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Bible Study – Week 5 (Luke 10 – 12)

This week we went For the basics in terms of bible study format; after opening with a prayer from Mike, based on the Lords Prayer, we met Kim and Ian. After that it was straight into Luke 10-12 followed by some discussion:

  • When addressing the religious lawyers Jesus says: “Woe to you religious lawyers as well! For you load people up with burdens that are hard to carry, but you yourselves will not lift one finger to bear the load. Woe to you, because you build the tombs of the prophets, but your ancestors were the ones who killed them! Therefore, you are witnesses and accomplices to the deeds of your ancestors, because they killed the prophets and you yourselves build their tombs. It is for this reason that the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles; and they will kill and persecute some of them’, so that this generation might be blamed for the blood of all the prophets that has been he’d since the foundation of the world- from the blood of Abel through to the blood of Zechariah, who died between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you it will be blamed on this generation!. There was a question as to whom the ‘this generation’ referred to.
  • We came to the conclusion that it was the people who were still in the deeds of the ancestors, ie those working toward salvation in the law.

  • The next three were things that were a bit challenging or uncomfortable
  • …you hold the key to knowledge…
  • In the text this is applied to the Jewish law experts, but it is also applicable to Christians. We tend to forget this, so we should remember it a bit more…

  • “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”
  • There is no fence sitters, it’s either for or against…

  • Now Mary was sitting at the Lord’s feet to listen to what he was saying, but Martha was worried about the many things she had to do to serve her guest. She came up and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister is leaving me to serve on my own? Tell her to come and help me.”
    But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and bothered about many things, but there is only one thing that is necessary. For Mary chose the better thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”
  • Martha is distracted by good things (serving) over better things (listening and learning from Jesus. We need to focus on the right things to do.

    Following on from this we talked about the placement of this event in this translation. It is set just after the parable of the good Samaritan where a Jewish law expert asks what must he do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus questions his understanding of the law by asking what Is written in the law and what the expert understands by it. The expert answers “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself”. We know that this is a commandment of the law, however it is impossible to do. No one by doing is able to get themselves into the kingdom of God, rather it is by faith that we are saved. So the comparison of Martha the doer and Mary the listener challenges and makes us uncomfortable here…

  • Something that was encouraging, new and puzzling was said by Jesus in chapter 12: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were burning already. I have a ‘baptism’ to experience and how distressed I am until it is achieved. Do you suppose that I have come to establish peace in the world? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five people in one home will be divided: three against two, and two against three; they will be divided, father against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law”
  • For those that are Christians without Christian parents this is both good and bad news…. Good in the sense that Jesus is more important than family, He is our Saviour that saves us from our sin and enables us to live in Heaven with him at the end of days. Bad in the sense that family is family… They are, generally, the ones that we are most intimate with in this world, those that have known us for the longest time, supported and loved us throughout plenty of situations, yet with the coming of Jesus they are no longer the ones that have the strongest link, if they are not Christian, because the Christian family is profound with ties thicker than blood, and full of relationships that will surpass this world.

    It’s new in the sense that Jesus hasn’t really talked about casting fire on the earth, at least from my recollection from other translations, and also that he is distressed about the baptism he is to experience…. I found it quite confusing and not too sure if there was much of a resolution to the meaning of the passage for me. I do feel a little encouraged that Jesus was distressed over these things though. It puts him in a light that we don’t often recognise that things were hard for him, putting the whole man perspective back in the picture.

  • “Now, when they bring you before the synagogues, the leaders and the authorities, do not be anxious about how or by what you will defend yourselves, or what you will say. For the Holy Spirit will instruct you in that moment about the things you should say.” Jesus to his disciples
  • Something to be thankful for and encouraged by, although we do need to be careful in what context this is. We may not necessarily be able to directly apply it to our lives as Christians because there’s not many times in which we are before the synagogues, leaders and authorities. Rather Jesus does assure us further on in this chapter: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life-what you will eat; nor about your body-what you will wear. For your life is more than food, and your body is more than clothing.

