Tag: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Joy……with interest. 

SermonPentecost 24thA, November 11th/15th

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11  

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 

Matthew 25:14-30  

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 

 In these days as this 2020 draws to a close, we are hearing from the Spirit in this Word of the truth of our bright future in Jesus and how that future shapes now.   

Again we hear that we don’t and will not know in advance the day or the hour of Jesus’ final and full revealing of himself for all to see, but we can know this hope-filled forever – and that forever shapes our hope for the now.   

Like someone breaking into your house while you sleep in the dead of night, this great and final resurrection day will simply appear. Everyone will finally see and know.    

Like a woman carrying a baby not yet born, this appearing across all placed and people will simply happen; it has to happen; you can’t stop this final resurrection day; this final and full revealing of who God is in all his glory will happen. Like birth of a little one, you dont know the exact hour or minute of arrival, but you know it will arrive!  

As you hear that parable, I suspect you are a bit disturbed by the apparent harshness of the treatment God gives the third servant who does nothing with this gifts he has been given.  

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. ……Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 

 Is this the God we say we love and serve? A God who rewards the rich and makes then richer and condemns the poor, only making them poorer? Is God actually promoting a world we often see promoted – only the strong survive, so be strong and survive and get what is yours, at any cost!  

Let’s look deeper….  

First thing to notice about Jesus’ story here is that everyone gets a huge sum of money. A ‘bag of gold’ was about 33 kg of gold. As of yesterday, a kilogram of gold was worth about $61,487. Each bag is worth $2M!  

5 bags – $10M2 bags – $4M1 bag – $2M  

The master is very, very generous to ALL people according to what they can handle!  

He is also very trusting. It is tougher being wealthy than we might think. People of substantial means always have to be wary of who they trust because a lot of people call on them to support things. This master entrusts significant wealth and all that wealth brings to himself and the future of his family.   

So, the Master is very generous and fully trusting of these three people.   

The Master is also very patient  

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them”. 

 This master is generous to all – He gives all people a lot. He is trusting – He gives from his own wealth. He is patient – He gives people abundant time to use the gifts he gives.   

One more thing: This master wants all three people in his presence in his joy. Joy together is his goalHe wants people, not just what they can do or not do.   

Jesus is not promoting capitalism!  

Come and share your master’s happiness!, or, “Enter my joy!” 

This master is not only interested in increasing wealth or influencing his community or looking good. He is most interested in sharing his life with these people and others through them.  

He wants relationship above performance, and yet, as the servants live in his gifts for a long time, performance takes care of itself – joy is goal and joy is the end.   

Who is this manager? He sounds pretty good! In the journey who does all of this giving, entrusting, waiting  

The master is not merely “God”. Matthew makes it clear that Jesus is talking about himself. The man on the journey is Jesus himself. Jesus is speaking of his own journey with people. He is the one who gives, entrusts, waits and wants a relationship of joy with people.   

Can we see that this parable is NOT mainly about the harsh end for the third servant? He is in the parable to bring the truth home, but he is not the heart or intent of this generous Jesus.  

This person too, was given plenty by the master. He was trusted by the master. He was given a lifetime to enjoy the superabundant gifts and the trust of his gracious master, but for whatever reason, still saw Jesus as a ‘hard man”.   

How are you viewing Jesus? A ‘harsh man’ on the take: taking what is not his 

Are you scared of Jesus, as a result of this belief? Where does that belief come from in you?  

The third servant was ungrateful, unaware, impatient and fearful in the life he had been given. He misjudged Jesus and rules himself. He therefore rules himself out of the joy with Jesus. Jesus does not do it. The person does.   

And the real ‘kicker? in the end, he knows this to his core.   

Why does any person gnash their teethAnger. What kind of anger here? Self-anger. When the master completes his journey and appears in town for all to see, this person now knows just how much he has blown it.   

This fear-filled person is angry at himself and at the master and at the world and at life. He is angry to the core; to the point of gnashing his teeth.   

Everything he has lived his life on has been wrong.   

All his plans have come to nothing much at all. His self-interest, his denial of the gifts of Jesus, his unwillingness to trust Jesus’ gifts and live in them with others and therefore earn ‘interest’ on the gift, have left him beside himself with anger at himself for just what he has missed and will miss once everything is put in final order by the man who ae him so much.   

dont know if you have ever been that angry with yourself of Jesus, but you don’t need to be. This generous, trusting, patient and joyful Jesus has not finally appeared for the great resurrection day yet.   

