Week 15: The Hard Sayings Of Jesus

At one point in His ministry, people were so turned off by Jesus’ teaching that they said, ‘This is a hard saying; Who can accept it?’ (John 6:60) and they deserted Him in droves.
Sometimes Jesus said things that were obscure; they were difficult to understand. Other times He said things that were challenging and difficult to obey. We’ll be covering some from both categories:

  • ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.’
  • ‘Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.’
  • ‘You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.’
  • ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you
    forgive your brother from your heart.’
  • ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’

Week 14: The Prayers of Jesus

Prayer is one of those things that almost everyone has tried, but almost no one fully understands. That’s why our next five readings will be so helpful; they give us a picture of the greatest ‘pray-er’ the world has ever known.

Happy Easter!

What religion or ideology has as its symbol a notorious means of execution? The very idea sounds ludicrous. Yet Christianity’s universally recognised symbol is exactly that. In this case, though, the Cross, along with the empty grave, is not symbolic of death and defeat but of life and victory!
The central idea of Christ’s death is that it accomplishes redemption, reconciliation and propitiation for the sinner who turns to Him in faith. It works!

Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

Week 13: More Miracles of Jesus

The five readings this week highlight Jesus’ power to heal the sick. We’ll read how Jesus enabled a blind man to see, caused a paralysed man to walk, restored a demon possessed man, cured a woman with an incurable bleeding problem and brought two dead people back to life.

The Bible tells us that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8).  So if Jesus had the ability and want to do these things then, He will also reveal His glory and help people put faith in Him today.

Why work matters to God.

Why is our work significant to God?
Let’s begin with at the beginning with God’s own work of creation.
So here’s a question? Why doesn’t God create Adam on Day One?
Because if God had created Adam on Day One, it would have been dark and there would have been nowhere for him to stand.
God is love, so everything God does is an expression of that love. God doesn’t plonk Adam down in the middle of a sweltering, arid desert, or on top of a windswept Himalayan mountain, or on an iceberg floating nonchalantly in the North Atlantic; God puts Adam in the garden of Eden, in a fertile garden of delight, as Eden means in Hebrew. Eden is not only beautiful, but comes complete with clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, delicious, nutritious food to eat, animals to look after, and God’s presence to enjoy in the cool of the evening.
What has God done? God, like a parent preparing a room for their first baby, has created a perfect environment for Adam. God has created a perfect environment for human flourishing. And one of the ways they will continue to flourish is by working, to release the garden’s potential. Eden was perfect but it was not mature. There was work to be done. And work is an instrument God uses to get things done that He wants done.
God is still concerned to create a context for human flourishing. Eden was perfect. And there was work to be done. Our world is far from perfect, and there is still work to be done. Our work is meant to contribute to creating a context for human flourishing.

Mark Greene
Fruitfulness on the Frontline

Does God really care about the little things we do every day?

All our tasks certainly do matter to God. On that the Bible is startlingly clear: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Whatever you do. Not some things you do, not 47% of the things you do, not the things you do in the Church, but ‘whatever you do’. And God would hardly ask us to do whatever we do with all our hearts, if it were not of some significance to Him, even if we ourselves may not think it significant at all.

Mark Greene
Fruitfulness on the Frontline

In my ballet class as in heaven…

When my daughter was younger, we used to read a Bible story and pray before she went to sleep. And quite often, as you might expect, we’d pray the Lord’s prayer. And then one evening, when she was about nine, I suddenly began to wonder what some of those oh-so-familiar, oh-so-rich words might mean to a little girl of nine: ‘Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
It is a prayer that is global in scope: That God’s Will would be done on earth as God’s Will is done in heaven. It’s a prayer that says Your Will be done in my church and in the local council, in the homegroup and in the swimming pool, in the Sunday school and in the school, in the soup kitchen and in the hospital, in the factory and the queue for the checkout… Nothing is left out.
And what could these words mean to my nine-year-old daughter?
Not very much, I concluded.
So from time to time, we’d pray it differently: ‘Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done in my school as in heaven, in my classroom as in heaven, in my ballet class…’
Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven and in the bit of the earth you’ve placed me in, in my street, in my town, on my frontline.
God teaches us to pray this prayer and to live in ways that contribute to its fulfilment – wherever we are.

Fruitfulness on the Frontline Mark Greene
Fruitfulness on the Frontline

The invitation.

Colossians 1:9, 10: We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:20: And through Christ, God has brought all things back to himself again—things on earth and things in heaven. God made peace through the blood of Christ’s death on the cross.

The invitation to follow Jesus, then, is not just an invitation to spend eternity in His presence, not just an invitation to others to spend eternity in His presence; it is an invitation to cooperate with Him in making His world as much like He intends it to be before He returns. That’s His invitation to you. Which frankly sounds like something worth giving one’s life to.

Fruitfulness on the Frontline Mark Greene
Fruitfulness on the Frontline

Week 12: The Miracles of Jesus

The five readings this week highlight Jesus’ power to overrule the forces of nature.  Changing water into wine, calming the sea, feeding more than five thousand people from a few loaves and fish, walking on water and causing a fig tree to wither.

The Bible tells us that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8).  So if Jesus had the ability and want to do these things then, He will also reveal His glory and help people put faith in Him today.