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Sermon on the Mount Part 2

Forgiveness as a Way of life

by Sherry Sommer

Last week our devotional team talked about what Jesus says about forgiveness. 

Aaron compared people to unbalanced scales — a depiction that is simple and yet very accurate. The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. That falling short means that we will all be hurt by others and hurt others. We long for justice, but there’s so much we don’t see or understand in ourselves and in the world around us. Without God’s help forgiveness isn’t possible. 

Jesus has high standards for forgiveness; he says we can’t hold anything against  anyone. Without God’s help, forgiveness may seem foolish to us. We might instinctively want to extract vengeance or sacrificially to carry the weight of our hurt.  We may even feel that being unforgiving will make the scales of our hearts or the hearts of others more balanced. Jesus is telling us to do the opposite of what our instincts tell us. We need to forgive everyone we might hold a grudge against: 

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25

To achieve forgiveness is far beyond human comprehension.  For a long time, it was really difficult for me even to understand what forgiveness was. I knew what it wasn’t — it wasn’t minimizing or enabling sin, or brushing it under the rug. My son once defined it as “Not letting how you’ve been sinned against dominate your thoughts or making it everyone else’s business.”  That seems reasonable.  Kathleen Petersen had a helpful insight in our meeting — she pointed out that Matthew 6:12 describes sin as a debt: 

 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

That helped me visualize more what needs to happen when I forgive — I need to recognize that sin creates a real debt, which for us, walking in “The Way of Jesus”, implies that it’s not up to us to collect. Only Jesus is able to cover that debt. He reconciles us to himself and he works to transform hearts. He works for good even in bad circumstances. Only he has the perfect judgment and power to do this work..   

Jesus says that, to the extent that we forgive, he is able to forgive us. He is asking us to forgive as a way of life, not just as one time actions. The forgiveness Jesus asks for is not simple. It is not something we can do by willpower or by following a technique. I do know that what Jesus commands us to do, he will make it possible.

 Jesus tells us to pray,  “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is not a scattershot or individualist prayer. He tells us to forgive as an entire community of believers. Let’s pray for the insight and dependence on Jesus we need, so that we can be a people who forgive continually and well. 

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

Forgiveness as a Way of life2024-02-25T18:10:43-07:00

It’s Not Just a Me Thing!

by Aaron Bjorklund

 

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12

One of the significant risks we run into as humans is losing touch with the gravity of our sin. We know that some sins affect other persons, but other sins may be private. No one knows about them; they only affect us and our relationship with God. If we distinguish between public and private sins, we lose touch with the nature of sin. Sin is a contagious disease that ALWAYS affects others. Even those sins that we don’t think anyone knows about. 

Yes, God has decisively dealt with our sin through the cross, so for us there is NO condemnation anymore for sin, but it’s still systemically dangerous. God doesn’t hate sin for some arbitrary reason; he hates it because he knows it damages us and others. This part of the Lord’s prayer acknowledges how connected our debts are to others. We cannot escape the damage brought about by our own and other people’s sins. 

When you pray for forgiveness, this text encourages you to acknowledge and forgive how other people’s sins have damaged you. This prayer recognizes the forgiveness of sin, but it also takes sin seriously enough to address it and seek mercy. Perhaps this week, as you pray, ask God to forgive you but also to open your eyes to how your sin affects others —  even if it is simply by how sin can change your attitude toward those around you.

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

It’s Not Just a Me Thing!2024-02-24T18:21:56-07:00

The Protocol for Forgiveness Matters

by Grace Hunter

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 NIV

This week we focus on our individual and corporate need for forgiveness, as well as our individual and corporate need to forgive other people. The course of action in this verse is vital. This is a petition: it is an asking of God to forgive us of our sins, of our misdeeds, of our offenses done against God and against others. There are many Psalms that express petition in beautiful and expressive language. Look at David’s language in Psalm 51:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me. Psalm 51:1-3

Did you notice that He asks God for his personal forgiveness? David wrote this Psalm and prayed this prayer after committing adultery with Bathsheba and after committing the murder of her husband. David had definitely sinned against other people in this situation, but first he asks for forgiveness of God. He acknowledges that God alone can forgive our sins.  

