The Pharisees, Sadducees, Jesus and love

Matthew 22:34-40 NLT – But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. [35] One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: [36] “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” [37] Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [40] The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

In this passage there a lot going on, more than we might expect from a surface reading. You see the Pharisees and Sadducees were two sects of Jews at the time of Christ. They had some things in common, but were at odds in some major areas.

The Pharisees loved the Word of God. They studied it intensely and made lots of rules based on their interpretations. They regarded the Word and their rules high above everything and tried very hard to live up to them. Living in righteous way was their highest goal.

The Sadducees regarded the Word highly, but also focussed very heavily on the Temple and worship in the Temple. The Temple was their key focus. As a result they were often at odds with the Pharisees because they did not place any trust in the rules they had created.

In this passage an expert in religious law came and asked Jesus a question, it was one they tried to trap the Pharisees with about which is the most import rule of their over 600 rules. Rather than placing Jesus in a difficult situation, Jesus answered with wisdom and authority.

Jesus told them the most important law was to love God with all of you heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind – a complete love. To give them even more Jesus gave them a bonus commandment – love your neighbour as yourself. He goes on to say that if we obey these two commandments we obey the whole law and everything the prophets said throughout history.

This answer was like hitting a home run in baseball, a big six in cricket or a slam dunk in basketball! No doubt the Sadducees would have been happy that the rules of the Pharisees were reduced to two rules and the Pharisees would have like to see the Sadducees answered so easily.

For us today, Jesus’ words can be an encouragement to us. Of course we are not under the Old Testament law, but we can learn a lot from Jesus’ answer. If we focus our hearts, minds and souls on loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves, we will be on track. We don’t have to worry about what others are doing, we just need to focus on these two things.

So today, let us purpose in our hearts to love God and love our neighbour. It is as simple as that.

God Bless,
Dave

Sermon: 5 ways to be a living sacrifice

Today I want to share my sermon I preached the first week of being Pastor at my last church. 

I remember in the week leading up to the first Sunday, God kept on saying, “I want you to be a living sacrifice”.

This took me to Romans 12. In the message I shared 5 points…

  1. Renew our minds (v2)
  2. Use our gifts well (v6-8)
  3. Really love on another (v9-10)
  4. Live in harmony with each other (14-18)
  5. Overcome evil with good (v21)

I really wanted to let the church know I would lead with a sacrifical servant heart.

If you would like to read the full text you can find it here. It also has the audio and a pdf of the powerpoint.

God Bless,

Dave

Sunday sermon: Who God says you are

Who God says we are is a subject that as Christians we need to be reminded of every so often.

For many of us we hold a picture of ourselves that has been generated by what others have said about us over the years. It might be a teacher at school, a former boss or maybe a family member. Some of the pictures might not be that good.

For others the person who has been saying the wrong things has been ourselves. Sometimes our self talk is very negative and quite condemning. For some the things we think or say about ourselves is very wrong.

For this reason I want to look at who God says we are from the Bible. God as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe has so many positive things He says about us in the Bible, so this week I am going to let Scripture speak.

I believe that when we have a right picture of ourselves, through God’s eyes, we truly become alive to our potential and we are able to step out and be all God has created us to be.

I am hoping that we will be reminded of who we are in Christ. You can find the full text here.

God Bless,

Dave

Finding rest in our relationship with Christ

There is an interesting passage in Matthew 11 that I really enjoy reading. It is a short prayer that Jesus prayed in verses 25-30. It says…

25 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way! 27 “My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Just before this passage Jesus is talking about the places He went and performed miracles and how people still did not repent. The miracles showed His power and that He was from God, but people still did not believe in Him.

As I reflected in this. three things comes to mind.

1. We approach God simply

Verse 25 tells us that God often hides things from those who think themselves wise and learned. I have met people over the years who have been full of their own wisdom and impressed themselves by how much they know!

However, God wants us to approach Him like a child. He wants us to be curious and humble. He doesn’t want us to be puffed up and full of ourselves. People like that can’t learn, they know it all! Our job is to approach God with the simplicity of a child. Be open and inquisitive because it pleased God for it to be that way (v26). We can learn when we are open to learn, and we don’t think we know it all.

2. Knowing God is about relationship

In verse 27 Jesus talks about His relationship with the Father. He says that no-one truly knows the Son except the Father and vice versa. Then He says that no-one knows the Father unless the Son reveals Him. John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is the way to the Father.

Knowing God is all about relationship. It is about trusting Christ for our salvation and living in relationship with Him. When we pray, we connect with God. When we read the Bible, we learn more about Him. When we are obedient to His Words, we live in tune with the Holy Spirit. This is all about relationship.

3. We find rest in Christ

In verse 28 Jesus stretches out His hand and asks us to come to Him. He invites us to exchange our business and burdens for His rest and peace. In verse 29 He asks us to take on His yoke. Like an ox with a yoke pulling a plow, we join in with Jesus in His work. This work, however, is free from the burden of the obeying the Old Testament law and it is also free from the directionless living of the world.

We also find rest in Jesus in the discipline of being His disciple. As we learn about Jesus and as we grow in Him, we find rest for our weary souls. He is a good teacher as He is gentle and humble. No longer do we have to strive and strain for approval from God, we have it in Christ. We can just focus on Christ and following Him. We can rest in His finished work on the cross.

I really enjoy this short prayer from Jesus. In it we learn a lot about how God wants us to come to him, how He wants us to live in Him and how we can find peace and rest in Christ.

God Bless,
Dave

R.E.M.A.I.N. In Christ

My latest sermon is online. It is titled, “R.E.M.A.I.N. in Christ.

It looked at the passage from John 15:1-5 and used the letters of the word remain to give us some help to stay on track.

Here are the main points…

R- Rest in the finished work of Christ – John 19:30

E – Endurance is vital – Hebrews 12:1-2

M – Maintain a close walk with the Lord – John 15:4

A – Aim to be a vehicle of blessing – 2 Corinthians 9:8-11

I – Imagine eternity with Christ – Philippians 3:20

N – Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world – John 16:33

You can find the full text here.

God Bless,
Dave