“Authority” is one of those difficult words to deal with. In Australia, we’d rather you don’t make a big deal about your authority. Around the world, authority is often abused at the cost of the vulnerable. In today’s passage, Jesus makes a big deal about his authority. But unlike the world, Jesus exercises his authority on behalf of the vulnerable in order to raise them up.
This Sunday we are starting a new sermon series in Matthew’s gospel. If you remember, a few months ago we spent some time at the feet of Jesus as he delivered the most famous sermon ever – the Sermon on the Mount. Today we will walk down the mountain with Jesus and examine to what extent the words that Jesus spoke are true. We will be looking closely over the next few weeks at whether Jesus’ actions match up with his words and what that means for how we live out our lives
Last week we saw how God wants to give us his free gift of salvation. Today we’ll see how to receive this gift for ourselves. In Romans 10, Paul is a loving pastor who wants to see his neighbours experience salvation. He starts once again with the problem of salvation – that we cannot save ourselves. Then he will show us the true path to salvation – how we can experience God’s saving grace for ourselves. Finally, he ends with the promise of salvation – how we can be confident that we really are saved by God.
God’s grace might be one of the easiest truths to explain but Christians often struggle to work out what it means from day to day. Am I saved by grace but have to keep up my salvation by doing good things? If I’m not doing any good things have I actually been saved by grace?! Or is there some kind of combination between God’s work and my own good works? Today’s talk is about getting us to the heart of God’s salvation.
In the final part of Esther, we see God reversing everything, to save his people. Everything is turned upside-down, because of God’s hidden hand at work to care for and save his people.
Our story continues as Mordecai & Esther reveal their identity as God’s people in order to thwart an attack against the Jewish people. In it, we discover that no evil is beyond God’s ability to twist for his own good and the good of his people. And often, God works through ordinary means – like where and when we were born – in order to accomplish his purposes in this world.
We finished the book of Kings with Judah sent into exile. In Esther, we find out how some of these exiles get on in Persia… when they should have gone back home already! Can you go so far in rejecting God that it’s too late to turn back? Will God give up on us if we give up on him? These are some of the big questions we’ll face in Esther.
In the last chapter of 2 Kings, it seems like all hope is undone. For many years, God has been making promises to his people, and they have slowly become realised: for a land, to become a great nation, for the temple, for a king. But in chapter 25, one-by-one, each of these is undone. It seems like all of God’s promises have failed, and God’s people are in devastation. But in the final story of the book, we get a glimmer of hope, that maybe God’s promises still have a hope of being fulfilled. The final king in the line of David is being cared for, even in exile. God loves to give hope in the darkest places.