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Showing posts from May, 2019

gentiles following the Jewish messiah- Acts 11

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Acts 11:1-18
The Church ran into a problem at the very beginning. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus tells his disciples,  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”So, the disciples have been commanded to go into the non-Jewish world to help them become followers of the Jewish Messiah.

In the first century, Judaism wasn’t very interested in helping others convert to Judaism. However, there was a small number who were active in encouraging Gentiles to convert, and as a result there were some Gentiles who had become very attracted to Judaism.  Gentiles who had started worshiping the Jewish God, but who hadn’t fully converted to Judaism were called God-fearers or God-worshipers. Many gentiles were content to not fully convert. They remained Gentiles, but they worshiped God. This meant they followed fewer laws (7 rather than the 613 d…

The Imitation of Christ - Acts 9

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Acts 9:36-43
The Book of Acts is sometimes called the “Acts of the Apostles”,  but that can be a little misleading. Others have offered to call it the  “Acts of the Holy Spirit”,  this can be equally misleading. The preacher John Stott suggests the lengthy title  “The Continuing Words and Deeds of Jesus by his Spirit through his Apostles”.  It is a bit wordy, but it is accurate.

The church is called the “Body of Christ”, but this is not merely nice words to describe people who love Jesus, but because that same Spirit that lived in Jesus, lives in his church. The church is continuously speaking the words of Jesus and performing the deeds of Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit. So, his Body is still active in the world. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila,  “Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are th…

Do you love me? John 21

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John 21:1-19

The lowest moment in Peter's life must have been when he was standing around a charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard and when someone asked if he was one of the disciples of Jesus, he denied it three times. Matthew records Peter’s denial in strong language calling down curses and making an oath saying, “I don’t know the man!” (Matt 26:69-74). And after he hears the rooster crow he remembers Jesus’ prophesy about his denial and Matthew tells us he “went outside and wept bitterly” (Matt 26:75).

I’m sure that moment coloured his life, even until after the resurrection. Yes, Jesus is back, but does he really want anything to do with a traitor? Does Jesus really want disciples who fall asleep while he is praying and sweating blood in preparation for his arrest and torture? Does he really want disciples who abandon him when the authorities show up and arrest him? One of their own number even sold him out for 30 pieces of silver! … No doubt they felt jo…

Jn 20:19-31

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Jn 20:19-31
We often call Thomas “Doubting Thomas”, but he doesn’t really deserve that reputation. Thomas doesn’t really doubt any more than any of the other disciples. …When Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and finds the body of Jesus missing, she doesn’t think ‘resurrection’. She thinks ‘grave robber’. She only believes when Jesus appears to her.

Mary tells the other disciples that she has seen Jesus, but they are pretty skeptical about her story. They were still full of fear and hiding behind locked doors. They knew the body of Jesus was missing, but maybe it was a trap. Maybe Mary had been seeing things in her grief. It doesn’t seem like they believe until Jesus actually appears to them, mysteriously appearing in their locked room.

But one disciple wasn’t at that gathering- Thomas wasn’t there. I’m sure he heard Mary’s story. Then I’m sure he heard the disciples’ story. … But, grief can do strange things to people. He probably thinks everyone around him is going crazy…