Monday, 23 February 2015

I Reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-19: You will be a people consecrated to the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48: Be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Real Meaning of Human Relationship

No subject is more important than the subject of human relationships. God is creating a family of believers who are to live together eternally. Therefore, He wants that family to live together as a family, loving each other and loving their neighbours as they should. God’s family must never allow hate to enter their hearts. God’s family is to treat no person as an enemy. Every person is to be loved as a true neighbour.
1.     The law (v.43): The law said, “Love your neighbours as yourself” (Lev. 19:18; Gal 5:22-23).
2.     The real meaning (v.44)
a.     Love your enemies
b.    Pray for persecutors
3.     The incentive (v.45-47)
a.     Makes you a child of God
b.    Makes you like God
c.      Makes you distinctive from other people
4.     The charge: Be perfect (v.48)

Thought: God is love, perfect love (1Jn 4:8, 16). He loves all; therefore, He wants a world of love from creatures who will freely choose to love. He challenges everyone to be like Himself: to love all, even his/her enemies.

I Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28: Am I likely to take pleasure in the death of a wicked man and not prefer to see him renounce his wickedness and live?
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26: Go and be reconciled with your brother first.
The Real Meaning of Murder, Mt 5:21-26
Civilized societies have always considered murdered being a serious crime worthy of judgement. But anger is a different matter. Few have ever thought of anger as being on the same level as murder and worthy of serious judgement. However, Christ says that unjustified anger is the same as murder and will be subject to the same judgement from God.
Note the words, “brother” and “anyone” (v.22,23,24). Christ is saying that every human being is a brother/sister under God’s creation. Therefore, His words apply universally to every human being.
1.     The law (v.21):
The law against murder is the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17). Note that God’s law is given to protect life. Life is to be respected and cherished. No life to be taken, neither one’s own life nor the life of anyone else.
2.     The real meaning: Anger (22)
Murder is deeper than just an outward act. It is an inward act: Anger is bitterness, enmity, hatred, slandering, destroying, rage, fury, an uncontrolled spirit, hurt, envying, wrath, indignation and killing. So murder is born from within, form an uncontrolled spirit, from an unregulated urge, from an inner anger. Anger itself is a real sin, the sin that breaks the law of God.
3.     The growth of anger (22)
a.     A brooding anger
b.    A contemptuous anger
c.      An accusing, cursing anger
4.     The judgement of anger (22)
5.     The answer to anger: Reconciliation (23-24)
a.     The urgency: Must precede worship
b.    The time: while some openness exists
c.      The danger or damage of holding anger (25)
d.    Earthly judgement
e.      Divine judgement symbolized
6.     The terrible end of anger: judgement is sure (26)

Thought:  Note three facts:
i.                   Jesus speaks to those who know the law. The person who knows the law (the WORD) needs this message as much as anyone.
ii.                 God’s law existed from the beginning (long ago). It will never be annulled or done away with. It is always to govern people. People are always are to heed it.
iii.              Striking out at a person is clearly forbidden, but so are bad feelings against a person. Anger-any bad feelings whatever against a person is sin, serious sin.

I Reading: 4:17: I have no helper but you.
Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12: The one who always receives.

The Key to Prayer: Persevering in Prayer, Mt 7:7-11

“Ask”: the Lord commands and challenges us to persevering in prayer.
1.     What is persevering prayer (v.7)?
a.     Ask- until you receive
b.    Seek- until you find
c.      Knock- it is opened
2.     Why persevere in prayer (v.8-10)?
a.     Prayer is conditional: Must ASK-SEEK- KNOCK
b.    Everyone is heard
c.      God cares much more than an earthly father
3.     How does a person persevere in prayer (v.11)?
a.     He/she must come to God as his/her Father
b.    He/she must come asking for good things

Thought: Failing to persevere in prayer shame God and ourselves. True prayer is persevering prayer. Our genuineness and sincerity are known how much we persevere in prayer.
The Summit of Ethics: The Golden Rule & Two Choices in Life, Mt 7:12-14

This Scripture contains two of the most well-known things Jesus ever said. They deal with two of the basic issues of life.
i.                   There is the issue of righteousness. How can a person live righteously, that is, have a right relationship with his neighbour?
ii.                 There is the issue of life. How can a person be sure he/she has life, real life?
1.     The golden rule of life (v.12)
a.     Demands true justice
b.    Includes real love
c.      Teaches the whole law
2.     The two choices in life (v.13-14)
a.     Two gates: wide vs. narrow
b.    Two ways: easy vs. hard
c.      Two ends: destruction and life
d.    Two travellers: the wise and unwise
e.      Two decisions: no effort vs. seeking to find

Thought: Two simple rules can revolutionize a person’s life or a society itself.
i.                   Treating God as we want God to treat us.
ii.                 Treating others as we want others to treat us.

I Reading: Jonah 3:1-10: The people of Nineveh renounced their evil behaviour.
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32: The only sign given to this generation is the sign of Jonah.

