Unveiling Newness – The Parable of the New Cloth and Old Garment 

Matthew 9:16-17

In the Old Testament, the emphasis was often on justice and the law. For instance, the law of retaliation, or “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” comes from the Old Testament (Exodus 21:24). This law was about fairness and making sure that a punishment or compensation matched the crime or injury. It was a way to control violence and ensure justice within the community, based on the laws given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

In contrast, Jesus introduces a new way of understanding and practicing forgiveness in the New Covenant. One of the most powerful examples of this new approach is found in Matthew 18:21-22, where Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who sins against him. “Up to seven times?” Peter asks, thinking that forgiving someone that many times would be generous. Jesus responds, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” This response signifies not just a literal number but the idea of unlimited forgiveness. Jesus’ teaching goes beyond the legalistic approach of matching punishment with crime, emphasizing mercy, grace, and forgiveness instead.

The contrast between the two approaches highlights a shift from a focus on justice as retribution in the Old Testament to a focus on mercy and forgiveness in the New Covenant. While the Old Testament law aimed to establish justice and order, Jesus’ teachings in the New Covenant encourage forgiveness and reconciliation, even in situations where the law might allow for punishment. Jesus’ approach reflects a deeper understanding of justice—one that includes the restoration of relationships and the healing of communities through forgiveness.

In the New Covenant, the emphasis on forgiveness and mercy over strict justice is a call to live in a way that reflects God’s love and grace towards us. It challenges us to forgive others as God has forgiven us, transcending the limitations of the law to build a community based on love, mercy, and forgiveness. This radical approach to forgiveness under the New Covenant doesn’t negate the importance of justice but rather completes it with a higher law of love, as taught by Jesus.

Jesus’ parables show the incompatibility of the new teachings of Jesus (the New Covenant) with the old laws and practices of the Old Testament. Unshrunk cloth or new wine is not compatible with old garments or wineskins, the teachings of Jesus about forgiveness, mercy, and love cannot be constrained or fully understood within the rigid framework of the Old Testament law.

Unveiling Newness – The Parable of the New Cloth and Old Garment ~ Rev. Cheryl Farr

Daily Prayers

Progressing in our Process

Acts 18:24-28

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Luke calls Apollos “a learned man,” but other translations call him an eloquent man, which refers either to his speaking ability, to his learning, or, from what we know of Apollos, both. He had access to the greatest collection of works available. He was probably trained in rhetoric, and able to communicate in a manner that held people’s attention.

Luke describes him as a man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. Of course the Scripture he had knowledge of was the Old Testament. The “way of the Lord” that he spoke of with great fervor were the prophecies of Jesus. He was accurately teaching about the coming Messiah, and knew John the Baptist’s message on the baptism of repentance. There was a community in Ephesus of people influenced by John so it is possible that he learned from them.

He knew John’s declaration the Jesus was the Lamb of God, but he didn’t know that Jesus had come already. He knew nothing of Jesus’ death and resurrection, nothing of Jesus as Savior, and nothing of the Holy Spirit. He may have heard rumors about Jesus being the Messiah, but it had never been clearly explained to him.

Apollos shows us that no matter where we are in our knowledge or our walk with Christ we can grow. God calls people from all kinds of backgrounds. Some might be more charismatic than others. Some might have a better education. Some are regular people like the Galilean fishermen which Jesus called to follow him. We must not let anything, including ourselves, get in the way of progressing in our process of being Christians.

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MSAC Bible Challenge

Sunday: Jeremiah 4-6, Monday: Jeremiah 7-9, Tuesday: Jeremiah 10-13, Wednesday: Jeremiah 14-17, Thursday: Jeremiah 18-22, Friday: Jeremiah 23-25, Saturday: Jeremiah 26-29, Sunday: Jeremiah 30-31

