Para Vista Lutheran Church

Weekly messages from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Para Vista Inc

Come, Follow Me! (Audio)

October 10th, 2021

A message from Pastor Rolly Stahl on 10 October 2021.

During his ministry, Jesus invites people to join him on a Kingdom adventure.

In our reading, a rich young ruler comes to Jesus with a burning question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17 NIV) Jesus tells this man the truth in love.  His wealth is more important to him than God.  Jesus has something better for him: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21 NIV)

In order to have life forever with Jesus, this man needed to let go of his treasures.  I wonder, what might be some of our “treasures” or obsessions that prevent us from following Jesus?  What do we need to let go of in order to have life in its fullness?

Jesus loves you!  He invites you: “Come, Follow Me!”

What will you do with his invitation?

Come, Follow Me! (Video)

October 10th, 2021

A message from Pastor Rolly Stahl on 10 October 2021.

During his ministry, Jesus invites people to join him on a Kingdom adventure.

In our reading, a rich young ruler comes to Jesus with a burning question: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17 NIV) Jesus tells this man the truth in love. His wealth is more important to him than God.  Jesus has something better for him: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21 NIV)

In order to have life forever with Jesus, this man needed to let go of his treasures.  I wonder, what might be some of our “treasures” or obsessions that prevent us from following Jesus?  What do we need to let go of in order to have life in its fullness?

Jesus loves you!  He invites you: “Come, Follow Me!”

What will you do with his invitation?

HEARTS WIDE OPEN (VIDEO)

October 3rd, 2021

Even though the government recognises de-facto relationships, it’s interesting that people are still getting married.

And even though some people have experienced a messy break-up and subsequent divorce, many of them go on to get married again – perhaps a few times.

There’s something about marriage that doesn’t go out of fashion.  Many of us do not do life well alone.  We like the companionship and comfort of doing life together with a husband or wife.  Having been married for over 35 years, I reckon that marriage is one of the best ideas God ever came up with. (And yes, a lot of this is because I am married to a saint!)

But it ain’t always easy!  Marriage is not self-maintaining.  It requires lots of love and understanding, patience and perseverance – from both sides – in order to flourish.

We tend to be lazy: we want great relationships with minimal effort or sacrifice!

We expect the other person to make us happy, and then get upset when they don’t!

When the “me” replaces the “we”, selfishness and hardness of heart can creep in.  Over time, hardness of heart can build up layers of apathy, fault finding, conflict, unresolved hurts, resentment, bitterness, and blame. If a couple keep digging their heels in, refusing to apologise and be reconciled, it can end up in divorce.

In this Sunday’s Bible reading, the Pharisees ask Jesus: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2 NIV)

Jesus concedes that divorce happens.  Yet he also highlights the root cause of divorce.  It because human hearts can harden – even to a person they once loved more than anyone else in the world!  Once that happens, we can justify our unwillingness to apologise, to forgive, and to reconcile.  Once our hearts are closed to the other person, a broken relationship or marriage is looming.

Jesus points us back to God’s intention for marriage:

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Mark 10:6-9 NIV)

How can God keep our hearts soft and wide open to one another?  How can God help us foster healthy relationships, so we don’t ‘divorce’ ourselves from God and each other?

Come along this Sunday as we explore these issues, unpack the cultural background to the Pharisees’ question, and discover how God wants us to live.

Please Note: divorce is not the unforgiveable sin.  When Jesus met the woman at the well, he offered her living water – that would well up into eternal life (John 4:13-18).  Even though she’d had 5 husbands and was currently in another relationship, Jesus wanted her to have life forever with him.  No matter how much we’ve messed up in relationships, Jesus wants to give us the same gift!

Joy in Jesus!
Pr Rolly Stahl

HEARTS WIDE OPEN (AUDIO)

October 3rd, 2021

Even though the government recognises de-facto relationships, it’s interesting that people are still getting married.

And even though some people have experienced a messy break-up and subsequent divorce, many of them go on to get married again – perhaps a few times.

There’s something about marriage that doesn’t go out of fashion.  Many of us do not do life well alone.  We like the companionship and comfort of doing life together with a husband or wife.  Having been married for over 35 years, I reckon that marriage is one of the best ideas God ever came up with. (And yes, a lot of this is because I am married to a saint!)

