Services During COVID Lock Down

During the COVID lock down, we are sadly not able to meet as church. However, that does not mean that our church has ceased to function. We still pray, worship and study God’s word, as well as look to show that our in our day to day lives.

Nevertheless, since we cannot run services for the time being we will be putting content online for people to access at home, through our Face Book page .

https://www.facebook.com/churchotc.thamesmead.3

There will be a Sunday service @ 10.30am for about 45 minutes, plus shorter (15 minute) services through the week @ 12.30pm.

The Holy Spirit (II) – The Fruit

Last week we considered how the Holy Spirit places us in Christ and allows us to stand against the challenges of the world. The Spirit changes our hearts from stone to flesh, teaches us truth and fills us with God’s peace, but that is not all the Spirit does. The Spirit also grows in us His fruit. Now we have a test, who can name some of what the Spirit gives – there are nine of them. …

Galatians 5 gives us the list: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Now, these fruit are all great. We all want some of these! But what are they for? Our own benefit? Others benefit? What?

 

Jesus says we are to be fruitful. In our reading Jesus said that if we are close to God, then He lives in us and we live in Him. God IN YOU. God in ME. In your heart, God lives – by the Spirit.

 

So what does Spirit do when He lives in you? Does He sit around and relax? No … if The Spirit is in you, He works in you and changes you. And as He changes you, your character changes and you grow into a new you – a fuller you / truer you  / more Christ like you – BECAUSE the Spirit is in you.

 

Jesus describes this change as being fruitful – having fruit. He said: “To my Father’s glory … you will bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

SHOWING YOURSELVES – This fruit is something people will see and recognise as something from God. They will look at you and think: “You are different to me. You have something I do not have.” Fruit SHOWS you are a disciple of Christ, and the list we just saw is what we are to have, but one point.

  • Who is good at maths?
  • How many fruit are there in this passage? (Gal 5) There are not nine, but ONE! In the Greek, it is ONE Fruit with NINE aspects.

Therefore, when we have the singular fruit of the Spirit, we will show all NINE characteristics. So you can’t say: “Well I have eight out of nine, but this generosity gift … not my thing!”

Nine or none. You either grow in all nine aspects or in none. I suspect that is a bit daunting for us. It is change of who you are, but it is only the outcome of having your heart changed in the first place. You can’t have a new heart and not show that in your life! This is why Paul is comfortable with telling us to: “Live by the Spirit” – LIVE OUT THE NEW YOU!

My last point – It is very hard to live this out in isolation from other people. The Spirit’s fruit assumes human interaction. Just think if you only applied these to yourself! Odd!

  • Love needs somebody to be loved. Loving yourself is narcissism.
  • Kindness – you need someone to be kind to.
  • Goodness – only makes sense if you are good to somebody else. If you are only good to yourself, that is weird.
  • Patience – who has children here? School holidays? Patience, self-control, gentleness – all get tested, eh?

Fruit only make sense when you live with other people around you. And with others around you, you will show who are. You cannot hide who you are. God gives you this fruit to shape your character and bless those around you. Fruit are not for you to selfishly horde and keep to yourself. Fruit is to be seen and shared. The Fruit of The Spirit is a missional gift God gives to us. And this got me thinking …

Where do you get fruit from? Trees and bushes mainly. Now, here’s the point:

  • Fruit are no use if they stay on the tree, where nobody can reach them … except the birds, worms and wasps when they start to go mouldy.
  • Similarly, fruit are no use if they fall to the ground, and then get infested with ants and bugs.

Fruit are no use to anyone if they are not eaten, but just rot. Fruit are to be shared and consumed!

So, as we come into Christmas and a New Year, let us ask God we would grow the Fruit of The Spirit in us, so we can go and share that blessing with the world.

The Spirit As Advocate & Comforter

Last week we heard about Christ the Perfect High Priest and Sacrifice, who, after offering the perfect once-for-all sacrifice on the Cross, sat down in the presence of the Father knowing that His job was finally and fully done. Nothing more to do, and never a need to go back to it. Done! God’s people forgiven, perfected and sanctified.

We also saw last week that the Spirit speaks to us to affirm this truth of being forgiven, perfected and sanctified in Christ. And it is this we will look further at today – the role of the Holy Spirit.

Our reading from John calls the Holy Spirit two things.

