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South Fellowship Church

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Podcast Episode – Red Couch Theology

With Alex Walton & Aaron Bjorklund

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you.

You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

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

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

Podcast Episode – Red Couch Theology2022-11-19T13:29:00-07:00

Stewards of Light

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Genesis 1:3-4 NIV

This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him.       1 John 1:5 MSG

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.” Mathew 5:14 MSG

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.“ Matthew 25:14 NLT

Having pondered the Matthew 25:14 story for years, I have wondered, what if instead of money, the man entrusted the people on his estate to the servants. So I’m going to share an abridged, personal paraphrase of this scripture:

When the owner of a large estate was preparing for a long journey, he met with three of his servants. Promoting them to stewards, and according to their abilities, he put them in charge of managing his property and the people living there. To one steward he gave a large city; to another he gave a midsize town; to the third he gave a small village.

During the meeting, the first two paid close attention to everything the owner told them. They focused on his facial expressions, with their ears open to the tone of his voice, so that after he was gone, they would remember his charge to them – as well as his smile and his manner. The third kept glancing at the others, because he felt that he was not treated as well as they. When the meeting was over, the first two stewards left with the earnest desire to represent the owner as they found him: kind, generous and loving. The third carried envy and bitterness within himself, and so he decided to portray the owner to the village as unkind and selfish.

The owner was gone for several years. When he returned, he called the three stewards to an assessment. The first steward arrived with his family and a crowd of people from the city, all desiring to see and honor the owner that the steward had portrayed by his wise, kind management of the city. The second steward, also, arrived with his family and a crowd of townspeople, because he too had managed their town with wisdom and kindness.

The third steward came alone, because neither his family nor any of the people in the village wanted to see an owner so mean and uncaring that he would put such a manager over them.

When I think of Matthew 5:14, that we are to be light in the world, I think of the battery powered, triple candles I place in the windows at my house. They shine from Thanksgiving until the batteries run out of power well after Christmas.

I also think of how Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

The Holy Spirit is the power by whom we are able to carry the light of Christ into the world as we live in our homes, neighborhoods, church, wider community, and the world.

As we go about each day, let us ponder the way the Holy Spirit empowers our lives to reflect the light of Jesus and his way through us to our families, church and the surrounding community.

Stewards of Light2022-11-19T13:18:39-07:00

Be Light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

It seems strange how God has chosen to operate in the world. In his wisdom, he has decided to work in the world through people. The reason that seems strange is the fact that humanity doesn’t have an excellent track record of following God’s way. This text gives us another example of this peculiar reality. Jesus tells his followers that they are the light of the world. In other words, God has decided to illuminate the world through the lives of his followers. We could spend time questioning God’s choice to operate this way, or we can step into this calling.

How are disciples of Jesus the light of the world? To answer that question, we need not go far. This passage is found in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is his magnum opus on what his Kingdom is and should be. Rather than pursuing that concept here, today’s text draws less attention to how we are to shine than the focus of Jesus’ words on the location and visibility of our light.

He teaches us that we are lights, elevated on a hill where the light can be seen by everyone around. That isn’t a challenge to become as visible as possible; it is the reality of being a Jesus follower. People observe the lives of those who claim the name of Jesus. We are “observed people” for better or for worse.

Jesus leaves us with a final command, “to shine in a way that brings glory to God”. We are merely illuminators of another object, namely God. We are reflectors or diffusers of light upon the “way of God”. The question we can ask ourselves today is, “do people even know that I am a follower of Jesus?” This is the only prerequisite to the realities in this text. Don’t be “darkness”, with this light hidden under a basket – be visible.

Be Light2022-11-19T12:30:30-07:00

Going the “Salty” Distance

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
Matthew 5:13 NIV

As I meditated on this metaphor about salt losing flavor, that Jesus used in his Sermon on the Mount, I became curious – doesn’t salt last forever? Yes, it’s possible, but I discovered (Googled it) that salt exposed to certain conditions or containing additives loses flavor.

A discussion of this passage usually centers around the many uses for salt, but Jesus was warning about salt becoming worthless. So concentrating on the idea of salt becoming worthless should help better understand how dedicated disciples are the salt of the earth. The two contexts where Jesus used this metaphor are Matthew 5:11-13 and Luke 14:25-35.
In Matthew 5, Jesus precedes his statement about salt by emphasizing wholehearted devotion to him will bring heavenly blessing, even when persecution, insults, and false statements are aimed at us because of that loyalty.
In Luke 14, Jesus gives a sermon, again emphasizing that following him, requires the highest level of loyalty. In this sermon, Jesus highlights that counting the cost of following him is key to maintaining that loyalty and finishing well. He illustrates that idea with two stories. The first story is about a builder who would be unable to complete construction and risk the ridicule of others if he failed to calculate costs in advance. The second is about a king who risks forfeiture of his kingdom if he fails to intelligently plan for an upcoming battle. After telling those stories, Jesus concluded with this warning:

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:33-35 NIV

It seems clear that understanding and calculating the cost of following Jesus is the vital component to continued dedication to him in the face of all the hard circumstances that will inevitably arise as we follow him all the way through our earthly lives. Here’s a scene from John 6:66-68 which illustrates the commitment Peter had already developed as a result of counting the cost:

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Did this confession mean Peter never needed a boost to retain his steadfastness? That answer is found near the end of the gospel accounts.

