Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  

Welcome to the gathering of St. Mark’s Church (Sunday worship under one roof)

Sunday, January 31st 2021.

1 Corinthians 8:1-7

We know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge.

What intrigues me about this passage is what does knowledge about the one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, has anything to do with love? What does the knowledge about the one and only God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Chirst, through whom are all things and through whom we exist, has anything about love? Yet the claim here is that it has everything to do with love. To know this is to love. To claim to know, yet not loving, is to prove that one actually doesn’t know.

People of God, as we worship God of Jesus Christ today may we be led by the Spirit of love. As we enter into worship, please take time to prayerfully ponder this: knowledge puffs up, love builds up as the tenet of our faith in the God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one Trinitarian God.

Reflective music:                 Your Love Remains by The Brilliance


Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.                                                                         The Sower by Bertram Poole

Song: ‘Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord’

Welcome and Notices:

Praying the Psalm:

In this part of the service we pray a psalm together. We listen in on the story from which the psalm arises in order to pray these words for us and for the world. We will pray Psalm 111 together. Before we do, I will provide some background.

Psalm 111 is a psalm of praise. It is a faithful and heartfelt response to what God has done and who God is. The psalm marvels at God’s works and his fame. Yet his works are praised not merely for being grand and incredible. Rather it is because his works show who God is – gracious and merciful, faithful and just. What’s more, this God is not far and aloof, rather he gets in the midst of people’s lives linking himself to them through a covenant. God takes his relationship to his people seriously. This ‘God’s presence to his people’ will endure, will last forever through the people of God in their living out his ways.

People of God, what do we praise God for? Do we praise God for his greatness – as we see in the works that are grand and incredible, a show of divine power? This psalm urges us to praise God for why God would work in the world at all. We are urged to look into who God is, the very character of God. God who is mindful of God’s relationship to us, God who would establish his ways that we may live to reflect God’s character. Praise God for God is gracious and merciful, faithful and just. In other words, we are invited to praise God personally from our hearts for how God relates to us and for us.

Let us pray the psalm together from our hearts for who God is to us and for us. Please respond with the words in bold.

Psalm 111 (abridged and adapted for worship)

Praise the Lord!

In the company of the upright, in the congregation,
  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.

His righteousness endures forever;

his praise endures forever.

Prayer for Others:

We respond by singing the Lord’s Prayer together [offering to be brought up during the chorus “Amen”]:

Offering and Dedication Prayer

Song: ‘Ten Thousand Reasons [Bless The Lord O My Soul]’

 Scripture:    Matthew 13:11-35 reading from the New Revised Standard Version

11 He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:

‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23 But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. 35 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”

Sermon Reflection: – Stewart Gavin

The Kingdom of God – The Kingdom of Heaven

Mentioned many times in bible, mostly Matthew

But also in Epistles and, of course, the Lord’s Prayer

What is The Kingdom of God?  How does it work?  Can we see it coming/developing?  Most of the info is in the form of parables, which are slippery wee things.

Fables James Thurber King of the Beasts

The frog’s aquarium doors unlocked, keys in cars, parents, teachers, police (it wasn’t perfect- make no mistake)

What do we expect from Kingdoms?  Do we have Kingdoms now?  How do they compare to God’s Kingdom?

Expectations: For them to serve the people using the nation’s resources wisely.

What do we get?

A bit of that and a lot of self-preservation disguised as “It’s a lesser evil, it’s always been that way” “if you don’t like it go somewhere else”

Capitalist, Communist, Socialist


USA – richest American is Jeff Bezos- of Amazon fame -186 billion, 186,000,000,000

A billion is HUGE.  If you earnt 100,000 US per year, ($50/hr), didn’t eat, pay rent, pay tax, wear clothes it would take you 10 yrs to be a millionaire, 1,000 years to become a billionaire, 18,600 years to catch up to the current wealth of Jeff Bezos.

