Edenvale Baptist Church

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Glow Sticks & God’s Will

In His teachings, Jesus touched on many aspects of the Christian life. He shared stories and parables with His followers, and through scripture we have many important lessons on how we should conduct our lives as Christians. One of the most recognisable teachings from Jesus is how to pray.

This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…’” (Matthew 6:9-10)

Jesus teaches us to pray for the will of God and for the everlasting Kingdom. The will of God is placed in this prayer before so many things we strive for and work for each day.

The will of God comes in this prayer even before our daily needs of sustenance and forgiveness, because it is first and foremost what we are designed to accomplish on earth. We are designed to honour God’s name, further His kingdom and seek His will. We cannot honour the name of the Lord and dismiss His will. We cannot build His kingdom without seeking first what God wants His kingdom to be like through us.

Think of a soldier gearing up for battle. The soldier puts on his boots, checks his supplies and reports for briefing. The soldier does not land in enemy territory and run out guns blazing. The soldier first learns what the mission is and then acts.

Our kingdom building, God honoring activities should be based on the same understanding. We can never hope to be the true hands and feet of Christ if we do not first seek Christ in the movement of these hands and feet.

Sometimes it is easy. Our will accidentally aligns with God’s will. Feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the vulnerable; those things are simple enough for the most part because we may recognise the need and feel compelled to help others by doing these things. It gets harder when our will is different from the will of God. When we want to go but God says wait. When we want to rebuke when God says love. When we want to stay when God says follow. We can be called out to do scary things, out of our comfort zones and then we are worse than a cement mule carrying an elephant in a backpack.

When our own will is broken, our true beauty shines through. We can never reach our full potential until we shine with the will of God.

This truth came to me in a rather strange way. My parents were avid divers and one day when I was a child, I came across a massive glow stick that was part of their scuba gear. My dad saw how curious I was about it, and showed me how beautiful the phosphor glowed once the little glass vial inside was broken.

Many years later I bought a tube of glow sticks for a birthday party and unfortunately they were really awful quality so their glass vials didn’t break and the chemicals inside never reacted to give off the mesmerizing glow that I so loved. I stared in disappointment at them, thinking how sad it was that their true potential was lost because the glass vials were almost impossible to break. This is when the thought came to me that the potential to accomplish such wonderful things for the kingdom of Christ is in all of us, but so often, we swap the will of God for the will of our own hearts. So many people go through life with only the slightest sparkle of their true potential because they refuse to let their will be broken.

I still think of the will of God each time I see a glow stick and often times I have found great comfort in this small reminder when I face great disappointments in life. The will of God is beautiful and true, and in the pursuit of it, our own glass vials will sometimes be smashed so the mesmerizing will of God can shine through to light the way for others.

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Walking Worthy

My mother used to buy her fresh fruit and vegetables from a tiny grocer near the farm we where grew up. It was dark and musty, with fresh produce spilling out of wooden crates. In the middle of the store was the checkout counter, complete with a vintage till and scale.

I was fascinated by the scale, which still used a balance beam with shiny brass counterweights. I would watch as the grocer carefully added them until the bunch of carrots floated and hung suspended in space. I would race him to add up the collective weight of the dollops of brass. Mostly he would let me win.

It’s exactly this picture of a vintage scale that is used in Ephesians to describe the new life we have as Christians:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” (Eph 4:1)

The word used for ‘Worthy’ is literally the same picture of the scale with shiny brass weights!

The idea behind this picture is that God has deposited a brand new identity onto one side of the scale for us, and now the calling of our lives is to increasingly balance that out in reality.

This is the great pursuit of the Christian life, as there are so many facets to our new identities and so many areas of our lives that have yet to be added to the scale. We encountered much of this throughout our Ephesians series, but this verse offers a neat summary as it continues:

  • We have a new character (v2)
  • We have a new sense of unity in relationship with each other (v3-v6)
  • We have a new purpose (v7)

May your life steadily, increasingly, balance out the scale of these extraordinary deposits. May you see the scale raising slowly but surely until it floats, suspended in grace. May God’s hand continue to lift your side up as you walk in a manner worthy of His calling.

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The Greatest Road Trip Ever

Of all the wondrous ways to travel the world, taking a road trip may be one of the simplest, but most rewarding ways to explore. Most of us have cherished road trip memories, driving to the coast with family for a December holiday or trekking to some small, unheard of little town for a friend’s wedding.

