22 October 2023 Bethany Service

30 October, 2023

Sunday's LayLed Service with Brian Eckermann

Theme: A message from Bishop Paul Smith

View

15th October 2023 Bethany Service

16 October, 2023

Layled service with Nevin Nitschke

View

8th October 2023 Bethany Service

10 October, 2023

View

Season of Prayer - Reflection on the Lord's Prayer

4 October, 2023

The Lord’s Prayer

Reflection:

Interestingly, Jesus starts out on how to pray by teaching us how not to pray. First of all, he says, pray not as a hypocrite or as a performance to be seen by others.

Jesus also says not to pray in the manner of the pagans, going over and over, pleading to the gods for what they needed. Jesus says you don’t need to pray that way, because your Father in heaven already knows what you need.

As we go deeper into the Lord’s Prayer, we see more fully that it's a prayer about our human condition. Every single bit of the Lord's Prayer is radical because every single bit of it challenges our assumptions about who we are and who God is and what the world is like. This prayer calls us to live differently. It also reveals the foundational approach we must take in all prayer and in our entire Christian life.

Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name

Reflection:

The Lord’s Prayer begins with us acknowledging our identity as children of the Father. Our Father ...What does this mean to you?

What wonderful things do calling God ‘Father’ signify in the life of a Christian? Which of these blessings resonate with you?

How do you bring these with you into your time of praying the Lord’s prayer?

‘Our Father’. What do we learn from Jesus about who the God is that we pray to?

“Jesus revealed God to us as Father, Holy, King, Provider, Merciful, Protector and Deliverer.”

To hallow’ is to greatly revere and honour, to hold something as holy.

How do the two ideas of ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hallowed be your name’ come together for you?

Your kingdom come

Reflection:

When we pray ‘Your Kingdom come’ what do we mean?

What are the qualities of God’s Kingdom

How is God establishing a kingdom?

Are you a member of God’s Kingdom? How do you show your membership?

How does Jesus say his kingship is different from the world around him?

What does this mean for the church today?

God’s children are called to listen to God’s voice and follow the Chief Shepherd alone.

His voice utters true love. It is the voice of life and freedom through faith, love, and holiness.

There is no work we have to do in order to earn acceptance into God's Kingdom.

Christ finished all on the cross. Life and peace with God are free gifts that are offered to us.

Your will be done on earth as in heaven

Reflection:

Does the resurrected Jesus belong to heaven or earth?

How does this shape our hope that God’s will might be done on earth?

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me

- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father

- and I lay down my life for the sheep.” - John 10:14-15

To allow God’s will to be done, saying no to temptation, and focusing on what is right, rather than on what is destructive to ourselves or others.

It feels like a different way of living our lives to that of the world around us.

It is in contrast to the individualistic drive to buy, to succeed, to consume, no matter what the cost to others or to the earth.

It doesn’t feel easy.

Give us today our daily bread

Reflection

To recognise that “our daily bread”, the basics that we need to survive, are gifted to us all together, not separately to each individual. We are called to share.

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray in the plural. Not give me my...

Not my Father who is in heaven. It’s our Father.

It speaks of God’s willingness to answer our prayers. “Ask and it will be given unto you.”

This does not mean an indiscriminate granting of all our desires, but a knowledge that God is with us. God’s love always surrounds us.

And through this love, anything is possible.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us

Reflection:

To forgive – we work on our relationships with God and with each other so that we can live in peace.

The love of God should be our example.

We can choose to forgive or we can imprison ourselves through unforgiveness. Christians are brethren in Christ, and they ought to forgive one another just as God has forgiven each one of them.

God’s mercy leads us to forgiveness. When we experience God’s mercy and recognize the cost He paid for our sins, we are led to extend forgiveness to others.

We’re encouraged to show this kind of unconditional love as we settle our wrongdoings or trespasses with our brothers, friends, fellow workers, and neighbours. As we forgive one another the kingdom of God comes in our midst.

Lead us not into temptation

Reflection:

What do we learn from Jesus’ example about responding to trials and temptation?

The reality is we need God’s strength to get by. We cannot do this on our own strength. Our strength comes through prayer and actively leaning on God

Temptation is real. We all encounter it.