As we seek to build God’s kingdom on earth in our area of influence, the Holy Spirit may show us paths to better building techniques, but our persistent faithfulness to Jesus is the “salt of the earth” cornerstone of all our earthly efforts. As you listen to Find us Faithful by Steve Green, think about Jesus followers like yourselves who have been and continue to be the salt of the earth.

Going the “Salty” Distance2022-11-19T11:56:45-07:00

How Can We Be the Salt of the Earth?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13 NIV

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:34-35 NIV

Let us set the stage a little bit. These verses are found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and at a time of teaching to a crowd in Luke. The Sermon on the Mount most likely took place somewhere near the Sea of Galilee.

Both the disciples and the crowds understood the importance and value of salt in their society. Salt was used as wages for Roman soldiers – the word salary comes from the word salt. Salt was used to preserve fish and meat so it would not spoil, and so it could be preserved and eaten at a future time. In Jesus’ day, salt was valuable, not available on every street corner, and was used as a preservative for food. This use of salt puts a different light on these verses written by Paul nearly 2000 years ago to the church at Colossae.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

What might Paul be asking the church to preserve? How are we to act as preservatives in our world today? Alex has been teaching us that we should want South Fellowship to be the kind of community that would be missed by our city if we were not here. How is our service to the neighborhood, to the community we serve, valuable?

Colossians 4:5-6 comes immediately after Colossians 3:1-17 in which Paul gave some specific instructions on how we as Christians ought to live, love, and serve each other – in light of our salvation and our new life in Christ. Chapter 3 of Colossians puts meat on the bones of exactly how we can be salt and light in our community. Read Colossians 3; take note of how we are not supposed to act, and what we are not to say to one another. Notice what we are to say and do as we serve one another in the body of Christ and in the community at large. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you to choose one thing from these verses to focus on. Make an effort to stop doing something in these lists – that we are to put to death, and put effort into clothing yourself with a contrasting trait Paul exhorts us to embody and live out daily.

How Can We Be the Salt of the Earth?2022-11-19T10:28:28-07:00

Podcast Episode

By Alex Walton & Aaron Bjorklund

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you. You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

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

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

 

Podcast Episode2022-11-11T20:08:06-07:00

Jesus in Nazareth

Mark 6:1-5, Matthew 13:54-58 and Luke 4:14-37 – all tell about Jesus returning to his hometown, Nazareth, in the early days of his public ministry.

Just a Carpenter

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He stole the show, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”

But in the next breath they were cutting him down: “He’s just a carpenter—Mary’s boy. We’ve known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?” They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.

Jesus told them, “A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.” Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness. Mark 6:1-5 MSG

Jesus Revisits Nazareth

When Jesus had finished these parables, He left there. And after coming to [Nazareth] His hometown, He began teaching them in their synagogue, and they were astonished, and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers [what is the source of His authority]?

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not [living here] among us? Where then did this Man get all this [wisdom and power]?”

And they took offense at Him [refusing to believe in Him]. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:53-58

Matthew 2 and Luke 2 have most of what we know about the early years of Jesus in Nazareth, but the people who lived there would have been involved with his life for all of his years growing up from childhood to manhood. Even though rumors of what he was doing possibly preceded his visit to his hometown community, it must have been hard to perceive him as other than what he seemed to be was during all those years.

If I’m honest and I didn’t have the whole Bible in a variety of versions and a great many fine teachers and study materials, I might have responded like the people in Nazareth did. I can read more about Jesus, who he is, what he did, how he treated men, women, and children. They only had the Law, the Prophets and what they had experienced of him for 30 years.

Both the Mark and Matthew accounts mention that he did some healing miracles, so there were some unnamed people who trusted him, but the majority did not. I wonder what those people did after they received healing from Jesus. Perhaps the experience and transformation of a few, planted seeds of change in the community over time.

This week read and meditate on the scriptures mentioned in each of the devotionals.
Also read Luke 4:14-37 for an additional description of Jesus’ return to Nazareth.

And join in on Friday’s podcast with Alex and Aaron.

I’ll be praying for you this week.

Jesus in Nazareth2022-11-12T10:12:44-07:00

When Healing Is Desired, Seek Jesus

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night (and am not silent), but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. Psalm 22:1-5 NIV

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.
Mark 5:21 NIV

…. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. Mark 5:24-29 NIV

I can’t help delving into her thoughts and emotions within her crises:

I am lonely, I long for the touch of another human being, I miss worshiping with my family friends. How long oh Lord? I am in such pain. I have sought every cure that money can buy. I have no more money to spend. Over the past 12 years I have become weaker. I am in more pain, and sometimes I feel hopeless. Sometimes I think I will die soon; sometimes I even wish for it. I know the Lord can heal me, but when oh Lord?

