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Sermon - Love in Practise

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Sermon

Romans 12 - Love in Practise

Paul is speaking a letter to the Church in Rome, those he calls “God's beloved”. He has not yet been to Rome and is currently in the great Greek city of Corinth, and it is about AD57-58. A man we know as Tertius is acting as his scribe and writing down what Paul is saying. Tertius would later go onto be a Bishop in Iconium.

So far in this letter, Romans 1 to 11, Paul has been drawing a word picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel which demonstrates that God gets his hands dirty. The Gospel which tells us that God has done all He could do, in order that humanity could be saved, be in a living and dynamic relationship with Him, if they choose to be so. Paul then goes on to investigate in depth about this Gospel, the nation of Israel and the Gentiles.

That is where we are up to with the passage before us, Romans 12. Now, just as Romans 1-11 shows us that God got his hands dirty, in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, so must all those who call themselves His followers and children. As we will hopefully see together, if you are a Christian, you also must put your faith into practice, exercising it as you do your muscles. If muscles aren’t exercised or used, they wither away. The same can be said concerning our faith. How we live our life as Christians, is to reflect the life and love of the God whom we declare openly that we follow and love.

This morning, we will look at this chapter before us in two sections. Firstly, in v1-8, then we will have a break for a song before concluding with our second section in v9-21

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Sermon

Matthew 28:18-20

 

Jesus is alive! My master Jesus is alive. I am much older now as I recall for you about this Jesus. I remember the day that He called me to follow him. I had heard about him of course. The religious leaders were talking about him, as were the general population. People coming to my tax booth to pay their taxes and telling me about this man, Jesus. Telling me how he was doing all sorts of wonders, miracles and healings. Then one day Jesus came to me! Me! Levi, the son of Alpheus. I was sitting in my booth collecting taxes and he called me personally to follow him. People despised me as a tax collector, looked down upon me, as they considered me as a collaborator with the occupying Roman force. Some of my fellow tax collectors even fleeced our unsuspecting “customers”. We had the authority to do so. Why not?

Then Jesus called me. Called me to follow Him, with an authority that was far greater than my own or any other authority I had experienced. Greater that the authority of the Roman Occupying Forces! Jesus saw potential in me and called me authoritatively to give up everything and follow him.

So, I got up and started following him. I stopped collecting taxes for the Romans and started my new life. And what is a new life without a party to celebrate! I held a great banquet at my house for Jesus, which of course, got right up the noses of the Pharisees. Jesus also changed my name from Levi to Matthew.

It is almost 3 years since that time. I and his other close disciples, have learnt from this Jesus. He encouraged, comforted, rebuked, challenged, guided and taught us. He loved us. We loved Him. We had placed our hope in Him as the long waited for Messiah who would kick out the Romans and lead Israel into a glorious future. The Messiah was ‘the expected one’, who would come and lead Israel out of their state of subjection to Rome and into the full enjoyment of their own land. How wrong we were though. We had placed our hope in Jesus Messiah. There was his joyful entry into that great city of Jerusalem – riding on a donkey and we celebrated Him as a triumphant King!

Then it all seemed to go wrong. After that joyful entry into Jerusalem, Jesus, our Master, was found guilty at a mockery of a trial and was crucified. He is dead. Even though he had told us that he would rise again from the dead, we didn’t believe it. But it is true! Now He is alive again! He really is alive again, you know! The religious authorities even tried to say that we had stolen the body from the tomb. How ridiculous.

These religious authorities bribed the Roman guards to say, “His disciples came in the night and stole the body while we were sleeping.” Of course, that is ridiculous – beyond ridiculous. They hadn’t really thought it through, had they? I mean can you spot the immediate logical inconsistency. If the guards were awake, why would they let us steal the body of Jesus? If the guards were asleep, how did they know for sure that it was us that stole the body?

We were cowering in fear that we would be next to die such a death. Some women were brave though and had gone to see his body for themselves. Some of us afterwards had gone back to the life we had before we met Jesus. Then we received some final words of command from Jesus before He ascended back to the Father. We were to keep following Him, make disciples of others, baptize them and teach them all that Jesus had taught us! WOW!

