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Week 03

Red Couch Theology Podcast

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron and the occasional guest, having a casual conversation diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching:


Sermon on the Mount

“Bringing Heaven to Earth” 

Bookmobile

John 17:18

Feel free to ask questions about the sermon series
  — before or during the live Thursday conversation.

Questions may be sent through
https://redcouchtheology.com/  

Blog sites:

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767 

Red Couch Theology Podcast2024-02-10T12:44:45-07:00

Bringing Heaven to Earth

by Sherry Sommer

 

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. . Matthew 6:10b NIV

 

Do what’s best—as above, so below. Matthew 6:10b  The Message

 

Jesus teaches us to pray that his will be “done on earth as it is in heaven”.  God wants  earth to be a mirror of heaven, albeit imperfect for now. He wants us to pray with this end in mind and for us to be partners in this work.    

This idea of bringing God’s kingdom can be used to justify oppression, destruction, violence, unjust laws, and oppression.  We can see this in history, and we can see it  today.  Jesus is not telling his disciples to use force or to create theocracies in his name. We need to use his ways  to partner with him in kingdom-bringing.  

Transformed lives

In order to bring God’s kingdom to earth, we need to start by being  transformed by him. This  process of transformation makes us more like Jesus, and more the person God created us to be.  As Paul says, when we are transformed by the Holy Spirit, we will better understand God’s will. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV

Show up!

God’s fingerprints are on every one of us; He created us intending that each of us make their own unique contributions to bring his kingdom to earth. Each one of us has unique gifts and spheres of influence. Paul reminds us to show up as servants of God: 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23 NIV


I also like this quote by Martin Luther: 

What else is all our work to God—whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city, in the house, in war, or in government—but just such a child’s performance, by which He wants to give His gifts in the fields, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed and do all things.

I like how Paul says “Whatever you do”.  My children attended an elementary school that prided itself on the education it delivered. Interestingly, the most beloved adults in the school were the janitorial staff and a woman who served lunch.  Pearline would always say a friendly hello to Samuel as she served him lunch, so he considered her a friend and ally. While a school would not think to advertise the excellence of their  support staff, these were the people who really connected with the kids and made a difference in the school climate.

Do everything in love:

 God is love and bringing his kingdom to earth needs to reflect his love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

 

God owns everything; he can accomplish anything; and, he will bind all wounds in his time. We don’t need to take the reins to try to get things done for him in our own strength. 

Let’s  pray that we will listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings as we partner with God in bringing his kingdom to earth to honor him.  

 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Bringing Heaven to Earth2024-02-10T13:03:25-07:00

Jesus Wins

by Bruce Hanson

“Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10


When we met to discuss our devotionals for this week, Pastor Aaron told us that in regards to the Kingdom in the passage above, more than truly anything else, he wanted to be a part of a kingdom where Jesus reigned supreme, dominating the landscape wherever anyone looked. The words above don’t say your kingdom, or my kingdom. They are about the manifestation of God’s Kingdom here on earth. And in that Kingdom, Jesus Wins!!

Now that will be awesome, but that isn’t actually going to be complete until there is a new heaven and a new earth, Revelation 21. There is a temporary fix though.

When I was a midgie, my neighborhood didn’t yet have a local library. We would go to the strip mall by our house, the Brentwood Shopping Center, and the Bookmobile would bring books to us. It was the highlight of my week. I wore out every single Nancy Drew book.

So back to our story. Gathered all over that hill where Jesus was delivering the Sermon on the Mount was a hodgepodge of needy people. For the most part,
they weren’t the Richie Riches of the world. It was people whose lives had not measured up to their dreams. They were desperate for a new kingdom: one that held promise; one that wasn’t based on possessions they would never have. Jesus offered the one thing they were all desperate for — hope!! Whatever their backgrounds, all needed hope, as do you and I.

Corporately, we won’t see God’s Kingdom here on earth until Revelation 20 becomes our reality. But for the time being, we can take Jesus’ Kingdom to our world, just like the librarian who drove the Bookmobile brought books to me. And I can tell you that those I meet will get more than they need of the Kingdom of Jesus if the kingdom I carry wherever I go looks like this:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

If I carry that to those around me, they will be blessed with a glimpse of the kingdom.  And guess what?

Jesus Wins!!!

Where’s My Library Card??