Jesus still longs for the joy with you. He still longs for the relationship way above your performance. Your future is open  

Jesus speaks and keeps on speaking and gifting you with all your need for all of life.   

He is still obviously very patient – daily and over the decades so far.   

And here is what we do with our superabundant life in Jesus. Here is what we do with the hope of joy we know, now in part and one day in full.   

We ‘earn interest’. How? Opposite to how interest on money works!  

This ‘interest’ is earned by giving money away! Strange. Normally you save money to earn more interest on your money and increase wealth. The more you save for yourself, the more you earn.   

Not in this Jesus’ community! The more you give away your money, your gifts, your time, yourself, the more ‘interest’ or value or gifts seems to increase  

The more you allow trust, exercise patience and build relationships despite people’s performance, the interest grows.   

Oh, can you receive the joy of this master today?   

In his community, we are invited into a realm where performance and earning and calculation is abolished. Here, the interest, the fruit, the harvest, the blessing, the hope happens in giving ourselves and what he gives away.  

“Come and share your master’s happiness!”, says Jesus, to you.  

 

“…….you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day”. (1Thessalonians 5: 4-5) 

 Receive him and his gifts. Give him and his gifts away. Enjoy the joy…. with interest!  

The STORY Week 8. A few good men and women

H-Icon_Ch08 Judges SPSermon, Sunday June 5th, 2016

Pentecost 3C, Story Week 8

Judges: A Few Good Men…And Women

Psalm 138, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Matthew 11:27-30

Judges 6:11-16

11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

What is the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word “judge”? Some might think of Judge Judy. Others think of the person in the black robe who hands down a jail sentence.

In The Story we come to a 300 year period known as the period of the Judges. Here, these people God raises up from time–to–time are not tied to a bench and don’t wear black robes and white wigs! We have Samson, Deborah, Gideon and the like.

They are God’s short-term fixers to stop his people spiraling completely out of control. They are like Panadol. Panadol does not cure the disease but helps relieve it. Panadol often needs to be used repeatedly to stop things from getting worse.

Seven hundred years after God’s promise to Abraham, the people of God are in their own land, God is present in the tabernacle. The people have God’s law to guide their lives. There is that detailed sacrificial system in place to provide a way of them gaining repeated forgiveness for human sin. The people were truly blessed by God.

But there is a problem. That old Adam problem of naturally being inclined to trust other things, gods and people for personal and communal wellbeing, prosperity and safety is still running in their veins. We ominously hear repeatedly in Judges that this new generation after that of Joshua, forgot the Lord and “did evil in the sight of the Lord”.

After the initial success in controlling most of the promised land under Joshua, they failed to drive out all the Canaanites with their worship practices. This led to the sin of placing their trust in other things and people and the gods of the local inhabitants for their safety and wellbeing. (Idolatry) Judges 1:28; 2:12

Just goes to show that who we live with and who we give our heart to can have a huge impact on our relationship with the Lord and our experience of his peace and joy in our lives.

In Israel’s case, they went with the Baal’s (male) and Ashorah’s (female) gods believing that sexual intercourse was the means to fertility not just in the human body but in the land. The more sex, the more rain and better crops! Thus worship rituals included sexual intercourse, use of prostitutes. On special occasions or when things were really bad, to appease the gods the sacrificing of a child took place.

The other huge mistake that God’s people made after Joshua’s time was that they did not teach their children about God and his great acts of deliverance. Joshua 2:10

As the saying goes, “Christianity is only one generation away from extinction”. Those of us who know and love the Word and the acceptance and love of God which it proclaims need to take note here. The Spirit calls us to intentionally shape the children and young people in God’s word by whatever means we can muster – Faith 5 at home, worship on Sunday, Kids Connect during worship, Child, Youth and Family ministry, school, home, church, family time……

So God’s people have taken on far too much of the culture and have forgotten to teach the Story, and so have become disconnected from the Lord and his mission for them.

What is the Lord to do? Can he just let the whole promise go and let his people descend into terrible darkness? Obviously from what he has already done for his people to make them who they are and give them a life and a job and a land, he cannot.

