Author: Adrian Kitson (page 1 of 23)

Famous Last Words – The Last Meal

Sermon, Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019

Seven Words from the Cross – “Today you will be with me in Paradise”

John 13:4-14, Mark 10:17-27

After viewing The Rich Young Ruler

Pastor Adrian Kitson

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’

Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’

‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’

Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’

‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’

10 Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. 13 ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am.

Can you feel his burning anger? Why is this young man so upset? He is looking at that thief on the next cross from Jesus, and he is white hot as he hears these words that pour out gifts of God on a person who has been trying to steel them from others! “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’, says the dying Jesus (Luke 23:43)

This has happened before…..

Remember? (Mark 10:17-27)

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

18 ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.”[a]

20 ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’

He has it all but feels like he missing it all. Why so?

This young man is wealthy in two ways.

  1. He has great moral wealth. He is an honest man who has integrity. He is a good guy: probably a loving husband, good young father, who works hard and is fair in business.
  2. He has great financial wealth. In his day and even in ours, this moral wealth goes together with financial wealth. Obviously he is rewarded by God for his moral wealth. He is obviously blessed because of his good life. Wealth is an obvious sign that he is good. This guy is the ideal person to whom any religious leader would point as The Guy we all should aspire to be.

So good is he that he is even willing to concede that he is still missing something. He asks the Rabbi, “What do I lack?  What else do I need to do to be very good and get it all, Jesus? Whatever it is I will do it. Just tell me what I need to DO”.

With a moved spirit, Jesus says he is like a camel trying to get through the eye of a tiny needle.

Like so many who meet Jesus, he is confronted with the reality that even his best is not good enough – or even more – his goodness, or the thief’s badness, is not the thing that determines getting into Paradise with The Almighty.

This is most annoying for the hard-working good people who strive so hard to be so together in life, and absolute paradise for the unravelled thieving person.

How about you? Which one are you? Annoyed at God or singing his praises?

Jesus smashes this person’s two basic beliefs about life in God. This young man is looking for this final thing HE needs to DO; this final rung to climb that will get him through to the pearly gates based on two wrong assumptions;

Christianity is something he can add. This man thinks that life in Jesus depends on adding God in to YOUR life (as if it is your life alone). The theory goes that if you add in enough God-stuff, do enough holy stuff, then you get the God-reward.

He finds out that life with Jesus has nothing to do with simply adding in something God into your life. The thief was not successful at adding in much God-stuff and was given paradise with God!

Life with Jesus is not something add into YOUR life. Christianity is His life in yours. Jesus explodes inside of you and makes you altogether new, despite your goodness or your badness; whether       you are a self-sufficient, well liked achiever or a nobody with nothing and non-one – like that thief in his dying hours.

Jesus GIVES you life as pure gift. Jesus gives this thief what he could never steal! Jesus offers what this ‘together young man’ could never earn by being ‘together’ enough. Life is Jesus’ to give, not anyone’s to take.

You cannot steal Jesus’ life by being very, very good on your own terms or the world’s terms, or by being very, very bad and shunning the world and all its terms.

You think that there is one more thing you can do to get it all, one more rung, one more sacrifice, one more step. No way. Christianity adds you! Jesus includes you. You are not in Paradise already with Jesus because you were good enough for it but because he has given it as he did to that thief.

Christianity is something he can do. “What good thing should I do?”, he asks. “There is only One who is truly good”, says Jesus.

 Jesus asks him to do something totally impossible: give away everything he has. Why? To make it clear to all that “You have not, will not and actually cannot ‘do’ Christianity”.

That is the point of the impossible request made of a person who thinks they have done it all. You cannot ‘do’ your relationship with the Son of God because it is a relationship in which he ‘does’ you; he resurrects you.

This life in Christ is not a transaction, a sale, a step to achieve for your own life on your own terms. It is total resurrection to a whole new life of forgiveness and love in him.

Friends, I am not sure where you are at this Maundy Thursday – angry at God for not rewarding you enough for all your hard work; grieved the news that you will never be good enough to get it all or standing accused of being a nobody and a nothing by others or yourself.

You might feel like you could not have bled a drop of goodness that you have not had to steel from God, so stingy has he been to you.

You may feel like God is calling you a thief as you have been trying to earn; trying to steel all his blessing for your happy life.

You may feel like a freeloader who is just not able to get it all done and earn what you need.

You may feel like you have been ripped off working for God all these years only to see all these new people; these strangers, these people with different faces, values, different names, different shapes, be let into the kingdom with you!

However you feel, you have a moment to decide as the Teacher comes close: will you be Peter who protests against this offensive foot washing, or will you welcome it fully with head hands and feet as Peter eventually did?

Will you hold your ground and continue the lie that you can make your life better; fuller; more useful and meaningful and just ‘add in’ the church stuff to keep it all in place or will you simply throw your lot in with this very bad man on the next cross and say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”?

Whether you speak that prayer from the heart or whether you maintain your stand, there is hope.

The young wealthy man goes away grieved, and he is angry at the grace of Jesus, but he can still return at any time. You can return now.

It is so hard for a self-sufficient, “together” kind of person to receive him. It is like a camel trying to go through that tiny eye in the needle.

Who would you rather be tonight; the thief with nothing to give and everything to receive or the self-sufficient man with everything to lose?

‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

‘Jesus, wash not only my feet but my hands and my head as well!’

Famous Last Words from The Cross

Hope to see you with us at Easter sometime.

Get the Donkey

Palm Sunday, Sunday April 14, 2019, St Petri.

Luke 19:28–40

28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” say, “The Lord needs it.”’

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’

34 They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’[a]

‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’

40 ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’

The disciple admitted he had ‘trust issues’ with Jesus. I get what he is saying.

Trust is hard for lots of reasons. It is hard to trust when we cannot see why something needs to happen that we don’t understand – like taking a donkey from a stranger for something we are not quite sure about.

It is hard to trust when we have been let down in the past. We did not like the feeling or where it led. We find it hard to trust because it means placing our destiny in someone else’s hands and those hands may not come through.

But what about spiritually? We find it hard to trust the freedom, faith and future of this new King of all kings, Jesus, for two reasons. 1. He is not like the kings we know or aspire to be, and 2. because we are all rule followers at heart.

Jesus is not your average king! He is different. He rules without rules dominating the ruling. What dominates in his ruling are not keeping the rules to keep the king happy but receiving the King’s gifts of love. He rules by freely forgiving, undeserved serving and lavish giving.

We find this hard to believe; hard to trust that he could mean what he says and do what he promises, to this degree and in this way.

This is because in our hearts we are rule keepers; rule makers. We actually want rules, even if we say we don’t. We need rules and we walk to their beat, whether we try and keep them all by being very good and expecting everyone else to be so too, or rebel against them as we be our own rule unto ourselves, and demand everyone else follow our own rules. We are rule shaped people.

Like going under the knife or going to an unknown place or meeting unknown people or putting ourselves into a position where we are taking on something new, we have “trust issues”, as the disciple here put it.

I would have wondered about ‘borrowing’ this donkey too! I can just imagine constable plod being quite unsatisfied with my seemingly lame excuse for stealing a donkey, saying “Because the Lord needs it”!

But other people, like professional lawyers and teachers of the rules of God (Pharisees) as well as local power brokers who had a lot to lose if they lost their grip on power also have trust issues. The more you have, the more you have to lose; the more rules you make the more rules you have to enforce; just ask any autocrat or mafia Don!

Strange people we are: In this Palm Sunday account, some people are faithful followers finding it hard to be directed by Jesus into an unsafe place (disciples). Other people; the Pharisees, who actually live in a very unsafe place when it comes to God’s acceptance of them, want to stay in that graceless place of fear, so much that they want to push the grace of Jesus out of their face.

And what about everyone else? The crowd here seem to be somewhere in the middle but very, very fickle. The crowd welcome this strange ‘king” with shouts heavy with long awaited victory hope at first, and then within a week, send up the violent unjust cry to get rid of this disappointing king as they yell, “Crucify him!”.

Easter is coming. It is coming for all three kinds of people; the faithful, the fearful and the fickle. Where are you at? Are you the faithful follower feeling unsure, or the adamant skeptic not giving an inch because of fear, or the fickle one who will trust anything that might fix your issues, until something or someone else turns up with a better offer or it looks like it just won’t work?

Whoever you are, can you see that something is happening? Something is happening that will transform our faith, our fear and our fickle following. We are here and you are here, and God’s Spirit is here, and Easter is coming.

Better still, can you see that God has been making good things happen for us a long time now? Can you see the font and the faces and the food of his Word on offer today?

Seeing what he has done and is doing helps us with any trust issue we may experience. These disciples eventually see what is happening; what this man of love; this strange new king is doing and that enables them to trust him.

Can you see something is happening as the King rolls into our lives again – albeit on a donkey?

Whether we are the follower unsure of the direction we seem to be being given by Jesus, or the cynic who is fearful of trusting this king who is upsetting our little world with his freedom and love which is undoing all the conventions, expectations and the very way we are all shaped, or whether we are the fickle crowd who just want some relief from grinding poverty of means or  body or spirit and will switch allegiance to get it, the issue is always trust.

The question always is, “Will I trust him?”, “Will we trust his direction when we don’t know why, and we cannot see where it will lead”?

This strange King will go on to earn our trust by his faithful, undying love for us. He will keep all the rules perfectly out of love (not fear) for those who could never keep them. He will willingly be wrongly accused and unjustly executed for all those who could not, would not or never knew that they could trust him.

This Servant King is speaking from the other side of his grave now. He says to you who may be faithful, fearful or fickle;

The Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,

    to know the word that sustains the weary.

He wakens me morning by morning,

    wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

The Lord has opened my ears;

    I have not been rebellious,

    I have not turned away.                                                  (Isaiah 50: 4-5)

 

Whether you feel unsure as to what Jesus is asking you to do or cynical about who he is and what he is doing for you, or just needing some relief from all that is getting on top of you, he has the words that sustains you in all of it.

He is waking you up every morning and especially on Easter morning so you can trust him with your ears as you listen to his word for you.

He has not turned away from you. He has not turned away from his Father and yours.

So, who are you going to trust for faith, friendship, full love and full life?

See what’s happening this week. Go get his donkey. Without it, the rest won’t happen.

 Help him into your city; into your heart and mind; your friendships; your work.

Follow him into Easter. You will see again. You will see that he will do it all, say it all and give enough for trust to be possible for the faithful, the fearful and the fickle.