  • First, the Advocate or Comforter sent from the Father in the Name of Jesus. Sent by the Trinity. The Greek word is Paraclete and it is bigger than English can cope with.

It means one who is a legal advocate, counsel for defence, an intercessor, comforter and generally a helper. But the actual root of the Greek is to: “Come and stand beside.” The Spirit is one who will come and stand beside you, shoulder to shoulder, to encourage you and argue for you.

  • The second is the Spirit of Truth who will teach us. Later John 16 says the Spirit will lead us into all Truth. Earlier in John echoing the Old Testament, the work of the Spirit was to take out hearts of stone and give hearts of flesh. Holy Spirit gives a new heart that wants to do what God wants.

This is why Jesus can say: “If you love me you will do what I say – follow my commandments.” The Holy Spirit teaches AND gives you a heart to learn it and do it. Teaching a heart of stone is a waste of time. Teaching a Spirit filled heart of flesh – much more productive!

The Spirit is the One who stands with us, bringing Comfort and Truth. What does that mean and why is it important?

The context of this section of John is “Being in the world” and that this is different from “Being with / in Christ”. Later it talks of the ruler of the world – which is the Devil, who is a liar and the Father of Lies. This clear divide between the things of the world and truth of God, helps explain what comes next.

The world can be hostile to the things of God and the People of God, and to stand against this hostility needs God’s strength within us.

The world lies to us and draws us away from God. Satan can tempt and lie – and he is really good at it, no doubt!

So, in this light, when the Spirit is said to be our Comforter Who Leads Us Into All Truth, is this simply giving us more head knowledge to fight lies, or something more than that?

Of course, it is something more!

  • What is the Truth of Christ? At its core it is what we have heard over the last three weeks. Jesus is the God/Man, the High Priest and Perfect Sacrifice, who is sole source of perfection, healing, sanctification and relationship with God. It is life changing, not just facts.

The Bible tells us that this truth is counter cultural – Paul says many will see it as foolish and offensive. But it IS the source of life for us.

  • How is that life changing truth made real? By the Spirit making us a new creation with a new heart. Think how radical that is. In our world, people do not like being told that they are wrong. Remember what I have said before – the world believes:

 

  • Follow your heart.
  • Be true to yourself.

The Gospel says unless you have been changed by the Spirit, this is the LAST thing you do! Why? You have a dead heart of stone, that has no interest in the things of God. But by the Holy Spirit living in us, and giving us new hearts, the source of life and truth now lives in you, and so one can discern and trust what your heart says.

This then puts you outside the world – which is uncomfortable and troubling. That is why we need the peace and strength of God – which Jesus promises to us here. We are not alone.

The reading ends with a strange thing – Rise. Let us be on our way. Do you know where they are going to? Gethsemane to meet the soldiers, and for Jesus to be arrested and eventually taken to the Cross. These are timely words from Jesus for the Disciples.

Once final thing. The end of the reading says the Ruler of the World is coming, but he has NO POWER over Christ. Therefore, if we are IN Christ, then he has no claim on us either. He will try and lie and convince you otherwise, but he has no claim over those who are in Christ. How do we remain and stay IN Christ? By having the Spirit in us.

  • You cannot be in Christ, and not have the Spirit.
  • You cannot have the Spirit and not be in Christ.

The question for us and for prayer is: Are you in Christ?

  • If you are not, and want to be, come and speak to me. We can pray that God would open you to His Spirit and give you the new heart that is the gateway to being IN Christ.
  • And if you are, do you want to be deeper in Christ and in the Spirit?
  • If you do not have peace, come and pray for peace.
  • Lastly, if you have lies attacking you and you want prayer about that, come up and ask

Why Should We Forgive?

 

The Son (III) – High Priest and Sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:10-25

 

We are going through our series on the Trinity, and are on the third talk about the Son. We saw two weeks ago that Jesus was fully God and fully human, and so fully experienced everything we have and was without sin. This gave us a confidence to pray to God, knowing that He has “been there, seen it, done it” without sin and could help us, because He KNOWS!  A passage in Hebrews explained this:

“Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16)

And then last week we were looking at what it means to be IN Christ, and to receive all the spiritual blessings that God gives. We looked at the boxes which explained about being IN Christ means being IN the Father, with the Spirit IN us, which means we renewed and restored, having peace, joy, grace, forgiveness, security, role and purpose. This is an amazing blessing to live in and give thanks for.