The Great Proof that Jesus is the Messiah: The Resurrection, 11:29-36

The great proof that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, is the resurrection. Men may seek for other proofs and other signs, but God has given this one supreme sign. No other sign will ever given to people. The resurrection leaves people without excuse.
1.     The crowds thronged Jesus (v.29)
a.     Jesus charged: this is an evil generation
b.    The reason: they sought a sign like Jesus’ temptation by Satan- Jesus’ reply was get behind me Satan and you will worship your Lord and God.
2.     The one and only sign: the sign of Jonah, that is, the resurrection (29-30)
3.     The signs (resurrection) effect:it will condemn this evil generation(31-32)
a.     Because they did not seek Christ (as the queen of Sheeba sought wisdom of God through Solomon).
b.    Because they did not repent with Christ’s preaching (as Nineveh).
4.     The sign’s (resurrection) visibility: it is as clearly seen as a shining lamp (33-36)
a.     A fact: a shining lamp is not hid but it is placed where it gives light.
b.    A choice: to see the sign (resurrection) with a healthy eye or a diseased eye.
c.      A warning: beware of a diseased eye, of a body full of darkness.
d.    A promise: a healthy eye will give great light.

Thought: Jesus Christ is the Light of the world; He is the Light to which people must open the door of their hearts. He is the Light which people must take into their sinful lives and world of darkness.

Thought: selfishness, indulgence, extravagance, hoarding-all that leads to and indicates the neglect of others.

I Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11: My word shall succeed in what it was sent to do.
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15: You should pray like this.
The Three Great Rules for Prayer, Mt 6:7-8
Our prayers are not measured by length or devotion or fluency or recitation. Jesus teaches the true meaning of prayer in life.
1. Rule 1: Do not use meaningless repetition (v.7)
2. Rule 2: Do not speak much (v.7)
3. Rule 3: Trust God (v.8)
a. He knows your needs
b. He desires to hear your prayer
The Model Prayer, Mt 6:9-13
Jesus taught the model prayer, note the words, “This, then, is how you should pray.”
1. There is surrender and acknowledgement (v.9)
a. To our Father in heaven
b. To God’s holy name
2. There is a request and plea (v.10-13)
a. For God’s kingdom
b. For God’s will
c. For daily bread
d. For forgiveness
e. For deliverance
3. There is praise and commitment (v.13)
The Basic Principle of Prayer, Mt 6:14-15
Jesus taught the basic principle of prayer is the forgiveness.
1. The promise: Forgive others and be forgiven (v.14)
2. The warning: Refuse to forgive others and be unforgiven (v.15)
Thought: Temptation is a part of human and divine life. Jesus had victory over temptation doing the will of God. Jesus said to his disciples, you pray always so that you will not fall into temptation (Lk 22:40). We can overcome temptations through our great faith in Jesus, prayer, fasting, alms giving, good works, strong determination to pray and fight against sin and temptation.

I Reading: Leviticus: 19:1-2.11-18: You must pass judgement on your neighbour according to justice.
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46: In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine you did it to me.
The Parable of the Sheep and Goats: The Final Judgement of Nations

A person must guard against confusing the judgement of a nation’s works with the judgement of individuals (sheep and goats). The final judgement will include all the nations of people; it will be the judgement of the whole world.
Jesus was judging two types of beings, sheep and goats, not the same type of being of whom some behaved in one way and some another. The sheep (believers) serve with Christ’s heart of love who are selfless, God-centered nature whereas goats do not server Christ, they do and walk in their own way of thinking. Scripture says, “show me your faith without deeds, I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18). God knows no faith apart from good works, that is, apart from ministering to the needs of people.
1.     The Son of Man is coming to judge (v.31-33)
a.     Coming in glory
b.    Coming with angels
c.      Coming to be enthroned
d.    Coming to gather all nations
e.      Coming to separate the nations, both sheep and goats
i.                   Sheep- favoured seat
ii.                 Goats- unfavoured seat
2.     The judgement of sheep will occur (34-40)
a.     The judge: the king
b.    The invitation: come
c.      The reward: the kingdom
d.    The basis of judgement: ministering to Christ
e.      The ministry defined
i.                   A humble, instinctive ministry: no thought of reward, only helping people in need
ii.                 A ministry to the Lord’s brothers and sisters.
3.     The judgement of goats will occur (41-45)
a.     The judgement
i.                   Cut off from God
ii.                 Eternal fire
b.    The basis of judgement
i.                   A failure to minister
ii.                 A selfish life
iii.              A spiritual blindness
4.     The judgement is for eternity (46): the righteous will go into eternal life. Life eternal is permanent and unchangeable. It is life that is eternal, not some dreamy, unconscious or semiconscious state of being.  The sheep (believers of Christ) will live, and their life will be eternal, never ending.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