If you are going to trust anyone, it is him, right?

Leave her alone

Sermon, Lent 5C, Sunday April 7, 2019, St Petri.

John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b] He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

I love being part of celebratory meals. Birthday meals, meals celebrating the end of medical treatment or the end of Harvest or Vintage, or a milestone for someone. Good friends, good gifts from God, good life, good food and wine…..

That is what these three siblings, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were doing: Throwing a thankyou meal in honour of Jesus. He had just done the unimaginable. He had resuscitated a dead man. And here he is, Lazarus, at the table enjoying and hosting this thankyou meal.

Martha serves the way Martha serves. She gets the catering and the house under control for this fine gathering. It is her way and it is a good way. Lazarus is at the table with Jesus and the disciples and other locals. He is a living testimony to the grace and power of this man whom they are honouring this Saturday night at the end of Sabbath day.

But Mary. Where is she? What’s her part? We are going to find out…..and it will make us squirm…..or jump for joy.

It must have been the smell that first drew their attention. They know smells. They smelled death just before this. Death stunk as Lazarus came out of the four-day tomb. Now the smell is sweet – sweet precious and very expensive oil imported from far away India.

She has a flask about the size of a soft-drink can and kneels at Jesus feet while he is reclining on his side at the low table with Lazarus and all the others. Mary pours this $25,000 bottle of perfume on Jesus’ feet.

If that is not enough to stop the chit-chat, then what she does next must have created a deaf silence with unspoken questions, feelings, wonderment and even anger just bursting to break out.

Mary weeps. Are they tears of thankfulness and joy or tears of grief anticipating what’s coming?

Using the precious perfume is over-the top. The tears are arresting. But then the next part of her serving is risky and offensive. She let’s down her hair in full public view (a real no-no for the culture) and uses her own hair to dry Jesus’ feet.

Mary is serving with her very self, her whole self, at great cost to her name but little regard to what anyone thinks.

Someone has to say something about this. It will be Judas. This is too much. This is pure waste. This is irresponsible spending. This is unnecessary devotion. How much could $25,000 do for the many people in this town who have got nothing and no hope of ever having any real life. There is no Centrelink here!

I can see Judas’ logic. I suspect you can too. But he is missing something. He is missing the main thing and the main thing is beyond logic. He is missing Jesus’ value, Jesus’ place, Jesus’ grace and hope.

Judas wants what Jesus can give him (money on the side) but he does not want Jesus himself. He wants the good stuff without the relationships. He wants the blessing without the following and learning. He wants the kudos from being around the king of kings without the suffering of the king of kings and a life of unfettered devotion to him.

John says as much as he reports Judas’ fixation on money and theft that goes with it. Of course, Judas will in a few days from now make about $1,000 for selling Jesus out. Quite a contrast the ‘all-in’ devotion to Jesus shown by Mary (and maybe Martha and Lazarus). ‘Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also”, Jesus said.

“So Judas”, Jesus says, “Leave her alone”. He could have said more about what they all knew about Judas, but he doesn’t….not yet. That will come….

Judas, leave her alone for three reasons

  1. Verse 8b: Leave her alone, because you do not always have me with you.

Mary knows the preciousness of Jesus’ presence and what he has meant for her and her siblings, especially her alive brother, Lazarus. She is right to give her all in devotion to me. Leave her alone Judas. She knows my high value; my grace, my forgiveness, my love and my power and how it makes all things new and brings hope beyond human hope to living now.

       2. Verse 8a: Leave her alone, because the poor you always have with you.

Judas, care for the poor, don’t dismiss them. But something is about to happen that is unique, world-changing, world-beating and person transforming.

God is close. God is acting. God is moving. God is here and this is very special. Your heart is wrong Judas. Your heart is out of kilter with my heart and purpose and it will kill you. It always does. Leave her alone Judas. Her heart is in step with my heart and purpose and this will give her life. It always does.

       3. Verse 7: Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. That is, leave her alone and don’t hinder her from keeping her love and wonder and joy in the face of my death.

In just a week’s time, she will need to treasure me on the day of my burial. She has been overjoyed at my power at her brother’s grave, and I want her to be overjoyed at the day over my own grave coming soon. Leave her alone Judas. Don’t infect her with your fixation on easy money and false piety.

So, who are you at the moment – fixated on the many important things that keep the family, the career, the well-being on the road or ready to give your life away on Jesus?

I know what it is to get fixated on the many issues of life. I know that it is dry. I know that vintage has been very limited. I know that we need a wet winter but it seems we may not get one this year. I know that many people are wondering what next summer will bring and who will go to the wall, who will lose the job, who will struggle…… You’ve got to think about that and make adjustments. That is the responsible thing to do.

But friends, we will always have these issues with us. There will always be money issues, people issues, well-being issues, marriage issues, family issues, climate issues, government issues and etc.

I believe the Spirit is calling us to want Jesus for real and trust him in all of it. He is calling us to do our thanks to the Lord as Mary did despite the cost, despite the misunderstanding friend or family member or society; despite current circumstance.

Easter is coming. It is OUR time of the year. It is when Mary will finally experience the presence not only of the earthly Jesus, but the glorified Jesus and she will never be the same. She will know life to the full in and beyond the bills and the fights and the problems and the concerns and the dollars or lack of. That’s the gift of this kind of devotion. We receive much more then we give!

