Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

John 10:27
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

            Have you been paying attention this morning? Have you been listening for God’s Word to you today? Parts of the Scriptures have been read, songs based on these sung, prayers prayed and confessions made; but has any of this really sunk in, have you been listening to Jesus?

            The same could be said for you and your mother. How many times was it that you were so absorbed in something, a book, driving, another discussion, that mum told you to do something, but you didn’t listen? Or for mums, how often did you have to tell your kids to clean up before they did it? Mum told you those things because she loved you and because she thought they were good for you. Even if what you are doing right now seems important, it’s still important to listen to your mum.

            Now the Pharisees were like kids who thought they were good and better at being good than all the rest. They knew the Old Testament, God’s Word to His people of Israel, far better than you or I do; even in the original languages and the same land. They knew what God had commanded and what He had promised, and they cared about it! They followed God’s command and had parts of Scripture attached to their doorframes and foreheads, they had memorised sections and everyday they sought to obey the teachings given by Moses all those years before. But they were not listening, hearing what God was telling them. When you come to God’s service on Sunday, say amen and thanks be to God, are you listening to what He says to you? When you come home from a hard day at work, take off your shoes, have a shower and sit down to watch the TV; do you listen to the promises Jesus gave you? Or in all your effort in this life do you forget His gifts, zone out of what He is telling you, ignore the Words of the Almighty God of all?

            I know for myself, driving to Gilgandra for a visit and a Bible study, both good things, thinking, ‘should I go through the roadworks, or the Mogriguy road; Mogriguy; Ah, there’s a caravan, when can I overtake this? Oh, it’s turning off now, good; here’s another slow car, where’s a good place, I’ll use my car gadgets; here’s one, ok let’s go; past that car, ok what’s the time; good still making good time, … oh yeah, I’m driving up here to bring Jesus Christ’s peace, love and encouragement which I’m only able to give by the strength the Holy Spirit provides, with this body, car, fuel and time that our Heavenly Father has freely given. Why is it so easy to loose sight, or be selectively deaf to Jesus’ voice even when that’s why I’m here!

Jesus still speaks all through our lives, like how we hear mum’s words even when she’s not around. He speaks maybe reminding us of passages of scripture, perhaps through the Christian music we play, by our reading and by others’ advice, through mums, or even those few miraculous times one might here clearly His words to oneself. And He had spoken to those Pharisees, Told them that He is the gate, it is through Jesus that we come to salvation, there is no other way; He told them that He is the good shepherd, the kind, wise ruler of God’s people, who will die for His sheep and rise again by His own authority for you and me. He had shown through the many mighty miracles and fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies that He is the Messiah, the one to come; but still the Pharisees refused to listen, refused to believe.

And to you He continues to speak, and in His word is your life and freedom. Tabitha heard God’s Word from Peter and received life back in this world (Acts 9:40). And Revelation shows us an image of this eternal life Jesus gives, free from suffering and sin, with Him and all the children of our Heavenly Father (Revelation 7). And to you, God spoke at your baptism, ‘your sins are forgiven’, ‘receive the Holy Spirit’, ‘you are my beloved Son’ daughter, ‘death has no power over you’ (Luke 7:48; John 20:22; Luke 3:22; John 11:25-26). Don’t forget that, you are Jesus’ sheep, you hear His words, believe Him, trust Him and He has saved you giving you eternal life. Those Pharisees refused to listen to what Jesus plainly said to them, refused to believe its truth; they were caught up in trying to do God’s Word, they ignored what He was saying even to their face. Sometimes you and I do the same, caught up in this world, caught up in action, ignoring the words of the one who loves you, who has laid down their life for you. Jesus, your Good Shepherd, has given His entire life for you, for your family, friends, everyone in this wide world. He devotes that life for your life, and from His birth, His death, His resurrection and ascension, now and all the way to the end, He is speaking to you, you are forgiven, you have life eternal with Jesus and go in peace. Amen.

And that peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus now and forever. Amen. 

Pastor Joseph Graham

Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

John 20:19
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

            Sometimes things can be pretty hectic, a lot can happen in one day, and you think back, how did all that fit in, surely that was yesterday? Maybe you felt that way last Sunday, food, family, God’s service, travel … For the disciples on that Resurrection Sunday I’d bet it was a hectic one too; going from devastation at their friend and teacher’s death; grief at the supposed lies that Jesus was the King to save the world; then waking up to confusion at the women’s news; then when Peter and John confirmed the empty tomb; fear of the Jews who had just killed their leader and probably were looking for the disciples and the body; two leave for Emmaus and come back with news of their conversation with the risen Lord; then Christ suddenly appears inside locked doors says a few words shows His body and just as suddenly leaves. Now I doubt most of us even remember how I started that sentence, but that all happened to the disciples in one day. Devastation, grief, confusion, curiosity, disheartened, surprise, joy, wonder, disbelief; all these emotions within 24hrs, certainly an emotional rollercoaster if there ever was one. Hectic! And into all this Jesus speaks peace.

