In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he wrote: “Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”. (Philippians 2:1-4)
As you read those verses, who comes to mind?
Who do you know who lives this word out well?
Over the last week, I’ve seen examples of these words lived out in our fellow members. For example: One member attained some new chairs for our small hall so Caritas attendees may sit more comfortably and said she is wanting to help in the office and with our Kids Corner. Another had invited me to attend the SALT Brownlow Medal Breakfast. This breakfast was originally started by Paul Wheelton, David Parkin and Jeff Browne (Collingwood Pres) to give some corporate exposure to Strathcona Girls Grammar where their daughters attended at the time. Since then, it’s become a huge event which is a blessing to so many… including me this year.
At the breakfast, I had the privilege of holding the 2023 premier cup, and more importantly got to sit there with fellow Christians, among footballers, coaches, and for a while next to the wonderful and comedic Mike Brady (Good times!). But what impacted me most (In addition to feeling overwhelmed by my host’s humble generosity) was the work SALT do among sports people. It’s a great work, talking about identity, and helping sports people realize their worth is not in the goal they may miss, or whether they win or lose. They are not what they “do”. I heard amazing stories and testimonies about suicide awareness and intervention, and for that I’m truly grateful as it’s a matter close to my heart. So much so, that in my previous Churches I’ve organized suicide intervention training and I’d be happy to arrange someone to come speak with us at MEAC if there is a need or desire for such training. Please speak to me if you’re interested.
The honest sharing at the breakfast, and what we covered at my Diocesan Supervisor (Professional Development) training session this week, reminded me that life is complex! People, with all their experiences, are sometimes messy and complicated, and at the same time, Christ calls us to be united in Him. We are called to be of one mind, one spirit, and one love… a humble, generous, love which cares for the others as much as oneself. We are to look out for one another’s interests as the above mentioned do so beautifully.
I pray we may all be inspired and encouraged by those who imitate Christ’s humility, and even more so by Christ Himself “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore, God
exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. (Phil 2:6-11)
I look forward to worshipping our worthy, humble, loving, and compassionate, servant King together this coming Sunday.
Shalom, Rev. Tanya
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:3-6). When Paul penned those words to the Philippians, ten years had passed since he’d worked with them. Over that time his care, concern and love for them had not diminished. He would always think of them as his precious partners in the gospel who brought him great joy.
This week has presented many opportunities for me to think about our partnership in the gospel. I met with a colleague today to talk about a combined Church Christmas event hopefully next year, and possibly a breakfast club in a local high school. On Monday I met with my Deanery colleagues, and we encouraged one another. I am invited to lunch this Sunday at my previous Church, Christ Church Dingley, to celebrate their 150th anniversary. And the Vicar of what used to be my home church, St Johns in Diamond Creek, has just celebrated 10 years of wonderful ministry there.
My Area Dean met with me last week and recommended I stay at Mount Eliza 10 years. He shared some wisdom with me, saying that “we overestimate what we can do in 3 years, and underestimate what we can do in 10”. Whether I’m here 3 years or 10 (my desire is for the latter), my heart is to see the gospel take root in all our lives, transforming us more into the image of Christ, and see each of us taking the gospel into the world, for God’s purposes and glory. We exist to glorify Him. We do that when we live for Him, work together to advance his gospel message, and hold on to the sure hope we have in Him, even in the hard times.
Therefore, I pray the same prayer that Paul prayed, over our Church today: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” As I pray this, I reflect on the fact that there is a special bond among us as believers that the world doesn’t understand and therefore cannot appreciate. The world’s clubs and organizations know little of and, quite frankly, cannot equal the deep bond of fellowship among believers.
Last Sunday I had the best time having drinks with friends at a local social club, followed by fellowship over a meal with some sisters in Christ to celebrate the final “OPEN SPACE” service for our Church. This simple meal exhibited a sense of partnership and close union as well as of a brotherly/sisterly love held together by the most powerful common thread; Jesus! This fellowship is much more than simply getting together for drinks or a dinner party. It involves a union and bond in our desires, goals and thoughts as well a focus on God’s will and His way. It is being one together in Christ - His interests our interests, His ways our ways. As Charles H. Spurgeon said: “Hold Christian company, and you will be kept wakeful by it, and refreshed and encouraged to make quicker progress in the road to heaven.”
For all these reasons, in addition to this Sunday being the day we celebrate and give thanks to God for all his kindness and generosity to us, and return our pledges of what we want to offer him back financially through tithing and thanksgiving gifts at Mount Eliza Anglican Church, I want to truly say:
Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel.