Another joyful road trip memory that may have been hiding right under your nose for a very long time is captured in the book of Psalms. As you journey through this book, you may notice a beautiful roadmap woven into the fabric of the story, and the undeniable truth is that God can be seen as a companion in this journey without fail.

The book of Psalms also provides us with a guide of the essentials we need for the greatest road trip ever as we journey to eternity. Here’s what you need for the journey:

Good company.

Have you ever been on a road trip that you thought was going to be great, but then it turned out that your companions were not the best company after having to change a burst tyre, sitting in rush hour traffic and battling pedestrians and street vendors with superglue and coat hangers at every traffic light?

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers” (Psalm 1:1).

Importantly the journey through the book of Psalms starts with a warning to choose your companions carefully. While you cannot always choose who is on the same road, you can choose who shares your road trip snacks. We need to understand that our companions shape the experiences we have in life to a great extent. Getting frustrated when facing hardships on the trip does not necessarily make someone a bad companion, but we need to stay clear from the type of companions described in this passage of scripture.

We cannot control who comes into our lives, but we can choose to be good companions to everyone we travel along with and we can choose to spend time with companions who are good company for our souls.

Sustenance.

Good coffee and sandwiches may cheer up grumpy travellers, but God understands that in your journey to eternity, you will need more than a caffeine kick to keep you going, and for our sustenance he provides his unfailing love.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light” (Psalm 37: 7-9).

God gives us an abundance of himself to sustain us through this journey. We feast and delight in the house of God and we are loved unfailingly by God who cares for us. To me, this is much better than a few take-aways soon forgotten because this promise of unfailing love is eternal, crossing time from the beginning until the last day that has been added to our travels.

Good music.

On a road trip through the Northern Cape, our car radio decided to retire from broadcasting duties. So there I was, driving from Beaufort West (where the last of my companions fell asleep) to Swellendam (where the first one woke up) in complete silence. That was the longest four and a half hours of my life, proving to me without a doubt that we as humans, were not made for silence.

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy” (Psalm 33: 1-3).

We need good music on our travels, not just to fill the silence, but because our hearts were designed to praise God and we have been gifted with the joy of music to praise God.

So on your journey, never stop making beautiful music to praise God; whether you are a worship leader in church or have the voice of a cat stuck in a drainpipe, we are all designed to make a beautiful noise for our Father, no matter what it sounds like to human ears.

A map (and a destination).

A road trip almost never follows the exact route we plot out at the start, but regardless of the route, we have an end destination in mind that forms the crescendo of the road trip.

In this journey, we are looking towards our final destination, our ultimate home in heaven where we will reunited with our loving Father for all eternity. Unfortunately, there is no roadmap or app that tells us, step for step how to reach our destination, but we know that God guides us and will welcome us home when he calls us to be with him in heaven.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

How reassuring it is to know that we have a map for this journey that is trustworthy and true, and that although we may not know where we are off to next, God knows and he will lead us to the eternal pleasures where we never have to leave his side.

Perseverance (and patience).

Spending copious amounts of time in a confined space with others is in essence what a road trip is. In life, we spend much of our time getting into each others space; while waiting in line, looking for a parking spot or queuing for a bathroom stall when you’ve had a gigantic cold-drink at the movie theatre. To get through all of these moments we need to have perseverance and patience!

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27: 13-14).

On our journey, we often feel the effects of having to live in harmony with others in very close quarters. And while it may feel like your leg is falling asleep, or you are getting an elbow in the side every so often, we can take hope in knowing that we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We just have to be strong, wait on God and force a smile even if someone jumps the queue, because God wants us to be patient in waiting for his perfect timing.

Rest stops.

On every road trip there comes a moment when you just need to pull over and take a break from the road. Taking a moment away from the trip gives us the chance to stretch our legs, rest a bit and gather perspective on the journey. God knows that we need to rest, and he keeps us safe when we grow weary.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

How wonderful is it to know that God will watch over us as we rest and that he will keep us safe while we sleep? Our God understands that we grow tired and that we need to regain our energy physically and spiritually and for the moments that we are at a pause in life, he will keep guard over us so we can regain our strength in him.

Beautiful scenery.

On a road trip we often get to enjoy spectacular views of places we do not see every day. Sometimes, the scenery is so marvelous that it refuses to be overlooked, but sometimes the scenery is elusive and can only be seen by those who take a moment to really look. This sums up the creation of God and man in the creation so beautifully.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:3-5).

