Sermon on the Mount

tentgirl & jake

She sleeps in a tent, in the woods at the edge of town. In the day she flits into town and dances along the cobbled streets. She sings outside the Market Tavern and eats a feast from the bins of others.

One night she awoke in the middle of a storm, she danced through the trees and sang at the lightening with a thunderous applause. The rain filled her mind, heart and lungs. She cried out as deep cries out to deep.

She sleeps in a tent, in the woods at the edge of town. In the day she hobbles into town and dances along the cobbled streets. She coughs outside the Market Tavern and can only imagine eating solid food once more.

One evening when hobbling home, she met Jake McFadden, he took her home, to his warm couch by the hearth. She coughed through the night and all the way through the next day. As the sun went down Jake fed her teaspoons of chicken broth as she spluttered and coughed.

Jake cared for her tenderly, with gentleness and care. A gentleman in every way. But the town did not know this and circulated news that would be happiest left in the gutter. As she gained strength, Jake’s reputation demised. One day she was better and gathered her things to take back to her tent in the woods.

The townsfolk spat in her path and some didn’t stop at the path. She didn’t understand, she was well but they treated her like a leper. The bins, once full, were now putrid and rancid. She stopped flitting into town.

Summer came and she danced around the trees, singing with the joy only freedom can bring. The ruined Jake saw her and fell in love at the sight of the girl who sang to the wind. He fell in love and broken hearted turned away, the townsfolk would bring up the whole saga of the sick girl

Jake went to the chapel on the main street in town, after the pastor had said his last word, Jake rose.

“People of this town, you have sullied my name and I turned the other cheek. You stopped coming to my business and I turned the other cheek. I will not defend myself against your gossip. You who come into this sanctuary beware, for your minds and mouths are as foul as the trash you put in your bins. You forget that we are all sinners. You forget the one who saved us. I am leaving here, I am leaving tent girl here. I don’t know her name. She doesn’t speak. She only sings. Open your hearts to her, open your homes to her and others like her. God bless them and God bless you.”

He did not wait for rebuttals or defences. He left and gathered up his possessions, leaving on the late bus to somewhere. Jake can be found sleeping in a tent, somewhere. He walks into town and talks to the people about a city not yet seen and a kingdom that is open to all.

Sermon 33~~~Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 13

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: For it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: And great was the fall of it.”

Matt. 7:21–27

Wesley ends his discourses on the Sermon on the Mount by discussing the wise and foolish builders. Every child that has gone through Sunday School knows the actions of the song that covers this parable. This is one version from Marantha music:

Don’t build your house on the sandy-land,
Don’t build it too near the shore,
Well, it may look kind of nice
But you’ll have to build it twice,
Oh, you’ll have to build your house once more.

You better build your house upon the rock,
Make a good foundation on a solid spot.
And though the storms may come and go,
The peace of God you will know.
(Repeat x2)

(Descant)
Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee

Words: Karen Lafferty (b. 1948) Words and Music © 1981 Maranatha! Music

We can do all the good works in the world, preach many sermons, bring many to the foot of the Cross, sing loud and clear …

BUT

If we do not have a deep rooted faith to rest the whole weight of our soul upon, we are still walking through the broad gate on that day.

If we cannot say to the Lord of our sin, not just in a vague poetic way but the very real way we sin each day

  • the smart comment to our wife or husband instead of just letting it go. Is it so important to win an argument that we say things like, “Aren’t I so happy to be here,” in a sarcastic mealy mouthed way
  • treating a human as a mere employee as if they have no feelings or emotions
  • shouting at children not particularly that they have done something wrong but because of where we are at.
  • ignoring the auld one that needs a lift just because of an unpleasant body odour
  • talking about someone behind their back not maliciously just because we don’t understand where they are coming from

I could go on and on. Anyone who says they do not do, think or say very REAL sin every single day, they lie. If we are convicted of something that needs changing in our life and we aren’t willing to work on it be it patience or self-control or some other issue, then we are not even attempting to move towards Christ likeness.

What difference has Jesus’ death made to our capacity or desire to sin?

Is there a difference?

