Gratitude

For many people the final month of the year is welcomed with a long awaited sigh and celebration as it signals holidays, food, festivities and summer. For others however the season is viewed with a sense of dread and weariness, due to the stress of expenses, events, deadlines and get togethers, or not.

Regardless of whether this month energises or depresses you, one thing is for certain, it represents an opportunity to look back over the last 12 months and assess our successes and failures. This is vital in seeing whether we have been effective or not but don’t let that be the only function. Let this month also serve as a time to look back and be truly grateful for all that has transpired, both good and not so good.

Gratitude is not only a virtue that our parents insisted that we show as children with good manners but it is an attitude that secular researchers are now discovering has tremendous health benefits. In 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude through a psychological lens. He found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting.

Little wonder that the Bible repeatedly commands us to give thanks. Col 2:7 tells us that we are to abound in thanksgiving. Luke 17 records the remarkable story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers. After instructing them to confirm that their leprosy had ceased to the priests, one of them came back immediately praising God and throwing himself at Jesus feet out of sheer gratitude. Jesus marvelled at the absence of the other 9 who were also healed but did not demonstrate the same level of appreciation. Due to this man’s gratitude, Jesus made him whole, the implications of which are that his sins were forgiven and possibly any missing body parts as a result of the leprosy were restored.

Gratitude is an attitude that the child of God ought to embrace. We have so much to be thankful for, even when our lives are not ideally placed. Get into the habit of giving thanks always (1 Thes 1:2). Get into a habit of being grateful. Here are just a few tips:

  • Keep a journal where you can list 2-3 things to begin your day being thankful for and end it in the same way. (I recommend the Five Minute Journal).
  • Spend a significant part of your prayer time thanking God for every detail. Count your blessings everyday and name them one by one.
  • Practice thanking your loved ones for something at least once a day
  • Say ‘Thank you’ often
  • Write a letter or send a gift of thanks to someone who has made a difference in your life.

We don’t celebrate a Thanksgiving holiday like in North America but we can exercise this wonderful virtue that can literally transform our lives every single day. Remember that the word gratitude comes from the same root as Grace. Gratitude is the appropriate response to Gods’ amazing grace in our lives.

Have a blessed season!

All Nations

As we celebrate the various nationalities in our local assembly, we are reminded of God’s great love for all mankind regardless of race, language or skin colour and how he has brought into His Church people from every corner of the globe. We are particularly blessed here at the POS that, from our last count, we have over 50 different nationalities represented.

With such varying backgrounds and cultures, there is always the possibility of misunderstanding and even outright offence from the differences of styles, approaches, nuances and idiosyncrasies unique to certain cultures. While we should not be removing these differences but rather celebrating them, yet there is a culture that supersedes all others and that is; the Culture of Christ.

When we become born again and come into the Family of God, we take on a new identity that permeates who we are as individuals. We become new creatures in Christ Jesus, although our unique qualities are not removed. We have a new spiritual family, we talk and walk differently, we take on different priorities in life, we celebrate things that matter to God, we embrace a whole new worldview.

This is why we rejoice, it’s because God has redeemed us from wherever we came from and has put us in His Body to serve Him and one another. So let us appreciate our differences, knowing that we are united by the one blood of Jesus Christ and we worship the one God and Father of all.

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. | Acts 17:26

Battle For Truth

The social climate that we are currently experiencing in our country not only serves to challenge Christians to examine the strength of their convictions but also highlights the fact that the greatest warfare we face today is the ‘Battle for Truth’.

The prevalent post modern worldview asserts that there is no such thing as absolute truth and that it is relative, subject to individual opinions and choices. In the areas of theology, morality and what is presently on trial; gender identity, most people adhere to the idea that truth in these areas are determined simply by one’s own preference of belief, regardless of whether or not it is based on fact.

Not only is it disturbing to see the reach that this perspective has in our world but also to see the aggressive behaviours of the so called tolerant liberals being demonstrated towards those who don’t see eye to eye with them, with an almost fascist militancy. Adherents to the relative truth beliefs are faced with a dilemma of inconsistency because while their watch cry is that there’s no such thing as ‘absolute truth’, they face an even greater conundrum when that view is challenged by the question; “Is that really true?”

Thank God for the freedom of God’s truth that has claimed from the beginning that ‘God’s Word is truth’ (John 17:17). It continues to stand the test of history, science and time itself because He said that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Keep standing for truth for it will never fail.

Turning Point 2017 - NOW Is The Time

This month we host our 25th Turning Point Conference which commemorates the transition from the first church building of UPC Belmore on Burwood Road, Belmore to our current site here in Campsie back in 1992. Since then we have also witnessed the transition of leadership and the many new disciples added to the Kingdom of God. Ministers and Leaders have been raised and released with the view of continuing our late Bishop Slack’s vision of starting Lighthouses throughout our city. We have extended that to releasing ministries and launching mission works throughout our nation, region and beyond.