So he sends his special leaders to arrest the decline. There are six of them, the most famous being Gideon and Samson.

The two reasons that God raises up the judges.

God has blessed Israel in the eyes of all the other nations.

  1.  God wants other nations to know His goodness and blessing.
  2. God powerfully intervenes when His people cry out to Him for help. When the people pray, God responds with deliverance.

So, we see this spin cycle at work among God’s people and I bet among us today too. Here’s how it goes;

Movement 1–  idolatry – placing trust in anyone and anything more than the Lord and his Word and his shape for living.

This comes out in the people bowing down to the culture – replacing the worship of the Lord on his terms and in his ways with the worship pagan gods any way they want.

Movement 2–  oppression. God removes His hand of protection and allows surrounding nations to oppress His people. Judges 2:22

All in all, God uses 6 pagan nations to oppress His people: Mesopotamians oppress for 8 years; the Moabites for 18 years; the Canaanites for         20 years; the Midianites for 7 years; the Ammonites for 18 years;   and the Philistines for 40 years. That’s a total of 111 years of oppression that did not have to happen!

Movement 3–  repentance. Finally, when it gets bad enough; when money is tight, crops are sparse, people’s family and good reputation are under threat, the oppressed people cry out to God for help. They “turn” or “return” to the Lord they once knew. They trust his promise that he loves. He accepts and forgives. . They make a decision to do a 180 degree change in direction.

And thank God, God responds! He does not have to or need to but simply does so for his peoples’ sake! He raises up a judge; these special short-term leaders who militarily bring some cessation to the downward spiral into chaos.

Othniel delivers them from the Mesopotamians; Ehud delivers them from the Moabites; Deborah from the Canaanites; Gideon from the Midianites; Jephthah from the Ammorites and Samson from the Philistines. (…and Orkin from the Termites)

Movement 4–  deliverance. It is crucial to hear that it is the Lord who orchestrates the deliverance, not the human judge.

There is no doubt that the judges were flawed human beings. They are never presented as anything more than this. In fact, two of the judges are a sign of our flawed humanity.

Gideon in Judges 7 is seen to be very human. Gideon was from the weakest clan and was the weakest in his family. God reduces Gideon’s army from 32,000 to 300 so that the deliverance will be from God, not Gideon and the army.

And then there is that long-haired strong man; Samson (Judges 13-16). Samson makes the mistake of revealing the secret of his strength to Delilah (Judges 16). It is clear that it was Samson’s pride and immaturity led to his death.

The nasty thing about this “Spin Cycle” is that each time, it gets progressively worse. The distance between God and his people gets more distant. The descent into detestable things is deeper.

We soon hear for the first time in the scriptures that a new leadership is needed. Pretty soon their will come from the people the demand for a king like all the other nations have. But that is another story.

The Spirit calls the Christian person to see the cycle in real life as we hear the Judges.

Can you identify which stage of the cycle best applies to your life right now?

Sin:  We sin—we don’t keep God on the throne of our lives. 1 John 1:8

  1. I’m chasing the wrong thing right now.
  2. I have mixed up priorities.
  3. I have an addition or an addictive personality and it has captured me.
  4. I keep mistreating other people.

Oppression: We are oppressed—our fellowship with God and others is broken. 1 John 1:6

  1. My relationship with God has been affected.
  2. I am destroying my relationships with others.
  3. It is affecting or will affect my physical and emotional health.
  4. It is affecting or will affect me financially.

Repentance: We repent/confess—we are restored through the blood of Jesus. 1 John 1:9

At this stage, you identify you’re in sin or oppression, so you have two choices:

  1. I am not ready to come clean with God or others who love me.
  2. I am ready to come clean with God and others who love me right now.

Deliverance: We experience deliverance—we experience joy and fruitfulness. 1 John 1:7

Friend, the Lord does not give up on you. The final leader judge has come and inflicted maximum and complete damage on the detestable evil one.

Jesus the judge has paraded through hell in victory and released all those captive to the spin cycle of hatred, addiction, fear, violence and the dark pain they cause us.

If you are broken hearted right now, you’re in the right place! Out of a broken heart of repentance, Jesus from the cross and from the air and light calls to us, “It is finished!”