Will you stick with the concerns of the world and family and business and career and etc or get on your knees and give yourself to him again in thanks and love for his love and power already at work in you this Easter.

Will you ask him to show you his worth to you and that your life is new this Easter. Will you hear his Famous Last Words from the cross and know the joy and the hope of Jesus that will make Judas redundant in you.

Yes, be quiet, Judas, because it’s your kind of mindset that would stand by Jesus’ grave and say: So much for that Messiah. So much for that way to succeed. So much for that way to get rich.

So, you be quiet, Judas, and let Mary and us keep this same love and hope when we stand by Jesus’ grave soon or we stand at each other’s grave whenever that happens.

Friends, be lavish with your devotion to Jesus this Easter because we have all died with Jesus in the font and been raise to his life purely and only because of his grace and his power.

Leave me alone, Judas. Stay with me Jesus.

 

Easter is nearly here -You’re welcome @ St Petri

NEW VIDEO RESOURCE – In the Basement

Hello everyone.

 

We are pleased to announce a new series of videos called

In the Basement. 

Conversations about things that matter

These are conversations that matter on four parts of our lives we all have to deal with: Fear, Anxiety, Shame and Guilt.

Doctors’ Noel Due and Kirsten Due talk about these things from a psychological, medical and biblical view in a relaxed and non-judgmental way.

Go here to view these excellent videos https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdQ7kCgDfjYziC1WKZJXZ1Yx-dbkHGfTP

 

God’s New Normal (Hope response to tragic death, and terror in Christchurch NZ)

Sermon
3rd Sunday in Lent, March 24, 2019

Isaiah 55:1-13
‘Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labour on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendour.’

6 Seek the LORD  as he is able to be found;
call on him  as he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the LORD.
9 ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Friends, I suspect that, like me, you might have been struggling with thoughts: the thoughts behind the murderous events of last week in Christchurch and that more local struggle to make sense of the tragic loss of people in the Barossa these last weeks.

In Christchurch, surely it was pure evil thoughts – brutality and cold murder. Here, it is just the grip of death all around us – tragic death, destroying life, love, family, community.

On both counts – the evil and the tragic death, it feels like things we hold as things that are always true and real and trustable are no longer the same – we are shaken.

We need some good news from God. We have it, I believe. The prophet Isaiah has some words that fall straight from heaven to our ground in our time. I hear them as words from God in these times that challenge this ‘new normal’ and show us his much better normal for people of faith in Christ.

These words from Isaiah are spoken to people to a people who have not only lost loved ones, even in tragic circumstances, or to a nation who has suffered an horrific single attack on its innocent people.

This nation has been forcibly removed from its home by a foreign power. These people can no longer live in their homes or their country. Everything they thought was immovable, dependable, rock-solid, true and unshakable has been undone, crushed into the sand and lost. The Jerusalem temple is in ruins, as is the city. The land is desolate and unoccupied and a long, long way away – a mere memory getting fuzzier as the years role on and the shape of the new land and life take hold.

The big question on their minds surely must have been, “Where is God now?”. Either Yahweh was not as great as he said he was or they believed him to be (because he was defeated by the god of Babylon – Morduch), or, Yahweh just does not care anymore. Their sins are too many and now they are resigned to this never ending aloneness and dislocation.

If either is true then why bother with belief, with Scripture, with prayer, with worship. They can’t worship anyway. There is no temple. They cannot fulfil their vows of sacrificing and offering animals and goods and they cannot receive God’s blessing in worship. Besides, life in Babylon is not that bad. You can go to the ballet, the theatre, eat OK food, live in a house, have a job and raise children. …

So complete is the loss that the life of oppression, slavery, worship of pagan gods and monarchy is beginning to seem normal. The evil is complete. It is complete because it is no longer recognized. Evil and false worship has become ‘the new normal’.

But God’s got a whole other ’normal’ to show them. God is not lost, not absent or uncaring at all. His preferred and better future in his better country is also not lost.

‘Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

From receiving the staples of bread and water to the luxury items of wine and milk, God’s giving is overwhelming free gift. This is an exquisite free lunch with bottles of Grange, as many as you want, all on the house. Deeply satisfying for you, and you don’t need to earn it, achieve it, purchase it. This offer of a life beyond the ‘new normal’ is full and free and deeply satisfying.

But how do you “come” to this party of joy? How do you ‘return’ home? How do you receive this finest fare for truly living?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.

You ‘eat’ by listening. You receive the gifts of goodness by the hearing of the Words spoken. You leave the evil and the loss by the ear tuned to this Word from God. This invitation is spoken to be heard and received in the heart through the ears.

What is the best news in the good news of this invitation? Covenant: new covenant: new rock-solid, immovable, dependable relationship of love with the Creator saving God, based on what he says, not what we know.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.

It used to be a covenant with just David and his family. Now it is a covenant with all God’s people. And staggeringly, even more.

6 Seek the LORD as he is able to be found;
call on him as he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Did you hear it? To whom is this new free deal offered? Even the ‘wicked’, the ‘unrighteous’, the ‘sinful’! Both those who have given up on God and those who have never known him are now invited to this great home coming banquet of the food of life – forgiveness, reinstatement, acceptance, inclusion, belonging, future.

