Paul is dead Sunday #1…………..

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Watching them dance and grow….

Last night Sue and I had they chance to sit in on Rayn and Grace’s dance class. What a treat it was. Hey, you got to learn to dance before you can rock!!

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You got to love the Tat on Grace’s arm. Yep, she takes after her daddy. Speaking of, it’s getting time for some new ink…….

Matthew 18, Here we go…………

The disciples begin asking Jesus about the kingdom of heaven. They wanted to know who in the kingdom of heaven is the greatest. They had not grabbed the concept of the kingdom of heaven. They had not figured out that in the kingdom of heaven the most powerful or the one that he world considered the best was not really the greatest. I really don’t know where to start with this. First, what is the kingdom of heaven? I have been taught a lot in life that the kingdom of heaven is a far off place somewhere high in the sky. Somewhere we will end up if we have walked the straight and narrow. If we have lived a life repenting for our sins and really trying to do good. But I believe something completely different. i believe that he kingdom of heaven is actually suppose to be here on earth. i believe it is the way that God wants the earth to be. His kingdom here on earth. He did say that in his prayer did he not? Thy kingdom come. It doesn’t say when we get to your kingdom. It’s when your kingdom comes here. So the first step in understanding Matthew 18 is to understand what he knigdom of heaven is. I  believe it is here on earth, but the way that God wants it to be.

So When Jesus was asked who would be greatest in his kingdom he grabs a child. He tells them that they will have to become like little children. They will have to become humbled like a child. Have you ever noticed how humbled children really are? It amazes me. I have two daughters, both four, and they forgive quicker than you can blink. Blows me away. They did not get that from me. I can wear a grudge like a crown, but I am working on it. Anyways, they forgive quickly. One minute they are choking each other and the next it’s dinner time at the Polly Pocket mansion. I don’t get it. I can literally be in one room, hear them screaming at each other one second and by the time I make it down the hall to their room they are giggling again. So to be like a child is to be forgiving. I am also amazed at how loving my children are. They are the most loving kids in the world. They want hugs and kisses all the time. And I love giving them those. They make me feel loved. They do not know anything about hate, racism, guilt trips, or revenge. They only know love. And they love unconditionally. Mind boggling at times. So to be as a child is to forgive and to love unconditionally without an agenda. Love for the sake of loving. Jesus says we have to become like children to be part of his kingdom.

After Jesus tells the disciples that they have to become like children he then tells them as children who we are to love. Who we are to welcome into our story which is really Gods story. Who we are to take under our wings as he takes us under his wings. He says we are to take care of the children, the weak, the friendless, the small, the frail, the mute, the poor, the ugly, and the disfigured. What a list. Maybe not the people we would want our golfing buddies to see us having lunch with. Maybe not the people we want our mom and dad to see us hanging out with late at night. Not anyone we would want in our little social clubs that make us feel so great.

Jesus then instructs the disciples to not plant any doubt, tempt, or lure one of these people away from him. He then gives us a picture of how well that sits with him. It would be better to tie a mill stone around our necks and jump into a large body of water than to turn one of the less away from him. Is there anting that to have ever done to turn a believer away from Christ?

In The Voice Matthew 18:10 says this, “Make sure that you do not look down on the little ones, on those who struggle, on those who are further behind you on the path of righteousness. For I tell you: they are watched over by those most beloved messengers who are always in the company of my father in heaven. The son of man has come to save all those who are lost". A few years back I helped lead out college ministry at our church. Mark, the leader, and I attended a Inter varsity meeting on the campus of the local private college a few miles away. They had asked that some of the local churches come by and tel the students about their church. Kind of a church fair if you will. There were about one hundred kids there and on of the local pastors spoke. That night he said something that to this day I can lose sleep over. He looked at those students, majority of them believers, and said that Jesus died for them and only them. That Jesus did not die for the unbeliever. Jesus did not die for the atheist, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew and so on. But only for those who call themselves christians. I was floored. I could not believe this man said this. After he finished his hate speech I felt terrible. I decided to walk up to him and find out what his deal was. I tried to engage him in conversation and asked him why he believed that Jesus only dies for christians. He automatically went on the defensive, wanted to know where I went to seminary and walked away upon learning that i in fact have not been in seminary. Amazing. For God so loved the WORLD…… 

Starting with verse 15 Jesus begins to tell us how to handle quirks and problems we may have with each other. Go to that person. i don’t enough people actually do that and it turns into a he said she said fest, but if we deal with whatever is happening from the get go in the light, hen the devil has no darkness to hide in. Jesus tells us that whenever a group of Christ followers gather he is among them as well. He concludes chapter 18 talking about forgiveness. there is a beautiful parable about forgiveness starting with verse 23. It is super clear that God has forgiven us to the nth degree and we are to do the same to everyone. Especially our enemies. Forgiveness is tough thing, but it is central to being a Christ follower. Forgiveness, love, and more forgiveness.

 

Shalom.