  • And turning to his disciples, he [Jesus] said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, but never did; and to hear what you hear, but never did.” We questioned why the disciples were blessed.
  • They are blessed because they had the privilege of seeing Jesus, being in his presence, and taught by him. So many of the prophets, kings and people of Israel wanted to see Jesus. They are also blessed as the Son reveals God the Father to them as well.

    In summary these three chapters are a bit darker, challenging and even offensive to those opposed to Jesus, yet reassuring for those that follow Him. They concentrate on dividing between those who are inside and those who are outside the Kingdom of God.

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    Bible Study – Week 4 (Luke 7-9)

    Tonight we convened for another week of Bible study with yet another welcome addition to the group in Malika.

    We started off with a bit of housekeeping, getting a list of some attributes of ‘The Christian Life’ which we’re to read through over the next week and identify 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses to assist the group leaders in deciding what to study after we finish our current Essential Jesus (Luke) series, and also to assist in prayer points for each person. We then had a little followup to last weeks discussion. Mike gave us some wisdom from J.C. Ryle and D.A. Carson on turning the other cheek and loving our enemies; the major discussion point of last week: The principles apply in a broad sense, whilst they don’t call for Christians to be pacifists, we’re not to suffer personal abuse and sacrifice. These points were pretty much inline with our discussion, yay Bible study group!!

    Tonight’s testimonies came from Imanuel and James. We then read through the particularly meaty chapters 7-9 of Luke and then went on to look at certain observations or questions raised:

    • Jesus pushes forward in his ministry
    • It’s encouraging to read and see that Jesus was active in his ministry. It encourages us to keep going and push forward in our own ministry. We also read that Jesussets himself to go to Jerusalem‘. Jerusalem was the place where Jesus was to die and he knew that; so it’s encouraging to read also that He was willing to die.

    • “Whoever is no against you is for you.”
    • When speaking to other religions that are similar to Christianity, like Catholics, it can be easy to stir up arguments but this statement of Jesus tells us that we shouldn’t necessarily do so. It’s an interesting thing to think about though, as it’s talking about doing good works in Jesus‘ name, yet there’s no mention of the theology or beliefs behind the motives. Whether that is implied or not is ambiguous. People that do do good works in this day and age probably aren’t doing it for the sake of Jesus but tend more to be self serving, so that they can get ahead or work towards heaven, which misses the point of Jesus.

    • Jesus shows love and forgiveness.
    • Definitely something that we can thank God for. We see him showing such things to sinners like the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume. He also actively shows it through his healing ministry, which a different showing of his power, a more personal power.

    • Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women supported them (Jesus & the 12 apostles) financially
    • This was an interesting inclusion in the book. There seems to be such a focus, at least in our church, on fulltime ministry, like going through MTS, that those that work seem to be labeled as ‘less Godly’ which isn’t the case. Everyone in the body of Christ has a role. Those that financially support help to enable the ministerial staff to do the great work that they do, plus it gives opportunity to minister to those in the workforce, who may not have the opportunity to hear the good news otherwise. Also this seems like a juxtaposition from the rest of what is said about money/riches in the rest of Luke where it is seen in a bad light, but here it is for the good of the Kingdom. And the triple here is that it was the women that were supporting. Not something common in those days.

    • Choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life; and they never mature to produce fruit. & Good soil produces fruit
    • An old truth that we are reminded of is that these worries, riches and pleasures of life can hinder our Christian lives and potentially draw us away. We must be wary of this and not get bogged down in such things, but strive to be like the seeds in the good soil where we will be able to produce good fruit.

    • Christians aren’t stagnant
    • Another encouraging thing that we can see from the parable of the sower and the seeds is that no plants here are stagnant, they don’t grow a bit and then stop, rather they are either growing or they’re choking. It also serves as a warning to make sure that we’re not choking.

    • Jesus could have said “I heal you”, yet he more often than not says “Your faith has healed you.” Why is that??
    • A difficult question to answer, and one that raises other equally difficult questions along with it. We came up with some plausible answers:

    • Jesus was healing physical and spiritual sickness
    • It was out of character for Jesus to express pride in his works. It would also have drawn unwanted attention to him as the Son of God, something that would have prevented him from continuing his ministry.