If you earnt the Federal Minimum wage of $7.25 per hour (about 15,000 pa) it would take you it would take you 67 years to make your first million, 67,000 yrs to become a billionaire.  Currently Amazon pays about $US20 per hour.

Despite that wealth there is much corruption in business.  There shouldn’t be.  Haven’t they got enough?

Ford Pinto

Volkswagen and emissions fraud

Pacific Gas and Electric Company – Erin Brocovich

Flint, Michigan water supply

Insulin costs in Canada and Mexico

Boeing 737 MAX airplane 2.5 billion employees gave “misleading statement”

243 million as a fine

1.77 billion compensation to airlines unable to use their planes,

500 million to families of the 346 people killed


CBA 12.9 million and 100s of millions in fines for breaches of the anti-money laundering laws.

Virgin Australia and Quantas.


Chemist Warehouse and Chemist surcharges

Drs and ACC

Cataract operations, Fred Hollows Foundation ($50) vs $3,500

Airfares and refunds: 30 sec to take it off you, 20 working days to refund.

Businesses taking wage subsidies, and making record profits

None of these people or organisations should be moaning about beneficiaries ripping the system off.


Remember the BNZ being bailed out to the tune of 1.4 billion many years ago?  Who suffered as they restructured?  They sacked tellers!!

“Mortgage Holidays”, 20 yr mortgage, 4%, $50 to $70 month for life of mortgage of 15,000 extra

Banks get money from reserve bank at very low interest rate, lend it to us at 4% or about 4x what they pay.

So when they pay 10% its OK for us to pay 40%???

Big Four make 20% more profit from each NZ customer than they do from a AUS customer.

Remember transaction fees?  Pre computer.  As I remember, it the small banks waived transaction fees long before the big ones, despite the big ones having vast economies of scale.  Computers made such transaction fees unnecessary.

Fuel Prices

Petrol prices, AA and discounts 10c per litre off, but still pay 13c/litre more than the cheapest price.

Z and one other – jacked prices, when Malaysian airline plane shot down over Ukraine.  Said prices of oil would go up.  But you and I can’t pay less if a new oilfield is discovered, we’d be arrested for theft.  They didn’t go up, competitors did not follow them, dropped to “normal”

The Gull Effect.

Do the big players go under when Gull arrives?  Do they sell their holiday homes? Their Jet Skis?   Nope.  They are still doing very well, make no mistake.


NZ Lamb in UK 13.80/kg (March 2018)

NZ lamb in NZ  $16.99/kg (March 2018)

Sell it in NZ and you don’t have to freeze it, transport it to a port, transport it thousands of km, unload it, transport it to supermarkets, and it costs MORE in NZ?

Wage Subsidies for COVID

It’s not just the money – it makes people working hard and getting nowhere very angry. Why did Trump get in?

It’s legal but not just.

What causes all this?

It’s the expression of collective selfishness every individual has.

Fonterra 2017 CEO 78% increase to over 8 million – and lost them 250 million

Because we can.  It has always been that way. Grow up!!  It’s how the world works.  Go somewhere else.  Tell someone who cares.

 What are we supposed to do?

It is no different from the world that Jesus lived in.  He lived in an occupied country, nationalist fighters, tax collectors ripping people off, collaborators, soldiers exceeding their authority, religious institutions giving people the guilts, compromising with authorities when it suits them.

Recognise that like the leaven like the mustard seed and leaven, God’s Kingdom is coming.  We may not see it, remember after his death 11 frightened supporters to show for 3.5 years of work.

Nevertheless we should call out anything that is contrary to The Kingdom of God.  We should endure.  We should work for justice, not legality.

The Kingdom of God seems to not work evenly.  But it is coming and we should be part of it.  Sometimes with joy, sometimes delight, sometimes sadness.

That we should pray for and work for that Kingdom to come.

And always without the violence associated with human kingdoms.

Song: ‘Christ Triumphant, Ever Reigning’

Sharing the Peace of Christ: Peace of Christ be with you.

Song Of Sending: ‘Now As We Go’


The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever. Amen.