A Tale of Three

What do a merchant, a fortune teller, and a prison guard have in common? In today’s text, God changed all of their lives! This passage is a powerful reminder that God is in control and that He is sovereign over all things. It is a story of faithfulness, courage, and salvation. It is a story that speaks to us today, reminding us of the importance of trusting in God and His plan for our lives.The text tells us that Lydia was a worshipper of God meaning that she was a practicing Jew. Lydia was from Thyatira which was in Asia Minor on the way to Mysia which is where God would not allow Paul to go last week. According to the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, that she was meeting beside a stream on the Sabbath for prayer suggests that there were not enough Jewish men in Philippi to make up a quorum and establish a proper synagogue. We see here a subtle but important point that Luke is trying to make—while Lydia could not be a founding member of a Jewish synagogue, she can be and is the first European convert to Christendom, and in fact is the founding member of the Christian community which begins to meet in her household [1]

This alone should cause people to lay aside any lingering doubt as to whether women should be leaders and preachers. The first European Christian community was led by a woman.

  [1] Witherington, Ben, III. “Lydia (Person).” Ed. David Noel Freedman. The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary 1992: 422–423. Print.

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MSAC Bible Challenge

Sunday: Proverbs 30-31, Monday: Ecc 1-4, Tuesday: Ecc 5-8, Wednesday: Ecc 9-12,
Thursday: SoS 1-8, Friday: Isaiah 1-4, Saturday: Isaiah 5-8, Sunday: Isaiah 9-12

Being a Disciple

The Holy Spirit will lead us to people who are ready to hear about Jesus when we are prepared to tell them about Jesus. But for us to be prepared to tell people about Jesus, we have to do the work it takes to be disciples. I read a statement this week that said, “opportunities come to those who are already serving, not do those who are doing nothing.” Paul would not have had the vision about the Macedonia man calling to him had he not already been discipling others because, if he had, he wouldn’t have known what it meant.

Y’all have no idea how distressful it is to me when someone says that God doesn’t call on them to do anything or they never hear the Holy Spirit. It distresses me because it tells me that they have ignored God’s callings so much and/or pushed aside the Holy Spirit when he was leading them to do something so much that God gave them what they wanted and left them alone.

If you feel that God doesn’t call you to anything or you never feel the Holy Spirit urging you to do anything, stop and consider if the problem is you. In Luke 16:10, Jesus said that “one who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much…” Are you faithful in listening to God and acting on what he says?

MSAC Bible Challenge

A Faith That Pleases God (Pt. 1)

Hebrews 11:1 is a verse that every Christian knows even if they don’t know that it is Hebrews 11:1.
Faith1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

We see that verse on signs, wall decorations, cups, and t-shirts. We see it on cards and, people use it as encouragement when they, or someone they know, is going through something that makes no sense.

It’s a great verse and a wonderful message, but like so many verses, it’s one that we take and run with for comfort but seldom consider its deeper meaning. How often, when we think about Hebrews 11:1, do we also consider Hebrews 11:2?

If we are going to move from milk to meat, we must take the time to read the verses around the verses that mean so much to us and learn what the authors were trying to teach us. There is so very much more than we think; there is so much more that we need to know. There’s so much more that we should want to learn instead of remaining comfortable with a milk diet, and it breaks my heart that we don’t seem to want to learn.

Hebrews 11:1-16

Bible Study of Hebrews 11

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What Difference Does it Make?

One of my favorite preachers loves the Charles Wesley hymn “And Are We Yet Alive.” In the past, and sometimes still today, conference and district meetings begin with singing: “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face? Glory and thanks to Jesus give for His almighty grace.”
And are we yet alive? That’s the question I’d like for us to think about today. Do we have a new life in Christ or are we mired down in our old sinful and selfish ways?

You’ve heard the story of the resurrection. The question is so what? What difference does it make?The Apostle Paul would be quick to say, “Everything!” The resurrection of Jesus makes all the difference in the world. In his 1st Letter to the Corinthians, he says:
1 Corinthians 15:14–19 (NIV)
14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
The resurrection is the cornerstone of our faith. It’s what separates us from all the other religions of the world. It’s what gives us purpose and direction when we’re perplexed, confidence when the storms of life threaten to overpower us, hope when all seems to be lost. And that’s why Paul is quick to go on and say:
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NIV)
Can people tell from looking at your life that the resurrection makes a difference to you?

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