Message 4 of 4: What determines my identity? - Ross P John W

Our value as a human being is much greater than our sexuality. We are of infinite value because we are created in the image of God.

This message uses the audio from three sources:

Sam Allbury address to 2017 Anglican Synod, London, Feb 15, 2017
His brief remarks were very compelling as he challenged the assembly on their approach to the Christian doctrine on marriage. “My question to the bishops is not, ‘Will you preserve this doctrine?,’ but ‘Do you really believe in it? Is it good news for the world?,'” he said. “Many of us have found it to be life-giving, as the message and teaching of Jesus always is.”

Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Coalition, 'What Most Surprised Her About Christians When She Became One'

Rosaria Butterfield, The Gospel Coalition, 'Sexuality and Identity' Aug 21, 2015

 

Message 3 of 4: Pornography - Looks that Kill - Jandre N

Message three of this series on a biblical perspective on Identity and Sexuality tackles the difficult but pervasive problem of pornography that effects a conservative estimate of 90% of all boys and young adult men, and an increasing percentage of women. Its is as much on the inside of the church community as it is outside. All men have fallen short and we are all wired the same way.

Rather than resorting to an analysis that exegetes meanings and words, Dre instead walks over this heavy ground with a light foot and an understanding heart that encourages us to bring this darkness out into the light. He recounts the pain and and addiction he sees in student ministry.

His central passage is 1 John 1:5-9 and also goes to Prov 27:17 where he encourages us to find some one who can be trusted and can hold us accountable for the things we view and dwell upon.

The message also references an interview given in 2011 at Northpoint Church, Atlanta, between Andy Stanley and a couple Michael Leahy and Patty Onorato. Michael opens up to his lifelong addiction to pornography that eventually lead to the loss of his marriage, his family and his job. The portion of the video viewed is recorded in this message.
Exposed - Looks that Kill

Dre finishes with the encouragement to bring the problem out into the light, to find someone who will keep you accountable, and to take practical steps with your devices and situations you find yourselves in to break the slave master control over our lives.

Matt 7:26-27
26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

 

  

Message 2 of 4: My Body My Choice - Intergenerational perspectives : Sam M and Ross P

In this second message in the series on Sexuality and Identity we have two speakers, Ross and Sam. Ross begins by summarising his message from last week on the origin of sex, gender and marriage and foundational understanding that men and women are image bearers of God who created us. We are created to glorify God and to find enjoyment in him.

Ross reads through Gen 3:1-7 and makes the observation that the deception of Eve starts with Satan

1. questioning what God says,…”did God really say..?”
2. contradicting what God says, “you won’t surely die..”
3. debating what God says, “God knows that you that your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..”

The area of sexual sin and identity is a battle for the mind. Facing temptation is a battle of the mind. 2 Cor 11: 3.  Our thoughts are lead astray from sincere and pure devotion.

Sam then brings insight from the perspective of a ‘millennial’ generation person about gender, identity. He identifies that conversations about sexuality between generations is difficult and avoided since both sides are coming from a completely different set of 'rules' about the world and relationships. 

He tells how sex has become a recreational sport between people on the basis that if it felt right then there was no reason not to indulge so long as you were being true to yourself.  Individual expression became the moral wallpaper of his generation. There was no need or even concept of looking outside ourselves to an objective standard. 

He explains however that under the test of being authentic to yourself and absolute freedom actually brought about crises of anxiety and not knowing who you really are. Identity is sought from within rather than in the creator who made us. We are made to be in relationship with the One who made us. 

The crisis of anxiety comes from a deep desire to be fully known and fully accepted. Sam shared his own experience of finding caring friendships from young men and women who turned out to be homosexual and lesbian who were nonetheless, seeking to be known and loved. He identifies that our identity is only meaningful when it is anchored to Christ and is an ongoing relationship project where we are slowly being healed and restored to fellowship.

Ross then finishes by sharing about the privilege of being able to study the human body throughout his career and testifying how wonderfully and fearfully it is made. Ps 139. He implores us to flee sexual immorality, 1 Cor 6:12-20. Our body is a sacred and special place and we need to chose how we use it to either honour or dishonour it.

