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Farewell to 2020!

“Hooray – we’ve nearly made it to the end of 2020!” I’ve heard and felt this sentiment quite a lot as this crazy year comes to a close. While I imagine many of us could find some things to be thankful for this year (at least if we really dig down through the many happenings of the year), I think it’s safe to say that no one expected the whirlwind of 2020! And now that we’re at the end of the year, I’ve been wondering about the hope we’re placing on it ending.

Will everything magically be okay once we shout out, “Happy New Year”?

Will the pandemic instantly cease, racial and political tensions ease, and the comforts we’d like to rely on be readily available to us, just as we want them to be?

Unlikely.

We’re not going to be able to wash all this away by the hours and minutes changing on the clock. But one thing I do know, and what I am learning to trust in more and more, is that one day all these hard things will be washed away. One day, peace will come. No more sickness. No more tension. Only perfection. How do I know this? Because Jesus promises it (and I am learning more and more that Jesus always keeps His promises!):

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

-Revelation 21:1a, 3-5

So as we gear toward the end of the year, celebrate what you can, and mourn what ought to be mourned. But never lose sight of the hope for those who trust in Jesus – one day, all will be made new. Everyone will be well. Everyone will get along. All will be perfect. Let’s encourage each other to live in light of that glorious day, through the start of 2021 and onward, for the rest of our lives! In any sickness, in any relational tension, in any and every circumstance we can have hope, because of our Saviour who gave us hope – by coming to earth as a helpless infant, growing up to die to take our sins on himself, and rising again to new life: real, everlasting, full life that is promised to all who realise that their wrongs need forgiving, and that God is the only one who can do that (and He is so, so willing!)

Real hope, forever.

HOW DOES THE KINGDOM GROW HERE? // Luke 13:10-21

An unfortunate technical error means that the in person version of this message failed to record. However, in a providential coincidence, we recorded this message for an online service that did not get used due to changing restrictions. The recording below is taken from that online version.

Passage: Luke 13:10-21

Speaker: John Cook

Baptism is All About Jesus

Passages: Various, including Romans 6:3-4

Speaker: John Cook

What is Baptism? Is it important? If so, how important? Who is it for? This week we looked at the Bible’s teaching on Baptism, and were drawn by the Word of God to the conclusion that Baptism is a declaration and dramatisation of the power of the cross to those who have faith.

Be Ready! // Luke 12:35-48

Passage: Luke 12:25-48

Speaker: John Cook

Due to a technical error a section of audio was not recorded from 7m54s into this message. Please find the text of the missing section below:

“But think about it, imagine you were a servant in that house who was dressed for action, had the lamp burning, and was awake.

Now imagine if there were others in the household who didn’t know or didn’t believe the master was coming back.

They’d probably look at you like you were crazy, right.

“Why are you dressed in your work clothes, it’s midnight?”

“Why do you keep checking the lamp has enough fuel? Can’t you see it isn’t time to be working on that?”

“Why are you awake? Go back to bed!”

But no matter what is said, you keep going, because no matter how ridiculous what you’re doing may look in the quiet middle of the night, when you hear the car pull up and the footsteps sound outside the door, when He arrives, it will all make sense.

So we are called to live today in light of the coming day, when Jesus returns. Not because my actions today will win me the treasure I get then, but because my actions today reflect whether I believe it has truly been won for me by Jesus.

And let me say, if you haven’t trusted in Jesus then there is a clear and urgent call for action here in your life: the King of everything is coming back and you’re not ready for that day. Your life, your brokenness, your willing choice to live your life apart from God and by your own standards separates you from Him and places you as His enemy. The Bible says there is only one way to be prepared: trust in Jesus. Everyone was separated from God, I was. But he died to break the separation between us and God, He did what you can’t to make you ready for the day, and He did it as a gift received by faith. So turn and trust in Him today.

Now you might hear me say that, and you might think “fine, whatever, I don’t think I believe this stuff anyway, so I’m going to go on trusting my own way”. And, you know, your life will make sense to you and to a lot of the world until the day when Jesus returns. He is coming, and if you leave it until then it will be too late. Trust Him to save you now, it’s the best choice you could ever make.

Now the second aspect of the waiting we are called to is that it is constant.

To live in a way that actively waits for the return of Jesus is not just a matter of going to church once a week, or spending a short time each day reading the Bible and praying because then your duty is done and you’re ready for another day.

The tasks Jesus describes, especially keeping your lamp burning, are not ones that you just do and leave. They are constant.

And, incidentally, a Jewish wedding feast could last days, even a week, so Jesus is creating this picture of us being ready all the time, over a potentially long time.”