July 26, 2014

Thy Kingdom Come - My Kingdom Treasures (Proper 17)

The readings for the past few weeks (Matthew 13) have been teaching us about the Kingdom of God. In the Parable of the Sower Jesus focuses on how people respond to the Word of God. In the Parable of the Weeds Jesus teaches us how to deal with evil. In the three parables for today Jesus is teaching us how important it is to be included in the Kingdom. He challenges us to be able to bring out treasures from our own experience of the Kingdom to share with others. Let me model this for you by bringing out three treasures from my study and experience of the Kingdom.

1. The treasure of the Bible as 'True truth' – is everyone really included?
My first kingdom treasure is a lesson learned long ago as I was reading the Bible. The Reading was about Isaiah - “setting his face like flint” in the face of opposition. Isaiah helped me understand what I was getting into in my preaching. Christian teachers often have to choose between either trying to please everyone; or confronting people with what the Bible actually says about self-sacrifice, loyalty, holiness and loving God. Biblical Christianity has been under attack for centuries by individuals who do not like this or that Biblical teaching. The supernatural Biblical worldview has often been compromised by academics and clergy who want to be ‘relevant to the modern scientific culture’. The Biblical teachings on sexual morality have also been compromised by clergy who wish to avoid conflict with various interest groups. This is a new thing. Historic Christianity proclaimed the Biblical teachings as a challenge to the culture of the time

July 24, 2014

Christans Have A Destiny As Children of God (Proper 16)

We live in a time when many people do not know who they are and where they are going. In contrast serious Christians know they are children of God and they are eventually going back to God. They also know that they have an enemy described in the Bible as Satan or the Devil; and a spiritual helper described as the Holy Spirit. Our lives are a struggle to overcome the temptations and deceptions of the enemy of our souls. The good news is that we are protected by God and guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. In the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus is giving us both wise advice and hope. The advice is to not get tangled up with evil people. The hope is the harvest, when we will go home to Jesus.

1. Christians have a destiny
Most of us spend a lot of time trying to figure out what we are supposed to be doing. The Parable of the Weeds reminds us of an obvious but important truth. Seeds grow into what they are intended to grow into. If you plant wheat, wheat is what you get. Last Sunday, in the Parable of the Sower, we were reminded how fragile and vulnerable this process is. The idea of an enemy was introduced as one of the many ways in which the seed of the Word of God in the Bible can be lost or prevented from growing. The Readings for today help us understand our destiny and the challenges we face on the way to that destiny. In Genesis (28.10-19) we are reminded that we are not alone. We follow in the tradition of Jacob who had an encounter with God. He was told that he had one God and that that God would protect him and bless him with land and children. His destiny was to live under the spiritual protection and blessings of the Covenant with Abraham. Our destiny is the same except we are also promised forgiveness, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and eternal spiritual life if we live out our Covenant.  In the Romans (8.28) Reading, the Apostle Paul refers to this as "the redemption of our bodies". The seed does not remain a seed. It dies and gives birth to something much greater. It has a destiny and that destiny is to become a child of God. The Good News is that as a child of God, we will inherit what the Father has - eternal spiritual life with God.

2. Christians have an enemy

July 10, 2014

Our Spiritual Birthright Is Life In-Christ (Proper 15)

A “birthright” is something you are entitled to because you were born under certain circumstances. Esau is the first-born son. He foolishly gives up his birthright of inheriting his fathers’ land and spiritual blessings. Our birthright as “Christians, “born again” in the power of the Holy Spirit, is eternal spiritual life, joined spiritually to Jesus Christ. Our lives are joined to His life by our love – our emotional attachment of faith. Our lives are a constant struggle to understand this and resist the temptations of our ‘natural self’ which can cause us to lose our spiritual birth-right.

1. The Parable of the Sower explains how we get our spiritual birth-right
A parable uses a simple visible activity to explain an invisible spiritual process. In this case the “seed” is the Word - the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ that is explained in the Bible. This good news is scattered everywhere, in every language and in every country. Everyone has an opportunity to read the Bible and make the effort to understand its meaning. Everyone can join a Bible Study group, church or fellowship where the meaning is explained.
·         The key is learning and understanding.
·         Understanding leads to a faith decision and being spiritually “born again”.