Sunday, December 25, 2016
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Read Psalm 80, Isaiah 5:1-7, Mark 12:1-12, and John 15:1-8*
“Good Grapes, Sour Grapes”
Let’s look at these remarkable parables from the old and new testaments about vines and vineyards. But before we do, I want to read this quote from Raymond Brown in his book “The Gospel According to John”
“It is helpful to remember that in Israel, branches that do not bear fruit are cut off in February/March. “Sometimes the vines are so completely cut back that one sees in the vineyard only the stalks bereft of branches. Later (August) when the vine has put forth leaves, comes the second stage of pruning, as the vinedresser pinches off the little shoots so that the main fruit-bearing branches get all the nourishment.”
We are going to start at the ending. For though we are speaking of the True Vine and false vines or Good Grapes of Sour Grapes. What we are really talking about is what “fruit” is good and what is unacceptable to God. So let us look at what Jesus says in Matthew 12:33-37 “Make a tree good, and then its fruit will be good. Or make a tree rotten, and then its fruit will be rotten. A person can recognize a tree by its fruit. You poisonous snakes! How can you evil people say anything good? Your mouth says what comes from inside you. Good people do the good things that are in them. But evil people do the evil things that are in them.
“I can guarantee that on judgment day people will have to give an account of every careless word they say. By your words you will be declared innocent, or by your words you will be declared guilty.”
Clearly Jesus was saying that we can tell the difference between good people and bad people by their actions and their words. This good fruit is proof of the basic goodness or godliness of their true selves.
In our reading from Isaiah we found that God, ”Hoped for justice but saw only slaughter, for righteousness but heard only cries of distress.” Clearly the good fruit desired was Justice and righteousness which are once again seen as proof that the branches have remained attached to the True vine.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine.”
I don’t know many times have I read this section or heard sermons on this section and yet, there is a word that I’ve seen for the first time: “TRUE”. Jesus didn’t just say that he was the Vine. He is the True Vine. That indicates to me that there are at least two vines … maybe more … the other(s) are False Vine(s}.
Psalm 80 gives us a hint.
“You brought a vine from Egypt. You forced out the nations and planted it.: You cleared the ground for it so that it took root and filled the land. Its shade covered the mountains. Its branches covered the mighty cedars. It reached out with its branches to the Mediterranean Sea. Its shoots reached the Euphrates River.
It is clear from this passage that the vine brought out of Egypt was the Jewish people themselves. God brought them out of slavery to the land promised to Abraham. A land that God had prepared for them. A land that already had cities, towns, farms, pastures, and vineyards.
What was the promise that God made to Abraham? We read in Genesis 12:1-3, “The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your relatives, and your father’s home. Go to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse. Through you every family on earth will be blessed.”
At first reading it sounds like the promise is all about making Abraham great in the eyes of the world. It is that but there is a purpose at the end of the promise, you will be a blessing. through you every family on earth will be blessed. He and his descendants were to be a blessing to everyone on earth. They were to become this blessing by following God and bringing others into communion with God
In our reading from Isaiah he used this illustration,
“Let me sing a lovesong to my beloved about his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it up, removed its stones, planted it with the choicest vines, built a watchtower in it, and made a winepress in it. Then he waited for it to produce good grapes, but it produced only sour, wild grapes.”
What happened to that vine brought out of Egypt and planted in the promised land? Although God had done all of the work to prepare a place for His special people, they failed to produce good grapes and only produced sour wild grapes.
In Isaiah God, through His prophet, asked,
What more could have been done for my vineyard than what I have already done for it?
The answer, of course, is nothing. God had done all that could be done to make His people produce good fruit. It was the people who had rebelled against His teaching, training and leading.
In the beginning of the nation, it was a nation ruled by God, who chose Judges and Prophets to guide the people, and it grew strong and healthy. However, the people of Israel forgot their God and started to want to be like other nations. Other nations were ruled, not by God, but by kings.
Samuel was one of those chosen by God to be a judge among the people. We read in 1 Samuel Chapter 9 1-18,
“When Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel; the name of his second son was Abijah. They were judges in Beersheba. The sons didn’t follow their father’s example but turned to dishonest ways of making money. They took bribes and denied people justice.
Then all the leaders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They told him, “You’re old, and your sons aren’t following your example. Now appoint a king to judge us so that we will be like all the other nations.”
