Sunday, 26 January 2014

Kingdom Deal - Luke 4:14 - 44

What does the word 'Kingdom' mean to you? Since as Christians we talk about 'The Kingdom of God', do we know what we are talking about?

Jesus starts his ministry with a Kingdom proclamation: Jesus is the new king in town bringing a message of hope, a new order which is good news particularly for those oppressed/suffering/bound up. It makes sense for us to look for this Kingdom breaking in wherever people are down-trodden and in difficulty (remember that bias to the poor from last year).

A new king comes with authority: verses 32 and 36 are examples of this. Demons are uncomfortable when Jesus shows up because they are part of the old regime, and as with any regime change the former oppressors are surely to be dealt with. Yet Jesus pays attention foremost to the person, not the demon (who is simply told to 'Shut Up' and to depart). In the new Kingdom the person is affirmed and set free.

The Kingdom proclamation turns to action and healing breaks out (v40). Yet this is not just for one place, but elsewhere too - Jesus must take the message and demonstrate his Kingdom all around. That 'taking the message and demonstration' continues with us. As a Christian, we are a Christ-in person, someone in Christ, in other words in His authority. That means we can act in His authority, e.g. speak healing in the name of Jesus.

Do we get that? And act on it? Hence the key question this week:

[IN] Do we let Jesus' Kingdom fill our thinking and vision?

Our 'seeking to serve' is explicitly going out with this Kingdom message and demonstration. A key strategy area 'Community Impact' is fuelled by this. 3 ways we work this out are:
  1. demonstrate Kingdom values, e.g. by bringing a community together at a special event
  2. support joint initiatives that help set people free (such as Foodbank, CAP)
  3. look for where we can develop relationships, e.g. our work with the hostels, people at 2x2, Messy Ch etc.
Luke 4 shows Jesus ministry gathering steam - pouring himself out in each community he went to. Let us learn to pour ourselves out, with confidence and boldness since we go in His authority.

With Jesus as the new King, His Kingdom is any place/thing/person where things to start to line up with His grace and purposes - with God breaking in to change things.

[IN] Do we let Jesus' Kingdom fill our thinking and vision

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Get Baptised - Luke 3:1-22 - part two

John not only pointed towards Jesus, he also told us that things would change gear significantly when Jesus came on the scene. John would baptise in water. Jesus would do it with the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that the Greek word 'baptise' means to be totally sunk in (hence our preference for full immersion!). With Jesus we can be sunk in all who God is: Father, Son and Spirit.

Recently we've seen river and tidal flooding across the country. Its a scary thing: furniture or even cars are swept around, things dislocated. The Spirit's coming can be like a flood: when He comes it can seem disconcerting, things happening we wouldn't normally expect, surprising us, maybe even worrying us as to what is actually taking place.

Yet whilst we have seen on the news how a water flood leaves destruction and ruin, the flood of the Spirit is quite different. When things have settled back down we find that the coming of the Spirit has brought healing, restoration and good things to a person's life. The moment of that work can bring out stuff deep within us, occasionally in a noisy fashion, but the result is release, peace and purpose.

So the baptism of the Spirit is not something to be afraid of. Quite the opposite, in fact, something to be welcomed and invited. Let us look for Jesus and his baptism just as John did.

Get Baptised - Luke 3:1-22 - part one

John calls people out in the country to baptism, urging them to change their minds and look to God and His ability to forgive. By changing their minds they would become a 'new people' ready to receive the person of Jesus Christ.

Crowds joined him in the river and we get the idea that many were baptised. Yet all we know is that baptisms occurred. We don't know if John actually tipped people back, dunked them down or forwards, or even poured water over them as they responded to his call (neither do we know the age range).

We do know that they asked John how to live, and he replied with a neat summary of all our teaching from last year (!): share with others and live justly.

John's deal was to point towards Jesus. Yet when Jesus turned up he asked John to baptise him just like the others. Odd that - Jesus didn't need to change his mind, didn't need the Father's forgiveness for anything ... but he identified with all of us who do.

There was nothing magic in the water, nothing magic in John, but Jesus led us all by his own example. That is why churches nearly universally use water baptism as the mark of entering the global collection of people who desire to follow Christ (known more simply as 'The Church'). Virtually all denominations follow this logic, and therefore require that anyone wanting to formally be a member of a local church be baptised first. They may differ on how that baptism takes place (e.g. can young children be baptised, must it be full immersion and so on), but they agree that baptism is the outward sign that signifies the person joining the company of 'new people'.

Or to put it more simply: if it was good enough for Jesus, then it ought to be good enough for us!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Luke Reading Challenge - Affirming Women

As you read the gospel of Luke (suggest two chapters a week, with a few catchup weeks, and you will complete this term) see how many times Luke affirms various women. So far in our Sunday series we have only got to the end of chapter 2, but already several women have been mentioned and affirmed ... see for yourself who they are up to and including Anna the female prophet (i.e. a woman who speaks the words of God ... ).

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Get Up Close - Luke 2:22-40

We don't do waiting very well in our culture. Everything tells us things can be instant, guaranteed next day delivery and so on. Yet in real life there are things we must wait for. Perhaps a healing, a breakthrough, a job, the right partner ...

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Luke's Purpose - God's Purpose Luke 1:1-25

Luke was deliberate in writing his gospel - he wanted to get the facts down in an orderly account. He did his research and consulted eye-witnesses. Luke was conscious of a Big Thing going on, and he wanted to record it: the person Jesus Christ had changed things, Big Time.

[UP] Do we dare to not believe what God tells us?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Take the Luke Challenge - Read the Whole Gospel

The reading challenge this term is to read the whole of Luke's gospel.

24 chapters, with about 15 weeks in the term before Easter. So at two chapters per week there will be some weeks 'spare' to catch  up!