Australia Day Message
(by Di McDonald, 21-January-2023)
Some people in our nation believe that Australia is a secular, godless place, or a place where all religions abound, however, our foundation was laid, since white settlement, by people of faith who laid a godly foundation and who built a rich Christian heritage. Captain James Cook, Captain Charles Sturt, Edward John Eyre, Ludwig Leichhardt, Flynn of the Inland and many other famous early Australian pioneers did, in fact, have a Christian faith. Australia’s first Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin was a Christian who prayed and fasted regularly to listen to God.
Long before the First Fleet landed in Sydney Harbour, preparations were under way for a Christian Chaplain to accompany them. The Eclectic Society, a group of evangelical clergy and laymen with a deep interest in mission and prison reform initially met with Rev. Johnson, Australia’s first Chaplain, and invited him to inspect the hulks at Woolwich where prisoners were awaiting transportation.
A member of the Eclectic Society, William Wilberforce, then introduced Rev. Johnson to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Rev. Johnson accepted the position of Chaplain for the Colony of New South Wales and was given a large number of religious books and tracts in preparation for his ministry role.
Both the Eclectic Society and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and for Promoting Christian Knowledge were well established by the missionary department of the Church of England.
After arriving in Australia, the first Christian Service in Australia was held on 3rd February 1788 amidst the tall eucalypt trees that surrounded the harbour. In attendance was the Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, twenty officers and their servants, 213 marines with some of their wives and children and more than 750 convicts. The February day was hot, however, a sea breeze wafted in from the harbour to where the service was being held (now near the corner of Bligh & Hunter Streets).
In front of more than 1,000 people gathered, Rev. Johnson spoke, reading from Psalm 116: 8 “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?” Perhaps today, as the year 2023 is unfolding we may well ask a similar question.
As the newly formed settlement in Sydney Cove grew, Rev. Johnson became one of the busiest men in the colony. He was appointed magistrate and carried out all the clerical duties of the newly formed colony for six years. In the first five years he conducted 226 baptisms, 220 marriages and 851 funerals. He visited the sick, visited the condemned and often supplied food for those in hunger. When the Second Fleet arrived a few years later, Rev. Johnson ministered beyond what was deemed necessary and went down into the hold of the ships to minister to the many sick, risking his own health.
As Chaplain he held regular open-air services in Sydney and Parramatta, a six hour journey covering fourteen miles. In inclement weather, services were held in storehouses. Regular requests from Rev. Johnson for land and funds to build a church were largely ignored.
Rev. Johnson was a Chaplain who believed that the Bible was the true Word of God and believed that repentance and trust in Jesus Christ as the only way for salvation. He accurately preached and taught the Word of God to all in the colony – men, women, marines and convicts – pleading for their souls.
In just a few short years the population of the Colony had increased so much so, it was impossible for the Chaplain to visit everyone, so he began publishing booklets to be freely given to the people. Part of one of the booklets reads:
“I have told you again and again, that Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and that there is no coming to God with comfort, either in this world, or in that which is to come, but by Him. He has told you so himself. And the apostle assures you, that there is no other name, under heaven, given unto men, whereby they can be saved. Look unto Him, and you shall be saved, if not, you must be damned. This is the plain truth, the express declaration of the Bible. Life and death are set before you. Permit me then, as your minister, your friend, and a well-wisher to your souls, to press these serious and weighty considerations home upon your consciences once more. I hope and believe that I have asserted nothing, but what can be provided by the highest authority, the word of the living God. They certainly deserve your closest and most careful attention, since it is plain beyond a doubt that upon your knowledge or ignorance, your acceptance or rejection of this gospel, your everlasting happiness or misery must depend.”
In 1792 things in the colony changed after Governor Arthur Phillip sailed for England and Major Francis Grose became Acting Governor of the Colony. Disputes soon arose between the two men over times allotted for Sunday Services, the Chaplain’s ministrations to men under sentence and the withdrawal of most of the Chaplain’s convict labour.
Major Gross insisted that there would be only one Church Service in Sydney and would be held at 6 a.m.; the Church Service was reduced in time to 45 minutes. He refused river transport for Rev. Johnson’s frequent journeys to Parramatta, and encouraged soldiers and convicts to openly treat Rev. Johnson with contempt, with insults and stones flung towards him as he walked along the road.
The following year, despite much opposition from Major Gross, Rev. Johnson built a church, using his own funds, that would seat 500 persons. He was determined to remain in Sydney and show love for all. He continued to preach that the Gospel was the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believed.
Rev Johnson was not just a Preacher of the Gospel, he was a pioneer of education in New South Wales and set up schools in Sydney, Parramatta and Norfolk Island. By 1798, the school in Sydney had 150 students. He also set up a fund to care for the many orphans in the town and became a friend of the indigenous who were increasingly being dispossessed of their land by white settlers. When his daughter was born in the Colony in 1792, she was given an Aboriginal name – Milbah.
