Get a Dog

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SUNDAY 20 JANUARY 2019

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“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” - John Lennon

Where you are is where you are. Who you are is who you are. That is the place God meets you, the place he is at work in others around you. It’s the place from which you respond. The encouragement and challenge I feel for this year is to be there. To be present. To trust.

Why do we do this?

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SUNDAY 09 DECEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we are blessed to have James wrap up our year long journey through the book of Ephesians where we have explored the themes of what it means to be a child and heir of God, how the Gospel story reshapes every part of our story and empowers us to be ambassadors of grace and peace in a dark and broken world.

Ephesians 6:18-24
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you. Peace to the brothers and sisters, c and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Called to Identity

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SUNDAY 02 DECEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Ephesians 6:10-24
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love

A Tale of Two Bosses

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SUNDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we continue our exploration of relationships in Ephesians 6, specifically verses 5-9: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

In the garden there were no slaves, and work was God ordained. That’s still the same now. As we step into our identity as a loved and liked child of God, this needs to influence our hearts and our attitudes, whether we are employee or employer.

No matter our position, we are called to love and serve our God with your whole heart and create environments around you, as much as you have influence, that reflects we are not slaves: we are free. We are called to love, respect and honour; because as we do that it changes the atmosphere within in which we work, and as we do that it creates a person with whom God can trust, and when God trusts you He can grow your influence.

Parents, Children and Cabbage Trees

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SUNDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’– which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:1-4

Today we are talking about parenting. And no one wants to talk about parenting, cause parenting is hard.

Today we will be using the word parent today, and for some people that has pain attached, but instead of holding that to one side, bring it all and may we know the Grace and Peace of Jesus in the midst of it all.

Relationship Dynamics

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SUNDAY 04 NOVEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we continue in Ephesians chapters 5 and 6, looking at the dynamics of relationship. 

We are called to live out of our true identities in all of our interactions with people whether that is a spouse, a child, friends or a workmate.  Today we seek to understand the reasons why that can go wrong and how we can be empowered to live fully. 

JOY

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SUNDAY 28 OCTOBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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The book of Ephesians is a letter written to the early church, around 30 years after Jesus died by a guy named Paul who was a significant leader in the church - he was in prison for preaching about Jesus and writes this letter as instruction on how to live the fullest, best life that embraces who you were created to be and what you are made for.

And where we are up to is a passage that gives insight on how to be happy -  the interesting thing being that happiness, or joy is something much deeper than circumstance (remember he’s writing this from prison!)…

So today we are looking at happiness - what is it and how can we keep it!  Praying that together we will see, know and understand the truth that sets us free

Power in Relationships and Living Counter Culturally

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SUNDAY 21 OCTOBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. - Ephesians 5:21

Today we step one verse further into our year long journey through the book of Ephesians. James shares with us on the appropriate use of human freedom and power, with reference to the love of Jesus.

The human temptation is to stop trusting God, to take power into our own hands and rule over others as a way to keep ourselves feel safe; and one of the places that that outworks itself - in the most horrible way - is in marriage relationships, parent/child relationships and workplace relationships.

Our challenge is, as the loved and liked children of God, called to be a kingdom of priests called to represent justice and mercy, to live out sacrificial love - then how do we do relationships differently.

Instructions for Christian Households

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SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. - Ephesians 5:21-33

Children of the Light

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SUNDAY 07 OCTOBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” - Ephesians 5:8-14

Triple A's of Discipline

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SUNDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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‘Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.’ - Ephesians 5:1-8

Way of Love

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SUNDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.’ - Ephesians 4:31-5:2

This morning we explore the beginning of Ephesians 5, where once again we are greeted by a therefore which makes us ask—what is it there for? This is Paul’s pivot into explaining the specific instructions on what a life of love looks like.

The way of love is defined by two relationships and holds within it the tension of those  - seen most clearly in the description in John 1 of Jesus - the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory - the glory of the Father - full of grace and truth.

This way of love is defined by two markers: GRACE and TRUTH…

Unity and Maturity

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SUNDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Over the past six weeks we have been taking our time delving into each of the five gifts that Jesus gave the people of the church (APEST) in the hopes that together we would each discover more about our own personal giftings, as well as gain a renewed appreciation and understanding of the giftings in those around us.

Ephesians 4 says: ‘So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’

Today we look at the three relationships each gifting need to grow in maturity.

The shepherds get to play...

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SUNDAY 09 SEPTEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we continue our series “Everyone Gets to Play” Where we have been exploring the five gifts described in Ephesians 4 as given by God to each one of us.

 At its core, those gifted with a Shepherd heart create and maintain healthy community, promoting the common good, encouraging people in the faith and ensuring the welfare of people as well as the broader society in which the community abides.

Shepherds pay close attention to their immediate environment, noticing details about people and the state of the community. They have strong empathetic attitudes and heightened capacities for meaningful friendships and relationships.

They know the names, stories and details of the people in their care. They desire cohesion and unity and find it hard when people leave the community - for good or not-so-good reasons. 

People matter to shepherds - even and especially the most unlikely, most vulnerable and unseen ones.

The teachers get to play...

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SUNDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we continue our series “Everyone Gets to Play” Where we have been exploring the five gifts described in Ephesians 4 as given by God to each one of us.

The teaching gift is about practical wisdom and philosophical understanding joined together.