Thank you for giving.
Thank you for serving.
Thank you for loving.
Thank you for praying.
Thank you for speaking words of encouragement.
Thank you for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your continued partnership in the gospel.
I give thanks to God for you!
Rev Tanya Cummings
The biography of Jacob, the third and final Patriarch, both enthrals and troubles us. He acted in ways that honoured neither himself nor his descendants. He bargained for his brother’s birthright and later stole Esau’s blessing from their father (Genesis 27:1-45). Jacob blatantly lied to his father and tricked him into thinking he was Esau. The character of this Patriarch is most questionable, yet God used him anyway.
After he stole the blessing, Jacob is forced to leave his father’s house and he goes to work as a servant for twenty years for his father-in-law (see esp. Gen 31:5-6, 38-42). In an interesting twist, we see Jacob’s father-in-law deceive Jacob and give him Leah as his wife instead of Rachel whom he had agreed to work for.
Later in Jacob's life story, we read that his own sons tricked and deceived him by selling one of his sons (Joseph) into slavery and telling Jacob he had been killed by a wild animal (37:3-32). Despite all the deceit in this family, God continued to uphold his promise to bless all the nations of the world through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whom the covenantal blessing was passed on to, and Jacob became the father of 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel.
This story is the wonderful history of the Jewish people and Christians alike, since salvation came through the Jews. But what fascinates me most is the way Jacob grew in relationship with the Lord over the course of his life. Towards the start of his story he is deceitful and didn’t know the Lord personally, but through several revelations of the Lord he came to know God and experience him personally. God was no longer just the God of his fathers, but God of Jacob himself.
Over time, as Jacob got to know God he was humbled and learned to cling to God and give a tenth of his income to God. This week as we look closer at his story, I hope we will experience more of God too. It is not enough just to know about God, we need to know him personally and let him change our character to be more honouring and Christ-like. May we all put away any deceit that is in us and seek the Lord’s face and experience Him in a life changing way this week.
Here's one of my Favorite songs to listen and pray as you reflect on Jacob’s story. (HERE)
READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY:
Genesis 28:10-22 and Genesis 32:22-32
Several of us went to the movies this week to see "Sound of Freedom". It was based on a true story which was very confronting and sad, yet it inspired hope. It inspired us to hope that child sex slaves can be found and freed, and human traffickers can be caught, and that we can all be part of the solution; whether its raising awareness of the terrible crimes against humanity, encouraging others to see the movie, or even going a step further. Human trafficking and crimes against children are things I am deeply passionate about taking action against. I pray we can raise awareness and help those affected in a meaningful way in the future.
Meanwhile this coming Sunday, we will hear about the second Patriarch, Isaac. Compared to Abraham, and Jacob (the third Patriarch), Isaac seems a bit laid back and 'less' interesting. Most of his story is hidden in the background of more prominent characters. We remember the time when his father Abraham bound him and laid him on the alter as a sacrifice, in obedience to God's command. When Abraham was about to slay Isaac, God intervened and provided a ram to sacrifice instead. God said to Abraham; "Don't harm the boy, now I know that you love me with all your heart, as you have not even withheld your promised son from me'.
Earlier God had promised Abraham that he would make a great nation of him through Isaac. In this experience Abraham was forced to either trust God with what mattered most to him or to distrust God. Abraham chose to trust. Isaac also had to trust in God and his father to willingly become the sacrifice. The young man had been watching and learning about faith in God from his father Abraham, one of the most faithful figures in Scripture. God was teaching Abraham and Isaac that covenant blessings He had promised them require total commitment and obedience to the Lord.
This incident also foreshadows God's sacrifice of his only son, Jesus Christ, on the cross at Calvary, for the sins of the world. When God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, the Lord provided a substitute for Isaac in the same way He provided Christ as our substitute through his sacrificial death. Christ Jesus, God's only son, willingly sacrificed himself on the cross so we could be set free. Through faith in him we are freed from slavery to sin, shame and death. This is the good news we ought to be sharing with others so they can know this freedom too. Christ came to redeem all people. As his representatives on earth, we ought to be continuing his work; his gospel mission, and setting the captives free (spiritually and physically). So, let's ask God to break our hearts for what breaks his. I'm sure his heart breaks for victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Do you agree?
Here's a song for you to listen to as you reflect (Click HERE)
Blessings on your week.
