Not Defining Enemies

With this being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, here are words that I believe are pertinent to remember in our world today:

Let us, as followers of Love Incarnate, Jesus Christ, not define who is and is not our enemy. Continue reading

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Beatitudes Series Continues

As I mentioned a few weeks back, we are currently working our way through the Beatitudes this summer at Cornerstone. We are now half-way through this series, as yesterday I looked at, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirsty for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.’

The four messages can be found here at our podcast:

  1. The Poor in Spirit
  2. The Mourners (from Samuel de Andrade)
  3. The Meek
  4. The Hungry and Thirsty for Righteousness

If you would rather get audio through iTunes, then you can listen to these messages or download them from there by clicking on this link. Finally, you can download both the Word document and PowerPoint files from Cornerstone’s sermons page.

The Meek and the Earth

A couple of weeks ago, I shared that we were working through the Beatitudes (found in Matt 5:1-12) this summer at Cornerstone. You can listen to or download the messages from our podcast site or from iTunes.

This Sunday, we moved into looking at vs5 – Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

I love teaching from this beatitude. It contains one of the most significant challenges for our lives (Blessed are the meek…) and one of the most significant promises for our lives (…for they shall inherit the earth).

Most people do not realise that God has promised the earth as a gift to His people, the meek. Actually, it has never registered for some that God has always promised land to His people.

In the beginning, before sin and death had entered our world, God gave the gift of Eden to Adam and Eve:

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:26-28)

Our first parents were given the land of the Garden, to work it and take care of it (Gen 2:15). God was the great owner, but they were called to be stewards of it, while also being fruitful, multiplying and filling the earth. A fantastic gift and opportunity to participate in this bit of land, this bit of heaven on earth.

But moving along.

After sin and death entered the world, we pick up the story of Abraham (though I could have made some stoppers along the way). It’s only a few chapters down the road, but quite a long distance with regards to time. Interestingly enough, God calls a man, a man to be a blessing to all peoples of the earth (Gen 12:3). And, lo and behold, He again promises a land to Abraham and his descendants (see Gen 15:18-21; 17:8).

Now, I am of the view that God set out certain pointers, foreshadowings, in the old covenant that signify greater things to come in Christ and the new covenant. So, for example, in the old covenant, God’s people were marked by circumcision of the foreskin. But it ultimately pointed to a greater circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (Rom 2:28-29). In the old covenant, there were only a few that were called to enter into the priesthood of the old covenant. But, in Christ, the whole body becomes part of the royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9-10). And so on and so forth we could continue.

I believe the same is true with regards to the gift of land. While the land of Canaan was promised to the descendants of Abraham, I believe that, in Christ, the promise to all God’s people, whom are actually Abraham’s descendants (Rom 4), expands to the whole earth. A renewed earth one day.

And so, this is brought out by the fact that Christ’s words in Matt 5:5 are a restating of Ps 37:11, but within the greater new covenant context. What were those original words of the psalmist?

But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace. (Ps 37:11)

And actually, we read at least 5 times in that psalm alone that God’s people will inherit the land.

What land? Well, in the old covenant context, it was the land of Canaan (or, today, we might say Palestine). But, within the new covenant that Christ initiates, we see God’s plan is to gift the whole earth to His people, which really harkens back to the original gift of Eden in Genesis. Not only that, but Paul refocuses the original promise to Abraham in these words:

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. (Rom 4:13)

And, so, I believe a kingdom worldview sees these 5 points as essential to God’s purpose in Christ and the new covenant:

1) The earth belongs to God (i.e. Ps 24:1)

As a side note, when Paul calls Satan the ‘god of this world’ (2 Cor 4:4), it does not mean that he is ruler of the earth. It means that he is only ruler over those ‘of the world’, or those who live in accordance with the ways of the world. The Scripture tells us the earth belongs to God.

2) The earth will be filled with God’s glory (i.e. Hab 2:14 and Is 11:9)

This is God’s design and the final outcome of where we are headed. If the earth is His, then He will ultimately disperse His glory into every corner. And, He is interested in utilising us in doing so even now. But I’ll come to that in just a moment.