Then suddenly I hear that Jesus, who has healed many others, is coming to my town! If only I could get near him, if only I could touch his clothes, then I would be healed, then I would be restored, then I would be saved! There he is! He just got out of the boat. Oh please Lord, let me get near to him. There are so many other people pushing and walking alongside him. Oh, I see an opening – I am getting closer now – I can just touch his cloak – thank you Lord! The pain is gone! The bleeding has stopped! I am healed! You heard my prayer! Praise God!

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, `Who touched me?'” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Mark 5:30-32 NIV

I had hoped I could be healed and go away quietly. I don’t want to attract attention, or scorn. I have had enough accusation and feeling shunned for the past 12 years. But,

Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:33-34 NIV

What do you think this woman did next? Can you imagine her feelings of relief, of euphoria, of freedom from isolation and pain? If you have had a season in your life of extended pain, suffering, trial or difficulty, think back on that time. This woman sought Jesus out; she went to him. Jesus healed this woman physically and spiritually. Her faith in God was strong, and her body was completely restored. Do you seek Jesus out when you are in need? Trust in Jesus’ ability to restore, to heal, and to relieve suffering. Trust in God’s sovereignty, in His timing, in His method to bring about restoration in your life and in the lives of those you love.

When Healing Is Desired, Seek Jesus2022-11-12T09:24:00-07:00

Jairus’ Daughter

21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him….  Mark 5:21-24

He had spent his entire life learning and working to acquire the position he had. He was well respected. People listened to him. Life seemed pretty straightforward for Jairus until his daughter fell deathly sick. The illness didn’t respect his position in the synagogue. It didn’t care that he had spent years studying and learning the things of God. Instead, it gradually began to claim the life of his beloved child, disrespecting any of his desires.

We don’t know Jairus’ opinion about Jesus before this story. The party line seemed to villainize Jesus as a threat to the Jewish faith. Desperation got the better of him, so he decided to go to Jesus. He had heard stories of healing and needed healing for his family. Was it faith that caused him to turn to Jesus? It was more likely some hope that things could be different. He had no idea how his hope would rise, fall, and ultimately be fulfilled, but hope drove him to speak to Jesus.

You don’t need a vast faith to start interacting with Jesus. All you need is a bit of hope mixed with a whole lot of longing. What is it that you wish or hope that Jesus could heal? This story isn’t a promise of a perfect outcome; I’m sure Jairus would have preferred not to endure his daughter’s death prior to Jesus’ solution. No, this story is a promise that Jesus is the right person to bring our last threads of hope. Bring it to him. And maybe you need to bring it to him again. Don’t let go of Jesus, because regardless of his answer, he is the only one who can raise the dead to life again!

Jairus’ Daughter2022-11-11T20:03:20-07:00

Totally Awesome!

Today’s full story is found in Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39, and Matthew 8:28-34.

In all three gospels, the encounter I’ll talk about took place after Jesus unsettled his disciples by instantly calming a storm while they crossed the Sea of Galilee.

After that awesome manifestation of Jesus’ power, they disembarked in the Decapolis (Gentile region of the Gerasenes) where they met a demon-possessed man who:

…lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Mark 5:3-5 NIV

A few more details emerge in Luke 8:27-29 NIV:

,,,, For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house…When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man.

Later in the narrative we find this man was possessed by approximately two thousand evil spirits who begged Jesus to cast them into a herd of roughly as many pigs. After Jesus cast them into the pigs, the animals plummeted to their death over a cliff into the sea (Mark 5:13).

To me, Jesus’ instant calming of the storm and instant mastery over more than two thousand demons are “totally awesome” acts – ones only God can accomplish.

Now here are the responses to Jesus’ mastery over demons in Mark 5:14-20 NIV:

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

The focus of this week’s sermon has been encounters with Jesus that lead to next steps. So let’s recap:

First, the swineherds hurried to report their catastrophic loss of livestock to city authorities and other townspeople.
Second, the first responder citizens and authorities became fearful and pleaded with Jesus to leave the area.
Third, the formerly deranged man begged Jesus to whisk him out of town too.

Shockingly, Jesus fulfills only the demand of the townspeople and tells the newly restored man to go back home and tell everyone about his marvelous encounter with Jesus. My inner, amateur counselor ramps up to high alert. This vulnerable man’s hometown is probably very unsafe – the place where his demonic issues started. Please, Jesus…take him with you!

Here’s what happened though:

So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. – Mark 5:20 NIV

Which of these next steps after seeing Jesus’ mastery over demons (and other colossal storms of life) do you normally favor:

Appealing to other humans for their expertise?
Limiting your exposure to unusual aspects of Jesus’ ministry in your life experience?
Fearing what Jesus’ continued intervention might do to your status quo?
Desiring to escape into a safe space with Jesus?
Or, telling the potentially scary people around you about the “totally awesome” things Jesus has done for you – “Celebrating (your) Recovery” as the restored man did?

Meditate on these two amazing stories displaying Jesus’ power. Relate them to a situation you or someone close to you may now be facing and ask him to intervene.

Totally Awesome!2022-11-11T19:46:37-07:00
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