But Samuel considered it wrong for them to request a king to judge them. So Samuel prayed to the Lord. The Lord told Samuel, “Listen to everything the people are saying to you. They haven’t rejected you; they’ve rejected me. They’re doing just what they’ve done since I took them out of Egypt—leaving me and serving other gods.
Once they detached them from the vine which is God, they became wild and produced sour grapes.
Jesus said, “my Father takes care of the vineyard. He removes every one of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit.“
The vine brought out of Egypt and tenderly cared for had been corrupted by the world and was now fit for nothing but kindling. Though His chosen people had abandoned Him, God never completely abandoned them. He allowed them to be “trimmed” but he always saved a remnant that he could replant.
However, over and over they turned from Him. Jesus told the story of the owner of the vineyard who repeatedly sought only to gather the fruit that was his due. In the same way God sent prophets to warn the people but as Jesus said,
“He had one more person to send. That person was his son, whom he loved. Finally, he sent his son to them. He thought, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But those workers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.”
The nation of Israel was intended to bare fruit for God, but it failed. Now Jesus, the true vine, has been planted and is bearing fruit for the Father. He does not fail, and so he is the true vine. The nation of Israel did not bring forth the desire fruit, therefore we find Jesus saying, In Matthew 21:43 where Jesus dispensed with parables and told them directly, “That is why I can guarantee that God’s kingdom will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce what God wants.
I have know people, and perhaps you have too, who think that being a follower of Christ should protect them from all troubles and pain. They become disillusioned when they run upon hard times.
There are many times that God does protect us from the evil forces at work in the world. We never see them and so don’t recognize His divine hand at work. At other times, He allows us to go through the storms of life because they make us stronger. As Jesus said, “He (God) also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.”
“This task, pruning, is a very critical one in a real vineyard and requires great skill born of experience. That Jesus understood this shows that he was very familiar with grape culture, otherwise he could not have known that by pruning a fruit bearing branch one can cause it to bear more fruit.
By what means does the Father dress the vine, or prune it? We find the answer in v. 3. The pruning is also the "making clean" of the heart and soul of the individual, which he accomplishes by means of the Word. We must always keep in mind that when Jesus speaks of the Word in such a way, he means the Word of God that issues from his lips. His disciples were already clean because they had cast off all the impediments to receiving his Word and so, receiving the Word, they were cleansed by the Word. The close relation between the pruning and the making clean is seen clearer in the Greek, where "pruning" and "cleaning" are both rendered from kathairo. They are the same word.”(a)
Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me. Whoever doesn’t live in me is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Branches like this are gathered, thrown into a fire, and burned.”
The good news is, if we stay true to the teachings of the Lord, we will produce fruit pleasing to God.
The bad news is, if we fail to bear good fruit, we are of no use to God and will be cast away.
But look, Jesus follows this with a promise. “If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours.”
This is much the same promise He made in Mark 11:22-25 Jesus declares, “Have faith in God! I can guarantee this truth: This is what will be done for someone who doesn’t doubt but believes what he says will happen: He can say to this mountain, ‘Be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it will be done for him. That’s why I tell you to have faith that you have already received whatever you pray for, and it will be yours. Whenever you pray, forgive anything you have against anyone. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your failures.”
The reason for that reward is because, “You give glory to my Father when you produce a lot of fruit and therefore show that you are my disciples.”
If we are to produce good fruit we must remain true to the purpose that God has intended for us. What is our purpose? Hear this answer from Micah 6:8. “You mortals, the Lord has told you what is good. This is what the Lord requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.”
Christ, who has nourished us as the living True Vine, make us, Your branches, one in praise and love, and raise us up at the last day to our true reward.
Bible quotes are from the God’s Word Translation
Quotes from a sermon by Edgar Jones
*Psalm 80 Open your ears, O Shepherd of Israel, the one who leads the descendants of Joseph like sheep, the one who is enthroned over the angels. Appear in front of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Wake up your power, and come to save us. O God, restore us and smile on us so that we may be saved. O Lord God, commander of armies, how long will you smolder in anger against the prayer of your people? You made them eat tears as food. You often made them drink their own tears. You made us a source of conflict to our neighbors, and our enemies made fun of us. O God, commander of armies, restore us and smile on us so that we may be saved. You brought a vine from Egypt. You forced out the nations and planted it.: You cleared the ground for it so that it took root and filled the land. Its shade covered the mountains. Its branches covered the mighty cedars. It reached out with its branches to the Mediterranean Sea. Its shoots reached the Euphrates River. Why did you break down the stone fences around this vine? All who pass by are picking its fruit. Wild boars from the forest graze on it. Wild animals devour it. O God, commander of armies, come back! Look from heaven and see! Come to help this vine. Take care of what your right hand planted, the son you strengthened for yourself. The vine has been cut down and burned. Let them be destroyed by the threatening look on your face. Let your power rest on the man you have chosen, the son of man you strengthened for yourself. Then we will never turn away from you. Give us life again, and we will call on you. O Lord God, commander of armies, restore us, and smile on us so that we may be saved.
