31 August 2020
Luke 4 16-30
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”[f]
20 Then he rolled up the scroll gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”
24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Good news Jesus is going to Nazareth his hometown. Bad news they rejected him and he made them angry. The people of Nazareth were not receptive to Jesus’ teaching as they were over familiar with him as a person. He was Joseph’s son and that’s how they knew him. They did not recognise his sovereignty and the fact that he was Saviour and Lord
If you grew up in the church or if you’ve been in the church for years, it’s easy to grow so familiar with spiritual truth that you don’t let it affect your own heart. You begin thinking, “Repentance is something the non-Christian needs, but me? I’m a pretty good person!” “Salvation, and tender mercies of our God—ho hum!” Before you know it, you’re right there with those lukewarm Christians.
None of us know that if we reject Jesus, will we get a second opportunity to accept him.
A wise scholar writes, “Last year a man jumped from a plane and his parachute didn’t open. It took him more than a minute to fall 3,000 feet. Somehow, he survived. But what do you suppose he thought about in that long minute? Did he cry out to God? If you have not trusted Christ as Saviour and Lord, you’re right where that man was. You’re free falling toward eternity, but you won’t fare well when you hit the deck.
Jesus offers right now to release you from the downward pull of your sin that is plunging you toward God’s judgment. If you will respond by receiving Him as Saviour and Lord, then rather than going His way and leaving you, Jesus promises, “I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). Amen
30 August 2020
Matthew 16 v 21 to end
Jesus predicts his death
21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
28 ‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’
What cross do you carry?
In these few, powerful words, Jesus revealed the whole purpose of His earthly ministry, the Father’s divine plan for the salvation of all humankind and the good news. Jesus had come to suffer, die and be raised again for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the whole world!
Poor Peter couldn’t understand all that Jesus was revealing to them and he responded, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!”
But Jesus knew who He was and why He had come! Looking through Peter, Jesus said to the devil, “Out of My sight, satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Jesus knew that He had come to “take up His cross” and follow the will of His Heavenly Father. It was absolutely necessary that He must go to Jerusalem; suffer at the hands of wicked, hateful men; die a cruel death on the cross and three days later be raised again to life by the power of Almighty God. By doing so, He took on our sin and through His forgiveness and grace He has compounded our relationship with God.
And what “ cross” do you carry? What cross have you taken up? I'm not talking about self indulgent matters that we enjoy moaning about but the crosses that God puts before us and that we are willing to endure because we are His children and because we are His disciples.
29 August 2020
Matthew 25 v 14-30
The parable of the bags of gold
14 ‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 ‘After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.”
21 ‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
22 ‘The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold: see, I have gained two more.”
23 ‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
24 ‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”
26 ‘His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 ‘“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
While we wait
Another parable and we can probably guess the message behind this one. It seems the third servant has admitted that he was afraid to lose the masters money and he buried the bags to protect himself. The master is furious that the servant was unfaithful to carry out the masters work and it costs the servant dearly.
The master expected the servants to continue his business, to take risks and to make a profit. Two servants were found faithful, and they are rewarded. Their faithfulness had increased the master's wealth and expanded his estate.
Tom Wright reminds us that this was all to take place to prepare them for the days ahead when their faith will be tested. This parable depicts how the disciples are to demonstrate their faithfulness as they anticipate the return of the Lord.
What does faithfulness look like in a time of waiting? In Matthew's Gospel faithfulness is emulating the ministry of Jesus. Jesus has announced the arrival of God's kingdom by feeding the hungry, curing the sick, blessing the meek, and serving the least.
We need to ask ourselves what are we doing while we wait? Are we carrying out the work that is needed?
28 August 2020
Matthew 25 v1-13
The parable of the ten virgins
25 ‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 ‘At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”
7 ‘Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.”
9 ‘“No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”
10 ‘But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 ‘Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!”
12 ‘But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”
13 ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Are you ready?
Yesterday we talked about the hope and the certainty of His coming. I read somewhere that Jesus is warning us in this parable that there are some people who look like Christians, who work with Christians but will be shocked to learn that they will not be welcomed when the Lord returns.
In this parable the foolish virgins thought they knew better and when push came to shove they would be able to share in the spoils of the other virgins. This was not the case. While they disappeared for the oil, the bridegroom appeared. Again, maybe, they foolishly thought the door would be open for them. But it was not
There should be no contingency plans for the coming of the Lord. There is no plan B if we feel we have not readied ourselves, no second chance. The last verse of this passage has the ominous message
Keep watch because you don’t know the day or hour. So ask ourselves “Are we ready?”
27 August 2020
Matthew 24 v 42 to end
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The certainty that he is coming!
It is so easy for us to get caught up in all the things that slow us down in life. There are always bills to pay, schedules to keep, struggles to overcome, difficulties to navigate, families to feed, and jobs to do. We can so easily get caught up in the routine of these things that we lose sight of our glorious hope that is out there on the horizon.
