Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 20 November 2016
Today’s Bible reading is taken from the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, verses 1-11 from the King James version:
V.1) Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
V.2) And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
V.3) And the scribes and Pharisees brought to him a woman taken in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst.
V.4) They said to him; “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
V.5) Now Moses in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned, but what do you say?”
V.6) This they said, tempting him that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he had not heard them.
V.7) So when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up and said to them; “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”.
V.8) And, again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
V.9) And they that heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
V.10) When Jesus had lifted himself up and saw no one but the woman, he said to her; “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”
V.11) She said; No man, Lord.” And Jesus said to her; “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Sermon / Address
Something strike you as odd with that story? The woman was caught “in the very act” according to the Scribes and Pharisees; and yet she is the only one to face the music. Her male accomplice doesn’t even crack a mention. No doubt he got off scot-free as was often the case in that part of the world. I suspect the whole incident was a set-up staged by the Scribes and Pharisees to try and trap Jesus but he was far too clever for them.
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount had told the multitude; “Judge not that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7). Stop judging others until you have sorted out your own shortcomings. And that is precisely what Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” In next to no time, all her accusers had melted away in shame, or at least embarrassment. He had frequently exposed them as hypocrites, pretending to be holier than thou.
Jesus had triumphed yet again.
Now the interesting conclusion to this episode was not how you might have imagined it to be.
This woman had broken 1 of the 10 Commandments. Jesus could have been expected to at least admonish her; but no. Instead, he said to her; “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”.
And that is the lesson for us all. Jesus does not start throwing stones at us every time we stray from the straight and narrow. Instead, he asks us to repent. In other words, acknowledge we have sinned and that we will try a bit harder next time. No, we are not angels but we are here on this Earth to learn and improve ourselves spiritually and morally and become better people, in order that we might progress to the higher spheres in Heaven. Otherwise, we may find our progression delayed. So it’s worth making the effort. I am sure you will feel a better person for it.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 30 October 2016
Today’s Bible reading is from the King James Bible, the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, verses 19 – 21.
V.19) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon Earth, where moth and rust can corrupt and where thieves break through and steal.
V.20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal;
V.21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Sermon / Address
This text is a very small part of what is known as Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount which includes the beatitudes such as: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth”, the Lord’s Prayer and much, much more. No wonder the multitude of people witnessing his teachings were spellbound. Matthew says at the end of Jesus’s speech; “The people were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” – Matthew 7 v.28, 29.
Now to the text I have chosen this morning. Jesus is telling the multitude that worldly treasures can lose their value as they deteriorate or they can be stolen by thieves; whereas treasures in heaven are not vulnerable to such problems. That was 2,000 years ago. Does it apply today? It certainly does; probably even more so now than in Jesus’s day. Regrettably, people, particularly in Western countries, including Australia, are obsessed on acquiring materialistic wealth. They have to have the latest car, the latest smart phone. They have to live in an upmarket suburb in a house or apartment that contains all the latest features; perhaps even a swimming pool. They want to impress their friends and neighbours. But where does it get them? You can’t take those things with you when you enter the spirit world. In spirit you don’t see anyone driving around in a Mercedes or living in a flashy mansion.
If Jesus was on Earth today do you think he would travel around in a BMW or Jaguar? Do you think he would be living in a palace? Of course he wouldn’t. How could he connect with the people and get his message across if he lived that sort of showy lifestyle? How could he connect with the people he really wanted to help? No, he would be just as down-to-earth and live just as basic a life as he did 2,000 years ago because his message is for us to build our treasures in heaven and not to be fixated with materialistic treasures.
What does Jesus mean by Treasures in Heaven? I believe he wants us to look after each other. Help others rather than just looking after ourselves. The Golden Rule throughout the centuries has been; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Jesus said in Mark 12 v.31: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus is not interested in whether you are driving the latest European car or using the latest smart phone. But he is interested in whether you are helping and caring about others.
Jesus told the rich man in Matthew 19; “If you will be perfect, go sell all that you have and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven”. In today’s text Jesus said: “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart.” Is your heart fixated on having the latest BMW or is it focused on helping others? The choice is yours.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 24 April 2016
Today’s Bible reading is from the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 15, verses 1 - 9 and 13 - 14.
The text is taken from the King James Bible.
V.1) A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.
V.2) The tongue of the wise uses knowledge correctly, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.
V.3) The eyes of the Lord are in every place seeing evil and good.
V.4) A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness is a breach of the spirit.
V.5) A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he that takes note of disapproval is prudent.
V.6) In the house of the righteous is much treasure, but in the ways of the wicked is trouble.
V.7) The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the foolish does not.
V.8) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.
V.9) The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who follows after righteousness.
V.13) A merry heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
V.14) The heart of him that has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
So what is a proverb? The dictionary defines it as a short, pithy sentence containing some truth or wise reflection proved by experience or observation. Perhaps, when we think of a proverb we may well think of - “A stitch in time saves nine” or “Many hands make light work.” That, basically, is what the Book of Proverbs contains but it is much more than that. It sets out moral behaviour, values and conduct, with the accent on acquiring wisdom and putting it into practice. In short, using our common sense.
There are 31 chapters. The first 9 may have originated in Persia and Greece. Chapters 10 – 22 are said to be the proverbs of Solomon, son of David. The remaining chapters come from a variety of sources.
Half of the Book comprises wise sayings, contrasting the wise and the foolish, as illustrated in verse 7. “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the foolish does not.”
Many of the chapters were probably written well before the proverbs of Solomon. They were meant to be read out by the head of the household to his family for their guidance and moral behaviour. The first few chapters imply that a father is instructing his son or a teacher instructing his pupil on moral behaviour. The message was that sticking to the rules as set out in the Proverbs would bring its rewards to the wise person. But violating them would bring disaster to the foolish person.
The Book contains a number of contradictory passages, as the proverbs were collected from various sources. The following well known proverbs will illustrate the point. “Many hands make light work.” Contrast it with “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” So the Book was nearly left out of the Bible, but the connection with Solomon probably saved it.
So what relevance does the text have for us today? The short answer is plenty. Just take the first verse. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger”. How true. In other words, keeping your cool and being polite and civil when replying to someone who is angry or upset will probably calm the situation. Do the opposite and meet fire with fire and, in no time, you will have a full scale row. If it’s a husband and wife then missiles will be flying round the kitchen. Please note that I have been very careful not to say which party started the row. “A soft answer turns away wrath”.
Moving to the 2nd verse, “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge correctly, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness”, tells us to engage our brains before opening our mouths. How often we find ourselves wishing we had kept our mouths shut or said things differently. Think before you speak.
There are so many valuable lessons to be learnt just from these few verses and there are 31 chapters in the Book full of proverbs. Even though we know the truth of most of them, (many are just common sense) it is still worth having a read and may help to make us better and wiser people. Remember God gave us common sense. Let us make sure we use it.
God bless you.