Posts Tagged ‘Purpose’

Matthew 7:21-23 – THE HEART SHAPED KEY AND A USELESS LIMB

Cross = Love

Shirley has dementia and has real difficulty in understanding her world. She has also suffered a stroke which has paralysed half her body. With her good hand she lifts her paralysed hand to me and says “What is this? Here, take this away will you. I don’t want it!” She doesn’t recognise the useless limb anymore as being hers! It has the appearance of an arm but it’s power has been denied. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that there are some like that useless limb. They have a “FORM OF GODLINESS but DENY ITS POWER” (NIV).

Does God look at some of us like Shirley looks at her paralysed limb and say “Depart from Me! I NEVER KNEW YOU? You are not My hand, the instrument of My purposes! You are paralysed and useless even though you look as though you belong. You have a FORM OF GODLINESS but have DENIED IT’S POWER!” (Matthew 7:23, 2 Timothy 3:1-5)?

With the right key, HUGO, an orphan, in the movie by the same name, restores an intricate, robot-like automaton. Hugo was convinced that if he could make the automaton work, it would give him a message of hope to make sense of his life. In order to find purpose in life he fixes broken things, and reflects on the fact that machines don’t have any extra parts. Every part of the machine is necessary. At one point he says “I couldn’t be an extra part. I have to be here for some reason.” Not only does he find all the right parts including a HEART SHAPED KEY, but eventually he also finds the purpose and love he has been looking for as he is accepted into a new family.

So DENYING THE POWER OF GODLINESS IS NOT USING THE HEART SHAPED KEY! Without it life will not make sense. John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God LOVED the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who BELIEVES IN HIM will not perish but have eternal life.” To have the key but not use it is to DENY IT’S POWER.

Denying the power of godliness is rejecting the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to impart forgiveness and connection with my heavenly Father. If I don’t turn the key by believing in Christ and coming under His authority I forfeit the purpose for which I was created, and no matter how good or religious I look, I will only have a FORM OF GODLINESS. I am a broken automaton, or a lifeless limb.

The invitation is to believe in Christ and what He has done for you, to turn the heart shaped key, to be free from the penalty of your sins (Romans 6:23), to see the cogs begin to whir and life begin to pulsate through you so that you can operate as your Creator intended. Far from being a lifeless limb, you will find healing grace through His love. Far from being a broken automaton, God says “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT). Accepted into His family, born again, you will be no longer orphaned, but a child of God. (Galatians 3:26). Turn the key today.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 2 – BUT WHY GARDENING!

But Why Gardening!

There’s an ugly looking weed that persists in growing in our garden and we are enemies. It has thorns. I have weed killer with a trigger that spurts out poison so I don’t even have to get near it.

I have always hated (my grandson says you shouldn’t say “hate”)…. I have always DETESTED gardening. Love the wild look of the garden, but my wife doesn’t agree. She likes the smell of newly cut grass and a well kept garden. Apparently God does too.

“Early in the first light of Saturday morning a man appeared, lying naked in the dust. His form is perfect in every way except there is no movement to animate his strong arms and legs, or smile to please his handsome face. Around him in every direction the sounds and smells of the forest in early spring fill the air with life, but here they fall upon senses that remain untouched.

“Oh God, He’s … dead!”

“No, not dead.” My senses rush at the sound of His strong clear voice and I am suddenly alert to every sound. “He has never been alive and he is not dead.”

The forest becomes silent as if in anticipation, and I draw back. Creation seems to be waiting for something momentous to take place. I can feel my face draining of colour. The world around me fades. His Breath floods through the trees and encompasses the strange figure in the dust with it’s touch.

My mind is still reeling with the first rays of understanding as Adam’s eyes open to the One who gives him life. His first moment is wrapped in the glory, love and spendour of His Maker. His first touch – the embrace of heaven’s welcome. The first words he speaks are those of worship and praise. And now the heavens respond with angelic voices echoing their shouts of pure joy that shakes the whole of creation with a tumultuous roar. At least, that’s how I think it might have happened. I know, I wasn’t there, but reading about it stirs my imagination.

No sooner is he breathing and looking around and he is given a PURPOSE. Even before he is created from the dust of the ground, it says,

“no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was NO MAN TO WORK THE GROUND,” (Genesis 2:5 NLT)

He enters into the purposes of God. And I also have a purpose on this earth. It is clear from Genesis 1 and this passage that I am created to REPRESENT GOD on the earth – in His image (1:27), to EXERCISE RULERSHIP over God’s creation (1:28), TO SERVE AND WORK where God has placed me (2:8), to have a personal relationship with God and LISTEN AND OBEY what He has to say (2:16,17). I am also created with a need for COMPANIONSHIP (2:18-25). DISTINCTIVES of the Christian life. Things that give my life significance and identity. Things that Christ my Creator intended from the beginning, but which have been thrown out as religious wimp rubbish. Things like worship, companionship, discipleship, ministry. It is all here!

What does God do?…Adam and Eve are made RESPONSIBLE from day one of their existence. They are to “keep” (shamar) the Garden. This word means to watch over, to guard, to keep, to look after, to take care of.