But it is always worth asking – Do we really live in the light of being IN Christ? Do we always really trust that God has forgiven us, restored us and renewed us? Or do we sometime live in the light of the OLD us, not the NEW IN Christ us?

Today we will look at Jesus being the High Priest and Sacrifice, and see how this truth gives us confidence in what He has done.

  • Our reading gives the picture of the Jewish Priest and the High Priest. What would their job be? Daily sacrificing animals – there would be blood, guts, mess, fire and smoke, and then they would go home and wash their robes … and then come back and do it all over again.
  • They would get to know people who come, every week with their offerings for sin – and know that they will be back next week to offer another. Sometimes they would offer more, sometime less (depending on how things were going!), but as priest you knew they would always be back.
  • Then once a year, someone would enter the Holy Of Holies and offer the sacrifice for themselves and all the People of God.

To any Jew reading this, they would see the relentless cycle of animal sacrifice which never actually solved the problem. You and everyone else always came back with more to sacrifice. Into this relentless cycle we read this:

It is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ, once and for all. And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,”

Three words are amazing here. HE SAT DOWN. For a Jewish reader, this is massive symbolism.

Other than the mercy seat, there was nowhere for any priest to sit down in work areas of the Temple. There was no place to rest, as it was a place of constant daily work.

Even the annual sacrifice in the Holy of Holies, where the People of God were cleansed of their sins, once he was done, the priest had to leave the presence of God.

For one brief moment the sacrifices for the priest and people were done, and priest was in the Holy of Holies with God – but not for long. The priest had to leave, and left knowing that the next day he would be back in the Temple sacrificing, and next year someone would be back in the Holy Of Holies. Again and again and again.

You could never rest. Then came Christ. …

Christ was the single perfect spotless offering, and once He had offered Himself on the Cross, and every sin of the People of God had been laid on Him – He sat down.

Nothing more to do. Once for all. Once for all. It was now over – forever. No more: Come in and leave, come in and leave, come in and leave. Jesus was never going to have to go back and do it again. So, He sat down in the presence of God, and rested there. His enemies (the power of sin) are defeated, and His people are sanctified. There is nothing more to do. He can now rest, in the peace of God.

Last week we saw we are IN Christ, so we can, IN Him, remain in the presence of God without working or sacrificing and can just rest.

Further, as we know imperfection and un-holiness cannot enter God’s presence, but IN Christ and BY Christ, we are perfected for all time and sanctified by Him. ALL TIME. Not short term, so we have leave the Presence. But ALL TIME. We never have to leave.

Forgiven, sanctified and perfected. Fully.

But there is more than forgiveness. We have new hearts filled with God’s Law – God’s truth – changed by Holy Spirit who now lives in us. We will look more at this over the coming three weeks. And once we have this, nothing else is needed or required. Everything else is superfluous. Do we believe this?

As we respond, keep a few things in mind.

  • Where do we doubt what God has done for us?
  • Where do we not rest in Him, but need to?
  • Where are we running around doing work we do not need to?
  • Where do we need to rest in the truth that we are IN Christ, and live in that light?

Hebrews 10:11-25

It is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ, once and for all. And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,”

and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.”

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
    after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds,”

He also adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 

by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 

and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Being In Christ

 

Last week we looked at the person of Jesus, and saw how he is fully God and fully human.

  • Being fully God we learnt that Jesus is the Creator – Creator of you, me and everything. And as Creator, He is the King of the Heavens and the Earth. He is King of the whole Universe! Jesus is the Heavenly King.
  • We also heard how He lived here on earth as a normal human being – just like you and me. Being fully human he experienced everything we have. Hunger, tiredness, irritating brothers and sisters, annoying parents! Who has an annoying brother or sister? Have you been angry with them? Mean to them? …  Wanted vengeance? … Yes, we all have! … Jesus had brothers and sisters too, and I bet they were like you and me … but Jesus was sinless with them.
  • Being fully God and fully Human Jesus can answer every question we have. Jesus knows because He has been there, seen it and done it! And He sits on His Throne, and we can pray to Him. We can approach the King’s Throne of Grace with confidence when we pray, and know He can and will answer.