Matthew 17

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain and messes with their heads a little bit. Just kidding, well not really. Well you know what I mean. Anyways he grabs these three guys and takes them to the top of a mountain. While they are standing there Jesus’ face began to glow like the sun. Even his clothes gleamed bright like the sun. This was the transfiguration. And three disciples witnessed it. Not only did Jesus “light up”, but Moses and Elijah, who have been gone a long long time I remind you, show up. I love what scripture says, it says that the three men talked at the intersection of heaven and earth. That’s beautiful. A couple of quick observations. Numbers have meaning in the Bible. There are three disciples witnessing this transfiguration. There are three great people talking at the intersection of heaven and earth. Not just a coincidence by the way.

The disciples become a little star struck and decide to fall back on some old law and build and build a few small tabernacles. Actually Peter suggested that this should be done and as he is speaking God begins to speak. God says the same thing thing again that he had said at Jesus’ baptism. The voice from heaven Terrified the disciples and they duck and covered. Jesus tells them yet again to get up and don’t be afraid. They get up and Moses and Elijah are gone. Jesus instructs them again not to tell anyone what they saw. He told them to wait until he was raised from the dead before they told anyone. Now why would Jesus do this? Perhaps he wanted them to wait and witness another hilltop experience, the Crucifixion, and then put two and two together.

Jesus goes on explaining that John the Baptist was actually the fulfilment of a prophecy that Elijah would return and prepare the way for the Lord. Jesus gives the disciples another example of how important faith is using mustard seeds and slivers as visual aids. He then explains to the disciples yet again that he was going to be killed. Assuring them that this is how this is going to play out. But that he will be back. The scriptures say they were filled with grief at this news. they did not want Jesus to die. They did not want to be separated from him. Jesus and his disciples enter Capernaum and get taxed. We find out that Jesus pays his taxes, but explains to Peter that he only does it to this point so that he does not shake the boat quite yet. Jesus knew when to stick it to the man and when to play the game. As cunning as a snake but as gentle as a dove. Oh and Jesus did not carry money so he sent his disciples to the water to catch a fish and the money was in his mouth. Brilliant.

One Sweet World……………….

Just listening and really missing Roi this morning………

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Oh for the days……………

Matthew 16

Chapter 16 starts out with something very interesting happening. The Pharisees and the Sadducee’s had came to Jesus together to try and trick him again. Whats interesting is that he two groups did not get a long at all. The rarely saw eye to eye on things, especially scripture. But here they were together wanting Jesus to give them some great sign from heaven. It seems to rattle him a bit and he calls them a cheating and evil generation. He leaves them and gets back with the disciples telling them to be careful of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The disciples had showed up for the trip they were about to go on without any bread and they began to discuss what Jesus had said to them. they had thought that he was angrybecause they had forgotten the bread. Never mine the teaching they had previously heard about leaven bread. So Jesus reacts to their discussion by calling them out. Basically asking them if they had even learned anything after spending so much time with him. He reminds them of the bread and fish he had provided on at least two other occasions and cannot believe that hey are grumbling about bread to eat again. They were focused on food for their bodies instead of the food for their souls. Jesus clarifies things  and instructs them to stay away from the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducee’s. They take off to another town.

We then dive into the foundationof the Church. Jesus asks his disciples this question, "Who do people say the son of man is?". They tell him that some say John, some say Elijah, and some say Jeremiah. Then Jesus ask them, "Who do you say that I am?". And Peter replies "You are the liberating king, the son of God." Wiht this confession of Simon Peter, the foundation of the Church is laid. It’s purpose, authority, and survival is laid out right before the disciples. It’s a very important moment in the history of the world. Right there in Matthew chapter 16.

Jesus goes on to tell them not to tell anyone about these teachings. He lets the disciples in on the secret that he will actually be killed. Peter reacts to this revelation by pulling Jesus aside and telling him that it was not true and basically that he would not let it happen. The Voice translation says het Peter went otJesus "sad and confused". I love that. The ways of Jesus often times confuse me and it is good to know that some of his closest were confused as well. Jesus calls Peter out and reminds him that Gods story is at play now. Not his.

How many times in life do we forget that we are part of a much bigger story? What does that mean? As Christians what is it that we understand that people who are not Christians do not understand? Do we even want to be part of a bigger story or are we content living the lives we are living? Jesus redefines success and happiness. The kingdom is coming to earth just as he wants it. People are coming together just as he wants them to. Matthew 16:23-28 paves the way for the thinking and living that must take place if we are to be part of Gods story and kingdom. What was up is now down. What was right is now wrong. The same goes today. The richest people on earth may also be the poorest, while the poorest may be the richest. Success is measured in spirituality and not on how much we have gained in this world. Wealth is based on compassion and love and not just how much retirement fund we have bankrolled for our future. Everything is turned upside down and people got and get pissed off about it. I have yet to figure out why, but I just know that they do. Mad enough to nail an innocent man to a cross.