Since it seems so long ago to us that Jesus lived and died, we can easily lull ourselves into thinking that he won't return in our lifetime, much less at any moment. We lose our sense of urgency, and expectation. Jesus wants us always to be ready and more importantly to live with expectation. Tom Wright reminds us "He is forever at the door just beyond our boundaries of space and time waiting to usher in his fulfilled Kingdom in power and glory. Our job is not to know the day this will happen, but to be ready any day it may happen and to live our lives full of good deeds and the great anticipation of the certainty that He is coming!
26 August 2020
Mark 5 v 35-43
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing[c] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this, they were completely astonished.43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Don't be afraid Just believe
We take time out this morning to look at a well known story from the Bible about Jairus’s daughter and how she was “ brought back to life”. This is a story of faith and as Jesus said in verse 36 “ don’t be afraid just believe”
Just when Jairus seemed helpless and hopeless Jesus was the answer. Jairus put his trust on Jesus and Jesus brought life where there was death. Today, we know that in the kingdom of God there is no suffering, hearts are mended, wounds are healed and a new life takes the place of death.
Where is our faith today? Do we trust that Jesus’ way is the real way? When you have a problem do you bring it to Him? Sometimes there is a delay in our help coming but if you look back at that delay we see we have learned more about Him and maybe more about ourselves.
Faith is a free gift. If you don’t think your faith is strong enough, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for a stronger faith. Faith to carry on. Faith to move forward. Faith to be a strong disciple. Don't be afraid just believe. Amen
25 August 2020
Matthew 23 25-28
25 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
A solution for every problem
In a few days Jesus will face his accusers and be crucified. Its probably his last encounters with the scribes and the Pharisees so there is one more lesson to be taught. He calls them hopeless, and stupid accuses them of being frauds. Why is that?
Just like the parables Jesus gives them an illustration of the problem.
Eugene Peterson translates this perfectly in verses 25 and 27 when he says “ You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. In this translation there is no doubt and what Jesus is trying to put across. So everything is exterior, it’s all for show and to impress but simply scratch the surface and the rot and hypocrisy are evident.
Jesus goes onto giving them a solution, again Peterson translates verse 26
“ scour the insides and the gleaming surface will mean something
Jesus does not criticize the outer cleanliness. Instead, he is furious with the Pharisees' preoccupation on the outside cleanness while ignoring the interior world of the heart, motives, intentions, and desires. As he did in the Sermon on the Mount in specific detail, Jesus once again reminds us that no amount of external preoccupation with cleanness will make the interior world clean. Greed and self indulgence must be addressed as issues IF you want the authenticity that God wants from us. Amen
24 August 2020
Luke 22 24-30
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
People out front?
There is always a struggle in life with the people who want to be out front. Of course there are people who deserve a place there, and inevitably there are others who are simply showmen or women who are maybe subliminally saying “ I am the greatest!”
But what is greatness? Greatness is doing the things that no one else wants to do. Great people are those who clean out our buildings, see children safely across the street and teach our children on a daily basis. Great people declare their love of Jesus and tell others about Him.
Greatness is not necessarily leading people in worship but in doing the things that are unseen that allow the worship to be a good thing.
We have so many great people in the church who are serving in such important ways, ways that you and I do not see. If the only service we will offer is something that is seen, then we are seeking greatness in a worldly way that is condemned by God. Jesus does not offer titles. He hands out towels to serve.
So I guess I am asking myself “ how do I serve?” “ how do you serve?”
Jesus is great, we are not. True greatness is not about power it is found through serving. Great people do great things that only God can see. Amen
23 August 2020
Matthew 16 13-20
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
A declaration of faith from Peter
Imagine asking a friend “ who do people say I am?”. Not only would I want to ask that I wouldn’t want to hear the answer. At this point in his ministry Jesus was possibly being accused of all sorts and he wanted to know about the people that were following him. Peter declared his faith in Jesus, the Son of God and that in itself is important because
Christ declared that he was going to build His church on the apostles and they would proclaim the message of Christ, record it in Scripture, and establish the Church throughout the known world. Everything we do today is based on the work and the teachings of the apostles, who were commissioned by Christ and inspired by the Spirit.
Today we all have the keys of the kingdom. Our task is the faithful teaching of the truth of the Gospel, even though some will be offended and refuse it. The message is based on the person of Jesus and the Son of the Living God, and it's up to us to tell others about it and his amazing grace.
22 August 2020
Acts 5 v27 to the end
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Put to the test?
The apostles are having a hard time of it and are being made to appear in front of the Sanhedrin, Someone suggests that they be put to death but a man called Gamaliel puts a suggestion before them. Gamaliel is literally saying to them “ let them go their own way and if they are just like the others before them, they will soon disappear. But IF God is really behind them, you will not be able to oppose them. For if that’s the case, you will be opposing God”
Because of this, the apostles got flogged and were allowed to go on their way as long as they did not “ speak in the name of Jesus”. The apostles ignored this and never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news. What can be said of Gamaliel? Was he man of faith? He was giving the Sanhedrin options. “If they are not of God they will fizzle out” or “ if they are of God are you going to fight Him?”
