks the man of God for permission to kiss his family good-bye.  For a moment, Elijah must have questioned whether God had sent him to the right person.  Was Elisha really ready to give up all in order to answer God’s call, for no-one who puts his hand to [God’s] plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).  Hence his reply, “Go back.  What have I done to you?” (v.20) 

     Little did Elijah know that Elisha’s reason for going back was to burn his bridges: he went to kill the oxen with which he had been ploughing, and cooked them over a fire made with his ploughing equipment.  He had heard God’s call and was willing to leave everything behind in order to answer that call.  And he was willing to follow on God’s terms.  He faithfully served under Elijah until the day when his master was taken up to heaven and the cloak of God’s anointing finally passed on to him.

     God is never anxious about His purpose.  He will always find someone who is willing to leave what they are doing to answer His call and to be faithful to His purpose – on His terms.  Education and career moves are good.  God gives us the means to achieve what we can in this life.  Nonetheless, He has a greater purpose for us.  His desire is for us to be His agents of change in a world that is heading for destruction.  He calls us to be willing instruments in His hands, through whom His word can be spread in love and in power.  All He needs is our willingness to follow.

     The scriptures do not distinguish between a secular and a Christian aspect of our lives.  In whatever we do, be it work or study, we are called to be witnesses of His eternal kingdom.  Wherever our careers or our studies may take us, we serve the Almighty.  Elisha had to leave his family and his familiar environment in order to answer his call as a prophet of God, and God may require that of us.  However, following Him will not mean that for everyone.  What God requires of us is that we burn the bridges in our hearts that tempt us to return to the familiar at the expense of stepping out in faith into His calling.  Some of those who are leaving us now may return one day, but some, will not.  Whatever the case may be, let us pray for them that they will serve God wherever they are.  And let us keep seeking God’s purpose for our lives.  It is never too late to answer God’s call and to step out into something new.  Jesus promises to be with us always as we obey His call. (Matt. 28:20)                                                Pastor Konrad

 

Newsletter August 2017

Guided by the Spirit

     Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10)

     Have you ever had a plan and somehow things just didn’t seem to work out.  If so, what did you do?  Did you try to force things?  Or did wonder if God might be shutting a door because His plan was different to yours?  Did you turn to God and ask for direction? 

     Paul and his companions had a plan.  The next station on their missionary trip was to be Asia, a region they hadn’t preach in until then.  Surely the people there needed to hear the Gospel message just as others had.  So why did the door seem shut?  Why did the Spirit of God forbid them to preach in that region?

     Sometimes things seem to make sense to us.  We have a plan and pursue it until we achieve our goal.  But what if God’s plan is different?  What if He has a different priority?  Whether in ministry work or in our personal career or family life, we often waste time trying to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves, when God’s plan for us is quite different.  Yes, Asia needed to hear the Gospel, but not now.  Just across the sea, in Macedonia, the entrance to the European continent, there were people ready to receive the message of the cross, and God wanted to use Paul to bring it to them. 

     Following Paul’s vision of a Macedonian man pleading for them to come, the group did not hesitate to obey God’s leading.  And as they arrived in the city of Philippi, they encountered Lydia, who readily received the gospel and invited them to her house.  Everything was working out just as one would expect if God is leading.

     However, then events took a different turn.  A slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination followed the missionaries, crying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”  Despite the truth of her words, Paul recognised their demonic source and cast the evil spirit out of her.  This upset her owners, as they had made money with her “gift” of fortune-telling.  Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten and thrown into prison.  Was God still there?  Were they still in His will?  Why then were things suddenly going so wrong?

     Paul and Silas knew who had called them; and they knew that He had called them to Macedonia.  If God had allowed them to be arrested and ill-treated as they followed the Spirit’s leading, there had to be a purpose behind their ordeal.  And so they worshipped in the midst of their trouble.  And God intervened spectacularly: the prison was shaken and their chains and those of all the prisoners fell off.  The jailer, about to commit suicide when he realised what had happened, heard the gospel and, instead, found new life in Jesus Christ.  Their stay in Philippi finally ended with a victory for God’s kingdom and embarrassment for those who had unwittingly violated the rights of these Roam citizens by beating and imprisoning them without trial.

