Better to Come – Gateway Youth

Based in Melbourne, Gateway Youth has evolved from a youth group to a youth band. Their young musicians span both the church and the youth space, and have been collaborating together to release their first EP.

It started on a retreat in country Victoria, where a group of youth kids and young adults began discussing the possibility of writing together to see what they could come up with.

There were a number of different people involved in the writing, while others contributed their vocal and musical talents. Gateway Youth leaders Hannah and Tom, joined us to share the journey from concept to recording an EP.
Ten people made up the team, and most of them had written before. Tom says it was really interesting being able to hear from the youth and find out what they’re going through. “We found out how they hear from God, and in the writing we were able to get that across in a way that was relevant to them.”

Ideas for songs can start with something really specific, or something general. The team doesn’t have a foolproof way to write songs, but they are learning together.

They’re single, ‘Better to Come’ is a reflection on coming out of lock-down, and believing that there’s better to come. Tom says it celebrates the idea that God is always with us, and it’s designed to be a bit of an anthem for people.

I stayed connected with God through worshipping just in my own time.

Hannah says that sometimes songs come out of a season, but ‘Better to Come’ was written from a place of faith. Even when it feels like the world is crumbling, God says that there is better to come.

After being in lock-down for so long, Hannah and Tom are looking forward to having those in-person connections again, and being able to be present in the lives of those around them.

Tom spent a lot of time in lock-down worshipping and sitting down at the piano. “I think it actually strengthened my relationship with God, because it removed any distractions,” he says. “I’m someone who loves community, but I stayed connected with God through worshipping just in my own time.”

Hannah said she liked having her own space during lock-down, and learned how to enjoy time by herself. She rediscovered what it meant to know God, without having to do anything for Him. “Out of our love we do tend to serve and do great things, but I was reminded to just be still with God.”

It’s important to just get through one day at a time. It’s overwhelming to be at the bottom of a mountain looking up. But if you’re just looking at what the next step is, it’s much more achievable.

Hannah says that the next step for Gateway is to get back to writing. “In the immediate future we need to be writing separately and bringing stuff together when we can. Then in the new year, we’ll reconvene and see what we’ve got.”

Hannah and Tom agree that where we’re at and how we’re feeling now is different for everyone. Worry and fear are prevalent, but we can choose to listen to what God is saying and what He has said in the Bible before.

“He’s the creator of the universe, and He never leaves us. And when you know that, you can handle anything.”

Brand New – Holly Halliwell

Living through the pandemic has been a whirlwind for most of us. But it’s been particularly difficult for Christian musicians like Holly Halliwell. Just months before Covid hit, Holly and her husband had the opportunity to work with a Grammy award-winning producer. And despite the challenges, they managed to launch her debut EP, Kickstarter.
Holly says that she is grateful for the extra time at home because she was able to focus more on songwriting and producing. She has seen the Lord’s faithfulness throughout the whole experience. She even set herself the audacious goal of writing a hundred songs in a year!

“I learned and grew so much,” says Holly. “There were songs that I was so enthusiastic about, and I would give them to my husband who is also my producer. We were working together and getting more excited about the songs as we finished them.”

Holly’s worship song, ‘Before Me’, is actually about the Lord going before us in all things. She says it was a song that people needed to hear at the height of the pandemic. Everything that was happening might have caught us off guard, but it was not new to the Lord. We just have to follow Him and be faithful.

It’s in those really hard seasons that some of the most beautiful lyrics come out

Holly says she doesn’t know how she would have survived the lockdowns without music. She felt led by the Lord to write a hundred songs in 2020, and that kept her focused and driven.

“I will say that it really tests you. I kept asking myself is this what I really want to do? I sat at my keyboard and poured out songs of what we were going through. It’s in those really hard seasons that some of the most beautiful lyrics come out.”

Holly had to commit to the opportunity to produce her EP, before Kickstarter could be recorded. “We took a leap there. We felt that God was calling us to do this, and we had to trust that He’d provide. He wants us to leave the boat first, and then He’ll support us.”

It was challenging for Holly and her husband to narrow down the songs for the EP. But they chose ones that they hope speak to what people are going through and will minister to them. One such song is ‘Brand New.’
“It’s 2 Corinthians 5 that talks about the old is gone, and the new has come. That is actually the new self in Christ,” says Holly. “I was really thinking about that and how we do have to take steps into that newness and freedom. We have to be diligent in remaining close to Him. I wanted the song to help people step into that.”

Holly believes we can very easily overcomplicate our relationship with the Lord, and that can leak into the way that we love people. One way she and her husband guard against this is to make the distinction between work and home life. It’s important to have those boundaries in place.

“I remember vividly praying to the Lord for someone who could team up with me and be part of what I feel He’s called me to do,” says Holly. “And He very clearly answered my prayer in ways I couldn’t even imagine.”