Come to me all you who are weary and heavily weighed down”. Learn from me. Take my shape, my burden. It is light, it is joy.

You are not the devil’s toy but my loved man, woman, child, teenager”.

Come to the altar, eat the body, drink the blood, receive the life, the forgiveness, the healing. Trust that the spin cycle is over. It has lost its sting.

It does not now always get worse. Jesus has stopped it from spiraling into chaos. He is our shape, our guide, our resurrection, our life – constantly.

Trust him with all your heart, mind and strength and in his name help others do the same – in love.

Amen.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Chapter 8, a few good men and women

Timeless Truth: The Call vs. The Culture – An Eternal Problem

Chapter Summary (Have someone in your group read the summary section.)

The nation of Israel had a place to call home at last. Settling into the Promised Land enabled them to leave behind their wandering ways and fulfill one of the key promises to Abraham: a land for God’s people to occupy. But, failing to evict the Canaanites from the land, these pagan neighbors became a toxic influence on a nation called to be different.

After the death of Joshua, God’s people felt this pull of worldly culture and a destructive pattern emerged:

  • Israel turned again and again to the worship of pagan gods.
  • God brought divine judgment.
  • Israel cried out for God’s help.
  • God raised up a judge to save them.

This cycle of sin became the pattern of life in Israel for the next 300 years.

Early on, Israel was conquered by the Canaanite king, Jabin. God appointed Deborah, a prophet, judge, and strong leader to deliver her people. She and her military leader, Barak, defeated the powerful Canaanite army led by Sisera. He escaped and took refuge in the tent of a woman named Jael, who killed him while he slept. Israel had been delivered for now, but the cycle would continue.

Israel was later oppressed by the Midianites. God called Gideon out of nowhere to deliver His people. Gideon was pretty sure that God has mistaken him for some well-built four-star Israelite commander and asked twice for a miraculous sign. God confirmed His intentions and Gideon gathered 32,000 troops to take on the vast Midianite army. God, however, trimmed their forces to just 300 men. He used them to rout the Midianites and the people enjoyed freedom…for a while.

The cycle continued and Israel was soon dominated by the Philistines. This time God prepared a deliverer by promising a child to a barren woman. This child, Samson, was to be raised as a Nazirite, who was set apart to God. His hair was not to be cut and he was to drink no wine. He was well known for his superhuman strength and less than super character, especially in the company of beautiful women. His second wife, Delilah, betrayed him by cutting his hair so he would forfeit his advantage and God’s favor. Samson himself embodied this insidious cycle that had enslaved Israel, with his saw-tooth history of indiscretions and victories.

As a result, the Philistines took him captive and gouged out his eyes. But his hair grew back, and his strength returned. Samson’s last day was his best one. He was brought into the Philistine temple to entertain their leaders. He prayed to the LORD, collapsed the pillars of the temple and defeated the Philistines at last.

God is never bashful about His intentions for His people. He never tolerates sin and, at the same time, never breaks His covenant with His people. Israel may not have fully understood God’s discipline, but over and over He had to bring them to their knees in order to bring them to Himself.

 

Icebreaker Question: Have you ever been rescued from a dangerous or difficult situation? What happened?

  1. Israel is constantly running from the true God to other false gods. What are some of the false gods in our culture today? Which of them have you trusted?
  2. False gods trigger a cycle: a web of sin, God’s judgments, crying out for help, and God providing deliverance. What are some destructive cycles you have seen in your own life?
  3. Do you think that the Israelites did a good job of passing their faith to the next generation? How can we do this better in the church and in our own families?
  4. How would you describe Deborah? In what way does her story influence your view of women in leadership?
  5. Do you think Gideon’s request for a sign was an act of faith or an act of faithlessness? Does his faith change over time?
  6. Your friend, Samson, confides in you that he has trouble with women but doesn’t understand why. What would you tell him?
  7. In what ways was Samson a faithful man of God? In what ways was he not?
  8. What was Samson’s true weakness? How can you deal with your weaknesses before they become your downfall?
  9. Where do you see God’s grace in this chapter?
  10. Which character in this chapter stands out to you and why? How can you be more like them?

In the time remaining ask your group members to share any of their personal reflection insights from their journal entries.

 

Closing Prayer