Jesus is amazing – The Heavenly King on the Throne, who also lived on earth as a carpenter! He is the focus of our faith, and today’s reading shows that focus well. It is one of the hardest in the Bible – it is long and complex – but filled with truth. It starts with:

“Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us IN Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

What would you think a spiritual blessing in heaven is? Joy, peace, love, wholeness, no illness, having perfect relationships with everybody you meet!

The passage tells us it is more than these. It also includes:

  • God chose us before the foundation of the world.
  • We have redemption and forgiveness by the Cross.
  • We have obtained an inheritance.
  • We are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

But before we think about these, one other thing keeps coming up in the reading – about 10 times in these 11 verses – being IN Christ. To get these blessings we need to be IN Christ. Being IN Christ – what does that mean?

Look at these boxes – this will help us

.

  • Here we have Christ.
  • All who believe are IN Christ – Colossians 3:3 say: “Our life is hidden WITH Christ IN God.”
  • We also learn in 1 Corinthians that the Holy Spirit is IN all who believe. So, we have the Spirit IN us.
  • So, we are IN Christ, the Spirit is IN us, and John’s Gospel tells is that the Christ The Son, is IN the Father.
  • It is a picture of the Trinity and us.

This helps us understand what the Spiritual Blessings are, and how we get them:

God chose us before the foundation of the world

I have often said that human beings are not random chemical accidents formed from a random biological soup. The universe and everything in it was created by God, and created for a purpose. In the same way, every single human being was created for a reason and a purpose.

Those who believe are chosen IN Christ – this tells us that there is nobody whom God has chosen who will not be saved. God’s Will can never be frustrated. If you are IN Christ, you are saved – saved for a purpose. Later Paul says we are saved for good works. We are not chosen and saved to live pointless and stupid lives, but for a good purpose and good works.

 

We have Redemption and forgiveness by the Cross

 

We looked at the Cross last month, so won’t get into detail now. But for us, to be IN Christ means we do not face the judgement for sin we should. All who sin should face the judgement of God. If we are IN Christ, Christ takes that judgement on Himself instead of it being on us. This is why the Cross is so important. On the Cross, Jesus took what we should get, so we could be reconciled with the Father.

 

Obtained an inheritance

 

Our heavenly Father loves the Son with an eternal love, which wants to give Him every good thing there is. If we are IN Christ, what the Father gives the Son, we also get, which is all the riches of heaven. How rich is heaven? Very. We will get this blessed inheritance because we are IN Christ. This is also why He can call us brothers, because we will share the family inheritance with Him.

 

Marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit

 

We have seen three promises from God. How do we know that we will get what God has promised? With a fourth. We are marked with the Seal of the Spirit. What does this mean? If you IN Christ, then you have Holy Spirit IN you. To have the Holy Spirit IN you means that God has marked you as SAVED IN CHRIST. God has set up home in you, and He is not leaving and will bring you to the fullness of living with the Trinity in heaven.

Four promises, and they are a complete package – you can’t have one without all the others. If you are IN Christ, then everything God has promised will come to you, as his child – as one who is part of His family.

This is a truth and reality we need to respond to.

  • For those who are not IN Christ, we need to pray that God would reveal Himself to them /you, and that they / you would accept Christ.
  • For those of us who are IN Christ, we should realise that enormous gift and blessing to us, and be thankful, and that to be IN Christ has a purpose and a point. Also, we should look to do the good works of God, and also ask for God to show us if there are specific callings and purposes He wants us to more into. Let us pray God would reveal these to us.

Why Did God Become Like Us?

God The Son – Jesus

The last couple of weeks we have been looking at God The Father, and for the next three weeks we will consider God the Son – Jesus!

Do you remember that we saw that the Triune God was ONE WHAT, with THREE WHOs. One eternal infinite spirit with three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we saw that humans were ONE WHAT with ONE WHO. God, as an eternal infinite spirit is able to have three persons, whereas the limited created human nature is only able to have one person.
Many objections to the Trinity have their root in the idea that: “I cannot see anything like that in the created order, therefore it cannot be true of God.” Objections to the Trinity are nearly always based in cutting the Creator down to the size of a creature.

Understanding God the Son

The same goes for understanding the God the Son. For a human son to happen, you need a human source (man and woman), a human generation (making love) and a human birth of a human being. All limited by time, space and physical nature … BUT … an eternal spirit being, as an eternal spiritual source for eternal spiritual generation leads to eternal spiritual Son. Son in the terms of God is not the same as Son in the terms of human beings.

