Wilderness, a place of weakness or strength?

At the start of this Coronavirus crisis I shared with you that the image in my mind was that of God leading his people in the wilderness, each day they did not know where the cloud would rise and lead them but God was with them and went before them lighting and guiding the way. It's now been three months of not meeting on Sundays, and I still feel the same way. I don't know where God will lead us next, and with the current outbreak in Victoria the plans that I was starting to form now need to be held more lightly. 

It would be very easy to see this all in a negative light. However, we can be sure that God is at work in this time achieving his good purposes. For Israel, Moses says that the wilderness experience was used by God 'to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands' (Deuteronomy 8:2). It was a time of testing for Israel, a test which they failed. Rather than recognising God's daily provision and his purpose of teaching them faith and obedience, they grumbled and rebelled. 

In the New Testament we see Jesus reliving Israel's experience. After his baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil and after fasting for forty days and nights the tempter came to him (Matt 4:1-2). It seems a strange story, why does Jesus go into the wilderness? And why alone? And why after forty days of fasting does he face off with the devil?

I have always thought that the wilderness is a place of weakness, and that it is just like the devil to test Jesus when he is at the end of his strength. But perhaps it is the other way around, and that the wilderness (also translated as deserted/solitary place or quiet place) is the place where Jesus goes to be with God and to have his strength renewed, and it is after the month or so of prayer and fasting that he is now ready to face the devil's attacks and to pass the test where Israel failed.

Through the gospels we see Jesus often withdrawing to a quiet place. 'Very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed' (Mark 1:35). Going to the wilderness/quiet/solitary place was not a one-off experience for Jesus, it was an ongoing rhythm of his life. It was not a place of isolation, it was the place to meet with his Father to pray and have his strength renewed. Look through the gospels and you'll see this life rhythm, the busier that Jesus became the more he withdrew to his quiet place to pray. 

I have no doubt that God has good purposes that he is achieving at this current time. Ultimately he wants to make us more like his Son. And if this time teaches us to depend more on our heavenly Father and to go to him more in the 'quiet place', that will only be a good thing.

This Sunday

Romans 13:8-10. Last week we reflected on how the hierarchy of human rule should reflect the established hierarchy of Christ as our king; the One whom we should happily submit to in all of our lives. This week, Paul explains how we can submit to Christ while reflecting his loving submission to everyone, not just our governing authorities. Next week Romans 13:11-14.

Why not join together with others in your church family for the Online Service provided via our website or on DVD. You can also join in the Zoom morning tea at 10am. Church@5 is able to meet in person at St Aidan's with social distancing and also on Zoom. We are still considering the best way forward for 9am and 10.30 and will communicate about that soon.

The Zoom meeting details are: ID 777-000-0712. Or to phone in call 02 8015 6011 then you'll be asked to enter the Meeting ID followed by # and then # again.

Kids Church News

Love ❤️ What do you think of when we say the word love? Is it people kissing, or getting married, or girlfriends and boyfriends? You might just think gross! In today’s passage we see that the Bible talks about love in a very different way. It tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves. It means caring for people. It means looking out for your friends and listening to your mum and dad. And why would we want to do any of these things? It’s because we see a perfect love in Jesus. We see Jesus loved us so much he did more than just look out for us. He died for us and rose again! And before he died he told his disciples that we should love God first and others second. He told us to love our neighbours as ourselves. How can you love the people around you this week? How can you show Jesus’ love in your actions this week?
Men's Event - August 8
All the men of St Aidan's are invited to join together to watch the BASECAMP livestream event this year. This will feature excellent Bible talks from great speakers including Prof John Lennox, and the opportunity to learn practical wisdom for living well as a Christian man. This is a great opportunity to join together with brothers around God's word. We'll start with coffee at 8.30am and finish with lunch.
When: Saturday 8 August, 08.30am-12.30pm
Where: At St Aidan's Church
Price: It will cost $45 for a ticket
Register Online:

If you're keen to join the group meeting at the church we will need to know numbers, please contact Rowland or Chris to let us know you're coming, and also if you'll stay for lunch. If you need help registering please let us know.
Rowland Alcorn: e. m. 0458 704 118
Chris Scott: e. m. 0437 693 317

Praying together

Please be praying for members of our church who are grieving the loss of loved ones at this this time.
- Pray for Betty & Daryll Hagen as they grieve the loss of Betty's mum Merle. 
- Pray for Shirley and Ray Jones as their youngest son Grant passed away suddenly this week. And for Julie Hart, Grant's sister.
- Pray for Ian Bond (now living in Corryong) as Joan passed away last week.

Church Directory Update

Over the last months we've realised just how powerful it is to be in touch with one another. For this reason, Dawn Woodland is updating our church directory, and she will be in touch with you to check your contact details and ask permission to have those details shared with our church family.

Interview about Grief and Loss

Recently the AFES team held their Mid Year Conference online, for that Steve Lister interviewed author and speaker Nancy Guthrie on the topic 'Everything you need in Grief and Loss'. Steve was happy for this to be shared, I hope it might be a blessing to you.
'Everything you Need in Grief and Loss' with Nancy Guthrie
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