Is The Cost Too Much?

The readings for this beautiful Saturday are Amos 4 and Luke 14:25-35. I take up the challenge included in the Luke passage.

Jesus challenges His followers, “If anyone comes to me…” (14:26). There is a cost in following Jesus. We might ignore it, or water it down to something that is worthless and insipid, but Jesus spoke of the nature and necessity of discipleship. The discipleship that He spoke of was far from being either worthless or insipid.

Jesus was on the road (v.25). He was with the crowds and Jesus was warning (is that the right word?) them of what was involved in them “coming with me”.

Their issue was our issue.

One of the most urgent things we must decide is whether we will follow Christ wholly.

What is involved in us doing that?

A commitment to Jesus that places Him even above family (vs.26-27).

A conscious commitment, that looks ahead and counts the cost, and determines to carry discipleship through to completion (vs.28-33).

A continuing commitment, that once begun maintains its fervour, even as salt to be useful must maintain its savour (vs.34-35).

How hard can it be to do that, really? Extremely difficult and we cannot do it without divine help and help from our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is one of the reasons we are the part of a fellowship.

But how wise it is for us to make that conscious, continuing commitment to Jesus Christ.

Is the cost too much for you?

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

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Deaf as posts but the invitation is for those who will come.

Today’s (Fr 08/12/2017) FDR passages are Amos 3 and Luke 14:15-24

Deaf as posts

Amos chapter 3 is the first of the prophetic word reports in this book.  These concern judgement against Israel and in Chapter 3 vv3-8 use a rhetorical cause and effect framework of questions that culminate in v8:

The lion has roared –
    who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken –
    who can but prophesy?

The implied question being;

“How is it the prophet prophesies the impending doom of God, but the people do not pay any attention?”

So the judgement is spoken and very little of use will be left.  Vv12-15 describes how desolation will be made of Israel and the ineffectual pieces that will be left.  This is punishment on a very grand scale.

Celebrations for all.

We can be too familiar with this next passage, Luke 14:15-24.  We think it means God invites people who are celebrated guests and they refuse so He invites others, some whom we would not normally consider.  Yet it is about those who already know God too.

When we hear the call of God, in what ever means it comes to us,  to act either by direct invitation or through a quiet whisper, perhaps as loud to us as a trumpet call, will we recognise it is the Master’s call and promptly obey?

Our passage characterises the first group as those who are too busy.  Yet it is the Master calling.  Then he gathers people from all places and there is still room.  Another call is made, this time with determination – ” . . . and compel people to come in so that my house may be filled.” (v23)

Behind these words is a very clear message delivered by v24 “. . . none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

SHUT OUT!  EXCLUDED!  Missed out on the one and only opportunity to celebrate with God, the marriage of the Lamb to His people!

Revelation 7:9 describes the resulting celebration like this:

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands.

There are only two responses possible here;

Yes, Lord I’ll come.  Or

No Lord, I’ve something else to do!

An obedient servant

What of the servant carrying out the Master’s instructions?  This is the fourth group and they follow the Lord’s direction and keep extending the invitations until the work is finished.

There is no criminal record check, nor talking to the invitees’ referees, nor checking if they are clean and well dressed, nor making sure they don’t already have a religion, nor making sure they are from the right suburb, or town or country.

No prior checks to see if the invitees are qualified.  Just asking, cajoling and compelling people to come to the feast.  Yes, no strings attached.  Everything is supplied by the Lord.

Do we approach our role as servants of God in this “All are invited, no exceptions” frame of mind?  Are we taking and making opportunities to bring into God’s kingdom all people?

Whatever role we have in this parable of Jesus the Bible’s 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us, whether we are called to the dinner celebration or are a servant doing the calling, that everything is provided, we need nothing of our own:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

NO excuses – whether we are the servant or the guest we are expected, and equipped, to take our part seriously and be part of the solution.

Glenn

Luke 13:22-35

The key point that struck me in this passage was Jesus’ response to the question someone asked in v23 – “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”. Jesus answers firmly, urging people to “make every effort to enter through the narrow door.”

I wondered what it really meant to enter through the narrow door? As Christians, we believe we are saved by grace through faith and that the way to heaven is solely through faith in Jesus. Its not about what we know, but who we know. You cannot enter the kingdom of God by having Christian parents (as wonderful a blessing this is) or Christian friends or going to church. But is about knowing Jesus as our Saviour and friend.

I have been challenged to get to know Jesus better. And the best way to do this is through reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other Christians.

Call to review and blessings from God.

Today’s (Tu 05/11/2017) FDR passages are Joel 2:13-28 and Luke 13:10-21

Both passages today contain calls to review and resultant blessings.

Our reading in the book of Joel takes us to a challenge to review our standing before God as the passage prophesies what might need to be done to return to accepting the Lord’s favour and beseeching Him to turn back from the terrible judgement being described in yesterday’s reading.  These passages are also seen as a description of the times of tribulation that occur in the end times before Christ’s second coming and the relief prophesied to His faithful people on His return.

Our Luke reading describes one scene and a number of actions from Jesus’ ministry.  Here we see again Jesus working to heal and discuss or challenge belief and understanding.  There are three facets I want to focus on in the Sabbath healing to again examine Our Lord’s foci.

The woman healed came to the synagogue to hear a man who was becoming known as a prophet and healer and before He is finished she is healed of an 18 year affliction and “immediately she straightened up and praised God.” (v13b)  Jesus heals this woman in the place she is most hurting.