This week we have been talking about us together, being a body of God. When we are together as one, we can be an immovable force. When we are put to the test, yes we have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fasten to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviours love. The apostles in the face of adversity were fastened to the rock and because the moved on and continued to teach in his name we are grounded firm and deep in the saviour's love. Amen
21 August 2020
Acts 5 12-26
12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
THE APOSTLES PERSECUTED
17 THEN THE HIGH PRIEST AND ALL HIS ASSOCIATES, WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE PARTY OF THE SADDUCEES, WERE FILLED WITH JEALOUSY. 18 THEY ARRESTED THE APOSTLES AND PUT THEM IN THE PUBLIC JAIL. 19 BUT DURING THE NIGHT AN ANGEL OF THE LORD OPENED THE DOORS OF THE JAIL AND BROUGHT THEM OUT. 20 “GO, STAND IN THE TEMPLE COURTS,” HE SAID, “AND TELL THE PEOPLE ALL ABOUT THIS NEW LIFE.”
21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
When one or more are gathered.
Yesterday we talked about disputes especially between Christians and it could be said that we could be accused of being “ fake” Christians. Sometimes God needs to give us a reminder of who he is, and that he is God and that we need him and without him we are nothing. We are nothing without him.
In verse 12 we read “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade” When great things happen in the Bible especially between believers we find them all gathered together. It's really a recurring theme in the Bible. This tells us they were all together in one accord, and it’s a great sign that when all his people are together, one people and one vision, great things can happen.
And I guess that’s why it's important for us all to work together and be back together as a church. When God's people are together all with one accord it is a greater display of the power of the Holy Spirit than any particular sign or wonder.
Just when they thought they could imprison the apostles and hold them to ransom, suddenly they were free and standing in the temple courts teaching the people. At this point the captain and the officers did not use force as they were afraid, their confidence gone. Confidence belonged to the apostles who were all together and teaching. Let us pray this day that we will continue to work together as one body and one church, no ego, no competing just praising his name, getting back to the word in hand and sharing his word. Amen
20 August 2020
1 Corinthians 6 1-8
Lawsuits among believers
6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court – and this in
7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.
Another difficult one
Another difficult reading this morning, but while not avoiding this difficult subject lets try and give it some kind of understanding.
Have you ever taken your car to the mechanic because of a strange noise or squeak, only to be told that the noise you heard was just the symptom of a much bigger problem? What you thought was simply a brake pad that needed to be replaced turned out to be a cracked axle or a bad bearing or any number of things that added up to major damage.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul addressed a squeak in Corinth. Some believers were taking other believers to court before unbelievers. Now today, we might not think that was such a big deal. But today we belong to a society where “ if there’s blame there’s a claim. We are such a lawsuit-happy society, I read somewhere we have gone from “ in God we trust” to “ see you in court “.
The Corinthians neither understood nor lived the gospel. And I wonder, if we understood the gospel better, would we be more disturbed by Christian believers having disputes between themselves? When you consider how much we have been forgiven, why is it so hard for us to forgive? When you think about the grace that we have been afforded why do we think it costs so much to show grace to others. Something to think about and to pray about.
Let us pray :
Father, thank you for your continued presence with us – and not only for the good days when we feel things are going well but, more importantly, when things are difficult and we are not sure of the way to go and we need your presence to give us the courage to go forward. Father, we thank you for our families and loved ones who give us encouragement and support – especially through this time of uncertainty and limitation – and who have helped us in so many ways. How much we value human contact and this has been highlighted even more during this time of restriction. Human relationships can be very fickle and we pray for people in this country and throughout the world who don’t have the love and support of family and friends – some because of estrangement and some because family life is so difficult for them and they find it difficult to find time to be supportive of vulnerable family members. We pray for them and hope that the healing can begin to take place. Our scripture reading this morning speaks to us of forgiveness and grace – words which we see often in the bible where You, our Heavenly Father, give opportunities to us time and time again to gain forgiveness and grace in order that we can continue in our Christian life and we pray that the grace and forgiveness we receive from You will spark the same willingness in us to show the same to those who seek to heal relationships – may not always be easy, but we pray for your love and grace to allow us to carry out this command – in Your Name, Amen
19 August 2020
Matthew 20 1-19
The parable of the workers in the vineyard
20 ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 ‘About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the market-place doing nothing. 4 He told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” 5 So they went.
‘He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”
7 ‘“Because no one has hired us,” they answered.
‘He said to them, “You also go and work in my vineyard.”
8 ‘When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.”
9 ‘The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.12 “These who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”
13 ‘But he answered one of them, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
16 ‘So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’
( in my humble opinion) There are some things in the gospel of Matthew that don’t make sense firsthand. An example would be the Canaanite woman was considered “annoying”. The odd comment about the“ crumbs from the table”. And the lame man who was getting more than he bargained for.
