Reflection – 18 October 2020


Here’s Martin Frost’s reflection for Sunday 18 October.

The online worship session will start at 11.00. Martin will be leading worship this week .

If you want to join via Zoom in just email me – newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com – for log in details. We’d love to see you.

Mark Taylor

London Road Congregational Church Reflection 18/10

Jesus’ Open Heart Surgery.

Call to Worship:

Psalm 9:1-2

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;

I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name O most high.

Let us pray.

Father we come together recognising all you have done for us and realising how we need you to guide and provide for us.  We thank you for your faithfulness in the past and have hope for our future. Let our time of worship lift your name and feed our souls. Amen.

Let us say together the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Hymn: Jesus, lover of my soul

Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, I will never let You go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
You’ve set my feet upon the rock
And now I know

I love you (I love you)
I need you (I need you)
Though my world may fall (though my world may fall)
I’ll never let You go

My Saviour (my Saviour)
My closest Friend
I will worship You (I will worship You until the very end)

Sing it, Jesus (Jesus, You’re lover of my soul)
Sweet Jesus (Jesus, I will never let You go)
And You’ve taken me (You’ve taken me from the miry clay)
You’ve set my feet upon the rock
And now I know

I love you (I love you)
And I need you (I need you)
Though my world may fall (though my world may fall)
I’ll never let You go
No, no

My Saviour,
My closest Friend
My closest Friend
I will worship You until the very end

Jesus, lover of my soul
Jesus, (Lord) I will never let You go
And You’ve taken me
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
Yes, You have
You’ve set my feet upon the rock (and now I know)
And now I know

I love you (I love you)
I need you (I need you)
Though my world may fall I’ll never let You go
Never, never let You go, no

My Saviour
My closest Friend
My closest Friend (I will worship You)
I will worship You until the very end

Oh
I love You
Oh, we need You
I need you (though my world may fall)
Though my world may fall
I’ll never let You go
Never, never, never, never let You go

My Saviour
My closest Friend (I will worship You)
I will worship You until the very end

Reflection:

My portion of Matthew 5 for this week comes from vv27-31.

Reading – Matthew 5:27-32

Teaching about Adultery

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart. So if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose one of your limbs than to have your whole body go off to hell.

Teaching about Divorce

“It was also said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce.’ But now I tell you: if a man divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, then he is guilty of making her commit adultery if she marries again; and the man who marries her commits adultery also.

Jesus is setting out his teachings of the kingdom. As in other places, Jesus is drawing us to realise that he hasn’t come to do away with the law but to focus on the purpose of the law so that it can be fulfilled.

Reading Exodus 20:7-17

“Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.

“Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work—neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.

“Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.

“Do not commit murder.

“Do not commit adultery.

“Do not steal.

“Do not accuse anyone falsely.

“Do not desire another man’s house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.”

Much of what Jesus is setting out in his Matthew 5 echoes this passage, murder, adultery, lusting in the heart.  The difference for Jesus is that it is not just about actions.  He draws out this point when he says, you have heard it said – referring to action – but I say – referring to the heart. We saw that in what Mark spoke about with regard to murder and also angry thoughts. Psalm 44:21 reminds us ‘Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.’

He points out that the higher standards of the kingdom he is bringing in encourages us to act to avoid such sin.  Plucking out the right eye and cutting off the right hand denotes what would be understood to be the best one. Radical action needs to be taken to avoid such sin.

It is not just about how we are with people of the opposite sex but also how we view them. It is not just what we do but also what we take in and entertain in our hearts, even down to speech that is derogatory towards the opposite sex.

I found this next section on divorce difficult when preparing this message. I have been divorced. Once because my wife went off with someone else but once because I left my wife. What I know is that it was not an easy choice, I know that it hurt her and for a time my children grew up with me not living in their house and without a father figure there until she remarried. I had access and saw them but not on a day to day basis.  I now have no contact with my children because they want nothing to do with me. Whatever they have been told I haven’t had a chance to give my side. The consequence of my decision has affected all of us and continues to.  Now Jesus’ teaching might say that I shouldn’t have left my wife, but I knew I could not stay with her and be the husband she wanted and ultimately I knew I could find someone I loved and be a good husband to.

I don’t want to put words into Jesus mouth, but it says that he was full of grace and truth. There may come a time when I have to stand before God and explain myself. The truth may be that I was in the wrong but at that time – and I still feel I was right – I would ask for grace and mercy for my decision.  I think there is a danger that we can be quick to offer truth and be judgemental when people who have been divorced or even committed adultery, come to us. But we also need to offer that same grace and mercy we want from God.

I want to finish with a final thought. Jesus looks at our heart and not just our actions. Whether we succeed or fail and have to turn to him He does not turn his back on us but calls us to Him.

Hymn: Graves into Gardens

I searched the world
But it couldn’t fill me
Man’s empty praise and treasures that fade
Are never enough
Then You came along
And put me back together
And every desire is now satisfied
Here in Your love (hey)

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You
(Oh, yes I know it’s true)
(Come on, tell ’em, hey)

I’m not afraid
To show You my weakness
My failures and flaws, Lord, You’ve seen them all
And You still call me friend
‘Cause the God of the mountain
Is the God of the valley
There’s not a place Your mercy and grace
Won’t find me again

Oh, there’s nothing better than You
There’s nothing better than You
Lord, there’s nothing
Nothing is better than You
(I know it’s true)

Blessing.

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