“Lord, I am weak and by myself I will fail. Therefore, I entrust myself to You so that I will never be led astray by the many temptations I will certainly face.”

Deliver us from evil

Reflection:

Cast all your anxiety on God, because he cares for you.

Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Resist evil, and be steadfast in your faith.

The God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

What is the relationship between Jesus and the power of death? What has he achieved?

What confidence does that bring to your praying of the Lord’s Prayer?

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever

Reflection:

Worship is our response to who God is and what He does as He reveals Himself to us.

As we respond to God, our worship will take shape and our lives will be a pleasing sacrifice for Him.

In this way, His kingdom will be manifested, His power will be displayed before a watching world, and His glory will shine through.

And it will be true of our lives: “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours. Now and forever.”

REFLECTION ON LH 421

As you read this hymn written by Martin Luther centuries ago, reflect on their meaning to your faith and life today.

Our Father Thou in Heaven above. Written by Martin Luther ( 1483 – 1546)

1 Our Father, Thou in heav'n above,

Who biddest us to dwell in love,

As brethren of one family,

And cry for all we need to Thee;

Teach us to mean the words we say,

And from the inmost heart to pray.

2 All hallowed be Thy name, O Lord!

O let us firmly keep Thy Word,

And lead, according to Thy name,

A holy life, untouched by blame;

Let no false teachings do us hurt;

All poor deluded souls convert.

3 Thy kingdom come! Thine let it be

In time and in eternity!

O let Thy Holy Spirit dwell

With us, to rule and guide us well;

From Satan's mighty pow'r and rage

Preserve Thy Church from age to age.

4 Thy will be done on earth, O Lord,

As where in heav'n Thou art adored!

Patience in time of grief bestow,

Obedience true in weal and woe;

Our sinful flesh and blood control

That thwart Thy will within the soul.

5 Give us this day our daily bread,

Let us be duly clothed and fed;

And keep Thou from our homes afar

Famine and pestilence and war,

That we may live in godly peace

Unvexed by cares and avarice.

6 Forgive our sins, that they no more

May grieve and haunt us as before,

As we forgive their trespasses

Who unto us have done amiss;

Thus let us dwell in charity

And serve each other willingly.

7 Into temptation lead us not.

And when the foe doth war and plot

Against our souls on ev'ry hand,

Then armed with faith, O may we stand

Against him as a valiant host

Through comfort of the Holy Ghost.

8 Deliv'rance from all evil give,

And yet in evil days we live.

Redeem us from eternal death,

And, when we yield our dying breath,

Console us, grant us calm release,

And take our souls to Thee in peace.

9 Amen! That is, so shall it be!

Strengthen our faith and trust in Thee

That we may doubt not, but believe

That what we ask we shall receive.

Thus in Thy name and at Thy word

We say: "Amen. Now hear us, Lord."

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubt. James 1: 5-6

View

1st October 2023 Tabor & Bethany Services

3 October, 2023

Bethany Contemporary Service with Nevin Nitschke and Peter Steicke

View

24 September 2023 Bethany Service

27 September, 2023

Holy Communion Service with Pastor Paul Kerber

View

17th September 2023 Tabor Sermon

23 September, 2023

Lay Led Service with Raelene Falland

Forgiving From The Heart – Matthew 18: 21-35

C. S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” God's will is for us to forgive our enemies.

He wants us to put away all wrath and malice and bitterness. And it is for our good too. Someone said that resentment is like drinking poison hoping the other person dies. Unforgiveness puts us in a prison of suffering. It is a heavy burden for the soul. Unforgiveness is like blood-sucking leeches of your spiritual life. But how can I forgive? It's so hard!

The secret is in the gospel - how God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. You see, the gospel is not a message that cries out, "Pay God for your sins!" The gospel is the glorious news, "Jesus paid it all!"

And just as we have received this stunning love that we are fully forgiven of all our sins, we are now to bend this love and forgiveness outwards towards our enemies. Therefore, we must learn to linger at the cross and soak in the soothing bath of God's love in order that the leeches of unforgiveness can fall off our souls.