I Reading: Genesis 9:8-15: God’s covenant with Noah after He had saved him from the waters of the flood.
II Reading: 1Peter 3:18-22: That water is a type of the Baptism which saves you now.
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15: Jesus was tempted by Satan, and the angels looked after him.
The Spirit that descended with dove-like gentleness at our Lord’s baptism now thrusts him out into the wilderness to do battle with the forces of evil. Mark gives no details of the Temptation (for which see Luke 4:1-13). The number “forty” recalls the years of Israel’s wanderings and Elijah’s experience in the wilderness (1Kings 19:8). There is also the first mention in Mark of kingdom and repentance. The former suggests not only a community, but also the royal rule; repentance is not just regret for an action, but from the two components of the Greek word, a change of heart or mind.
The readings of today are meant to help us understand the importance of our Baptism-covenant and to live up in accordance with it.
1.     The covenant between God and Noah
2.     The covenant between God and Abraham
3.     The covenant between God and the people of Israel (through Moses)
4.     Were the two parties faithful to the agreements?
a.     God was always faithful, but not man/woman
5.     God promised to establish a new covenant
6.     When was this new covenant established?

The Last Supper=Jesus instituted “The Holy Eucharist” “Take and eat this is my body, which will be given for you” (Mt 26:26; Mk 14:22; Lk 22:20). “Drink all of you from this: this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant: it is going to be shed for you and for all
men, for their sins to be forgiven.” (Mt 26:18; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20). This new covenant will last forever. Every person that comes into the world is invited to sign it. God is so generous to his promises. This is what He offers: forgiveness of sin, the life in the spirit and a new promised land, heaven.
7.     We sign our covenant with God at Baptism:
In the seconding of today, Peter calls Baptism “a pledge made to God” (1Pet 3:21). At Baptism, we are given a new life, the life in the Spirit (Acts 2:38). The Spirit makes us members of the New People of Israel which the Church and makes us members of a single body which is Christ (1Cor 12:12-13).
8.     Lent is a time to renew our covenant with God:
God has been faithful to His Covenant; let us be faithful to God during this Lent. This what Jesus preached, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Good News” (Mt 1:15).
Jesus Christ and His Temptation: Dealing with Temptation, 1:12-13
 The importance of understanding. The believer faces temptation every day of his life. For this reason, he/she needs to gain a thorough understanding of just what temptation is and how it is to be overcome (Mt 4:1-11).
1.     Temptation follows a person’s decision (v.12)
2.     Temptation is used by the Spirit (v.12)
3.     Temptation is a desert or wilderness experience (v.13)
4.     Temptation is of Satan (v.13)
5.     Temptation is met by God’s help (v.13)

Jesus Christ and His Message: The Good News of God, 1: 14-15

The Good News of the Gospel includes three emphatic points.
1.     Jesus preached the Good News of God (v.14)
a.     In Galilee
b.    After John was put in prison
2.     The time has come (v.15)
3.     The kingdom of God is near (v.15)
4.     Repent and believe the Good News (v.15)

Thought: The armor of God is the glorious provision God provides for the believer’s victory over temptation (Eph 6:10-20).
Lent is the time to check up where we stand in our covenant with God. Jesus himself invites us to do so in today’s Gospel. We must repent for our sins and believe the Good News in accordance with the Gospel he preached.

I Reading: Isaiah 58:9-14: Your light will rise in the darkness.
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32: I have not called the virtuous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus Reveals His Great Mission: The Greatest Mission of All (5:27-39)

The greatest life ever lived on earth was the life of Jesus Christ. Therefore no mission can ever compare with the mission which he was sent to do. The greatest mission of Christ was...
·        A quickening mission: to make people alive to God.
·        An eternal mission: to give people life forever.
·        A purposeful mission: to cause people to commit their lives to God unconditionally.
Luke’s very purpose in this passage is to reveal the greatest mission of Christ. With the skilful mind of a man who knew the Lord intimately, he waves several events together to spell out the great mission of the Lord.
1.     The mission of calling outcasts (v.27-29)
a.     He went forth
b.    He saw
c.      He called
d.    The outcast left all and followed Jesus
e.      The outcasts reached his friends
2.     The mission of calling sinners to repentance (30-32)
a.     The religionists questioned Jesus’ associations
b.    Jesus’ answer
i.                   He illustrated his mission
ii.                 He stated his mission
3.     The mission of bringing real joy (33-34)
a.     The religionists questioned Jesus’ behaviour
b.    Jesus’ answer: his presence brings joy and vitality to life
4.     The mission of dying (35)
5.     The mission of launching a new life and a spiritual movement (36-39)
a.     Illustration 1: not patching the old, but starting a new
b.    Illustration 2: not putting his teaching (wine) in old wineskins, but in a new wineskin
c.      Illustration 3: the new is difficult to accept- it takes time

Thought: Jesus’ call is issued to all people, for all people are outcasts, the outcasts of heaven. However, there is a condition to becoming an acceptable person to God. A person must humble him/herself before Jesus, just as Jesus humbled himself before us (Mt 18:3; 2cor 7:10; phil 2:8; 2:6-8; Ps 2:6-9; Joel 2: 12).