So to tie the two generational perspectives together, the millennial and baby boomer, the challenge we face is a battle for our mind how we view God’s plan for sexuality and how we use the temple of the Holy Spirit to honour God and to honour one another.

 

Message 1 of 4: Sexuality , Gender and Marriage - God's Design : Ross

We begin a series on the topical but very difficult subjects of sexuality, gender identity, and pornography and how should believers in Jesus Christ and His Gospel respond to these divisive issues that effect all aspects of life.

In this message, Ross starts in Gen 1:26-28 and Gen 2:18-25 and reflects on the origin of sex, gender and marriage.

He concludes this message with the observation that it is not our sin that keeps us from gaining eternal life but rather, unbelief.

Every person has fallen short of the Glory of God but the penalty for our sin has already been paid at the cross of Calvary. All the distortions of sex, gender and marriage come about because of our sin nature, and it is only through the forgiveness available to everyone who believes can we have our relationships restored with each other and God the Father.

https://cbmw.org/nashville-statement

Overview of Daniel - Ross P

Prophecy brings numerous responses from ridicule, fear, indifference, scoffing, or excitement. Why study prophecy?
1. It promotes the scriptures. 30% of scripture is prohetic.
2. Prevents ignorance, 1 Thess. 4
3. Proclaims Christ. All scriptures point to Christ. Not about us, its about Jesus.
4. Promises personal benefit, Rev 1
5. Promotes holy living. Prophesy gives you perspective on the times to come and changes our conduct with this knowledge.
6. Persuades action now. Romans tells us our salvation is nearer now that when we first believed. We need to study prophecy to motivate us into repentance and action.

Look at the book of Daniel and how it fits into the scheme of prophesy.
Three prophecies:
1. Overview of the gentile domination of Jerusalem. Ch2
2. Seventy Sevens prophecy. Ch. 9
3. Nature of the final ruler, or Antichrist.

Principles of interpretation:
A When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.
B Perspective. Sometimes prophets did not see the difference between the near and far. Foreshortening.
C Prototypes. Partial fulfilment of something early that is completely fulfilled later.
D A text, apart from a context, is a pretext. Need to be careful with taking verses out of context and drawing incorrect conclusions.

 

Overview of Eschatology - Andrew S

A future and a hope secured, 1 Cor 2:9

Eschatology can be controversial. It creates division as the study of end times is not perfectly knowable. The scriptures tell us a lot but there are still gaps that require thinking about the whole arc of God's redemptive plan in order to make sense of matters. In some churches and denominations there may never be a sermon on end times but at a church in the US you could hear sermons on end times all the time.

You may have heard too much or not enough. The risk is we can become too convinced that we see things clearly so that we can become judgemental and flippant about someone else’s enquiry on the subject that the answers should be obvious.

If we don’t talk about it then we miss large sections of God’s word that deals with it. A minimum of 50 chapters of the bible dealing with end times. Did God waste His time giving us this? If we ignore it we are not being faithful stewards of the Word. It is important that we take a healthy, informed middle ground. The aim is to hold these matters with an open hand and not be too dogmatic on topics that are not central and not as obvious as some people think they are.

Eschatology is not just a creating a timeline of history with people and scriptures plugged into the plan. These are a part of it but eschatology is actually the climax, the unification, the weaving together of EVERYTHING of devine revelation both in the old and the natural world. Everything that God has done, is doing and will do in His creation. Eschatology is every passage in scripture. The big picture of God’s entire plan.

Four major views that the Church has adopted and also dominated the history of the church.
Amillenialism
Pre-millenialism, (dispensational, historic)
Post-millenialism

Four views attempt to piece together things that will happen in the future and create a framework. Each view is, as-well, an interpretive approach to scripture.

Andrew takes us on a very quick tour through each of the positions and concludes with encouragement that our aim is not to stop at Rev 20 but to see the beauty and wonder of Rev 21 - Rev 22 where we will be forever in the beauty of God’s presence.

 

Matthew 28 The resurrection and its significance - Andrew S

We conclude the teaching series on Matthew's gospel on the mountain top of the resurrection of Jesus. Andrew draws out the centrality and basis of our faith as a result of this truth.

When you read the resurrection accounts in all 4 gospels they all highlight different things. Not contradictory but complementary where they differ. By reading all 4 gospels we get a more complete picture of the most important doctrine and truth in Scripture.

