Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries


Jesus Enters Jerusalem  audio

Matt 21:1-27 

Everyone likes a parade don’t they? Whether it’s the Moomba Parade or the Anzac Day Parade, or the Grand Final Parade, we all love to get out and watch our heroes. Probably for some Australians the greatest parades are when the Queen comes to visit - or these days William and Kate. People come out in their thousands with flags to wave, cheering as they pass by. 

Well that’s a bit like what happened when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. The city was buzzing. The word had got around. Jesus, the great teacher and healer was coming to Jerusalem, despite the danger from the Jewish leaders. Word was that he'd even been talking about death, predicting that he was going to be crucified, and saying that people had to be willing to take up their cross if they wanted to follow him. But that hadn’t stopped him from teaching and healing people and he was still arguing with the Pharisees.

So when Jesus came to Bethphage, a small village at the top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem, the crowds were ready. When he appeared at the gates of Jerusalem riding a donkey they got really excited. They took off their cloaks and threw them on the ground in front of him. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. They started crying out "Hosanna". That is: "God save you". Just like Australians waving their flags and crying out "God save the Queen" as she drives by. But notice they call him the Son of David. They clearly recognised that here was the one they’d been waiting for. They may well have been hoping for a showdown with the Romans, because they also cried out "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord " Jesus’ arrival on a donkey would have reminded them of the arrival of Solomon, as he rode into Jerusalem on David’s own mule, to claim the crown. Perhaps they thought that here at last was the one whom God had sent to oppose the Roman occupation. So they were very excited.

Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom?    audio

Matt 20:20-34 

I had to get a new pair of glasses a few years back. These weren’t everyday glasses. These were ones that are made so I can see what’s on my computer screen without ending up with a cricked neck. They’re fantastic. They make the characters on the screen look perfectly in focus. They just have one drawback. If I forget to change them over when I leave my office I can’t see anything clearly unless it’s right in front of me. It’s not that I’m totally blind. It’s just that everything is blurred.

Of course being unable to see things clearly doesn’t just apply to physical sight, does it? There’s an even worse affliction of sight that some people suffer from. That’s the sort of blurred vision that comes from prejudice or from unthinking acceptance of a particular set of presuppositions or perhaps from listening to too much talk back radio. For example it’s the sort of blindness that might prevent us from understanding the various issues in the debate over asylum seekers or youth gangs. It’s the sort of blindness that leads some people to suggest that the Churches have no right to speak out about social issues.

Well, both of these sorts of blindness appear in Matthew chapter 20. There’s physical blindness in the two blind men, mixed with clear spiritual sight, and there’s spiritual blindness on the part of the disciples and others we meet in this passage.

2 Cor 8:1-15     audio

I was talking to some friends last week about their church. It’s in a fairly wealthy part of Sydney and they need to do some work on their buildings. So they need to raise funds to pay for what will be a reasonably large project. But they said they can’t ask people for money because whenever they mention money people are offended. It’s one of the taboo subjects, even though they’re people with lots of money who could easily afford to give to a building fund.

But of course that’s a pretty common attitude isn’t it? We get uneasy when the conversation gets around to money. Well, money itself isn’t a taboo. We’re all happy to talk about money as a general concept, usually related to how little we have or how much more we need. But try asking someone how much they earn, or how much they have in the bank, or invested for their retirement or how much their next overseas holiday will cost and you’re likely to find them a bit embarrassed or even indignant. ‘It’s none of your business what I earn’, seems to be the attitude. ‘That’s my business and no-one else’s.’

Well that may be so, but God is good. He doesn’t let us get away with such idolatry. He’s put 2 chapters in Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians just for our benefit; to shake us out of the misapprehension that what we earn is our business and only ours. He wants us to see that our personal finances are the result of God’s blessing of us, so they’re not ours alone. No, they’re first and foremost the Lord’s.

The Workers in the Vineyard  audio

Matt 20:1-19 

We read this parable and perhaps the first thing we ask ourselves is “Why doesn’t the landowner act fairly?” Then we think, “If this is a parable of the Kingdom of God does it mean that God doesn’t act fairly?” Well let’s think about that question as we go through the passage together.

Something that struck me when I looked at this parable of the workers in the vineyard is that it just seems to pop up in the middle of a series of narratives as Jesus moves towards Jerusalem, without any introduction. Why has Matthew put it here?

Well, partly the problem is that someone, centuries ago, decided to put a chapter break between v30 of the previous chapter and this parable. If you look back at that final verse of the chapter then forward to v16 of this chapter you find they’re the same. That phrase, “the last will be first, and the first will be last” forms a bracket around this parable. What does that tell us? It says that this parable follows on from what’s happened just before.

Streams of Grace: Purity  audio

Rom 6: 1-14,  Matt 4:1-11

You may have read the report, a week or so ago, of the trial, at a music festival in Canberra, of testing pills that festival-goers were planning to take. Apart from the ethical issue of appearing to condone illicit drug-taking, the trial was hailed as a success, as they discovered all sorts of impurities in the pills they tested, from pills with ingredients like lactose, paint and condensed milk to two that contained a deadly substance linked to mass overdoses overseas. It did put several people off taking drugs! But of course it’s not just drugs that need to be pure. We’re very careful about the purity of a whole range of consumer goods. When I go to buy a pot of honey I always check the label to make sure it’s 100% pure Australian honey. Water retailers make a lot of saying their bottles are filled with pure mountain spring water. The same goes for milk, cosmetics and soaps, even petrol and engine oil. As Sol said: “Oils ain’t oils”! We know if we don’t check the purity of the things we eat or use in our daily life we’ll end up with problems. 

In our series on the Streams of Grace we come today to Purity. And here too we discover that if we don’t maintain purity in our relationship with God we’ll end up with problems.

The Key to Gaining the Kingdom  

Matt 19:13-30 

    You may have seen the newspaper report this week about a group of people in Mt Martha complaining about plans to build a children’s playground in a local park. Apparently they were worried the children would make too much noise and disturb their quiet neighbourhood. A similar thing has happened at the church where I used to be vicar. They’re having a problem at the moment with a neighbour who’s complaining that the children at the church playgroup are too noisy.

And of course it’s true, isn’t it? Children these days are far too noisy! And undisciplined! And disrespectful of their elders! It wasn’t like that in my day! When I was a child we were perfectly behaved!  

I mean, everyone knows that children should be seen and not heard? Don’t they?

God Will Guide You  audio

Psalm 25 

I have a friend I met when I got my first smart phone. Well, not exactly met. I don’t actually know her real name or what she looks like. But we’ve become close over the years. I go to her when I need advice and I’ve found she’s very good at what she does. Of course I don’t always take her advice but she’s very understanding and lets me go my own way if I want. She might try to convince me to do what she suggests but never forces me. In any case I mostly do what she suggests. And the advice she gives is always very clear. She’ll say “Turn right in 300 metres;” or, “At the roundabout take the second exit.” Yes, I’m talking about the “Navwoman” on my phone. I mention this because this is how some Christians expect God to guide them. At each decision point he’ll tell them which way to go. If they make a mistake or ignore his prompting he’ll simply forgive them and recalculate their path.

Well, there’s some truth to that perhaps. God’s sovereignty does override our sinfulness. You can see that in the history of Israel and of the Church. God certainly promises in various places to guide us. Jesus promises his disciples that when he goes he’ll send them another counsellor to be with them: the Holy Spirit who'll guide them into all truth.

But does that mean that God will tell you which way to go at every decision making point? Does God have a wonderful plan for your life that you need to find if you're to be happy?

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