Though it can be difficult to press on, Holly encourages young songwriters to keep at it. She believes that prioritizing quiet time, and sitting with the Lord every day to pray is so important.

“Become so captivated by God and His love for you, that fear and worry have to walk out the door,” she says. “They have no place at all in the presence of Jesus.”

I Can Only Imagine – Tim Challies

There is a joy that marked the ministry of the Apostle Paul. He suffered greatly as he ministered for the Lord, yet he was full of joy. Paul’s joy was grounded in hope–the hope of the resurrection. Anchoring our hope the way Paul did can change the way we look at life and death, and the pain and weariness that life can bring.

Paul trusted in the promise of God’s presence. He knew that believers would be resurrected to come into the presence of God. And God’s presence, will be the greatest joy of heaven. He says in 2 Corinthians 13, “We speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” The resurrection is not an end in itself, but the means to a greater end.

We will experience the direct enjoyment of God. This is so wonderful we cannot imagine all that it will mean. We will see the Father face-to-face. We will need no temple there to worship Him, we will need no mediator to approach Him, we will need no light to see him. There are no words to adequately describe this reality, so we can only long for it.

Every Christian longs… to finally see the Saviour. All the joys of earth and heaven pale in comparison to this.

As we see the Father, we will see Jesus, our Saviour. We will look upon his nail-pierced hands. We will see His side, still scarred where the soldier plunged his spear. We will look upon the One who created us, the One who redeemed us, the One who gave His life so He could save us from the wrath we deserve.

Every Christian longs for this. As much as we want to see the people who have gone before us, the greatest longing of all is to finally see the Saviour. Doesn’t your heart leap to think of meeting Him? All the joys of earth and heaven pale in comparison to this.

A few years ago, the band MercyMe released the song “I Can Only Imagine”. In that song they spoke of the great longing to see Jesus. What’s amazing is that this song caught on not just with Christians. Somehow it spoke to a great longing in many people. They wrote:

Surrounded by Your glory,
what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus,
or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence
or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.

As much as we long to experience rest from this life, and to be reunited with the people we love, as much as we long to meet the people we have read about in the Bible or the pages of history, there is no longing like this—to be united with the Saviour.

Do you regard the best that this world has to offer as less than what the Lord promises in the world to come? Are your eyes fixed on this world or is your gaze beyond this world on the future that is to come?

Paul longed for the resurrection so he could experience the fullness of God’s presence. This sustained him as he spent another night in a cold and damp prison, being beaten and starved. As Christians, this can sustain us too. It can give us hope in any kind of pain or trial. And what an awesome hope it is!

Tenacious

‘Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.’ 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

One of the most prevalent themes in the Bible is perseverance. The apostle Paul writes: ‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’ Again he writes: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ (Galatians 6:9 NIV) And James adds: ‘Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.’ (James 1:12 NIV)

The dividing line between winning and losing isn’t talent; it’s tenacity. Being tenacious means this:

(1) Giving it everything you have, not more than you have. Some people inaccurately believe that being tenacious demands more than they have to offer. As a result, they get discouraged and stop pushing themselves. But being tenacious means giving 100%—not more, and certainly not less.

(2) Working with determination instead of waiting on destiny. Persistent people don’t rely on luck, fate, or destiny for their success. They recognise that trying times aren’t the times to stop trying.

(3) Stopping when the job is finished, not when you’re tired. To succeed, you often have to push beyond what you think you can do. Remember, victory isn’t determined until the last step in the race has been run. So draw on God’s grace, refuse to give up, and keep going until you cross the finish line and win the prize.

SoulFood: Gen 40–41, Luke 4:1–13 Ps 89:1–14, Pro 2:20

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2022

Today’s Readings

Genesis 40–41

40:1 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

41:1 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. 10 When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, 11 we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. 12 A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13 And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, in my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile. 18 Seven cows, plump and attractive, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19 Seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and thin, such as I had never seen in all the land of Egypt. 20 And the thin, ugly cows ate up the first seven plump cows, 21 but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke. 22 I also saw in my dream seven ears growing on one stalk, full and good. 23 Seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28 It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30 but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, 31 and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

37 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.

50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53 The seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do.”

56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

Luke 4:1–13

4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

  “‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

  “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

11 and

  “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Psalm 89:1–14

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

89:1   I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever;
    with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
  For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;
    in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
  You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
    I have sworn to David my servant:
  ‘I will establish your offspring forever,
    and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah
  Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD,
    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
  For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?
    Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD,
  a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
    and awesome above all who are around him?
  O LORD God of hosts,
    who is mighty as you are, O LORD,
    with your faithfulness all around you?
  You rule the raging of the sea;
    when its waves rise, you still them.
10   You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
    you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11   The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
    the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
12   The north and the south, you have created them;
    Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
13   You have a mighty arm;
    strong is your hand, high your right hand.
14   Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
    steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Proverbs 2:20

20   So you will walk in the way of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.

Wed 19 January, 2022


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