Posts

Showing posts from 2020

Glasses of water and the vulnerable missionary. Matthew 10:40-42

Image
Matthew 10.40-42Over the last two weeks we have been reading through Matthew 10

In Matthew 10.1-8 Jesus tells his first followers to preach the Kingdom of God and do the sort of things that happen when the Kingdom of God is near – healing sick people, casting out demons and raising the deadIn Matthew 10.16-39 Jesus speaks to them of the opposition that they can expectAnd in Matthew 10.40-42, he promises that whoever welcomes them and receives them -because they are prophets (those who speak the words of God), or righteous (those who live the kingdom of God), whoever even gives a glass of water because they are followers of Jesus, will not lose their reward. And verses 40-42 are closely linked to Matthew 10:8-15These first disciples, first missionaries, are to travel about Israel with nothing. No money, no bag, no change of clothing, and not even a staff.They are to go as they areThey are to wandering preachers, with nothing. They are to be completely dependent on God. For them, the lin…

Six reasons for hope in the face of persecution. Matthew 10.24-39

Image
Matthew 10.24-39This is a passage about courage, hope and not being afraid in the face of opposition.

Jesus has sent out his 12 disciples to preach the Kingdom of God, and to do Kingdom of God stuff.But he warns them that it will not be easy. They will suffer rejection and opposition because they are associated with him. People will think that they are betraying their communities, their families, their religion. They will hate them, say all kinds of untrue things about them and even want them dead. And Jesus in these verses gives them and us six reasons not to give in to fear, for hope in the face of persecution1. We are not on our own. ‘If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!’ (v25)When we experience hostility, we are only experiencing what Jesus experienced. They accused him of doing the work of the devil (that is what it means when they call him Beelzebul), and since we are part of his household, they will of cour…

The Kingdom of God

Image
Matthew 9:35-10:8
Three things from this passage1. It is about the Kingdom of GodMatthew 9.35: Jesus went about proclaiming the Good news of the Kingdom.Matthew 10.7: Jesus gives instructions to his disciples: ‘Proclaim the good news, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven has come near’. The Kingdom of God is a central theme, possibly the central theme, in the teaching of Jesus.  It was his big message.The Kingdom of God is near.      In the Old Testament we are told about the Kingdom of God, the rule of God.When the kingdom comes there will be a reordering of creation:
There will be no place for that which is evil or unclean
There will be no place for sickness or disease – no place for Covid-19
There will be no place for death
And prophets like Isaiah share with us a vision of a world of abundance, of freedom, of harmony (between people and people, people and God, people and creation – that is what those passages about wolves lying down with lambs, and and children playing over the adders nest are all a…

How do we live together well? 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

2 Corinthians 13.11-13How do we live together well?

After all we are all quite different. We have our own agendas and priorities, we invest our identities in different things – our families, countries, jobs, wealth, number of followers on Instagram. We have our own fears, likes and dislikes – whether that is films or music or what we find attractive and desirable. We live in different ways, eat different foods, have different expectations of what is good behaviour. We see things in different ways and we think in different ways.

And then we have the issue of our petty little egos and pride, of politics and power play, of trying to get my own way even if it means I trample over others

The Corinthian church struggled to live well together.

There were factions, there were bitter disputes about which group was the most spiritual, there were divisions between factions. There even appear to be the embryos of denominational splits – parties which grouped around an individual. There was snobbe…

The living water of the Holy Spirit. John 7.37-39

Image
John 7.37-39
Three verses – but there is so much here. 
Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit “Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive"
1. We receive the Holy Spirit when we come to Jesus, when we believe in him. ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink’ (John 7.37)
When we come to Jesus, then he will give us a glass with this life-giving water, and if we believe him, if we trust him, we will take that glass and we will drink it. 
I’ve been trying to think through what it means to come to Jesus, because Jesus says it so often – especially in John
The people he is speaking to, could literally go to him physically with their bodies. But that did not mean that they were going to him with their minds or their hearts. They could go intending to be entertained by him, laugh at him, criticise him, judge him, to condemn him. Many of them did. That is not coming to Jesus
We cannot go to him in the same way physically, but we…

'What does Jesus pray for us in heaven?

Image
John 17.1-11Jesus is reigning in glory.We are told that he is in heaven and is praying for us.And John 17 is one of the prayers that Jesus prays for us.It is the final prayer of Jesus before they arrest him and take him to be crucified.
He pours out his heart – his deepest desire – to God his Father. And what he prays for his disciples then – he prays for us now.SO WHAT DOES JESUS PRAY?He prays that we, his people, are protected so that we might be one.V11: ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one’. V21: ‘I ask .. that they may all be on. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us’V23: ‘I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one’.
We usually pray for protection from enemies, persecution, poverty, stress, shame, loneliness, sickness, sadness and things like that.But Jesus doesn’t pray that we will be protected from those things – at least not here. In fact, we are told that we will expe…

Do not let your hearts be troubled

Image
John 14:1-14


Do not let your hearts be troubled!
Jesus speaks these words after he has told his followers that he is going away and that they can’t come with him; He has also just told Peter, one of his first followers, that he – Peter – will deny him three times.
That is pretty devastating. These are people who have put their trust in Jesus and followed him for the last few years of their life. Their faith in Jesus, and their faith in themselves, is going to be radically tested.
Perhaps for some of us this whole Covid-19 thing has made us question faith – particularly if difficult things have happened. Maybe we have questioned Jesus – maybe we have been forced to question the integrity of our own faith. When it gets tough, when my own well-being is threatened, will I still live for him? Will I still put him first or will I just want to save my own skin?
But Jesus gives his followers and us several reasons why our hearts should not be troubled
1. Jesus reassures us that if he goes a…