First of all I would like wish all the dads a Happy Fathers’ Day for this Sunday. We have a special service planned and begin a new sermon series on the Patriarchs. This Sunday John Shanasy will bring us a message on Abraham, the father of many nations. Abraham’s life story is a great encouragement to us all whether we are fathers or not. It encourages us to have faith in God when things seem impossible. Even when all the odds are stacked against us, we can be assured that God will come through for us and will always do what he says He will do. So, whenever you doubt, remember Abraham who failed many times, yet God kept His promises to him, giving him as many descendants as the stars in the sky, even in his old age.
Scripture says: There was no hope that Abraham would have children, but Abraham believed God and continued to hope. And that is why he became the father of many nations. As God told him, “You will have many descendants.” Abraham was almost a hundred years old, so he was past the age for having children. Also, Sarah could not have children. Abraham was well aware of this, but his faith in God never became weak. He never doubted that God would do what he promised. He never stopped believing. In fact, he grew stronger in his faith and just praised God. Abraham felt sure that God was able to do what he promised. So that’s why “he was accepted as one who is right with God.” (Romans 4:18-22).
Like Abraham, we are all made right with God through faith. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, who died for us, we can be forgiven for all the times that we’ve failed God. He never gives up on us and He will fulfill all His good promises to us. So, be encouraged to continue to believe in God’s loving kindness, and rejoice in Him as our Heavenly Father, like Abraham did.
May we be encouraged to offer ourselves afresh to God and trust him in every area of our lives... Including with our money.
This Sunday, the stewardship envelopes will be available, and we ask you to prayerfully complete them. This helps with budgeting and planning and enables God’s work to continue in and through this Parish. We truly appreciate, and are always greatly encouraged, by your faithful giving/tithing. Thank you in advance!
God bless you today and always,
READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY:
Hebrews 11: 8-19; Romans 4: 13-25
What is Christian Service?
Answer: Any service that reflects Jesus’ love! From giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41) to dying for someone (John 15:13), there are as many types of Christian service as there are needs in the world. As Christ’s representatives, we are called to serve God and others by the power of the Holy Spirit who abides in us as believers. Jesus said “He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
So, as Spirit-filled Christians, let’s consider ways we can serve…
The Bible gives some specific examples of Christian service. E.g. show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2), remember those in prison (Matthew 25:36), provide for the needy (Matthew 25:35), and mentor others (Titus 2:2-8). Other examples speak to our day-to-day living: care for children (Matthew 18:5), tend families (Titus 2:5), treat employees fairly (Colossians 4:1), deal honestly with customers (Leviticus 19:36), and be diligent with employers’ resources (Matthew 25:14-30). As long as these acts are done “in Jesus’ name” (motivated by the love of Jesus), they are considered to be Christian service.
The world is in desperate need of Christians willing to show the love of Christ through their actions. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to love others—not sentimentally, but tangibly. So, this Sunday I will be encouraging us with scriptures, such as 1 Peter 4:7-11
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
And Mark 10:42-45“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
May these scriptures spur us on to love and good deeds, in Jesus' name.
Did you watch the Matildas play last night? Sadly, they lost to England, but we still have the great memory of their win last Saturday night. There was a lot of excitement around that win! A friend told me that he watched it at the MCG before (and into) the Melbourne v. Carlton game. His team against mine! So, I heard about both wins and celebrated two victories that night!
Despite my friend’s team losing, he was very enthusiastic to tell me of the way Carlton and Melbourne team members alike, together in the same MCG bars, shared the anticipation, excitement and enjoyed being united as Australians, going for our Matildas! It was like nothing he’s ever experienced before!
This unified bond between humans who barrack for different teams reminded me of the ways God delights in unity. Although He chose a special people for Himself to bring about His plan of salvation for the whole world through His son Jesus Christ (an Israelite/Jew), we know He always wanted all people to be united together with/in Him.
Regardless, the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day weren’t really interested in uniting all people under God. They thought the Samaritans, Canaanites, women, and demon-possessed people each had their place in society and were in no place to have relationship with God. Jesus came to break down those barriers/divides and unite anyone who would come to God through him, yet, he still very much lived within the cultural norms of His day.
This Sunday as we look at Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman as recorded in Matthew 15:21-28, we may be surprised at some of the things Jesus says, or doesn’t say. But that is one of my most favourite things about Jesus. He doesn’t always do what people expect! While living on earth, Jesus was radical. And while he offended many, he brought healing, peace, unity, etc. to those who would humble themselves and receive God’s good gifts from him.
At the end of the day, whoever won, lost, was healed, or wasn’t, Christ would have us all come to saving faith and be united in Him. To this end, let’s ask ourselves: Do we need to put any prejudice aside? How does God want to overcome barriers in our day? Do we need to increase our faith to make this happen?