We now come to the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The landowner has a weird sense of economics and pays everyone the same amount of money (even those who turned up an hour before finishing time). I remember last year preaching on this reading at the time of harvest and all that it taught us about the workers in the field.
But this morning lets look at this from a different angle.
So what about the people who turned up late? Who spends hours waiting to be hired and doesn’t find success till the end of the day? It could be these people were weak and or infirm. Perhaps they were elderly and slow to turn up or perhaps they were people who were discriminated against or even people with a bad reputation.
The parable teaches us about equality, generosity and graciousness.
Qualities that you would expect from a true disciple of Jesus and qualities you would expect from a brother or sister in church today. In the parable everyone was treated the same, the workers who were told what they would be paid, got what they expected. And those who turned up late for what ever reason they were all were paid the same.
Christianity is a great “ leveller”, we are all the same and we are all treated the same. Yes we have lawyers and dentists and CEO’s who are Christians just the same as we have the poor and the unemployed. But at the end of the day what we give to God, when we give Him our time and we give him our lives, His reaction to that is going to be the same. Our prayer for today is for all of the people affected round the world by this pandemic. Whether in a job or out of a job, whether struggling or surviving we pray for the people of God's Church as we work together to meet again. Amen
18 August 2020
Acts 4 v5-12
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
11 Jesus is
‘“the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.”
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’
A lame beggar is healed
Peter and John are being held to account “ by what power or what name did you do this “ they are asked.
Just like the lame beggar did not get the answer he expected (when he asked for money), I am imagining that Annas the high priest and all his cohorts were surprised when they asked Peter and co where was their authority was coming from.
Verse 11 tells us that
‘“the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.”
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’
Peters response came from the heart because of 4 reasons.
1. He was without doubt a confident witness filled with the Holy Spirit
2. He was confident because he learned from Jesus
3. He was confident because he testified on what he knew
4. Finally he was confident in that the only way of salvation was through Jesus Christ.
Today we should pray for that confidence, pray that we will continually learn and testify on what we know. And pray that we tell others that the only way in life is through Christ the King. Amen
17 August 2020
Acts 3 1-
Peter Heals a Lame Beggar
3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
A solution to a problem?
Sometimes we seek out things that are temporary, an answer to a problem that is immediate but not a permanent long-term fix. We rush to pray. Not thinking about the long road that stretches ahead,
The man who was lame from birth saw that his immediate problem was a lack of money so he asked Peter and John for the money.
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
The man thought he knew the answer to his needs, but what he was given in the name of Jesus Christ was something quite different, unexpected and life-changing.
The next time we have a problem, the next time we take it to the Lord in prayer let him decide on the solution, let him give the answer. It might not be what you wanted, but it's probably the best thing for you and who knows it might even be life-changing. Amen
16 August 2020
Matthew 15 21-28
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
I think I might have said that when I worked I was surrounded by mainly students sharing many faiths and cultures. Muslim Sikh Hindu to name but a few. One of the things that surprised me was at Christmas; some of them would send us Christmas Cards. It wasn’t unusual for someone to ask about Easter or Holy week. We worked in an environment, like it or not where we had to embrace one another’s cultures and religious holidays. Even if sometimes it was uncomfortable it worked.
This reading from Matthew is uncomfortable as it presents us with a Jesus that we don’t understand. Jesus ignores this woman who is distressed, the disciples confirm with him “send her away, she won’t stop crying”
But the woman is determined and does three things
Kneels before him.
Calls him Lord
And asks, “Help me”
Maybe Jesus is impressed by her determination. Maybe he is moved that she talks bout “ the crumbs that fall from the table” Maybe it's just the fact that she knows who he is, knows what he can do and because of her love for her daughter and asks Jesus for healing
Jesus said to her “Woman. You have great faith, your request is granted” and her daughter was healed in that moment. Despite the adversary and despite their differences she had faith.
Sometimes we have to turn in prayer and be uncomfortable in what we are praying about. Sometimes it’s an uncomfortable request in our prayer or perhaps we have reached a point where we are uncomfortable with our relationship with God. The important thing is “ keep talking to God”. Keep praying
We should pray today for the determination of the Canaanite woman, who ignored what was going on around her and sat at the Lord's feet. Even if we are uncomfortable we can find some comfort in today’s reading. Amen
15 August 2020
Matthew 19 verse 16 to end
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honour your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
There have been books written on what this passage really means but on this day today I want to say that this passage has always been about commitment. Again it’s all down to people who can “talk the talk” and don’t “ walk the walk”. I appreciate that’s a very glib way of putting it but the young man in this passage is under the impression that as long as he keeps to the rules he can enter the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus is reminding him that it's not just his time and energy he has to give, but something more than that. Something that is very precious to him. Perhaps something that he worships more than God,
The young man is sad as he knows he is rich. Jesus then goes on to tell us, ”it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
So in a week when we have heard about allowing God to control our lives, placing our faith in Him and loving one another (even when there is a grudge) we know that following God is not as simple as people might think. But being rich (and not money rich) in your commitment to Him and to his people will bring you an eternal reward, eternal satisfaction and an eternal life. Amen
14 August 2020
Matthew 19 verses 3-12
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’
4 ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,”5 and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh ? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
7 ‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man gives his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’
8 Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’
10 The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’
11 Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’
I’ve said before that I don’t like avoiding the suggested passages for the day. But sometimes I feel that the subject matter is far too contentious for a short message and potentially could be a minefield.