     God know whom to send.  He has His purpose and His timetable for every one of us.  If we follow His leading we will fulfil that purpose, even though the journey won’t always be comfortable.  We don’t see the whole picture, and we don’t know what awaits us in the future, but God does.  Let us seek Him and trust the leading of His Spirit.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14)                                                                                                             Pastor Konrad

Newsletter July 2017

Are you a doer?

     In Matthew 21:28ff Jesus tells a story of a father who asked his two sons to tend his vines. When he asked the first son to go into the vineyard to work, that son refused to do go.  We do not know his reasons for refusing to carry out his father’s request; all we know is that he refused.  Maybe he was tired or busy with something else, or maybe he was simply showing disrespect to his father. 

    Later, however, this son changed his mind and went.   Again, we do not know his reasons for changing his mind.  Maybe he was troubled by his conscience, realising that the harvest would be spoilt if he did not do his part in breaking up the ground and watering the vines.  Neither do we know whether he told his father and brother that he was going – probably not.   All we know is that he went.

    The father then asked the second son to go to the vineyard.  With apparent respect for his father, the second son instantly replied, “I will, sir.”  However, as soon as the father turned his back, he changed his mind and did not go. 

     This second son must have known the consequences of his disobedience.  He would have learnt from his father all there was to know about vineyards and grapes.  He knew the importance of tending the vineyard.  Nonetheless, this seemingly obedient son did not go to work. 

     We do not know why he failed to obey his father’s request after initially agreeing to do it.  Could it have been that he was so busy focusing on his brother’s apparent disobedience that he completely forgot to go himself?  Perhaps he was so busy feeling good about himself and complaining about the faults of his brother that he did not notice when that same brother quietly left the house to do the father’s will.

     Like the religious people of Jesus’ day, we too are very good at knowing what others should be doing, but often fail to obey God when the opportunity presents itself to us.  We may see a need but do not feel that it is our responsibility to tend to it.  We may be quite willing to do what brings us acclaim and public recognition, but shy away from those essential tasks that remain unnoticed by others – except by God, who sees in secret (Matthew 6:4).  That is why Jesus told this story.  We can easily fall into the trap of feeling justified when we focus on what we think others should be doing in God’s vineyard, while we ourselves are doing little or nothing.  And consequently, we may fail to notice when the very people we regard with misgiving quietly and faithfully get on with God’s work.

    The Apostle James (1:22) exhorts us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves for (James 2:17) faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  Let us therefore show our faith by doing our part.  The harvest is ripe, but the labourers are few.  (Matthew 9:37)  Let us be labourers in God’s vineyard.  Let us answer Jesus’ call before the night comes and it is too late for anyone to work. (John 9:4)  For all who labour, sowers and reapers alike, will surely receive their wages.  (John 4:36)  And let us keep looking out for those small practical ways in which we can contribute to building God’s church and His kingdom.                                                                       

Pastor Konrad

Newsletter June 2017

A building for a name

 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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.  After the horrors of two World Wars and the Holocaust, efforts were made to bring peace and unity instead through new institutions such as the UN and the EU.  Nonetheless, we seem more divided today than ever before – nation against nation, ideology against ideology, social group against social group and ethnic background against ethnic background.  Many are again 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 humankind endeavours to make a name for itself, JESUS will return to confound its efforts and establish His everlasting kingdom of peace.  Are you on His side?  Is He at the centre of your life?  Are you looking eagerly for His return?   He alone has the name which is above every other name.  Therefore let us not strive for our own greatness but rather, as living stones, be built up a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5), a dwelling place of God’s presence. (Eph. 2:22)                                                               Pastor Konrad

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