If you talk to people of other faiths usually they will understand “Son” in very human terms, and then say something like: “I understand Son in human terms, and human terms do not work with God. God cannot come down and have sex with Mary to get a son – therefore you cannot have God the Son with God the Father.”

The Creator gets limited by the Creation

Christianity, though, is 180 degrees different to that. Our Creator God is over and above His Creation, and is not defined by His Creation. More than that God can enter His Creation in order to save it. This is the wonder of the Incarnation – where God became human. God the Word became flesh. The Son entered humanity to identify with us and then save us. Jesus was fully and properly God and fully and properly human. Our reading tells us this clearly.

The is only one God

Now John The Apostle is a Jew. Therefore, for him there is ONE God. And this is a non-negotiable truth. Strict Monotheism. He then details what this looks like for Christians.
• It begins with the fact that the Word (who is later identified as Jesus) – is eternal (in the beginning with God), is alongside God (so not the Father), and is God. The Word is then also identified as the Creator and the source of Life. John is pointing to the Trinity.
• So the Word is fully and properly God – and the Word is then said (v.14) to become flesh. What does flesh mean? In Greek – sarx – is flesh and bones. True body. Not a ghost or a spirit. But a true human.
• Finally, the Word is said to have lived with us. The Greek is “tabernacled”, which has the sense of putting down a tent and staying. Building a home. He didn’t flit back to heaven now and then – Jesus lived here on earth like anyone else.

Jesus truly experienced what we go through

And this is important. Jesus truly experienced what we did, so we can in confidence pray and He will know. Hebrews 4 calls Jesus the Great High Priest, and says:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

God has experienced what we have

Through Jesus, God has experienced what we have. Just think of what Jesus’ background was:
• Called illegitimate.
• A refugee made homeless as a toddler.
• Lived in a small town.
• He was misunderstood.
• He wept.
• He was hungry.
• He was tired.
• He was slandered.
• He was betrayed.
• He was beaten, mocked and despised.
• He experienced the most brutal form of death humans have ever come up with.
• He experienced the fullness of Psalm 22.

And yet He was without sin. Jesus was able to face everything, and not only not sin, but was always free, and freely lived in grace and truth. In every encounter in His life, however difficult, He responded without sin and with grace, truth and love.
When we pray to God, when we come before the Throne of Grace, He knows first-hand what we are going through, and can give first hand wisdom and grace for us to get through it. So we can be confident to do it.

Jesus is never shocked by what we have done

More than this, Jesus is never shocked by what we have done. He knows what it is like to live in our bodies, and so how difficult it is for us. Therefore, we can approach the throne of grace in the time of need confidently knowing that our God, Jesus, truly knows what we are going through and will answer.
This should encourage our prayer life – to openly and honestly bring to Jesus the true issues of our life. As we pray, today and this coming week, let us all pray with honesty and confidence before the throne of God, and trust that Jesus will answer with grace.

The Word Became Flesh (John 1:1-14)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Conclusion

God loved us so much that He became flesh, like us, through Jesus Christ. He knows what it feels like to be rejected, accused, forgotten, abandoned by close friends, a refugee, ridiculed by your own family, misunderstood, falsely accused, tested, tempted by the pleasures of this world, beaten, laughed at, spat upon and ultimately killed.

He can relate to all our daily challenges and help us through them. Because He became flesh, He can truly answer our prayers.

 

Are You Lost? Find Your Way Back to God

The Father (II) – The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)

Last week we began to look at the Trinity, and specifically the Father. We saw how God was one WHAT, with three WHOs. One infinite spirit being, with three persons within that – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We also looked at Baptism of Jesus, where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all present – but we focussed on the role of The Father. The Father who:

  1. Is the Creator of all life.
  2. Speaks truth and blessing over His Son.
  3. Delights in His Son, and publicly stands by His Son.
  4. Loves His Son for Who He is, not what He has done.
  5. Is ever present and watchful, even at the most difficult times of life. God never abandons the Son.

Today we will look at a Parable that shows the character of The Father towards his children. The context of this is Jesus speaking about Lost Things – sheep and coins – and that loss should provoke a reaction of sadness and a wish to find. Lost people need finding. And God can find them!