Sometimes we are hurt by others and sometimes we hurt others. These hurts may be fairly trivial or else they may be quite serious. They may be unintentional but hurtful all the same. What do we do with ‘hurts’ and insults? We can hang on to them and bear grudges and become bitter and knotted up inside or we can forgive the hurt. Some unresolved hurts can destroy relationships, temporarily or even permanently.

People always say, “Forgive and forget.”

But forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is a voluntary, intentional choice to release someone from a debt they have to pay to you. You see when someone offends you, when someone despises you, when someone slanders you, you feel like there is a debt they have to pay. It's an emotional debt and you hold that person to that debt until he pays.

Forgiveness, however, is that voluntary intentional choice to say, “I release you from the debt. I'm not going to make you pay. I'm not going to make you suffer. I'm contented to absorb that injury.”

Unforgiveness also affects our relationship with God! In Chapter 18 of his Gospel, Matthew records some important aspects of living as members of the Kingdom of Heaven, as Christians living in a community of believers.

In our passage today, Matthew records an incident in which Peter came to Jesus and asked: Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? We don’t know what lay behind Peter’s question. It is likely that he is referring to a ‘Christian’ brother or sister, another member of the fellowship of believers. We note that at least Peter has recognised that forgiveness is important. He’s learned from Jesus that retaliation and grudge-holding is not the answer. But how many times should he forgive the same brother or sister? Surely there must be a limit. Within the Jewish religion, it was held that forgiving 3 times was enough. Peter more than doubles that standard and opts for seven. Surely that would suffice!

For Jesus, forgiveness is wholehearted and constant. It is not Jesus’ way to calculate numbers of hurts or offences. So Jesus replies: I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven. Jesus didn’t mean that you kept a score and that, when we reached the number, the next offence could go un-forgiven! He was saying that for Jesus’ followers, forgiveness is to be unlimited. Forgiveness was to be a way of life. Bearing in mind that God has forgiven them, they ought not to withhold forgiveness from others. Jesus then launched into a parable found only in Matthew’s Gospel. Different to some of Jesus’ other parables, this one has no mystery to it. It is straightforward and uncomplicated.

Again, he begins with the familiar preamble the Kingdom of Heaven is like. This time it is like a King, later described as a Master (or Lord) who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. There are three scenes in the parable. Scene 1 opens with the news that one by one his servants came before him to settle their accounts. One particular servant owed the King a huge amount of money, in our day equivalent perhaps to many Millions of dollars. He was brought before the King to whom he explained that he was unable to pay the debt. In response, the King ordered that the servant, his wife and children all be sold as slaves, in order to recover at least some of the huge debt. The servant owed a huge debt and now he must be punished by having to pay a huge penalty.

On hearing of this shocking punishment, the servant fell to his knees and begged: be patient with me and I will pay back everything. Although it was unlikely that he could ever repay the debt, he was ready to promise anything! In just a few words, the reaction of the King, now described as the servant’s master or Lord, is recorded: he took pity on him, cancelled his debt and let him go. The Master was a compassionate man and not only released him but forgave his debt! He was free to go! It was an act of pure grace.

In Scene 2 we find the recently forgiven and released servant grabbing and choking one of his fellow servants who happened to owe him a very small amount, perhaps in our day $50. In a threatening manner he said to him pay back what you owe me!

As he himself had done very recently, the other servant fell to his knees and begged to be patient with me and I will pay you back. Unlike the compassionate Master, the servant who had been forgiven much had his fellow servant thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. However, there were witnesses to this incident and the other servants, greatly distressed by what they saw, went and told the master everything that had happened.

Scene 3 opens with the Master calling the unforgiving servant in and berating him for his lack of mercy, referring to him as a wicked servant. In the light of him being forgiven by the Master for a huge debt, he should have forgiven his fellow servant for this much lesser debt.

Then the master angrily had the wicked servant handed over to be tortured until he could repay the original debt, all that he owed. It seemed that he would die in prison. Jesus then followed the parable with a brief and pointed statement, as though he was continuing the original conversation with Peter.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. The lesson is clear: the followers of Jesus must each, without exception, forgive wholeheartedly, not grudgingly and not only seven times or even 70 X 7 times.

