It is so fitting that members of our church should be confirmed today.
According to the church calendar, today we remember the gift of God’s Spirit given to his disciples on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension to God’s right hand.
A significant part of the confirmation service is when the Bishop lays a hand on each candidate and prays that the Lord will strengthen him or her with his Holy Spirit.
Long after Pentecost the Apostle Paul urged the believers in Ephesus (people who had already been given the Holy Spirit): “do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18b).
As we are filled with the Holy Spirit so we grow in self-control – the opposite of drunkenness – and we are strengthened to serve one another and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (cf. Ephesians 5:13-14).
Please pray with our Bishop that the confirmation candidates and all of God’s church here in Berwick will be strengthened by God’s Spirit.
Today we want to praise God for our mothers who have nurtured, served and cared for us. Such sacrificial service is a reflection of the humility of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Scripture there are three main ways we can express thanks:
- Express thanks to the person.
- Tell the world how thankful you are for the person.
- Praise and thank God for the gift of the person.
Even if we no longer have our mothers with us, we can still tell the world and most of all praise and thank God for the gift of our mother. The God of all comfort is able to nurture us this day through the trials and losses of motherhood also.
May the practice of praise build us into a mindset of praising God continually.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”
1 Peter 2:9
In the life of Jesus it is interesting to observe how often he asked people questions. Sometimes he even answered questions with a question! This is a model we can emulate in trying to pursue spiritual conversations with outsiders. Don’t you love it when someone asks your opinion?
For example we could ask:
- Do you consider yourself spiritual? In what way?
- What do you think is the cause of wrong in the world?
- How do we know what values to pass onto the next generation?
- Who do you think Jesus was?
- Why do you think Jesus died? Why were his followers willing to die for him?
- What do you see as the strengths (or weaknesses) of Christianity?
- What do you think of the Bible? Have you ever read it as an adult?
When we ask, we need to be genuinely interested in the person and listen well to their answers. Asking the right questions sensitively and at the right time is a great way to engage with our friends who don’t follow Jesus yet.
It is sometimes asserted in western culture that “we are all God’s people”. That is not a biblical statement.
Although God is the creator of all people we are not all God’s people.
Jesus’ apostle Peter when writing to Christians throughout Asia reminded them:
“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).
We are not born God’s people, rather we become one of God’s people when – by the Holy Spirit’s work – we humbly accept God’s compassionate forgiveness through Jesus’ death in our place.
Are you one of God’s people? Have you embraced God’s mercy?
In his book “Can Man Live Without God”, Ravi Zacharias writes:
“I am absolutely convinced that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. And that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full”
This is an apt description of Aussie life. We are filled with such material abundance and yet we still yearn for deeper meaning.
Australians have never been more affluent yet we have never been more broken and confused.
Augustine put it best in the fourth century:
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
One of the best advertisements for Jesus Christ is the fulfilment and satisfaction he gives to our lives. We have a peace which the world cannot give. Let us share it!