3) All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Christ (i.e. Matt 28:18-20)

No, not every knee has bowed. Not every tongue has confessed. But the lordship of Jesus is a  reality. It is not scheduled for a later date. It is for now. It’s just that, at a later date, it will be confirmed for those who are not God’s. It is already confirmed to us. Therefore, we can ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’

4) God’s plan is for the meek to inherit the earth (i.e. Matt 5:5)

This is awesome news. Part of the good news, the gospel of the kingdom. That the earth, this earth which God will renew, is our ultimate home. God’s design is not a palatial city in the sky. His plan has always been to see what is in heaven, His rule and reign, come on earth. That is why Jesus asked us to pray such (Matt 6:10)

5) In this age, we proclaim the God news that God is reconciling people to the Himself and making all things new (i.e. 2 Cor 5:16-21; Rev 21:1-5)

Though there is an absolute beauty in seeing human beings reconciled with the Father, their sins forgiven and becoming partakers of the divine (2 Pet 1:3-4), it does not stop there. The good news is that God will redeem and renew creation. And just like our lives of discipleship and holiness point to the age to come, when heaven has fully invaded earth, so does our stewardship of planet earth point to the age to come when all things are completely made new. We taste of it now as new creations. But there is a day yet to come (Rom 8:18-25). And this is part of seeing the glory of the Lord extend into the earth even now (i.e. Hab 2:14). Amazing He asks us to participate in this.

Now, I set a background with all of this to move towards a significant point I want to make in this post.

If Jesus is Lord already, how do we proclaim that today? In the biblical, New Testament times, to say Jesus is Lord (or Jesus is kyrios), this would have been quite significant in a world where Caesar was Lord and Master. It was quite offensive and definitely challenging to Caesar’s authority to say such back then. But, today, that word is kind of taboo. Or it doesn’t mean too much. Lords were of the olden days or masters over slaves.

Yes, our songs sure enough proclaim Jesus is Lord, and we probably say it with our lips. But I’m not sure it means much practically. What does this mean to a world that does not have much grounding in the importance of the lordship of Jesus Christ?

To proclaim the lordship of Jesus could be done in various ways. But, this is where I believe God made the connection for me – To proclaim that Jesus is making all things new is a proclamation of the lordship of Jesus.

He said He is making all things new (Rev 21:5). He already has begun in the new creation life of His people (2 Cor 5:16-17). And I believe His desire is to see His people engaged in living out lives that point to the reality that Jesus is and will make all things new one day.

And, so, to proclaim that Jesus is making all things new, I believe this is part of the good news message that Jesus is kyrios, Jesus is Lord. Well, I suppose if He wasn’t Lord, He wouldn’t have much of a right to make all things new. And, if He wasn’t making all things new, well, I suppose we could question whether He is who He says He is.

But Jesus is Lord and a major pointer to that reality is that He is the One who is making all things new. That is where the connection really came to me about the practicality of Jesus’ lordship.

And, the call is that those who want to inherit the earth as God’s gracious gift, well this is extreme challenge – Blessed are the meek

The way of the kingdom is so counter to the ways of the world, the ways of our own flesh. One does not receive from God by arrogance, throwing one’s weight around, controlling or being authoritarian. One receives through becoming meek, becoming poor in spirit, dying to self, taking up their cross. You know, emulating the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus.

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

You can listen to the sermon by clicking on the icon below, or, as I mentioned above, you can download it from our podcast site or iTunes.

Summer Preaching Series – The Beatitudes

I am excited about our summer series at Cornerstone. We are specifically taking the months of July and August to go through each of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). So, one beatitude per week.

The whole of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chs. 5-7) is par excellence in Jesus’ teaching on what it means to live in accordance with the kingdom rule of God. It is, by far, one of the most challenging sections of Scripture. But a true disciple of the kingdom and the King will desire to see these things become a reality in their life. Of course, this isn’t about earning the love, grace and favour of God. But those who have stepped into His grace, love and favour will long to walk in these things. As one author stated about the Sermon on the Mount:

‘But as we approach the sermon it is not with a bludgeon hanging over our heads, but with a beckoning, a divine beckoning, an offer to us to partake in the most wonderful life imaginable, beyond our fondest dreams.

Since the sermon is a revelation of the character and conduct of the most beautiful character who ever lived, it means nothing less than that we are being invited – being offered the opportunity of being made into that likeness. So we come to it not with the tense whipping-up of the will, but with the eager surrender of the will.’ (E. Stanley Jones, The Unshakable Kingdom and the Unchanging Person, p150)

This past Sunday, while also giving introductions to Matthew’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes as a whole, we specifically took time to look at the first beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Or as a few other translations give it:

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! (The Amplified)

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (The Message)

I am looking forward to diving deeper into these most challenging words from Jesus Himself. Yes, to learn a little. But, more importantly, to be changed and stirred to live in accordance with these words.

If you would like to hear this past Sunday’s message, click on the icon below. Or you can download it from our podcast or iTunes.

Martin Luther King Jr Quote

I came across this quote by Martin Luther King Jr today and it was quite stirring:

To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

It reminds me of Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-11).

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.