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Jesus Wins2024-02-10T12:01:46-07:00

God’s Character Manifested in His Name

by Grace Hunter

Sing to the LORD , you saints of his; praise his holy name. Psalm 30:4 NIV

“…hallowed be your name,Matthew 6:9b NIV

 

What does this phrase mean? “Hallowed” is old English for holy – which means set apart, consecrated, revered, or sacred. Whose name are we to revere? God’s name.  Here is an example, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness,” Psalm 29:2 NIV. Why should we revere God’s name? Because God’s name is so much more than just what we call Him. It includes the manifestation of His character — it signifies God Himself.

“So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.  And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:4-7a NIV 


Do you see how God proclaimed His name and His character to Moses at the same time? Samuel tells us God’s name is great, “For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.” 1 Samuel 12:22. Daniel and Nehemiah both speak of the reputation of God’s name.
“Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.” Daniel 9:15 NIV. “You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day.” Nehemiah 9:10 NIV.

I too should care about God’s reputation, His name, His character. I pray that God’s character is revealed in me, in my life, and in my actions, more and more each day. Also, I should care about God’s reputation, His renown in the world, that His name is glorified, that His name and His desires win in the world I live in. I can pray for protection for others using God’s name, (Proverbs 18:10), (John 17:11-12), I can pray for God’s name to save (Psalm 54:1-2), and I can trust in God’s name (Psalm 20:7), (Psalm 33:21). Let’s make sure we keep God’s name holy, set apart, and always remember,    

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens. Psalm 8:1 NIV


Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

God’s Character Manifested in His Name2024-02-10T11:21:04-07:00

Jesus Shares His Father with Us

by Carolyn Schmitt


As a young child I was taught to say the “Lord’s prayer” this way:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.  Matthew 6:9-13 KJV

Along with Psalm 23, it was what I knew best by memory.  Then some years later this verse became very important to me: 

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 NKJV

I have only one living memory of my own father who died when I was 4 years old. What I desired more than anything was a father who I could belong to. 

This verse in Psalms has comforted me for many years both as an orphan and as a widow:

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Lift up a song for Him who rides through the desert—His name is the Lord—be in good spirits before Him.
A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows, is God in His holy habitation.
God makes a home for the lonely. 
Psalm 68:4-6a AMP

 So I have realized that God desires to be called, “Our Father”! (My friend, Grace, pointed out the next two verses to me.)

“I thought to myself,
‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’
I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—the finest possession in the world.
I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’
and I wanted you never to turn from me.” Jeremiah 3:19 NLT

Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Malachi 2:10a NLT

I love how Jesus prays for his disciples in the whole of John 17, especially since his prayer is not only for the ones who have been with him for the years since he first shared his Father with them, but that he prays for all who have come, and will come to him and his Father through all the years until his return.


Jesus Prays for All Believers

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-26

 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Jesus Shares His Father with Us2024-02-10T15:43:36-07:00

Red Couch Theology Podcast

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron and the occasional guest, having a casual conversation diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

 

Ask questions about the sermon series,
MINDSET — Emotional Health & the Way of Jesus
 

“Desperate Enough to Rest in God” 

(Isaiah 42)

Questions may be sent through
https://redcouchtheology.com/  

Blog sites:

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767 

Red Couch Theology Podcast2024-01-19T08:38:19-07:00

Does God Need Us?

by Kathleen Petersen

Google revealed the theological term “divine aseity” for exploring the question in my title. 

This term “Divine aseity” intimidates me. I doubt I can explore it to anyone’s satisfaction, including my own. In this fourth down situation (my 400 word limit – along with watching too much playoff football), perhaps I should just punt. But let’s go for it!

The wise members of our devotional team reminded me that God is not an unhealthy, codependent personality who is threatened by our brokenness. With that insight, I’ll begin here.


Shout for joy, you heavens; exult, you earth!
You mountains, break into happy cries!
For Yahweh consoles his people and takes pity on those who are afflicted.
For Zion was saying, ‘Yahweh has abandoned me,
the Lord has forgotten me’.
Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you.
See, I have branded you on the palms of my hands,
Your ramparts are always under my eye. Isaiah 49:13-16 TJB


This passage compares God’s connection with us to a nursing mother and her child. As an aside, one of the scriptural names of God is “El Shaddai”, which can be translated as “nursing mother God”. To emphasize the permanence of this relationship, the passage adds the excruciatingly painful image of everlasting, seared marks on the palms of the hands that cradle the child.

