Year 2 Day 70
Read - Mark 3:7-12
Message - Alan Burke
Beatlemania swept across the UK and US in the 1960s, it was so bad that the Beatles had to travel to concerts in an armoured car as their fans flocked to them, often chaotic, intense, emotional scenes. That’s what we have here, a chaotic, intense, emotional scene as the crowds come in their droves to Jesus. They were coming not because of the message that he was proclaiming but because of what he was doing, his compassion, how we he healing many. This isn’t the children’s story bible or the Sunday school images that many of us have in our minds, this was chaos.
We can only speculate to how many were coming out to Jesus, what we should notice though is that his fame was far greater than John’s and had a far greater reach. We are told that there were those who came from Galilee(7), then there are those from Idumea, which was 120 miles south, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. These places may not be that familiar to us, but they cover a geographical area that matches that of the Israel of old, where the twelve tribes of the people of God settled (Isa. 43:5–6).
In the shadow of the rejection of the Religious leaders as they plotted to kill Jesus (6), we have the contrasting scene of the people of God in their multitudes coming to Jesus from all the twelve tribes, travelling hundreds of miles and more. The crowd is such that Jesus tells his disciples to have a small boat ready for him (9). Because this isn’t a crowd, this is a crush that is the meaning of the word that is translated as crowd here. All of these people were trying to get close to Jesus, he was being harassed, hassled and harangued, they pushed forward, reached out, mobbed him.
Many of those who were there would have heard the teaching of Jesus, they would have heard the things that he had said but the reason they came was not to sit under his teaching, to learn about the kingdom of God (1:15), rather they are there because of his fame and what they can get out of him. The crowd although they were coming had rejected Jesus for who he was and why he came, they were more interested in what he was doing. So much so that this huge clamouring crowds were an imposition to what he came to do and were forcing Jesus to move on, to leave them behind. The crowd had rejected Jesus in favour of who they wanted him to be.
We can be just like them whether we admit it or not. You may think that’s not me, I’m nothing like that crowd, but what about prayer? Prayer is not to tell God what we need, he already knows that, it’s not so that we can go with our shopping list that’s more akin to something many of us sent of as kids in December. Rather prayer is where we commune with the living God, confession to Him of our sense of need, In prayer we acknowledge our dependence on the Lord and give Him His due glory, it builds our relationship with our heavenly Father and instead we come with only a wish list. Lord do this, fix this, we want God to do what we what for us. How much emphasis do we place on adoration, confession and thanksgiving compared to supplication as we bring our prayers? There is a sense that we are just like the crowd when it comes to worship, it’s what we get out of it, we have made worship about us, and we spend more times complaining about the hymns, how long the service was, rather than focusing on why we come and what we are doing, the amazing privilege it is to come to our heavenly Father as his children. We are to look to the good news of God, Jesus Christ how he comes bringing the kingdom of God.
Q76 Which is the ninth commandment?
The ninth commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exod. 20:16)
Year 2 Day 68
Read - Acts 19v28-41
Message - Scott Woodburn
Our God is a God of order and not of chaos. In the beginning the earth was without form and void (Genesis 1v2) until the Lord spoke and brought order to the universe. Later Paul reminds us that when we worship everything should be done decently and in order for our God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14v40,33). The same cannot be said for the false god Artemis.
Demetrius realised that Christianity was a clear and present danger to the Ephesian way of life. He was a silversmith who made idols for the worship of Artemis and suddenly Christians said that gods made by human hands weren't actually gods at all. His speech stirred up the crowd who started crying out “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (v28) The city was filled with confusion and soon two Christians named Gaius and Aristarchus were dragged into the theatre (v29). Both men would survive their ordeal and thankfully Paul was kept from going in among the crowd (v31).
Eventually a man named Alexander calmed the crowd. He realised that they could all soon be charged with rioting and they didn't actually have any cause for their commotion (v40). Neither Gaius or Aristarchus had done or said anything against Artemis (v37) and so it was time for everyone to go home (v41).