Lost people need finding. And God can find them!

The Prodigal Son

The story has three people in it. The Father, and an older son and a younger son. The Father represents God. The sons represent us – our attitudes and responses to God. As we listen, think about God, and think about yourself. Where are you in this story?

It begins with the younger son asking for his part of the inheritance. This is deeply rude as you get your inheritance when the father is dead. Was he dead? No … But more, to have the inheritance, the father would probably need to sell possessions. How rude is this? And the scandal and humiliation of this father would have been seen by the town, and intensely felt by all. The son would then be hated by the town.

 

The father should discipline his son, but does not. Many would even disown the son for this, but there is an incredible and brave act of love from the father which allows the free stupid choice of the son to stand.

 

At this point think about the other son. He got his share too (v.12). yet, he made no attempt to stop the youngest son, nor to protect the honour of the father, nor look for reconciliation. He wasn’t bothered by family breakdown, but took his share.

 

What does the young son then do? Gets the money and

runs! … and spends it all, wasting it away, until it is all gone. Nothing left, and suddenly he is in need. He needs a job, so goes to work for a pagan pig farmer, where he couldn’t even earn enough to live, as he was eating pig food to survive!

 

It is no surprise that the son … came to his senses! … I am eating pig-food. What am I doing here!?!  He then repents, sort of. The repentance was for being stupid with money, and sad for being hungry. He was not sorry for insulting his father, or truly wanting reconciliation. He was just sad about the mess he was in. The son’s plan shows this:

 

  • He wants a job to pay his way. Employees are not sons, and servants live outside family home. No need to face things, and no need to reconcile with father or brother.
  • He also wants to pay the father back. Yet can you on a servant’s wage?  No. The Jewish and Islamic view of repentance is reparation precedes reconciliation. You must pay back in full FIRST. THEN you get forgiven. This assumes you can pay back in the first place! … on a servant’s wage? …

 

Jesus turns this on its head

The father is watching out for son. He probably expects failure, and knew he would return BUT also knows that if the town sees him first, the son is in trouble. He must get there first, and he does by running! Very undignified, but very passionate! The father then does a number of things to show true forgiveness:

  • He walks into town with him. Public forgiveness.
  • He gives a kiss. A sign of acceptance / forgiveness.
  • The father does not let the son explain his plan. The father’s plan will overrule the son’s.
  • The father makes the servants dress the son. Son is not a servant.
  • Robes / Ring / Shoes. Family status is given back!
  • The father kills the fatted calf. This is a huge animal, and needs a whole village to eat it, so the father reconciles him with the town.

 

Sounds good! But the oldest son wasn’t happy. He hears the music, and won’t go in. The whole town is invited, and he learns what is going on. And he won’t go. The father comes out to him, as he did with the other,  but the son is rude.

 

  • I have slaved for you! Where is the family love and relationship?
  • I have never disobeyed you. But he had a bad attitude.
  • Accuses father of favouritism: “He got a calf, I couldn’t even have a goat!” (Victim language from one who had remained at home under the father’s care.)
  • He wants to party with his friends, not the family. Selfish partying is good. Celebrating restoration? Nah!
  • He rejects the father’s act of forgiveness, and drags up the other son’s past.

The Older Son

The oldest son was sour. How did the father respond? More love, but no compromise.

  • He calls him son, despite his rudeness, and asks him to come to the party.
  • He assures him his rights and inheritance are safe, because he too is not slave but a son.
  • But there is no apology for holding a banquet for YOUR brother. This is right thing to do! The father would not compromise truth just because the oldest son was aggrieved by things.

The father. Two sons. A picture of God the Father and ourselves. What resonated within your heart?

  • Where are we like the oldest son? Hard of heart?
  • Where are we like the youngest son? Careless about himself and others?
  • Where do we need to come to our senses?
  • Where do we need to run into the Father’s arms and receive free and full forgiveness and restoration?
  • Let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to where we need to be transformed ….

Luke 15: The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father,

‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’

So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need.

So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him,

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

 

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!

And they began to celebrate.

 

Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on.

He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’

 

Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father,

‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

Then the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.

Who is God the Father?

The Trinity & Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 4:13-17)

Last week we looked at the Nature of God – how God is loving, merciful and holy; how He is righteous, He is Shepherd and Bread of Life, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way, The Truth and The Life! We also saw how God was Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and this is what we will think about for a few weeks.

