New venue for this Sunday

This Sunday due to The Piano being used we will be in Christchurch Girls High School Auditorium, 10 Matai St. There is parking onsite and on the nearby streets. We will meet at the usual time of 10am. See you there!!

Please see the map below for guidance.

GirlsHigh-map

 

John 15:1-11, “Christ is the true vine”

The fifth sermon in our Abide with me series looks at John 15:1-11. Drawing from the disciples understanding of Isreal as the vine of God, Jesus states that he is the true faithful and fruitful vine unlike Israel. He is also stating that the shedding of his blood on the cross is the fulfilment of the symbolism of the wine used in the passover meal. On the cross Jesus lays down his faithful and fruitful life for the root of our sinful lives and calls us therefore to be grafted back into relationship with God in himself. In being grafted back into God he bears in the fruit of Christ-like character.

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John 15:1-11

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 “Six Synthetic Soul Satisfiers”

Does Wine, Work or Entertainment truly satisfy us? Does Sex, Significance or a pretty home give us that soul settling satisfaction we so crave?
Today in Ecclesiastes, Solomon tells us about the 6 Synthetic Soul Satisfiers he used in his search for satisfaction.
Laughter, Wine, Accomplishment, Possessions, Entertainment and Sex.
But do these things in themselves satisfy the cravings of our soul?
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Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.

So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11”A Mountaintop Perspective On Pleasure”

We have cravings for food, we have cravings for intimacy and we have soul cravings, cravings in the mysterious, non physical part of us. How do we satisfy those cravings?  We live in a world which tells us pleasure – enjoyed to the fullest – is the answer. But is it? The Preacher in Ecclesiastes confronts this head on, saying instead that those things will not satisfy in the long run.  What then does satisfy the cravings of our heart?
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I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.[a] I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines,[b] the delight of the sons of man.  So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, 2:12-17 “The Pursuit of Wisdom”

Like many of us, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes has been trying to understand the world he lives in. In order to do this he sets out to pursue  truth, wisdom and understanding. The only problem is, the more he sees, the more he is grieved, perplexed and humbled. He quickly realises, that despite learning things, both wise and foolish, he still has a finite ability to understand the perplexing world he lives in. The question then becomes, why would God allow this to happen to him? We see that God allows this to happen to people so that we can truly realise we are not the all knowing God – either as an individual or corporately. This, in a surprising way encourages us to trust in the Lord who does know all things, who is infinitely wise and who has shown us his wisdom in Jesus Christ, the Son.

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Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, 2:12-17

12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart[f] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[g] and a striving after wind.[h]

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

12 So I turned to consider wisdom and madness and folly. For what can the man do who comes after the king? Only what has already been done. 13 Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness.14 The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. 15 Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16 For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! 17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

 

Psalm 16:8

Throughout life we will often encounter trials and difficulties.  Today’s sermon looks at how Psalm 16:8 encourages us to always set the Lord before us and that because he is at our right hand, we can rest in him.

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Psalm 16:8

I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

John 14:25-31

Jesus continues to encourage and comfort his disciples in the upper room before he leaves them and heads to the cross. In his comfort he encourages them that he is the peace maker with God therefore they are right with God in him. And he encourages them that he gives them his peace, the peace he enjoys in relationship with God the Father, both applied by the Holy Spirit to comfort them as they face opposition and hardship in this life.

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John 14:25-31

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

On the surface it appears that reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes would deflate, even the most bouncy, cup ‘half-full’, optimist.
On the surface it seems to sure up the foundations of those who possess a more ‘depressive skeptic’ personality type.
The Preacher speaks of vanity, he is saying, it’s futile to try and find true gain or ultimate fulfilment in the things we’re toiling towards
Fulfilment and true gain is something we can only experience once we are in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we see this in the invitation made by Jesus to those who are oppressed by their toil – he invites them to find rest in him.
Matthew 11 28-30
28 pCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”.
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Ecclesiastes 1:3-11

What does man gain by all the toil

    at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens[a] to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[b]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[c] yet to be
    among those who come after.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

Vanity of vanities, says the preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
When the preacher in Ecclesiastes says this, he is saying, it’s futile to try and find true gain or ultimate fulfilment in the things we’re toiling towards
The Preacher says this because he wants us to seek ultimate fulfilment in our relationship with God. Because he knows that only when we realise this, do we actually begin to find true find true joy in our toil.
Joy comes when our toil is put in the right context.
The reality is though that we, here, now, know we don’t seek ultimate fulfilment in our relationship with God and that we often seek ultimate fulfilment in our toil. Because of that we know that we frequently experience joylessness.
That is why we must and can, with great relief celebrate Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the prefect toiler and it is only in him that we have rest and find joy.
Matthew 11 28-30
28 pCome to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”.
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Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

All Is Vanity

The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?

Acts 12:1-25 “The Purposes of God in Suffering”

In this passage, Herod has James son of Zebedee killed, and throws Peter into prison. God intervenes in power by, firstly, sending his angel to set Peter free, and secondly striking Herod down. Given God’s power, though, why allow James’ death and Peter’s imprisonment? Why punish Herod for his cruelty instead of preventing it? Why, for that matter, does God allow pain and suffering at all? In this passage, we see two answers to that question. One is that God allows suffering so that he can display his glory and power not only to the oppressed, but also to their oppressors, when he rescues those who have been suffering. Another is that God shows that he will not give his glory to others. We see God’s response to suffering most clearly in the Cross, where Christ Himself suffered and died only to rise again, and God is now glorified as the conqueror of all death and suffering.

Acts 12 English Standard Version (ESV)

12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.”[a] Then he departed and went to another place.

18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.

20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain,[b] they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food.21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from[c] Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.

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    Starting December 25, 2016, Sunday Morning Worship takes place at 10am in the Piano, located on 156 Armagh Street. Free parking for GPC attendees is available off Oxford Terrace.