I find this whole account tragic. Demetrius had whipped the crowd up into a frenzy and they spent two hours crying out “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (v34). Some of the crowd cried out one thing, some another thing and others had no idea why they had even come together (v32). Chaos reigned in Ephesus and all for the false goddess Artemis.
All of this is an example of spiritual blindness. Paul would write to the church of Corinth and say "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2v14) The crowd chanted for two hours straight "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" and yet they did not see their need for Jesus Christ. They did not accept the things of God, the Gospel seemed like folly to them, ultimately they needed to be spiritually awakened by the Gospel and the Spirit.
Today Ephesus is in ruins but still thousands of tourists flock each year to take photos of the places Paul once stood. I wonder how many people who pose in the ruins of the theatre know about the day that thousands chanted the name of Artemis? Not too many chant that name any longer but the silver idols of Artemis have been replaced by a multitude of modern idols which still mask the truth that this world needs Christ.
A Christian by the name of Augustine once said "our heart is restless until it rests in God." He was right and lost souls in our land could do with hearing it. Idols only bring disorder, chaos and ultimately death, they cannot speak or hear or save. Jonah once declared that "those who put there trust in idols forsake their hope of steadfast love" (Jonah 2v8) He was right too.
Brothers and sisters may we reach out with compassion to those who remain blind to their need of Christ. May we be zealous in prayer asking the Lord to open their eyes. May we speak the Gospel to them when opportunity arises and may we live to see days where the Lord brings order from chaos and many hearts find their rest in Jesus.
Q75 What is forbidden in the eighth commandment? The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth, or may, unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbor’s, wealth, or outward estate.
Year 2 Day 67
Read - Mark 3:1-6
Message - Alan Burke
As a child the most hated day of my week was a… can you guess? It wasn’t a Monday when I had to start the school week, it was a Sunday. It just dragged, you couldn’t do anything on a Sunday, it was boring, drawn out, going to worship wasn’t that bad but it was everything else, you couldn’t hum, whistle, it was the only day of the week men had to do the dishes, you couldn’t cut your nails but for some reason men could still shave, you couldn’t watch TV unless it was Songs of Praise, Countryfile or the news, and you couldn’t wear jeans, there were lots of things that you couldn’t do and many of those things could get you a cauliflower ear if you did them. Well the Pharisees had thirty nine categories for work that you couldn’t do on the sabbath, it made the list of what I could and couldn’t do on a Sunday seem quite mundane by their standards. Here once more the problem is their religion not the law.
Jesus entered the synagogue, and the peoples eyers were upon him, they wanted to see what he was going to do. It’s like a set up, entrapment, they had already heard and seen him healing people, what would he do now? Knowing this Jesus does something that’s like picking a fight, that was confrontational. He gets the man to stand up in front of everyone and asks… “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”. Obviously it is to do good, to save a life, yet there was silence, you could have heard a pin drop, nothing, they knew what was right, but if they had answered it would have meant that they would have to acknowledge his authority to heal on the sabbath.
Jesus looks at them in anger and distress in their stubborn hearts, don’t miss that Jesus was angry, and the told the man to stretch out his hand. Jesus had in effect restored this mans life, given his life back to him. Jesus had done good, he had saved a life on the sabbath, look though to the response of the Pharisees, the went out verse 6 with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. The sabbath was given for the well being of man yet these men went of to conspire to kill, what irony is this. The withered hand of the man is nothing compared to the withered souls of these religious examiners. It did not dawn on them, that if Jesus words are not in accord with God’s will, the man would not have been healed, since it is God who forgives sins and brings healing. These Pharisees were in the presence of the one that they had been waiting for, their Lord, the bridegroom, the Lord of the sabbath had come and they are so blinded by their religion they couldn’t see it.
Today religion does the same thing, people can become so blinded by their religiosity that they can’t see Jesus. Life that is filled with religion, but is not filled with the Saviour Jesus Christ. We can all be blinded by religion, and we all need to repent and believe, look to Jesus the Bridegroom of his Church comes to bring you joy, look to Jesus the Lord of the sabbath who comes to bring you grace and mercy, that is what you need, not religion.
