Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 1 April 2018 (Easter Sunday)
Being Easter Sunday, today’s first Bible reading focuses on Jesus’s crucifixion on that first Good Friday. I have chosen Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 23, verses 32 to 34 and 39 to 43.
I am using the King James Bible version:
32) And there were also 2 other malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33) And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him and the malefactors, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
34) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment and cast lots.
39) And one of the malefactors, which were hanged, railed on him saying; If you be Christ, save yourself and us.
40) But the other answering, rebuked Him saying; Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation?
41) And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man has done nothing amiss.
42) And he said to Jesus; Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
43) And Jesus said to him; Verily, I say to you; today shall you be with me in paradise.
Sermon / Address
Last Friday was called Good Friday, but from a Christian point of view you could be forgiven for thinking that it was anything but good on that first Good Friday.
However, not everything that happened on that day was bad. In spite of all those dreadful things that the people and the soldiers did to Jesus; the cruelty and the torture that He had to endure, Jesus was still willing to forgive them. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
There is a lesson for us. Whatever nasty spiteful things people do to you or say about you, try to forgive them. You don’t have to necessarily say it to their faces as long as you forgive them in your heart. Don’t bear grudges. Don’t seek revenge. Jesus said in Matthew 5 v 44; “Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you and pray for them which spitefully use you and persecute you.” Here He is actually putting his words into practice. So remember Jesus’s example and remember He was always asking us to love one another.
There is another lesson in this text which concerns the malefactors; literally, wrong doers. We normally call them criminals or convicts. The first criminal was very keen to save himself from death. He wanted Jesus to somehow wave a magic wand and save the three of them. No such luck. The other criminal was far more level headed. “We are receiving our just desserts,” He said to the first criminal, “But this man (Jesus) has done nothing amiss.” Then he turned to Jesus and said; “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him; “Today shall you be with me in paradise.”
This demonstrates to us that it is never too late to ask Jesus to forgive our sins, whatever they may be. Jesus wants us to be truly sorry for what we have done. Of course, He knows whether we are genuine or not for He knows what is in our hearts. He is ready to forgive as He did to that repenting criminal.
Out of bad came good on that first Good Friday. Jesus set the example of forgiveness. Forgive those who are nasty to us. Jesus also showed us that it is never too late to ask Him to forgive us when we stray from the straight and narrow path.
My second Bible reading deals with Jesus’s resurrection on that first Easter Sunday. This time I am reading from Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 16, verses 1 to 10. I am again using the King James version:
1) And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James and Salome, had brought sweet spices that they might come and anoint Him.
2) And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3) And they said among themselves; “Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?”
4) And when they looked they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great.
5) And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man, sitting on the right side, clothed in a white garment, and they were frightened.
6) And He said to them; “Be not frightened. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified; He is risen, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him.
7) But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter that He goes before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as he said to you.”
8) And they went out quickly and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed, neither did they say anything to any man, for they were afraid.
9) Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.
10) And she went and told them that she had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
Jesus was crucified early on Friday morning; that first Good Friday. His execution was done well before the Jews began observing the Sabbath at sunset. Saturday was the Sabbath day of rest. So the first opportunity that the three ladies, Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Salome had to visit Jesus’s tomb was early on Sunday morning. That is when they made the startling discovery.
As with Jesus’s birth which took place in the most humble of surroundings, so with his resurrection. It wasn’t discovered by King Herod or anyone important. It was left to Mary Magdalene to make the discovery and to tell the disciples and, subsequently, the world.
This is the crux of Jesus’s message to us. He did not come just to help the high and mighty. He came to help everyone, whether they are rich or poor, famous or just one of life’s battlers. By His example of humble beginnings, a life spent in virtual poverty and suffering that cruellest of deaths, He showed us He was very much one of us and accessible to all. He knew what it was like to be poor, to suffer pain and to be humble. No one could accuse Him of not understanding what any of us has to go through.
Throughout His short life of about 33 years He was preparing us for life after death with His numerous stories and parables about the Kingdom of Heaven and what awaits us if we stick to the straight and narrow. Then on Easter Sunday He showed us that He was not dead but had made the transition to the Kingdom of Heaven. The resurrection of Jesus is for Christians, the most important event in the church’s calendar.
For Jesus proved beyond doubt that there is life after death; not just for Him but for everyone and that our souls live on. That is the basis of our belief today as Christian Spiritualists. It is summarised in the fourth of our 7 Principles; The continuous existence of the human soul.
Jesus said in John’s Gospel, Chapter 11, verses 25 and 26; “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”
When our time comes to leave this Earth-plane, Jesus invites us to follow Him and join Him in paradise.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 20 May 2018
My text today is taken from Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 12, verses 28 to 34 and I shall be reading from the King James Version of the Bible:
28) And one of the scribes came, and having heard the Sadducee's and Jesus reasoning together, and perceiving that Jesus had answered them well, asked him; “Which is the first Commandment of all?”
29) And Jesus answered him; “The first of all Commandments is – Hear O Israel. The Lord our God is one Lord.
30) And thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first Commandment.