In one of his publications, Rev. Johnson wrote, regarding prayer:
“This will be my daily prayer to God for you. I shall pray for your eternal salvation, for your present welfare, for the preservation, peace and prosperity of this Colony: And especially for the more abundant and manifest success of the Redeemer’s cause and kingdom, and for the effusion and outpouring of the Holy Spirit, not only here, but in every part of the habitable globe. Longing, hoping, and waiting for the dawn of that happy day, when the heathen shall be given to the Lord Jesus for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession; and when all the ends of the earth shall see, believe, and rejoice in the salvation of God.”
When Rev. Johnson finally returned to England, on the eve of his departure from Sydney Cove, he wrote in his journal:
“I trust that I have not laboured wholly in vain, and I trust in time, in spite of all opposition and obstacles, God will make bare his holy arm in the conversion and salvation of the souls of men … last Sunday I preached I suppose to not less than six or eight hundred, and I have since heard that one at least went away sorrowful and heavy-hearted, and some others rejoicing in the Son of God manifested towards them.”
Many years have passed since the First Fleet arrived on Australian shores, however, the Gospel Message to Australians is still the same, and we may ask today “what shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”
There are so many things we can be thankful for – we can be thankful that we have the freedom to walk into the House of God any Sunday and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth; – we can be thankful we have God’s Word to guide us and lead us into all truth. We also enjoy:
God’s benefit of love: There’s no greater love than the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There’s no greater benefit than to know that Jesus loves us. The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Paul says in Romans 8 that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done… Christ still loves us.
God’s benefit of grace: God gives us what we do not deserve. Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God which bringeth Salvation hath appeared unto all men.” Grace brought Salvation. Some people think salvation comes by being a member of a church, however, God’s Word teaches that salvation comes through grace. Ephesians 2:8 “For by Grace are ye saved through faith that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” There is no situation where God’s grace will not be sufficient for us.
God’s Benefit of Mercy. God gives us what we do deserve. We do not deserve anything from God. Titus 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” We don’t get to heaven by doing good works. It’s not about what we’ve done. It’s about his mercy. He is a God of Mercy.
God’s Benefit of His Spirit. We cannot receive the Spirit of God unless it is given to us, and we cannot receive the Spirit until we believe.
Ephesians 1:13 “After you believed you were saved with the holy seal of promise.” John 4:13 “Hereby know that we dwell in him and he in us because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
God’s Benefit of Forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God’s Benefit of His Riches. The world can never satisfy our hungry soul. When people do not truly know the Lord, they are looking for something, searching for something. They want something to grab hold of. Maybe it’s the career, money, addictions. God’s riches have everything for us. God’s riches are beyond measure. Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory.”
God’s Benefit of Eternal Life. Jesus said, I am the resurrection. He that lives and believes in me shall never die. Where do we get eternal life? Through Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.” John 10:27-28 “My sheep know my voice and I know them, and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life.”
“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”
The benefits and blessings in our lives are unending.
How then, can we ever repay the Lord for all His blessings and benefits?
God is not looking for repayment – there is nothing we can do to repay the Lord for all the benefits and blessings He showers upon us.
I believe that as God loves us so much that he died for us, the least we can do is to live for him.
Di McDonald, Singleton Kingdom Catalysts.
Singleton Kingdom Catalysts encourages local Christians to pray together for our nation and for our local community. At the heart of every Kingdom Catalyst is a desire to see our local community transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit answering each prayer that is prayed in faith. We believe that united, fervent, faith filled intercessory prayer creates a spiritual climate for God’s Holy Spirit to be poured out upon our community, and that each prayer prayed is a precious treasure to our Heavenly Father. Further information: 0412299294 or email email@example.com
Repentance On Behalf Of The Church
(by Lilian Schmid)
Sin, sexual abuse, heretics in biblical teaching, adultery, no empathy, disunity, competition, greed, apostasy, criticism, division, demonic influence, hypocrisy, our failure to love one another, politicizing our faith, reducing the prophetic to mere happy encouragement, following the flesh not the spirit, selfish desires, pursuing the vanity of the world such as power, wealth, pleasure, and indulgence. The Church has self-centeredness, self-righteousness, indifference, carelessness, fear of men but no fear for God. We have deviated from the Truth, being of no difference from secular people. We need to plead for Your mercy and forgiveness, fear from facing moral issues and praying against them.
- “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the Shadow of Your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.” (Psalm 17:8-9 NIV)
- “Because he loves Me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name; He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.” (Psalm 91:14-15 NIV)
- “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 NIV)
- “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:14, 28 NIV)
- “So, God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:27-28 NIV)
- “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 NIV)
- “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV)
A Light To The World
(by Michael J. Smith, 25-January-2023)
The days come and go and what we see now is a transition of darkness increasing globally around the world. There is a direct correlation between the light of the Body of Christ facing increasing pressure to not let our light shine and the increase of darkness in this world.
The ‘Church’ once enjoyed the pre-eminence of faith in society. Impacting and influencing society for centuries through its love and service to communities. Once, Christians were embraced and held many places of influence.
Now we are seeing Christians not employed because they are Christian and hold to Christian Biblical beliefs. Now we are seeing this positive Christian image being ebbed away to something that is scorned; as being shameful, bigoted, judgemental, powerless, hypercritical, and just living like the unbelieving world.