My takeaway from this passage is that God’s attention to us is deeply caring, sacrificial and permanent.

Also consider these Gospel passages from the earthly life of Jesus describing Jesus weeping over the loss of connection with people who should have embraced him: Luke 13:34–35, Luke 19:41–44, and Matthew 23:37–39. 


Concern for the Nation

As he approached and saw the city, he wept for it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come on you when your enemies will build a barricade around you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you and your children among you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in your midst, because you did not recognize the time when God visited you.” Luke 19:41–44 CSB


Concern for the Person

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked. “Lord,” they told him, “come and see.”  Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 CSB


The Gospel record depicts Jesus weeping infrequently. However, these passages show us his profound connection with those he considers his own. Let’s return to the question: Does God need us? Maybe we should ask, how do we need God to need us? 

Perhaps God doesn’t “need” humans in a technical sense, but he chose to create us and longs for those he has created to return to him and be eternally in his presence.

Unless we sense God’s constant, tangible presence, we may think he is indifferent to us. Of course God’s care for his children is superior to that of any animal, but read this article about seemingly abandoned baby animals to enhance your perspective on his watchful care/need for you.


Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Does God Need Us?2024-01-19T19:08:33-07:00

Desperation

by Grace Hunter

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” Psalm 42:1-3 NIV

The Psalmist used a familiar incident of his day, a deer searching for water,to express desperation. A better analogy for 21st century America might be to think of a dog after a long walk, panting for a drink of water. For both the deer and the dog, water is crucial to their survival, to their thriving, to their very life. The writer of Psalm 42 and 43 is also desperate. He is longing for God’s presence, for God’s rest, for the security found in God’s house. Read Psalm 42 and 43 in your favorite version.

What do you see? Do you see how the Psalmist feels? In the NIV he feels abandoned, rejected, forgotten, taunted, and he is mourning. Did you notice what the Psalmist does with those deep hurtful feelings, with his desperation for God? “These things I remember as I pour out my soul,” Psalm 42:4 NIV. He prays to God:  he pours out his soul, expresses his questions, his feelings of abandonment and rejection.

Did you see what the Psalmist asks for? He asks for vindication, to have joy again, to be able to be in God’s presence on His Holy Mountain, to have God plead his case before his enemies. When we are feeling wronged, do we go to God first? The Psalmist also asks for God to rescue him and for God’s light to guide him. Do we do the same? 

Did you notice that these two Psalms are essentially conversations between the Psalmist and God? As the Psalmist is praying, he “remembers” various truths about God, about how He acts, who He is and what He has done in the past. The Holy Spirit prompted retrospection; for finding answers to the Psalmist’s desperation. Let’s look at some of these things God reminds his servant of as he prays,

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.  Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5 NIV

 

By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me–a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,  Psalm 42:8-9a NIV

When we pour out our hearts to God in the midst of our desperation, then He may remind us of who He is, how He has acted in the past. We can put our hope in God. We can know we will praise Him again. We can be reassured of His love, His faithfulness; He can be our rock, our stronghold, and our light to guide us in circumstances, even in our difficult circumstances. 


Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Desperation2024-01-19T18:17:59-07:00

Work in Progress!

by Sherry Sommer

Just out of college,  I worked as a church receptionist at an historic church in Boston. The lead pastor was  a kind man who would sometimes stop to chat. After a counseling session one day, he mused: “The issues people talk to me about are rarely their real issues.”  This seemed profound and intriguing, but I didn’t have enough life experience to understand what he meant. At the time, I didn’t know how much he described my situation.  God has been so good over the years helping me understand how my distorted ideas about myself, and about Him, are the real issues I had to understand. Pondering the pastor’s word and seeing how they apply to my life has been  like observing sculpture emerging from a block of marble. 

These verses from Matthew 11 get right to the heart of how Jesus can help us understand the root problems of our lack of rest and satisfaction:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message 


Because we  don’t feel adequate, we compensate by working hard.

We talk about burnout and weariness as a modern phenomenon, but it isn’t. Jesus is speaking to an audience that is weary and worn out. Perhaps they were worried about keeping food on the table. Maybe they didn’t have children, which  was one of the most significant achievements in that culture.  We don’t really know their frustrations. 