But what I will say is that marriage is a sacred vow between a man and woman and the Bible offers many verses that offer guidance for married couples, husbands, wives, newlyweds, and engagement.
Marriage is a beautiful covenant before the Lord and if you follow God in your relationship, you will experience a blessed life together~ Read these Bible verses from the Holy Bible about marriage and the importance of this covenant relationship. Use these Scripture quotes on a wedding card for a newly married couple. I have been married 40 years but I certainly don’t profess to be an expert or know the secret of a good and happy marriage. But should a marriage go wrong, it's very easy to focus on what's wrong instead of stopping to listen to God and ask Him for guidance.
Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us that "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
And Psalm 143:8 tells us we should "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
But sometimes marriage can be a mystery to some Proverbs 30 tells us that "There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don't understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman."
All I can say is that a marriage that is made in the church, a marriage that is lived out within the church and a marriage that needs the church is a great marriage. Amen
13 August 2020
Matthew 18 v 21-
The parable of the unmerciful servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’
22 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 ‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of goldwas brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 ‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.
28 ‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.
29 ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.”
30 ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’
The lectionary that I use that is used in most churches is not letting go of this theme of forgiveness this week. I am reminded about the story of Corrie ten Boom, who had heard an unbelievable speech by a person in reconstructed Germany, about how God had forgiven him. He put out his hand to her after the speech and said, "Sister, God has forgiven me." She recognized him as one of the guards in the concentration camp where her sister died. She said, in effect, "I could not raise my hand to shake his, but in that awful moment I realized how much God's mercy and grace had been extended to me. What I could not do by my own strength, I did by the strength of God."
I think that we should all extend forgiveness by as many times as possible. When we read that we should forgive not seven times but seventy seven times, that number could go up and up and up. When we think about the maths of forgiveness, and how much grace has been shown to us by God should we not extend that same amount of grace to others. The last verse of the reading tells us that after there was no sign of forgiveness the servant was given back to the jailers “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’”
Holding a grudge is definitely just like dragging shackles, refusing forgiveness can be just like a life sentence. Giving forgiveness can be like a light going on, a door opening or a new days sun rising.
Pray that you are not shackled by grudges or imprisoned by a lack of grace. Forgive seven times, or seventy seven times. Forgive always.
Our Dear Lord Jesus, we come into your presence this morning with grateful hearts for your love and mercy towards us. Thank you for this new day – with all its possibilities and challenges – which we commit to you, asking that you will be with us every step of the way. Father, thank you again for our surroundings which remind us of your creative power and your ability to create something out of nothing with all its beauty and diversity. We think of all the flowers – so many different colours, textures, perfumes and varieties. We think of the hills, mountains and rivers which live in harmony with one another. Thank you for giving us a sense of appreciation of your creation and also praise to you, the Creator of all that we enjoy. We continue to pray for the people of Lebanon – and the city of Beirut in particular. They are suffering such sorrow and heartache but we pray that you will ‘stay the hand’ of retaliation and revenge against the Government officials and those in positions of authority within the country and pray that the people will instead focus on the vital work that is needed to comfort the bereaved, care for the injured and work together to bring about a better future – without further bloodshed. Father, we know that this is a tall order in a country which has suffered much, but your word this morning speaks about people coming together to resolve differences – often deep rooted. Human effort often fails, and so, it is with a sense of pleading to you, on their behalf, that you will answer our prayer – Amen.
12 August 2020
Matthew 18 v15-20
15 ‘If your brother or sister sins go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.7 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 ‘Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’
I’m not a fan of The Simpsons, but there is an episode I’ve seen where Marge suddenly falls to the ground “ and starts to speak in tongues”. Homer picks up a bible and looks inside and proclaims, “ There are no answers in this book”
Today’s reading tells us three things
If you're being hassled tell the person doing the hassle
If that fails get a couple of witnesses to take along for back up
If that fails take it to the church
Handling conflict is an expertise that some people have, for others all they can do is make matters worse. And yet the Bible tells us to “ love one another”
Love here does not mean wet, sloppy kisses, nor does it mean hearts and flowers. This kind of love is about care for the other person’s well being. Wanting what is best for the other person, even when he or she has made you angry. If we have that sort of love for each other, we will always want to be reconciled and will always accept each other’s apologies – because that’s what people who love each other do. That’s what Christ did – and does – with us every day.