But it ain’t always easy!  Marriage is not self-maintaining.  It requires lots of love and understanding, patience and perseverance – from both sides – in order to flourish.

We tend to be lazy: we want great relationships with minimal effort or sacrifice!

We expect the other person to make us happy, and then get upset when they don’t!

When the “me” replaces the “we”, selfishness and hardness of heart can creep in.  Over time, hardness of heart can build up layers of apathy, fault finding, conflict, unresolved hurts, resentment, bitterness, and blame. If a couple keep digging their heels in, refusing to apologise and be reconciled, it can end up in divorce.

In this Sunday’s Bible reading, the Pharisees ask Jesus: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2 NIV)

Jesus concedes that divorce happens.  Yet he also highlights the root cause of divorce.  It because human hearts can harden – even to a person they once loved more than anyone else in the world!  Once that happens, we can justify our unwillingness to apologise, to forgive, and to reconcile.  Once our hearts are closed to the other person, a broken relationship or marriage is looming.

Jesus points us back to God’s intention for marriage:

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Mark 10:6-9 NIV)

How can God keep our hearts soft and wide open to one another?  How can God help us foster healthy relationships, so we don’t ‘divorce’ ourselves from God and each other?

Come along this Sunday as we explore these issues, unpack the cultural background to the Pharisees’ question, and discover how God wants us to live.

Please Note: divorce is not the unforgiveable sin.  When Jesus met the woman at the well, he offered her living water – that would well up into eternal life (John 4:13-18).  Even though she’d had 5 husbands and was currently in another relationship, Jesus wanted her to have life forever with him.  No matter how much we’ve messed up in relationships, Jesus wants to give us the same gift!

Joy in Jesus!
Pr Rolly Stahl

A Life in His Hand (VIDEO)

September 26th, 2021

It is a communal phenomenon, I’ve noticed.

When we pray in groups, often we conclude the prayer (like stamping an envelope and dropping it in the post box) ‘In Jesus’s name.’ Have you ever wondered why we do this? What do we hope will happen as we invoke His name?

Certainly, in the book of John, Jesus emphasises using his name for multiple reasons, but the most important is this: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.” Unfortunately, many Christians have taken this sentence as kind of a magic phrase that will a.) give us what we want or b.) get us out of what we shouldn’t have been in.

To our own detriment, we neglect what comes before and what comes after Jesus’ words nullifying what he is actually talking about. Here they are: “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And they will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Notice the license that Jesus is giving to his followers. Ask for anything in his name but realise that everything you’re asking in his name must be about doing the works that he does.

That’s an amazing restriction to put on what we ask for.

John’s description fits tightly with our readings this week in Mark 9:38-41. Three times we find a directive about using Jesus’ name. The disciples misunderstand and Jesus corrects them. Using Jesus’ name is not about getting what we want, or achieving self-fulfilment, but aligning ourselves with the will of the Father.

Which is to do the works of God who ‘…calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith…’ (Luther’s Small Catechism – Third Article of the Creed).

We are called to live our whole lives in Jesus’ name, not only attaching his name to prayers. Is this confronting? It was for me, but it opens up an entire new world of opportunities for his Church. Read Mark 9:38-41 in preparation for a discussion this weekend and beyond.

Pr Reid Matthias

A Life in His Hand (AUDIO)

September 26th, 2021

It is a communal phenomenon, I’ve noticed.

When we pray in groups, often we conclude the prayer (like stamping an envelope and dropping it in the post box) ‘In Jesus’s name.’ Have you ever wondered why we do this? What do we hope will happen as we invoke His name?

Certainly, in the book of John, Jesus emphasises using his name for multiple reasons, but the most important is this: “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.” Unfortunately, many Christians have taken this sentence as kind of a magic phrase that will a.) give us what we want or b.) get us out of what we shouldn’t have been in.

To our own detriment, we neglect what comes before and what comes after Jesus’ words nullifying what he is actually talking about. Here they are: “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And they will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Notice the license that Jesus is giving to his followers. Ask for anything in his name but realise that everything you’re asking in his name must be about doing the works that he does.

That’s an amazing restriction to put on what we ask for.