The authors of the gospels are not working from just their own knowledge but also testimony of other witnesses.

Andrew harmonises all 4 gospel accounts of the resurrection day, 8 days later with Thomas, and in Acts, 40 days later. Matthew condenses a lot of what we see in the other gospels and appearances. Even pieced together, the gospel accounts don’t give us a whole account of the resurrection.

After Christ’s resurrection for approximately 6 weeks there were many appearances to many people.

Our first emotion when we confront the realities of Christ can be one of fear. When the Lord does what we asked for or what he said he would do, the joy is mingled with fear. An over-awed kind of response seems to be natural when the living God has met us in a personal way.

Jesus appearance is no longer abstract, the disciples were able to hold Jesus’ feet, Mt 28:9-19

Significance and importance of the resurrection:
If there is no resurrection then there is no christianity, no faith, 1 Cor 15:12. If Christ is not raised then we are of all people to be most pitied.
If Christ didn’t overcome death then what use is he to us. Other teachers had some good ideas but if he hasn’t overcome death then he cannot set us free from the one thing that binds us; our sins that condemn us to death. 2 Cor 5:17. We are new creations.

In Christ on the cross, God was accounting our sins to Jesus so that eh could suffer the death due for all the sins. he only was able to carry all of that sin to the grave and to rise again and then reconcile us to God. Because of Christ we can be free of our sin. If Christ dies and stayed dead then he was only paying for his own sin but because he rose from death it proves he was sinless and is able to pay the price for our eternal life. Death could not hold him.

Because of this the resurrection is the central pillar of our faith. It is able to impute righteousness to our account because God so loved the world. Righteousness is credited to us for eternity because of the resurrection. The central pillar of our faith.

This is why people try to destroy this truth. Mt 28:11  Attempts to create untruth and lies. The guards were most likely to be temple guards, not Roman soldiers because if soldiers on watch fell asleep then that would have meant death to them.

Jesus ends his ministry in Galilee where it started in Mt 4:12. The message has now been opened up to the Gentiles. Go therefore to all nations. Jesus has all authority to tell is to GO. This is not a Jewish message anymore. Galilee is at the outer edge when compared to Jerusalem. The message has spilled over to become a global message. Even in Mt Ch1, the genealogy of Jesus begins with Abraham, not Adam. It was the promise to all peoples. 

Matthew begins with a promise to the whole world and ends with a commission to the whole world.

We are in a sense now in Matthew 29, the discourse after the narrative of Jesus resurrection. We are the living message, teaching the world around us and leading people into a living relationship with Jesus. Jesus is continuing to speak  through his word and through his people.

Implications:
1. It is predicated on Jesus authority. I am telling you, “Go”. Sometimes when we share the gospel and make decisions about life choices we fear offending people or disrupting the status quo. Rocking the boat. Family and friends might not be happy but in fact the authority of the Lord is behind the instruction or opportunity. He says do this, go this way, talk to that person. We can rest on the authority of doing what Jesus wants. If the person is offended then that is up to Jesus to look after. Perhaps the person needs to be disrupted.
Remember that Jesus can handle the consequences of us obeying the command to make disciples.
We have the liberty to obey. We can wash our hands of the consequences.

2. Go. There needs to be a sense of going in our life. There are go-ers and stayers. Our lives need to always be going forward in Christ. We should not put up barriers on our christian life and protect what we have. We should always be ready to move forward on the authority of Christ. Be ready to let the word and prayer to overturn our life. We don’t have to move anywhere but always moving forward with the lord in your life. Always trying to live more holy lives or witness to more people. Phil 3:7:15 Pressing forward in the fullest experience with the resurrected living Lord.

3. The promise. Jesus is with us until the end of the age.
Jesus is with you. If we have faith in Jesus, he is with us. Heb 13:6. Now post resurrection the bond with Jesus is unbreakable. Rom 8:31-38. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Post resurrection we get the abiding continuous presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will come and make his home with us.

Therefore, what stops us obeying Christ. What stops us making him our first priority? Let all the consequences fall to Jesus. 
What should we be concerned about when our focus is on Jesus because he lives with us, and in us, because Jesus rose from the grave. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew 27:27-66 The cross of Christ, the death of the King - John W

John examines the crucifixion: The cross of Christ, the death of the King

This message emphasises the things Matthew has written. Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? It was an unjust trial, a cruel execution, a predicted drama (even in the smallest details), a great victory and glorious salvation.