This echoes the statement Jesus made after he had taught the Disciples the Lord’s Prayer which includes the phrase forgive us our sins as we also have forgiven those who sin against us. At that time, Jesus said to them: for if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive them their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14)

A traveller was in Burma and as he crossed the river, leeches in the waters came up to his whole body and he was infested with blood sucking leeches. And we know that if that is allowed to carry on, he may just die like that. So in his natural instinct, he began to grab hold of the leeches, pull them out and throw them off. But the local people shouted to him, “Don't do that! Don't do that!” He said, “Why?” “Because if you forcefully pull them, some parts of the leeches may remain in your flesh and it may cause poison and toxins to rise. Don't do that.” “What should I do?” “Come,” they say.

So they brought him to this tub that they had made, they poured in some water, they threw in some herbs, some grass, some leaves, some flowers and told him, “Come, lie in there.” And so as he lowered himself into the tub, as he lay there, as he just relaxed there, and let all that water soak it caused him to be submerged. Then amazingly, one by one, the blood-sucking leeches begin to gently fall off his flesh. You see, we want to deal with unforgiveness forcefully. We want to pull these leeches out of our lives. But the only way is when one soaks in a tub of Gospel love when one comes to see that Jesus is so much for us. God has forgiven us so much that our lives will be so filled with that love that these leeches of unforgiveness can finally fall off.

Have you been forgiven by God for your sins? Is there unforgiveness towards a sister or brother in your heart today? Will you forgive? Remember, we need to take the words of the Lord seriously.

Raelene Falland –September 17, 2023

View

17th September 2023 Bethany Lutheran Church Service

19 September, 2023

Service Lay Led with Karen Pietsch and Peter Steicke

The Theme is Unlocking The Potential In Others

View

3rd September Tabor Sermon Nathan Semmler

8 September, 2023

What is the price of life? Matthew 16:21–28

Let us pray: Dear heavenly father, open our hearts & minds today as we reflect on your word. Fill us with your spirit. Amen.

Well, I suppose, that might depend on the context of the question. If you were asked by a life insurance salesman, what the price of life is, he would usually value it as the sum of your financial commitments, and the price of setting your loved ones up without those commitments; therefore, the price of life, will vary by age. For example, if you were 10 years old, you wouldn’t have any financial commitments, so, therefore, you wouldn’t need very much life insurance cover, if any at all.

But if you were 40 years old, with a mortgage and car loan, and have a spouse and two children, then your life insurance cover should be for at least these commitments, plus a very generous amount so that your family could live comfortably, without any need to take out any other loans, etc. Then again, if you were 70 years old, and no longer have any financial commitments or family to support, then your need for life insurance reduces again. So, what is the price of life, according to a life insurance salesman? It is the calculated cost of liabilities and perceived needs, to cover any loss of life. But what if a mother dies in an accident? What is the price of life then? How is it measured? Well, the family may receive a payment from a life insurance company, but no matter how much money they receive, it never makes up for the life of a wife and mother. The same could be said for the loss of a father, or the loss of a child. The price of life in this case, can’t be calculated financially. Money, property, or anything else, is almost useless and empty, of comfort and meaning.

The Beatles sang the song, ‘Money can’t buy me love’, but it also can’t buy or replace life. It’s strange, that at the time of death, the value of life, suddenly crystallises: family is important, relationships are important and people are important. A lifetime chasing after money, property, fame or other worldly attractions, is suddenly put into perspective. None of these things are important when a life is lost. Any time spent chasing after these things is seen as time wasted.

What if a death was the result of an accident or a murder? Then the price of life will often change, and it becomes possible to calculate the price of life again. The price of life is justice or revenge. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life! If someone hurts us, then we want to hurt them back with interest. If someone takes away a loved one, then we want them to receive the same punishment, or worse, if possible!

But even if we were to have someone receive every punishment, we wished them to receive, would that really make things better? Would revenge bring our loved one back? Would we ever be truly happy with the payment? Would the price of revenge or justice, be payment enough for our loved one’s life? We often discover that even with revenge, the price of life still remains immeasurable. So, even though the cost of life for insurance is often calculated financially, and the cost of life, when someone has taken away a loved one, is often justice or revenge, the price of life often can’t be calculated.