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

In this section of Psalm 51, David’s humility is clearly expressed. We are not able to seek forgiveness from God or from anyone else if we do not first see that sin clearly in ourselves. But sin rarely only affects us. Usually at least one other person has been affected, hurt, or offended by our sinful actions. So, back to the order of Jesus’ prayer. Once we have asked for our own forgiveness, then we need to acknowledge and ask for forgiveness for “our” sins, those that have been committed by us as a family, as a city, as a nation, as a people.

You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Relent, O LORD ! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us-
yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:8, 13-14, 17 NIV

Moses prayed for the Nation of Israel in Psalm 90. He acknowledged God as the one who can forgive, who can show compassion, and the one who can restore the relationship between God and His people, Israel.

Only after we have asked for forgiveness, are we able to see clearly, and are able to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt, offended or sinned against us.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

 

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

The Protocol for Forgiveness Matters2024-02-24T18:48:55-07:00

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:


Sermon on the Mount

 

Matthew 7:9-11

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 Podcast2024-02-17T18:18:42-07:00

Wonder Bread

by Bruce Hanson

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

B&W-Wonder Bread

Back in the 50’s, sitting in front of our tiny black and white television, there was a commercial that seemed to show up constantly:  “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies twelve ways.” Now they never told us what any of those twelve ways were, but the implication was that we truly couldn’t live without it. That claim was not especially accurate, but there IS a bread we can’t live without.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  John 6:35

Living in a nation where I have always had bread to eat, I have never really thought of the bread in the Lord’s Prayer as that which I might consume. That cannot be said for many in the Middle East who are trying to survive on cattle feed. I pray that God’s daily bread could make its way to them. But this is the bread I am especially craving right now. 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:1-4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

And I am particularly taken by the use of the descriptor DAILY.  Jesus didn’t say weekly, monthly, or yearly bread. 

We are living in times that I truly believe to be unrivaled in history.  Literally days ago, a candidate in Slovakia lost an election to a candidate of Vladimir Putin after a fake recording was circulated that purported to be him claiming to have rigged the election, and horrors: that he was raising the price of beer. It was his voice, but it wasn’t him. He lost!!

We are beyond blessed to have this.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

This is our bread. The Word of God. It isn’t like that Wonder Bread that we wondered whether or not it was bread.  In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we are told  that our bread is God-breathed. It is our one trustworthy constant in a world of rampant uncertainty — The Word of God. Never Miss a Meal!!!

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

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

Wonder Bread2024-02-17T18:09:34-07:00

Jesus is the Bread of Life

by Grace Hunter

Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 NIV

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:27-29 NIV

As I read through John chapter 6, I see several themes. One of them is bread. John 6:1-15 relates the feeding of the 5000 with five barley loaves of bread and two fish. Starting in John 6:25, Jesus teaches using bread and manna as metaphors. Many in the crowd at the feeding of the 5000 wanted Jesus to explain the phenomenon of how he got to Capernaum, while others wanted Jesus to simply perform even more miracles and signs. But Jesus chose to use manna and bread to describe himself, to plainly describe God’s gift of manna, and to teach about eternal life.

Jesus made several profound “I” statements in this chapter. “I am the bread of life,” John 6:35a, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me,” John 6:38, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life,” John 6:47. 

Again Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world,” John 6:48-51 NIV.

Jesus called himself the bread of life, living bread and bread that has come down from heaven. He goes on to elaborate on what is required of us in order to obtain eternal life. The crowds were primarily interested in seeing more signs and wonders, but the Pharisees understood Jesus’ references to himself — calling himself the Son of God, and as having come from heaven.

I suggest you read through the whole chapter of John 6. Look for the many references to bread. Notice what Jesus calls himself and what He says He will do on behalf of those who believe in Him. Take note of how Jesus says God draws people to Himself. When Jesus instructed His disciples to pray: “Give us today our daily bread”, I believe He is talking about our daily need for Himself, for His teaching, for His influence in our lives, in our decisions, in our attitudes. As you read through John 6, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal to you what you need to see and understand in this passage today. Then thank Him for drawing you to Himself.

