The Bridge Chicago is a way to offer the resources of Mission:USA to help people do good ministry.
The next in our Spring Hymns Series. “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” done for fans of Muse and Radiohead.
In John 15:15 Jesus says “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus is so many things to us who believe: savior, shepherd, king, high priest, counselor, comforter, and keeper. One of the ways He describes himself is as our friend. For the God of the universe to not only come down and walk among us, but count himself among us, is an amazing thing.
If you are having a tough time this week, feeling alone or rejected, remember the great friend you have in Jesus.
I just need some answers. I’m just so confused. I thought we’re preaching equality. But why is it in Matthew 15:21-28, there’s a big difference between a Jew and a Canaanite? Does that mean that if that woman is not that faithful, He will not help her, but when a Jew with a low faith, He will gratefully help that person? I’m not questioning our faith or what. I’m just shocked into what I’ve read. Thank you for answering. :)
“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” -Matthew 15:21-28
The key to understanding what is going on in this story is that Jesus knew how it was going to end. Jesus knew that He was going to heal this woman’s daughter and that she would respond with faith. I think this exchange of words is for the disciples.
Jesus was very open about loving ethnicities that were shunned by the israelites, such as the Samaritans with the woman at the well, or even the hated Romans, such as the centurion. This was a revolutionary part of Jesus’s teaching, especially to his followers, who were Jewish. Their understanding of the messiah was that he would come to save the nation of Israel, not necessarily the world. That is evident in them trying to send her away. I think Jesus was showing them that her faith in Him was no lesser than theirs’.
Often when Jesus healed someone he commented on their faith. I don’t think it is a case of a Canaanite has to have more faith than a Jew. I think faith in Jesus being who He says He is is, by definition, a great faith.
One of the teachings of Jesus that shocked people in His time, and continues to shock today, is the idea that your spiritual identity trumps all other identities. It doesn’t matter your race, or class, or past; to be in Christ is to be in Christ and that is what defines us above all else.
how do we know the bible is the infallible word of God? how do we know that the writers don’t have any biases in what they’ve written? why do we put Paul’s words at the same authority as Jesus’?
Well the answer to your last two questions is found in 2 Timothy 3:16 which says “all scripture is God breathed”. What that means is that God worked through the various authors of scripture. That means He was present in writing, and translations, and counsels that decided on what was included in the Bible. If I believe God created the Universe, I can believe He kept some monks from screwing up a translation. Also instances like Psalm 22, which was written by David yet resembles nothing that David ever went through. It is actually about the crucifixion of Jesus that happened centuries later. Crucifixion didn’t even exist when David was writing the Psalms.
There are little clues like that. There are also many more copies of the scriptures than there are of other Greek and ancient sources. Things like that do not constitute proof though. If you want indisputable evidence that the Bible is the word of God, you will not find it. That is because indisputable facts leave no room for faith.
There is no way for me to say for certain that the parting of the Red Sea, or David slaying Goliath, or the Resurrection happened as described in the Bible. Here is what I do know however, I have experienced the rebirth that comes with accepting Christ. I have also felt the peace of God that passes all understanding and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.
I have experienced those things described in scripture first hand. That it was allows me to believe the rest of what the Bible says. Removing my guilt and fear is no less a miracle than peeling back the waves, and raising me from my spiritual death no more outlandish than raising someone from physical death. The answer for me is because God has proved who He is in my life, so I believe what He says about the Bible.
-Matt from The Bridge
Anonymous asked: What’s up with the MSG Bible? Just about every Christian I know loathes it. I’ve heard things like, it paraphrases the Bible or something? I don’t get it. Should we not read it?
