Sermon 25~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 5

“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For verily I say unto you: That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 6:1–15.

I was struggling with one of the commandments, it caused me to walk away from church as a teenager and when I returned it was still there: Front and centre. Joining a Bible study didn’t help, we were studying the Sermon on the Mount and so I heard what fulfilling the Law by Jesus meant and that it wasn’t about following the letter of the Law but following the explicit and implicit nature of the Law. So not only the act, but the first iota of an inkling of the act.

I spoke to one of our Local Preachers about it and they said and I quote:

“oh don’t worry about them that is why we have the New Testament we don’t have to worry about the Old Testament at all.”

Now young as I was in my faith walk this didn’t make sense, firstly if we weren’t to worry about the Old Testament then why was it still attached to the New physically in our bibles. Secondly we hear Jesus himself saying

“I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

The LP in question were themselves living a precarious life – preaching without call and preaching when preaching itself was contrary to their beliefs, but I found this out later.

But it raised queries for me and sent me on a journey of discovery of how to ‘without a shadow of doubt’ be following the ten commandments, I left the 613 other laws alone as I am partial to a fried prawn curry and my friends were not abominations.

Two things I discovered in my journey and these are vital for spiritual growth:

1. you have to ask, not just of God but of godly men and women whom you trust and listen to their replies with discernment. The wisest of the wise of humans can get it wrong sometimes too.

2. this is not a solitary journey, people walk alongside, some for a season, some for a season or two but all who walk have their own backstory and motivations.

Jesus did not land on this earth so we can read his words and go – “oh that’s nice.” No he came to change the world, change history, change us, individually – you and me.

March 2014 a vid was shown in church, to show a model of mission and specifically shown to me to raise questions about where is the mission field. Like the questions weren’t there already. A few years ago I had the privilege of viewing and touching some of the modern art held by the Methodist Church in Britain. Yes I did say touch, I couldn’t help it, it was so tactile it drew me in and I touched.

It wasn’t the Diwali madonna or the graphic depictions of the death of Christ, it wasn’t five and chips on the mountain. It was “Cross over the city,” a mixed media (Polyester, brass and mosaic, relief panel) conceptual depiction of The Cross over a city. For me it spoke missionally of housing estates where God is not known. No Pharisees live there and the law is that of the concrete jungle – the hierarchical nature of crime- controlled by the older but carried out be the very young. How do we reach those children, whose light quickly fades and is not present from the age of eight? How can hope be found for those that see life as endless drudge of pain and painkillers? Where the rite of passage into adulthood is not a ritual of confirmation into a church but a gang rape for her and needle for him and where that ritual takes place in ever lowering ages. What age will it stop?

These people do not know the commandments, do not know anything about the Lord and his saving grace, do not know anything about right from wrong. I call them people because children are humans too. How can they even hope to have the righteousness of a Pharisee with no knowledge of the Lord?

And where are we? Tucked up safely in our homes, barricaded in – lest they take out. Where we have no concept of how others live. Someone told me once that everyone has a choice. But not if they are living without choices – where children are groomed to accept whatever is thrown at them.

Jesus came for all of us, not just the twin set and pearls and suited ones, but the raggedy ones, the ones like me and you.

I may have openly struggled with one of the ten, but I was struggling for more secretly with others but until I sorted the open one I was held in grace until such a time was right, timing is everything with the Lord.

Sermon 24~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 4

“Ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt hath lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
“Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matt. 5:13–16

God loves a pure heart more than all the outward ritual, so Wesley notes that many philosophers and theologians have over the centuries suggested that a solitary worship of the Lord was preferable to corporate worship. Wesley was a proponent of social religion so he does not concur with the hermit in a cave model.

However he does allow that there is a time for personal devotion and prayer, but there is a necessity to come together not only to do “church” but for the fruit of the Spirit to be seen in the way we do “good works.” How can we share the Good News if we sit on a mountaintop in solitary confinement.

