Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries


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.

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?

Christ Our Comforter  audio

2 Cor 1:1-11 

You may have heard of Arch Hart, Professor of Psychology at Fuller Seminary in the US. He visited Australia several times in the 90s to lecture about stress and depression. One of the interesting things he said was a piece of advice he gives to ministers. He said never take your day off on a Monday if you can possibly help it. Why? Because that’s the day you’re most likely to be depressed and instead of being revived by a day off you’ll just waste it. And I can understand what he means. Imagine you’re the pastor of a church that’s wracked by divisions; where people are arguing over theology and how to apply it to their daily lives; where some of the congregation are involved in immoral behaviour and are even boasting about how sophisticated they are and the rest of the congregation just turn a blind eye; where every time you preach someone will complain that it was too long, or too simplistic or too complicated; where they point out that the other preachers are obviously far more gifted than you are; where they object to anything new. Monday would be a pretty depressing time wouldn’t it?

Now, I hope you realise I’m not talking about Steve here. I’m actually thinking about Paul’s experience at Corinth; because that’s the sort of Church he had to deal with there. If you read his first letter to the Corinthians, you’ll get an idea of the issues they faced. They were a very gifted Church but they’d allowed all sorts of problems to emerge.

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.

Trust in the Lord audio

Matt 10:5-34

I wonder if you’ve ever had the experience of suffering for your faith. I think for most of us that would be a rare occurrence. Though of course suffering for your faith can take lots of forms. In Australia it rarely comes in the form of physical suffering, though it certainly does in other parts of the world. In Australia it’s more likely to be in the form of disadvantage in employment, or being shunned by friends, or being mocked for your beliefs. In the public arena it often takes the form of being sidelined or ignored in public discourse in political policy making.

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