If there is someone who you know holds a grudge against you for something you did, or were perceived to have done, either recently or ages ago, apologize and sincerely ask forgiveness. Likewise, if there is someone who comes to you and asks forgiveness for something that has caused you to hold a grudge against him or her, grant him or her forgiveness. To ask forgiveness is not weakness. And to grant forgiveness is not to condone what someone has done.
They are merely steps toward reconciliation – the thing that Jesus did when he reconciled the whole world to God by hanging on a cross. If He can do that for us, surely we can do this for each other, and for Him.
And I am sorry Homer Simpson the Bible has got answers but it's up to us to follow them through. Amen.
11 August 2020
Acts 1 v15
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, ‘Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.’
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 ‘For,’ said Peter, ‘it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘“May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,”[e]
‘“May another take his place of leadership.”
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.’
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
There’s a lot said about making decisions in a church and the obsession to form committees and getting the right people to be in that committee. In this portion of The Acts of the apostles we see two things. The need to make decisions and the need to handle Gods business. But the odd thing is that after they prayed…. they drew lots.
“Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles”
I think the important thing here is that it’s all down to God's will. God's will shall be accomplished, helped along by prayer whether we draw lots or not. His will is carried out with or without us but at all times we have to be obedient to His will and his gracious way. Amen
10 August 2020
Matthew 17 v22-end
Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time
22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
The Temple Tax
24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
26 “From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
In the Bible Jesus shows us three ways to proclaim that God is the King in all the decisions that we make daily.
First, Jesus had faith in God and he was willing to die for you and me and to forgive those who betrayed him. Jesus said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands and they will kill him and on the third day he will be raised
We know that the disciples “were filled with grief”. Because we love to control our own lives sometimes it difficult to hand our lives over to
Secondly, Jesus acted out of love. Because Jesus was the Son of God, he did not have to pay temple tax at all. However, Jesus paid the tax “But so that we may not cause offence” verse 27,
With Jesus, everybody is God’s child. Jesus loved God and loved God’s people. He made the decision to pay temple tax out of love.
Thirdly, Jesus shared his power with others. Jesus commanded Peter to go out and catch a fish. When Peter opened the mouth of the fish he found a coin. Jesus wanted to use the coin to pay tax “for Jesus and for Peter.” We know he paid the tax for Peter also. In that way, Jesus showed that we should share what we have with others if we want to proclaim that God is the King.
Above all else we need to hand over our lives completely to God for him to be in control. Amen
09 August 2020
Matthew 14 22-36
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
If you want to walk on water?
John Ortberg has a great book called “ if you want to walk on the water you have to get out of the boat” It's not only a book about faith but a lesson in trust and obedience. But what the book brought out to me was the ability to be confident. Confidence today has been shaken. A lot has happened in the past 5 months and we now live in a very different world.
People have become obsessed with the fact and figures of the pandemic, what’s gone up and has anything come down. I heard one expert on TV say “ don’t take your eye off the ball where this menace is concerned”. Today maybe I have some other advice? And its “ don’t take your eyes off Jesus”.
Peter took his eye of Jesus as he was going to walk on the water and nearly sank. Jesus said “ you, of little faith!” and that’s what he is saying to us today. Now I’m not saying throw your mask off and run around Tesco but look at Jesus reaction to this situation “ he reached out and caught him”. So if you want to walk on water, yes get out of the boat but rely on Jesus, take his hand, be courageous and live in confidence, praise and prayer. Amen
08 August 2020
Continuing with Luke 24 from verse 36 (the Message)
36-41 While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.
41-43 He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.
44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”
45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”
50-51 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.
52-53 And they were on their knees, worshipping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.
Can you believe it?
I still get tired when some people say to me “ do you believe everything in the bible?” with the emphasis on the word everything. My answer is always a simple one. “yes”. In my own wee head I always imagine that somewhere at some point the disciples sat down and said to each other “ did all of this actually happen?”
Jesus appears to them and they think they are seeing a ghost. You see that? There is still doubt. They didn’t say” its Jesus!” the scriptures tell us “ they were upset” But Jesus goes on to reassure them “ look at my hands, look at my feet, a ghost does not have muscle and bone” But they still thought it was too good to be true. So then he asks for food and ate it in front of them.
But his final revelation is the more important one as he opens the scripture for them. He opened their eyes and their understanding and of course reassured them that everything that was written has come true. He takes them outside the city and blesses them and then took his leave and here is the good bit “ they were on their knees, worshipping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God”
All doubt removed, replaced with Joy and with a lot of work that had to be done, they praised God. We praise God today for the scriptures and all the evidence therein of a great and glorious God and his son The Saviour of the world. And we are thankful for all the ministers and pastors who open The Word to us in such a way, that makes it real and makes it relevant and utterly believable. Amen
07 August 2020
Luke 24 verses 13-29
On the Road to Emmaus
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
A simple question?