To be in solitary worship, to spend our lives away from people means that our light cannot shine and we are called to shine not hide away. Wesley talks of not only of keeping together and talking only to godly men and women but that we are to converse with all kinds of people – even those we would rather airbrush out. And if we stay away from the world how can we be the salt. How can we challenge wishy washiness? How can we challenge our lawmakers and breakers? How can we challenge wrong thinking or behaviour? … if we are not beside or in front of those people and how can others season our lives and help keep us on track.

Father God, keep us meek, keep us humble, keep us loving & giving, patient & kind. Show us Lord where to go, who to link with, help us Lord see the needs in our communities and give us the courage to step up and out to share the gospel with all we encounter. We say this in the Name of Jesus, our Saviour, Amen

salt-and-light

Sermon 19 ~~~{The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God}

 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.”

1 John 3:9

Light bulb! Light bulb!
It started with a shower of rain and ended up quite something else. The niggle was “how dare it rain on MY holiday.” that was the beginning of a slide. Did the Spirit try to hold me, convict me. Yes of course, but I was bent on ignoring the righteousness of God, and Wesley in this sermon explains how it is that backsliding occurs.
We allow a little bit of this or that and allow a whole deluge to come in. It takes time to realise the error of our ways, we might need the intervention of a Nathan or Paul but if we are to continue to live in Christ we must get back on track.
Love this sermon, there is nothing in it to pick apart,  the illustrations are relevant to today’s world and I recommend this sermon to be red by every believer, it is very encouraging and yet challenging.
I feel a sermon coming on …

Sermon 18 ~~~ {The Marks of the New Birth}

“So is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8

The first mark, Wesley tells us (Gal 3:26) is faith. It is the foundational mark and it is profoundly life changing, it is deeply rooted in the personal relationship we have with the Lord and is fed by daily spending time with Scripture, meeting in fellowship, meditating on the word and prayer.

He takes time to give out to those who say that to sin habitually is against the concept of the new birth. But what he is really saying here is that one of the marks of the new birth is not sinning. We are dead to sin and alive in Christ. In one of the previous sermons he said sin was still around us but that we didn’t allow it reign in us as we did before the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He again touches on the fruit of the Spirit and living in joy, peace and love. And then he comes to hope which I preached on Sunday week. Secular hope, real hope and a quasi real hope that many people attending church – a hedging bets with a pick and mix religion that many of our pews are filled with (across all churches)

Sometimes I think I am afraid to repeat myself but Wesley has no fear – he spends a good amount of time in this sermon again pointing out the greatest commandment ” love the Lord your God with all.. and love your neighbour …” I shall be less afraid now!

Finally he touches on good works as being the result of a transformed life – a mark of the new birth not to gain reputation either here or in heaven but that we are compelled to good works in His strength.

Sermon 17~~~{The Circumcision of the Heart}

“Circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter.”

Romans 2:29

I am listening to a guy in America preach about tithing and how we do that. Is it 10%, are we ticking the box or is it a budgeted amount that we can afford. Is it worship?

The way we are in every aspect of our lives proves that our hearts have been circumsized. So we give to the utmost, we love to the utmost, we show mercy to the utmost, and why?

Because it is not about following the law it is about living under grace. In gratitude, with a thankful heart our lives are given over to Him. It is not about our selfish desires it is about being turned inside out, emptied out, not in the expectation of being filled up or that we will be turned backwise right.

Wesley points out this is not some new fangled doctrine, he hasn’t plucked it out of the air; this is the word of God, it is written about by Paul and it is a part of our root faith. Interestingly he was preaching of the conviction of the Spirit before his strange warming of his own heart. Thus proving in prevenient grace we can be changed little by little until that dramatic moment of baptism by the Holy Spirit.

Oh I just love Wesley’s sermons, they speak to me now as if he were in the room. I know I can’t do justice to his rhetoric in the recordings but I felt compelled to try – to lift the words off the page and make them three dimensional once more. Can’t wait to meet him…