As we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, 
for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out
according
to his plan. (Ephesians 1:11)

We may ask, why be holy? Why should I worry about holiness? After all, (one might reason) I am saved. In the end I'll "make it to heaven." So why concern myself with the matter?

The Bible offers a straight forward, terse answer to this question: "Be holy because God is holy” (1 Peter 1:15). And the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives seeking to do just that- to make us holy after the pattern of God.

The Scriptures place this summary response in the context of God's program for creation. God is calling out a people to be his own. God wants to establish a people who reflect the divine character for all creation to see. That is why God chose Israel in the Old Testament and that is why the Holy Spirit is now calling out a worldwide fellowship in the present age.  

This means that holiness begins with a frame of mind. In view of God's glorious purpose, we are to see ourselves as God's own possession. We belong to God who has chosen us. And we exist in order to honour God and to serve his purposes. (Ephesians 1:11-12)

Grace and peace from Marcus

(These words were taken from Stanley Grenz's Created for Community)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)

God is love. In his nature and being- scripture asserts that God is love. This passage of scripture maintains more than that though, it suggests that love itself has its origins in God, that is, true love, comes from God. So what is love? Well John illustrates what love is by telling us how God’s love was expressed to us. It was expressed to us through the gift of God’s son, his Son that atoned for sin and gave us life.

This kind of love that God has given us freely is also imperative. Because he, the origin and definition of love has loved us, then because we are loved- we are called to love one another. Love is our mandate, because our God is a loving God and if we are to represent him, witness to him and experience him- then we ought to love as he has loved us.

May God empower us to love one another, because this is of first importance.

Grace and peace from Marcus.

Mere waiting and looking is not Christian behaviour… Christians are called to sympathy and action.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “let your light shine before men that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” The Christian community is called to adorn the gospel with good deeds that God has prepared for us to do. From early in church history, the church was known for its concern for the poor and the orphan and their good work won the empire. This commitment to kindness, coupled with prayer, proclamation and signs and wonders was a powerful persuasive force in the advance of the church. It’s not that we “do good works” as a missionary tactic, we do good works because God has called us to loving kindness and demonstrated it to us as well through his Son. All that to say we are to live beautiful lives that express God’s heart to those around us and as we do, we glorify God. In Micah 6:8 we see what the Lord requires of us-“He has shown you O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Generosity to the poor is a powerful expression of the love of God and we are called to it time and again in scripture. So who can you be showing kindness too? What skills and abilities to you have that intersect with real human needs, that you could be God’s hands and feet into?

Pray-
So let’s pray for opportunities and strength to respond to need around us. Pray that we as a church might be light in darkness in our community and pray that our good deeds might adorn the gospel.

Grace and peace from Marcus

Baptism is simply a public declaration of our response of faith to God’s work of sending his Son to live, die and rise on our behalf. It is not a magical thing, which once done, makes us right with God. Instead baptism is a response to the full and wonderful provision of God on our behalf. God has sent a Saviour in his Son, Jesus. He lived perfectly, died sacrificially and rose victoriously and the Bible says through faith in God’s Son we are made children of the living God. Baptism is a public acknowledgement of that reality. It is a person declaring symbolically that that affirms that they are sinners, in need of God’s saving love and their announcement to the world that they are placing their trust in Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

Scripture speaks of Baptism as-

1. Dying and rising with Christ.
By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shaped his death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the death by the glorious power of the Father. So we also might live a new life. (Romans 6:4) GNB

2. As a symbol of our conscience being cleansed by Christ.
This water symbolises baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection by the resurrection of Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21) LB

Those getting baptized today are simply declaring what God has done for them through faith in Christ. They want the world to know the difference Jesus has made for them.

Grace and peace from Marcus

The Son of man came eating and drinking. Isn’t that a way of doing mission that you could do? When you combine a passion for Jesus with shared meals you create a powerful gospel opportunity.” Tim Chester (Meals with Jesus)

I was talking to my friend this week (over a meal on him) and he was saying that God had placed his neighbours on his heart. He had connected with each of them and wondered if God was calling him to minister to them somehow, but how? Earlier in the conversation he was telling me that he had “dropped the ball on mother’s day, and his wife was a little disappointed- but he said I managed to retrieve the situation by cooking her a meal, a really special meal.” As he contemplated how he was going to reach his neighbour, he was probably hoping for more, from his pastor friend, all I managed was- “perhaps you could invite them over and cook for them.”

It’s interesting to me, how often we find Jesus eating with people. In his case, he seemed to draw invites and say “yes,” to them. He did not have a house to call his own after all and yet it is amazing how often these shared meals became moments of significant, life changing encounter. It’s also surprising how often Jesus used meals, banquets and food language to talk about kingdom matters (Luke 5, Lk 7, 9, 14, 22 & 24). I wonder if this is a model worth imitating. I wonder if the practice of simple hospitality with love and welcome could in God’s hands be changed into life changing, kingdom shaping moments in the lives of those around us. Why not give it a try?

Grace and peace from Marcus