Outline:
The ‘legal process’
The mocking of the King
Being forsaken
The surrounding events where God indicates the significance of what is happening
Surely this was the son of God
Securing the tomb
(Powerpoint notes: Mt27)

Legal process
Jesus was criticised by the authorities for no obeying the  rules or follow the traditions of the elders but they broke 22 of their own rules.

Lesson:
If you are determined to do something, it doesn’t matter what waring signs you get because you do it anyway. Warning signs come ups but you just filter them out.
The 22 broken rules were warning signs to the leaders but they didn’t want to listen.

1. No arrest was to be influenced by a bribe (Ex 23:8) [Judas].
2. No criminal proceedings should be carried out after sunset.
3. The judges (or Sanhedrin members) were not allowed to participate in an arrest.
4. There were to be no trials before the morning sacrifice.
5. All trials had to be in public. There were to be no secret trials [Jesus reminds them ‘I spoke nothing in secret]
6. Sanhedrin trials could only be performed in the Hall of Judgement in the temple compound.
7. The proper procedure was that the defence would be first, and then the accusation (opposite to our legal system).
8. All may argue in favour of acquittal, but not all may argue in favour of conviction (the accused had to have at least one defender).
9. There had to be two or three witnesses whose testimony had to agree in every detail (Deut 19:15).
10. There was to be no allowance for the accused to testify against himself [Caiaphas charges Jesus under oath to do this].
11. The high priest was not to tear his garments (Lev 21:10).
12. Charges could not originate with the judges [The judges accuse him of blasphemy].
13. The accusation of blasphemy was only valid if the name of God was pronounced [Jesus did not use Gods name, forcing them to also break this rule].
14. A person could not be condemned on the basis of his own words. There had to be two witnesses [Matt 26:65 “Why do we need any more witnesses”].
15. The verdict could not be announced at night, only in the day time.
16. In cases of capital punishment the trial and guilty verdict could not occur at the same time. They must be separated by 24 hours.
17. Voting for the death penalty had to be done by individual count, beginning with the youngest.
18. A unanimous decision for guilt shows innocence as it is impossible for 23-71 men to agree without plotting [They all condemned him to be worthy of death].
19. The sentence could only be pronounced three days after the guilty verdict.
19. Judges were to be humane and kind [spat, blindfold, beat].
21. A person condemned to death was not to be scourged or beaten beforehand.
22. No trial was allowed on the eve of the Sabbath or on a feast day.

If God gives you a warning sign, stop. Don’t do it.

Mocking of the King. 
Matthew emphasises the mocking unwittingly fulfils the prophecies of the old testament. Ps 22. They hurl insults. Pierce my hands.
They fulfilled the very words spoken 1000 years before.
Christ is silent. He does not respond. Is 53:7
King fulfils what was predicated. 

Being forsaken.
Outrage…Syrian nerve gas while victims were sleeping. Everyone is waiting for death. What sort of emotion does this horror provoke. Saturated with bad news, how does it make you feel? Angry.
From noon until 3, why have you forsaken me. Deserted, left behind. He became sin for us. Sin is serious. We forget how serious sin is. It is so common place. Through the whole bible narrative the only way to cover sin is with a blood sacrifice. At the cross Jesus took the price of sin upon himself. So that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.
Jesus took the full legal price of sin.

Another warning. A divine book written by the hand of God.
No punishment in Israel where you pierced someones hands and feet when Ps 22:16 was written by David.

Nature acknowledged what was going on even if the people didn’t.  The curtain tearing announced a new way open for those who want to come to God. Anyone can walk in to the holy of holies if they are covered by the blood of Christ.

Consequences of the Cross
Sin is defeated
Death is defeated
Satan is defeated
Jesus is our advocate
The price of our sin has been paid. 
We can be forgiven

We preach Christ crucified

Matthew 27:1-26 Making choices, what to do with Jesus - Sam M

Mt 27:1-26 Making choices: what do I do with Jesus?
A morning like no other.
Abandoned
Death sealed
Denied by Peter 3 times
Committed to destruction.