A question to ask yourself today. Do you know Jesus? Have your eyes been opened to who he is and what he has done for you? Do you know that he walks with you and he talks to you? And more importantly do you tell others? Ask yourself another thing today. What will you do with Jesus today?
This reading from Luke could parallel your own journey with God in your own life. In today's reading Jesus did seek the disciples out and while he did not want recognition straight away, he wanted them to learn something about him first. And then while there was only a little faith Jesus took them through his own journey by using the scriptures eventually revealing himself to them. And finally in the breaking of the bread Jesus was recognised by them before he disappeared. But even although he cannot be seen they tell the others as their lives have been changed forever. Does this sound familiar? Thank God that you know Jesus. Thank God that he is with you on your journey. And finally don’t forget to tell others, Good news is worth sharing. Amen
06 August 2020
Luke 9 verses 28-36 ( from the message)
Jesus in His Glory
28-31 About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.
32-33 Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking.
34-35 While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.”
36 When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.
Up until now the Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus and planned his death. The disciples believed that he was the both the Messiah and the Son of God but they perhaps did not know the implications of these titles and at the same time maybe they were a bit uncomfortable about the prospects of Jesus impending death.
This part of Luke is known as The Transfiguration but what exactly is this? And what does it tell us?
The outward glory of Jesus was displayed, maybe for just a few moments but our reading tells us that “While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white.” On many occasions Jesus was provoked into revealing his splendour and majesty and here and now “ the veil of his humanity was lifted
In verses 34 and 35 we read “While he (peter) was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.” This is certainly the divine testimony, authenticated by a heavenly voice in the sky that truly Jesus was the son of God, the Messiah and soon to be the Saviour.
The transfiguration teaches us a lot, but can you imagine what it would have been like for the disciples? The visual aspect of it all is one thing but then to hear the voice of God validating in this manner would have been amazing for them.
A special prayer for Thursday
Heavenly Father, we come into your presence today and we bring to you our prayers for others – especially those in Beirut at this time. The pictures we have seen on our televisions screens have shocked and saddened us because of the devastation brought to the people who live there. We see how quickly their lives have changed and how quickly they are surrounded by loss – loss of loved ones, loss of homes, loss of friends, loss of community and neighbours. Everything that was familiar to them has been taken away and we confess before you that we cannot begin to know or understand how they are truly feeling at this time. We bring before you the rescue teams who have the harrowing task of sifting through the rubble in the hope of finding people alive. We pray for all the medical personnel in hospitals and pray that they will be given the equipment and medicines they need to treat the injured. We pray also that other countries in the world will be moved to give money and physical resources to help alleviate the suffering. We feel helpless in the face of something so huge and so remote from our own country, but we thank you that we can bring the most difficult situations to you – asking that you will bring healing, comfort, renewal and hope to the people who right now, think they have no hope and feel such loss. Our passage this morning speaks of your transfiguration – a time when you showed your glory to those closest to you – and they were left in no doubt that you were indeed the Son of God. We pray that something of your glory will be seen in that land, speaking to the people in their time of greatest need – Amen.
05 August 2020
Luke 23 v 32-49
Famous Last Words
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last.
47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
Many famous people have said famous last words on their death beds. It is said that Winston Churchill’s last words were “ I’m bored of all this”. All of which have been remembered because of their flippancy and sarcasm.
But on a more serious note, the last words of Christ have more to tell us, remind us and to reassure us than any celebrity in our lifetime. Jesus’s final words “ Father into your hands I commit my spirit,” tells us so much about the characteristics of the man especially when we think about what happened to him on the way to the cross.
On his journey to his crucifixion the people stood and insulted him, rulers sneered at him and soldiers mocked him. Even the criminal on the cross beside him teased him but Jesus kept his strength for his final words.
Nailed to the cross he shouted aloud “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And when he had said this, he breathed his last.
The first thing we should notice is Jesus's loud voice -- scarcely what one would expect from a man about to die. But Jesus seems determined that his final words be heard. His words are firm and confident.
Let's examine three aspects of these words.
First, Jesus speaks to God with intimacy. His time of desolation expressed by the Fourth Word is past. He prays to the Father as he has done throughout his ministry. For Jesus, death is no out-of-control accident. No matter how bleak the moment, he knows his Father is present with him to receive his spirit.
Secondly, Jesus entrusts himself to his Father. In Psalm 31:5 the word "commit" is the Hebrew verb pāqad" to entrust to someone for safekeeping, give over, entrust. As he lets go of this life, Jesus trusts his eternal destiny to the Father's everlasting arms.
Finally, Jesus speaks a word of surrender. He gives up his human life to his Father who gave it to him 33 years before. The word "spirit" is the common word pneuma, "breathing, breath of life
Jesus prays his final prayer with this kind of equanimity and peace because he knows the Father, and knows that there is life with the Father beyond death. As a devout Jew he has prayed these words as part of an evening prayer all his life. Now at the end of his life he prays them one last time -- and lets go of human life in order to embrace the Life that the Father has to offer in his own presence.
