God's Love

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

A reflection on Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’

In response to the disciples question ‘who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Jesus as usual flips everything upside down and inside out. He takes a child and tells the disciples that unless that ‘turn and become like children’… they ‘will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Almost: Forget about whose the greatest! With attitudes like that you won’t even enter! In fact, let me tell you about greatness in the upside down, inside out kingdom – humility.

Humble yourself like this child! That is, realise your need, your lack, your dependence and forget your pride, knowledge and seeming control and power and realise as children that you are totally dependent, totally needy, and totally lost without God. God gives grace to the humble but He opposes the proud. Humble yourself or be opposed!

We live in a world that is opposite and upside down to this. We are taught to admire the successful and self-willed person, that we can do anything through our own power and determination. The truth of the Scriptures though is that we are weak, that we are in great need, that we have hearts, minds, and wills set against God and His reign over us.

Jesus teaches the disciples here what we all need to learn, and re-learn and then learn again… Humility. To realise that we need God. We are totally dependent upon Him. He holds our lives in His hands. Every breath we breathe is because He allows it and sustains us. And this incredibly powerful God sent His Son in loving mercy so that as children through faith in Jesus we can today be called children of God. Wow!

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God's Love

Forgiveness is based not on other people’s worthiness to receive it, but on the basis of God’s forgiveness of our insurmountable debt.

A reading and reflection on Matthew 18:21-36
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,’ he begged, `and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow-servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow-servant just as I had on you?’

 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Forgiveness is based not on other people’s worthiness to receive it, but on the basis of God’s forgiveness of our insurmountable debt.

Our debt against God is unpayable by us, it is beyond imagination – but that debt in Christ is cancelled for those who trust in Him. He has paid for it all. Completely, finally, and forever.

We do not understand fully the forgiveness we have received by God Most High if we fail to forgive others who sin against us – at times in extremely horrible ways. Either we have failed to grasp the magnitude of our debt against God that has been forgiven, or we have failed to have ever experienced His forgiveness.

We, I, must look to the forgiveness I have received by God the Father through the Son to be able to (by the power of the Spirit) forgive and forgive and forgive just as God in Christ forgive me.

God's Love

God’s Word brings us wisdom, joy and light.

Reflection on Psalm 19
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

When we went to New Zealand last year there were such amazing places to see, incredible mountains and valleys, rivers and countryside. In fact you don’t need to go far to look out at creation and see God’s handiwork, just outside. Even in our city like, light polluted sky we behold marvelous stars, incredible sunsets and awe inspiring rainbows.

It is of course easy to allow these ‘common’ sights we see to stop causing us to marvel. But even to gaze at the beauty in animals and each other – marred as it is – is a wonderful thing. The God of creation has not hidden Himself. And in fact He has done far more than that…

Psalm 19 goes on to talk about how God’s Word brings us wisdom, joy and light. How His Word is pure and righteous, the satisfaction the Psalmist says that it brings is ‘more precious than gold’ and ‘sweeter than honey’ straight from the honeycomb.

It is God’s creation that leaves all people without excuse but to know that there is a God (Romans 1:20), but it is God’s Word that tells us of the God who sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to save all people by His death on the cross for our sins.

God’s Word the Bible reveals who the Creator is. I hope that this year is for you and for me, a year of getting to know this God better and better. A year of coming to know more and more the joy, forgiveness and peace that only He can bring us.

God's Love

Only sinners can be saved, see God’s love, even for you!

A reflection on Romans 5:6-8

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)

It is a wonderful thing to feel our weakness, because we see our need. In fact it is often our failures and mistakes that lead us to see that we are far from perfect. This is a truly amazing passage. God’s Word here tells us that it was not because God looked down upon us and thought we were so wonderful or godly – in fact quite the opposite.

We read here ‘while we were still weak’, and ‘while we were still sinners’ and he goes on to say ‘while we were enemies’. We have not done ourselves any favours with God. God’s Word rightly calls us out – as weak, as sinners, as enemies. We have turned away from the Holy One who made us to know and enjoy Him.

But here is the outrageous thing – here is the absolutely incredible thing – ‘Christ died for the ungodly’. God shows his love for us in that ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’! I can’t get over this or even get my head around it! The God who I have continued to offend, the One who I have run from and wronged – not to mention the people I have wronged who are made in His image!

This God has shown love for me – profound, incredible, outrageous love. He has sent even His own Son – Jesus Christ – to die for my wrongdoing so that I could be at peace with Him. So that I, the guilty one, may go free! And more than that – that I can now call Him even my own Father in heaven through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Do you know this love of God? Are you enjoying it?

Only sinners can be saved, see God’s love, even for you!