Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jesus' Compassion Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus came on purpose. He came to be the light and to shine into our lives and to be reflected by us into every corner and every hurting place.
Do you ever wonder what God sees as we come towards him.
Does God see the great things you've done?
Does God see the plaques that hang on your walls or the medals you won in 7th grade.
Does God see the hurts you bear and the hurts others bear on your account?
Do you ever wonder what God sees when we come to him? Jesus saw this crowd and in his own pain he met them with compassion. They were hurting at John's death just as he was. Jesus touched the sick and healed them. They came from all over. They came because they knew that Jesus was the one person on the face of the earth who could make things different. Sometimes we can be cruel or harsh with one another. Sometimes we deserve no less from God than anger.
In Jesus today we see that he has compassion for those who seek him out. Come as you are in your sins, and shames. Come to God and open up to him about your failures and your sicknesses of all kinds. Jesus had compassion for those who came to him 2000 years ago by the lake in Galilee and that compassion is still real for all of us today.
Grieving people don't always think about what's coming next. There are times in human grief when we loose track of time and forget to even take care of our own most basic needs. And this crowd who came to Jesus with grief about John's death fresh in their minds weren't thinking about themselves like we might think they should have been. It was getting late in the day and Jesus' friends started to think about feeding this great crowd.
They came to Jesus worried. Jesus we are so far away from anyplace. The nearest town was a couple miles away and the sun would be down soon. Jesus please send them all away so that they can go and buy some food for themselves in the villages.

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16
The people came looking for the light of God; they weren't worried about what they would eat that day. They were in shock and grief. And in his compassion Jesus met them. He saw what they had and what they needed. And that night he looked at the great crowd and he responded to them with compassion.
The disciples didn't like the situation at all. The were nervous even anxious and uncertain. They turned to Jesus and said, “All we've got are 5 loaves and two fish.” This is it. This paltry little meal is all that they had. Jesus said, "bring them to me."
We have moments in our lives as believers like these first disciples had. We have moments when there's no human solution. We have moments when we see only one way out of our messes and God sees limitless possible ways to move ahead. Sometimes its these moments when sin creeps in again and we start to hoard the blessings God has placed into our lives. Sometimes its these moments of fear and scarcity when instead of opening up our hands in order that we might bless others that we hold onto what we have.
As we look at our worlds economic troubles today part of the solution will be found in opening up our hands. It's time to start giving away from our blessings. Its time to invest what we have into new ventures and give away to the neediest that we might may be used for good. God has blessed us to be a blessing to others.
The question here isn't how much have you got. It's how much can God do with whatever you offer either him or to your neighbors.
Jesus took the 5 loaves of bread and the two pieces fish and he looked up to heaven. He gave thanks for them most likely saying an ancient Hebrew blessing
This prayer is traditionally recited over two loaves of bread or challah:
בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם הָמ וֹציא לֶחם מן הַארץ
Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam,hamotzee lehem min ha'aretz.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the unvierse, Who creates bread from the earth.
Then he gave them to the disciples and said start passing this out to the people. And they kept on passing and kept on passing. And everyone ate and every one had their fill.
There are times when we see what we have and we see that it is more that we deserve. We see what we have and we realize that if we open up our hands we can be blessed and blessed again by giving. God's abundant blessings are real in our world. Open up your hands to God and to your neighbors. Open up your hands that you might be blessed and be a blessings.
For God all things are possible and no obstacle is insurmountable. AMEN.

It only takes little Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

How much of God's activity does it take to change the world?
Jesus in Matthew seems to be arguing that it takes just a little bit from God to start the kingdom breaking into our place and time.
In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus compared God's Kingdom to a tiny mustard seed. Jesus said that God works just like a mustard seed. God starts small and grows. God's kingdom is at work in often tiny ways. Every year I meet with each seventh grader and a parent one to one right before we start confirmation. And every year I pass each of the students and each of the parents a mustard seed to hep them understand again the promises that God has made to work in their lives and in our world.
A verse later Matthew 13:33 Jesus says a little bit of yeast is like the kingdom. It's the leaven of the yeast that transforms the dough from flour and water past into something completely different.
It only takes a little of God's activity at the start and suddenly everything is transformed. We look sometimes for great things and sometimes God will do what seems to us like just a little, and that little we will find out in the end was the beginning of something great.
Pax, John

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Weeds? in my garden? Matthew 13:24-30 36-43

Jesus chose stories to teach and some, like NT Wright, argue we should to. Why? Because Jesus seemed to know that he could make his point through stories better sometimes than through lectures.