A teacher will be focussed on helping people to see how God wants them to see and experience the world. They bring truth to people to shape and form them

They are similar to prophets and apostles in that they deal with ideas that shapelife.  They are interested in the board comprehension and systematic understanding - and don’t always carry a huge amount of urgency.  There is always more to learn and progress, no matter how small is progress.

Teachers can not teach what they do not know and cannot lead where they will not themselves go - they want ideas to be grounded in real life - they want transformation. 

The evangelistic get to play...

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SUNDAY 26 AUGUST 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we continue our series “Everyone Gets to Play” Where we have been exploring the five gifts described in Ephesians 4 as given by God to each one of us.

Today we are looking at the evangelistic gifting – I think of all the gifts this one has been most negatively stereotyped both outside of the church (think Ned Flanders in the Simpsons) and inside of it. This has huge missional implications!

My hope and prayer is that as we explore the beauty of this gift that we will afresh see it, nurture it and release it amongst us.

Evangelists are incredible recruiters - they have the capacity to get significant buy-in from their hearers.  They are persuasive, infections people with appealing personalities.

They spread ideas persuasively - they have significant negotiation skills.  They have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say and makes others want to agree with them!  They are agents of conversion.

They tend to be great social connectors - the kind of people who can link the rest of us up with the world.  They have a capacity to make connections with people in a way that demonstrates social and emotional intelligence - they know who goes with who and how to best invite.

In many ways, their function is genuinely priestly - they mediate between God and people and people and people. 

They have an affinity for the gospel that makes them adept at seeing the gospel in individuals’s unique experience and circumstance.

They really are positive, good news people.  The sharing of the good news is an inextricable party of their capacity to understand people and make connections.

They have a strong relational intelligence and ability to translate the gospel into prevailing culture in ways that make a lot of sense.  They love to ask people to join in.

They are entrepreneurs, communicators, motivators, marketers, and enthusiastic story tellers.

The prophetic get to play...

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SUNDAY 19 AUGUST 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we continue our exploration of the five gifts (APEST – Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher) described in Ephesians 4. 

We believe that every single one of us is gifted by God in one of these giftings.  Today we are discovering the prophetic gift – the one who sees and hears God’s heart and communicates it with those around them. 

Prophetically gifted people are the heart revealers in the church community.  They are often gifted in the areas of worship, poetry and art. Prophets are agitators for change.  They tend to ask pointed questions and highlight the gap between God’s call and people’s obedience.

Prophets desire for the church to be a restored community that offers an alternative society – with a strong commitment to worship, prayer, spiritual warfare, holiness, justice and incarnational witness. Its probably the loneliest of the five gifts and the one most open to misunderstanding.

When the gift is immature it can be volatile and divisive and if there is a history of misunderstanding they can get grouchy and judgmental.  But the mature gift, like Jesus, brings joy, hope, declaration of God’s abiding love, the call to righteousness and connection.

Outside of the church prophetic men and women are agents for cultural change, social justice and integrity.

The apostolic get to play...

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SUNDAY 12 AUGUST 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we launch into exploring the first of the gifts from Ephesians 4—remembering that the emphasis is on each one of us having been gifted with one of the five.

If this is you our prayer is that in your sphere of influence you grow into all you are called to be. If this isn’t you, our prayer is that you would understand and appreciate and champion those around you who are gifted this way.

In the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostolic person is imbued with an innate sense of the big-picture purpose of the organisation and have a unique gift for life, extension, entrepreneurship and adventure. 

They are pioneering by instinct, they tend to be less risk-averse and move towards the edges - they are catalytic, adaptive, movement also, trans local, pioneering, entrepreneurial leaders who are needed to spark, mobilise and sustain movement. 

Maturity in this gifting grows into seeing the ability to see the church/organisation as a living system and the need to develop and guard the DNA and look after the design and leadership health of the whole organisation.

Everyone Gets to Play

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SUNDAY 05 AUGUST 2018

Ephesians deals with topics at the very core of what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice, it invites us to continue our journey of “Shema” - hearing and responding to the invitation and challenges God is placing on our hearts as individuals, households and as a community.

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Today we start an in-depth look into the fivefold ministries. Our hope is that over the next six weeks, you will discover something about your own personal giftings, as well as have a renewed appreciation and understanding of the gifting of those around you.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it... So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. - Ephesians 4:7, 11-13

Through the gift of grace, Jesus has empowered and equipped each one of us for service, to fulfil a ministry role and build the kingdom. When we all operate in the role given to us by the Holy Spirit, the result is unity in faith, a continual growing in the personal knowledge of Jesus and wholeness.

As a community we choose to walk the path God has called us to, living out of our specific giftings, passions and strengths. Receiving support and encouragement from one another for the areas that are not our natural wiring.

A key part of living in the THEREFORE is discovering and understanding your gifting, how this works/is expressed and how you are called to function within the church and further afield.

Because each function/calling contributes something the Body that the others do not, they mutually enrich each other - like pieces of a puzzle. We cannot be the Body of Christ as Jesus intended without all functions/calling active and present throughout the life of the church.

Over the next five weeks we will be exploring in-depth the callings, giftings and out workings of each of the APEST ministry profiles. We believe this is about empowering everyone to function at their full potential both within the church community and further afield.

As Markus Bath captures: the distribution of the APEST are not a substitute for Jesus’s presence but the mode of his being present.