            To have all your plans destroyed, your position redundant, your friend and leader dead, and the authorities the ones who killed Him. Your whole world crumbled before your eyes, emotionally exhausted, from the heights of Palm Sunday your King welcomed royally, within a week His crucifixion; can we just go back to our lives before all this happened? But now the body’s gone, will the authorities come and try to kill us too? What can we do? And then, in the midst of this fear, worry and the darkening of the day, suddenly, there’s someone else in the middle of the room! Whose that? What’s, How’s…? Peace be with you. Holed up in this house for fear of the authorities, probably exhausted from the events of the previous week, Jesus comes to them bringing peace. Perhaps the disciples thoughts; What’s happened to Jesus my Lord, the promised Christ? He is alive! Am I following a madman to my own death and destruction? No, Jesus has ultimate power over death! What can I do to save myself? Peace, you don’t need to worry, Jesus has done it for you, He saves you.

            Here Jesus first and foremost brings the peace that comes from knowing He is alive, their friend and leader is alive, but also that He has God’s power to appear where He wills and the truth that death has no power over Him. It’s not just a vision, but Jesus, body and soul, is fully alive, risen and glorified. God’s Word is true, Jesus is alive and so peace to you. Earlier Jesus had said that He would turn sorrow into joy (John 16:22); and how true that was this first Resurrection Sunday! From fear and terror, to wonder and joy in just two words. With His physical body, His scars He proves who He is and that He lives, and the disciples rejoice! What an amazing experience, what wonder, to have your whole world destroyed and now three days later restored and glorified! To be like Job in His devastation, seeing all you love destroyed, but then here to have it all suddenly restored and so much more! That wonderful joy and release of grief and fear, but then Jesus still has more to say, and again He says peace to you. First peace to allay fears then peace for calm to listen to the truth.

            Peace to you, as the Father sent me so I send you. The mission of the church, the body of Christian believers, is to continue Jesus’ mission, to bring God’s Word of forgiveness and truth to the world. And He breathes on them, just as the Father breathed life into Adam, so now Jesus in new life breathes on the disciples and says, receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven, if you retain them, they are retained. This is Jesus’ mission, what God sent Him for, to bring His forgiveness and condemnation of sin, truth and mercy. Now Christians are called to follow Him, to speak God’s Word of mercy and truth to all the world. And that Word has power, when I say to you today God’s Word of forgiveness, your sins are forgiven, God does forgives your sins. This is the grace that Jesus gave to the church and that you and the LCA have given to me to serve you. He also gave the authority to declare the truth, just as He did, that those who reject Jesus, who reject that they sin and reject Christ’s forgiveness are not forgiven. This is the truth, it is God’s Word, Jesus’ mission, and we need to be careful how we do this, so again you have entrusted me with the public working of His mission, but we all Christians also declare Christ’s truth to each other, forgiving one another and trying to lead all people back to Jesus, in word and action.

            Now I don’t have all the answers, just a guide to speak the truth in love. However, we see how Jesus again, does His mission when we hear of Thomas the Twin. He was struggling, as we all do, with two people inside himself, the believer and the unbeliever. He was not with the twelve and when they tried to fulfil Christ’s mission by telling Thomas the truth, He did not believe. Thomas was staying in His betrayal and rejection of Jesus. But Jesus again suddenly appeared. Did Thomas have a flash of fear? Again He had betrayed His Lord, will He now be struck down as that fig tree? No, rather Jesus brings peace to a troubled conscience. “Here are my wounds, touch them, do not be faithless but faithful, believe!” God’s Word works its forgiveness and Thomas makes the strongest declaration in the whole Gospel of John, ‘My Lord and My God.’ We know that Jesus was more than a man, more than a prophet, so much more than even the archangels of God. But throughout His life no one had confessed that He was God Himself. Now Thomas, who has been called the doubter, gives the strongest confession of trust and faith in Jesus, My Lord and My God. So Jesus shows His mission, bringing truth and forgiveness; then Thomas gratefully receives it. This is now our mission to together bring Christ’s Word of truth and mercy to each other and all people and receive it well from each other, responding in joy, trust and love; confessing together who Jesus is, Our Lord and Our God.

            And so, the peace that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

1st Sunday in Lent

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Luke 4:2
“where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry”.

We are waiting for a cool and wet change, a mark perhaps of the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn, changing of the seasons. As the seasons change in the weather so they do in our church year. For the last two months we heard who Jesus is, God and man. Now in the next two months we’ll hear some of what He did and why it matters to you and me.