Jesus spoke in this story of wheat and weed in Matthew 12:24-30 and then he explained the story in Matthew 13:36-43. Jesus spoke of a landowner who had a wheat field seeded. In our day farmers go out with planters as big as 36 rows across. But in Jesus day there were no planters, no big red or green tractors, the way it sounds from this this story there probably weren't even any rows to make for easy cultivation. In Jesus day an acre of ground was the space one oxen driven plow could reasonably work in a whole day. In Jesus day there were people with seed, hand tools, and animal powered implements working the land. The land owner would have collected some of his past years grain for seed or bought some from another farmer and that seed was most likely just tossed up into the air and scattered over the ground.

In our world we might say God works just this way. He give generously. He gives to the just and to the unjust. He gives to the faithful and to the unfaithful. And even more interesting still are all the different ways that God has of scattering believers and the gifts of faith, hope, and charity all over the world.

Consider how the seed We aren't the only Christians who will hear these words this weekend and consider what they mean. God has a way of planting his people in the world. We aren't meant to live anyplace else. a only to have any enemy come behind and throw weed seed out among the wheat. The man's servants came to him with the news of the weeds in the wheat and asked what to do.

Weeds obnoxious or noxious, you can call them what ever you want to: weeds.
There are weed's in my front yard—my. When my neighbor sprayed for the first tiem in 20 years some of the spray came over into our yard and now we can see what the grass looks like without the crabgrass and the clover. There are weeds in the perenials. Weeds in the garden. Creeping Charley and Creeping Jenny, crabgrass and dandy lions.

Weeds are part of our lives and we can try to get rid of them; but we can't. We can try to battle against them but as one lady was told by her lawn service, if you stop the creeping plants that your neighbor has will be in your yard in no time.

Weeds. Jesus spoke of an enemy scattering weeds. God's enemy is the devil. And Jesus says in this story that the enemy will scatter weeds all over. And what's the best thing to do. Is it best to just start over. Is it best to just to round up everything.

Jesus isn't talking about weeds in a a bean field or yard--Jesus is talking about our lives as people of faith living with weeds. Living with challenges that the enemy will put in our way. There's a temptation in us as human beings to try and get rid of all the weeds and all the imperfect people. There's a temptation a little like the feeling you get when you have a sliver in your thumb. You want to dig it out, just that little sliver might drive you crazy because it's under your skin, but do you reach for a huge knife to dig it out.

God says to wait and live with the weeds. Wait and live with them now knowing that you can grow and provide a great and glorious harvest in your life for God's sake.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jesus, just who are you talking to? Mathew 13:1-23

Good Afternoon, after a week off for Bible School and Vacation it seems like a good thing to look at scipture
Jesus, who are you talking to? Might sound like a funny question until considering the mixed crowd who came to see Him.
People have different reasons to seek Jesus out:

  • real disciples want to walk close with him

  • crowds come for deeds of power: healings and miracles

  • others come looking to dispute with Jesus.

In the middle of Matthew we see these different groups take shape. In Matthew 10
Jesus called his twelve followers together and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness. Matthew 10:1-2 CEV.
With His friends headed out to preach and heal Jesus turned to the crowds and spoke to them (in Matthew 11). His words to the crowd were both promises of blessing and deeply perplexing. The disciples returned to Jesus (in Matthew 12)and as he taught many became angry because he dared to eat and heal on the Sabbath. Jesus sought to get away but the crowds found him together with his friends sitting by the lakeshore (in Matthew 13).
Imagine the scene: a sloping beach with a few boats nearby. The crowd who came to see Jesus was so big he put out a little way into the lake in a boat to speak to them. The air and lake most likely were calm, the water almost like glass as Jesus spoke to them,
And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, tthey withered away. Other seeds fell among uthorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:4-9 ESV)
Sure Jesus says let any with ear hear this word but some in the crowd were confused. Maybe they came to see acts of power and instead Jesus told them stories about a farmer spreading seed. His disciples asked him why he taught in stories. Their teacher responded,
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. (Matthew 13:11 ESV)
These words bother me and they really should: as a sinner I want Jesus to work as I would have Him work. I want His Word to be accepted by all very easily. And here Jesus speaks so boldly of the challenges we offer to God. Jesus tells out loud what it's like when God's Word enters into our lives.
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and munderstands it. He indeed ubears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Jesus doesn't say everything is well with us in our current condition; quite the opposite. He's naming what happens when God's Word enters our lives. God might call us to great things; but he might also call us to leave aside the easy path, the rocky soil, and the thorns in our lives in order that we might flourish for His glory. God can do great things.