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Exhortation - Punchbowl - 1 April 2007


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#1 Kay

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:03 PM

Exhortation – Brother Ken Pooley

Reading – Matthew 5

"Gillian and I are glad to be with you and bring a message of love from Shaftesbury Road brethren and sisters. You might think I am talking about athletes and running a race this morning – but I am wearing this headband because I have trouble with my eyes and I need to wear this to be able to see you. I have listened to a lot of talks on CD’s because I can no longer read as well. A phrase I heard on a talk from a youth conference was “inconvenient love” – why did the brother speak about this and he didn’t explain himself well, I thought this was strange. The more I thought about this, the more important I thought this was.

How do you define “inconvenient love” – some people use this in the world to talk about “falling in love” – but in a more ordinary way in our lives, we experience inconvenient love in our own families. I am sure many have received a phone call when something has gone wrong at home – it seems to happen when something important is happening at work, but when someone gets sick, or your wife has electrocuted herself – you make arrangements, and the things that seemed to be important at work no longer become important, but you go to care for your family. Your parents roof might leak and you have to go out at night and help them – but you don’t say no to your parents, you go and help them. I remember a Sydney Conference – it was very busy – and we had one morning free but I spent it sitting at a medical centre because one of my sons fell off a bike. We love our kids to sit on the bed and have a chat, but this often happens when we are tired and we really want some sleep. When we are fresh and ready for the kids, they generally have something else to do and they don’t want to talk. All of these things we could call “inconvenient love” – they put us out but we don’t regret those things because they are part of life. You remember what you put your own parents through when you were young. I am not talking about inconvenient love regarding our family or friends – but inconvenient love in our lives as believers.

In Matt 5:46 – the Luke record says “if you love those that love you what credit is it to you, because even sinners love those that love them”. Sometimes we feel good about ourselves and what we have done for others – but we must measure ourselves against what is being said here in Matthew 5. We might feel good for helping one of our friends, but they will help us when we need help. Jesus is asking us to think about helping those that are no so close to us – showing love to those who cannot return our love to us ever, or will not return our love. Consider this passage in v46 where Jesus words are so important. Start at v43-48 Do not even the sinners do this? Is the question that Jesus asks. We must have something that separates us from those around us – if we are exactly the same what impact has our relationship with God had on us. It is a simple example that Jesus uses – but powerful example – “every day the sun comes up and brings forth fruit” – God gives gifts to the just and the unjust. God could just cause it to rain on the believers only if he wanted, but he makes the sun rise on the evil and good, and sends rain on the just and unjust. God chooses to do this. He includes sinners and righteous in His gifts. Why shouldn’t we be like our God? Every day God looks out over the earth and there are those enjoying what he has provided. Just a few of those people love him and receive his blessings and are thankful, but most people don’t even think about God. Some think about him once a year at Christmas time, there are those that don’t care about Him at all. There are those that totally hate God – and shout out “if there is a God strike me down and prove you exist” – and then say “see there is no God because I am still here”. But God brings his sun and rain on all those people. So perhaps one of the things I should do this week is record the acts of love that I perform – are any of them acts of inconvenient love. When we feel we have done something nice for someone else – ask the question “would the person that broke into our house and did the wrong thing by us – do an act of love it for his mother or his son?” Do we expect to have our love returned? What does it mean to love our enemy? Jesus gave us some hints “don’t resist an evil person” v39-41. These words are specific and challenging. They are really difficult for us to live out. This love is not about talk, not about saying nice things it is about ACTION. Perhaps the second thing I should do this week is to sit down and write down who is my enemy? Perhaps it is the shop assistant that is rude to us. Perhaps it is the driver that cuts us off in traffic. Perhaps it is the unreasonable boss at work that keeps asking for more and more. Perhaps it is the brother and sister that criticises what we do but doesn’t do a single thing to help. Perhaps it is the person that doesn’t agree with us. Perhaps it is the person that keeps on taking, taking, taking. How much longer will we let this go on before telling them off? These are challenging questions we need to ask ourselves. The world is full of people that love their families and will do anything for them. The world is full of people who have close friends and will do anything for their close friends. Jesus doesn’t challenge us to love our families, our close friends, or those that are polite to us. Jesus challenges us – how we react or relate to our enemies.
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#2 Kay