I answered: The Message Bible is a paraphrase, as opposed to a translation. The difference is that a translation is done by translating words to their closest meaning, where as paraphrases try to capture the intent of passages of the text, not the word for word translation. But a proper paraphrase, like the Message, does not mean that someone just took an English translation and changed the wording. Both translations and paraphrases are taken from the original Greek and Hebrew. So in both cases, you have to trust that the person doing the translating or paraphrasing knows what they are doing. Translations (KJV, NIV, ESV) are normally done large groups of scholars, so people sometimes find it easier to trust a nameless big group of smart folks. Paraphrases are more often the work of one writer, in the case of the Message, a pastor and writer named Eugene Peterson. So I think people have a harder time trusting a guy even if, like in Peterson’s case, he is an extraordinarily brilliant guy. Of course, it also makes sense to believe that if the Bible is the inspired word of God, He will make sure it is translated faithfully.
I personally like the Message. Peterson began the project as trying to help people understand the scriptures as a pastor. He translated Galatians from the original Greek for his Sunday School class. I have read a few of his books and find him to be a super intelligent guy who has a heart for people to get the most out of their interaction with the scriptures.
I think the problem a lot of people have with the Message is not that it is a paraphrase, but that they feel the language is too casual. Some people who favor something like the King James Version like a fanciness to their scripture (ex, when Jesus told His disciples to open Lazarus’ tomb, one of them actually says, “but Lord, he stinketh.”). It conveys that God is big and Holy, which He is. But things like the Message make things more relatable. (MSG version of John 1:14 says “God moved into the neighborhood” where the NIV says “made his dwelling among us”). And that is cool too. It is a matter of personal preference. And of all the things in the church to have an issue with: hypocrisy, jealousy, backbiting, gossip; a translation of the Bible designed to help people relate to it is not something that would be on a serious person’s list.
-Matt from The Bridge
Recurring Themes in Philippians
-the command to rejoice is given several times
-in repetition (I will say again, rejoice!)
-we need to be reminded to have joy, often and emphatically
-Circumstances don’t dictate to us
-Paul being in jail doesn’t mean his ministry is stopped
-being in a tough situation doesn’t rob us of joy or contentment
-Nor does success dictate to us
-like hardship doesn’t mean God has left us, success doesn’t mean we need Him
-don’t fall into the trap of confidence in yourself as opposed to confidence in what
God will do for you.
-Paul is clear that no one can fulfill their calling from the Lord alone
-his partnerships with Timothy and Epaphroditus are necessities
-one church in Philippi was enough to keep him going, but he needed them very
-Pursuing the good, not just avoiding the bad
-don’t just not be harsh, have a gentleness that people will talk about
-anxiousness is not stayed off by not being anxious, it is actively taking things to
God, and having peace from that.
-people of the church shouldn’t settle for not quarreling, they should take steps to
help each other be aggreable
Text: Chapter 4
-v1-3 my brothers…my joy and crown
-how dearly Paul holds the relationships within the church
-peace among friends was a key for him in his stressful situation
-v4 Again, the repeated call to rejoice
-v5 Let your gentleness be evident
-gentleness is not just the lack of roughness, it is something active
-v6-7 anxiousness, prayer, and peace
-the opposite of being anxious is bringing your requests before God
-peace that passes all understanding, it can’t be described or anticipated, only experienced
-v8-9 whatever is excellent or praiseworthy, put it into practice
-again, be an active participant
-this leads to peace
-v10-13 need, contentment, and strength
-Paul has discovered the power Christ gives in all situations
-by following into hard situations
-v14-20 giving and meeting needs
-there was a time when only one small church cared about Paul’s ministry
-but that was enough to change the world
-what a relationship and special place in history that gave them
-Reflect on how precious Paul holds the relationships within the church. Are there ways you could be engaging more or going deeper with your church. What does Paul’s writing tell you about the importance of these?
-Paul puts a premium on activeness. Gentleness is not lack of roughness, peace is not lack of anxiousness. Actively work to cultivate these positive things in yourself instead of just avoiding messing up. Don’t just avoid sinning, pursue righteousness.
-Peace that passes understanding and the understanding of the strength Christ gives can only come through experiencing it. You should be looking for activities and situations that will put you in a position to grow. They are all around you, they don’t have to be drastic.