It often feels like the world is conspiring to make us less and less thankful for the many blessings God gives us. We have so much to be thankful for! We enjoy material abundance, the gift of living in this part of Melbourne, fellowship with our brothers and sisters at Berwick Anglican Church, and above all, the love and grace and eternal life God has lavished on us in Jesus Christ! But I often find myself overlooking all these wonderful things, and if I’m not careful can become grumpy by focusing on one or two small problems in my life.
If gratitude drains from our hearts, we become more cynical, more complaining and more discouraged. Our perspective can become warped, we can lose hope and fail to see things as they really are. We start to focus on what we don’t have and forget all the great things we already possess.
But this should not happen to Christian people! As Paul reminds us in First Thessalonians; ‘Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (NIV 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
A good practice of prayer is to review each day in the evening, and then thank God for three things that you are grateful for from the day. As per the advice in Thessalonians, doing so will build gratitude in your heart, train you to be thankful in all circumstances, and help you to be joyful always.
Why not take a moment now to prayerfully give thanks to God for three things you are thankful for at Berwick Anglican Church?
Rev. Ben Soderlund
Compassion Australia are an established Christian global aid agency with a strong support base from Australian churches and individual Christians. Globally they have over 1.8 million children involved in their programs.
Compassion are unique in that they are Christ centred, child focused, and church based. For many years Compassion have been a Berwick Anglican link missions partner.
Today in our Sunday services you will hear more about Compassion and also there is an information table where you can find out more about being involved in child sponsorship.
I encourage you to look at the website for Compassion Australia and follow them on social media. Please pray for spiritual and physical blessings through Jesus to flow to all who have contact with the programs of Compassion around the world.
Last century John Stott was a famous Bible expositor based at All Souls Langham place in London. He had a global writing and preaching ministry and was a great evangelist. His books are well worth reading today.
In his book on the Sermon on the Mount, Stott suggests that ‘there are only two kinds of ambition: one can be ambitious for oneself or for God. There is no third alternative.’
Once we have decided to forsake our own glory and be ambitious for God, Stott then challenges us to be as ambitious as possible!
“Ambitions for God, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded his true place, which is the supreme place….”
It is the default to have low ambitions for the impact of Christ in our lives, in our families and in our city. Instead let us have great and godly ambitions for the name of Christ to ring out to the masses of Casey and Cardinia. May our church and the churches of our region be filled with the most Bible loving, the most prayerful, the most sacrificial and the most ambitious Christians in our city.
This week at Berwick Anglican Church we start a new sermon series on the book of First John, called ‘Travel Tips for the Christian Journey’.
John wrote this book because he was concerned about false teaching that was creeping into the Christian communities he looked after. This false teaching was causing splits and conflicts. John wanted to reassure the church that they already had the true gospel of Jesus Christ and to help them combat that counterfeit ‘gospel’ in their midst.
Bible scholars have noticed three key themes in First John that are often called John’s ‘Tests of Life’ with which Christians can recognise and combat false teaching. First John teaches that we can recognise true Christians by their:
- Having right beliefs about Jesus: e.g. ‘If anyone acknowledges
Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God ’ (NIV)(4:15);
- Keeping God’s commandments: e.g ‘We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands’ (NIV) (2:4); and
- Practicing love for one another: e.g. ‘We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death’ (NIV) (3:14).
We too can use these Tests of Life, both to encourage one another in our Christian walks, and also to help us distinguish genuine spirituality from the false.
Rev. Ben Soderlund
All the surveys of public opinion said the same thing: the vast majority of Australians agreed it was good idea to ban single-use plastic bags from our supermarkets. It’s a great reform! A no-brainer if you will. Getting rid of plastic bags removes a major source of pollution for relatively little economic cost. Of course we want it happen! Get on with it supermarkets!
But then it happened. And both in store and on social media people have been… outraged! Thoughts of the environment have quickly faded.
- Its such an inconvenience!
- Its too hard to bring our own bags to the supermarket!
- How dare they make me do it!
- Who do they think they are!
What is a good idea in our minds, can be easily transformed into an outrage in our hearts, if its implementation dares to challenge one of the major idols of our age: convenience.
In a self-centred culture like ours, we feel entitled to have our preferences and our needs and our desires at the centre of all activity. And even small challenges to that can cause outrage – which is what we have seen at check-outs around the nation this week.
Beware of the sinful heart that grumbles at minor inconveniences, especially inconveniences caused by good changes! Christian discipleship is often inconvenient. After-all, we follow a crucified Lord who tells us to pick up our crosses and follow him. And in a growing and changing Church like ours that seeks to grow and change even further for the gospel, sometimes we will face inconvenience. But when we do, let it be an opportunity to put aside our own interests and instead come together in grace for the benefit of Church and the gospel.