With increasing public pressure and laws restricting Religious Freedom (sharing and practising faith), lockdowns, and lockouts all seeking to silence and diminish the light of the ‘Church’ we are entering into a dark age. Increasing censorship, public rebuke and vilification for the ones that proclaim the exclusivity of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Word of God.
Many have submitted to these factors and the testing of their faith and have fallen away. Leaving the faith to avoid such persecution, to take the easier road and are now taking a different road all together, a road that doesn’t lead to Jesus. They have stopped following Jesus and started following the crowd to fit in and not stand out as a follower of Jesus Christ!
This is a great deception, believers turning away from the public profession of faith and denying Christ. Jesus declared “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 ESV)
You see there is a great danger for the ‘Church’ – the Body of Christ, in not ‘rocking the boat’, not standing out, not speaking out and protecting ourselves from public ridicule and persecution. We may have minimalised discomfort in this life, but may increase it in the life to come.
Jesus didn’t die for us to be silent, restrained, oppressed and fearful.
Jesus came to set the captives free – Luke 4:18.
Jesus came as Saviour of the world – 1 John 4:14.
Jesus came as the Bread of Life – John 6:35.
Jesus came as the Light of the world – John 8:`2.
“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14 ESV)
For God the Father to send His Son to be the Saviour of the world, that means the world must have needed saving.
We are at a critical spiritual junction right now. There is becoming a very clear distinction between darkness and light, those who walk in darkness and those that walk in the light of God.
The grey areas of going to Church but not loving and living for God are over. People are either walking with Christ or they are not.
This causes the ‘Church’ – believers – to make a clear distinction in their hearts on who they will follow: the world or God. Who will be your lord, the world or Lord God?
“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15-16 ESV)
The world needs the light of Christ to shine through the Body of Christ now, more than ever. As darkness increases, we need to let our light shine like never before. We cannot be the ones that hide the light of Christ and cover it up in shame. We are to put it on a stand, in other words, give it pre-eminence in our lives so it gives light to all we meet.
We are to let our light shine to others, how do we do that? We do it by expressing the love of God in word and deed. Why? So others will see and experience our love and good works and give glory to our Father in Heaven.
We may follow the world and the things of this world, but we will also pass away with the world.
“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17 ESV)
At Martin Place in Sydney I make myself available to chat, pray and share the Word of God with the city workers one lunchtime a week.
Recently, a man who seemed to be a normal corporate worker, sat down to eat his lunch. I said “Hello, God loves you, enjoy your lunch.” I continued sharing the Word of God as people passed by. As time went on I felt that I needed to apologise for the way Christians have treated him.
After about 15 minutes I turned to him and said “I want to apologise for when we as Christians did not love you as we should have loved you, if we have judged you or condemned you, for that, I am truly sorry!” The man was silent he didn’t look at me.
God started showing me how when we as professing Christians haven’t loved as God commanded us to love our neighbour, but judged, condemned and denied sharing the saving grace of our Lord Jesus we have put a stumbling block to people coming to God. Often how they see us is how they see God.
- When we don’t love it communicates that Christians don’t love.
- When we judge it communicates Christians are judgemental.
- When we behave worldly it communicates Christians are hypercritical and no different from others.
- When we deny Christ, it communicates that Christ our Saviour isn’t worth defending.
I saw how the way we as Christians have treated people in word and deed has brought them closer or further away from God. I felt a great conviction for the separation we have put between people and God; when God did everything He could to remove the barrier of separation between God and man.
God opened my eyes to see John 3:16 differently.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)
God has done everything He could in giving His only Son to save the world to give people eternal life. Jesus Christ died for the sin of the world to redeem the world so that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life. God’s key objective is for people to believe in Jesus the Son of God so they have eternal life.
I saw how the main role and mission of believers is to help people believe so they have eternal life. Verse 17 declares Jesus did not come to condemn, judge and decide who goes to heaven, He came that the world in its entirety might be saved through Him.
The job, role and mission of the Body of Christ is to help people believe through the lives we live in word and deed so that people might believe, not perish, and have eternal life.
So really the word of encouragement for us is that we are to love God with all our life, love our neighbour; living the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:38) in order to reflect Christ well, to be God’s ambassadors:
“that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, to be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20 ESV)
In order that we are effective ambassadors for Christ, we cannot hold people’s trespasses against them, just as God didn’t to open the way of reconciliation. We need to implore people on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God.
So, as God’s ambassadors may the light of Christ shine through us even brighter as the Day of the Lord draws near.
May we be the children of God that do not shrink back to save our life, but children that lose our life to gain life that is truly life!
May God continue to strengthen us, equip and lead us with His Holy Spirit and His living Word to be children of light.
May we continue to pray for the Kingdom of God to come and His will to be done over our life, family, nation, the world and the Body of Christ.
May we implore people to be reconciled to God.
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),” (Ephesians 5:6-9 ESV)
May we let our light shine and Let Jesus be the light of the world.
May we continue to pray for the Body of Christ to be the Bride of Christ in its love and devotion.
There is a great reward – a ‘crown of life’ – to all that overcome (James 1:12).