Monthly Archives: November 2013

Planning for Christmas

There is a lot of planning that goes into Christmas each year.

On my wife Jo’s side of the family it’s not only planned who will bring the ham, but even how many slices of ham are needed. One year her uncle came out from England and so they rented a holiday house for Christmas… imagine how much planning went on that year! When we arrived with a baby in tow our greeting was: “Oh, we didn’t know you were coming. I hope there’s enough food.” What was said and happened the rest of that Christmas Night probably should stay within the family!

But maybe your family is more like my side of the family. No one wants to tread on other family member’s toes and so nothing is planned until the last minute. Then it’s a last minute rush trying to please everyone that generally disappoints everyone and ends in tears. I wish we planned more.

Have you ever stopped to think about the planning that went on behind the scenes for the very first Christmas?

Right from the start you can see God was planning something big: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18)

Definitely not the normal way for things to happen! A virgin birth is so, let’s face it, unbelievable – so miraculous – that we expect big things for this baby…

An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:21–23)

God uses dreams, angels, and prophecy to announce his big plan. But what is the plan?

It’s all about us and Jesus. Jesus’ name means ‘God saves.’ Jesus is God’s plan to rescue sinners… including me and you. We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, but unless we recognise how desperately we need saving we will never fully appreciate how much God loves us and the great lengths he has gone to to rescue us.

You see, God’s plan wasn’t something he just thought up over night – like my family’s Christmas plans! The bit of prophecy you just read about the virgin being with child, was actually written 700 years before Jesus was born. In other parts of the Bible we’re told that before time began God was already planning how he was going to win you back to himself, his love for you is that great. It’s huge.

God put so much effort into the very first Christmas for you. He wants you to be part of his plan. Let me encourage you to remember God’s plan for Christmas; and consider how you fit into his plan… have you accepted God’s love for you by putting Jesus at the centre of all your life plans?

In Jesus,

Tory Cayzer.

Saved to serve!

Friday marked the 50th anniversary of JFK’s murder. While the conspiracy theories continue to grow, so do the famous words of his inaugural speech as US President (20 January 1961):

‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’

He encouraged his people to think of others. That is, serve and love others.

Many years before this, God brought his people to Mt Sinai and made his inaugural speech to them as the LORD God who had just saved them. It’s what we call the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17).

God encouraged his people to love him and love others. That is, make God number one and put others before self. That is what he saved his people for: saved to serve.

As Christians we have the best example ever of serving: the life and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. As we follow Jesus, and grow to become like him, let’s do it with joy remembering we were saved to serve.

What are some ways we can serve God and others this week?

In Christ, Tory Cayzer.

Grumble or grow?

I consider myself an expert in today’s topic: grumbling.

Perhaps you too are quick to see what you don’t have, what could be upgraded or upsized, what others should have done or didn’t do for me, or just worry about our needs being met?!

In the book of Exodus, God leads his people through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. On the way he tests them. These tests are an opportunity to grow in knowledge of him: he provides, is loving and patient, is in control, and always keeps his promises.

God’s tests are also an opportunity to grow to become more like Him in character – to be conformed into the image of his Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

But in the Exodus, God’s people Israel grumbled and lost sight of God.  They were too busy looking at themselves and their perceived needs.

Sadly, when things don’t go our way we often grumble. And in the midst of our grumbling we take our eyes off God; we spiral into self-centredness.

The Bible encourages us to fix our eyes on God. The bigger God appears, the smaller our problems appear. And the promise we have is that through life’s tests God is making us more like Jesus. What a glorious blessing he provides for us on our way to heaven!

In Christ, Tory Cayzer.

Christmas Services

In a world of unknowns and hardship Christmas is a time God reminds us loud and clear that he is with us and for us. We hope you can join us this Christmas to celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, from Luke’s Gospel:

Christmas @ Rowena – St Mark’s Anglican Church, Shaw St, 1pm Sun 22 Dec

Christmas @ Cryon – ring for details (6828 1590), 7.30pm Mon 23 Dec

Christmas @ Collarenebri – St John’s Anglican Church, 58 Wilson St,  7pm Tues 24 Dec

Christmas @ Walgett – St Peter’s Anglican Church, 21 Pitt St, 9am Wed 25 Dec.

Everyone is warmly invited.

God’s offer to pass over

Most Australians find it easier talking about politics, sex, or death than God’s judgment. It’s a taboo topic.