God created the mountains and the seas, the stars and the moon and every beautiful part of this world that we can behold, but the most amazing scenery in the most astonishing form can be found in the crown of the creation, in the people we encounter on our journey.

Often, we overlook the beauty of God’s image that can be found in others, but if we take a moment, and look with our souls instead of our eyes, we will find tiny reflections of God in mankind, placed only a little lower than angels.

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Hopefully this guide will remind you of the goodness of God, the love he has for us and the companionship he offers on the road to eternity.

May your heart praise him in return as you notice the wondrous memories you have of God traveling with you throughout your own journey because he has always been there, and will always be there until you reach your final, ultimate destination in his kingdom.

 

 

This was a guest post by Chantelle van der Walt. She works in the publishing industry, and you can read more of her writing on her blog. Chantelle helps manage our Social Media, and is responsible for the wonderful posts on our Instagram account.

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God is in control

The main theme of the book of Daniel is simple, yet profound: God is in control. He is in control of both our personal lives, and of world events.

We see this even in the structure of the book: 6 chapters dedicated to the personal stories of Daniel and his friends, and 6 chapters dedicated to the history of the world. Even as we dig into each individual story we see elements of both: God is in control of both our personal lives, and the affairs of the world.

Daniel knew this, and was elevated to a position of authority & influence for all his life. Nebuchadnezzar eventually learned it, but not without first being turned into an animal. Belshazzar never learned it, and was subsequently eradicated.

In the last three chapters of Daniel this theme of God’s sovereignty comes to a thrilling climax. Subsequent world events after the time of Daniel, and human history after our own lives, is still under the control of our Sovereign God.

Think about it:

  • In 6th century Babylon it looked like Babylon, and then Persia, was in control. But they weren’t.
  • In 2nd century Palestine it looked like Antiochus Epiphanes the terrible was in control, but he wasn’t.
  • In the 1st century time of Jesus and Paul it looked like Rome was in control, but it wasn’t.
  • To Christians living 200 years later it looks like satan may be in control, but he isn’t!

What is an appropriate response to this great message?

Firstly, be comforted! Truly, take some time to think about the implications of God having authority over all the affairs of our lives. He loves us. He knows what he’s doing. Nothing is beyond his reach. There is no place for panic in a person who believes in this ultimate authority of God.

Secondly, be inspired to action! Dont let this knowledge lead you to passivity. God used Daniel’s zeal, faith, integrity and ultimately his life as part of His rule over the world. He will use yours too.

Lastly, keep calm and carry on! That’s a cheesy paraphrase of the last words in the book of Daniel:

But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days” (Daniel 12:13)

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The Greatest Miracle

In 1521 Ferdinand Magellan was on his way to circumnavigating the globe, and whilst crossing the Pacific he decided to try measure the depths of the ocean*. Not having much technology at his disposal he tied lengths of rope together, measuring 400 fathoms (700m), tied it to a cannonball, and sent it on its way to the floor of the ocean.

They never got anywhere near it. The great explorer therefore declared that the ocean was ‘unfathomable’, impossibly deep to measure.

That’s like the Gospel. Unfathomable, impossible to measure.

My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure” (Psalm 71:15)

 

There’s a few reasons why our cannonball ropes won’t reach the floor of the Gospel:

  • We don’t perfectly understand how Holy God is
  • We don’t perfectly understand how sinful we are
  • We don’t perfectly understand the price Jesus paid on our behalf
  • We don’t perfectly understand our new standing in Christ
  • We don’t perfectly understand how great is our heavenly inheritance
  • We don’t perfectly understand how much God does for us every day to guarantee our final perfection in Christ

 

The good news about all this is that it means there’s always more to see in the Gospel! This is not like the Christmas holiday to Margate where you’ve seen everything there is to see and it’s time to come home. We will only see the depths of the Gospel when we get home!

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor 13:12)

Christmas is a celebration of miracles. The miracle of God’s coming to earth in the form of man, in order to die in our place but also (miraculously!) rise again from the grave, only to come again one day and take us back home with Him.

This is Gods greatest intervention in our lives. And it never gets old. It never gets dusty. It never gets put away in a cupboard like the Christmas gift you didn’t really want. It continues to increase in depth all through our lives until death takes us home.

That’s when the cannonball hits the floor. That’s when we will fully realise the grandeur of this greatest miracle.

 

Until then, we enjoy Him more and more.

