Shalom. As God invites us to embrace his message, may we see that extended through our life to others too.
Paul wrote to the church in Rome
Romans 1. 16: For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.
This power has been at work for ever since Jesus proclaimed it in word and deed. It is embodied through his church, it is empowered by his Spirit, it is illuminated by his Word and it is alive.
This power leads to changed lives, transformed people and hope for those who had lost it, were looking for it and desired it.
Jesus summated this gospel in Luke 4: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,
19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come…
He encouraged John the Baptist when asked if he was the Messiah in Matthew 11. 4 …, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.
How poor are we?
Stop and think about that and consider the reality that we’re in the top 5% of the worlds income simply because we live in NZ. But poverty takes many forms, and we can be poverty stricken in the midst of wealth if we forget to remember those other aspects of the gospel.
Matthew 22. 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.”40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
To love our neighbours; how does this really look in our lives? Let’s find out!
Shalom. It is a truth that God blesses what we give Him, so my question for all of us today is… What are we intending to give to God?
The best thing we can give God is ourselves. This is so profoundly simple, yet astoundingly difficult.
It sounds easy doesn’t it? Give yourself to God – how do I?
HOW do you give yourself to God? Do I sell everything and give it to the poor – that was encouraged in the encounter Jesus had with the rich young ruler – but if I do that wouldn’t that just make me one of the poor? Do I leave everything behind – just drop it all and follow Him? Some of the disciples did that when Jesus called them from their fishing business. So should I walk away from career, study and follow Jesus, maybe all the way to Africa?
So, how do YOU give yourself to God? After all I assume that most of you reading this have already decided to follow Jesus, so how do you do it?
I found a hint in Romans 12 – the message puts it this way – So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. (Rom 12:1)
How do you give yourself to God? By choosing to live for him – by making Him part of what we do, including Him in our way of life, saying grace before a meal, being conscious of His presence, by listening to Him. By choosing to try and do it His way.
Often we stands in awe of people who go overseas to ‘do mission’, and don’t get me wrong, we should honour them; but lets remind ourselves that what they do overseas is simply what we should try to do here; but often we don’t. Why, because we tell ourselves that it’s not normal, we’re not called, this is just normal life… RUBBISH!!!!
Normal is having God as part of everything you do, normal is practicing the presence of God with us, normal knows we’re made in the image of God and are called to reflect that image to a broken, hurting, hopeful world, and normal is being a Christian. If we look back at Genesis, we see Adam and Eve in normal relationship with God, walking through the garden of Eden in the cool of the evening, talking… what about – probably just what happened that day, what they’re thinking of doing tomorrow, asking God what He thinks… Scripture doesn’t specifically say.
But we know that they took their everyday, ordinary life…
How do I give myself to God? Everyday, daily seeking, talking, praying and listening…
Hope your week is ‘normal’.
Shalom. I hope that the peace of God invades each aspect of your heart and fills your life, infects your attitude and colours your actions.
What do you believe for the future? Is heaven a place you hope to end up in? Well, whatever your eschatological view on the end of time with regards to where we finish, either in a city on a recreated earth, or somewhere completely new, it seems that the consistent theme is that God is there, tangibly, in a way that our senses can be overwhelmed and sated fully by and our worship can be poured out as an offering. That sounds a lot like heaven to me…
I believe that what you believe for the future should, even must, determine how you act today. If you truly believe something, then it will affect how you react and behave. This is a huge truth for many of us to grasp and apply to our lives. If we do believe that God works all things for good for them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose, then it would be harder, though by no means unlikely, to be discouraged when things go belly up on you.
It should mean we are less surprised of persecution and struggle and more open to change and new opportunities, constantly seeking forward to discover the next thing God has for us. Unfortunately we can tend to reproduce God in our image and expect Him to conform to our culture and behaviour. This can be very subtle and deceptive. But this we can trust in. God is good. God is with us. God loves us. God, through His Son, has, is and will save us.
I was reflecting the other day on the verse in 2 Corinthians 4 7…
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We’re the jar and it’s what is inside that makes the jar special. In context, clay jars were used to contain pretty much everything, the modern version would be Tupperware. So because of their commonality, jars weren’t unusual to have around. In fact you wouldn’t look twice if you saw one. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t important, but in many ways, it means we need to be ‘humble’ about ourselves. The fact that God chooses to use us out of all the jars available should be humbling, also to remember we aren’t the only jar He uses and further, that He uses some of those jars in different ways.
Also, it doesn’t specifically say what the treasure is, simply that it’s treasure. So my treasure could be completely different to yours. Does that mean its better? Of course not! Whatever my treasure is, it’s my responsibility to allow it to shine Jesus through me.
I remember those Glade scent pots that freshened the air by allowing the scent to ‘leak’ out through the porous nature of the pots. That is a good picture to me of us with Jesus leaking out… 2 Cor 2 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.
To those who we bring death to, it may not be a bad thing as we may simply point them to aspects that they need to die to, or perhaps highlight their own bad smell that they’ve become used to. To those who we bring life to, it could be because there was no awareness that another aroma was possible.
So, if anyone tells you that sometimes being a Christian can stink, then simply agree with them, because there’s a scriptural truth in that.
Hope you have a smelly week and find that you are scent and sent by Jesus into your world to be different and full of grace, mercy and humility.
Shalom. May you enjoy the summer sun and warmth.
Rebecca and I have enjoyed the BBQ’s we’ve had at our place each Wednesday.
Next week is the last one we’ll be hosting for this season. Hope to see you there.
Hospitality is important and in many cultures it is imperative. Jesus makes a big issue of it… Matthew 25 where he separates the sheep from the goats could be viewed as the difference between being hospitable or not.
The primary gathering place of the church is the home… Zaccheus hosted Jesus… Mary and Martha had him at their table and that ‘certain man’ of Matthew 26:18… “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’”
The Latin root of hospital and hospitality means to heal… and when we invite people to eat with us, to become part of our lives, we offer an element of healing in our hospitality… you are welcome here, accepted and acceptable. The Greek word for hospitality compounds two words… love and stranger. So when you offer hospitality the challenge is present… we welcome those we know, but would we welcome strangers… but the act of welcoming people doesn’t mean they are strangers for long.
It seems like a long time ago but it was only a few years that most of you were strangers to Rebecca and I (some have simply dropped off the second r) and now you’re part of our church family.
Amazing how quickly things change.
Don’t forget to keep inviting people to share our table and meals… some have hosted Angel’s and didn’t know.