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.
The short movie I’m about to show portrays the devil asking for proof of God’s love. The core of our faith is in God’s love. When we’re asked to defend our belief in that love, in the face of constant turmoil, do we have an answer that will quiet the voice of doubt and give us a firm foundation to stand on?
“Prove it to me” (The Skit Guys)
Daniel constantly lived with the challenge of living for God in the ordinary moment of life. So as we come to the end of our series on Daniel today we see the book ends as Daniel comes across what is to occur in the future. These are things of Intrigues, battles, conquest, of Kings who exalt themselves as they defeat and rule over other nations. For Daniel it gets at the heart of how do you live out a life of faith; with our eyes squarely on God, when the pressure is on, and the times are tough, or when people seek to do us harm because our hope is in the Lord. One thing we know of Daniel he is the man who knows how to trust in the Lord in the face of adversity. He has known the life of a captive, exiled from Jerusalem and faced down evil plots to take his life. He has been to evil kings with whom he is the messenger of God’s judgement. Daniel led a life of prayer, which led him to face down hungry lions. He even had to face up to these visions and dreams of what is to come. Look back in Daniel 7 of those 4 horrible beasts come out of a chaotic sea, an evil, ugly image, with what looks like all creation bent on destruction, and total chaos and evil running amok in the world. Or come across to the Ram & the goat of Daniel 8, which are images of empires overtaking other empires, each seeking world domination. Daniel’s reaction to all of this was natural
7:28 28 “This is the end of the matter. I, Daniel, was deeply troubled by my thoughts, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”
8:27 27 I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.
Finally receiving strength by being touched by God’s messenger Daniel 10:18-19: 18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”
Now as this book come to an end we are reminded to end with hope. As Daniel is given a picture of the process and the end of history, we keep on being reminded that God works in mysterious ways. As we read in Daniel 11:36-37
36 “The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place. 37 He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.
It’s the nature of kings not to recognise how often in their quest for power, as they can become so focused on defeating their enemies. That is powerful kings often they can’t see their enemy within. Or notice how they always aspire to that one final victory that always proves to be elusive. How these kings seek marriage alliances but fail; or use of force and fail. These kings may win famous victories again these turn out to be only temporary. We start getting an overview of history. It is a pattern we see repeated time and time again as Daniel’s vision’s are of events to come. As we’ve seen before Persia & Greece are mentioned by name. As we sweep through the details of Daniel 11 & 12 we can see looking back in history of how the details line up with what happens after the death of Alexander the Great and how under Antiochus Epiphanes as he sweeps through Palestine into Egypt. Antiochus entered into a marriage alliance by betrothing his daughter to the king of the south Ptolemy V of Egypt. After over extending himself too far he is crushed by the Roman war machine, which ends with Antiochus’s assassination
Daniel saw what was to come, as there is also a sense in which Daniel is shown far beyond that, of something of the unknown future, that up until the moment of the last time when Christ will return. What we know is that this there isn’t a list of events we tick off to predict that date. What we are warned of instead is what to expect here; that things will get worse if we follow Christ
following Jesus as his disciple will be costly. To follow Jesus will cost personally, financially, relationally, so we are told to count the cost. Then in Daniel 12 it all changes gears again, verses 1-3
1“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Daniel is emphatic death cannot be the end. God will not permit life to end with the grave and he will raise the dead and what Daniel saw and experienced was incomplete, obscure. He sees the dead rising after a specific conflict, and his eyes are drawn to see that in death God has supremacy; as for us in Christ we know that Jesus is the one who has conquered sin and death. God is up to something good for his glory We are also drawn into the reality of spiritual warfare that evil has entered our world by demonic and human agents, who are against God and seek to overthrow him and his purpose and how these demonic agents set themselves against those who seek to live for God in very ordinary moments of life, that’s where temptations come. It is as if here God wants to draw us big pictures and shout loudly as if we are hard of hearing
With all of these visions of the future, of the things that have not yet occurred for Daniel, and now for us as we await the return of Jesus, we are drawn even closer to the present. We are called on to consider how we are doing today in our walk with God. How we are dealing with the temptations to be like others? Are we tempted to plunge headlong into life led by just doing what we want, instead of living life with the guard rails God puts in place for our well being. The promise of Jesus is clear in Revelation 22:12-15 (The Message)
12-13 “Yes, I’m on my way! I’ll be there soon! I’m bringing my payroll with me. I’ll pay all people in full for their life’s work. I’m A to Z, the First and the Final, Beginning and Conclusion. 14-15 “How blessed are those who wash their robes! The Tree of Life is theirs for good, and they’ll walk through the gates to the City. But outside for good are the filthy curs: sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters—all who love and live lies.
Or Hebrews 13:5-6
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
The vision is clear of the future in the sure and certain victory of Jesus as his death on the cross brought victory over sin and death; and his promised return means we are to get on with living life now, so that we are given every encouragement to persevere in the face of opposition, suffering or persecution, all because we are untied with the one who overcomes. This is why Daniel at the end is encouraged with hope by Daniel 12:13
13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”
We are reminded to be about the ordinary day with God in view. A reminder that God has the end of things in hand, so we can get on with living our lives today. We can live with our lives fixed on Jesus and can be looking to see our lives changed and shaped to being more like Jesus in those parts of our lives the messy parts, the parts that make us proud, our dreams, hopes and aspirations. That is our lives given over to God for him to do his will in us. That is what Daniel learnt with all he saw and did. He knew that in everything he needed to humble his heart and get on his knees and seek the Lord’s strength to go about his ordinary day.
David Hassan @ Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church 10-12-17
 Ideas taken from Reid, Andrew Kingdoms in conflict, Sydney, Australia, AIO, 1993, p222, 223
 Idea take from Dr Michael R. Emlet. CCEF subject Biblical Interpretation. Course Notebook. p.27
Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church
PH: 02 6765 2865