Today we pray that we too are given this trust to place our lives into the hands of God so that we can live a life today of confidence and trust. And as we look at what is happening around the world we can know that He knows us so well, every hair on our heads and loves us. Amen
04 August 2020
1st Peter 2 verses 11-17 Using Eugene Petersons The Message
11-12 Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cosy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
13-17 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.
True representatives of Christ
In my last year or so of my working life, I worked alongside people of many faiths. Muslims, Sikhs, Hindu and Jewish people. This suddenly made me aware of all the festivals and holidays that other religions hold and I always had to be mindful of other peoples faiths and needs.
Peter is reminding us that in this world where we live with God and other cultures we have to behave appropriately. In society today there is no place for prejudice and God is counting on us, as his children, to do his will while we pass through this earth.
While we might be free we are servants of God too and we should honour every single human being and while we love other believers we should honour The King of Love.
And while we are here on this earth we are representatives of Christ while mixing with other people, always reflecting his qualities and his gifts to us. And if we do this successfully I think Peter is telling us we might show other people a true reflection of being a follower of Christ. We then become an ambassador of God, serving him publicly, encouraging love and ignoring prejudice. Amen
03 August 2020
The living Stone and a chosen people
4 As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.’[b]
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,’[c]
‘A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.’[d]
They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
My dad had an allotment in Broomhill and there were two things he hated most about the allotment. One was the weeds (which he said he could control as they were visible) but the other was stones that were always hidden underneath the soil and he would hit them with his spade.
In this reading the word “stone” appears in this reading six times and the word “rock” is thrown in for good measure. Having said that Stone was a very important and evocative word in biblical terms.
The hope was that God would return to Zion and live forever in the temple. There was a long tradition that the temple would be rebuilt on the rock or the “cornerstone” ready for God to return. In the Old Testament, God had made a promise to send his son and to build a house where he will come to live forever.
But here Peter is saying that Jesus is the “stone” and the temple is being built “in” him.
Tom Wright reminds us “ if we find it hard to keep up with the bewildering scriptural references imagine what it must have been like for the pagans in Turkey being told this for the first time” We have the advantage and the joy of knowing that scholars have come before us and explain these things to us, as well as our ministers in church.
And through all this we can “ fasten to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the saviours love. Amen
02 August 2020
1 Peter 1 22- chapter 2v3
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a]23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”[b]
And this is the word that was preached to you.
2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Taste and see the goodness of God
I love watching cookery programmes on TV. One of the programmes I like is “ the corner shop cook off”. Basically the chefs are given £15 and they have to go to a local corner shop and get enough food for a three course meal. Of course they cut corners and buy an odd array of foodstuffs to make the food as interesting as possible. Given that they substitute things like passata for tomato ketchup and maybe use budget cheese instead of parmesan. The end product looks good but as I watch this programme I cannot be convinced about the food that I see on the screen because I cannot taste it. In food it has to be about the taste, the presentation might be good but the taste has to make it a winner.
How do you convey taste to someone just by reading words or watching on tv? At the end of this reading Peter uses the idea of “taste” as one of the things in Christian living that we have to experience. The taste that The Lord is gracious. Like a baby who is tasting its mother's milk for the first time you will want more and more. Along with this you will grow, and in this reading we are told we will grow in our salvation.
Christianity is not just about reading the scriptures, it's not just about wearing the correct clothes to the kirk and its not about singing the loudest when your favourite hymn is being sung. It's about all the ingredients that you collect and enjoy in your Christian journey, through the living and enduring word of God. It's about the spiritual milk that you need and enjoy that will make you stronger
The hymns remind us that:-
Taste and see, O taste and see,
taste and see the goodness of God.
Taste and see, O taste and see,
taste and see the goodness of God.
01 August 2020
1 Peter 1:10-21
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’[a]
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
A Visit to the Junk Shop
Tom Wright tells a story of a man who goes into a junk shop and sees a cracked and dusty old bowl. When he wiped some of the grime off the bowl he saw that it was beautiful underneath. He took it to the shop owner and agreed a price. The man took the bowl home and washed it carefully. It was beautiful. Not only that he had some decorative eggs that looked as though they were just made for this bowl and set the whole thing off as a beautiful ensemble. But the next day the shop owner turns up, he found some flowers that originally sat in the bowl and he would like it back as he had changed his mind.
But the man was not having any of it. He had washed and cleaned the bowl almost back to its original state, not only that he had given it a new and fresh purpose, it was rejuvenated.
Tom Wright says we are just like the bowl, under God we have been rejuvenated and given a fresh purpose in life. Verse 18 Peter says that
“you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors” and the word “redeemed” here is the key word. You see we are just like the bowl. We have been bought back. In some translations the word is “ ransomed”. At one point we had a different purpose but God came into the junk shop and paid for us. The price he paid was through the blood of His son Jesus Christ. Have a good day today. Amen
Back to Words for Life