And so, after being baptised Jesus went into the desert guided by the Holy Spirit. This was a time of fasting and perhaps preparation for what He was about to do in His three-year ministry culminating in His death, resurrection and ascension. And after 40 days He was tempted by the devil. Tempted in three ways to break the first of the ten commandments, to rely on the gifts that God had given Him, to rely on others for His own benefit and to use God to get His own way. Even today the devil tempts us to reject God in these same ways.

Jesus ate nothing for 40 days, 5 and a bit weeks. He was hungry it says, probably the understatement of that century, most people I know get hungry within a day; and He is human, we die after 40-60 days without food so it’s safe to say He was starving and close to death. But He is also God, creator of all, the devil tempts Him to prove His divinity by using His power to sate His hunger. He certainly could do it, He feed 5000+ people with 5 loaves and two fish; and God brought bread out of nowhere in the desert for the Israelites (Luke 9:12-17; Exodus 16). However, He listens instead to God’s way and His Word, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Of course, Jesus would go on to eat, blessed by the gifts His Father gave Him, but at this time He would not rely on His abilities to satisfy the devil.

We too have many gifts of God, life is the first and the foundational one but also the skills and knowledge we have received through our lives in this world that God has given. And like Jesus the devil tempts you and me to rely on these gifts rather than the God who gives them. A simple small example is when you grab a snack to give you some energy and forget God, in that time you are relying on the snack to give energy, not God who gave you the snack. Certainly there are more atrocious ways we might fall to this temptation of the enemy, like relying on our goodness to get ahead in life or on wealth to benefit and save ourselves. To rely on what is created rather than the creator.

The next temptation was to rely on the devil to receive what God had already promised to give Jesus, all authority, glory and power on earth. Now the devil is the father of lies, so I’m not sure that he could actually give this, but he is also called the ruler of this wicked world (John 8:44; John 14:30, 16:11, Ephesians 2:1-3). Regardless Jesus rightly confesses that we are to worship and glorify God alone, the first commandment, to look to Him when we need help and to live for Him who has given us life and everything we have.

Again you and I hear the whisperings of the deciever when we are tempted to rely on anyone, perhaps even the pastor, for salvation; to worship and glorify someone instead of God. Of course God has given us all the people in our lives, the wonderful ones and the not so wonderful; but again to rely on the gift instead of the giver is to reject God as our saviour. However we can, and should, thank God for the good He brings us through other people, like Jesus being provided for by Mary and Joseph.

The devil’s final temptation, before he leaves to tempt Judas later and orcesrate the crucifixion to his own destruction (Luke 22:3), is to abuse God’s Word and promise implying that Jesus would not have to suffer that death. To display His power and God’s grace to all with all the armies of heaven. Later Jesus reveals to Pilate that He could command all the heavenly armies to come and destroy those calling for His death (John 18:36), but His kingdom is not of this world. And in the same way Jesus rejects the devil and his ways and his twisted usage of the Bible, instead choosing to trust in God’s way that even though it was more painful and difficult that it was the best way and the right way.

Here we can remember that firstly people can twist God’s Words to say what they want and so we, like Jesus, should try to learn the whole of God’s Word and it’s foundation well so we can recognise, by the Holy Spirit’s guidance through the Word, anything off about what someone may say about God, Jesus, the faith and His church. The second thing we can learn is that you and I are tempted to do just that, twist God’s own Word to justify ourselves. The devil may say to you in different ways, ‘well you’re forgiven already for everything, so you might as well swindle that person or lie to your spouse or what have you’. Then when you do fall into temptation, really any temptation, the devil doubles down on this two hit combo as satan the accuser, ‘you’re a terrbile person for doing that, God won’t forgive you’. Of course, he is the father of lies and this is the biggest lie of all, no matter what temptation you fall into, a horrible and wicked betrayal of Jesus even killing Him again it may be, no matter how you fail God, He wants to forgive you and take away your guilt, so turn back to Him and ask for His help.

In the letter to the Hebrews (2:18; 4:15) the Holy Spirit tells us, that our high preist, our leader Jesus, was tempted in every way that you are, but didn’t fall and so He sympathises with you in all your temptations, even your falling into them, and He wants to help; so rely on Him and trust His promises. As we prepare over these 40 days to remember and celebrate our Lord’s death and resurrection let’s remember that He has given us everything we have, has given life to all the people we know and has given us clearly His precious promises of life, salvation and freedom from sin and guilt. Relying on Jesus as He helps us reject the temptations of the evil one.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Chirst Jesus now and forever. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.

Fourth Sunday of Epiphany

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Jeremiah 1:7 “Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to, and tell them everything I command you to say.