Let me sing a lovesong to my beloved about his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it up, removed its stones, planted it with the choicest vines, built a watchtower in it, and made a winepress in it. Then he waited for it to produce good grapes, but it produced only sour, wild grapes.
Now then, you inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah, judge between me and my vineyard! What more could have been done for my vineyard than what I have already done for it? When I waited for it to produce good grapes, why did it produce only sour, wild grapes?
Now then, let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will tear away its hedge so that it can be devoured and tear down its wall so that it can be trampled. I will make it a wasteland. It will never be pruned or hoed. Thorns and weeds will grow in it, and I will command the clouds not to rain on it.
The vineyard of the Lord of Armies is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the garden of his delight. He hoped for justice but saw only slaughter, for righteousness but heard only cries of distress.
Then, using this illustration, Jesus spoke to them. He said, “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, made a vat for the winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to vineyard workers and went on a trip.
“At the right time he sent a servant to the workers to collect from them a share of the grapes from the vineyard. The workers took the servant, beat him, and sent him back with nothing. So the man sent another servant to them. They hit the servant on the head and treated him shamefully. The man sent another, and they killed that servant. Then he sent many other servants. Some of these they beat, and others they killed.
“He had one more person to send. That person was his son, whom he loved. Finally, he sent his son to them. He thought, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But those workers said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
“What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the workers and give the vineyard to others. Have you never read the Scripture passage:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
The Lord has done this,
and it is amazing for us to see’?”
They wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the crowd. They knew that he had directed this illustration at them. So they left him alone and went away.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father takes care of the vineyard. He removes every one of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit. He also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.
“You are already clean because of what I have told you. Live in me, and I will live in you. A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit unless you live in me.
“I am the vine. You are the branches. Those who live in me while I live in them will produce a lot of fruit. But you can’t produce anything without me. Whoever doesn’t live in me is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Branches like this are gathered, thrown into a fire, and burned. If you live in me and what I say lives in you, then ask for anything you want, and it will be yours. You give glory to my Father when you produce a lot of fruit and therefore show that you are my disciples.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Read Psalm 4 and Luke 10:38-42*
Sermon: “Peace, Be Still”
As they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. I can almost hear you say “What a minute, Tom, we know this story. Marth too busy and Mary got the good stuff.”
Yes, on the surface, that is as good of a summery as any. But is that all there is to this story? Can we not learn anything more?
I have heard plenty of sermons asking me to decide if I am a Martha, a person too busy with the cares of the world; or a Mary, the quiet, contemplative, lover of Jesus. Well, my answer has always been, “Yes”.
Yes, I am each of those things at different times.
However, when I read this passage now, I understand more about what is happening here. That is one of the marvels of scripture reading, the more you read, them more you see. Like a flower opening its petals, it slowly opens to your heart and mind.
It all started when Jesus came to Bethany, to visit the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. They had become cherished personal friends of Jesus during His earthly ministry. He had a profound love for their family, and it’s clear from Luke’s account that Jesus made Himself at home in their house.
Certainly hospitality was a special hallmark of this family. Martha in particular is portrayed everywhere as a meticulous hostess. The fact that her name was usually listed first whenever she’s named with her siblings implies strongly that she was the elder sister of Mary and Lazarus. She as the eldest would have taken on the role of caretaker for her sister and brother.
First of all it appears that it is Martha’s home. Nowhere in the story does it say that Mary lived there with Martha. It would have been a common thing for unmarried sisters to live together. However it would have been equally common that they have separate homes. I have also heard sermons that say this is their brother Lazareth’s home. However, when I read John 11:1 we find, “Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived, was sick.” To me, that just says that the sisters and their brother lived in the same town. So, if indeed this was Martha’s home, it changes the dynamics of the story slightly.
However, whether she owned the home or was just the one who managed the home, it was Martha who invited Jesus into her home. This was her service to him. By inviting the Master into her home she had accepted the hosting responsibilities implied in the invitation.
Jesus had come at Martha’s invitation. She was the one who welcomed Him in, signifying that she was the actual master of ceremonies in this house. On this occasion, at least, she wasn’t merely filling in as a surrogate hostess for a friend; she was plainly the one in charge of the household. She fussed over her hostess duties. She wanted everything to be just right. She was a conscientious and considerate hostess, and these were admirable traits. Much in her behavior was commendable.
When I read this passage, I am often reminded of my first mother in law. She was a loving, giving, Christian woman who had a real gift for giving of herself, her time and everything she owned. When describing her, I usually say, “She was the type of woman where, if you knocked on her door to sell magazines, she would invite you in. And the following scene would unfold: “Here sit down, you look hot and tired. Would you like some water? Or I have some pop. Or I could make coffee. Would you like a sandwich, I have leftover ham.”
She sounds like a delight doesn’t she? Amen? She was. However, it could be slightly frustrating when you came to visit her. She was so busy being the hostess, that you couldn’t get her to sit still and talk with you. I think of Martha in that way.
Martha wasn’t the only that scriptures say gave invited Jesus into their homes. So perhaps we should take at those times and compare and contrast the other invitations with Martha’s. In Luke 14:7-11 Jesus attends a banquet in the home of a prominent Pharisee and teaches a lesson about proper guest etiquette.
“Then Jesus noticed how the guests always chose the places of honor. So he used this illustration when he spoke to them: “When someone invites you to a wedding, don’t take the place of honor. Maybe someone more important than you was invited. Then your host would say to you, ‘Give this person your place.’ Embarrassed, you would have to take the place of least honor. So when you’re invited, take the place of least honor. Then, when your host comes, he will tell you, ‘Friend, move to a more honorable place.’ Then all the other guests will see how you are honored. Those who honor themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be honored.”
Having now schooled the guests on proper behavior, he does the same for the Pharisee in verses 12-14
“Then he told the man who had invited him, “When you invite people for lunch or dinner, don’t invite only your friends, family, other relatives, or rich neighbors. Otherwise, they will return the favor. Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the handicapped, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed because they don’t have any way to pay you back. You will be paid back when those who have God’s approval come back to life.”
Now that we have heard Jesus’ teaching, let’s look at what was going on in Martha’s home. Has she invited those who can return the favor?
No. She has invited Jesus. By extension, we can assume that his disciples were also present. Remember the scriptures says, “As they were traveling along”. Jesus was an itinerant preacher with no permanent home. Luke 9:58 and Matthew 8:20 say, “Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to sleep.” While it is possible that some of the disciples had homes in the area, we must remember that when Jesus called them, they dropped what they were doing and followed. Even if the disciples weren’t actually homeless, they were without income. They were living on the charity of others. So Jesus and his followers were not in a position to repay Martha by inviting her to dine with them.
Jesus, as the guest was seated in the honored place. Not because he chose it but because it was offered.
I find it enlightening that the customs of the time held that women’s legal rights were categorized along with Gentiles, minors, deaf-mutes and "undesirables" such as gamblers, the insane, usurers, and pigeon-racers.” One of these days I want to know more about those sinful pigeon-racers. But that is a study for another time.
The point is, for Jesus to accept her offer, meant that he was once again breaking the traditions and teachings of the religious leaders of the day. Just as He did when in Mark 2:14-16 we read, “When Jesus was leaving, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting in a tax office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me!” So Levi got up and followed him. Later Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house. Many tax collectors and sinners who were followers of Jesus were eating with him and his disciples. When the experts in Moses’ Teachings who were Pharisees saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
This, most likely, was Martha’s life. Everything revolved around caring for the home. It was both her treasure and her prison because “In those times, respectable women were expected to stay within the confines of the home. “The woman of the first century did not even do her own shopping, except possibly to go out, accompanied by a slave, to buy material which she would use to construct her own clothing at home! Customarily, even a woman of stature could not engage in commerce and would rarely be seen outside her home. Only a woman in dire economic straits, who was forced to become the family breadwinner, could engage in her own small trade. If a woman was ever in the streets, she was to be heavily veiled and was prohibited from conversing with men. "It is the way of a woman to stay at home and it is the way of a man to go out into the marketplace" (J)
Now we know that Martha had a sister named Mary. and we know that Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to him talk. It is believed that this is the same event that is described in John 12:1-8.
Six days before Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany. Lazarus, whom Jesus had brought back to life, lived there. Dinner was prepared for Jesus in Bethany. Martha served the dinner, and Lazarus was one of the people eating with Jesus.
Mary took a bottle of very expensive perfume made from pure nard and poured it on Jesus’ feet. Then she dried his feet with her hair. The fragrance of the perfume filled the house.
One of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for a high price and the money given to the poor?” (Judas didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the moneybag and carried the contributions.) Jesus said to Judas, “Leave her alone! She has done this to prepare me for the day I will be placed in a tomb. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me with you.”
Some scholars believe that Mary was also the woman at the Pharisee’s house in Luke 7:36-50
One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. Jesus went to the Pharisee’s house and was eating at the table.
A woman who lived a sinful life in that city found out that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. So she took a bottle of perfume and knelt at his feet. She was crying and washed his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them over and over again, and poured the perfume on them.
The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and thought, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know what sort of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner.”
Jesus spoke up, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
Simon replied, “Teacher, you’re free to speak.”
So Jesus said, “Two men owed a moneylender some money. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. When they couldn’t pay it back, he was kind enough to cancel their debts. Now, who do you think will love him the most?”
Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.”
Jesus said to him, “You’re right!” Then, turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “You see this woman, don’t you? I came into your house. You didn’t wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn’t give me a kiss. But ever since I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You didn’t put any olive oil on my head. But she has poured perfume on my feet. That’s why I’m telling you that her many sins have been forgiven. Her great love proves that. But whoever receives little forgiveness loves very little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” The other guests thought, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace!”
If this indeed the same woman, why was she said to be “A woman who lived a sinful life”? Remember that I said earlier that a woman’s place was in the house … literally. Respectable women did not leave the house. Yet Mary is known to have left the house. The terminology used in that day for a prostitute was “one who goes abroad”.
After their brother, Lazareth had died, Martha went to Jesus to tell him not to bother because it was too late. Jesus has this to say in John 11:25-40 Jesus said to (Martha), “I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die.26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe that?”
27 Martha said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was expected to come into the world.”
28 After Martha had said this, she went back home and whispered to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here, and he is calling for you.”
Several things catch my attention here that shed more light on the differences and similarities with the sisters. Martha is the one who goes to Jesus and tells him that Lazareth is already dead. It was her responsibility as the head of the house. After all, she was the one who had sent the message asking Jesus to come and heal her brother. As the eldest, she could have told Mary to go and give the bad news that Lazareth had died. Instead she made the journey herself. Then after Jesus hears her confession that she believes He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was expected to come into the world, she goes home and tells Mary to go.
29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. 30 (Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still where Martha had met him.) 31 The Jews who were comforting Mary in the house saw her get up quickly and leave. So they followed her. They thought that she was going to the tomb to cry.
Mary had stayed behind at the house with the mourners and then went running out. It is helpful to understand the traditional rituals and observances at the time of a Jewish death.
“Traditionally, a person is buried the same day as his or her death, followed by seven days of mourning. A special meal of condolence is provided after the burial. Mourners remain in the house of mourning with friends and family throughout the week. Prayers are offered, and readings from the Torah are shared. Memorial candles are often lit. Traditional grooming stops, as do marital relations, entertainment, and regular study. In some cases, mourners wait 30 days before cutting their hair.
The New Testament speaks of mourners’ loud wailing. For example, when Jesus came to the home of the synagogue ruler whose daughter had died, He “saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly” (Mark 5:38). This took place on the same day as the girl’s death, as her body was still inside the home.
Mourning sometimes included shaving one’s head or putting ashes or dust on the head, in addition to rending garments. These actions communicated to everyone that the person was in mourning. Jeremiah 25:34 mentions the actions of a mourner in a judgment on evil rulers: “Weep and wail, you shepherds; roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock. For your time to be slaughtered has come.”(g)
So Mary has run from the house of mourning and gone to Jesus.
32 When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Notice how strongly she believes in Jesus power.
33 When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who were crying with her, he was deeply moved and troubled.
34 So Jesus asked, “Where did you put Lazarus?”
They answered him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus cried. 36 The Jews said, “See how much Jesus loved him.” 37 But some of the Jews asked, “Couldn’t this man who gave a blind man sight keep Lazarus from dying?”
38 Deeply moved again, Jesus went to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone covering the entrance. 39 Jesus said, “Take the stone away.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, told Jesus, “Lord, there must already be a stench. He’s been dead for four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see God’s glory?”
From these glimpses into the lives of these two women it is easy to see that they both loved the Lord. Each in their own way honored him. It is also easy to see the differences. Martha was a thinker and a doer. Mary was ruled more by her heart and more emotional.
It was these differences that are in play here when we read, “But Martha was upset about all the work she had to do. So she asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
Notice in the next verse how gently Jesus answers Martha. It is not a condemnation for her service to him. It is a reminder that time with Him is more important than all the busy work. Listen, “The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. “But of the few things worth worrying about, there is only one thing you need.” Mary has made the right choice, and that one thing will not be taken away from her.”
I have to admit that sometimes the “busy work” of preparing sermons, picking the worship music, and typing the bulletins; keeps me from actually spending time in communion with my Lord.
If you, like me, let the day to day things of life, even those things that are in service to the Lord, keep you from the peaceful refreshment of time spent at the feet of Jesus, listen to his quiet voice. He will answer when you call upon Him. He can free you of your troubles for he has pity on you.
Then along with the psalmist I say, “Think about this on your bed and remain quiet. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness by trusting the Lord. Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Let the light of your presence shine on us, O Lord. You put more joy in my heart than when their grain and new wine increase. I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone, O Lord, enable me to live securely.” Amen.
All scripture quotes are from GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
( a) “Jesus and the Role of Women” by Zhava Glaser
(J) Found on the “Jews for Jesus” webpage.
(g) found on “GotQuestions.org”
*Psalm 4 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness. You have freed me from my troubles. Have pity on me, and hear my prayer! You important people, how long are you going to insult my honor? How long are you going to love what is empty and seek what is a lie?
Know that the Lord singles out godly people for himself. The Lord hears me when I call to him. Tremble and do not sin. Think about this on your bed and remain quiet.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness by trusting the Lord. Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Let the light of your presence shine on us, O Lord.
You put more joy in my heart than when their grain and new wine increase.
I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone, O Lord, enable me to live securely.
Luke 10:38-42 As they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to him talk.
But Martha was upset about all the work she had to do. So she asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. “But of the few things worth worrying about, there is only one thing you need.” Mary has made the right choice, and that one thing will not be taken away from her.”
Sunday, July 17, 2016
Read: Psalm 16, Colossians 1:13-23, and John 14:1-11
Sermon: “The Lord is My Inheritance”
God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom, where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the light, and the night is as bright as the day. Praise be to God that we have nothing to fear from the outer darkness (see Matt. 22:13) which is separation from God.
Hear this from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8 “Be Ready for the Day of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, you don’t need anyone to write to you about times and dates. (Matthew 24:36 “No one knows when that day or hour will come. Even the angels in heaven and the Son don’t know. Only the Father knows.)
You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “Everything is safe and sound!” destruction will suddenly strike them. It will be as sudden as labor pains come to a pregnant woman. They won’t be able to escape. But, brothers and sisters, you don’t live in the dark. That day won’t take you by surprise as a thief would. You belong to the day and the light not to the night and the dark.”
The day of the Lord will come suddenly when least expected. So we must be ready at all times. In Matthew 25:1-8 Jesus tell a story about Ten Bridesmaids, some are ready for the darkness and some are not.
“When the end comes, the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids. They took their oil lamps and went to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The foolish bridesmaids took their lamps, but they didn’t take any extra oil. The wise bridesmaids, however, took along extra oil for their lamps. Since the groom was late, all the bridesmaids became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight someone shouted, ‘The groom is here! Come to meet him!’ Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready.
“The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’
“But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘We can’t do that. There won’t be enough for both of us. Go! Find someone to sell you some oil.’
“While they were buying oil, the groom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went with him into the wedding hall, and the door was shut.
“Later the other bridesmaids arrived and said, ‘Sir, sir, open the door for us!’
“But he answered them, ‘I don’t even know who you are!’
“So stay awake, because you don’t know the day or the hour.”
What can we expect when the Lord comes? What will He look like?
God can’t be seen directly. We can see his creation and his works everywhere. Romans 1:19-20 “What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them. From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse.”
God is visible in his creation. However, He does not want to be worshiped “through” that which He has created. The third of the Ten Commandments is, “Never have any other god. Never make your own carved idols or statues that represent any creature in the sky, on the earth, or in the water. Never worship them or serve them, because I, the Lord your God, am a God who does not tolerate rivals.”
In Deuteronomy 4:15-18 it says this about God, “You didn’t see the Lord the day he spoke to you from the fire at Mount Horeb. So be very careful that you don’t become corrupt and make your own carved idols. Don’t make statues that represent men or women, any animal on earth, any creature with wings that flies, any creature that crawls on the ground, or any fish in the water. Don’t let yourselves be tempted to worship and serve what you see in the sky—the sun, the moon, the stars, or anything else.”
Jesus, in John 4:23-26 declares, “Indeed, the time is coming, and it is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for people like that to worship him. God is a spirit. Those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us everything.” (Messiah is the one called Christ.)
Jesus told her, “I am he, and I am speaking to you now.”
So, God the Father is a Spirit. And how do we go about “seeing” God? Our scripture says, Colossians 1:15 “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God.” and Colossians 1:19 “God was pleased to have all of himself live in Christ.” When Philip asked to see the Father, Jesus said to him in John 14:9, “The person who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Jesus is the visible portion of the triune God. God in three persons and yet one God. I have given this illustration of my understanding of how God can be One and Three at the same time.
I picture God the Father as liquid water, every living thing on Earth contains water and without water there is no life.
Jesus, I equate to ice. He is the visible, tangible portion of the Godhead.
The Holy Spirit is steam, that invisible and yet powerful force.
Just as water, ice, and steam are identical … that is H2O … two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom …, so God is God, without changing His nature, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
John 1:1-4 “In the beginning the Word (that is Jesus) already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.”
Colossians 1:17 “Jesus existed before everything and holds everything together. He created all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Whether they are kings or lords, rulers or powers—everything has been created through him and for him.”
Colossians 1:19 “God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross.”
Colossians 1:21 “Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame.”
John 14:1-4 “Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into my presence so that you will be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
That is why I’ll Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, Sing His mercy and His grace; In the mansions bright and blessed He’ll prepare for us a place. And, Some glad morning when this life is over I’ll fly away! To a home on God’s celestial shore I’ll fly away!
That is why you and I can say with the Psalm 16:5-6, “The Lord is my inheritance and my cup. You (God) are the one who determines my destiny. Your boundary lines mark out pleasant places for me. Indeed, my inheritance is something beautiful.” There’ll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see. There will be peace in the valley for you and for me.
Paul reminds us in Colossians 11:23 “This is on the condition that you continue in faith without being moved from the solid foundation of the hope that the Good News contains.
Let us then be true and faithful, Trusting, serving every day; Just one glimpse of Him in glory Will the toils of life repay. .Onward to the prize before us! Soon His beauty we’ll behold; Soon the pearly gates will open; We shall tread the streets of gold.
All scripture quotes are from GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Protect me, O God, because I take refuge in you. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord. Without you, I have nothing good.” Those who lead holy lives on earth are the noble ones who fill me with joy. Those who quickly chase after other gods multiply their sorrows. I will not pour out their sacrificial offerings of blood or use my lips to speak their names. The Lord is my inheritance and my cup. You are the one who determines my destiny. Your boundary lines mark out pleasant places for me. Indeed, my inheritance is something beautiful. I will praise the Lord, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night. I always keep the Lord in front of me. When he is by my side, I cannot be moved. That is why my heart is glad and my soul rejoices. My body rests securely because you do not abandon my soul to the grave or allow your holy one to decay. You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever.
God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves. His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. He created all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Whether they are kings or lords, rulers or powers—everything has been created through him and for him. He existed before everything and holds everything together. He is also the head of the church,which is his body. He is the beginning, the first to come back to life so that
he would have first place in everything. God was pleased to have all of himself
live in Christ. God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross.
Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame. This is on the condition that you continue in faith without being moved from the solid foundation of the hope that the Good News contains. You’ve heard this Good News of which I, Paul, became a servant. It has been spread throughout all creation under heaven.
* John 14:1-11
“Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into my presence so that you will be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going. So how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him in me.”
Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will satisfy us.”
Jesus replied, “I have been with all of you for a long time. Don’t you know me yet, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I’m telling you doesn’t come from me. The Father, who lives in me, does what he wants. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe me because of the things I do.