Just out of college, I felt inadequate because I had  graduated with honors but hadn’t found a job that really fit me. I felt so ashamed of myself that I had moved to Boston on a whim, hoping something would work out. Actually my life had only become harder and more miserable.  I disliked the city, had few friends, and couldn’t  find a job that was a good fit.   All my efforts to compensate had left me empty, afraid, and I became more and more consumed with self doubt.


 Jesus  doesn’t want  employees, He wants  friends.

 Unlike other people, or ourselves,  Jesus doesn’t want us to prove ourselves. He wants  to spend time with us and  to teach us.  It can be difficult to visualize this. Imagine someone you really liked and admired saying, “Let’s take a walk today, what do you say? We can have a good conversation. I’m working on a project and I think you’d be really good at it –– want to work on it together?  My first thought would be, “That’s a definite yes!”  This is what Jesus is inviting us to.  

 At the stage in life I was in after graduating, I had trouble trusting that Jesus was able and willing to  help me.   Rather than walking with Jesus.  I was just trying to keep all the rules with the hope that I’d eventually get to solid ground. My efforts were as useful as  treading water in circles.  It took me a long time to realize that the choices I had made and the circumstances I was in were not my actual problem. Working hard without trusting God’s guidance was my problem.


When we walk with Jesus, we can do the work that we were made to do and get the rest we require.

We talk about having a “work-life balance” and “finding meaningful work”. We live in a society that is unimaginably more prosperous than that of Jesus’ day, so we have the luxury to  have these expectations. However, people in Jesus’ time also wanted meaningful work that left time for rest and enjoyment. 

I had been raised to believe that I needed to work constantly and intensely to avoid poverty. I was taught to do whatever it took to survive. Finding a meaningful job and being able to take time to  rest seemed like luxuries I could not enjoy. I was like a feral animal, always trying to avoid danger and to survive. Trusting Jesus intermittently, I’d   think –– ”I haven’t kept up my guard!” when I hit a rough patch. Then I’d  revert to my anxious and insecure ways.

 Thank God He has taught me over the years to trust Him both in good and difficult times.  I have been able to find meaningful work. I live in Louisville, a town I love, and I have good friends. It’s an honor to  be  part of the South community.  Jesus has turned my anxious and scrappy approach to life into resourcefulness and trust, and He has provided for all my needs. With Jesus I can work and rest knowing that He keeps watch and is able to guide and protect.  Thank you, Jesus. 

“Turn Around” by Matt Maher just popped up in my playlist. What a perfect song for this devotional! I hope you get a minute to listen to it.

Work in Progress!2024-01-18T10:09:14-07:00

Take a Seat

by Bruce Hanson

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

I am a member of a group I wish I wasn’t qualified to be a part of, The OGC (Old Guys Club). That isn’t our official name but an appropriate one for the geezers like me who attend the Men’s Bible Study on Wednesday at church (ages 60-90+). When you are younger, one often pines for a vacation, an opportunity to rest and recharge. But when you are old like me, you have way more down time than is desirable — way too much!! Nonetheless, having extra time doesn’t equate with rest — much needed rest.

When I was a brand new Christian — half a century ago – I read a book by Watchman Nee called Sit, Walk, Stand. “Sit” is the place we start as Christians.  Sitting means trusting.  It mightily impacted me ever since.  In the passage above, Jesus offers us a rest that we all are desperate for. Trouble is, I think most of us only almost sit down. We are close, perched two inches above the seat. But the chair doesn’t actually work unless we allow it to support our weight. Not only that, but it wreaks havoc on our backs to almost sit. Ouch!!

As an oldie, I am unfortunately all too aware of how many times I have ALMOST trusted God. I thought and said the right things. But I didn’t TRULY trust Him.  I hadn’t rested in Him. I meant to, but I always stopped short — too many ‘Buts’ and ‘What Ifs’.

It makes me think fondly of my departed mother. She worked hard all week, so she was more than deserving of a day of rest. But come Sunday, she just couldn’t sit down — maybe for thirty seconds, but then she was right back up. If you look at the wonderful offer God makes above, there is no asterisk. There isn’t anything we must do to validate the offer. No resumé is required. — Just This!!

 

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and he shall direct thy path. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Take a Seat. God has the best cushions!!

 

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Take a Seat2024-01-18T09:38:05-07:00
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