We have been blessed over the years to host anointed visiting ministries with the calibre of Harold Hoffman, Jeff Arnold, Mark Morgan, Raymond Woodward, Doug Klinedinst and many more. We are once again privileged to have Pastor Sam Emory, along with Pastor Ric Gonzalez teaming up to be our Guest Speakers at this milestone event.

We are deeply grateful for the rich legacy that has brought the Pentecostals of Sydney to where it is today and we look forward with great anticipation to the continued building of God’s Kingdom today and thereafter. Our vision is great and beyond the reach of our efforts alone but with God’s empowerment and leadership, we can continue to lead men and women to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus.

So join with us in prayer and fasting this month for the reaching of the unsaved, but also the encouragement and strengthening of all who attend. Be a part of TP17 and let us experience together the innumerable blessings of God’s presence, fellowship and ministry of His Word.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Rom 13:11

Building Bridges

We’ve all heard the saying; ‘Don’t build walls, build bridges’. Like most cliches, though it can be viewed as corny and redundant, it still carries a significant weight of truth. While it is imperative that we build boundaries in our lives and we maintain our doctrinal beliefs, yet it’s crucial that we eliminate any barriers that would keep unsaved people from being drawn to us and receiving our message. Instead, we must become adept at building bridges to those who are separated by the chasm of sin.

In the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19 Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.”

The teaching and baptising part is something that we understand well but perhaps the greatest challenge has been the part where we are ‘to make disciples’. It’s not as easy as going to a stranger on the street and simply saying, “Hey I want you to be my disciple.” It may work but I’ve rarely seen it done.

What we must do is learn to be a bridge builder to those who are unsaved, so that we can bring them to a place of salvation and personal experience with Jesus Christ. The bridge is called ‘Trust’ or ‘Leverage’. A person will not step foot on a bridge to cross to the other side unless they trust that the bridge will hold their weight. In the same way, many people will be reluctant to take a step of faith towards God unless there’s someone whom they trust that could show them the way. Jesus was a master bridge builder in the way He sought relationship before ministry. What a great example to follow.

Developing ‘trust’ must be done intentionally. It may be becoming a friend to someone, inviting them over for a meal and simply sharing life experiences. It takes time to build a bridge but once the trust has been created, at their pace and in their way, our unsaved neighbours, work mates, people we see on the way to work everyday, may begin to cross the gap to Faith. They will do so because they trust you. Be a Bridge Builder today.

1 Cor 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Discipleship

It’s hard to believe that we are already half way through 2017 and although it seems to have gone so quickly, yet God has done so many great things at the Pentecostals of Sydney. We have seen nearly forty souls baptised in the Name of Jesus and many lives have been transformed by the power of God. We've experienced some remarkable services with outstanding ministry from our guests such as last week. We rejoice in our great God for his faithfulness and blessings to us!

Mid-year always represents to me a great opportunity to stop and take inventory of how we are travelling as we look back from this vantage point over the last six months and then look ahead for the next. I have seen some great things transpire and accomplished but I’ve also been confronted with my own failures and areas requiring improvement; particularly in my ministry and whether or not I am effective in the Kingdom of God.

One of the best ways that I can take inventory is by revisiting God’s calling and purpose for me, as well as the church. Are we fulfilling what God has called us to do? Is my life structured in a way that is pleasing to the heart of God? These are self inventory questions that must be applied in an effort to track our progress. Another key indicator is whether we are following Christ’s model for building his church and the Great Commission, which is to make disciples of all nations.

This is God’s blueprint to save a lost humanity and I am convinced that regardless of the innovation of our programs and the sophistication of our facilities or the quality of our preaching and music, if they do not incorporate or at the very least, are not the foundation and end result of Discipleship, then they are futile and meaningless. Every child of God is called primarily to disciple others. That means to teach, lead, train, mentor and love into the image of Jesus Christ and ready them for heaven going.

There is no greater cause and this ought to be the heartbeat of every Believer - no excuses (because Jesus will take none). So the question remains; Who are you discipling? If you are not discipling someone, then why not? If you are not interested in discipling, then the heartbeat of God is not in your heart. Talk to us today about discipling souls and teaching Bible studies.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. | Matthew 28:19-20

Belong - Believe - Become

Culture is defined as the unwritten rules of behaviour within any social group. We use basic terms such as language, custom, food, dress, religion and festivals to best understand culture. It is the way we see things and naturally behave without giving it much thought, in common with others of our group.