    These three chapters I summed up as:
    Jesus continues to teach, heal and challenge. Many hear, many fear, but few are faithful.

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    DIARY WORD

    Prodigal Son Returns

    Last night after church I was chatting to some people when Harry Day came up and introduced himself, and told me that he’d seen me in a film they watched in their Christian studies class.

    This of course was the short film we made back in 2004 for the inaugural Ignite Film Festival, I stood in as a cleaner, but did quite a bit more behind the scenes work, designing props and fleshing out script and dialogue etc etc.

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    January Ministry Conference

    It’s been a while since I’ve written much in this WORD category, which is a little disappointing…
    So let’s start in the hope to continue on strong from here on in, but by all means, keep bugging me about doing so more often!!.

    This week at St Pauls Carlingford we’re having a conference called January Ministry Conference. John Chapman will be speaking at 9:30am each morning from Isaiah and Simon Flinders will speak from Romans 12 each evening at 7:15pm.

    Seeing as I’m at work during the day, I’ll only be heading along to the evening sessions. I’m hoping to get a summary of them down here, so keep checking back. Hoping to see you there!! and here!!

    • Monday Night
    • Simon opened with the first 3 verses of Romans 12:

      1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

      Romans 12 is a turning point from the previous 11 chapters of Romans which detail what Christ has done beforehand. There were several key points that Simon spoke of that stuck with me:

    • God does not expect anything of us that he’s not already done for us.
    • Worship is giving God his worth. It is not in part, at a certain time(s) or in a certain place(s), but of our whole selves, everywhere and at all times. It is like breathing.
    • The renewing of minds means that Christians live differently because we think differently, however, it is not that we ask for it, but act on it by reading and studying God’s Word in order to continually transform our life so that we may treasure God’s will.

    In summary: Be surrendered to God, by the mercy of God. He knows your heart & He wants your heart. Live a life surrendered to Him, every moment of every day.

  • Tuesday Night
  • Continuing on Simon went on with a talk entitled The Life of Service from verses 4-8 of Romans 12:

    4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

    This section talks primarily of gifts, Simon went on to define what was meant by gifts in this section. In this day and age, gifts generally refer to an ability of some sort that people praise a person for having, however it misses the fundamental fact that gifts are given, not something that is generally deserved. Therefore the credit should actually be to the giver. In this passage, God is the giver, and he does so by grace. We are to think of gifts as an opportunity or responsibility. And we are to use them for the benefit of others as tools rather than trophies. So questions to ask when using gifts are

    • Where can I serve?
    • What are ____’s needs??

    Something that’s possibly surprising in the answer is that it may not necessarily play to your abilities or talents, but something that you’re mediocre or even poor at doing.

    How does this all work out in The Life of Service? Well as part of the surrendered life, we give ourselves to God by giving to his body, ie those that are Christians. We’re not to be consumerists or individualists as that is against what Paul is saying, rather we are to demonstrate reciprocal service. Failure of one affects the whole, so we are to be a member of a body, with a function, alongside others. As ALL serve, ALL are blessed.

  • Wednesday Night
  • A really enjoyable, encouraging and challenging talk from Simon. The title of the talk was The Life of Love from verses 9-13 of Romans 12:

    9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

    The main encouragement for this section of the text is verse 9. Simon mentioned that the word genuine here is more correctly translated as un-hypocritical, that makes sense; true love being genuine, wanting what is best for people, and not necessarily what they think is good for them. That linked in really well with the next part of the text; to be concerned with good and evil, loving what is good, but with a genuine love, the love of a married couple, and fleeing from that which is evil. This verse underpins verses 10 to 13, which is essentially Paul, and Gods, top ten in living the life surrendered; helping to clarify the exhortation in verse 9 and how that is lived out. We are to think, pray and immerse ourselves in these things as part of the surrendered life.

