Lent Week Three – The Widow’s Worship – Andrew Foster

Welcome to the third week of Lent. Please take some time to listen to Andrew’s message.

Lent Devotional Week Three: 

As we hear in Andrew’s message,  Jesus is in the temple in Jerusalem only a day or so after turning over the tables and casting out the money changers, again highlighting the social inequality and the religious imbalance that he saw.  Jesus points out the rich and the religious and shows their heart for what it is, a heart that while outwardly showing service to God, was inwardly worshipping power and self.

When Jesus points out the widow He does so because he is making a statement about the heart of true worship He sees in her. Jesus remarks: “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” – Mark 12-43,44

Giving all that she had, she was living out the foundations of the greatest commandment that Jesus spoke of only a few verses earlier, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12v30,31.

This is what worship is really all about and this what we see in the life of Jesus, who, as Paul remarks in Phillipians 2:

Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2v6-8

What we see as we look towards the cross is Jesus’ greatest moment of worship and the ultimate fulfilment of the greatest commandments. 

When we remember the cross and remember the widow, we see that the heart of worship will always choose to intentionally and deliberately love God and love others no matter what it looks like. Worship always scorns the power, pride and control that sin craves and shows up the fallacy of the powerful and the religious because worship:

  • helps us to live beyond our embarrassment and shame
  • doesn’t allow the labels of others to determine who we are and who we see others to be, in Christ we see a new identity
  • scorns suffering and pain because we love without condition and beyond circumstance
  • shows the world the beauty of God’s love and His kingdom as we live to love him and others more than ourselves.

If when we remember the widow and cross, we see that worship is not about us or what we are seen to be doing, but who we really love, let’s ask ourselves:

Who do I really love?

How important is wealth and power to you?

Do I by my actions or choices exploit others?

Do I allow circumstance to dictate how and if I am loving?

Have I allowed circumstances to make my life more about me than anything else?

 

 

 

 

 

Lent Week Two – What’s in your hand? – Wawira Njiru

Welcome to the second week of Lent. Please take some time to listen to Wawira’s message.

Lent Devotional Week Two – Jesus Wept

Luke 19 v 38-44

When he (Jesus) came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the last time, he knew that his decisions would ultimately lead to his death. He knew that this ‘city of peace’ did not fully realise or appreciate His coming, nor did its people understand the message that He brought.

So often we too, fail to realise all the great things that God has given us that bring positive change. Sometimes this is because we cannot appreciate the gifts, skills, opportunities and abilities that we have been given and sometimes the price for real change seems too high.

Wawira shared her personal story with these struggles. That even in the success of Food for Education, she too has had her doubts and fears and has felt at times like she should give it up.

Being a radical follower of Jesus, Wawira shares, is to walk the journey to ultimately bring God’s peace through change. However, for us who seek to bring change, our peace may not be in seeing its fulfilment but instead is found in the promise of God’s presence with us as we walk that journey with Him.

As followers of Jesus we need to ask these questions:

  • What is the change that I believe Jesus wants to see?
  • What skills and abilities do I have bring that change?
  • What opportunities/privilege has He given me to bring change?
  • What often holds me back?
  • The journey to bring change always comes at a cost, is it worth it?

 

 

 

Lent Week 1 – Jesus Cleanses the Temple – Anthony Castle

Welcome to the first week of Lent. Please take some time to listen to Anthony’s message…

Lent Devotional Week One – Jesus Cleanses the Temple

When Jesus cleans the temple in Matthew 21:12&13, He declares “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”  This is a direct reference to the words of Jeremiah in Chapter 7 verses 1 -11 in which it says:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand at the gate of the Lord’s house and there proclaim this message:

“‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your waysand your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

“‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!declares the Lord.

Anthony shares that by referencing the prophesy of Jeremiah, Jesus in cleansing the temple is protesting the injustice seen in the temple just as we read in Jeremiah’s prophecy.  It is at this point that the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke record that the religious leaders began to plan to kill him.  It is his protest which becomes the turning point in the life of Jesus that leads to his eventual death.

Jesus’ death paid for our sins but it also paid the price for protest. 

In our journey to become more like Jesus this means we need to understand that…

  • Living like Jesus is living a life which protests against a power structure that makes profit from religion and poor
  • Living like Jesus protests a religion that excludes the poor
  • Living like Jesus protests a religion that opposes another culture more than it opposes injustice.

Our lives too must become lives of protest.

Q – In what instances do you see exploitation and exclusion of the poor?

Q- How can you become a voice of protest?

Podcast- Andrew Foster- The Issue

“We can live as we have always done, with our lives being determined by the smallness of us and by those things that can oppress us, shame us and hold us back. By the labels that are placed on us, or that we place on ourselves.  But faith is the choice to accept the love and the grace of God and to trust in His goodness. To accept his label of belonging, to live in journey of renewal and transformation, to live as his adopted children…” 

Podcast- Brad Chilcott- Choose Life

“Choosing community is about choosing rhythms of life that give community its strength and foundation. Shared experiences, vision and values. Shared commitments to gather together, serve one another, enact radical generosity towards each other and beyond. Shared rituals and a common culture of love, grace, inclusion and sacrifice.