Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for October 2016 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

Beauty of Forgiveness

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
–Luke 7:31-35 ESV

Today's parable is one we rarely read or take the time to dissect. It is a short parable. Yet if you are like me, it leaves me scratching my head.

So, what exactly is this parable's message? Let's take a moment to dissect it. We have a group of children who played a fun song (possibly at a wedding) and the people didn't dance. Then, they play a somber song (possibly at a funeral) and the people didn't weep.

The issue we see is the people did not respond appropriately. Jesus then brings it home. When John the Baptist came, you thought he was demon possessed. When Jesus came, you thought he was drunk.

In other words, you missed the message of John the Baptist (Repent!). You also missed the message of Jesus (the joyful message of His forgiveness).

How does this parable speak to us today? Let me ask this question– Why do people reject Christ today?

Some might say, Christians are... too boring, too judgmental, too 'goody two-shoes', too involved in politics, too concerned about 'silly things'... The list could go on forever.

Do you know something about this list? It reflects the shortcomings of Christians, not Christ. All of these things reflect our need for a savior. The question isn't, "Do we need forgiveness?" The question is, "Do we respond appropriately to the beauty of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ and His Cross?"

I know it is easy to be overwhelmed by the constant news cycle. I know we are just a little over a week away from the election. The real questions are, Do you hear the children playing the flute? Are you willing to dance to the joyful message of His forgiveness?

We are people who have something wonderful to celebrate. May we see the beauty of Jesus' message and respond appropriately!

God's Small Things

This morning, I'd like to look at two small parables. You can find these parables in Luke 13:18-21.

"He said therefore, 'What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.'
And again he said, 'To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.'"

There are some similarities in these parables. We see both including a human character. However, the main characters are the mustard seed and the leaven.

Both of these items are small items. In today's scientific world, we know that mustard seeds are not the smallest seeds. They were common in the New Testament Jewish world and would have been the smallest common seed.

There is a significant similarity that I would like to highlight. Both of these parables are metaphors for the kingdom of God. This brings a significance to these one verse parables.

Think about it for a moment. God's kingly reign was embodied in Jesus– a poor carpenter from Nazareth. Then, He leaves His mission to a ragtag band of former fishermen, a tax collector, and the like.

Isn't that exactly the way God works? God takes the insignificant and does something great. This is the way God works- from creation to today. He tells us, "Don't miss the little."

My challenge for you? In a world obsessed with 'bigger is better', the followers of Jesus plant mustard seeds and hide leaven. Why? Because we know God can do more with little than we can do with much.

I pray that you trust God with whatever seed you are planting- no matter how small you think it might be.