  • Thursday Night
  • The final talk in a fantastic series of four from Simon Flinders that have been eye-opening, damning, rebuking and encouraging. This final talk was entitled The Good Life and was looking at responding to evil from Romans 12: 14-21:

    14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    There is plenty to be unpacked here in these verses, the first vital point was that ALL will respond to evil; it will distinguish us from the world and allow us to influence and affect the world in a sense. Verse 14 puts out a very tough and challenging exhortation, further emphasizing that given in verse 9, yet extending it by application to those against us.
    Verses 15 & 16 are also hard to live by, and all impossible without the genuine love previously mentioned… Simon explained that this is more than just empathizing with people, but a genuine sharing of feelings. It is both relevant within the Church, which would result in an absolutely amazing community (something that we should plead God for), and to do for those outside of the Church; a HUGE challenge… It is something we need to carry out humbly.
    The last 4 verses of this chapter exhort the readers to live honorably and peacefully with all, emphasizing those that do evil to you. We are to be known for doing what’s honorable; rising above evil with stunning goodness. We are not to take action in avenging ourselves, but to let God do so as he is the only just one to do so, rather we are to do good to our enemies.

    Overall the week of JMC was enjoyable and challenging. For me it was a bit of a rebuke about how I go at work and respond to some of the injustices I face there. I’ve actively made some changes there, ask me how they’re going sometime.

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    St Paulian Luncheons

    Had an enjoyable lunch today at the Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe with several of the people from St Pauls (past and present) who work around the city. In attendance this time around were: Allison, Imanuel, Rod, James, Matt and Simon

    I consumed the Egg Linguine with Hawkesbury River Squid with chilli, salsa verde, lemon and Asian herbs accompanied by a refreshing Honey Ale. A tasty combination indeed. I think it’d be nice to have had some dessert thrown in there for good measure, the menu looks delicious!!!

    Redoak Website

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    Engage 08

    Over the weekend I drifted up to Katoomba with about 2,500 other workers for the second annual Engage Conference; aimed specifically at Christian workers. It’s a little different than other Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC) organised conventions, with a catch-phrase of ‘late starts and coffee carts’. This year a couple of drawcard speakers were on board: Mark Driscoll and Don Carson, resulting in tickets being sold out within minutes. The talks were to address the question of “So, is this it??“.

    Driscoll was first off the ranks as Carson was still airborne on the friday night when things kicked off. Throughout the weekend Driscoll would speak on the gospel of John. Mark gave us some background on John; being one of Jesus’ inner inner circle who shared in the most intimate moments of His life. He also mentioned that the gospel of John was the last one written, having 92% of it’s content unique and targeted at the Greek people. The Friday night session covered most of John 1:1-18 and then 3:1-8 which addressed who Jesus was; the Word and the son of God, and why he came; as a missionary so that we may be born again or regenerated, making the differentiation between being religious & regenerated. This regeneration doctrine says that when one is born again the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a persons heart and changes them, giving them

    • a new Lord
    • A new identity
    • A new mind
    • New desires
    • New power
    • New life

    Driscoll’s second talk was around John 4 which tells of Jesus encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. Mark continued to speak of regenerative doctrine and expanded into worship, this is a way that God has Glory. He mentioned that readers should put themselves in the position of the sinner that encounters Jesus. I guess I’ve never really thought to do this explicitly. Mark gave the ultimatum of whether we worship creator or creation. His final point was to ask some questions for people to ponder:

    • What do you long for most?
    • Where do you run to for comfort?
    • What makes you angry with God?
    • What do you make sacrifices for?
    • Who’s approval do you seek?
    • What makes you happiest?

    The third Driscoll talk was to cover John 6 which tells of Jesus feeding of the five thousand, but he cut this very very short (3 minutes, if that??) to answer questions put forward by the audience by way of SMS to a mobile specifically setup to take them. Now whilst this hour of question time was useful, I would have preferred at least a half/half split due to the uniqueness of Johns’ gospel would have liked to hear how this part was different from the other books. Someone pointed out that all of the questions did seem to ask about themselves and what they should do, which were contrary to what Mark had been speaking about in the previous talks. He also seemed to use them as a springboard into things that he wanted to talk about that were slightly related.