31) And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other Commandment greater than these.”
32) And the scribe said to him; “Well, Master, you have said the truth, for there is one God, and there is none other but he.
33) And to love him with all your heart and with all your understanding, and with all your soul, and with all your strength and to love your neighbour as yourself, is more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34) And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly he said to him; “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no man after that dare ask him any questions.
Sermon / Address
I am focusing my sermon this morning on the word “respect”. The dictionary describes it as a feeling of deep admiration for someone. Respect can also mean you hold someone in high regard or you are considerate or polite towards them because you respect them.
Sadly, it seems too often these days there is a distinct lack of respect shown by people towards one another. We are witnessing increasing domestic violence in Australia with many partners showing no respect for the other partner. Or it could involve the kids who are copping it from their dad when he comes home drunk and belligerent before he turns on their mum. Bullying is also on the increase now it can be done anonymously through the internet. And what kid over the age of 8 does not have a mobile phone these days?
Another example - picture this. You are walking down the street and there are 3 people walking towards you. They are talking away to each other as they walk towards you. They just don’t see you even as they get close to you. In the end, you are forced to almost jump into the road to avoid a collision. They sail past, apparently completely oblivious to you being there, and keep on talking loudly. You get in a queue to get on the bus. Someone has to push in front of you as you wait for the little old lady in front of you who is struggling to get on the bus. The bus is full so you have to stand. Does any young person offer their seat? No, they are all too busy texting on their mobiles. Someone is actually talking on their phone; no, they are shouting. Now, everyone on the bus knows what that person is having for dinner tonight.
I could keep going with more examples of a lack of respect for others but you get the picture. Jesus said: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He said this was the second most important commandment after showing love and respect to God; not - thou shalt not kill or thou shalt not steal. No, Jesus was saying if you respect people you will not be thinking of killing them or stealing from them. You can see that having respect for one another means that you won’t even consider doing or saying nasty things to other people. This applies not just to individuals but in a much wider sense. If communities and nations respected each other there would be no more wars. We could all live in peace and harmony with each other.
Jesus frequently asked people to show more respect to each other. He illustrated respect in what has become one of his most celebrated parables; the parable of the Good Samaritan. Just a little recap. The Jews and the Samarians did not get on. In fact the Jews despised them. Yet the Samaritan was prepared to go to the aid of the wounded Jew. He showed respect towards the victim which was more than the Levite or the priest did and they were both Jews and should have known better. They showed no respect towards one of their own people. Jesus said in Matthew 25 v40: “Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.” The Golden Rule throughout the ages has always been; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words respect one another. Jesus is watching us to see whether we are going to be more respectful towards each other. So if you feel like having a go at someone because you are angry and are in danger of losing your cool, ask Jesus to help you back onto the path of respect.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 24th June 2018
Today’s Bible text is taken from Paul’s first epistle to Timothy, Chapter 6, verses 5 to 12 and I am reading from the King James version:
5) Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6) But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8) And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9) But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10) For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11) But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12) Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, where unto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Sermon / Address:
The 2 epistles that we read in the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his companion and co-worker. Timothy, who came from what is now southern Turkey accompanied Paul on his travels as well as working separately when Paul asked him to. It contains some wise words that many people today would be well advised to follow.
My focus today is on greed. The dictionary defines greed as an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. Remember this? “Greed is good.” So said Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” 20 years later the world discovered just how bad greed really was when the global financial crisis hit world financial markets. Almost overnight countless billions of dollars were wiped off the value of shares worldwide. A number of major banks in America and Europe had to close their doors. Some were rescued by governments, courtesy of the taxpayers. Others had to be taken over or just folded. All of this happened as the result of greed; greed by banks and other financial institutions, greed by investors. Paul says: “… the love of money is the root of all evil.” and “…they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.” It almost seems that he had a premonition of what was going to unfold nearly 2,000 years later.
It is probably human nature to be greedy. Many thousands of years ago people did not know when or where the next meal was coming from. So they tended to gorge themselves when food was available, often to the detriment of others who were not strong enough or quick enough to fight for their share. You see it today with kiddies who will fight for the last lolly or pinch a cake off someone else’s plate. On a global scale, many wars have been started by nations being greedy and wanting to expand their empires. Hitler became greedy and wanted to rule most of Europe as well as Russia and Britain. Napoleon had already tried to do the same thing 130 years earlier. Both failed with their greedy plans. Paul says: “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness.”
Paul’s wise words were there for all to see almost 2,000 years ago and yet people still continue to make the same mistakes often with disastrous results. Frequently greedy people selfishly deprive others. They spare no thought for other people. They are only interested in themselves and what they can gain out of it. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake. We are currently seeing greed in action at the Banking Royal Commission where banks are being shown as only interested in making greater and greater profits at the expense of their own customers.
Don’t just help yourself, help others. Jesus said in Matthew 19 v21: “If you will be perfect, go sell all that you have and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in Heaven.” And we know from verse 24 that Jesus told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Returning to my text earlier, Paul reminds us that: “…we brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.”
God bless you.