All posts by ian

The Week That Divides Time in Two

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and we discussed the week known as Holy Week, or Passion Week. A week that literally divides time into two. The significance of this week in history cannot be over emphasised.

Hebrews 1:1-4 describes the two ages of time, and Matthew 21 is the account of Jesus entering Jerusalem the week before he was crucified. Here is my illustration of the division of our age, plus four ways that Jesus made it clear on Palm Sunday that He is King!

holy-week-pic

“I Am The KING.”

1. By riding on a donkey.   Gentle.   Zechariah 9:8-9

We follow the King …By extending to others His defence, righteousness, salvation, gentleness.

2. By cleansing The Temple.  Jeremiah 7:9-15. Isaiah 56:7

Kingdom of God is a nation gathering Kingdom, not an exclusive cult.

We follow the King  …By gathering nations for worship and prayer.

3. By healing the blind and lame.  Isaiah 35:3-6

We follow the King … By encouraging (no fear), and healing the sick!

4. By attracting praise from children.  Psalm 8:2

The LORD our lord, the King will be praised by everything & everyone,
even children, silencing God’s enemies.

We follow the King …By speaking out our faith in the awesome God.

In this age, there is a gentleness about God’s offer of salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ. When He returns or reappears at the end of the age, it will be too late to decide that He is King after all. Choosing now is good.

Revelation 19:11-16

A Good & Beautiful Community is A Reconciling Community

From Matthew 18:21-35 we read and discussed the following verses, and questions.

Feel free to engage in the conversation here.

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.[a]

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 gold[b] was 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, canceled 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.[c] 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 canceled 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.”

  1. What is it that stops us from receiving God’s grace?
  2. How and where am I hiding weakness? How is it hurting me & others?
  3. What imperfections in others and in circumstances, can I work on accepting and loving? 

 forgiveness

A Peculiar Community Are We.

When we explore what kind of community the church is, we find scriptures like 1 Peter 2:9-10 lay out some wonderful characteristics and a truly awesome identity in God…

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.” 

We see God’s identity on His people as:

An elect citizenship, relatives. An order of people devoted to the King. A pure ethnicity, physically, emotionally and spiritually. A peculiar ‘belonging-to-God’ people. A “mercied” community.  Wow!

So, what do you think of this statement?  “While churches & Christian communities don’t have exclusive rights to the virtues of love, truth, service, forgiveness, hard work .. we are different based on ‘why’ and ‘how’ we love, speak the truth, serve, forgive, work hard etc.”

Why and How do Christian communities/churches behave differently?

The Golden Rule, It’s a Good & Beautiful Life.

Because it’s sooooo important, we decided to review the “Living Without Condemning Others” teaching, and summarise the main points.

What does “condemning” actually achieve?

  1. Creates a hostile culture. When Jesus says that we too will be judged, this is not saying we’ll be judged by God.  Condemnation from one person creates a culture of hostility and retaliation and judgement. He warns us – if you do it, it’ll be done to you. Don’t start!
  2. It prevents us from helping. The whole joke of having a log in your eye, is a humorous way of saying “when you condemn people in a so-called effort to help, you lose the ability to see or percieve things properly. We can’t help in that state.
  3. It doesn’t nourish or edify. Our “sacred” “pearls” are indigestible. People, no matter how bad one might think they are, cannot eat pearls! Jesus really was making his points in a strong and laughable way.

So what does Jesus teach for living without condemning others?

  1. Refuse to condemn. V.1,6.  He calls us to obey Him and resolve in our minds and hearts to live just and loving lives. “Do not judge…” for the reasons he states (above) – just DON’T.
  2. Ask, seek, knock. Vv 7-11.  The Christ-like response to those irritating or bad people? Pray for them, seek good for them, make genuine efforts to find out what the real problem is, and do good.
  3. The golden rule. V. 12 This is wonderfully simple and has equipped the world profoundly for two millenia! Just think first – How would I like to be treated?

This is a real and practical issue. We all struggle with judgement, and hurting others by passing unjust judgement and comment is natural but ugly. Jesus’ way is the way of love, empathy and humilty. And it takes real strength and guts. Christ in us makes living without condemning others possible.

It’s  good and beautiful life 🙂    What do you think?