I want to leave you with how the Sabbath was ‘made for man and not man for the Sabbath’ (27). The Sabbath is a gracious gift from God, it is not and should not be burdensome obligation, it was given for our benefit, not to do what we like with, to treat it like any other day, rather it is because we need a Sabbath, we need rest. Our society seeks to normalise the Sabbath, make it like any other day but physically, mentally, spiritually we need it, God gives us one day in seven, before the fall God gave us this day, His day for our benefit and as a response we should worship and thank him for his gracious gift of rest. Our sabbath is a Sunday, is to be sanctified, set apart as a day of rest, let us uses it for what it was meant for, to reconnect with the holy and recharge our spiritual batteries instead of being conformed to the world around us.
Q74 What is required in the eighth commandment?
The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others. (Gen. 30:30, 1 Tim. 5:8, Lev. 25:35, Deut. 22:1–5, Exod. 23:4–5, Gen. 47:14,20)
Year 2 Day 66
Read - Acts 19v21-27
Message - Scott Woodburn
Why does the Gospel make people angry? Why does the Gospel divide families? Why does the Gospel divide churches? The Gospel isn't a nice little fairy story. It declares that Jesus Christ laid down His life for sinners and was raised for their justification. The Gospel demands a response and it calls sinners away from their idols and sin to repentance and faith in Jesus. To those perishing the Gospel is offensive for it strikes at the heart of their delusion and declares that Jesus is Lord.
The offence of the Gospel was on full display in Ephesus. There was a growing disturbance about the Christian faith, here called "the Way" (v23) The problem? More and more people were being converted and they all believed that that gods made with hands were not gods at all (v26). This was increasingly hitting people in the pocket. There was a man called Demetrius who made silver shrines of Artemis (v24). He was no fool and could see the writing on the wall.
If Christianity continued to grow Demetrius' trade was at risk and the false goddess Artemis might be forgotten about (v27). For an Ephesian this would have been utterly unthinkable. Artemis was seen as the daughter of the greek god Zeus. She was revered as the god of the hunt and her temple in Ephesus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
You see the problem? The Gospel threatened culture, history, trade and tradition. Demetrius could not let this pass and so he spoke against the Christian faith in an attempt to stop this new religion called "the way". Nothing has changed. The Gospel is still offensive and it still threatens the ungodly kingdoms and empires and traditions of this world. As humans we invest so much time and attention in things which are passing away. We get so excited by our sports teams. Our culture and heritage captures our attention. National identify drives us to the streets. All manner of issues send us to the ballot box.
Yet the Gospel trumps everything because the Gospel is more important than everything.
I once was told about a man who somehow had become an elder in a church. On a visit to a home in his district he asked the shocking question "You aren't one of those born again Christians are you?" I hope that man came to realise the foolishness of his question and I hope that he came to trust Christ. If you have never been born again then you are not a Christian. The Gospel transforms. It changes our identity. Our status with God. Our attitudes. Everything.
Why does the Gospel make people angry? Because it tells humanity that they are not the captain of their own ship and instead they need to trust Jesus. Today the temple of Artemis is no more. You can still visit Ephesus but the glory of Artemis has gone. Such a thing will never happen to Christ. He is no idol and he is no fraud. His Gospel stands forever and He still calls upon all to repent and to receive Him by faith.
My friends do not grow angry at such a message. Instead put away your idols and look unto Jesus. Gods made with hands are not gods at all. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and in this crumbling and fading world He remains the Saviour and friend of sinners.
Q73 Which is the eighth commandment? The eighth commandment is, Thou shalt not steal.