No escaping it. I am created to be responsible – personally responsible – for the World in which I live and the way in which I live. Even the perfect, beautiful Garden of Eden has to be looked after and cared for. Adam and his helper Eve were…to cultivate the land and keep the garden from growing out of control (1:5), to feed and provide for themselves (1:16), to look after and care for the animals (1:19), to worship God and obey His commands (2:15), to share companionship and have children (1:28) and that’s an awesome responsibility in itself.

One thing is sure…God has given me a PURPOSE in life to fulfill. I am not made to be inactive and lazy. And somehow it relates well to gardening, as unfortunate as I may think that is.

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” (Romans 12:11 NLT).

“Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.””  (2 Thessalonians 3:10 NLT).

The invitation is here for you choose to live in His purposes today. Like Adam and Eve, to have every need met by God physically and spiritually, to respond positively to Him and serve Him. To receive what He offers, to reject what He withholds or bear the consequences. An incredible opportunity to respond, worship, love and come under the authority of Christ. Chosen for a purpose (Now I’m starting to sound like the Blues Brothers – on a mission from God!). OK, OK, and to mow the lawn and keep the garden looking nice.

Pastor Ross

PART 1 – MATTHEW 12:1-3 – JESUS BROKE THE LAW! WHY CAN’T I?

Does Jesus Speed?

Not long ago I witnessed an ACCIDENT. A car ahead of me pulled out of it’s lane into a bus lane and collected the car that had been coming up from behind him in that lane. It left a sizeable dent in each car. Each morning as I travel to the Shalom Centre I see many people use Sydney bus lanes ILLEGALLY. It’s so easy and CONVENIENT to do. The temptation to save time and zip into a bus lane obviously overrides the possibility that a policeman will pull them over at the corner. Living on the EDGE! Is it worth the risk of 3 licence demerit points and $253 fine and progressive $50 fines until it is paid? It’s not! And I should know. But doesn’t Jesus break the law when it’s convenient?

In Matthew 12:1-2 isn’t Jesus just IGNORING parts of the law that He doesn’t like? Is He walking to the EDGE of the law to explore where the BOUNDARIES really are? Is He the kind of person who would drive past a policeman just over the SPEED LIMIT or leave it until the last second to get through the AMBER TRAFFIC LIGHT instead of stopping? Or drive in a bus lane?

Matthew 12:1-2 speaks about a time when “…Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were HUNGRY, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, Your disciples are BREAKING THE LAW by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” 

If it was me I would have said something like “What is your problem? Mind your own business! Who made you the Sabbath police?” Besides, the Law of Deuteronomy 23:25 (NLT) says “…when you enter your neighbour’s field of grain, you may pluck the heads of grain with your hand, but you must not harvest it with a sickle.” So they weren’t STEALING.

The problem is that the disciples are plucking grain on a SATURDAY. Saturday is the SABBATH, a rest day. Picking grain is viewed as work by the Pharisees even though technically the law only prohibited harvesting grain for PROFIT on the Sabbath. It’s not as if they were driving a Massey Fergusen tractor with a COMBINE HARVESTER on the back and setting up a CUT PRICE SILO SALE for the grain.

Jesus always seems to confront me with my LEGALISM and calls me to think carefully about my responses to God. There’s a difference between obeying God’s law and legalism.

“Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.” (Matthew 12:3 NLT)

So can I break the law everytime it suits me? What about speeding because I’m late to work? I could try explaining to a policeman “Haven’t you heard that when it didn’t suit David to keep the law, he broke it? I have a genuine need, officer. Learn the meaning of the word ‘mercy'” I don’t think that this will go down well and even though it might be a genuine need, it wouldn’t stop me from getting a ticket and perhaps even a psychiatric evaluation.

So what is Jesus saying here? Where does it stop? What’s the point where I am no longer on the boundary but well and truly OVER THE EDGE? Sometimes we view the law as UNNECESSARY simply because in our sinfulness, we don’t want to obey it. That’s NOT what Jesus is advocating!

I don’t believe Jesus is saying that it is OK to DISOBEY THE LAW if you have a genuine need or if others have a genuine need, but I keep reading commentaries that say that genuine need makes it OK for Jesus to break the law!

An AMBULANCE DRIVER will speed legally in order to get someone to hospital, but he is breaking the law if he does it any other time. Same ambulance. Same driver. Same speed. Different purpose. Obeying the law depends on fulfilling the PURPOSE OF THE LAW.

Jesus is saying “The real PURPOSE or SPIRIT OF THE SABBATH LAW allows for MEETING GENUINE NEEDS without disobedience being an issue. You DISOBEY the Sabbath Law when you merely go through a ritual, perform a ceremony and adhere to a regulation. That is not the PURPOSE or spirit of the Sabbath law.”

Did Jesus break the Sabbath or did He show what keeping the Sabbath law was really all about? Matthew 5:17-20 (NLT) “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to ACCOMPLISH THEIR PURPOSE. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the SMALLEST DETAIL of God’s law will disappear until its PURPOSE is achieved. …”But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”  

1 John 5:3 (NLT) says “Loving God means KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS, and His commandments are NOT BURDENSOME.”   

Jesus didn’t BREAK THE LAW! He invented it! He lived by it, and fulfilled it perfectly. The Pharisees broke it by not understanding the purpose of the law and by applying it wrongly.

God bless you Church as you “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby FULFILL the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NASB95)

Pastor Ross