May you experience more of Christ this Christmas.

 

 

 

*This account, and much of the content of this post is from the brilliant book by Dr Andrew M Davis, An Infinite Journey.

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Blueprint

The potential of the local Church to change the world is unlimited. That’s not some dramatic hype, it’s the implications of Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:

so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and  authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:10)

The Church is God’s chosen means of declaring the Gospel to the ends of the universe, heavenly beings included. There’s so much we can do. There’s so much we can become. Where do we start?

At EBC we start with the clear commissions he gave his disciples as they were about the launch the Church*. These four commission statements have become values underpinning all we do. Hopefully you know them by now:

  • We are Sent
  • With the Gospel
  • To the Ends of the Earth through Edenvale
  • In the power of the Holy Spirit

That’s our translation of the commission statements, and we hope that through them we can become what they aim to create:

  • A Missional Church
  • A GospelCentered Church
  • A Diverse Church
  • A Spiritual Church

Our latest sermon series has been an attempt to remind us of these things, but also to inspire us to believe that we can become this kind of Church!

That’s not naive optimism, it’s based on a real-life model, the Church at Antioch** They got it right, and they changed the world. The best part of this model is that the Church was made up of ordinary people, like you and me. Ordinary people living their ordinary lives with Gospel intentionality.

In a very real sense, all this is possible because of the Gospel. It’s sufficient for our own salvation, encouragement, motivation and effect.

It’s based on this optimism that we can pray with Paul the following prayer for our Church:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph 3:20-21)

 

* John 20:19-23, Luke 24:45-49, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8

** See Acts 11:19-30, 13:1-3

 

 

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This Noble Road

One of our most disconcerting disappointments is when we feel disappointed in the Christian life. It’s perhaps not something we’d ever admit, though most of us have experienced it. Is it OK to feel like this? Is it OK to begrudge this journey we’re on? According to the great Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, it’s not:

‘How have I got into this life – this life that I am grumbling and complaining about, and finding hard and difficult? Let me press this question. How did you get into this Christian life? Here we are in the narrow way, how we did we come from the broad way? What has made the difference? These are the questions, and there is only one answer.

We have come from that to this, because the only begotten son of God left heaven and came down to earth for our salvation, He divested himself of all the insignia of His eternal glory and humbled himself to be born as a babe and to be placed in a manger. He endured the life of this world for 33 years: He was spat upon and reviled. He had thorns thrust into His head and was nailed to a cross, to bear the punishment of my sin.

That is how I have come from that to this, and if I ever, ever for a fraction of a second, question the greatness and the the glory and the wonder and the nobility of this walk in which I am engaged, well then I am spitting upon Him.

My friend if you think of your Christian life in any shape or form with this sense of grudge, or as a wearisome task or duty, I tell you to go back to the beginning of your life, retrace your steps to the wicked gate through which you passed. Look at this world in its evil and sin, look at the hell to which it was leading you, and then look forward and realize that you are set in the midst of the most glorious campaign into which a man could ever enter, and that you are on the noblest road that the world has ever known’ *

To be sure, the Christian journey progresses through various stages, some seemingly less spectacular than others. However just to be on this road is a treasure beyond comparison. No matter where this path leads, through whatever season or or circumstance, I know where it ends, and I’m glad to be on it.

* Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Spiritual Depression, pp. 199-200

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Finding Moments (A Mom’s ‘Quiet’ Time)

It’s hard to have a quiet time when you’re a mom.

I’m not talking about actual moments of quiet when there are two very talkative and busy preschoolers singing and dancing their way through life, although those are rare – and much appreciated when they happen.

For about four years – roughly from the time of my eldest daughter’s birth – until earlier this year when my youngest started preschool, I struggled to have the kind of devotional time that I was used to. My youngest daughter is not a great sleeper, so I spent most of the last two years in a permanent state of sleep-deprivation.  Faced with the choice of 15 minutes of extra sleep or getting up earlier to have a quiet time, I chose sleep, figuring I’d fit my devotion in later in the day.  Sometimes I did, but too often, I didn’t.

I felt guilty about it. How could I be teaching my children to love Jesus when I couldn’t manage a “proper” quiet time every day? It took me a while to get over this feeling, to understand that God knew exactly where I was at that point, and that I wasn’t a failure as a Christ-follower or mother because I wasn’t having a daily, sit-down quiet time.

