The Blessed Life – Using the right spoon at the right time.

The Blessed Life – Using the right spoon at the right time.

Luke 6: 37-38

 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

 

To use ‘a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ means to use disproportionate force or expense to overcome a minor problem. It was first used in the USA in the 1850’s but instead of a nut it was a fly. We Brits have been sledgehammering nuts not fly’s since the 1950’s. Now who does such a thing? Have you seen the size of a nut and the size of a sledgehammer? Precisely! But what happens when those nuts are people?

How do you treat people?

We have all done it. We have all said things in the heat of the moment that we regret. Often they come back to bite us. Even when you try to help sometimes picking up a huge blade instead of a surgical scalpel is the wrong choice!

I think we need a small spoon (a teaspoon) and a big spoon (a ladle) in our toolkit of life.

When correcting and bringing discipline which is crucially important we use the small spoon.

When being generous we get the ladle out, we don’t hold back, we bless freely and fully. Have you ever seen someone use a small spoon of generosity, it is painful to watch as they don’t want to give too much, so they give just enough to show they are making a contribution. Jesus never asked for a contribution. (Qualifying this of course with the fact that the poor usually give ladle size portions which are spoon size portions for the rich).

When you are with people today choose your spoon carefully, it is the way to a blessed life!

The Blessed Life – Lose

The Blessed Life – Lose

Luke 6: 32-36

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Where is the loss?

If you have given out more than you have received back then you are venturing into the blessed life.

There needs to be loss in your life.

The loss of loving someone who doesn’t return that love.

The loss of helping those who just take.

Loss because there is no hope of getting anything back from your kindness and generosity.

When you question whether it was worth it; when you ask whether you have been taken for a ride; when you see nothing from your acts of kindness it is then when you enter the blessed life.

The Blessed Life is a life where you look like God, especially in front of your enemies. They may be ungrateful and they may not recognise what you do but He sees. God can see you identify with Him for this is who He is and what He has done and does today.

So if today you meet that awkward, self-centred, seemingly unavoidable person then be kind. Lose. Be like God and then live the blessed life.

The Blessed Life

The Blessed Life

Luke 6: 27-31

“But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

 

The sermon was based on Jesus’s command to love your enemies. The preacher spoke, “I’ll bet that many of us feel as if we have enemies in our lives. So raise your hands if you have many enemies.”

And quite a few people raise their hands. “Now raise your hands if you have only a few enemies.”

And about half as many people raise their hands. “Now raise your hands if you have only one or two enemies.”

And even fewer people raised their hands. “See, most of us feel like we have enemies.”

“Now raise your hands if you have no enemies at all.” And the preacher looks around, and looks around, and finally, way in the back, a very, very old man raises his hand. He stands up and says, “I have no enemies whatsoever!” Delighted, the preacher invited the man to the front of the church. “What a blessing!” the preacher said. “How old are you?

“I’m 98 years old, and I have no enemies.” The preacher said, “What a wonderful Christian life you lead! And tell us all how it is that you have no enemies.”

“All the fools have died!”

Most of us go through life and have to carry the problem of people not liking us and even worse, though we have tried to fix the situation we seem to be their enemy. They really don’t like us! They hold a grudge or they speak ill against us and they want to do as much damage to our reputation as possible.

I remember the phone call from one such man in the year 2000, “We will bring you down!” it was very unnerving as I pondered what that would mean exactly. They did try but the opposite happened as God lifted me up!

It would seem that these things are expected: You will have enemies; there will be people who hate you; they will curse you; they will ill-treat you; they will insult you; they will steal from you. The kingdom principle is to do the opposite of what comes your way and not the same response. To love, to do good, to bless, to pray, to not retaliate and to give what they need or want.

Hard that this is, it is the only way to stay in the kingdom and to let God reign in your life. Above all, it is the only way to stay blessed and happy.

Luke’s beatitudes – a hard read!

Luke’s beatitudes – a hard read!

 

Luke 6: 20-26

“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.”

 

At the centre of Luke’s beatitudes is Jesus, the Son of Man.

There are 4 positive stanzas and 4 negative ones each giving an outcome or a consequence.

The reign of God, satisfaction, laughter and a reward in heaven v. no more comfort, going hungry, mourning and weeping and being like the ancient false prophets.