The synagogue leader, here addressing his people, requires them to come on days other than the Sabbath to be healed.  Yet Jesus beginning with a lesser rule argues that even the donkey would be given water today, on the Sabbath.  Then asks why not heal a person who is bound by evil.  Jesus, using a tool common to synagogue discourse, engages in discussion with this synagogue leader, and other opponents, by arguing from the same  rules as applied to work on the Sabbath.  Moving from a lesser being, an animal which needs care to a person who needs care, He argues that there is a stronger reason to heal and to do so straight away.

Those attending the Synagogue with its leader and this healed woman are either defeated or delighted. As v17 puts it “all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”

Finally, challenging the gardeners and the cooks!   Picking up on Greg’s theme from yesterday;  What are we doing with our mustard seeds and our yeast?  Are we planting the seed of truth in people’s minds and hearts and praying for God’s Spirit to water it into a child of God?  Are we putting the yeast of Christ’s saving grace into people’s lives and setting it in the sunlight of God’s Spirit so those we are among can rise into a person of Christ?

You and I have been blessed with a ‘mustard seed’ or the ‘yeast’ of faith.  Are we replanting them in others by witness and prayer?

A prayer – Lord God, may we cherish the faith you have blessed us with enough to look for and pray about opportunities to bless others with your seeds and yeast in our short time on this earth.  In Christ’s name we ask this.  Amen. 

[My apologies to our early starters for this late posting.]

Glenn

Regarding brevity, souls and having wit.

I was at a conference earlier in the year where the speaker encouraged a room full of preachers and teachers of the bible to regularly remind their congregations of “the brevity of life”. He pushed them to remind people of the limited time we have in our lives as it should spur us on into repentance and into mission (hopefully). Both Luke 13:1-9 and Joel 2:1-12 bring us into that place.

In a world of self-help books, motivational posters and pain avoidance to be confronted with the words “repent or perish” can be a bitter pill to swallow. We often focus on the loving and lovely aspects of our faith and, understandably, it’s a very attractive message. We sell ourselves short though when we don’t address the whole of the gospel – the part about judgement, wrath and God’s plan for unbelievers.

While there is a wonderful comfort we have knowing that we are shielded from God’s wrath with Jesus’ blood for me the knowledge that many people I love and want to spend eternity with don’t know Jesus creates an urgency in my spirit. The fact that “the day of the Lord is coming” as described in Joel makes me pray even harder for friends who don’t know Jesus. As much as the return of the Lord and the restoration of his creation excites me I don’t want friends to miss out on the goodness and forgiveness of God and an eternity with him. I feel annoyed at the miss opportunities or the times I haven’t been bold sharing my faith.

As we journey into Christmas who is on your heart to know the Lord? Who do you need to share your faith with? It’s a great time of year where there’s songs about Jesus playing at shopping malls and on TV. Let’s pray that we have an opportunity to share the good news and make it personal for the people we love who need to know Jesus.

I sing for joy …

Today’s Readings: Psalm 92

Every morning I wake to the sound of the birds singing in the trees outside our home (unless it’s raining). At times I’d question the so called singing of the wattle birds, but as we move from spring into summer I find the sounds a beautiful start to the day.

Today’s reading challenged me to think about how I start my morning. Is it with a song of praise like the birds, or do I need coffee and a quiet space before I’m ready to ‘face the world’?

‘It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.’  Vs1-3

If the birds can start the day in song to the creator, why can’t or don’t I?

We read in Genesis chapter 1 that when God created, he spoke everything into being.

And God said, ….. ‘ vs 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 22, 24 etc

And when God created mankind, we read that he created men and women in His image. Genesis 1:27

Nature has its own way of displaying the glory of God, but the God of the spoken word gave us His unique gift of words and speech. There are also those who have been gifted with the ability to produce songs and music, and God wants and is deserving and worthy of our praise.

‘For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the work of your hands.’ Vs 4

I have good reason to sing for joy for both who God is and what He has done.

‘The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations.’  Psalm 98

But there are also times when I wake in the morning and the last thing I feel like doing is singing a song of praise. I’m still tired or I may simply be sad about what life has thrown at me. These are the days when maybe you and I simply need to be ministered to by recalling His promises and the truth of who He is.

And to open the words of the Psalmist and claim, together with the tune of the early morning songbirds, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock …’  v14

KD

WARNINGS

JOEL 1.

Today we begin reading the message given to the people of Israel by the prophet Joel, following a devastating locust plague.  This plague was so severe that it is described as being like that of an invading army that completely destroys the good and fertile land.  

When disaster strikes, whether it is at a national or personal level, often it is claimed that God is to blame!  Here however the priests and people are urged to mourn, wail, (v 8 &13) and cry out to the Lord (v14), and to repent   because there is someone to go to and He is listening.

In our own experience, through our television sets we see devastating destruction of people and land in countries like Syria, iraq, Yemen. The Lord will listen if we ‘mourn, wail and cry’ to Him for them and perhaps even for our own land that we may repent and turn back to Him for  ’the day of the Lord is near.’

 

 LUKE 12 : 49 – 59

Jesus talks a lot about peace – blessed are the peacemakers Matthew 5:9, peace I leave with you, my peace I give you John 14:27, I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace John 16:33.  The good news that He brought produces that peace with God that comes from forgiveness and a restored relationship.  But in today’s passage Jesus warns His disciples that His reason for coming to earth is SO impacting on lives that even families will be split apart as those who reject Him will also reject believers.  

While we know that people who commit themselves to Christ from other religions receive strong opposition or even death, it is a very sad development in our current Australian society that vehement opposition to the Christian position is growing fueled largely by the media/internet.

Warnings are positive – Bluebottles!

                                    Crocodiles swim here!

                                    Stand behind the yellow line

These can save us pain or even death if we heed them.  

Jesus’ love for people meant He gave clear warnings of a future judgement on His return.  Are we listening?

Peter and Elizabeth