If you don’t believe me folks, then hear this.

8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.

“Declares’ who? ‘Declares the Lord”. This is all God. It is his decision, not Isaiah’s or any other person’s decision. This new future is God’s initiative, his power, his words, his doing. His words are his doing. What he does is what he says and what he says is what he does. When he speaks it happens and it has happened to you.

Jesus, the new David and the new Israel has risen to rule forever and for all after suffering the worst murder in history and rising from the deepest grave there ever was – hell itself.

Jesus is our ‘new normal’ now. He is our home. He is our temple. His sacrifice is enough for all of us. Our worship is not a sacrifice but a banquet he hosts – and it is good bread – The Bread of Life giving us life – like Guinness to the Irish; ‘mother’s milk”!

Friend, leave your ‘normal’ and come to his. He has drunk the bitter cup to the dregs to give us the sweetest and best wine for life; the new wine of forgiveness and hope – even amid evil and loss. He has not ruled us in terror or taken us over by brute force. He has served us with relentless love and still does. The new Kind David is not a scare monger but a servant lover of all.

So, we now pray for our enemies and embrace the stranger and the sinner without fear, but love; his love at work in us. We pray for the Islamic community and speak of this Jesus and his great love for us all. We pray for and serve broken families and grieving friends in Jesus’ name and power.

But there is that question to which we all need to respond:

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labour on what does not satisfy?

If God’s new normal is this great banquet of acceptance for broken, hurting, grieving and even violent, uncaring murderous people, can we still keep on living in our ‘normal’ here in Babylon?

Will the food, the wine, the houses, the education, the land, the vines, the concerns and goings on of this life in the Valley be too much to let go of to eat this choice food and live in this wonderful community of joy?

Friend, in the loss, the questions and the feeling all at sea, come to this banquet, there is a place fort you. It was won for you by the Saviour. He has paid your ticket in his blood. His forgiveness cost him everything to give but costs you nothing to receive.

Leave Babylon, even if hard to do and come home. Come to the King, his food, his drink, his communal banquet. Don’t stay in the ‘new normal’. Do what the NZ Prime Minister said she was going to do:

“You (evil, terror, death, loss) may have chosen us — but we utterly reject and condemn you”

And how?
We reject you (evil, terror, death, loss), because Jesus has been utterly rejected and condemned by us, and yet still loves us. His grace is now our ‘new normal’…. and we have to live it.

tempted?

Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Sunday March 10, 2019, St Petri. 

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone.”[b]

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.’

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”[c]

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

‘“He will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”[d]

12 Jesus answered, ‘It is said: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”[e]

13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

I don’t like temptation. I want to give it up for Lent! But I don’t think that is possible.

Temptation is to be enticed by circumstances or your own ideas or passions or someone else’s to do something that you find attractive but know to be wrong or unwise; doing or saying what seems good but is actually destructive of yourself, your relationship with the Lord and others.

EG. Speeding: I know it is dangerous but I am running late and……. The Silent Treatment: I feel angry and I know that withholding kindness and love hurt but I was right! The damage continues ….. I know I should not mention the Grand Final result from last year’s AFL season again, but……

Here is Jesus right in the thick of this temptation.

As his mission gets underway he is led into a 40-day journey into the place of danger, demons and struggle: the desert.

Satan is right there trying to derail the mission with three things: Food when hungry, more power when weak, and crazy recklessness for no good reason.

First the food. Satan tries the tactic of using human physical need to derail and destroy Jesus and his mission.  The physical need is hunger. Jesus is very hungry – 40 days hungry! Luther calls this first temptation one of misfortune.

When we are at our neediest Satan simply offers the ‘bread’ we think we need that will fix the need quickly.

When we are hungry for food, for better health, for youthfulness, for mental wellness and the like, the Evil One uses our physical need by offering what looks very good when we are needy and vulnerable but ends up being destructive of our relationship with the Lord and each other. Satan’s ‘bread’ always seeks to turn us against God’s ‘bread’ = Gods’s ways for living life in God’s provision and promises.

If we go for other ‘bread’, we forsake God’s promises for our hunger which are more solid, trustworthy, last longer and are way better for us in the long run. Like a moth to that cosy bright comforting flame on a summer’s night, we get fried.

Satan wants you to believe that your relationship with Christ is dependent on met needs of the body and economic circumstances rather than God’s promises; God’s ‘bread’; this “Bread of Life” – Jesus Christ.

When we belief that if I am well fed I am loved and blessed by God and if I am not, I am not, our objective then becomes getting our needs of body and money met anyway we can.

So, we place a bet, have an affair, find ourselves addicted to any physical kind of fulfillment. We cut corners in business, cheat the tax office, don’t paying people properly, by many means, keep ahead of the pack at school or work etc.

Jesus response to the temptaion of giving up on him in misfortune? “People shall not live on bread alone.”

Our very existence comes from the Word of God; the promises of God; the Living Bread facing this temptation for us out there in the desert. Our blessing, acceptance and full life before God is not based on how much bread we have or don’t have. We are totally dependent on his bread, his Bread of Life – Jesus.

Hmmm, that did not work. Time for another tack. Satan goes to what Luther calls temptation in prosperity. Satan offers supreme wealth and possession of everything, control over everyone, power and money to burn. He attacks us with wealth, ease, comfort and honour.