Matt

 

Living Without Condemning Others – The Good & Beautiful Life.

What does it mean to “judge”?

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2, (keep reading 5-6).

Once again, Jesus takes us on a journey of turning everyday challenges into life-giving moments. At church yesterday discussing this, we realised that this truth literally changes us forever!

There are at least two words for “judge” used in the Bible. In this case Jesus’ word is very negative, it means – “to decide, try, condemn, sentence.”

The other “judge” word that’s positive is “to make an objective, equitable, just & innocent assessment.” We live daily making innocent assessments. These are the ones that keep us healthy and our communities alive and well 🙂

In a way, Jesus is saying “Don’t judge wrongly, judge rightly.

What do you think the “plank in your own eye” refers to?

We understand it from the context to be “condemning judgment of others.” In other words Jesus is saying that to condemn other people in an effort to help them, correct them, or fix anything, is as ridiculous as offering to remove a speck, when you yourself have plank in your eye! Funny.

So how do we help each other? How do we live in a messed up world and help people?

v.5 Remove your judgmental attitude & approach, then you can help.
v.6 If you treat people like that, they’ll reject your “advice,” and possible attack you back.
v.12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Empathy, not condemnation, will allow us to help each other, and live Jesus’ good and beautiful life. 

Be encouraged,

Matt

P.S. We’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you think?

Living Without Worry – the Good & Beautiful Life.

Last week I had the most beautiful thought. Imagine if the church was known as the go-to place when you felt overwhelmed with worry!  I know this sounds grand, but Jesus really does offer us the key. Our time together at church on Friday night was spent thinking and talking and praying for this in our lives. We’re currently discussing our way through Jesus’ sermon on the mount, and this week we read Matthew 6:25-34.

It went like this: First we asked ourselves these questions –

  1. —Why do you think we entertain worry? Why do we let ourselves keep worrying? —
  2. Does worry helps us control our circumstances?
  3. What do you think of this statement: “Jesus tells us not to worry because he wants us to give up our feelings of control.” ?

Our answer to #1 was agreed – we live with an illusion of control.

To #2 we had to distinguish between care and concern, and worry. Care and concern help motivate us to come up with ideas to influence our circumstances for good.

Worry is excessive concern, and is another word for anxiety. It achieves nothing in our lives but stress. It’s bad for our health and it stops us from being creative, and looking for God’s solution.

To #3 we basically agreed. The more we worry, the more we focus on ourselves and our problems. When we choose to give up that focus, we are free to look for Jesus’ way through the trials of life.

Jesus key for tackling worry is this: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”

I take this to mean –

  • Make trusting the King of Kings the highest priority in our lives.
  • Make the principles of the Kingdom of God our first concern (God is the all-knowing all-seeing, all-powerful creator and Father of all. He loves us and knows our needs. While he doesn’t promise ease and comfort for all, he does promises to save all who call on his name.)
  • Make the question “What is Father God doing in this situation?” our first question.
  • Look at all our troubles and trials through the lens that – God can and will work in them for good!

Seeking the Kingdom is the key to many of life’s struggles – to the whole sermon on the mount. Worry is not an expression of care. Nor does worry prevent pain, it makes us anxious and stops us from seeking God and trusting him.

I offer one more piece of biblical nourishment that I’m personally practicing now as I wrestle with my own temptations to worry. From the book of Lamentations (3:21-24)

This I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, The LORD is my portion; Therefore I will wait for him.”

To seek the Kingdom of God is to “call to mind” God’s love, unfailing compassions and great faithfulness. To “say to myself” God is great enough for me and my life. I will trust him. This is good self-talk, and it’s great conversation.  This is seeking the Kingdom first. Wherever we are – this will help us in our worries and in life.

Feel free to post your comments and questions..

Be encouraged,

Matt

Church this Friday – 24th October 2014

Hey Good and Beautiful people,

I hope your week is going goodly and beautifully! (no comments from English teachers please 🙂 )

Really looking forward to being together this Friday 24th October – at our place (Perrys’). We’ll continue worshiping the Good and Beautiful God, and delving into the topic “Living without worry.”

So bring your beautiful self, and your good suppers….

See you here. 7 p.m