1 John 3:16-24 Love: Trust in Action

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We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?  Little children, let us, love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this, we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. [NRSV]

Since the formation of Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance of the 1600’s, we have been growing from simply trusting doctrines handed down through the tradition of the church to explore what it means to have an individual understanding of faith. Examples: forgiveness is no longer found through visits to the priest, rather we recognize that we only have to ask God in Christ directly and forgiveness is given. The understanding that each of us is a minister in the priesthood of all believers and clergy are those called to specific roles within the church’s ministry. We have had the opportunity to read the Scripture in our own native languages instead of exclusively in Latin, Greek or Hebrew. [Note: Those who cling to the KJV have no perspective that the 1600’s since the texts were first written still had scripture and those since have had the benefit of other translations and discoveries, but alas that is an aside.]

The Risk of Self over Community

With the individualization of faith, we have expanded to points of risk.

For both those who say they don’t need the church or are threatened when the church is called to following the Holy Spirit in new directions.Don’t stand alone. Don’t trust your own heart and mind, is our life God’s?

1 John 3 is a reminder to not simple love as the concept in our head, but to actually love people. The goal is not to simply know the truth in our head or heart, but to stand up for and live Truth in presence of evil and deception.

Love in Truth and Action

Jesus laid down his life for us—and are we to lay down our lives for one another? { We hope that is just a figure of speech, and only in rare, once in a lifetime occasions, right? }

We can have all love figured out in our head; we can understand what is just and good, what is right and wrong and separate that from the life we are called to live in our homes, work/school, community, and world.

The risk of leaving the church behind for the individual is that we most easily become self-determined, self-validated, self-understood, self-comforted, self-medicated, but never truly loved nor made whole.

The deception is what “I” figured out at the expense of those

What good does it do us, our God, or our brothers/sisters who are in need, for us to know love, blessing, grace, and peace

Again with the Little Children language

Like, little children, let us, love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us;

UMC Lesson of the Week: Our hearts and minds are but ONE way to know the heart of God.

Wesley: teaches us that the primary way God speaks to us is through scripture. So, as UM’s we trust scripture as our primary reason that we know God is love, and how God loves us, and how God calls and expects us to love in return and to love one another.  All these things and more come from scripture.

But how do we use scripture?

Scripture first, through (3) Three lenses, a. TRADITION, b. REASON, and c. EXPERIENCE. Never through one or two, but balanced through all three.

  1. What the believers have understood and experienced since the beginning.
  2. What our reason reveals from the study, testing and measuring.
  3. What the Holy Spirit reveals directly to us in our experience of God at work

Only a, and focus on rule and history

Only b, and we focus on mind, opinions, and ideas

Only c, and we have no foundation, and risk separation

1 John 3: reminds us to:

  1. Place ourselves in God’s perspective when we look at tradition and rules of the church.
  2. Place ourselves in the mind of God when we view ourselves and our neighbors.
  3. Place ourselves in the Spirit of God when we venture out on our own strength and ideas.

God is Greater than our hearts:

  • God has seen more than we see
  • God has done more than our experiences
  • God has loved longer than we have
  • God has waited longer than we wait
  • God has died that we might live

Bottom line: God knows more and knows better than you, me or us.

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. 

To trust God with our history, present and future is our goal and direction.

Am I on course toward God? or am I trying to fit a square peg into a God-shaped hole?

We believe in Jesus as God’s greatest act of love.

God loves us is not just the right answer to a good question.

  • God proves it, love us when we, build a tower with our will and call it God’s
  • God lives the word but coming to be one of us
  • God’s way is the way of reaching to us in sin, pride, greed, fear, and death and loving us even when we deserve it least.
  • That proves love in action.

 

Our response to this love, is to love

  • Our response to God’s commandments, is to trust and follow.
  • Our response to God living in us, is to live out our faith daily.

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1 John 3:1-7 Known as Loving Children

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. [NRSV]

This text embodies the simple yet life-changing message of salvation.

  • God loves us
  • God loves us even when we rebel and reject
  • Goes does not force us to love but hopes we will trust Christ
  • God knows we deceive and are deceived
  • God Be in God is to be whole, sin does not exist.
  • God calls us to be in the truth

Preventing Grace/Love: The Love the God has for us started before we were created, before we were born, before we came into this word, God was already loving us.

