How many time have you been in a situation where you weren’t sure how it was going to turn out? There was this one morning when I lived in Moruya & I was out bike riding a little before dawn, it was a misty morning, the middle of winter. I was riding along a section of the road where there was a narrow point and a small weir crossing which rose up to short hill, on a slight bend. I got up out of my saddle to cross the weir and climb the small hill fast
When all of a sudden there’s this car on my side of the road coming towards me. It’s headlights in my eyes. Thankfully he saw me, swung his car back across to his side of the road and missed me by centimeters. One thing I learnt about myself was I’m not going out quietly. I remember yelling at the top of my lungs when that car was coming towards me. Why the car was on my side of the road was because he was swerving to miss a kangaroo carcass that was in his lane. Our health can change in a heartbeat. There was no way I could stop or change what was going to happen next with what that car did. I was reminded that I had to thank God for each new day, and how even going out on a simple bike ride exercising that just how quickly life changes.
Do you believe in miracles? Do they still happen? What do you think ? This morning is an inside track on power who Jesus who broke all conventions: touching a man with leprosy; healing a servant with a word although miles away from him; dealing with an illness a common fever that could be a death sentence in ancient time. Each time we see Jesus at work we get a picture of power we are taught lessons in hope and faith. Jesus has the power to heal and transform lives. As we read in verse 2
2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well, yes I'm still running
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
U2 released that song in 1987. The Edge came up with the title after thinking about an old Bob Dylon song “Wild Idiot”. "You'll find out when you reach the top you're on the bottom". Bono wrote the rest of it. I Still haven’t found what I am looking for is a song all about spiritual struggle, a longing for something out of reach; just as Jesus asked the crowds on a mountainside what were they looking for ? What felt so far out of reach? What was going to claim their heart’s allegiance? As there are 2 ways to go Jesus says, one road many travel along or another way a road less travelled. To Jesus the choice couldn’t be any clearer, there are 2 ways to live. To set the scene of this passage then Jesus has been speaking to this crowd on the hillside challenging their most basic assumptions about life and faith and the things that matter most. Jesus asks them what is it they long for? What is it we hunger and thirst for? Or fill their lives with? There are: two ways, two fruits, two claims, two builders. Jesus puts it plainly make your choice, as we read in verses 13-14
How many more sayings do you think we know between us? Maybe they were ones handed down from your parents. The English language is full of little sayings like that, isn’t it? Brief statements, that make general observations about life, giving us wisdom for living. This morning, how many well known statements did you pick up form the Bible reading that get said by lots of people even when people don’t know their Bible at all. Anyone spot them?
A pretty wide collection of sayings wouldn’t you say, often times many people take these sayings as just a recipe for living a good life. So people tell us that’s what Christianity’s all about: just have a fair measure of prayerful positive thinking; be generous to all, show good-will, live right, and you’ll have the perfect life; you’ll be the perfect person –that’s all God expects of you right? The heartbeat of the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus tells it is to hunger after God; it’s to treasure the gift he offers us of forgiveness and eternal life with him. Jesus forces us to face up to the hard questions of whether we play the judge on others while forgetting to look more closely at ourselves. Jesus warns us there is a danger lurking behind everyone of us in being judgmental without having a regard for the sort of people we are like. So how many of heard that old saying “judge not lest you be judged”? That is the problem isn’t it! Have you ever noticed just how judgmental we really are of others, clearly seeing the mistake someone else makes, all the while failing to recognise the insensitivity that’s grown up in us. Jesus tells his disciples to take holiness seriously, which means we’ll look out for one another’s holiness and well being. As we read in verse 1-2
Here’s a Christmas treat as some things can really grab our attention
Clip: The Bible Project Luke _part1.mp4 4:18
Jesus is here to bring salvation by turning our world order upside down
When we come today wrapping up Christmas for another year. What’s going to be the one thing you hope surprises you most? Maybe that something has happened already. I’ve always noticed the things that surprise us get our attention. Like when God comes to wrap up Christmas, he comes giving a very real present, a gift of far greater worth than the most expensive one we could ever buy today. Here we come to Christmas day. The question is what is it God would have us know about life. Because this isn’t a story where we’re left wondering about what on earth God’s on about, we don't get a story in abstract. The birth of Jesus comes in a time of real crisis. Mary and Joseph meet with some real obstacles, having to arrive in Bethlehem for the census that Caesar Augustus ordered to be counted. They had made no arrangement for the other end of the trip when they set out on foot for the journey. They also had no living relatives living in town. They were simply on their own. The only place left was the shed out back where the animals got accommodation. So the heavily pregnant Mary and the nervous first time father Joseph settle down for the night that would change everyone’s lives. John speaks about the moment of the birth of Jesus with wonder
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Christmas Confusion The Skit Guys 2min 33sec
Nothing can take away the gift of God to us in Jesus. Just like was read for us from the Hebrews Bible Reading this morning. God sets the appointed day for a special birth, and nothing was going to get in the way of that. Christmas is coming, God’s way and God’s plan for us. Jesus is born in a cattle shed. The birth of Jesus is cause for us to gather together to celebrate the wonder of God. That he has been always acting for us and to show us the greatest present we can ever receive, it is a present no one can snatch away. The coming of God’s one and only Son into our world Is to save his people from their sins. The stunning thing about Christmas is that God would chose to speak, as sometimes I think we come to Christmas thinking more like Christmas survivalist’s, because we feel the pressure and see the waste or remember the excess of years past. At this time the coming together for family and friends takes up a lot of our time in the next few days. There will be lots of talking and eating and catching up about the year past; just like Christmas can feel like we keep looking at the rear view mirror to an ancient time in a far away land. So the difficulty is keeping our hearts right with God at this time of year is quite a challenge. The reason for the season is Jesus. As we look at Hebrews this morning we’re told: remember the past actions of God; remember the promise God makes to you as you look forward to the coming year. As we read in Hebrews 1:1-2
Bear Grylls is one of those man’s man who I love watching as he recklessly throws himself into seemingly impossible situations; like the Man vs Wild series. In his biography Mud Sweat and Tears, he says
“At the age of 16 I lost my Godfather who was like a second father to me. He lived with us and we were super close. (It happened) totally out of the blue and it was a real shock to me. I remember wanting to pray but not knowing how to, and I remember sitting up in this tree and saying a very simple prayer that said, ‘Will You be that friend to me that You were when I was like five or six and it felt natural? Amen.’”…“And that was actually a prayer of finding a faith. And I think for life now it’s still a continued journey of not letting too much of the religious stuff cloud the heart of faith that is very simple. It’s about being loved. It’s about being forgiven. It’s about finding home. And those are great things that all of us need.”…“The journey’s been that faith has been the wildest ride. And Jesus, the heart of the Christian faith is the wildest, most radical guy you’d ever come across. He was always hanging around with the prostitutes and the tax collectors and having parties and banquets, and I found myself drawn to that character not the kind of fluff that we like to box as religion.”
There are real treasures out there for all of us like Bear found. I hope you noticed as the passage was read to us this morning as Jesus says the same thing: don’t store up – no one can serve - do not worry, clearly Jesus intends to warn something’s got to change in our hearts.
Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church
PH: 02 6765 2865