What an amazing opportunity given to us by God! Not to make mere converts, but lifelong disciples and followers. What a privilege and an honour. This collection of my memories about Jesus is complete now. I, Matthew, present Jesus to you, as the long waited for Messiah, predicted over the centuries gone by. I have also recorded here Israel’s attitude towards this Jesus as the Messiah. I, Matthew, started out giving you Jesus’ genealogy and proceeded to tell you about Jesus authority and authentication as the Messiah. I related to you about Israel's opposition to and rejection to Jesus being the Messiah. This caused Jesus to reject Israel due to her unbelief.

Now finally, I have recorded the death and resurrection of the Christ, with Jesus’ final command for us to go do as he did - make disciples where ever we go and whatever we are doing, baptizing them, teaching them and seeing that they also go and do the same. I love my Jesus and I know he loves me. Do you love Him? I can tell you, with undoubted assuredness and certainty that He loves you.

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Exodus 5-6

Obedience to God leads to Intimacy with God

I am an old man now as I continue telling you our story. The story of how God, our God, created the heavens and the earth. Created the billions of stars. Created the planets including our planet, Earth. The God of our father Abraham. God who called out Abraham and said that he was going to bless Abraham and made promises to him, with him and for him! Little old Abraham of the Chaldees! Our father, Abraham. The God who told Abraham specifically and with authority that:

  • Abraham would be the father of a great nation
  • Abraham would receive personal blessing
  • Abraham would receive personal honour and a grand status
  • Abraham would be a source of blessing to others.

Father Abraham had been called personally and explicitly – to follow God and allow God to be his God. God is continuing to raise that family, to raise that nation unto Himself. Centuries later, I, Moses have also been called by God. Personally, and explicitly. I have related that to you earlier in this book of Exodus. Of that family which God is raising, you and I, my friends, are of that family – the nation of Israel. The great God of Abraham and also of such amazing people, those wonderful servants of God, Jacob and Joseph.

I, am of that family. As a child, under threat of national male infanticide, I was placed by my parents into a basket, who proceeded to put it into reeds on the bank of the river Nile. There I was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter who took me back to the palace and gave me the name, Moses. When they decided I needed a nursemaid, they went out to find one for me. Do you know who the Egyptian princess unknowingly got for me? My own mother! WOW! God was taking care of me, even at that tender age. Isn’t our God amazing and almighty?

I have had many scraps and scrapes as you know from the beginning of this book. Yet, God has honoured me and called me. He spoke to me from a burning bush! Me! Moses! WOW! There are more adventures to come, through which you will hear about my life of following God and being a disciple of God. But for now let me continue our story of this book of Exodus, and tell you what happened when Aaron, my brother, and I, went to Pharaoh in obedience to a command from the Lord our God. We were commanded by God to tell Pharaoh, to let all the captive people of Israel, the chosen people of God, to go. Where were we to go and why? We were to go on a 3 day journey, in order to host a festival in the wilderness where the Lord our God would be worshipped with sacrifice. An Almighty God being worshipped by His peculiar people, His special nation. Where God would be honoured, glorified and lifted up by His people in sacrificial worship. As commanded by our God, we went to Pharaoh and made the request. just as our God had said to do. How did Pharaoh react?

This is the introduction. Please use this link to download the full episode as a mp3 file.

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Acts 20

Jesus made fully human - Hebrews 2:5-18

5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
‘What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
7 You made them a little[a] lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honour
8 and put everything under their feet.’
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.’
13 And again,
‘I will put my trust in him.’
And again he says,
‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[k] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

In Hebrews 1, we see that Jesus Christ was one being with God the Father. That Jesus Christ was fully God! We heard that Jesus Christ was called God's Son and that He was supreme to the prophets, the angels, Moses and Joshua, the Old Covenant with its priesthood and sacrificial system. That Jesus Christ was God's Appointed Heir and God’s Creative Agent. That Jesus Christ Personified God’s Glory was the Perfect Revelation of God and the Cosmic Sustainer... Last week, we thought this fascinating and often unread book was best seen as the transcript of a sermon rather than a letter addressed to a distinct group of people and that it dated originally to the 1st century, probably before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD70. It was accepted as part of the canon of the Bible by the Eastern church early on and it wasn’t until the end of the 4th century that the Western church formally adopted it into the canon of Scripture.

Do download the audio to find out more about Jesus being made fully man!

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Thanking God for the Reformation

Part 7

What are Romans 1:16-17 and Romans 3:22-23 all about that to be the catalyst for change and reformation of Martin Luther?

 

The Church before the Reformation G’day and welcome to our series, Thanking God for the Reformation, where we are looking at and celebrating that momentous event in history, and including in that, Church history. These are extracts from the book “Heroes And Heretics Abound” available on Amazon sites.

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

We know that the verses from Romans 1:16-17 were used by God, to be the catalyst for Martin Luther to commence what we call the Reformation. But what is it about these verses, caused him to think like that?

Please do download the podcast using the link below and hear what this message has to say for you today in the 21st century: some 2,000 years after they were written and 500 years after affecting Martin Luther - words which are still alive and active today.

 

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Acts 20

Guided by God to serve…

I know what people think. They think that I work alone. That I enter a town like a lone superhero and boom – people are instantly wowed with my good news of salvation. That I am so intelligent, speaking things which are difficult to comprehend and without emotion.

But you know what. Those people who think like that, are wrong. I don’t work alone. I am always surrounded by a great team of people. Check out these folk with me on this occasion, or will be soon – Luke, Sopater; Aristarchus and Secundus; Gaius; my dear son, Timothy; and Tychicus and Trophimus. A community of God’s people from different places working with me. It is for God’s sake that I work and am His. It is my conviction that the good news of salvation can be had by all, through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead. As for being without emotion, clearly, they have never met me and therefore misunderstand me. Emotions are part of the human experience and that is what I am, a mere human being used by the God I proclaim, worship and serve.

I once was very different though. I was on a mission – a mission from God – or so I thought. A mission to defend God’s truth. It was my job to be God’s defender and root out the miscreants known as ‘The Way.’ Those people claiming that Jesus, Yeshua ben Joseph, had risen from the dead after being crucified. No way could God have a Son. That was blasphemy! Rubbish it was! It was! How could the Saviour of my people, the Jews, the Messiah, die on a cross – a Gentile cross at that - and be cursed by God? Patently absurd! Bald-faced and blatant blasphemy! No! No! No! It was my duty as a man zealous for the Law, to eradicate all those who were followers of this man, Jesus. Those heretics. Then… I still remember it as if it was yesterday. I was on the road to Damascus, embarking on my mission and boom! Suddenly a voice from heaven cried out “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

I asked who it was that was speaking and the voice spoke again “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

God had stopped me, arrested me (Philippians 3:12), shone his light upon me (2 Corinthians 4:6), and the mercy of God overflowed upon me (1 Timothy 1:14) and within me. Jesus is alive! WOW! It is true! Jesus is alive! Did you hear me? Jesus is alive! Jesus, the Messiah did die on a cross. But he came back to life, rising from the dead three days later just as He repeatedly said He would. Afterwards, he made many public appearances before He ascended back to God the Father. Then He appeared to me! Me! Saul of Tarsus! WOW!

That was about 20 years ago now. Now I am on a different mission. A mission given undeniably to me, by God – a mission which is to tell the world, by all possible means, this good news of Jesus the Christ. I, now named Paul, am no longer an enemy of Jesus, but now His friend. A friend of God! God calls me, friend - converted from a persecutor to being one of His faithful followers. This conversion was a total transformation by God upon me. My attitudes, character & relationship with God, have all been transformed and for His glory alone. My God loves me! Me! Unbelievable, isn’t it? My conversion is real, God continuing to work in me, upon me and through me.

So here we are today! Having just left that majestic city of Ephesus, where I spent the best part of the last 3 years. A city and people I love dearly – loved often with tears and joy. Recently as a result of my preaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus, some folk took exception and caused a riot.

So, onwards to Jerusalem and the believers there. I have a gift for them. A wonderfully sacrificial gift from the Gentile churches, to the Church there in Jerusalem. It is a practical way of looking after the welfare of the Church of fellow believers there in the magnificent city of Jerusalem. The churches in Macedonia and Achaia, are wanting to make a practical contribution towards the Christians in Jerusalem . Headlong we go, guided by God and serving Him. I will catch up with Timothy and Erastus whom I have sent ahead of me!

Firstly though, let’s look at the map so that you can see where I am and where we are going tonight.

  • v1-2 – first we go north from Ephesus to Macedonia. I may just stay in Corinth for the winter.
  • v3 – Then I will return through Macedonia instead of sailing to Syria
  • v7-12 - Troas - Eutychus is raised from the dead by God
  • v13 - By foot to Assos
  • v14 - sailed to Mitylene
  • v15 - sailed to Kos, Samos and Miletus
  • v17 - Ephesus elders came to Miletus

And still on our way to Jerusalem! We will get there, even if not directly!

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