    Carson was the speaker for Saturday evening after landing in Sydney sometime that afternoon. His talk was on Matthew 11, more specifically on Christian identity and how that is grounded in Jesus. Most of the content in the chapter is about John the Baptist: Jesus sending a message to him and then speaking to the people about him. The talk was broken down into a few sub-sections:

    • Portrait of a discouraged Baptist
    • John is discouraged because not only is he in prison, but he’s heard of the deeds of Christ, which he’s longed to see. He sends his disciples to ask of Jesus, who sends a rather cryptic reply in language very similar to that used in scripture: Isaiah 35: 5 & 6 and Isaiah 61. These two passages speak of the day of The Lord – when the messiah will come to restore things, however in the context of the scriptures there is also mention of massive judgement, which Jesus doesn’t address in his message, rather he hints at the blessings that are starting to be fulfilled in himself

    • Portrait of a defended Baptist
    • John is defended by Jesus!! Jesus questions the crowd asking what they came out to see. If it was a shaken reed, representing something that was weak & limp, or a man in soft clothing, signifying a rich man; someone who would give hand-outs, or a prophet, which is what John is. He is the one that Malachi prophesied about, not unlike Elijah. He is the greatest because he introduces Jesus: Gods visitation to Earth.

    • Portrait of an eclipsed Baptist
    • John is indeed greater than those born of women because he points to Jesus with greater clarity, yet the least in the kingdom, i.e.; those living after Jesus death & resurrection are greater still then John. Yet those against the kingdom of Heaven have been forcefully advancing, trying to take it by force and exploit it. Jesus then goes on to explain how this generation didn’t accept John & doesn’t accept Jesus in the roles they played, drawing from the scriptures again to show fulfillment of them and to illustrate how John & Jesus’ roles were different and both unaccepted.

    Sunday morning Carson spoke first, running through Psalm 40 which was excellent. I have a real appreciation for Carson on Psalms after hearing him speak on Psalm 1 about 5 years ago. One pearl of wisdom he gave was that it was common that older Christians tended to read, enjoy and understand the Psalms as they’d had enough diverse experiences to understand this diverse collection of work, however if you are to read and study them at a younger age, they will help you through through those situations in life.
    He went on to explain how Psalm 40 was the last in a triplet from 37; which talks about the Psalmist waiting on God, 38 & 39; the Psalmist going through a phase of self-examination, and then turning to joy in Psalm 40. The talk was particularly encouraging in how God looks after us in times of struggle, which were referred to as a miry bog. Carson said that were either removed from the bog or kept there as God heaps grace on us to help others in the same or similar situations.

    The final Driscoll talk was from John 10, which is about Jesus the shepherd and sheep.
    He spoke of how much of a sacrifice the shepherd makes for his flock in great detail, especially how horrible his crucifixion was, making quite a number of people around me cringe and weep, definitely putting things into perspective.

    So there is a wrap up of the speakers… The social aspects of the weekend mainly frustrated me as the group I went with was particularly cliquey, as I guess most Christian groups tend towards, so I didn’t have much of a chance to interact and converse with them. I did get a chance to catch a few friends from days gone by like Mark & Jess Bootes, Phil from ACC (Asian Church Carlingford) and Dave Irving. I also had an alright time on Saturday evening with the Guthries, Lawsons, Lovells, Russells, Tooses, Geoff, Tiff and Issac; watching the hopeless union match, drinking beer and discussing various aspects of Engage up to that point. I also found myself serving the cliquey group by cleaning the house and washing dishes by myself on the Sunday morning which seemed to fuel the weekends fire….

    Overall a great weekend for Christian teaching which has set my mind racing over changes going on in my life and how to approach things, but a less than mediocre time for relationships which has also set in motion some steps to help me in that respect and possibly be less accommodating and polite.

    I’ve also picked up a Mark Driscoll power pack of 7 books, so expect to be hearing about those sometime after I’ve waded through reading them.