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Weekly inspirations from Aurora Colony Vineyard's owner, John Moore.
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John Moore
March 28, 2022 | John Moore

Cost of Discipleship – What if Life is not Fair? - Part 3

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently, he has been warning about money and wealth – and how it captures the heart and mind to the loss of eternal perspective and the obstacle to considered redemption.  Last week, we learned that the love of money, as illustrated by the instruction to give it away, exposes the heart and a refusal to follow Jesus.  Now the subject is expanded to priorities – to leaving everything in following Jesus.  Now Jesus strikes at the core question of justice – what if life is perceived as unfair?  How does that rate in the Kingdom?

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’  16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  Matthew 20:13-16.

1. How do we deal with the unfairness of life?  Clearly, both in the common ground of life, in our work and families, in communities, in our station give at birth, in where we live and who our family is. Life can be unfair. And if God graded on the curve, based on our merit or lack of the same, we might have a beef. But now the parable of the labors in the vineyard, and the master of the vineyard paying the same wages for different hours worked during the day, raised both the protest of the workers and the explanation of the master.  The first point: Life will be unfair.  And if we look at our human affairs, we will always get tripped up about understanding the kingdom of God.

2. But with God we get what we were promised, not what we think we deserve!  And good for us that we do.  If we got what was fair, we would all be condemned to an eternity apart from God because of our heritage in Adam and our acts of sin and rejection of the message of the gospel and the revelation of God.  What we really want is not what we deserve, but mercy, grace, receiving what we did not deserve, and could not earn on our own! 

3. Again, those who are least as the measure of greatness in the Kingdom.  So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.  Matthew 18:1-5

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  John 1:10-13.

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:1-3

News flash for eternity!  Understanding our life requires that we come to grips with the twin truths. First, life as we want to naturally measure it always has a cacophony of unfairness – of getting less than my neighbor, to whom I want to constantly compare myself. Second, we can’t chase fairness, not only because it does not exist in our world, but because it is antithetical to the gospel message:

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do..  Ephesians 2:8-10.

Next week - As we approach Easter, we see in our developing narrative Jesus predicting his death, and continuing negotiations for spiritual standing from the disciples, despite the repeated death narrative mixed together. 

- John Moore

Time Posted: Mar 28, 2022 at 12:32 PM Permalink to Cost of Discipleship – What if Life is not Fair? - Part 3 Permalink
John Moore
March 21, 2022 | John Moore

Cost of Discipleship – Loving God, not Money, and Sacrifice and Priorities - Part 2

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  Most recently he has been warning about money and wealth – and how it captures the heart and mind to the loss of eternal perspective and the obstacle to considered redemption.  Last week we learned that the love of money, as illustrated by the instruction to give it away, exposes the heart and a refusal to follow Jesus.  Now the subject is expanded to priorities – to leaving everything in following Jesus.

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[a] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.  Matthew 19:27-30.

1. Standards for Salvation and Discipleship. Now we see both great biblical themes addressed in Jesus’ teaching.  The issue of salvation – the rich, young ruler – exposed his heart as seeking worldly issues and not eternity. Though he was a good man, God does not grade on the curve for salvation.  It is believing in and receiving Jesus as a recognition of our need for redemption. After all, in earthly standards alone,  it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle – i.e. totally impossible – than for a rich man (relying on those merits and standards) to enter the kingdom. 

2. Impossible Standards Made Possible by God.  And the disciples were shocked by this teaching.  They had been steeped in the rabbinic school that wealth is a blessing from God and, therefore, an indication of right standing with God.  Not true.  Quite the opposite.  It is maybe the greatest obstacle to considering salvation and devotion to God.  But in the middle of the disciples' shock –they were astonished and asked, ‘then who can be saved?’ – Jesus' assurance is – with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.  This is again bringing the disciples back to the standards of the Kingdon of God and eternal vs. earthly values and priorities.

3. Cost of Discipleship.  Again, greatness in the Kingdon is from the last, not the first, from the child, not the one is high standing, from one who has given away what he or she has, not one who has gathered and collected wealth and riches.  And less we miss the point, many who are first shall be last, and many who are last will be first.

Even so, this is a passage not of condemnation or impossibility but of encouragement and a way out!  It is salvation as through Jesus, and following Him that we guarantee standing and greatness in the kingdom.  The reassurance is there will be justice and rewards in heaven – just based on eternal price tags, not standards we see around us.  The first and last references here are as to disciples, rewards in the kingdom, saved but lesser rewards based on life conduct of the disciples who are following Jesus.