Ch27 presents Jesus set against back drop of evil
Illegal and unjust trial
Pilot’s cowardice
Herod’s cruelty
Frenzy of the mob

Matthew always presented the Messiah, presenting the King in his majesty purity and perfection. Against all this ugliness, the beauty of Jesus is seen in higher contrast.

The pain of the guilt of Judas. 

Judas had a visual experience of Jesus.  Spat upon, face bruised and beaten, bound, lead away to a man condemned to death.
Why? The leadership would have approved of his action.
Judas is confronted internally by what has been done is wrong because we are all made in the image of God. He knew what he had done was wrong.
Peter denied Christ, but was remorseful and repented and chose a saviour while Judas chose a system.
Judas hanged himself after betraying innocent blood. Against this tragedy the perfection of Jesus shines through.

The guilt of sin can weigh heavily on us. Rom 4. Who will deliver is from this body of death? Who will deliver you from the awful feeling of guilt. The guilt of sin drives us to the Saviour. We are not to seek escape but seek the saviour.

Judas’ Choice
In deciding what to do with Jesus, Judas tried to use Christ as a means for personal gain.

Pilot’s Choice
John 18:28. What accusation do you bring against this man. He took the easy way out and sent him to Herod.

Herod and Pilot became friends, Luke 23:12. Previously enemies but now bond over a common cause. They have a camaraderie of cruelty. As Herod had mocked him then he thought that perhaps Jesus does deserve to die but he cannot pin anything legally on Jesus.

Pilot’s wife, a gentile, even recognised Jesus as a righteous man and prompts Pilot to have nothing to do with the prosecution but instead he trades the life of Jesus for the murderer Barabbas.

We all have a choice as to what to do with Christ. With real choice comes real consequences and the answer to this question determines your eternal destiny.

Matthew 26:36-75 God honouring decisions - Maxon M

Maxon brings a wonderful perspective and story telling to illustrate the issue of our decision making and whether we will submit our will to those of others, even if that comes at a cost to ourselves. The point is exemplified in Jesus submitting totally to the Father in going to the cross to die so that all people might be saved.

He also considers the real life example of Peter who falls and is restored by the Lord. We can identify with Peter, who in one moment claims devotion to and Lordship of Jesus and then in the next moment find ourselves denying Jesus in the face of man's unfavourable option. Repentance is about daily living and stumbling and getting up again and setting our face back toward Jesus in obedience.

We must each day consider the consequences of our decisions regarding our rights, our time, our energy, our resources and think whether it will bring ourselves and others closer to, and into, the Kingdom of God

 

 

Matthew 26:1-30 Contrast of Characters - Ross P

Here in Chapter 26 we are presented with the beginning of the last 24 hours of the life of Jesus before His trial and crucifixion. The chapter presents contrasts and illustration on the character of people close to Jesus Christ; from the betrayal by Judas to the devotion and worship of Mary, to the fragile commitment of Peter.

Ross asks what it is in the end that decides what side of the Cross do we fall on, and concludes that it is only by repentance of our sin and faith in the Lord Jesus. While Peter repented, Judas only regretted what he did.

Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Matthew 25: Be Ready - Geoffrey S Ross P

For the first time in this teaching series we hear from two speakers on Chapter 25. As the end time events were summarised by Ross last week we have incorporated a review of the parables of the Wise and Unwise Virgins and the Talents from Geoffrey, and then Ross concludes the last section of 25 on the final judgement to complete the end time message begun in Ch24.

All three of the end time parables, Wise, Talents and Sheep/Goats deal with being ready or standing in the right place of character and service when Christ returns.  The first two parables challenge us to be:
1. Patient, as if the Lord's return might be long be delayed
2. Prepared, to have attended to the Lord's work and be found in His service
3. Productive, to be using the gifts and talents the Lord has given us to the increase of His Kingdom.

Have you made the decision and bowed at the cross?
Will you be rewarded for using your talent well. Believers will be judged, not for our sin but for how well we have served the Master.

Faith and Works
Do you have any doubt as to whether Faith is justified by Works? Ross unpacks this question to show that what we believe motivates our works.

Where will you stand before the Judgement seat of Christ. Will your own words will condemn you?
Avoidance of God's judgement requires repentance and faith.