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:05 PM

I have heard people question these words that Jesus spoke “love your neighbour” – “you can’t command love – it is a feeling, emotion”. This is misunderstanding the word love. The English word love is a very broad word – the same word “love” is 3 different words in the Greek. Eros – the Greek god of love, that is physical attraction, sexual love. Phileo – the most common word in Greek for love – it means “friendship, fond affection, love of family members” The 3rd word is what we need to focus on “agape” – it is the most used word for love in the New Testament – it doesn’t occur in classical Greek – it refers to the “love of God” – it is pure, unselfish, self sacrificing love. We all understand and we are all focused on the need to develop and show love in our lives. But which of these 3 loves are we developing. Sometimes we focus more on phileo than agape. Agape is different to the other two – it is not driven by emotion, feeling, but by choice, the thinking of our mind. “The Greek word for love in the new Testament, agape, does not signify any sort of emotion but a deliberate choice, within everyone’s control, we can put God first and we can care for the interests of those we like and those we don’t like”. I think with this context in mind I would like to take two examples of real inconvenient love that will motivate us in our lives to think about our own love. The first example is the parable of the good Samaritan. I don’t want to think about the priest or the Levite, or the man lying on the side of the road injured. Think about the Samaritan – what motivated him, he was a rejected man in society, the Jews would have nothing to do with him, they wouldn’t travel through the land of the Samaritans, Jews wouldn’t speak to them – there was a strong feeling against the Samaritans at that time. The Samaritan had suffered rejection during his life – he had probably just left Jerusalem with doors slammed in his face and people who wouldn’t talk to him. He could have reacted to this 3 ways, he could have become bitter, and spoken out against the Jews whenever he could, he could try and stir up trouble. He could also have left it all wash over him, he could have lost the desire to live and turned into a “nothing” member of society, and be walked over and ignored. But this Samaritan didn’t do either of these two things; this Samaritan could determine that his life would not be controlled by the attitudes around him. He made a decision to help this man because he had compassion on him. “Compassion” means so much more than pity – it is used in two parables, about the master who forgave his servant his debt, it is used about the father in the prodigal son who showed compassion. Both of these are really talking about God – the Father. The only other time the word is used is in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The only time it is used other than Jesus and God is about a Samaritan man who showed compassion to his neighbour. The man that the Samaritan came upon by the road, was his enemy at that time, but he treated him as a neighbour, far more than those who passed by and should have helped someone in need. Did the Samaritan expect to see the man he had helped every again. No – he didn’t leave a forwarding address he didn’t expect to see this man again he just said “if there is more money to be paid, I will fix you up when I next come through”. The Samaritan didn’t expect anything for his love. He did it out of true agape love. How often we fall into the trap of letting other people’s behaviour towards us determine how we are going to behave. We must make the correct decision and do what is right.
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#3 Kay

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:06 PM

My second example is one from many out of the life of our Lord – turn to Matthew 14, speaking of the death of John the Baptist v10-12 – the record of John’s death doesn’t tell us much what Jesus was thinking. We can only imagine. Think how Jesus might have felt – he would be very very sad, I don’t think we appreciate how lonely Jesus would feel on many occasions – he had lots of people around him, but most of those people were really only interested in what he could give to them. John was one of the few that cared for Jesus and had some understanding of what God wanted Jesus to do. We don’t really know how close they were. What was the spiritual connection between Jesus and John? Perhaps Jesus lost his closest friend at this time. It seems that Jesus’ feeling at John’s death would be more difficult because Jesus had something to cope with that we don’t – when we lose someone there is nothing we can do about it, we can’t bring that person back again, but Jesus could have brought the dead to life, so on top of his grief he had the temptation to cope with of whether to intervene and change the natural course of things and leave it alone. What a lesson it would have taught to the people if John was raised from the dead – even Herod would be touched by that. But Jesus knew that it was not God’s will that John be raised from the death – from now on Jesus would be the central focus of attention in Israel. But it would not be easy for Jesus to hear the news of the death of John. Also Jesus would have two other troubling emotions – John had suffered cruel injustice from a weak king who refused to back down in front of his friends, he was prepared because of pride and to save face, to kill John the Baptist. Also in the death of John there was the terrible reminder of what Jesus knew was going to happen to him. As he faced up to the shocking death that John suffered, he would remember that he was soon to face a terrible death also. Jesus knew the purpose of God but he loved John and when someone you love is gone there is a great empty space inside. Sad in losing a friend, a cousin, John’s life had not been an easy one. Jesus’ love for him would have been great for what he would do for his Lord. V13 Jesus needed to get away on his own – he wanted time, but the people had other ideas and the multitudes followed him to the quiet place he had gone to. Here we see how Jesus deals with people – v14 he had “compassion” on them and healed the sick. He couldn’t heal his broken heart, and bring back his friend John who had died. Jesus could do nothing for John or for himself. We might have excused him if he didn’t have compassion on the multitude at this time, but he had the same love and compassion that he showed again and again to the people. Despite the difficulties that he faced, he showed compassion to the people. Can we learn this lesson, the lesson of service and love? Have you ever noticed that when things are very busy that something else comes along that is testing our approach to inconvenient love? Often it is something that we don’t have to do. But you wonder whether the way we react to those requests, the ones that happen when we are very very busy or sick, or when we have just had a death in the family. The ones that happen when times are tough and the challenges of life press on us. It is our reaction then that shows our true character in life. The compassion of Jesus can enter our lives – we can show inconvenient love that he often showed. It is in Jesus life that we see the enormous power of inconvenient love. While we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly – our Lord didn’t do a survey and check who was going to worship him and die just for them. He died for all men – the power of this love can change and develop and build ourselves and those that we meet around us. AT the end of the day, the greatest motivation for us is a strong and real understanding for what Jesus has done for us. It is only that sort of appreciation that will develop in us the love that we need to show in our own lives.
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#4 Kay

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Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:07 PM

Think about this incredible love – at one end of the scale we have the love of family, even the publicans love their family – love those that love you – moves further along the scale, but the sinners do this also. Further along the scale “love your neighbour and hate your enemy” – but then the words of matt 5 – “love your neighbour as yourself”. When Jesus said “love your enemies, we move further along again” – but we still have a lot more of the scale – Jesus took it further, the message of Jesus is “don’t just love your neighbour as yourself”. The Apostle John understood the motivate of the Lord and extended these commands to love, “a new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you”. The highest level of love that can possibly be found. The love Jesus is talking about in those words through John is not an emotion, a feeling inside – but a positive action, a demonstration of the greatest characteristic of God. God doesn’t show love, he doesn’t just display love – GOD is LOVE. As we come to think about that most incredible act of love – we think about inconvenient love and this week think about our acts of love as we talk to people, as we visit, at home at work and play. Who will we love in an agape way, an inconvenient way. Who will we love that cannot or will not return our love? Think about our Lord “while we were yet sinners, his enemies, he showed his great love in dying for us”."
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33




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