“if anyone chooses to remain ignorant, then let him stay ignorant.”
series: Red Letter City
teacher: Jacob Bender
date: June 5, 2016
scriptures: Matthew 5:38-42, Matthew 7:11, Exodus 21:23-25, Galatian 2:9, Matthew 7:12, Joshua
On Friday Dawn and I drove down to Ann Arbor to visit Matt and Chavonne in the hospital... Their daughter, baby Charlotte was born, and she is just the sweetest thing. She was born, I think a whole two months early, so she is just absolutely tiny and so so precious. And I just need to say this about Matt and Chavonne. I have never in my life seen two believe glow the way that they were glowing that day. The peace. The excitement, and the love in their eyes toward this absolutely precious child was just amazing.
And I can’t explain it. I know that, their pregnancy was very difficult. They went through some really hard circumstances, things that I could not even begin to imagine… and I know that the whole pregnancy was to a degree plagued with some fear and so to at the end of it all be holding this amazing child obviously was such a sign of the grace of God and an amazing hope for the future.
Jesus says something a little later in the sermon on the mount, and we will get to it in a couple of months, but he says this:
“if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”
and I thought about that when I saw the way that Matt held his daughter. and the look on his face, and the way everything toward Charlie was unconditional love… and as strange as this sounds… it made me realize something about violence. and the way that we treat each other. The same way that Matt looks at his daughter, God looks at all of his children. and I think that for most of us, we want to always know that we can come to God knowing that no matter what we have done, he still looks at us with that same twinkle in his eye. That same unconditional love.
and not only that… but there are millions of other Matt’s in the world. People who think the world of their children. Who would do anything for them. And in every situation that you find yourself in, in which you are paired AGAINST another person… that person is someone’s child. That person has a world of people that he has touched merely by being born….
and that person is a child of the living God.
and if we approach every situation and every confrontation that we are faced with from that perspective, perhaps it would be easier than you think to do what Jesus asks of us here in this revolutionary sermon.
title: The First with a Promise
teacher: Jacob Bender
date: October 25, 2015
scriptures: Ephesians 6:1-3, Exodus 20, Numbers 13:30, Numbers 14:6-9, Numbers 14:10, Numbers 14:12, Numbers 14:20-24, Proverbs 18:21, Matthew 7:2, Matthew 16:19, 1 Peter 3:7, Mark 6:1-6,
Blessing and Cursing.
I don’t have to agree with someone to bless them. I don’t have to agree with someone to honor them. And if I do honor them even when maybe they don’t seem very worthy of that honor, then there is a blessing for me which we will talk about later.
But the natural instinct of man is not to bless. It is to curse. Now let me explain, because you probably would say “I would never curse someone!”
The Hebrew word for curse (qa-lal) means “to make light.” It means to add no value to them. It means to say “the words you are saying, and the things that you are doing in this moment mean nothing.”
All of us in this place have been cursed. We have been belittled. We have been made to feel like we have no value. And I don’t know about you, but when someone makes me feel that way, I shut down. I have a very hard time pulling myself back together and refocusing. It hurts really bad.
On the contrary, the Hebrew word for blessing (Ba-rak) means something very interesting… you would think it would be the opposite of cursing, but its not. Blessing, in Hebrew, means “to bend the knee.”
Think about it. When a King walks into a room, what do people do? They get on their knees. Why? Because they want to show honor, because that person holds a position of great authority. Showing honor blesses people.
We need to set our social default mode to blessing.
Its the best way to honor one another no matter what the circumstance.
But what is honor?
The most simple way to put it is that it is how you treat people. When you are around them, when you are not. Thats the simple way to put it. But there is so much more to it than that.
Honor is the Hebrew word “kavod” (ka-vode) and it means “heavy or weighty.”
It means to place weight on something. It is literally the opposite of cursing. Cursing is to make light, honor is to give weight.
Now, as you probably know, in the time of the Old Testament, value was based on weight. If you were measuring how much money you had, it would be determined by the weight of the gold in your possession, not the number of pieces, so what it is talking about is “giving something value.”
That is why people bow before the King. Because his job carries weight.
We would have no problem honoring a King, or honoring someone who has already accomplished what we desire to accomplish.
Now, we have been looking at the word picture for each number in the ten commandments, and we will get to that in a minute, but first… there is also a word picture for the word “honor” itself, you have possibly heard this phrase but this is where it comes from… for the Hebrew word “kavod” – If you take away the vowels (because there are no vowels in Hebrew, we add them so that we can say them in English) the letters are K-V-D
are the Hebrew letters:
“Kaf” is a picture of a hand and it symbolizes what opens, you use your hands to open doors, cabinets, your refrigerator, most things… Now, “bet” is the picture of a house or what is inside… a home is a sacred place, its a place that you share with the people who are closest to you. You welcome your family, you host your friends there, but you are protective of who enters your house.
and the letter “dalet” like we learned last week (and we have talked about it before), is a door…
so the word picture you get for the word “kavod” is it is the hand or the thing that“opens the inside door.” I have heard that phrase Think about it.
If you look at your life, and you look at the people you let in and the people you keep out, does it not always come back to the ones who honor you?
The ones who make you feel like you matter?
Like your words matter? Like your opinion matters?
That is a natural instinct in us, we are drawn to honor, and that is why.