It’s all in the Word, the Word of God. God was sending Jeremiah with His Word to go and essentially tell his king, the one who controlled the army and could easily have him killed, tell him what’s what. Understandably he didn’t feel like he was particularly ready for this, too young he says. How often don’t you feel inadequate? Maybe taking on a bigger role at work, maybe getting married or having your first child, or even talking to others about your faith, making sure you’re saying the right thing and living the good life. We know what it means to feel inadequate, it’s not pleasant and we look for help in many places. Sometimes we just try to work at it real hard, and sometimes that works; other times we might try to run away, maybe to alcohol or even simply another place, often that doesn’t work; but it remains true that you need help.

            Now I’m going to say, look to Jesus, but first if it is an issue with your car or plumbing the Bible probably shouldn’t be the first port of call. God in His graciousness has given us skills and people with skills to fix many problems we have in this world, so use these gifts and thank God for them. However, when you struggle in the faith, against your own sin, against temptation to hate another for their sin, against the fear of hurting the ones you love in what you say; look to Jesus and the Holy Spirit who has been promised to you to support you, comfort you, to walk alongside you (John 14:16).

            God loves you, 1 John tells us that God is love! He cares for you and Jesus, who is God called the Word made flesh, never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). That description of what love is describes Jesus perfectly, patient, kind, forgiving, and does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. When you plan to do something significant, pray to Him, ask for guidance and help so that you might not do evil, sin, that you might instead speak good true words, even God’s Word. Follow His example and be love for those around you. It’s not easy, Jesus died living it, and you will fail, using your words and harming others, but remember to look to Jesus not yourself. You cannot always make up for your mistakes, you cannot make yourself good and holy, only Jesus can make you right, only God’s powerful Word made flesh can truly heal, clean, forgive and save you. So whatever happens, whatever you do, whatever happens to you, remember your help is in the name of the Lord of all, in Jesus who truly loves you. Indeed, He has already forgiven you and saved you.

And the peace of God which passes all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
Pastor Joseph Graham

Through a Pastor’s eyes

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

panthersCongratulations to the Gilgandra Panthers players and supporters as you celebrate hearing that final whistle for the year blow while being on the right side of the ledger. It is a great and sometimes rare moment that can bring exhilaration, often relief, and always-fair and just celebrations.

Having lived most of my life in South Australian I can join in saying the words of a well know advertisement on the T.V. in that while “I don’t know how they take those big hits, but…”. But back in the day having played and coached the Aussie Rules senior footy team in a country town similar in size to Gilgandra I well remember the feeling of admiration I had, in win or loss for those sitting next to me in the sheds that had gone the distance during the year and that last game. A significant “one off” type of moment like finding the love of your life, the birth of your children and the many blessings we receive to rejoice in, celebrate and talk of in the years to come. Moments that we remember as so we do to the loss of loved ones, the hardships and the cruelty that life can dish up.

Our lives are ever changing and others opinions of us and indeed ours of ourselves can be very subjective as we lurch from enjoying a few drinks celebrating and remembering the highest of highs, to unfortunately looking to forget the lowest of lows through the bottom of the same glass.

Based on ourselves and our abilities alone we may occasionally fly high in success and happiness and if that’s where you are at the moment, graciously enjoy them because sooner or later we all hit a downdraft of varying magnitude.

Life can be as subjective as a seven tackle play and if I didn’t know otherwise I might line up with those whose rallying cry is to that of the “Christian hypocrites”. But I don’t because only after properly understanding Christianity later in life, I found it is the same collection of individuals as those of the many sporting clubs I have been a part of. Those of strength and those feeble. Those of courage and those fragile. Those who make right decision in the pressure of the game and those who don’t, and most certainly those who do not profess to be above anyone else in regards to worthiness or importance and that is why we don’t say look at us, but say look at Him who goes by the name of Jesus Christ. Because whether you are in the prime of your sporting years and taking all before you or tiring in age and speed over the paddock, you’re still a football player. Whether you are opening the batting or 12th man, you’re still a cricketer and whether I’m an O.K. preacher or not, I’m still a preacher.

As the years pass we deal with the cards dealt to us and be it a full house or a hand full of junk, Jesus Christ is not subjective and win, lose or draw, He will go the distance with you.

God bless you and if you like me were not as fortunate as the Panthers this year, take heart as its only 369 days until Port Power win next year’s AFL flag.

Pastor Steve Hibbard of the Gilgandra/Dubbo Lutheran Parish.

 

 

 

Ask Pastor

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

The purpose of this page is to give visitors to this website
the opportunity to ask the Pastor questions about the Lutheran Church in Dubbo, about family issues, relationships, your faith or anything else you think he may be able to help you with!

Simply ask a question in the comments below.

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Email:
 joseph.graham@lca.org.au