And why is this so effective? Because, within us is this constant drive to always want more. With abundance we get bored. We are tired of the same food, same partner, same job, same clothes, same technology and just want something else, something more. We find it really hard to trust that God’s enough for us is enough for us.

Strange people we are! When we are without, we run away from it and seek abundance: when we have abundance, we run from the abundance we have in the search for more. Whatever God does for us, is never right or enough!

See where Satan loves to get us – a bottomless pit of hunger, self-reliance and unbelief that will destroy our relationships and our bodies and everything else!?

Jesus response to the temptation to leave him in times of prosperity “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only”.

We have the Bread of Life on offer all the time. That is the Bread that sustains us when we have bread or we don’t. Worship is receiving God’s bread of forgiveness and healing, teaching and life that helps us live with faith in joy in the abundant times and the empty times. Here together, he saves us from all this self-destruction and the pain and hunger it causes in our relationships and whole community.

So, another ‘fail’ for Satan. One more tack to try. One of more intensity and possible damage.

Luther calls this the temptation of tempting God.  Satan calls Jesus to throw himself down from the high temple. The problem? This is not necessary! As Luther says, “there were plenty of steps upon which Jesus could descend”!

This is the temptation to “believe where God has not commanded us to believe or even wants us to believe anything in that place” (Luther).

Satan’s trick is to make something that is quite in hand and clear to be a thing of great crisis, want, need and risk so that we believe that we are being faithful in something when we are just being unwise or dangerous.

“Everybody seeks another way, other provisions to help our souls”. We believe we would “be saved through our own work”. This is what the Devil sits right at the top of the Temple.

EG. You have a cupboard full of bread. But out of some misguided belief, you refuse to eat that bread you already have been given and put yourself through all kinds of hunger and hardship waiting for God to rain down manna on you. How can you believe you will receive what you have already been given!? That is despising what the Lord has already provided.

“We have this ability to follow Satan and go where there is no stairway; we believe and trust our own work where there is no faith or trust, no road or bridge, and we break our necks”.

Then Satan makes use of the Scriptures that angels will protect us in this misguides, foolish and unnecessary belief. He leaves out the rest of the verse. The verse actually says, “He will give his angels charge over…..to keep his ways”. His ways, not our ways or ideas! God protects us to keep us in his living ways, not to give us our own fancies.

 Jesus’ response in the temptation to leave him in misguided, unwise and dangerous rick taking: “It is said: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Game over. Temptation dealt with for us. Very good news for you in your temptation at the moment. Jesus wasn’t tempted, and we don’t have to be because he wasn’t.

Yes, Satan looks so cunning and crafty and powerful, and to us, he is. And yet did you hear that Jesus ‘was led into this by the Spirit”. This was an orchestrated temptation for our benefit– real and hard but the Spirit leading though it.

Same for us. Your temptation to give up on Jesus’ promises is real, tough but Spirit led through.

“God, who was able to nourish Christ forty days without any food, can nourish also his Christians”. says Luther.

We are free and able to cheerfully suffer want and temptation for the service of God and the good of others.

 We are also free to follow the Spirit’s leading into even the desert of temptation and testing with confidence.

And why go? Because the desert is the real ‘school of hard knocks’ for Christians, as it was for Israel.

“It is, painful…..that I should support myself and have not a nickel, not a thread, not a twig, and I experience no help from others, and no advice is offered. That is what it is to be led into the desert and to be left alone. There I am in the true school, and I learn what I am, how weak my faith is, how great and rare true faith is, and how deeply unbelief is entrenched in the hearts of all people and mine. But whoever has his wallet, cellar and fields full, is not yet led into the desert, neither is he left alone; therefore she is not conscious of temptation”.  

You know temptation. That means you are aware of your need and reliance on Jesus. That puts you in a better place in everything.

No need to be scared of being tempted or being in the desert or of facing off against Satan because your Great High Priest is in the desert with you.

He prays with you and for you and calls you to simple pray

Our Father in heaven, deliver me from evil today.

And his ministering love is yours, as it was for Jesus.

At last angels approached and served him. This is written for our comfort, that we may know that many angels minister also to us, where only one devil attacks us; if we fight with a knightly spirit and firmly stand, God will not let us suffer want, the angels of heaven would sooner appear and be our bakers, waiters and cooks and minister to all our wants. This is not written for Christ’s sake for he does not need it. Because the angels serve him, then they also serve us.

*Quotes from ‘Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent; Matthew 4:1-11, THE FAST AND TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil.  The Sermons of Martin Luther, published by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI, volume II:133-147.

http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/Sermons/lutherlent1.htm

 

Lifting the Veil

Sermon, Transfiguration Day

1 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+3%3A12-4%3A2&version=NIVUK>

Weddings have been on our mind. Last weekend our oldest Son got married. He is the first of the four kids to do so. It was a great day. Only one small thing went amiss – the bride’s veil! Somehow the veil got left on the table as bridal part left to get to the church on time. Not to worry. She looked stunning without the veil anyway.

I don’t know what it is like to be a bride walking down the aisle, arm in arm with a parent, looking through a veil. In one way it must feel safe – When everyone is looking at you, you are still hidden in part. No one can see you fully – your emotions – tears, joy or anxiousness….. There is a certain safety of being hidden behind the veil.

