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Living The Life God Intended – Intro 1

Follow me in this new teaching series in both audio and ‘sermon notes’.
For the audio of these notes click on

Title of the Series
How do we live life today? How can we live ‘the good life’ in all the pressures and challenges of daily life? How can we not only survive, but thrive? In this series I go through Jesus’ unique view on living life as God intended – to live The Life that God intends – the eternal kind of life of God’s Kingdom of Heaven. That means, living life under God’s rule & reign, as found in Jesus’ body of teaching called ‘The Sermon on the Mount’, in Matthew 5 to 7.

Matthew as biographer of Jesus
Matthew was also called Levi. He was a tax-collector, a most despised sinner who exploited his own Jewish people (collecting taxes for the Romans) and partied with really ‘bad’ people! Responding to Jesus’ call – God’s Kingdom had come and he must follow Jesus – Matthew became Jesus’ disciple (Matt 9:9-13). He lived with Jesus and his Kingdom community for three years. After Jesus’ death and resurrection (in 30 or 31 AD) Matthew was a leader in the Early Church. He wrote his carefully constructed biography of Jesus (called a ‘Gospel’) from Antioch in early to mid 60s CE. He wrote for Greek-speaking Jewish readers, hence his emphasis on the Hebrew scriptures and all things Jewish!

He presents Jesus of Nazareth as the Jewish King, the long-awaited Messiah (The Anointed), in fulfillment of God’s promises in the scriptures. A key word in Matthew is ‘fulfill’. Jesus is not only King of the Jews but of ALL who receive him as such, Gentiles included! As God’s King, his message was to announce, and his mission was to offer, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’ (KOH) to Israel. Matthew uses this phrase in contrast to Mark and Luke’s ‘Kingdom of God’, in keeping with the Jewish usage of ‘heaven’ in place of ‘God’, in respect of ‘The Holy One’. But this King, and the coming of his Kingdom, was also presented as the fulfillment and climax of Israel’s story, the promised new Moses leading a new Exodus to a new land – the KOH.

Jesus as the New Moses
The way Matthew writes his story of Jesus, how he constructs his gospel shows Jesus as the ‘one like unto Moses’ promised in Deuteronomy 18:14-19 (read it). When God sends that greater prophet, God will give him words to teach – the living (Messianic) Torah – and all who do not listen to him will suffer the consequences of their rejection of him. To show Jesus as the new Moses, Matthew does the following…

  1. Moses was born, and hidden, under Pharaoh’s oppressive rule. Jesus was born under King Herod and then hidden in Egypt because Herod killed the male babies (Matt 2:13-18)
  2. Moses led Israel, God’s son, out of Egypt. So Jesus, God’s son, came out of Egypt (Matt 2:21).
  3. Moses led Israel through the waters of Exodus, so Jesus was baptized in water to symbolize a new Exodus for a (re)new(ed) Israel as God’s affirmed beloved son (Matt 3:13-17).
  4. As the Fiery Cloud led Israel through the wilderness for 40 years of testing, so the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days, symbolizing Jesus as the obedient son in place of Israel’s disobedience and rebellion (Matt 4:1-10).
  5. Jesus came out of the wilderness temptations into the Promised Land (Israel) in the power of the Spirit, exercising the authority of the KOH, offering the KOH (Matt 4:17).

Moses is the author and giver of Torah – God’s Word/Law – the first five books of the Bible. Matthew structures his Gospel around five teaching sections (each preceded by stories), to show that Jesus is the new Moses giving the Messianic Torah:
1. Matt 5 to 7: Teaching on The Life of the KOH, or Living Life in the KOH.
2. Matt 10: Teaching on the Ministry & Mission of the KOH.
3. Matt 13: Teaching on the Mystery & Nature of the KOH (‘already and not yet’).
4. Matt 18: Teaching on the Community of the KOH.
5. Matt 23 to 25: Teaching on the Coming Judgment & Salvation of the KOH.

Next week I do a further introduction to Living The Life God Intended, in preparation for Jesus’ teaching in ‘The Sermon on the Mount’.

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Today is World Refugee Day. The UN says world population is 7.349 billion with currently 65.3 million refugees. That is the highest ever number of refugees in the world, defined as people forced from their homes due to dictatorship, conflict & persecution. 65.3 million is plus or minus the population of Britain, or of France.

That is 1 out of every 113 people are refugees in our world today.

There were 5.8 million newly displaced refugees in 2015.

This is an unprecedented global displacement crisis, with growing compassion fatigue & resistance in receiving nations. it is a massive test of the collective global good will to work together for human interest and common wellbeing.

2000 years ago, after a long journey on foot there was no room at the Inn for Jesus of Nazareth to be born. He was born in a cave-stable with animals. Then his parents had to flee with him to Egypt. Jesus was a rejected refugee. And thus he has mercy on all refugees, and by God’s grace so should we. 

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Being the Beloved Talk 8: Meditation on LOVE

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite
absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love
(with Jesus), stay in love (with God), and it will decide everything.

From Pedro Arrupe SJ (Jesuit Superior General from 1965 to 1983)

Before I shift from the focus on “Be-Loved” to the practices and disciplines that – by the work of the Holy Spirit – transform us into “Being in Love” with God and people, I want to use the above quote to do a final meditation on love. Continue reading Being the Beloved Talk 8: Meditation on LOVE