When you are a parent, particularly if you’re at home with your children all day, you need that time with God. On the days when I didn’t have a quiet time, when I hadn’t been filled with God’s Word, when I didn’t feel his Spirit, I was irritable and short-tempered and felt empty. But when I had prayed, and read his Word, and asked for his strength, I was more patient and felt less overwhelmed. That’s still the case. I can’t do this parenting thing in my own strength.

I learned eventually to find moments throughout the day where I could connect with God. Reading a devotional during the girls’ naptime. Singing along to a worship CD in the car. Sticking up Scripture verses around the house. Praying whenever I felt nudged to do so.

I also found that as I prepared memory verses and activities for my daughters, I was being reminded of lessons or pointed to new ideas. I’ve made a concerted effort to try to bring Scripture into every activity I do with the girls because I want them to see God in everything.

I still struggle to get up earlier for a devotion, but these days I’m able to have a sit-down quiet time when I return home from dropping the girls at school. I treasure this time, but I am actually glad that I was forced to find other ways of connecting with God when I couldn’t always have a quiet time.

 

You can follow Mel’s writing at her blog ‘Wind in a Letterbox

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One Human Race

There is only one race: the human race.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).

As Christians we believe that every person on earth has the same human father, and are therefore all family by blood. In light of the recent xenophobic violence in our country it’s certainly true to say ‘we’re all African’, but perhaps it’s even more pertinent to say ‘We’re all human’.

As Christians we can even take that one step further: ‘We’re all one’. Ephesians 2:11-22 is one of the clearest statements in scripture that we are reconciled with one another, across all ethnic divides, due to our common reconciliation as individuals with God. We have a brand new identity when we are in Christ, one that transcends all other allegiances. In a way, Jesus was the end to all ethnocentrism.

The bottom line is that the Gospel unites people across all demographics, and merges them into a family with an identity stronger than national patriotism:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19).

This is something we have to fight for. The roots of xenophobia are the roots of all sin: Pride, Greed & Fear. These forces are rife in every area of our society, and the devil will leverage them to bring violence and destruction in all sorts of forms.

But God is already victorious over the devil, as demonstrated in the Gospel. In reality, only the Gospel cuts through our pride, greed and fear. That means the Gospel is our only hope in times like these.

So lets pray for our country, lets pray for victims of violence, but lets mostly pray for the Gospel of reconciliation to be spread in our country.

At the same time, commit to being a Gospel witness whoever you are, wherever you are, and to whomever you come into contact with. Be an active peacemaker through the Gospel. Our country depends on it.

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Jesus stepped forward

Easter is an incredible time of the year, not just because of hot-cross buns and marshmallow eggs, nor the wonderful Autumn weather, but because we get to talk a lot about Jesus and what He’s done for us.

There’s so much to the Easter story, so many levels of detail that add to this dramatic event that changed the world. At EBC we try and remember some of the details as we lead up to Easter, but the story is simply too vast to capture it all in one week.

Take for instance, this little bit of detail from the night of Jesus’ arrest:

“After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them”
(John 18:1-4)

I’m so amazed Jesus stepped forward that night.

I know I wouldn’t have. If I had known what was going to happen to me, just like Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to him, I would not have stepped forward. I would have ran away. Fast.

Knowing the accusations and the mockery lay before Him, knowing the lashings and beatings and suffering lay before Him, knowing the heavy cross and the nails and the spear lay before Him, Jesus stepped forward.

I’m so glad Jesus stepped forward that night.

Because I don’t have to. At least, not anymore. He stepped forward in my place, for me. It was supposed to me, and you, and everyone else on the planet. But it no longer has to be. Because Jesus stepped forward.

I’m so grateful Jesus stepped forward that night.

Now I can step forward into the Fathers presence, confident, absolved, saved. Because Jesus stepped forward.

Will you step forward to Christ this Easter?

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Encouragement from the Kings

Besides the many lessons we’ve learned throughout this Series we’ve also encountered verses of Scripture filled with such encouragement and promise.

These are the kinds of verses we need to print out, stick up and memorise, and then recall in a time of need:

And Asa cried to the Lord his God, ‘O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you’” (2 Chron 14:11)

The Lord is with you while you are with him” (2 Chron 15:2)

In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you” (2 Chron 20:6)

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron 20:12)

You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you” (2 Chron 20:17)

God has power to help or cast down” (2 Chron 25:8)

And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong” (2 Chron 26:15)

With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles”  (2 Chron 32:8)

May you be greatly strengthened with encouragement from the Kings!