(in the Context of David fearing for Saul who would kill him ) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.  These standards are straight out of heaven and from the throne of God, and by which real wealth and standing in the Kingdom is realized.

God’s best to you this week.  The theme of reward for work in the Kingdom is continued next week.

Have a great week,
John Moore

Time Posted: Mar 21, 2022 at 2:14 PM Permalink to Cost of Discipleship – Loving God, not Money, and Sacrifice and Priorities - Part 2 Permalink
John Moore
March 14, 2022 | John Moore

Paths and Obstacles to Eternal Life - Part 1

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom and great crowds began to follow him.  From instruction on forgiveness, marriage and divorce, and OT instructions, the ultimate question is now addressed: How am I saved?  How do I gain eternal life?  What are the standards or obstacles to eternal glory with God?  No question could be larger, nor Jesus answer any more direct. 

1.  Asking the Right Questions about Eternity – Understanding What We Don’t Have.  This rich young ruler seemingly had it all -  wealth, young, standing in the community.  But he at least understood – and was likely restless about – that he did not yet have an assurance of eternal life, of redemption, of his salvation.  That is a good start, from whatever vantage point.  The first step to redemption is understanding our need, the fact that we lack the righteous standing before God.   And his life was commendable from virtually every external standard.


2.  Eternity Measures our Lives By Heart Issues.  But this man’s core issue remained.  He had displaced, he loved money rather than God.  The test: give everything away!  Strip away anything competing for following God and the message of Jesus.  And to that test, this remarkable but worldly young man failed, declined Jesus’ advice, and went away sad.  Rich in this world, a pauper in matters of eternity.  It was wealth that crowded out God for this man, in the core of his being, in his mind and heart.


3.  Understanding Competition for Eternal Issues in Our World.  This point cannot be overemphasized in our affluent world.  Money and wealth compete for, and crowd out, our devotion to God. Better it be given away then we end up outside the kingdom, or least in the kingdom, following the instructions to a childlike faith.


So what do we do?  I grew up very poor, in a single-parent home.  I now have a net worth by most standards considered wealthy.  Do I give it all away?  Maybe.  Don’t dismiss that as an option.  Do I ramp up my giving and commitment to those who are my neighbors, whose need I see and whose need I can meet?  For sure.  Jesus commands his disciples not to lay up treasures on earth (Mt. 6:19). Instead, sell treasured possessions, give to the poor, and have treasure in heaven; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Mt. 6:20-21; Lk. 12:33-34). The only rich follower who did that in the Gospels was Zacchaeus, who gave half of his goods to the poor and repaid four times as much as what he had gotten from fraud (Lk. 19:1-8).


19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[a] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[b] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.  Matthew 6:19-24.


6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor 9:6


God give us grace and wisdom as we face these issues straight on, asking how to conduct my life in my brief years on this planet in a matter that pleases God.  Next week, the commitment to follow Jesus as a disciple follows directly from this instruction on the dangers of wealth and money.  Stay well.


- John Moore

Time Posted: Mar 14, 2022 at 2:11 PM Permalink to Paths and Obstacles to Eternal Life -  Part 1 Permalink
John Moore
March 9, 2022 | John Moore

Marriage and Divorce – God’s Design

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom, and great crowds began to follow him.  The religious charlatans, understanding their power was slipping, came to Jesus with a theological test: if marriage is a divine ordinance – and it is – then what about conflicting instruction from Moses allowing for divorce.  How can both be true? Jesus now begins to instruct on the obstacles to faith and living in an honorable way in the Kingdom.

3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?  4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Matthew 19:3-6.

1.  Marriage: The Biblical Model.  From the beginning of creation, the model is clear – we are made for relationships.  Men and women are made for each other.  They meet a need for each other not otherwise met within our design.  Adam’s delight in Eve was immediate and was blessed by God.  From that ordinance, in the garden of Eden, all of the human race – sons of Adam and daughters of Eve - came.  And in marriage, God intended for the greatest of joy and fulfillment to be something of heaven on earth – joys of family and generations, marked out as examples of the grace and mercy of God.  So what happened?

2.  Divorce: The Demise of God’s Plan.  But, as with sin in the garden, that plan was and is not followed.  As such, Moses allowed an exception.  Moses (aka God) permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  God’s provision for marriage and family was broken by sin.  The fallout led to broken relationships, divided families, and disputes that tore apart Israel and now the church.  