Year 2 Day 65
Read - Mark 2: 2:23-28
Message - Alan Burke
Apparently the summer is coming, I’m writing this and is a dour old day out there and I’m struggling to believe it’s even spring. Imagine though if you will, you’re out for a dander on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the end of August. On a day like today that sounds like bliss. Well Jesus and his disciples were out for a dander and they were once more being watched, and they picked some ears of corn to alleviate their hunger. It’s like us on that sunny Sunday afternoon we were imagining seeing a blackberry in the hedgerow and picking it, you wouldn’t give it a second thought. As a result Jesus is accused of lawbreaking. The thing is that the law of Moses said as long as you didn’t use a sickle you could take what you needed from the field (Deut 23:25). This was given so the poor would be protected and have food to eat, this was given for the good of God’s people.
The problem was that the Pharisees had classified that as harvesting, a violation of the sabbath. To them these disciples of Jesus were not only taking liberty with the sabbath but they were breaking it, they were sinning publicly, in such a way that it it cast Jesus in a poor light, he was a lawbreaker. The Pharisees had taken something good, that God had given for good and they had by their method of interpretation misused it. That’s what we see here, their sinful hearts.
We might think to ourselves ‘thank goodness we’re not like that’ but in reality we are. We all can takes something that was intended for good and we change it so that they take on a meaning or a purpose that was never its intention. The pharisees religiosity was the problem, it wasn’t God’s word it was their religion. Here Jesus reminds them about David, the incident Jesus speaks of occurred in the days of Abiathar the high priest, that is his lifetime. This took place when his father was Ahimelech was high priest. David and his companions, running for their lives from Saul, who were hungry, entered the temple and ate concreted bread (1 Sam 21). Although the action of David was contrary to the law, he was not condemned. Jesus does not claim that the Sabbath law has not technically been broken by David and his companions but that such violations under certain conditions are warranted. Human need is a higher law than religious ritualism.
The Pharisees in their desire to obey the law of God had made the law a burden, their intention may have been admirable but it had become such a nonsense, it had become nothing more than religion. That’s the point Jesus makes as he responds in verse 27, The Sabbath was mean for man, not man for the sabbath (27). God gave us the sabbath to be a gracious gift, It was never the Lord’s intention to keep people hungry or thirsty on the Sabbath, he gave his law for our best. Imagine having a seven day working week, 365 working days, we’d be shattered, we need the sabbath to be released from the toil, but the problem is that we like can so often do what the Pharisees do and take something intended for our good that it takes on a meaning or a purposes that it was never intended. But more often than not today we have thrown the shackles of God off as a people that we use the sabbath for our own selfishness forgetting the real purpose of it.
In verse 28, Jesus leaves them in no doubt about who he is, he had taught them from scripture, addressed their misunderstanding, as he calls himself the Son of Man and Lord of the sabbath (28). Jesus here uses imagery from Daniel (7:13-13) to make the point and they would have understood that he was God himself, he created the sabbath and by His laws determines what men and women would do and not do on that day he had given them, Jesus is identifying himself to be the Lord and make of all things. This was blasphemy to the Pharisees and it comes to a head in our next section of Mark 3:1-6 Jesus.
Q72 What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
The seventh commandment forbiddeth all unchaste thoughts, words, and actions. (Matt. 15:19, Matt. 5:28, Eph. 5:3–4)
Year 2 Day 64
Read - Acts 19v11-20
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Lord's Apostles were able to confirm their message with signs and wonders. The Scriptures call these amazing acts the signs of a true apostle (2 Corinthians 12v12). Obviously there were many false apostles but Paul was certainly not one of those. Even handkerchiefs and aprons that touched him were taken away to the sick and they were healed (v12).
Such miraculous works didn't go unnoticed. There was a Jewish high priest named Sceva who had seven sons (v14). They fancied themselves as exorcists (someone who could drive out demons) and so seeing Paul's miraculous acts they decided to use the name of Jesus in their efforts to drive out an evil spirit (v13).
The response of the evil spirit was startling. "Jesus I know, Paul I recognise, but who are you?" (v15) We see here that demons are no fools. Who are the demons? When Satan (an angel) rebelled against God, he was cast out of heaven and carried a third of angels with him (Revelation 12v4). Satan and his demons are fallen angels who rage against the church because they know their time is short. They are sinful, they are wicked, but again, they are no fools.