We are still capable of sinning as outlined above, the difference is we now have an inner compulsion to avert our eyes from the temptation that is dangling before us.

Are we looking like the Christ we proclaim or damp cardboard cut outs?

Do we empty ourselves out, not for our glory but for His?

As the body of Christ, do we corporately authentic?

So we have personal Christian authenticity?

Sunday school taught me another song:

Like Jesus, like Jesus
I want to be like Jesus
I love him so
And want to grow
More like Jesus every day

Do we even try, anymore?

Wesley says let your religion be the religion of the heart. We have watered down religion to a word that we don’t like to use, so let me rephrase it:

Let your life be the life of the heart

NO more than that

Let your everything be the everything of your heart

worship1

Sermon 32~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 12

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Matt. 7:15–20

Another short conversation by John Wesley which hits home in no uncertain way. One of the reasons for its brevity is that it follows on from the broad and narrow gates and as such is tied very much together. Wesley maintains that “wolves” can lead people to the broad much easier than “sheep” can lead to the narrow.

What shall be done if they point out, as the way to eternal life, what is in truth the way to eternal death; and exhort others to walk, as they do themselves, in the broad, not the narrow way?

The problem we have as believers is discerning good, solid, doctrinely sound teaching from wishy washy, please like me, look at me I am a star, lukewarm, people pleasing diatribe. But when we put it like that it is easy, isn’t it.

If someone stood and said, “The message I have for you today will please you and it is wishy washy with no substance to it at all,” then we would know where we stood. But they don’t these people who stand on nothing more than marshmallow clouds and they don’t even know it. That is the crux of the teaching today from John Wesley and although he would love to tell us not to listen to these deluded folk. He says, no, stay, hear it

BUT

hear it for what it is, false teaching, the message they are teaching is as Wesley states:

when they who are commissioned to teach men the way to heaven do in fact teach them the way to hell!

To give an example John Wesley says that an effective

sermon is the way of lowliness, mourning, meekness, and holy desire, love of God and of our neighbour, doing good, and suffering evil for Christ’s sake. They are, therefore, false prophets, who teach, as the way to heaven, any other way than this.

If we are told the way to heaven is through any other way then it is false teaching.

And the false teachers and prophets of our day do not come with three heads and horns sticking out, no they come

“in the most mild, inoffensive manner, without any mark or token of enmity. Who can imagine that these quiet creatures would do any hurt to any one?”

They assure you, it is out of mere zeal for God, that they are making God a liar.

They will make large professions of their good-will, of their concern for the danger you are in, and of their earnest desire to preserve you from error, from being entangled in new and mischievous doctrines.

and most troublingly:

Therefore it is that they advise you to keep still, in the plain middle way; and to beware of “being righteous overmuch,” lest you should “destroy yourself.”

Have you heard that? I know I have, many times.

“Don’t rock the boat,”

We are not born again, made new to sit in the middle of the highway, we have been given a zeal to share the gospel, a zeal to help people till we are empty, a zeal to know Jesus more, a zeal to go to the ends of the earth sharing the good news and doing good works.

Not as a reward in itself, not to BIG ourselves up, or sell ourselves but because there is an inner compulsion to do so. When I say God first, family second and church third, I mean that because of my personal relationship with God I cannot stop doing all those things for him first, secondly I take care of my little nest of folk and third I do the “churchy” things of fellowship and work.

Sometimes the zeal I have for something is so great I worry it is not of God and that is when I stop, I check in with a heart & faith check. I could spend all day centreing and going into myself in introspection but that isn’t the main compulsion. That is for times of rest.

Some people will look and say we are doing too much, we will get ill, this is keeping us contained and in the middle ground, keeping our wings clipped when we could be soaring.

Richard Rohr said of the prophets of old: “The Hebrew prophets were free to love their tradition and to criticize it at the same time, which is a very rare art form.”

We cannot be doing church right if people are walking away. We have made people less accountable by watering down liturgy and God’s message. We mix up Christianity with a whole bunch of other things and each time we do it we dilute it that little bit more.