Look both up and around because the Lord is returning and there is a judgement coming.

Be ready.

Matthew 24: The Clash of Kingdoms - Ross P

Ross takes us through Matthew 24 and characterises it as the Clash of Kingdoms, the show down. Clash between the leaders of the nation of Israel and the Lord Jesus.  Here, Jesus tells his disciples about the future.

In this final week of the life of Jesus Christ there are three main events, 

1. Cleansing of the temple. ch 21.
2. 3 days of teaching to his opponents. ch 22.
3. Warnings to hypocrites. ch 23.

Ch 24 teaching is about the future. As Jesus left the Temple he predicted that every stone will be thrown down. When will this happen, what will be the sign? Jesus uses a a teachable moment with his disciples. An opportunity to teach the one who asked the question is ready to be instructed.

As Chapter 24 sets out future events we need to ask what is our attitude or reaction is to Prophesy. A word that generates different reactions from some.

1 Scoffers.  Not true, ridiculous!

2 Oh no! A cause of controversy. Frightened of what it can cause, nervous. Avoid at all costs

3. MEGO syndrome, boring, My Eyes Glaze Over? Why bother.

4. Curious. I want to know more.

Why bother with prophesy. Six reasons.

1. Promotes the study of Scripture, Heb 4:12, 30% of your bible is prophetic
2. Prevents ignorance. We need to be aware of things that are to happen
3. Proclaims Christ. Look for Christ in the passages
4. Promises personal benefit.
5. Promotes holy living. Seeing all these things are going to happen, what sort of people ought we to be.
6 Persuades action now. If you know the Lord is coming soon you need to be active now. How should we act in view of what is coming.

Are you ready for the return of Jesus or are you acting like those in the days of Noah? Judgement is coming

How do we change form serving idols to serving God. Repent and turn in faith to Jesus and accept what He did on the cross for your sin

Matthew 23: What Grieves the heart of God - John W

John reviews the Gospel of Matthew up to the conflict scene with the Pharisees, starting in Chapter 21. The message examines the things that grieves the heart of God through the lens of Jesus. Specifically chapter Matt:23 challenges us on actions that:

1. Closes the door to God's Kingdom, v. 13
2. Leading people away from God to be people like the Pharisees, v. 15
3. Following man-made traditions instead of God's Word, v. 16-22
4. Concentrating on the minutia (legalism) and ignoring what is really important; Justice, Mercy and faithfulness, v.23-24
5. Putting on an act so that you look 'right', v.25-26
6. Not addressing the evil on the inside, v.27-28
7. Rejecting and murdering God's prophets and messengers, v.29-36
 

Jonah 4: God who rescues - Simon S

Repentance of the whole city is more profound a miracle than the fish

Jonah knew God would be gracious and merciful and It displeased Jonah exceedingly. He was furious and angry. His worst fear for running away was that he did not want Ninevah to repent. Even if there was a chance of Ninevah repenting then he got as far away as possible. God might even care for these hated people

How could a good God allow such evil people to be forgiven? A God who was full of steadfast love. Ex 34:6 God relented from judging Israel after they made the golden calf.

The same God delivered the enemy of Israel. Spared from the judgment they deserved. Jonah is acting the complete opposite of the God he worshiped. Quick to anger, lacking in grace and mercy, no love for his neighbour and would rather see disaster strike his enemies.

Jonah says I know who you are. I know what you are like but why do you have to show it to them. Why show THEM mercy instead of justice? Why are you showing THEM redemption instead of punishment. Nineveh deserves judgement, not mercy for their evil and their wickedness.

There is offence in the prophet’s voice. Jonah’s hatred is literally killing him inside. Rather be dead than see Ninevah saved. Jonah literally cannot live with this. Fate worse than death. Jonah only a few days earlier prayed salvation belongs to the Lord and was rescued from certain death is now enraged by the sight of salvation and rescue from certain death being shown to his enemies. A hypocrite.

Gods response to Jonah’s cry, are you right to be angry..why do you resent God’s compassion on your enemies?

Jonah went to see what would happen to Ninevah? Maybe they would repent of their repentance? Then he would have been right and justified.

Jonah hangs around to see what happens next. 

