Sermons by Murray Lean (Page 3)
Who’d be an apostle? In today’s passage Paul passionately appeals to the Corinthians not to fall for the deception of his opponents in the Corinthian church. They were teaching a false gospel using methods to discredit Paul that were clearly malicious. He ends by exposing them as “deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ”, calls them servants of Satan, and pronounces their final judgement by God. This is some of the strongest language used in any of Paul’s writings. He doesn’t do this to protect his own reputation. He is motivated entirely out of love for them, that they won’t be led astray from Christ. O that church leaders today would be as concerned for their people!
Without question Jesus was an enigma to most people of His day, and especially so to the religious types. He annoyed them, confused them, frustrated them, and angered them. He simply didn’t fit their boxes. And when He and His disciples seemed to have time to party and enjoy themselves, it was time for them to confront Him. In today’s passage Pastor Murray unpacks this encounter, showing that Jesus’ mission was not to revamp or patch up the laws of Moses, but to replace them with something totally new and better – salvation by grace – and all the freedom and joy that this would bring! This would be a whole new way of relating to God, and Jesus Himself is the key. Have you found this life in Jesus?
After 40 years the Israelites were nearly home. The long-awaited land of Canaan, promised 500 years earlier to Abraham, was just across the Jordan River. But first, there was a not-insignificant matter to be resolved concerning the land rights of women who had no brothers. Would they be able to share in the family inheritance? And if they did, what would happen to their land if they married a man from a different tribe? Clearly, sharing in God’s promised land was the ultimate priority for every Israelite. For Christians today our inheritance awaits, promised to us by God, not an earthly inheritance but one that is kept in heaven for us “that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). Are we just as eager to lay hold of this inheritance as we look to the end of our life’s journey?
Jesus told us to love our enemies, so how do we reconcile this with God specifically ordering the Israelites to annihilate other nations, as we have in today’s passage? There is no neat answer to this difficult question. But in this message Pastor Murray meets it head on. One thing we can be sure of is that God has not changed. And his abhorrence of sin means that his coming judgement of our generation is just as certain as it was for people 3500 years ago. The Christian life is an ongoing battle against sin and compromise. Holiness matters to God. Does it matter to you?
As we read the Christmas story in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, it is impossible to not see the note of joy that pervades the coming of Jesus into the world. The birth of any baby is a good reason for joy, but there were even greater reasons in the case of Jesus. That’s why angels announced His arrival and choirs of angels sang. That’s why shepherds became so excited and magi travelled 100s of kilometres following a new star. A Saviour-Messiah-King had been born who would take away sin and transform the lives of people throughout the world. As we reflect back on that day, what better reason for us to be joyful today? Don’t miss out on the joy of Christmas. Jesus came for us, too!
“Peace, peace… perfect peace” is one of the most elusive longings of our age. Whether we’re talking about the world stage, the workplace, the family or the inner thoughts of the human mind, there is a longing for peace. But is it possible? In the Old Testament the word “shalom” was used to describe this deep contentment of heart and mind, and God wanted to give this to His people. Where could it be found? At the coming of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the angels announced “peace on earth to those on whom His favour rests”. Jesus came to make peace possible… firstly between God and us, secondly between us and others, and thirdly within ourselves. Jesus truly is the peace-maker. Have you found peace in Jesus this Christmas?
There are times in life when we have to pause and do a personal stocktake. A big decision? A change in direction? A risky choice? The Israelites faced one of these moments in their history as they camped on the edge of the promised land on the plains of Moab. The old generation had died and now a new generation had to decide whether to take on the scary challenge of conquering the Canaanites. As they regrouped under a new leader, God reminded them of His ongoing faithfulness. Would they trust and obey Him? Would they worship Him? As we face new challenges in our lives, will we?