In Exodus Chapter 12, we can’t escape it. God passed through Egypt with destructive judgment – it’s a night that ought to send shivers down your spine.

On that night in Egypt (1300 BC) the only hope of God ‘passing over’ was taking shelter under the blood of a lamb painted on your doorframe.

It’s frightening to know that this horrible night points to something worse that is to come…

In our honest moments, we know we don’t treat God how we ought. And when we are not having those ‘honest moments’, God says in Romans 3:23 ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’

God has set a date when he will judge all rebellion and sin in his world with everlasting destruction. We don’t know when that day is, but we are promised it will happen. That’s the bad news of the Bible.

The good news is that God offers to pass over people who take shelter under the blood of the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ who died on the Cross.

The only way to escape judgment for our sin is under the blood of God’s Son. It’s not about being good or trying your hardest, or baptised, or religious, or spiritual… it’s about if you are taking shelter under the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Our message must be: ‘Please, take shelter under the blood of the Lamb of God!’

In Christ, Tory Cayzer.

‘Let my son go!’

The Exodus should disturb us – horrible plagues that scar the nation of Egypt, climaxing in the death of the firstborn male of every Egyptian. What could drive God to be so wild and angry? …and isn’t he meant to be a loving God?

The Exodus is the expression of the father’s love for his son. In Exodus 4:22–23, God tells Moses:

Then say to Pharoah, “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.”

‘Firstborn son’ is a statement of how close God truly is to his people. Yet as we will see through Exodus, and know from our own life, God’s people continually go their own way. This makes God angry and heartbroken – he is jealous for what is best for his people.

The Bible is the story of God restoring relationship with his people. In the New Testament, God says of Jesus: ‘This is my Son, whom I love’ (Matt 3:17).

Jesus Christ is the new Israel. Ancient Israel is sinful, but God forgives. Christ the new Israel is without sin, but is the object of God’s anger on the Cross.

We are God’s son, the new Israel, only because Christ is God’s first and we have relationship with him. God’s love and jealousy ought to disturb us, but this has all been done so that we may worship and serve our Father!

In Christ, Tory Cayzer.

Where is God? …and does He really care?

Sometimes you really have to wonder, ‘Where is God in all this mess?’

A week of bushfires that claimed 200 homes and, more tragically, the life of a young father in an aeroplane crash as he fought the fires; the ongoing dry spell with no harvest and graziers selling off stock; and our supermarket, that not only supplied a town’s food but was the livelihood of work for many, destroyed by fire after an accident.

Events like these seem so random, unkind, and unfair. Of course, such events have happened throughout history but it’s hard when it’s right around us or when it’s people we know personally. It’s natural to ask, ‘Where is God, and if he’s there, does he really care?’

Similar questions were being asked by a group of people under the oppression of forced slavery and, more tragically, a national genocide by the death of all male babies born. The story of those people is found in a book called Exodus, in the Bible. Their questions and cries for help to God give us good insight and help.

The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them (Exodus 2:23–25).

God hears our cries and he remembers his promises to us. He looks on with concern. But more importantly, he comes down to rescue his people. He isn’t asleep or staying at an arm’s length, he comes down in the thick of our mess to rescue. A few chapters later in Exodus it all becomes clear….

God is mighty to save and his plans can’t he stopped. Through miracles of plagues and parting the Red Sea, to personally speaking to his people, to providing their daily needs in a barren wilderness, and coming among them in his full glory – God remembers and he cares.

In the midst of pain and suffering it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. And, we don’t always know what is about to happen in the next ‘few chapters’ of life. The resounding message of the Bible is that God is in control. Despite our circumstances and present experiences, God still sits on the throne. He hears our cries, cares, and has the power to act.

At times we wonder how God can allow tragedy. And in honesty, we don’t always get satisfying answers to that age-old question. But what we do get is God’s answer to tragedy, pain, suffering, and evil. That’s the good news of Jesus – God our Saviour is with us. God entered into our world to take on all it’s pain, suffering, and brokenness in his own body on that Cross.

What’s more, God has shown he is in control and has a good plan for his world in his Son Jesus. He wants us to cry out to him for help, and he does hear. God’s promises are all centered in Jesus, and so he asks that we put our hope and trust in Jesus.

Come be reminded of who God is at St Peter’s church 21 Pitt St this Sunday 9am or St John’s church 58 Wilson St Collarenebri Sunday 3.30pm as we open the book of Exodus, or listen to the talks at: God is still with us and still as concerned as ever, come see and hear!

God bless,

Tory Cayzer