Blessings on your week.
READINGS FOR THIS SUNDAY:
Romans 11: 13-36; Matthew 15: 21-28
Today, as I took down our prayers of Lament from the wailing walls which we participated in a few weeks ago, I prayed each of those prayers again. It was such a privilege to pray for each of you and give those laments to God; leaving them with him. He tells us to cast all our troubles on Him as He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He truly does delight to take our burdens and free us from all that weighs us down so we can be free to soak in HIs love, joy, peace, and every blessing that He desires to bestow upon us. He has given up His son for us, will he not graciously give us all else? (Romans 8:32). I pray He fills each one of us afresh with more of his love and makes us to more than conquerors in all of our battles (Romans 8:35-39). Remember, the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
As we learn to trust Jesus more and more as Lord and King of our lives, we open the door more fully for His Kingdom to come into our lives, church and community. So, I pray that God continues to work in each of us to will and act in order to fulfil his good purpose and that we do everything without grumbling or complaining so to become blameless and pure “Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” I pray we will shine among them like stars in the sky as we hold firmly to the word of life (Phil 2:13-16). This is my prayer for us this week. Have you been praying scripture this week too?
Each day as I read the scriptures, I am reminded that the words in the bible are living and active, and powerful when applied to our lives. Combining the words of scripture with prayer is ‘like tying two sticks of Dynamite together’ (I’ve heard Beth Moore say). The image implies that we are tying two powerful and impacting forces together when we pray scripture. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself. And don’t just take my word for it.
Here are some more reasons to pray scripture:
1. God’s people in the OT and NT prayed scripture.
For example: In the OT, when the Israelites confess their sins in Neh 9, the Levites lead the people in a prayer that was scripturally informed and quoted Scripture (Exod 34:6). They apply that Scripture to their specific context.
In Acts 4 (in the NT) we read that the early church lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’ . . .” (Acts 4:24–26). Here they are quoting Ps 2:1–2 and applying that Scripture to their specific context.
We can all learn to quote scripture in our prayers when appropriate to the situation. To do that, we need to read Scripture, correctly understand Scripture, meditate on Scripture, and then apply Scripture to our specific situation. God’s people have been doing that with the Psalms for thousands of years (even Jesus did that!).
2. Jesus prayed scripture.
The Gospel’s according to both Matthew and Mark record that Jesus prayed to the Father when he was dying on the cross, saying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34). That quotes the first line of Ps 22.
Jesus was unique in fulfilling Scripture, but we can all learn to apply scripture to our specific situations in appropriate ways.
3. Praying scripture glorifies God the Father.
Jesus told his disciples in John 15:7–8, “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.” When we pray Scripture, we demonstrate explicitly that Jesus’ words are remaining in us and when we internalize Jesus’ words, we will make scripturally informed requests, and God will answer them.
4. Praying Scripture helps us pray confidently.
Since Scripture is entirely truthful, we can pray confidently when we pray Scripture. It’s firm ground. We don’t need to wonder, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing to pray?” Scripture expresses God’s will, God’s character, and God’s promises. So, if we are praying Scripture, we don’t need to worry about being self-deceived or praying self-focussed prayers like praying to becoming a billionaire overnight. Obviously, we need wisdom regarding how to pray Scripture with reference to specific people and circumstances, especially in light of Jesus’ extravagant promises about what we ask for with faith (see Matt 21:22; Mark 11:24), but praying Scripture helps us pray in line with God’s will when done appropriately.
5. Praying Scripture helps us understand Scripture better.
When we pray Scripture, we must think carefully about what we are saying. In order to pray Scripture, we need to have an idea of what Scripture means in its context. The process of praying Scripture forces us to ask questions about Scripture that we might not ask if we were simply reading it. To apply scripture, you need to understand what it meant in its original context, and what significance that has for you now.
6. Praying scripture helps us focus on what is most important.
We can so easily drift into praying lists of requests that concern mainly issues such as sickness or anxiety or money or wisdom for decision-making (and it’s good to pray for our needs and the needs of others), but what about praising God? And exulting in glorious truths about God and his world? And thanking God for specific blessings? And asking God to forgive us? Praying Scripture helps us do this and keeps our focus on what is most important.
The above list of reasons to pray scripture is not exhaustive and this coming Sunday we will consider more on this topic. This will be the last message in our series on different kinds of prayer.
This week I am praying for you using these words from Phil 1:9–11: This is our prayer: that our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Amen.