Sunday, May 25, 2014

What is Forgiveness?

From Matthew 9:1-8
Jesus heals a paralyzed man after forgiving his sins.

This telling of Jesus healing a paralytic is a repeat from Mark 2 with subtle but significant differences that demonstrate Matthew's point that forgiveness takes precedence over healing, and that Jesus, as the Son of God, has the ability, authority, and desire to do both.

We don't know what the man's sins are, 
whether he is righteous or far from it,
neither do we know the reason for his paralysis, 
whether he was born that way
or it somehow happened to him or he somehow caused it.

His sins could be “normal”
good news: Jesus is quick to forgive those that are brought to him!

His sins could be “great”
good news: Jesus is quick to forgive those that are brought to him!

Forgiveness >> healing

What is forgiveness?
First, what is sin? Separation. Broken relationship.
Forgiveness is relationship. God's power over brokenness.
Forgiveness is NOT condoning, saying it's okay. 
Forgiveness is a step towards reconciliation and reparation of what is broken.
Broken plate / apology / still broken → God is healer

God in Jesus is ABLE (has authority)
and God in Jesus is WILLING (hello, incarnation!)
and God goes to great lengths to forgive.

Relationship is supremely important to God.
Bring people to him.

Prayer of Confession / Hymn 389 Freely, Freely

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Who Wants to Be With Jesus?

on Matthew 8:23-34... 
Jesus quiets a storm at sea, 
Jesus evicts demons from two men. 

• Teaching section of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and 7, the Sermon on the Mount) comes to end, what happens after teaching? LIVING.

Who likes having kids, raising kids? 
Is it great? Is it easy? Is it always enjoyable?
Hershey Park with my 9-year-old daughter... 
story of her first roller coaster ride. 
And 9 times in a row on the “Wild Mouse” which is not very fast but if you're more than a hundred pounds, hurts.
Certainly, having a child has taken me beyond my comfort zone many times.

But... do you ever take child past their comfort zone?
Do you as parent ever lead your child beyond where they're comfortable?

Yes, of course, it's how we learn, really learn.
And it's how we take children where they need to go... into maturity.

When you lead people beyond their comfort zone, what are you? A monster, or responsible?

When you leave people IN their comfort zone, what are you...

Regarding following Jesus, which do you think Jesus will do: leave you in your comfort zone, or lead you into and through storm (and beyond comfort)?

Jesus sees crowds and orders to sea (8:18) where there's a storm (8:24)
and Jesus is right there in the midst. 

God may lead children into storm, but God will not abandon children.

Hold on to Dad's hand in the midst. In amusement park and in life.

What about demons?
Matthew and others use as illustration of the power of Jesus.
The fear in their day: demon possession.
The fear today: cancer.
I have no doubt that today the story would be about Jesus cancer.
And Jesus has authority over. And Jesus leads into and goes with.

Bottom line: Go with Jesus. Hold his hand. He goes with you.

Hymn 512 Stand By Me

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jesus, Life-Restorer

on Matthew 8:14-22... 
Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law, 
Jesus speaks to two would-be followers. 

• Teaching section of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and 7, the Sermon on the Mount) comes to end, what happens after teaching? LIVING.

It's Mother's Day... honestly I don't often talk about my mother (still living). I love my Mom's cooking. Not gourmet or anything, but it's what I was raised on and I have many happy memories... She would try to make the Thanksgiving turkey dry, and thankfully she failed most of the time. She had (has) a signature dish: her spaghetti sauce. We had it every week. If we had a visitor, that was the dish. Best way she knew to welcome, give hospitality...

When Jesus entered the home of Peter's mother-in-law, she had a fever. Jesus healed her and she began to serve... Jesus restored not just her health but her ability to be host, provide hospitality.

What's next? More healings. Exorcisms. People who could not participate in life were restored to participation.

No moss under Jesus' feet!

It's like he knows he has limited time and is out to do the greatest good, to restore life to the most he can. 

Reminds me of a quotation attributed to John Wesley: 
Do all the good you can, 
by all the means you can, 
in all the ways you can, 
at all the times you can, 
to all the people you can, 
as long as ever you can.

give/receive inoculation, go and inoculate. Spread healing and wholeness.

Twist: Not easy to follow Jesus... his is a continual call, a call for your all.
Sometimes when a perosn gets a job it's part of their contract that if they leave they won't go to a competitor within a certain amount of time... a kind of brand loyalty.
Jesus, in discipleship, demands 100% loyalty... all him and only him, always.
There is no partial discipleship. Jesus is sovereign. Complete.

And then Jesus responds to two would-be followers, and honestly, it's a little awkward. “Foxes have dens, birds have nests...”
heads-up, warning, following Jesus takes all, is not convenient, and may be quite surprising...

But not letting a man bury his father? 
You may have heard this softened,
but I think this is one to be taken at surface.
Jesus is sovereign. Following Jesus may be offensive. 
And there's an urgency: the time to follow is now. 
The one to set the schedule is him.

And when it comes down to it, what is appropriate: yield to Jesus, or yield to man?

Prayer of Confession / Hymn 407 Close to Thee

Restore life... save life... For Mother's Day we encourage making a donation to Imagine No Malaria.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jesus, Well-Maker

on Matthew 8:1-13... 
Jesus heals a man with leprosy...
Jesus heals a centurion's servant from afar

• Teaching section of Matthew (chapters 5, 6, and 7, the Sermon on the Mount) comes to end, what happens after teaching? LIVING.

Jesus heals a man with leprosy... an outsider.
What is leprosy, more importantly what are effects?
   various skin diseases, caused leper to exist outside society. 
No normal life. Shout “unclean” from a distance.
Can you imagine a condition that cut you off?
   AIDS. Ostracized from society.
As Jesus makes the man well, he bears the consequences of the man’s condition.

Jesus heals a centurion's servant... an outsider.

Good news: Jesus is capable healer (write it down)

Not-so-good-news (for insiders): healings for Gentiles (outsiders)... healings for outsiders who are active and have faith.

Aside: Would you rather have a “yesman” son who actually does nothing, or a son who's an outsider who does good work?

Many of us are Christians... Many of us know not only the stories but the goodness. It's good to worship, good to enjoy fellowship, but it can't stop there... Jesus restored health & LIFE to church outsiders.

Why are we here? To make disciples... to save lives. To introduce broken lives to saving power of JC. Disciples bring people to Jesus.

Share the love of God with people in a hurting world...

Make disciples of JC for the transformation of the world.

TRANSFORMATION. Are we doing it?
What does transformation mean?

We do community when we interact with others...

Interact through worship, song, commuion...

Communion saying I love you. Some people don't hear that much.