Under the title "Before the Day of the Lord", he looked at Joel 2:25-32.
- Are you prepared to meet God, he asked. Last week we saw Joel stressing the need to repent. Here we see the signs and wonders preceding the coming of the Lord -- commonly called Judgement Day in the vernacular.
- There will be many prophets, not just the elite clique we see in the Old Testament. Acts 2 tells us how the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of speaking all tongues, fulfilling Joel's prophecies.
- Some people think that "being good" is the Christian message. That's not what the Bible says. Nobody is good enough ; only through the death on the cross of Jesus are we made ready to meet God. The Gospel is both a final warning and a guarantee of our place in heaven.
- Signs and wonders are promised, with a darkened sun and a shaken earth. Luke 23 describes similar events at the day of the crucifixion.
- The cross is not an emblem of God's anger and judgement. Rather it is a message of his love and forgiveness.
- We all like to receive invitations (it's nice to be asked!). The gospel is God's invitation to the world to join him.
I'm not ashamed to own my Lord,
or to defend His cause,
maintain the glory of His Cross,
and honour all His laws.
Jesus, my Lord! I know His Name,
His Name is all my boast;
He will not put my soul to shame,
nor let my hope be lost.
I know that safe with Him remains,
protected by His power,
what I've committed to His trust,
till the decisive hour.
Then will He own His servant's name
before His Father's face,
and in the New Jerusalem
appoint my soul a place.
And the weekly message from R2 read as follows:
"Today has been set aside by the Prime Minister as a National Day of Mourning and Reflection for the victims of the Tsunami on December 26th.
Around the nation there will be different expressions of mourning; for the Christian church we turn to the word of God to understand what an appropriate response should be¡K or rather responses. I say that because the Bible gives us different courses of action that all need to be expressed at such times.
The first response is to seek to alleviate the immediate suffering of those in need. Jesus underscores this in The Parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10 - faith is always evident in deeds [James 2]. We have chosen to do this as a church through the work of the TEAR Fund; the leaflet today outlines their work.
As we ponder the immensity of this tragedy we mourn in some way along with those affected throughout the region, indeed the world. It is right for us to pray (for those living) for the alleviation of their suffering, for their future peace, and that the God of all the earth will bring good out of this natural evil. Another response will include the consistency of our giving; are our regular gifts to God's work reflecting our values as Christ's followers? We've all been reminded of the transitoriness of material things -- do our lives show that?
We can also pray for governments and our leaders: for wisdom in their actions, and that oppression and war may be overcome, especially in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, because of the goodwill that now exists.
Lastly we should also reflect on Jesus' words in Luke 13 on learning of a massacre. In his reply, Jesus included a natural disaster, saying that the victims were no more sinful than the rest of society. His point was that unless everyone repented they would perish in a spiritual sense, not a physical one. He was calling people to a personal relationship to his Father. It is a call for us all to heed"
We also had a Senator taking part in the morning service -- in fact he did the Bible readings today -- and it was interesting to compare his delivery with the usual manner of those we hear at the lectern.
Our church is running an appeal for the Tsunami victims and so far we've raised $1600 this Sunday morning and last Sunday morning. The money will go to TEAR.
* The Evangelical Alliance Response Australia is a movement of Australian Christians responding to the needs of poor communities around the world.
* Rather than establish their own relief and development projects, TEAR Australia supports the initiatives of other Christian groups, including churches, relief & development agencies and community-based organisations, which are working with the poor in their communities. They seek to build effective relationships with these partners, grounded in mutual respect, trust and accountability.
* Priority is given to those programs that strive to involve the most marginalised, exploited and needy members of each community, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.
* TEAR Australia is the unhesitating recommendation of Rev. Robert Benn, 10 years a missionary in Indonesia.