Blessings and woes.

And at the centre is Jesus.

The Blessings are raw, they are not easy to read like Matthew’s recording of them. Blessed are the poor, not in spirit, just plain and simple, the poor, the hungry, the weeping and the hated. Blessed. More than happy as how can you be happy whilst weeping? But they are right with God, this is the meaning of blessed. These are not beatitudes to achieve, this is painful reality, it is now. The woes are not dangers but again present evils, ‘well fed now’ and ‘laughing now’.

These are hard to read. What do they mean? If this is not about what we can become and if there doesn’t seem to be any instructions of what to do, then what are they saying?

Let me simply suggest this:

  • With the Son of Man at the centre of life, everything is upside down. The kingdom of the world and the kingdom of God are polar opposite. How we view things is not how God views them. So though you may think you know what is happening is not necessarily what is.
  • Let me qualify this point: (There are constant examples of the rich being wonderful benefactors of the kingdom). However, Luke is suggesting that the presence of God is with those you do not think He would be with, like the down-trodden and He is not with people you think He would be with, like the false prophets.
  • To be in need (whether that be from poverty, hunger, hurt or pain) is better than not needing a thing (rich, full, happy and popular) especially when Jesus is at the centre of life, for it is in Him that we are blessed. It is hard for those who don’t need to recognise a Saviour, what do they need saving from? The needy do need and that is why they are blessed.
  • When I look at the least in society in every nation of the world, when I look at their suffering and when I decide to help by feeding them, helping them, holding them, lifting them up then I also experience God is here, of all the stages of the world where God could be, He is here the most, with the broken, the bruised and the forgotten. He is not here in weakness but with power, glory and great joy. There is a richness that I have never experienced and have longed for all my life. It seems that God is found in the nothing of life.

Power for this Sunday

Power for this Sunday

Luke 6: 18-19 “Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”

 

May those troubled today find your peace;

May those who are sinking find your strength;

May the sick be healed and the trapped freed;

The great need today is not a new song, a great preach or good fellowship. It is for your power to come from your body to everyone who comes to you.

Power to change;

Power to overcome;

Power to fix

Across the churches of the world, the churches of my nation and the church I will attend today, may power come from you Jesus. Amen

What level are you at?

What level are you at?

Luke 6: 17-19

“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, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”

Having appointed his apostolic team what would he do next? For the next steps would indicate how he would lead and how he would want them to lead.

It is such a beautiful sentence. “He went down with them and stood on a level place.”

“Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1), the whole universe is where He is. But He seeks those who are humble and who depend on Him, this is home (66:2).

The higher your call the lower you must become. Pastor, you are never above your people. Teacher, true knowledge is found in community. Evangelist, you are not the judge. Prophet, you do not have the final say. Apostle, you are sent to the sick, to the impure, to the lost, least and last to help them, love them and resource them.

Tears flow so easily when I see the reverse of the above.

Jesus went down with them.

On a level place everyone could get to him. Jesus was accessible to everyone. There was no holding area, a filter of getting oneself right before they entered the presence of Jesus. The fact is outside of His presence they could not make themselves right.

We are all on the same level. We understand the complexities of life. We know the trials and temptations. We know the evils and the pain. We are human. I am the Son of Man, I know.

In that place things began to happen …

Extraordinary ordinary

Extraordinary ordinary

Luke 6: 14-16

Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

According to legend and early writings:

Simon Peter was crucified upside down at his request (as he did not feel worthy to die in the same way as Jesus) around 66 AD in the persecution from Emperor Nero.

Andrew having taken the gospel to Russia, then Turkey was crucified in Greece.

James the son of Zebedee was executed by Herod in 44AD and reported in Acts 12:2.

John is the only thought to have died a natural death on the island of Patmos, Greece, where he had been exiled.

Philip took the gospel to Tunisia and then to Turkey where he converted the wife of the Roman governor who on hearing this had him killed.

Bartholomew seemingly travelled great distances going into India, Armenia, Ethiopia and Yemen (Southern Arabia) where he was martyred.

Matthew took the gospel to Iran and then into Ethiopia where he was stabbed to death.

Thomas evangelised in Syria before going to India where he died by being pierced with the sword by soldiers.

James the son of Alpheus went to Syria and was stoned and then clubbed to death.