When will Christianity as a whole be on the broad path?

http://stjohnsquamish.ca/richard-rohr-self-critical-thinking/

But Wesley says and I concur, we shouldn’t shy away from false prophets, we should hear their message and then use the discernment given to us to determine the God in it.

Only “take heed how you hear:” Beware of them and of their doctrine. Hear with fear and trembling, lest you should be deceived, and given up, like them, to a strong delusion. As they continually mingle truth and lies, how easily may you take in both together!

Wesley concludes his sermon with no doubt a vitriolic, spittle hurling rhetoric to those who are leading people astray, so church leaders, ministers and pastors take heed of this warning:

O ye false prophets! O ye dry bones! hear ye, for once, the word of the Lord! How long will ye lie in the name of God, saying, “God hath spoken;” and God hath not spoken by you? How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness? How long will ye teach the way of death, and call it the way of life? How long will ye deliver to Satan the souls whom ye profess to bring unto God?

Always walk on the narrow path of life…and look to the fruit>>> there you will see a good tree.

Sermon 30~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 10

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in  thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;
and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto
you. For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good gifts to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

Matt. 7:1–12

We are really good at judging, we like to look at others and see what they are doing wrong. Of course as we look at them being so bold, we congratulate ourselves at not being as bad as them.

We don’t have to be Christian to judge others, everyone is capable of judging BUT we are called not to judge. So how do we go about not judging?

The first thing we can do is look in the mirror, we may not be doing exactly the same thing we are been judgeful of but there will be something that we need to be working on. It is easy to judge those different from us. I met a guy on Tuesday that I met last year when I was on placement. He told me that when he first saw me he thought I was a deadbeat poor one, but as he got to know me he no longer could see what he originally saw. We had a great catch up and hugged on departure.

You see if we don’t judge, relationships can be made. BUT Wesley also has lots to say about the pearls and swine. We know from Revelation that there will be a number of people who cannot be convinced of God’s love, whose hearts are so hard that they never under any circumstance turn their face to Christ. So we are not to waste our time and energy trying to convince certain people.

The greatest weapon we have is love, God’s love. so if we sprinkle lavishly our love bullets who knows how, when and where those love bullets will penetrate a hardened heart. So how are we to know when to love and when to walk away?

The key has to be prayer, conversation with the Lord and listening for that still small voice. Some people we cannot be around but we can still pray for them, we can love them from afar.

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Sermon 29~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 9

“‘No man can serve two masters; For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. “‘Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye
shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: For they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of
little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. “‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow: For the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’”

Matt. 6:24–34

Wesley quotes from 2 Kings 17:33 before asking

“How nearly does the practice of most modern Christians resemble this of the ancient Heathens! “They fear the Lord;” they also perform an outward service to him, and hereby show they have some fear of God; but they likewise “serve their own gods.”

And is it possible that today also, that there may be Christians whose practice of Christianity, practice of worshipping the Lord resembles that of non-believing folk?

Yes it is, our churches are full of people who worship for an hour on a Sunday but go back to their own lives, serving the gods of money, celebrity, status, stature, size, self, family, pets … at some point during Sunday lunch.

I am not talking about church, and doing churchy stuff. I am talking about a living faith and a living breathing walk with the Lord that consumes our entire life. It is the first day of Lent and I am trying to encourage others to do something for God for 40 days in the spirit of generosity or contemplation or maybe both. When we are generous from the bottom of our heart, from the bottom of the bank of time & energy, from the bottom of our wallets we are showing God’s love in a very practical way. A way that could bring another to the foot of the Cross. Not in an attractional sense but in a very real heartfelt way. There is nothing attractive in scooping a girls hair out of her eyes as she pukes into a doorway on a Saturday night, nor do we need attractive visible uniforms to do this act of kindness: if the fruit of the Spirit is evidenced in our lives this sort of generosity should be instinctive. It shouldn’t be because we are part of a project, or because a friend is watching and we will grow in their esteem, it should just be an act of love.

