Digging in Deeper: Matthew 5:43-47

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary?” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Two things for you this morning right out of the gate. First, an update, then a more normal introduction. Here’s the update: This will not be yesterday’s sermon this morning. Yesterday we had a special service called Celebrate Sunday. We took the morning to delight in what God has been doing in and through our community over past year. We had special guests and a fantastic testimony from some of our newer members, and generally a lot of fun. I shared many of the things God has done in the last year rather than giving a formal sermon. Thus no sermon to post here. But, it would be worth your time to go and watch the service for the stories alone. You can do that on our YouTube channel here.

Just because I don’t have a sermon, though, doesn’t mean I don’t have anything for you this morning. Normally I have been taking Fridays to engage on various cultural happenings (especially from the big and small screen) and where they intersect with the Scriptures. And, when I’m watching a whole season of a particular series, I’ll usually wait until the end of the season to reflect on the whole thing. But as I’ve been watching the latest season of Cobra Kai on Netflix, I can’t help but offer some observations after watching episode 4 last night. Cobra Kai, of course, is a continuing of the story of the classic movie, Karate Kid, into the modern day. In the original film and the third of the series, the good guys and the bad guys were clear. Mr. Miyagi and his style of karate are good, John Kreese and his Cobra Kai dojo are bad. In the new series, especially as the story has developed, things are less clear than that. But rather than this being a mere modern, relativistic, woke attempt to obscure moral lines or to otherwise pretend they don’t exist, season 4 is so far displaying real life through a lens that, if not strictly Gospel-oriented, is certainly shaped by it. Let’s talk this morning about Cobra Kai and loving our enemies.

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Digging in Deeper: Micah 1:5

“All this will happen because of Jacob’s rebellion and the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Isn’t it Samaria? And what is the high place of Judah? Isn’t it Jerusalem?”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

This morning we start something new. A new prophet with a new theme. Our prophet for this journey is named Micah. I’m particularly partial to this one because I have a Micah of my own. As with all of the prophets, Micah has some wisdom and warnings for us that keep us set well on the path of Christ if we are willing to listen and put them into practice. We’ll start here with a wise warning about where sin starts.

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Morning Musing: James 4:4

“You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter

One of the most famous theologians of the 20th century was Reinhold Niebuhr. He was a giant in a number of respects. His equally influential, but less culturally famous younger brother was H. Richard Niebuhr. The younger Niebuhr wrote a famous book I had to read in seminary called, Christ and Culture. In it, he worked through several different approaches to thinking about how Jesus—and by virtue of necessity, His followers—got along with the world around them. His was an important contribution to what has been a much larger question on the minds of thinking Christians for most of 2,000 years. 

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