Moses was being safe when he wore his veil. His face would literally glow when came down from the mountain or out from the Tabernacle after speaking with the Lord ‘face-to-face”.  Moses put a veil over his face from people so they were not prone to mistrusting him as leader when the glory glow eventually faded. Maybe he wore the veil to just not ‘spook’ them too!

The glory of God can spook us. Just ask Peter, Andrew and John up on that Transfiguration mountain we heard about! Jesus’ glorious perfection, holiness, purity and light was too much for them. It is too much for us. His complete freedom, full life, extended joy and all-knowing heart and all-seeing eye when unveiled can rock us, overwhelm us, shake us.

This might be why we often prefer to keep the veil on. Like the Bride in that big moment when everyone staring at her, we often want to be safe, secure and in control of ourselves and others – and especially God’s stare. Like the Bride with the veil, the veil between us and God is a bit of safety in an unsure life.

But what is ‘the veil’? For Paul, the Old Testament Law is still God’s good Law, but it can be used by us as a veil that feels safe but hides the truth of what the Lord has done to allow is to live in his glorious freedom and light without any veil.

The Law is what we know. We can hide behind God’s good Law to the point that we will not allow the safety to be shattered by the more extensive, more complete, less controllable, understandable glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, who is God’s ultimate revealing of who God really is and what God is really doing in our lives.

And this is who we know already, according to Paul. Jesus is the new way in which God gets his glorious presence close to us without dazing us, overwhelming us, even killing us. Jesus is Glory hidden in human flesh and bones – tiredness, laughter, anger, joy in a real human person – but who he is really is – the Son of God – the glory of God, the Majestic King of Glory is revealed in a flash of brilliance that still dazes Peter, Andrew and John.

Like when the groom finally raises the veil of his lovely bride, her fullest beauty and presence is finally revealed to all gathered, so it is with Jesus up on the mountain stunning three people and stunning us – the fullest revealing of God’s gracious presence to us. Like the groom, we are stunned by his brilliant and complete love for us.

But it seems more natural to us to stick to the rules and the things we know like a bride keeping the veil on than let the Lord take the safety of the veil away and eye-ball us face-to-face with his overwhelming light that exposes our darkness, his calling that re-orders our work and family life, his forgiveness which renders our chasing after other safety and security outside of his promises useless.

Friend, here and now, the Spirit of freedom is lifting the veil of safety in things and self and even that misplaced confidence in our ability to earn his acceptance by the keeping of his holy and good Law.

You could choose to settle for walking down the aisle of life with that veil on.

You might want to keep the veil on because you don’t want him to expose you, know you or even love you – lest you have to let him interrupt you; cause you to re-evaluate what you are doing, who you are and where you’re headed. Many people will not let that veil go. They get to the Groom face to face and will not let him take that veil off.

But, by faith in this man up the mountain who would be that dead man on the Golgotha hill and that raised man ascending to rule this world in love, you could let him lift that veil again as you simply come to him in repentance and faith this morning – repenting of all your attempts to control your life, all your anxiety about the future of our country and our church and your life, the state of the world, the changing winds of our culture, your reluctance to trust that even that sin, that regret, that anger because you don’t understand why that terrible thing happened, that weakness that gets you in trouble can be restored, forgiven and freed. “….only in Christ is it taken away”.

And when you allow him to lift that veil, the path gets clearer, the steps bolder, the joy fuller as the Groom truly sees you and his community greet you. There comes a certain boldness about you and about us, no matter what is going on.

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

It is this hope of wonderful acceptance and love for limited, struggling, sometimes scared people – just like that Corinthian community – this hope of God’s preferred future for us in his world that brings a boldness to our words and ways. Boldness, freedom, transformation and ministry/serving – that is who we are and what we live in when the veil is lifted. A much better way to walk and relate!

And this is Holy Spirit given.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

With the Spirit’s words of hope, freedom, transformation into Jesus’ ever-increasing wisdom, knowledge, understanding of who he is, what love is and how to love, we ‘do not lose heart’.

You don’t need to give up, shut up or veil up anymore. Neither do we as a local mission outpost of Jesus’ kingdom. There is no need to hide you or your faith in Jesus.

There is a need to avoid things that are not from Jesus or approved by him.

          2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways;

There is no need to trick people.

“….we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

We have nothing to hide in or conversations, in our plans for our mission work here.  We certainly have no need to get side-tracked into that old Law again – telling people what they should do or don’t do for God to love them – that is back in the veil. He loves them before they are friends of his; before they know him, before they try to be good.

We do have the responsibility and the joy to keep it simple:

“On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God”.

Friend, the Groom raises the veil. Your motives, needs and directions are laid bare by his abiding gaze without the veil. How could you and we do anything but gladly reflect his acceptance, love, hope and freedom?

We are not like Moses. We have the veil off. We are being transformed by the Spirit. God is at work in this struggling man, this struggling church, this changing world.

‘…since we have such a hope, we are very bold”.

 

Blessed?

Sermon, Epiphany 6C, Sunday February 17, 2019, St Petri.

Luke 6:17-26

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to b e healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

23 ‘Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

24 ‘But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

This is disturbing! Usually, if a person has done well for themselves financially, enjoys choice food and wine, laughs out loud with friends and family a lot, and is well regarded in the family and the community, we would believe that person to blessed by God.