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

Jesus is the Bread of Life2024-02-17T14:54:02-07:00

Our Daily Bread

by Kathleen Petersen

Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 CSB

This portion of the Lord’s Prayer confirms Our Father in Heaven’s desire to daily provide for his children. But which concerns are most critical — physical issues or those centered in the mysterious, unseen realm? A contest between “sacred” and “secular” is unnecessary. The term for this false struggle is Dualism. Here’s a definition:   

Dualism is the idea that all of life can be separated into two main categories: the sacred and the secular. This fragmented vision of reality puts “spiritual” things in the “sacred” category and “worldly” things in the “secular” category.

Scripture makes no such division. In the first chapters of Genesis, God declares both his physical creation and his simple spiritual order as very good.
Genesis 1:31

As we observe and experience the continuing chaos ensuing from man’s attempts to disengage from God, we are presented with a variety of approaches to settle the resulting discomfort. For instance, if your personal chaos is related to a physical illness, does it display greater faith to ask for a certifiable miracle or is it more practical to skip that step and enlist the nearest competent medical professional? Is it okay to relieve emotional distress with just the right amount of counseling, pain relievers or engrossing entertainment or should your first action always be scripture, prayer and fasting?

Here’s another angle to consider. If you have an overabundance of food squirreled away and overstocked grocery stores nearby, praying “Give us today our daily bread” seems extraneous. But if you focus on the “us” part, the petition may morph into “Lord, what do you want me to do with my excess?

In summary, this part of Jesus’ model prayer encourages meditation on how to use God’s intertwined physical and spiritual resources. Furthermore, it prompts us to serve the broken world around us. 

Just for today, look in the refrigerator, freezer or food storage areas of your home while you pray this line of the Lord’s Prayer. Tell a family member or friend about your experience.

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

Our Daily Bread2024-02-17T14:10:59-07:00

Manna – Daily Bread in the Wilderness

by Carolyn Schmitt

Exodus 16:1-36 and Numbers 11:1-34 both tell about the Israelites complaining to Moses and Aaron about not having the kind of food available to them when they were slaves in Egypt. 

And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Exodus 16:3

 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Exodus 16:4-5

 

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.’ ” Exodus 16:11-16

 

In the Lord’s Prayer there is a change in pronouns: The first three petitions have the pronoun “your”, about God’s name being hallowed, His kingdom coming and His will being done on earth as it is in heaven. The next three pronouns are “us”, about our need for daily bread, forgiveness of our debts, and protection from temptation.  The first three are a request for what happens in heaven that it will also happen on earth, and the next three are what is needed by us who live on earth. 

In the request, “Give us this day our daily bread”, my research brought to light a variety of responses to what it meant when Jesus spoke it to the people then and what it may mean to us in our time.  Taken literally, it might  mean that we should only have on hand what we can eat up in a day and we should not be making sure that we have food on hand to fix for us or our family the next day or beyond.  

I remember on our farm we always kept what are called, “staples” in the house.  They were basic ingredients that we could use to make various kinds of bread. They included flour, salt, yeast, baking powder, lard, and milk from our cows, eggs from our chickens, butter and buttermilk from our own making.  Our farm was 10 miles from town, so it would have been unrealistic to go somewhere every day to get our “daily bread”.  

I lived  for a time in a small town where  the grocery store was walking distance from our house. Even after moving to Denver in 1953, the grocery store was only 4 blocks from home.  Food still had to be prepared.  There were no fast food or take out shops for convenience.  

Something that was mentioned in several sources was that this prayer might mean praying for how God makes it possible for farmers to grow food and for people who do the work of processing, packaging, transporting and making food available to buy.  

It might mean that, unlike the Israelites who complained about what they didn’t have,  we are to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness to God for all who labor for what we do have.

I had forgotten until I looked it up that the Israelites only received the food the Lord provided them from heaven during their 40 year sojourn in the wilderness. 

 

Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day. Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year. Joshua 5:10-12

 

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

Manna – Daily Bread in the Wilderness2024-02-17T13:25:26-07:00

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:


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
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