John’s description fits tightly with our readings this week in Mark 9:38-41. Three times we find a directive about using Jesus’ name. The disciples misunderstand and Jesus corrects them. Using Jesus’ name is not about getting what we want, or achieving self-fulfilment, but aligning ourselves with the will of the Father.

Which is to do the works of God who ‘…calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith…’ (Luther’s Small Catechism – Third Article of the Creed).

We are called to live our whole lives in Jesus’ name, not only attaching his name to prayers. Is this confronting? It was for me, but it opens up an entire new world of opportunities for his Church. Read Mark 9:38-41 in preparation for a discussion this weekend and beyond.

Pr Reid Matthias

Set Apart to Stand Firm (Video)

September 19th, 2021

A video message by Pastor Rolly Stahl on 19 Sep 2021.

Like it or not, we are in a spiritual battle.  In this battle our enemy is not human beings, or governments, or even a virus – but the devil and his sidekicks.  Paul urges us to put on the full armour of God – so we can stand firm against the activities of the evil one; and play our parts in God’s Good News story for his world.

This Sunday we’re going to examine each part of this armour.  As we put on the full armour of God and stand together in battle, we will prevail.  God has set us apart to stand firm and share in the victory Jesus has won for us!

Set Apart to Stand Firm (Audio)

September 19th, 2021

An audio message by Pastor Rolly Stahl on 19 Sep 2021.

Like it or not, we are in a spiritual battle.  In this battle our enemy is not human beings, or governments, or even a virus – but the devil and his sidekicks.  Paul urges us to put on the full armour of God – so we can stand firm against the activities of the evil one; and play our parts in God’s Good News story for his world.

This Sunday we’re going to examine each part of this armour.  As we put on the full armour of God and stand together in battle, we will prevail.  God has set us apart to stand firm and share in the victory Jesus has won for us!

Set apart for Wisdom (Video)

September 12th, 2021

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live – not as unwise people but as wise…

The Apostle Paul – the letter to the Ephesians

Socrates, just before his death, was given two choices: leave Athens or stay and live the rest of his life in silence. Unwilling to live a life which didn’t reflect on the rules of the culture, the government, and other outside influences (think, lemmings), he uttered the statement, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

We live in a culture similar (in some ways) to both the time of Socrates and the time of Paul the Apostle when he wrote his letter to the Ephesians. The culture emphasised individuality, idolatry and personal pleasure, drunkenness (or overindulgence in many things) over a life filled with the Spirit. Even contemporary Christians sometimes live in the same way (think, lemmings) – ‘I must live as the culture tells me is good and right.’

A wise life examines this. How do we live knowing that there is more to life than simple feedings of the stomach?

This week we’ll examine Paul’s encouragement to live as children of the light – ‘for the fruit of light consists of goodness, righteousness and truth’ (5:9).

Let’s look at the basic lies that the culture tells us about ‘religion,’ the antidotes for the lies and what it means for us to live as children of the Light.

Read Ephesians 5:6-21 in preparation.

Pr Reid Matthias

Set apart for Wisdom (Audio)

September 12th, 2021

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live – not as unwise people but as wise…

The Apostle Paul – the letter to the Ephesians

Socrates, just before his death, was given two choices: leave Athens or stay and live the rest of his life in silence. Unwilling to live a life which didn’t reflect on the rules of the culture, the government, and other outside influences (think, lemmings), he uttered the statement, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

We live in a culture similar (in some ways) to both the time of Socrates and the time of Paul the Apostle when he wrote his letter to the Ephesians. The culture emphasised individuality, idolatry and personal pleasure, drunkenness (or overindulgence in many things) over a life filled with the Spirit. Even contemporary Christians sometimes live in the same way (think, lemmings) – ‘I must live as the culture tells me is good and right.’

A wise life examines this. How do we live knowing that there is more to life than simple feedings of the stomach?

This week we’ll examine Paul’s encouragement to live as children of the light – ‘for the fruit of light consists of goodness, righteousness and truth’ (5:9).

Let’s look at the basic lies that the culture tells us about ‘religion,’ the antidotes for the lies and what it means for us to live as children of the Light.

Read Ephesians 5:6-21 in preparation.

Pr Reid Matthias

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