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2015: Resolved

As a teenager Jonathan Edwards wrote out 70 resolutions for his life. That’s far more ambitious than most of us would be, even at this time of year. It’s perhaps another indicator that the man possessed one of the greatest minds in Western History, not just in the Church.

It’s a heavy list, which he would review every week to track progress. It includes resolutions around the spiritual life, character, suffering and relationships, including a mention towards not fretting his parents!

You may not think it important to make resolutions, but it is critical to be resolved. Edwards starts out all his resolutions with the word ‘Resolved’ which simply means ‘Firm in purpose or intent’. May that adjective describe your life this year, and may the direction of that intent always be Christ: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).

Edwards 6th resolution is the shortest:

Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live

 

 

*Thanks to Crystal Park Baptist Church for the picture

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a time of mixed emotions. Certainly the season is dominated by Joy, as it should be! We celebrate the fact that God intervened in human history to set things straight! But whilst we celebrate the incarnation, we realise that God’s work of redemption in all of creation is not yet complete. It will be, one day, when Christ comes again.

We thus rejoice at our rescue, but at the same time long for His second coming. Christmas is therefore a season of both rejoicing and longing.

We all experience these two aspects of Christmas to varying degrees; some experience the pain of longing, perhaps due to loved ones lost in the year. Some rejoice at a year filled with newness of life, perhaps a child born or a wedding celebrated. We experience varying degrees of rejoicing & longing, but all of us experience hope!

Thats the greatest message of Christmas: Hope. We know that Christ will come again and finally deal with all the results of sin in the world. We know this because He’s come once before, and in that instance redeemed us personally from our own sin. But he’s not leaving His creation this way, He’ll come again for His bride, and then we will rejoice for all eternity!

The Pastors & Elders at EBC wish everyone a Blessed Christmas! May you experience His Joy this Festive Season, and through 2015!

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Joy For the World

It’s already Christmas season, but you’d hardly know it if it weren’t for the decorations in shopping malls and adverts on TV. Traffic in JHB is still a nightmare, and people are frantically finishing projects before the year ends, so it hardly seems like the festive season.

And yet according to the calendar Advent is now already officially upon us! It is indeed the time of year where we pause to reflect on God’s goodness in our lives, and be grateful for all that we have. We give gifts to each other to remind friends and family of our gratitude towards them, but always mindful of  the greatest git of Christmas: Christ Jesus our Savior.

We know that its difficult to keep a focus on Christ in a season of angry crowds, anxiety and financial concerns. We’ve tried to pave the way towards a greater understanding of the gift of Christmas through our Inconceivable series, and will follow that up with a memorable Carol Service, as well as our Christmas services.

However we also wanted to assist you individually as you journey towards Christmas in your own life, and came across a wonderful devotional resource courtesy of DesiringGod.org. It’s called ‘The Dawning of Indestructible Joy’, which sounds just about right doesn’t it? It’s available as PDF free from their website, but you can download it straight from here.

Whatever Advent journey you choose to take this year, may it be blessed with the richness of the presence of Christ, our greatest gift and source of Indestructible Joy for the whole world.

May you have a Blessed Christmas Season!

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Dig Deeper into the Word

We’ve spent two weeks discussing the Bible as the Word of God. We looked through an ancient confession for help, and spent some time talking about the careful study of Scripture.

Having said all that, the best way to defend the fact that the Bible is the very Word of God is to let it out of it’s cage. It will defend itself.

God speaks by His Spirit through His word, and so simply reading the Bible is sufficient to hear God speaking to you. That’s why we’d like to encourage and assist you as much as possible in your reading of the Bible. To that end, here are some great resources for your journey in exploring the scriptures:

Books on studying scripture:
Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to read the Bible for all it’s worth.
Kevin de Young, Taking God at His word.
Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks, Living by the Book.

Commentaries:
Academic:
G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, and R.T. France, New Bible Commentary
Devotional:
Tom Wright, New Testament For Everyone (Series – eg ‘Matthew for everyone’ etc).

Websites:
On studying scripture:
David Platt “Secret Church series”: How to study the Bible
Biblical training.org
Online commentary:
NET Bible
Blue letter Bible

Bible study software (Computer, Tablet, Phone)
Logos
Olive Tree Bible Study
e-Sword

Study Bibles
ESV study Bible: Available in Bookstores and online.

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