On the other hand, if a person is struggling financially, and as a result, struggles to eat even very simple and basic food, is suffering a lot and is ridiculed and insulted quite often by others, we would say that person is cursed by God.

Not so here with Jesus.

You, a disciple of Jesus, may be cursed if you look blessed and you may be blessed if you look cursed!

So, which are you at the moment?

Are you cursed or blessed by God this morning? How do you tell? What makes you either cursed or blessed? On what does being either one depend? Seems like our view and Jesus’ view of who is blessed differs!

“Looking straight at his disciples”, Luke says, I believe Jesus is saying, “I am giving you who are not blessed, hope that you are; and you who think that you are blessed apart from me, that you are not.

As it has always been for those who live and speak God’s word (the prophets), God’s blessing is not determined by your outward show or inner pain. God’s blessing is determined by God’s giving it to you, apart from you outward show or inside pain.

This is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, speaking these blessings and woes. This is Jesus of Nazareth, healing and curing troubled spirits down on the plain.

THE blessing of God for the troubled spirits down on the plain is the one speaking. The difference between being blessed by God or not is not wealth or food or enjoyment or lack of these things, it is this man, this Jesus. He is the great reward of which he speaks; and to which he calls these “troubled spirits”.

On the one hand, this Blessing of God wants you to know that just because you don’t FEEL blessed, or others say you are not blessed, you still are, no matter what. He lifts you up from giving up as he speaks his words of blessing upon you.

‘Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

 

On the other hand, he wants to warn you against your usual tendency to be impatient as you wait for his blessing on his terms and in his time, and take matters into your own hands and try to create your own blessing, superficial though it be (just things or status) – and then take the credit for any ‘blessings’ in life YOU have achieved and earnt – that YOU DESERVE.

24 ‘But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.

Can you see that Jesus wants to save you from despair when you suffer and feel cursed, and to warn you when you take the credit for the good times and things that is not yours to take?

You can tell he is God’s blessing for rich and poor, well fed and under-fed, accepted and shunned by what he is already doing down by the sea with the crowd.

A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over……., 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

This day by the ocean, God’s blessing, healing love is coming out of this man in great power. Troubled souls who could never create this blessing of healing and life beyond their circumstances are receiving this great reward right here, right now.

It will continue to come out of him in many ways yet, and in the greatest act of love and healing the world has ever seen in the Good Friday cross and the Easter Sunday empty tomb.

So, if you feel cursed and cut off from God at the moment, he assures you that you are not. Life, love, joy are here for you by faith in his words now, and they will return as you receive him and his promises – there will be joy in the morning.

And if you are doing pretty well at the moment and tending take the credit for achieving the good that is going on, think again. You didn’t create yourself or your life. It is all hm. “Every good gift comes from above – from the Father of lights”, as James says (James 1:17).

Friend, your circumstances do not determine his blessing. He does. HIS WORDS OF PROMISE ARE The great reward – now in part, one day in full.

And his blessing is full and it lasts because he is full and he lasts.

God’s blessing is not mere human happiness, but complete divine love for underserving but deeply loved human beings.

To be blessed by God is not to have stuff or look good or be super healthy or emotionally happy. They may be results of his blessing (or not), but they are not THE blessing itself. He is.

Being blessed is not being happy but being included in Jesus’ goal to draw you into his complete acceptance and love. That is THE cure for the troubled spirits within us.

But we have to wait! That is the hard bit! He chooses his time and place for his blessing of life and love. It is on his terms, not ours.

Maybe we struggle with trusting him when we are low?

We are tempted to leave him when we are high because we just can’t wait for the delayed reward Jesus speaks of here!

We want the good stuff now!

We want the good stuff without the Good Man. We want what he can give, not who he is? We want the blessing without THE BLESSING – living relationships of patient love with this Saviour.

But, remember who is speaking these woes and blessing. This is Jesus and he waits for you!

Not only does he passively wait for you, he actively seeks you to bless you.

Remember Zacchaeus? If there was ever a man who was trying to create and achieve his own blessing outside of Jesus’ realm of blessing, it was he. And what does Jesus do to this idol- making, self-blessing creating man?

Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’(Luke 19:9-10)

Jesus seeks and saves troubled spirits bent on self-blessing!

So, friend, this blessed Saviour is seeking and freeing you this morning – freeing you from the natural despair that comes with tough things that makes you FEEL like God is forgetting you or punishing you or condemning you. He is not. His promises still stick true.

He is also saving you from missing the very fabric of life – the promises and acceptance of a gracious God, and his Son’s call to live one heck of a life – to be a blessing to as many as you can.

I know that Jesus did not want these troubled spirits or self-confident Pharisees to miss him. Same for you. If your desperate or if your disconnected. He wants to assure you are in his blessing.

Come down from that tree with Zacchaeus to the level ground with Jesus again. Come home. Repent and trust this Saviour and his promise of healing and blessing despite what happens in life. He is The Blessing worth receiving.

Blessing is here. He’s got a name. He seeks and he heals because he loves troubled spirits and self-reliant sinners.

No matter how things are, you are not cursed today. You are not cut off today. You are blessed by Jesus today. There is hope and meaning in the poverty and thankfulness to him in the riches.

He is your level ground.

 

 

 

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