Simon the Zealot went to Iran and was killed there.

Judas son of James (also known as Thaddaeus) went to Iran and was killed by arrows.

Judas betrayed Jesus then later hanged himself.

Matthais replaced Judas after the betrayal and travelled to Syria with Andrew and was burnt to death.

They were called and chosen.

They had to learn obedience, one didn’t, the others also in many ways failed but they made a recovery to continue to follow.

They were not perfect and there were always people reminding them of it but they became empowered and changed men by the Spirit.

Why?

They had found something worth giving everything up for, the pearl of great price, who was worth dying for. They had found a cause to stake their whole life on.

But in truth it was them who had been found.

They had been lost men who Jesus found.

Jesus saw in them new names and purpose and he led them into their destiny.

These 12 names changed their world, our world.

That’s what it means to be called and chosen, anything less than this is not worth it.

 

Find time, pray, decide and do.

Find time, pray, decide and do.

Luke 6: 12-13

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.”

 

Have you been having ‘one of those days’ recently?

 

  • You realise you must get to a mountainside.

To get out of the situation, to come away from the pressure and the responsibility. There is still much work to do, however, today is a day to rest from it. Do you have such a place?

 

  • You choose to spend the day and the night praying to God.

To know who He sent him and who is in charge. To off-load all that has been thrown at him. Taking this essential time before any further decisions. Is this your practice?

 

  • You make some decisions that will herald a new day.

To bring change and move into a new chapter. You must call, some will raise their eyebrows (“why him/her?”); you must choose who will get your work done; you must deploy and make disciples into apostles sending them out to do the work. What decisions have to be made?

 

Go to that place, pray, make a decision and then do it. Your life is going to expand because of these 3 actions.

Jesus and every generation

Jesus and every generation

Luke 6: 1-11

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

 

Every generation battles with the code of conduct passed down to them.

Every generation has ‘stories’ they tend to overlook or excuse.

Every generation has to realise that the beauty of their kingdom and of their priesthood fades from the greater beauty of the new season that God brings.

Every generation ends with having more rules than relationship.

Every generation battles with seeing their ‘sons’ move into higher authority.

Every generation has to ask ‘what kind of Jesus will we follow?’

Every generation is faced with authenticating the miracles of the new day.

Jesus and movements

Jesus and movements

Luke 5: 36-39

“He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

 

In the context of the challenge as to why Jesus’ disciples were not fasting and all that Jesus seemed to be doing was eating and drinking with the worst people possible comes a parable from Jesus.

One of the lovely things about Facebook is that it regularly reminds you of the past. This day 7 years ago = a picture. We look at the picture and memories come flooding back. Often happy ones and I guess sometimes not so.

In this short parable we have an example of the new looking back at the old times. Jesus seems to be stating that the old fasting was based on pre- experience of Him as the Messiah. It pointed to the redeeming work but it wasn’t post-finished work of Christ. The new fasting period is amongst us as we have tasted Christ and we want more.

Primarily it is a battle between the old and the new. The powerful stand-out words are “the new will not match the old.”

Jesus’ message was about movement and it still is. He is movement and He creates movements. In 2019 strategy seems to be so important. If leaders simply planned and had an idea of how they were going to achieve something then we would be getting better results. But there is something greater; it is movement.

A movement is a group of people who have been sent to move towards people to cause them to move towards Christ, who then in turn become part of a new movement themselves.

We are in a world where the Spirit is doing a new thing regarding the movement of the Church. The next big move isn’t God’s it is His people. Change is so difficult but change is happening and will happen. Some will hang on to their old garments and old wineskins but others are becoming part of a movement.

It is easier to apply this parable to the time of Jesus with the Pharisees interpretation of the Law etc. It is tricky applying it today. The old was once new and the new will become old though the new always thinks it is here to stay. There will always be those who say the old is better.

There are still old garments hanging on the coat hooks in churches today. There are still old wineskins wanting new wine not realising that unless they change they will spoil the new.

So what is the message of this movement?

  1. Inclusivity for all are welcome. (Let’s keep partying with all types of people Jesus would say)
  2. Separation (from the past but not from the world)
  3. Expectancy of the increase of disciples (the Levi’s of this world) and a rejection of nostalgia.