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Church Billboard

At the front of St Mark's building there is a billboard which normally gets changed each month.

People may wonder what the meaning of particular posters are.

Every month we will provide an explanation so there is no confusion.

Australians spend $1.6 billion a year on hair care. We want to remove hair from some places and grow it in others, colour and repair our hair, straighten and curl our hair, feed, wax, laser, nourish, and cut our hair.

Did you know Jesus talks about his followers’ hair? In speaking to his followers about their physical safety, financial security, and outward appearance (it seems people’s concerns haven’t changed much in over 2000 years), Jesus assures those who trust him they are deeply known and cared for by him and his heavenly Father.

Jesus said to them, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

Jesus isn’t promising Christians they will get everything they want as soon as they want it. Rather, he is calling us not to worry about the puny attempts of others to harm us or the transient glory of wealth and physical beauty. Why not worry? Because God has everything in hand. He knows the destiny of
every sparrow and the details of every hair on your head. So come what may in this life, even dreaded baldness, those who publicly acknowledge Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Jesus says he will acknowledge “before the angels of God.” Those who seek God first rather than worldly securities and pleasures will, in eternity, if not before, be given all things.

What does it mean to you that God knows you so intimately and cares for you so deeply? Have you made a commitment to entrust yourself to God’s care and seek him above all else?

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, May I trust myself into
your loving care. May I acknowledge Jesus
as my Lord and Saviour whatever discomfort
that may bring me. Please help me to seek
you above all else. Amen.
 

How much of yourself do you feel you must filter when you’re with others? Of course, “others” isn’t a single category; there are many types of others in our lives, from our social media contacts to our closest friends or family members. Is there someone whom you feel you can truly be yourself with? Someone with whom you can express your vulnerable feelings, talk about your deepest struggles, and share your worst moments? We humans learn from a very early age that sharing our deepest parts, especially those we may not like, can be uncomfortable. That’s what happens when we see a toddler hide or cover their face when they know they’ve done the wrong thing. Experiencing rejection, condemnation, or exploitation after revealing our vulnerable parts is incredibly emotionally painful.

God knows everything about you. Everything - not only everything you’ve ever done but everything you’ve ever wanted to do, every thought, feeling, desire. As the Ancient Israelite King David declared:
You have looked deep
into my heart, Lord,
    and you know all about me… 
Nothing about me
    is hidden from you!
 (CEV Psalm 139:1, 15)


Does that terrify you? Does it make you want to hide, defend yourself, or shake your fist in defiance and declare your autonomy?

But… God knows everything about you and still loves you. "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

There’s a kind of relational dichotomy here that we often find hard to grasp. Yes, God declares humans to be sinners. He doesn’t simply look away from our bad bits and mutter platitudes such as “It’s all good” or “I know you didn’t really mean it.” He sees it, he feels it, and he still loves us.

Have you experienced this level of intimate love? One in which you don’t have to hide anything; you can’t hide anything, and you are still loved and safe. Can you imagine this intimate relationship with God? Because Jesus’ death paid for your sin and because God already knows everything about you, you can express all your feelings, talk about your deepest struggles, and share your worst moments with God confident in His love for you.

Would you like this secure intimate relationship with the God of the universe? You can reach out to Him right now.

Prayer
Dear God,
Can it be true that you really love me? I believe I am a sinner who has done wrong by you and others. Help me also believe I am deeply loved and forgiven because of Jesus’ death. Help me to share my whole self with you and enjoy intimacy with you.
Amen.

If you are a swifty then being in the audience of a Taylor Swift concert is pretty much your definition of heaven.

Being completely immersed in the music you love, singing in unison with thousands upon thousands of others who share your passion, delighting in the choreography and visual display, standing in the presence of your hero -- what more could one want?

A good concert (if Tay Tay isn’t your artist of choice, imagine your favourite musician/band/orchestra) is one of those rare places in life where sensory bliss, emotional joy, a sense of unity, belonging and awe can all be experienced in one glorious moment.

Did you know these kinds of moments are but a pale glimpse of what heaven is like?

The apostle John describes his vision of heaven in Revelation 19:6-7:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude,
like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals
of thunder, shouting:
“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!”


Now perhaps singing endless praises to God sounds more like hell than heaven to you. Perhaps you’ve experienced church services with out of time musicians, out of tune singers and out of date songs - church services you’d rather escape than go on forever.

However, the heavenly concert we get a picture of in John’s vision is glorious, awe inspiring stuff. It is bigger and better than any billion dollar stage production. It is a display of the power and goodness of the creator of the universe. It is a demonstration and celebration of God’s perfect justice in defeating evil through Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a place of perfect belonging, love and bliss for all who worship Jesus.
Jesus invites you to this heavenly concert through trusting and believing in him. Do you want a ticket?

Prayer:
Dear Jesus Christ, I want to be part of your heavenly concert. I want to experience the love, belonging and awe of knowing and worshipping you. Please forgive me for rejecting your invitation until now. Please show me how to worship and enjoy you while I wait for entry into your heavenly presence. Amen.

In the months leading up to my decision to become a Christian I read the Bible intensely. I remember being impressed that an ancient book could be so relevant in a modern world. Yet, two things stood out most of all for me.
 
Firstly, the sense I had that God was present as I read. I had never felt this before with any other book. It seemed as though how I responded mattered to God. And the Bible exposed me. It read me accurately. It knew the wrong things I had done - the selfish thinking and pretending to be somebody that I wasn’t. As I read I struggled with the knowledge that experiences can be manufactured by the mind. Did I want there to be a God? Or was God revealing himself to me? Over time, my struggle with skepticism decreased.
 
The second thing that stood out was how impressive Jesus was in the four gospel accounts of his life. At the end of Jesus’s famous, Sermon On The Mount, Matthew, the author of the gospel reports that, ‘… crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority.’ I can appreciate this sentiment. Jesus really does teach with wisdom and authority. Elsewhere in the gospels people are in awe at his power over the physical world - demonstrated repeatedly with various, extraordinary miracles. Given the integrity of Jesus’s words, it didn’t seem reasonable that those events were clever deceptions.
 
So, despite the age of the Bible, it read my need and provided a solution – Jesus. It was Jesus who spoke ofthe possibility of knowing God and it was Jesus who died on the cross to make the hope of a fresh start with God possible.
 
In the Bible, the book of Hebrews describes what I, and many others have experienced. It says: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

So, if you’ve never read the Bible, then my encouragement to you is… find a copy and begin by reading the shortest biography of Jesus – Mark’s gospel. Malcolm Williams, Director of Outreach Media

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for speaking to us through the Bible in ways that soften our hearts and move us to you.

Bible 
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

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