Knowing the price of your life, can’t be estimated or valued by any earthly measurements, how much would your eternal life be worth? If you struggle, to name a large enough price for the life of your loved ones, who you have known for only a few years, then how on earth do you calculate the price for their eternal life, or even your own eternal life? If, at the time of death, you suddenly realise all things on earth are almost worthless when compared with the life of loved ones, then how much are you willing to pay or give up, to ensure you will receive that eternal life with Jesus, and your loved ones in faith? Your eternal life is beyond price. Even if you were to give up your whole life, and everything you have, it wouldn’t be enough. Nothing you say, think or do, will pay for or measure the cost of your eternal life. Even if you gave up everything you have, it still wouldn’t be enough. The price for your life, especially for your eternal life, is too high … at least for you.

But the price of your life, even your eternal life, has been measured. Your price is the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is how much your life is worth. It’s a price you can’t pay, yet Jesus has willingly paid the full price. The suffering and death of God’s own beloved Son is your price for life. It was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, to suffer many things, to die and rise again, so that your relationship with God would be restored. It was necessary he did these things because this is the price of your lives and the price for God’s justice.

Yet, what many people misunderstand, is that even though Jesus has paid the full price for their lives, there is a cost involved for us. The cost is your obedience, yet don’t think that the price you pay in your obedience, actually contributes or makes up for the suffering and death of Jesus, or that what you do, actually earns you ‘brownie’ points before God. Jesus has paid the full price for your eternal life. There is nothing more to pay. Your obedience doesn’t pay for your lives, or the lives of others in any way, shape or form, but there is a danger you can exchange, this undeserving gift, for other fleeting worldly things through your disobedience.

For example, if you try to deny Jesus, and what he has done for you by living according to the world’s thinking, then you will forfeit your eternal life. You can’t gain eternal life by your obedience, but you can lose it by your disobedience because your disobedience shows your rejection of Christ and the life price he paid for you. You can live as if worldly things are more important and more valuable, or you can live as if your eternal life is more important and more valuable. There is no in-between.

If you lose your life for Jesus’ sake, dedicate yourselves to following him, deny the deceptive advice of this world, follow God’s guiding word, and obey his instructions for life, then you will enjoy the blessings of eternal life in heaven. Since the payment for your life involved sacrifice on the cross, your own life of following Jesus also involves a cross. The crosses you bear as you follow Jesus, are the crosses of sacrifice and suffering, on account of your following Jesus.

Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us an example of what this means. He says hate what is evil; hold onto what is good; be patient in your troubles; pray at all times; share your belongings with needy believers; open your homes to strangers; bless those who persecute you; weep with those who weep; don’t be proud, but accept humble duties; don’t pay back wrong for wrong; don’t take revenge; and so on.

Following Jesus into eternal life is not easy and glorious. It often means, living in a way that is different from others around you. It means being obedient to God’s word, even if you don’t fully understand the reasons for his instructions. It means giving up precious time on earth, to listen to Jesus speak to you. It means giving up your need to satisfy yourselves with money, possessions, fame and other wants. It means giving up living the way you want to for your own pleasure, and trying to live Jesus’ way of service and sacrifice.

Following Jesus, also means you will be persecuted and insulted for living according to Jesus’ way, and not the world’s. You will not always ‘fit in’. The world will try to set the agenda as to what is acceptable and right, but this will not be the same as what Jesus says. The people of this world will continue to gain a name or a profit for themselves, but you will live unselfishly and in humbleness as you follow Jesus. You must obey God and not the world; after all, the things of the world will not last, and will actually lead you away from Jesus and the life he has gained for you.

What is the price of life? The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The price for your life has been measured and paid in full. Even though you do not measure up, Jesus willingly allowed himself to suffer and die for you. Jesus paid the price of your disobedience by his obedience. He remained sinless to save those who are sinful. In other words, he suffered and died for your life. Your own journey as you follow Jesus will also involve suffering and dying for your own selfish desires, but it will also lead to eternal life with Jesus and all others who follow in faith. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

View