What is the Trinity?

In one sense it is difficult, but in another simple. It is grasping the difference between WHAT and WHO.

  • There is one WHAT of God. His single being of infinite spirit.
  • There are three WHOs of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • The Trinity is one WHAT, with three WHOs.

As humans we are one WHAT, with one WHO. My WHAT is a human nature. My WHO is Jonathan. Krupa’s WHAT is a human. Her WHO is Krupa. WHAT and WHO. Not the same thing. They are linked, but not the same.

“The Trinity is one WHAT, with three WHOs.”

God is an Infinite Spirit

We are limited physical creations –one WHO in us is more than enough. An infinite spirit does not have the limitation of a human nature. To limit God to one WHAT and one WHO is to cut God down to the size of a human – cutting the Creator to the size of creature.

One WHAT and three WHOs – this is our God. Think about it. It is beautiful and amazing.

Our reading today shows the Trinity in action, but we will specifically look at The Father and will consider more closely how God being Father is a blessing to us. And we will do it by thinking about how the Father blesses the Son – This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

We all have a Father

We all have a father and how we view our earthly father can shape how we see our heavenly father – so, a high calling for not only dads, but parents as a whole. We need to see who God the Father truly is, in order to not project on to Him our bad experiences.

What is a Father?

It is someone who has a child. God the Father points to God as Creator – who created in love and wisdom. God knew what He was doing when He made us.

But it also says more than this. Father is a role:

  1. Father implies a loving and protecting relationship with the child. So, at this important time of Jesus’ life, the Father was there, involved and speaking. A Father is one that is loving and committed, however many children you have. If you have one child or six – you equally love them all. (Ayo and Joy have 5 children and don’t run out of love. Love grows to fill the space.) And this is why a Father can also share love to those who maybe fatherless. God the Father is one who adopts orphans – a common description of us in Scripture.
  2. Fathers (and mums too) – give their children names. Eph 3:15 says all humans have their name from God the Father. He writes names in the Book of Life! Parents speak truth over and into their children’s lives. Words have power. The words of a parent are very powerful. The blessing words of the Father spoken over Jesus at His baptism are equally very powerful.

 

  1. A Father has delight in the child. And value. My Son has role, importance, position, value. … and The Father parted the heavens to say it publicly. But further, The Father’s words came before Jesus had done anything.

Remember that on the mountain of Transfiguration, after Jesus had done amazing miracles – when the Father spoke, the affirmation is identical. The Father’s love is consistent, based on who we are, not what we have done.

 

  1. Finally, this speaks of the Father’s presence and watchfulness. At this important time, the Father was there, and He then accompanies Jesus the whole way through His life. Birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Even on the Cross.

 

Just one point. Despite what one song says – The Father did not turn His face away. Why would the Father do that when Jesus was perfectly fulfilling His will? Why turn away at the VERY point of total obedience, suffering and victory? And if the Father had turned away, how is it the very next thing Jesus says is: Father into your hands I commit my spirit. How could He if the Father had turned away?

“The Father did not turn His face away”

My God My God Why Have You Forsaken Me?

The cry – My God My God why have you forsaken me? – is an appeal to Psalm 22 – a psalm of vindication and victory and seeking the presence of God during hard times, not the abandoning of the believer. When I say: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound … what do you think? And you know all the words to the end. Same here. Jesus speaks out the first line of a Psalm where it looks as if the oppressors will win. The Psalm says in verse 24:

He did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.

It then ends with the victory and public affirmation of the one being oppressed BECAUSE He actually had not been abandoned. When the Jews listen heard the opening words, they knew the end. It might look as though I have been abandoned, but the exact opposite is the case.

The Father did not abandon the Son. And He will not abandon any of those whom He loves.

Always remember we have a God The Father who will never leave His children. If you are one of His you are safe. Use this time to pray and respond – to give thanks – and allow the Spirit to touch your hearts.

 

“Always remember we have a God The Father who will never leave His children.”

 

Matthew 4:13-17 – The Baptism of Jesus.

Jesus Christs ministry started after he was baptist.

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.

John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.”

Then he consented.

When Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

God the Father loved his Son and was pleased with him even BEFORE Christ even started his ministry.