A couple of weeks ago I heard this story from “the guy” of a market town Saturday night. He was weaving his way home in the early hours of the morning when he came across a young girl of about eighteen, very much the worse for wear. But him being “the guy” thought it inappropriate to come to her aid. A few yards thence he met with the ‘Snotty Sisters,’ who as far as the town was concerned would rather eat dirt than be seen to talk to the common folk. He approached them and told them of the wee lass. The sisters collected the girl, took her home, dealt with the puke, bathed her, dried her hair and put her to bed, ringing her, no doubt, worried parents in the process. In the morning they drove her home after tea and toast. No reproach, no judgement just invisible kindness.

If all Christians acted in this manner – what a different world this would be.

A world of compassion – not greed

A world of love – not hate

What we need is to share the outrageous grace and mercy of the Lord to all we meet.

Let us stop worrying about the clothes on our back and money in the bank and live in the present, live in the day that has been provided to us.

sharing

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is yet to come. But think of the gift we have in this day, how are we going to share Jesus today?

Sermon 28~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 8

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Matt. 6:19–23.

Rich people love to point out that this isn’t about them, poor people scoff and say “well it isn’t about us.”

Amazing that! Because it is about all of us. We are all capable of hoarding and cluttering our lives, it could be pictures on the wall or boxes of collectables gathering dust in the attic, it could be a tablecloth from every vacation location or it could be money in the bank.

A cluttered home, a cluttered life takes our focus of what is important. If we fill our lives with clutter be it crystal or books or photographic memories it takes our eye off the Lord. The eye of our soul should be fixed solely and purely on the Lord.

Wesley’s sermon could be lifted off 200+ year old paper and preached today, it clearly shows us a way of generosity that is so relevant in this time of Lent (tomorrow) but also it is not just about a project it is about a way of life.

If we are seeking to be Christ-like then surely storing up here on earth is futile and creating barriers to our aim. Cluttering our lives with unnecessary things that just distract us, making us prideful of collections, making us covetous of others wealth, blocking a true relationship with the Living God.

One way of discovering where our thoughts and hearts are is to ask: what would you save from a burning home – after family, what are the next five things you would save.

So what are we not asked by the Lord? We are to take care of our households but after that everything else is to be given away. This is a deeply difficult way of living and not everyone in a household may concur.

To live simply, to be debt free, to give generously not just to the nice people but also the people we don’t want to give to. People will come up with excuses like “they will just waste it,” “they don’t know what to do with it,” “they don’t deserve it,” etc. But how do we know? Past experience, similar experience? We are to give, not with codecils, not with our judgement but showing mercy, grace and love.

Sermon 27~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 7

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their
reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: And thy Father, which seeth in
secret, shall reward thee openly.”

Matthew 6:16–18

Why do we fast? As we get real close to Lent, why do we abstain from something? Wesley outlines the biblical background to fasting looking at Moses, Jehosophat, Daniel and Nehemiah in the Old Testament and of course the example of Jesus in the New Testament. He looks at the traditions of the gentiles and Jews with regard fasting

He then looks at the reasons that people of his day chose to fast and of Christians throughout the ages. Do we abstain to look good in the eyes of others? Do we abstain for selfish reasons? And for how long do we abstain or fast?

I was speaking to a guy on Thursday who was taking part in a sponsored slim during Lent for his health. Is there a significance in attaching it to Lent? What is Lent for in the church calendar in this post modern society? Is there still a place for a few weeks of abstinence?

Some people choose to eat particularly plain food during Lent, sustenance  for the body but not for the tastebuds. People throughout the ages have thrust their idea of plain diet on those under their control whether sailors on ships, children in orphanages or those incarcerated and they have done it in the name of religion.

When we approach a fast we have to look at our motives. Are we being directed by God to do this? Some people should think carefully about beginning a period of abstinence due to health reasons.

There are some of us who due to our past relationship with food must be extremely cautious before engaging in a fast of any length lest past obsessions rise up. This year there are a whole gamut of studies to follow that encourage generosity rather than abstinence. This suits the world in which we live, where to do without is seen as unacceptable.

So in considering a fast – it should be done prayerfully, seeking the Lord’s guidance. It should be done sensibly so as our health is not adversely affected and thirdly we should consider our motives – is it to seek a thin place or is it vanity? And whatever we decide we are to do it above all in secret.

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