3.  Divorce Now: A Narrow Exception.  Lest we misconstrue the Mosaic exception, Jesus brings his listeners back to the heavenly model: anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another, commits adultery.  This exception, porneia in the original language, is sexual infidelity.  It has a broader application to other abuses in marriage and the family but is not broad and is not lighthearted.  In other words, for someone to contemplate divorce, it should only be applied after serious and prolonged consideration.  It is not unusual in my practice that a client only seeks out legal advice on this subject after years of consideration and attempts at counseling and reconciliation. 

4.  How Narrow is the Exception?  Really, really narrow.  The Rabbinic teaching was simply that if a man did not approve of his wife, he merely clapped his hands three times, exclaiming "I divorce you" and it was done.  The disciples clearly understood how narrow was this exception, such that the person who never married both avoided this prospect of eventual adultery and set him or herself apart for Kingdom work remaining single.

This subject is personal to me twofold: first, because I have been divorced and remarried, without the above biblical exception, meaning my remarriage was sinful and not honorable, and secondly, because of my work as a family law attorney, attending now to hundreds of divorces over my 30-year career.  For the first, I have been forgiven as to my remarriage but recognize the continuing consequences of divorce in relationships and in the family.  In that, I am responsible for those consequences and pray daily for grace and mercy among my family and people.  And to the second, as a Christian attorney, I am obligated to provide not only the legal standards for divorce but, when asked, remind my clients of the biblical instructions of this and other related passages.  This is not an easy subject, and the humility of being a child in the Kingdom while seeking wisdom is always our fallback.

This, then, is the human model and dilemma.  We know what is right, we often do not do what is right, and the only further damage is to apply self-deception to refuse to own up to our sin and seek available remedies.  Of course, no one is without sin.  We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2), and to even look on a woman with lust is adultery –   27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 .  The issue is not sinners vs. non-sinners.  The issue is understanding God’s standard, being reminded of our need for redemption and grace, and staying at the feet of Jesus in our pilgrimage and walk.  Next week, another obstacle to spiritual growth – riches and wealth.  Stay well. 

- John Moore

Time Posted: Mar 9, 2022 at 2:05 PM Permalink to Marriage and Divorce – God’s Design Permalink
John Moore
March 8, 2022 | John Moore

Forgiveness: If you are Counting, you are Not Forgiving (Part 2)

Jesus has been both instructing and illustrating about greatness in the Kingdom by the life of a child – he who wants to be great should be least, have the humility of a child, and that the delight of God is for salvation to come to all without one lost.  This love necessarily includes forgiveness.  Forgiveness includes two parties – the offender and the offended.   Now Jesus is tested at a legalistic level - how often should I forgive?  The answer is unexpected.

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[a] Matthew 18:21-22.

1.  Forgiveness: Measured by the Heart.  You have to love Peter.  Fumbling through confusion with the message of Jesus, right answers and affirmations at times, and testing the limits of the Kingdom as taught by Jesus.  The Rabbinical teaching was forgiving 6 times.  Peter ups his game and questions and suggests 7 times.  Jesus answer: if you are counting, you are not forgiving.  It is a matter of the heart, not of calculation.  It is to be without limits.

2.  Parable of Non-Forgiveness.  To emphasize His point, Jesus give a parable of the unmerciful servant.  Having been forgiven by his master of a massive debt, with the plea of mercy and patience, he immediately went out and demanded repayment of lesser debt from another, after receiving the same follow up plea from this new debtor for patience.  In other words, the encouragement for forgiveness is from the forgiveness we have received from others – or in this case, from God. 

3.  Warning for Those Who Refuse to Forgive.  And to emphasize His point, Jesus warns that for those unwilling to forgive, in the same measure in which they have been forgiven, the life consequences are severe.  This point could not have been missed by the disciples and would be increasingly applicable as they moved into the realm of the enemies of Jesus and the cross and persecution of the church.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   Colossians 3:12-13.
Important note: Forgiveness does not erase consequences, nor does it require that we forget offenses.  Often that is impossible.  Rather, it means you continue to extend out the love of God to those who do not deserve it.  Remember, neither did we!
There is a broad path to the values of the world, and a narrow path for the pilgrim following Jesus.  Blessing on you as you apply these forgiveness, mercy and love principles…even when others don’t deserve it.  Next week: Instruction of divorce, which follows directly form instruction on forgiveness.  Stay well.

- John Moore, Owner/Proprietor

Time Posted: Mar 8, 2022 at 10:31 AM Permalink to Forgiveness: If you are Counting, you are Not Forgiving (Part 2) Permalink