This evil spirit knows exactly who Jesus is. He doesn't love the Lord or serve Him but he knows who and what Jesus is. He has even heard of Paul. Paul a true apostle was able to drive out the demons and so this particular evil spirit knew all about the apostles too. It's important to note here that Satan and his allies don't know everything. Only God is all-knowing, but Satan and his allies know some things.
So the evil spirit knows who Jesus is, he knows who Paul is but he has absolutely no idea who the sons of Sceva are (v15). The man possessed by the evil spirit jumped upon the sons of Sceva and mastered them (v16). They ran away beaten and bruised and naked and humiliated (v16b). The news of this spread around Ephesus and resulted in Christians repenting of their own dark works (v18). Some of them even brought their expensive magic books and burned them in the sight of all (v19).
Brothers and sisters, Jesus is not to be played with. His name is not a magic word that we can throw around for our own fame and fortune. The sons of Sceva saw the name of Christ as a means to an end. If His name helped them master the demons then good, but they didn't know Christ as their Lord. Neither should we seek to add anything to the Christian faith. Christianity doesn't require superstition about moons or star signs or crystal balls. We reject any notion that adds to or subtracts from Christ. We do not seek to create a "better" Christianity by adding bits and pieces of other religions.
Fellow Christians, if we find ourselves crossing our fingers, touching wood, praying to the angels, carrying a lucky charm or taking a masonic oath that threatens us with a cut throat or torn out tongue, then it is time to repent. Jesus Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith. Christ alone is our Saviour. Jesus alone is Lord. Demons fall before Him and Satan is bound by the Messiah. Christ is all we have and Christ is all we need.
Q71 What is required in the seventh commandment? The seventh commandment requireth the preservation of our own and our neighbor’s chastity, in heart, speech, and behaviour.
Year 2 Day 63
Read - Mark 2:18- 22
Message - Alan Burke
Weddings are times of celebration, for the man and women as they join together covenanting themselves in marriage and for all those who join with them. If we receive an invitation in the coming weeks with restrictions lifting, were going to go and join the celebration, none of us are going to go and sit and mope in the corner. Here Jesus uses this idea of marriage and the bridegroom when he was challenged about the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting but his disciples weren’t (18).
These two groups, lumped together here to challenge Jesus were fasting but for very different reasons. John’s disciples were fasting, it was an outward sign of their repentance as well as their mourning for John was languishing in prison (1:14), whereas the Pharisees were different, they were fasting to be seen. They may not have portrayed it that way but Jesus makes the point that that’s why they were fasting in Luke’s gospel (Lk 18:9-14).
Here the issue was that people saw this devotion of the disciples of John who fasted out of repentance, and they saw the disciples of the Pharisees even though it was just to be seen as much as anything else, and they saw Jesus disciples possibly even the same day having a feed with sinners and tax collectors. They thought to themselves something didn’t add up here, after all to them godly religious people fasted and they look to Jesus and his followers and they weren’t fasting. Alarm bells ringing, they were thinking… “oh my, look at what this Jesus’ is doing, and those disciples of his, how can they claim to be religious”
To their challenge, Jesus responds with three parables (19-22), the first of which uses imagery of a wedding party (V19-20). In the first Jesus reveals more of who he was and is, for he is the bridegroom and his coming was a time of celebration. Isaiah helps us to make sense of this for the Lord God almighty was called the husband of his people, and in Ephesians it is explained the bride of Christ is his church (Is 54:4, Eph 5:25-27).
Here Jesus is saying that their God was with them, that he was the one that they had been waiting for, he was the Lord himself, the bridegroom had come, his disciples don’t fast because this is a time of celebration.
In his presence there should be joy, it would be inappropriate to fast, but he does speak of a time that fasting will be right. Fasting will be right and proper when the bridegroom will be take away from them speaking of the cross. But even that was not to be permanent and the resurrection would come and their grief would be transformed once more to joy and celebration. To emphasises the point that it would be foolish for his disciples not to be filled with joy and celebration he gives two further parables (21-22). That of a new pice of cloth on an old garment or new wine in old wine skins.
