This week’s sermon is more about people’s response to the Kingdom of God then about the the nature of the Kingdom itself. Jesus confronts the religious leaders who feel secure and feel like they are close to God and are better than others. They are so confident in themselves that rather than seeing their needs and the grace of the savior in front of them, they instead reject him and question his authority. So Jesus tells them about two sons who both rebel, but one repents. In this parable Jesus says what God is looking for is not more doing and is not more action, but what God is seeking is repentance. May we be people of repentance who turn from our doing and from ourselves towards the perfect Son who has perfectly obeyed in our place and has earned us our belonging.
In these two short parables, Jesus lays out two ideas: (1) The fact that the reign of God over our lives does not involve slight corrections or minor changes. Rather, the Kingdom of Heaven costs everything. In order for us to receive the kingdom there must be complete surrender we must “sell all that we have”. (2) Jesus is showing that He is the true treasure and He is the true pearl that is worth everything! He is of “great value” and therefore we joyfully sell all we have. But lastly we see that the only way that we can sell all that we have, the motivation behind it that enables us to do this, is that first Jesus treasured us, first Jesus sold all that he had to buy us. This is the motivation to surrender and to rejoice!
In the 2nd of Matthew’s story triads, Jesus calms the sea, casts out demons, and forgives the paralytic. In each of these Jesus is doing what only the Divine can do. Even more than being a Master Teacher or a Healing Messiah, Jesus is demonstrating that He is God in the flesh. What happens when God shows up? And how do we follow Him? As Matthew will show us, God shows up in the most unlikely way- around the table with tax collectors and sinners who are called to follow Him.
This week as we continue on in our series through the book of Proverbs, we are going to look together at the topic of our speech. In particular at the power that our words can have to destroy or to give life, but as much a Proverbs as to say about our words, Proverbs also says that our words are only the surface. There is in fact a power that lies behind the words that we speak, and it is our desire to not only see the effects that our words can have, but even more importantly to see the reason behind the words we choose, to see the motivation of our heart behind the words. And then lastly to see the power that is greater than our words, to see Him who has come taking our words of death and pain upon himself so that we may now speak words of life.
As we finish up the book of 1 Peter, he ends on the topic of humility, a topic which has definitely been “pushed out to the margins of our civilization” in a day and age where looking out for oneself above others is expected and almost even encouraged, in a day where anxiousness and worry looms, Peter call to us is to, “humble ourselves beneath the mighty hand of God, and to cast our anxiety upon the one who not only can change it, but who also is the one who cares for us”. Sunday we are going to explore why Peter makes humility his closing point, and how we can, “cloth ourselves in humility”. Looking forward to this!
We all constantly hope for something. Maybe we hope that it won’t rain, maybe we hope for this difficulty to pass, maybe we hope the lines at Costco aren’t too long, but the fact is that we all hope for something. Now as we continue on in the book of 1st Peter, Peter has been talking a lot about our hope. But he has not been talking about us hoping in Jesus, like we hope the weatherman is right. Rather the hope that we have is sure! We have complete hope – we know that God is going to do what he has promised because our hope is based on the unswerving unchanging God, and a hope like this changes how we live. So this week we will see that in this passage Peter transitions from talking about the glorious hope and salvation that we have to beginning to look at what the implications are. What we hope in changes how we live! We are made to find hope, we are made to place our hope in something, but what we hope in determines what we do with our minds, our actions, and our attitude. Where do you place your hope? Where does your mind turn when things go bad? When your mind/heart is on autopilot, where does it turn?
As we look at this last of the 4 names, we want to ask the questions: What is the peace that the Bible speaks of? And if God has promised peace – Where is it?
This week we will see that God’s promise of peace is the promise of Shalom – “The webbing together of God and man with all creation to create universal flourishing and wholeness.” And that the way to this peace, is through the prince. Who has come offering peace, but is returning soon with a sword.
Following Jacob's marriage and fourteen years of service to Laban, Jacob is thinking about returning home. But in this passage we see that all three people involved are still struggling to identify themselves. Jacob is looking to himself. Laban is looking to his possessions. And Rachel is looking to others. All are still looking for something other than God to tell them who they are. Laban may have a little Idol, but we all have a god that we are looking to and longing for to fulfill us.