Every community has culture whether or not the people in that community realise it, and what is of immense importance is that it can be good and life giving or the culture may be one that’s negative and toxic.

As part of the Church of the Lord Jesus, we also have a culture that’s borne from the Word of God and the influence of the Holy Spirit but is also not independent of the behaviours, attitudes and mannerisms of the people in the Church. To a large extent we determine the spiritual and social barometer of the Church as the Holy Spirit and the Word works within the lives of individual saints.

The early Church in the Book of Acts stands as an indelible model of Apostolic culture today that was both dynamic, bold, passionate and transformative. This is what we must strive to emulate in order to have an atmosphere of a revival and life giving culture. The very first characteristic is the unity of the Church. Acts 2:1 tells us that, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” 

Unity is the keystone feature in any thriving culture and in the Church. It is brought about by the love of Christ in our hearts for one another; producing an environment of acceptance and non-judgemental attitudes towards those in our church and all who come in. Though culture is often natural and unwritten, we can however build and change our culture intentionally to where people are welcomed with love and celebration as part of our family. In the process, souls are added to the Kingdom of God. The old paradigm of ‘Believe, Become then Belong’ must give way to a culture of:

Belong – Believe – Become

Acts chapter 2 began with Unity and it ends with these words:

“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 favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47 NKJV

Everything Matters

Upon first glance, and a surface read of the book of Ecclesiastes, we are immediately struck by a foreboding and pessimistic perspective of the author about the weary futility and utter meaninglessness of life on earth. The repetitive qualities of nature, history and our human existence itself underscores a depressing outlook that we can neither refute or honestly deny.

What this deep consideration does ultimately give rise to however, is that life without God is utterly meaningless. The good news is that we can live for God, and with God, in the richness of a real and dynamic relationship of faith with our heavenly Father.

As the Righteous Judge; morally perfect and upright in all his adjudication, He brings meaning to every aspect of our lives. The mundane, day to day activities, our behaviour, and the decisions that we make all have meaning. His presence and abundant life that He gifts to us fills us with true joy and purpose. The fact that our actions and words have eternal consequences, and thereby ultimate meaning, brings us the joy of the Lord that becomes our strength.

Ecc 12:13-14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Obedience Today

Obedience is a word and a concept that today is considered old fashioned and misplaced in an “enlightened” and post-modern world. Especially with the prevailing worldview of relative truth and subjective reality in our society. The idea of obedience then is misconstrued by such perspectives, that it’s relevance becomes subject to convenience, social acceptance and immediate gratification.

As followers of Christ however, we are required to obey God’s Word unequivocally. That means that we are to do what God commands us to do, even at the expense of what is convenient for us personally or what may or may not be popular in the world. There is also the great temptation to delay obedience for another time for the sake of personal gratification now. As parents we teach our children about delayed gratification in order to instill resilience and discipline in them and in like manner, as Christians, it’s our personal desires that must take a back seat to immediate and radical obedience.

It’s of vital importance for us to understand that God gives us his laws and statutes to follow, not because He is some egotistical megalomaniac as suggested by modern atheists but because obeying his word is of great benefit to us spiritually and physically, as well as every other aspect of human life. On the contrary, a life that is without rule and boundaries is often destructive and unfulfilled.

Radical obedience to God’s word is not laborious or mundane but it is life and life more abundant because it is obedience borne out of a love relationship with our Creator and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We don’t instruct our toddlers not to walk on the railway track because we want to be controlling parents and make life miserable for them, we do it out of love, even if they don’t completely understand the why. Obedience is so powerful that without it, we can not go to heaven but to reiterate, it is an outflow of our passionate love for Christ and as such, it is not a chore or a burden, but a privilege.

John 14:21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.

John 15:6-7 Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted

The Time Is NOW

Our theme for this year is ‘The Time is Now’ based out of Romans 13:11 - “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

In this text the great Apostle is implying that the church could be in a sleep like state spiritually. In some ways, we can live our lives by being dictated to by our past, whether it’s in regret of our mistakes and failures or we are resting on our laurels by living only on yesterday’s victories. For some it may be that we are waiting for to-morrow; a better situation or the perfect op-portunity to come before we do anything significant today.

I want to urge the church this year, to make today count. That we must learn to live in the Now where we can live out God’s pur-poses and loving those close to us today, sharing our testimony to someone today, giving of our abundance today! Don’t let life pass you by with the attitude of just endur-ing work and ‘looking for a better tomorrow’ before you start really living today.

I like this profound quote:

We over exaggerate yesterday, we over estimate tomorrow but we underestimate today.
— John Maxwell

Today is the day of salvation, no more procrastination or delay. We can do something for the Kingdom of God regardless of our situation now!