It may not be familiar to us but everyone there would have known that you just don’t do these things. The cloth patch sewn on an old garment would shrink and tear both the garment and the patch (Job 13:28), and old wineskins are hard putting new wine in them as it fermented would have burst them. What Jesus is saying to them is if they were going to receive him, their Messiah, the bridegroom of his people they would have to knock their expectations and their religion on the head. Their long awaited Messiah, the bridegroom of his church wasn’t going to fit into their religiosity, what they had made it about the things that they did, their traditions, they had the scriptures plus, to them they were sacred but they were things holding them back from faith.
Today fasting does have a place in the life of the Christian (see Acts 9:9, 13:3, 14:23). It reminds believers of their dependence on God and should come from a desire to glorify God. That’s not what I want to leave you with, what I want to leave you with is Jesus, the bridegroom, who gave himself up for his church, that is us his people, so he might sanctify his church, cleansing his church, so that we might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:25-27).
Q70 Which is the seventh commandment?
The seventh commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exod. 20:14)
Year 2 Day 61
Read - Acts 19v1-10
Message - Scott Woodburn
We can sometimes look misty eyed at the church in Acts and wish the things then were the things today. I understand such a wish but would stress again that not everything in Acts was rosy. Paul arrives in Ephesus and meets some followers of John the Baptist who have trusted in Christ (v1). He asks them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed and amazingly they reply that they haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit (v2).
They have received the baptism of John (v3) and will have no doubt heard John's teaching. So these men have heard about the Holy Spirit (Luke 3v15-16) they just have not heard that the Spirit has arrived. Paul explains that John's baptism was one of repentance and preparation (v4). Essentially John was saying "Receive this baptism of repentance! Get ready! Another is coming called Jesus! Get ready to receive Him!".
Christ has come, His work is complete, the Spirit has arrived. These men hear the good news and receive baptism in the name of Christ (v5). Paul lays hands on these 12 men and they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and immediately speak in other languages and prophesy (v6). These followers of Christ were not fully formed in their faith but with the Apostles' teaching they understand the fullness of the Gospel of Christ.
Brothers and sisters we may not see the extraordinary events of Acts in today's church but we can be incredibly thankful that we live in days were each of us has access to the full and complete revelation of God. The Lord has seen fit to give us a book and from Genesis to Revelation we have a record of what God has said. There is no excuse any longer for poorly informed believers. We have the testimony of God in our own languages, in our own homes, in our own pews, in our pulpits, on our phones.
Why then are many of us still in the paddling pool of faith? Perhaps stubbornness (v9)? Perhaps unbelief (v9)? Whatever the reason it is possible to wade deeper. We live in communities where the Word is read and preached regularly. There are multiple opportunities to study the Word with fellow Christians. Even now a Bible is near your hand. Wouldn't it be wonderful to hear directly from God? It is possible. Open your Bible, read it aloud and remember "THIS IS THE WORD OF GOD!"
Let us pray together...Father God, forgive us for the little attention we pay to your Word. We ask that you would grow us up in the faith and that you would sanctify us by your word. Your word is true! Your word is sure! Your word is good! May we love it more each day as we find Christ on every page of the word. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Q69 What is forbidden in the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
Year 2 Day 60
Read - Mark 2:13-17
Message - Alan Burke
‘Why does he associate with people like this?’ ‘Why?’ That’s what the scribes thought of Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. To them it was scandalous, shocking, outrageous, undeserved, Jesus had compromised himself by doing this. Look what Jesus says to their questioning of what he was doing… “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (17). Jesus came not to call the righteous, those who think they are healthy but those who know that they are sinners and in need of help. Given that mission, it is as senseless for Jesus to shun tax collectors and sinners as for a doctor to shun the sick.
Levi was a sinner, he was called by Jesus into fellowship with himself. Likewise today Jesus calls all who will hear to “Repent and believe the good news”. If you have not yet repented then here the call of Jesus to repent of your sins and believe, follow him. For those of us who have, know that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” Jesus says (Jn 15:16). The grace that we are shown is scandalous, shocking, outrageous, undeserved it should cause us to be filled with praise and just what grace is. None of us deserve it but it is freely give. Scandalous grace.
