With February’s arrival, routine returns. School is back. Social Clubs re-start. The regular ministries of church-life are back!

Give thanks & celebrate God’s goodness in 2023

We launch into a new year confident in God’s goodness. The Psalmist’s question is right: ‘What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?’ (Ps 116:12). God is so good to us in creation and salvation.  As a church family we can look back at His goodness to us in 2023. February 5th 2023, we gathered at Hope Theatre UoW as one church, Wollongong & Corrimal. We finished 2023 gathering to praise God come to us at Christmas. In between, we saw God’s hand in the ongoing ministries to a wide variety (children and youth; Mobile Community Pantry and English classes); new ministries (Jesus Club); new ways to do ministry (Growth Groups initiative in blessing others and 4 different ‘Explore Jesus’ courses). God strengthened the faith of many in hardship, brought newcomers to church and many not-yet-believers heard of Christ. God is good – both in general, and in specifics.   

We enter 2024’s routine, firmly grounded in God’s goodness. We maintain our desire to see more disciples of Jesus, shining as lights in our city. In 2024, a common thread in church life will be ‘dependent discipleship’. Not only do we seek to imitate him (discipleship), we do it entirely in His strength. Dependence means deferring to His voice in Scripture, relying on His wisdom, not our insights. We’ll look together at John and Hebrews with their ‘high view’ of Christ. Dependence means asking – seeking a richer prayer life to ground any ‘shining’ we’ll do in the city. We’ll learn from the Psalms and hear people’s lessons in prayers. 

How can we grow our dependence in 2024?

Here are two principles to grow your dependence in 2024:  

  1. First: Remember the greatness of our God. A day, a week, a year can all seem intimidating if we feel we’ve got to have it all together. But thankfully, it is God who holds all things together.  It does us all good to reflect regularly on God’s greatness (both those who relish the hustle, and those who hate it). As you read the following quotes about our great God – pause to consider how His character re-shapes your approach to the year – how God’s reality makes dependence possible:  

    1 Chronicles 16:23-34‘Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling-place. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendour of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures for ever.’  

    Article I (of the Anglican foundational doctrines, the 39 Articles)Of Faith in the Holy Trinity 
    There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
  2. Second, Enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing what God will do. God’s wisdom is inscrutable to us.  He reveals his goals – but the details remain secrets know to him. And we must be thankful for this gift that keeps us dependent. That secrecy is God being wise – being practically good to us. For living ‘uncertain’ keeps us humbly trusting and praising Him. It keeps us from the trap of pride and rebellion. Older Christians have told me of the time that when you got in the car to go anywhere, you prayed. These days, we might pray with someone going on the long-haul flight – but not a trip to the shops. What’s the difference? Certainty. The more certain about an outcome, the more self-reliant we become. God knows the danger we face in knowing too much – in becoming ‘too wise’ – the self-reliance of pride. So he keeps his ways secret. When the Apostle wrestles through this in Romans 9-11 – his conclusion is praise (Romans 11:33-36). 

However you approach the year’s ‘proper start’ – don’t forget our great God! 

In Him, 

Mark Smith 
Senior Minister | 8am, 9:45am & 7pm