Every character in the story so far has repented except Jonah. Jonah is the prophet and yet the furthest away from God. It is the prophet Jonah who needed to be rescued from his understanding to be God’s people. Grace and mercy to Gods people and judgment and wrath to his enemies.

God cares about a city. God shows Jonah how upside down his values are. Learn to show some love and compassion to the Ninevites. Should we be concerned about our city, way more than 120,000 people?

The story is saying something to you the reader. Satire. Humour, irony. All characters act in the opposite way to what you would expect.

When we read Jonah to day it challenges us in the way God loves his enemies. Does it make us more compassionate or angrier. Its easy to point the finger at Jonah, we judge ourselves. We are exceedingly happy when grace is shown to us but not when it is shown to our enemies. Our enemies are not worthy of Gods compassion.

We are the ones needing to be rescued. Who do we deem less valuable of God's love and compassion. God loves his enemies.

What is our attitude to our enemies outside these walls?

What does Jonah say about Jesus?
A gospel story. Both from Galillee, Both in the ground for 3 days and resurrected. Both sent on a rescue mission of salvation and life. Both preached to a great city. Both had something to say to about loving your enemies. Jesus took on judgement deserved by us. Jesus died that we might live.

Jonah is the story about the The God who rescues.

Jonah 3: God who forgives - David W

Jonah tried his best to run from the missionary task God had given him but when he finally confronted the Ninevite people with the warning of impending destruction the fearsome Ninevite people repented.

David asks us to consider where our Ninevah might be and were we fear to go and witness to God's love and grace. He also asks us to consider our own repentance and to turn back to God.

Where in the community are you representing Jesus and forming friendships with people to share the good news with them? We can also be Jonah's to our society and to call out evil and wickedness requiring repentance.

Jonah is a story of grace and repentance that resonates with the world's need today.

Jonah 2: God who restores - John W

John takes us to Jonah Ch 2 with a fresh look and asks

  • Where do we go in distress, do we call on God?
  • Do we acknowledge that we can’t save our selves and that we need God to save us?
  • Have we changed our mind about God so that it is Your kingdom come, Your will be done?
  • Do we believe the sign that He has given us?

The chapter shows us that
God is a God who wants to restore us and give us a second chance.
A picture of God’s greatest sign, the sign of the resurrection, Jesus has overcome death.
Jesus tells us he is the resurrection and the Life.
It gives a parallel view from the Psalms on the suffering of Jesus.


 

Jonah 1: God without borders - Andrew S

We commence a short series on the Book of Jonah. Andrew brings us a rich overview of the power of the Assyrian nation at the time of Jonah and the severity of the Ninevites and suggests reasons to understand why Jonah acted in disobedience to God at the thought that Israel's oppressors might be forgiven and redeemed.

The text instructs us that the Lord God is the the God of the Jews and the Gentiles. Jonah is unique in that it is the only account of a prophet speaking to a Gentile nation for the benefit of the nation, and not for any benefit or instruction to Israel. It is a book of mission.

Andrew explains that the use of a great fish to deliver wisdom of salvation was completely in keeping with the mythology of the Assyrians who believed that all wisdom for civilisation came from seven sages who appeared from the sea. Assyrian iconography and sculpture depicts men in the form of fish giving teaching and instruction.

Andrew also parallels the account of Jesus in the boat in the storm in Mark 4 and Jonah asleep in a boat in a storm. Jesus is sleeps perfectly connected to the will of the Father while Jonah is detached and immune to his circumstances and his role for the salvation of the sailors. The parallel is drawn with out own lives as to whether we are connected or detached from God's will.

Matthew 6:19-34: Do not worry! - Maxon M

Maxon sets the scene with regard to a kingdom announcement. He encourages us to look at Matthew’s Gospel from the perspective of a rebellion against the ruling authority and the mind set necessary to maintain a love for God. There is a cost and a conflict in identifying with the Kingdom.

John declared new kingdom was coming and for his work he lost his life. Jesus declared the kingdom arrival and He lost his life. When we we declare a new kingdom it is not a surprise that there is resistance but we are not to worry.

Worry only subtracts, it does not add. It’s mathematical language. Every time we worry we subtract beauty from our life.

Matthew 5-7 prepare us for the new kingdom. The weight of the world was on the disciples and beatitude teachings were intended to equip them to keep their devotion toward the Kingdom

Key verse
vs 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

God loves us and everything is in Gods hands. God knows what is happening in our life which is our source of strength. Where our heart is decides where we focus our attention. Where your devotion is is where your heart is. You cannot serve something you cannot love.

Love and hate are not exclusive, they are a continuous scale. We serve one more than the other. 

vs 22 Good eye, bad eye. 
Our perspectives about wealth. Good eyes see the deceitfulness in riches. The way we look at this world determines our everyday decisions.

The World is devoted to materialism. Materialism has become a God. 

Prosperity expects that all suffering is removed. Prosperity doctrine argues that If you suffer it is because of sin. So God is punishing you. A true relationship with God must result in riches in this world. Christianity is turning to mamon but money alone does not represent all other riches. 

The riches of this world and the God. Choose between the two. Riches worship God or we worship the riches. God served through what we have in this world. Save up where out heart is, where Jesus is.

Materialism is idolatry. Catholics are criticised for having false idols but Protestants are also guilty of idolatatory by worshipping materialism. We can be unaware of worshipping God and the materialism of the world at the same time.

Why is it wrong to save up and heap up more and more at the cost of others dying? Governments store up while people are dying. Overtime when we covert and store something someone else is dying somewhere.

We must not allow riches to divide our devotion. Riches given to us are to be used to worship God. The riches must be allowed to extend the kingdom that has been proclaimed It can otherwise become a kingdom of itself and so we serve that kingdom

Vs 25 Worrying.
Worry destroys our health. It takes away your peace. Any happiness built up on anything of this world is not true peace. True peace is only built upon knowledge if God’s love for us. Knowing how much God loves us drives away unnecessary fear which drives away all unnecessary worry we have. The world give happiness and the world will take it away. The joy of the Lord is my strength. Every time we have no money we have no joy. If we have no lodging we have no joy but we sing the Joy of the Lord is our strength. Why is this. Happiness comes with circumstance. Joy must be created by what we know about God, rather than by what we have. When it comes it brings joy.  When we lose money or processions we still enjoy Gods love for us.  Worry takes away our peace. Worry subtracts peace from your life. A worried person is an angry person. Worry takes from your from what keeps you healthy.

Author: John White, an example of a communist young man. The struggle for world communism. A cause to fight for. A commitment and devotion. 

1 Thess 5:18 be thankful in all circumstances. Thankfulness brings positivity into your mind, say thank you for having the problem. The greatest musician was David. Ps 18. He saw his enemies and worries and just thanked God and drove out unnecessary worry. Being thankful to God helps us drive out all worry.

Testimony: of giving up a job to serve God and the effect of worry. Worry will dry you up. Undivided devotion is required to be part of the new kingdom.

Our joy comes from knowing that Jesus loves us because the “Bible tells us so”

Matthew 5:21-48 : God's Righteousness - Geoffrey S

Matthew records Jesus' challenge to the religious leaders that the righteousness of God does not come from doing right but being right. To be in a right relationship with God through the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ, and right relationships with people as peace makers and being pure in thought and action.

These passages cover our ugly characteristics of Anger, Lust, Adultery, Divorce, Dishonesty and Retaliation.

Recognizing the depth of God's great love for us and His ability to work in the midst of our frailty can enable us to count on Him to change our hearts, to have hope that He can transform us to be more like his Son.

We can count on Him to transform our hearts because this is who God is. The gospel is the story of God wooing and loving us, His enemies. He cared for us before we even knew or cared that He existed. Transforming conflict into peace and well-being is at the heart of who He is. 

It is God who continually accomplishes the impossible--of enabling us to love, when our natural man only knows anger and division. 

Christ has covered only 6 principles here: Do not express hatred for another, but do good to everyone no matter what they did to you. Do nothing sexually immoral. Stay with the one you are married to. Do not break any commitments you make. Do not rebel against any authority, even evil ones. 

These are not laws that we can just wake up one day and say, “Well, it’s illegal to do this, so I think I’ll just stop.” Rather, these are laws that must begin to be obeyed in our minds. Our thoughts are what determine what our small, seeming insignificant actions will be. Thus, we must depend on the Spirit of God to obey in this way.