Then we have the scribes, who believed they were righteous, they thought they had no need to repent, they thought they were healthy. The irony is that they were not righteous and they had as much need to repent as Levi for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, there is not one righteous. They did all the religious stuff, they were moral, they were in their minds in no need of a saviour, but they were.
Sadly I meet people all too often, from both inside and outside the church who do all the religious stuff who can’t see their need of a saviour. Yet there is only one way to avoid the wrath of God against our sin and that is through the Jesus who calls us to follow him. We need this scandalous grace as much as the worst of sinners. Levi responded to this scandalous call of Jesus and from Luke’s gospel we learn of another name for Levi, it was Matthew. The name Matthew means ‘gift of God', this low life scumbag Levi was called by Jesus and was used to take this offer of this scandalous grace to all those around him and likewise we are to do the same.
Q68 What is required in the sixth commandment?
The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavors to preserve our own life, (Eph. 5:28–29) and the life of others. (1 Kings 18:4)
Year 2 Day 59
Read - Acts 18v24-28
Message - Scott Woodburn
I preached two of my first ever sermons in Mountpottinger Baptist Church in Belfast. I cannot remember what I preached but I do recall the morning sermon lasted for about 9 minutes and the evening address was a bit longer at 12 minutes. As I look back I realise that I was out of my depth. I hadn't preached too much and I'd certainly never preached twice on a Sunday before. It was too much, too soon and the pastor took me aside afterwards and urged me to study hermeneutics. Needless to say I went home and had to look up what hermeneutics actually was!
I may have been somewhat embarrassed at the time, but I look back and I'm thankful that the pastor didn't try and fill my head with sweetie mice. He told me the truth and hopefully I was better for receiving his advice. As Acts 18 comes to a close we meet an eloquent preacher by the name of Apollos (v24). He is from a Jewish background and he has arrived in Ephesus full of the Gospel and fervent in the Spirit (v25).
He spoke and taught accurately about Christ - this was no false preacher, but his understanding and knowledge were not yet complete. He knew only about the baptism of John (v25b) and so when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the faith in a bit more depth. We're not told here about the gaps in Apollos' knowledge, perhaps he has yet to hear about the Holy Spirit like those Paul meets in Ephesus (Acts 19). Still he is preaching Christ truthfully and faithfully but he doesn't yet grasp the full glory of the Christian faith.
Priscilla and Aquila don't humiliate him nor do they subject him to public scorn. They gently take him aside and share the faith more fully. Indeed when he expresses his wish to travel to Achaia he goes with a letter of recommendation (v27).
Here we see the beauty of the local church working well. A passionate preacher is given an opportunity to sharpen his gifting. Older believers draw alongside him and help and encourage him in his work. The fellowship send him on his way with confidence and other fellowships in far off lands are strengthened by a newly encouraged and informed Apollos (v27b).
The temptation for us all is to take our pew and act like an audience. The preacher and anyone else involved in the worship service are there to entertain. When all goes well we go home with a smile on our face but sometimes the opposite is true. We take umbrage at what has been said or sung and so before getting into our cars we express our displeasure and sow seeds of discouragement.
It is much more difficult to encourage but it is always much more worthwhile. Let me offer a gentle challenge. When was the last time you deliberately went out of your way to encourage? That guy on the sound desk. The lady on the door. The young singer. The Sunday school teacher. When did you last draw near and say "thank you"? Imagine if we tried to encourage one person every single Sunday?
Apollos could easily have been torn down. He certainly wasn't the finished article and it would have been more than possible to slam the door in his face. Older mature Christians instead brought teaching and encouragement to his eager soul and as a result the wider church was blessed. There's nothing revolutionary here but perhaps we don't practice it too much. May that statistic change as we teach and build the church with bountiful grace and encouragement.
Q67 Which is the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill.