It’s been said that never in the history of mankind has a study of the life of Jesus been more vital and rewarding. In an age of anxiety and despair, the ministry and message of Jesus speak more clearly than ever of God’s purpose for the world. Amid the chaos and confusion of our time people the world over are hungering for the good news of God in Jesus.
Perhaps the most significant responsibility that preachers are charged with is to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ who offers us freedom from anxiety, wholeness of life, and the opportunity to be beacons of hope in our families, in our communities, and in our world.
“I am, as Isaiah prophesied; a voice that cries in the wilderness: make a straight way for the Lord” (John: 1:23).
There is a story in which God is interviewing persons who want to be chosen as Jesus’ Apostles …
He says to one man, “If I should recommend you to My Son, what would you do for Him?” The man replies, “O Lord, if I am chosen, I will build shrines in His honor all over the world. They will be made of the finest materials, fashioned with the most expert craftsmanship, and their beauty, for all to see, would be unsurpassed.”
Then God asks a second man, “If I should recommend you to My Son, what would you do for Him?” “O Lord,” the man replies, “If I am chosen, I would design for Him the finest robes and they would be sewn by the most expert tailors, and their beauty, for all to see, would be unsurpassed.”
Then God asks a third man, “If I should recommend you to My Son, what would you do for Him?” “O Lord,” the man replies, “If I am chosen I will tell His story throughout the world and to the ends of the earth.” “And what is your name, son,” God asked. “Lord, my name is John,” the man replied.
“But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer — it is required.
Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God’s Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).
Discernment — the ability to think biblically about all areas of life — is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28
August 20, 2017; 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Proper 15
Jesus withdrew from Israel and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. There He met a non-Jewish pagan woman. Crying she pleaded for mercy for her demon possessed daughter. She kneeled before Jesus and respectfully addressed Jesus with the Messianic title, Son of David. When Jesus didn’t respond and she continued pleading, the disciples urged Him to send her away.
Jews often insulted Gentiles by calling them dogs insinuating they were wild scavengers. Jesus’ response to this Canaanite woman seemed harsh, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” It wasn’t. He was testing her faith. Jesus wasn’t insulting her. He was picturing a family having a meal gathered around a table.
The woman understood the metaphor. The children represented Israel. She didn’t see herself as one of the children. She saw herself as the domestic dog who received crumbs that fell from the table. Her intent wasn’t to deprive the people of Israel of their blessing. She wanted Jesus to extend some of the blessings to her and her child.
The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus. In contrast, this woman had faith in Him. She had the faith Jesus was looking for in Israel. Jesus granted her request. Her daughter was instantly healed.
If a person were to drive by your church early on a Tuesday or late on a Saturday afternoon when no one is in sight, is there anything about the church property that would reach out to that person and make the human connection?
Is there anything about a locked church that communicates the message that people congregate there, people who enjoy themselves and enjoy each other; who have a love for life that comes from a true purpose for living? There can be.
If the church is identified by a sign with a message on it, a message this is creative and relevant, insightful or funny, the thought behind the message can reach out and make that connection. In fact, a well designed, well maintained and creatively used sign can and should be the lens that brings the true human nature of your church into focus.
(Thanks to our friends at The J.M. Stewart Corporation)
In writing text for public speaking or sermon delivery, it is useful to deploy such figures of speech as metaphor, simile and hyperbole. But one must not overlook those figures of speech that require skilled vocal production and articulation: Alliteration; Assonance; Onomatopoeia; and Sound Symbolism. Use the examples below to develop greater skill using Figures of Speech. (more…)
Psychiatrists tell us that a common complaint of their patients is “I don’t seem to be going anywhere with my life.” Reason enough, to be in the grip of despair. One is reminded of the ancient parable of life in which a young sea horse said to his father…
“Give me my inheritance. It’s time for me to live my own life. I’m going to seek my fortune.” (more…)
The way His death came about was swift and sickening. You know the story. Even while Peter was denying Him before a servant girl in the courtyard, Jesus was being shipped off to Pilate. This Roman Governor hated the Jews whom he ruled over. He caught on to their game quickly and started trying to find ways to set Jesus free. He began to probe into who Jesus thought He was. (more…)