As United Methodist, we call this love the first part of our salvation. God loves the world, and all of us in the world. This does not mean that everyone is behaving, acting or thinking in ways that reflect God’s love. The starting point is God’s love for us, for us all.

As United Methodist, we call this love God’s preventative love. The love that goes first. As every loving parent loves the child before they are born, hoping and dreaming of the life and joy they will experience and become. (The truth of the human example is that not every parent loves their child. Not every parent hopes and dreams for the life that child might become. Not every parent knows how to love and certainly not love selflessly)

Our salvation is not based on our parent’s love, it is grounded in God’s eternal love, that Goes first.

This preventative love shows the example of love, trust, and hope for a shared relationship. Remember the first time you made yourself vulnerable to express to someone that you loved them and they rejected or ignored your feelings or declaration? It is emotionally painful, but we find other persons or other times that persons are ready and able to love and we try again.

Saving Grace/Justifying Grace: The second express of love that forms our faith and relationship as a Christian, as a child of God, is God’s second dose of loving us, not in our ignorance, but in our rejection of ignorance of God’s love. God sends his son, Jesus, to express human love and relationship.

Through sin: pride, greed, longing for self-reliance, and self-determination we declare: “I want” or “I need” or “I must” or “Look at what I made” and we in our immaturity and foolishness we express the world is for our purpose and our benefit. We grow and mature looking for rational and measurable ways to prove what we can measure, calculate, predict, plan and control and we leave little to no room for the love shared with God. It is self-love.

It is for self-loving people that Jesus came to show God’s love was extended first and continues to be offered even when we close the door to God’s love. God continues to love us; God continues to hope we will love in return.

The Cross of Jesus is God’s gift of grace that says, First I loved you when you didn’t know how to love and now I love you even when you reject, refuse, ignore or deny my love.

Note: For all the love God shows, God does not force love upon us. That would void any room for love in our relationship with God.

Christ is God’s second offer over love. This act of sacrificial love proves the nature of God’s love and the power and reality that sin is that which keeps us from returning love, trust, and faith in God’s love.

Can you remember a time when you reach out to help someone who may have hurt you in the past and you offer to try to renew or restore the relationship and yet they spurn, reject, ignore you even more? God’s love stands as an eternal love that spans all time and all generations. What Jesus did by allowing his life to be given for ours make a way for us to find God even when we burned our bridges.

As a child, I had the privilege of living near the woods, near a creek, both were filled with God’s creatures and seasons. The creek was deeper than I felt safe to wade across and I would find limbs and old board to try and reach to the other side, but being unable to reach the distance and not able to withstand the force of the stream, and unable to secure both sides without the current dragging my efforts away. I required someone who could bridge the distance.

Through the sacrificing love of the Cross, Jesus makes a way through sin, for me. He proves and paves a way to God, even where I have failed.

As United Methodist we acknowledge that God loves us, acting first and acting knowing our sin, through Christ.

Sanctifying Grace/Love: The third expression of love comes in the process of “abiding in God.”

You’ve heard a parent say something like: “as long as you are living in this house you will follow my word.” As a rebellious child we press the limits of these in our process of maturing. Especially if they “House Rules” are not loving. God’s law is eternally grounded in love.

We live in a give-and-take process of learning and practicing what it means to love as God loves. We grow practicing and testing what it means to trust God’s love, when we convince ourselves and others we have such great alternative choices. The choice eternally remains for us to choose how we see the world is better than God’s way, but that comes at the cost of our relationship.

Perfecting Grace/Love: The final expression of God’s love and grace is when we are in the heart of God.

There is not sin, no distance, no separation present; sin has no reality there. We are whole. We are promised this in eternity and we also experience moments in our faith journey in this lifetime. This is our shared journey.

The invitation of First John is to the community of faith, like ours, that knows God’s love, but we are called to be loved, love and grow in love in would that:

  • Loves it self
  • Love is defined by each individual
  • Love that not love but is temporary gratification
  • Love that is only physical and not eternal
  • Love that is contrived and manipulated.
  • Love that is not love AT ALL.

God is doubling down on LOVE being the language and path for our relationships.

We find it impossible to love some people.

Our seeming impossible to love in some circumstances.

This is where we point to the deception where the world is calling Love and Good and Truth that none of the above.

The most loving thing to do for one who is blind is to clear their path, help them when need help and let them practice seeing until sight is given in heaven.

The same is true in all our earthly relationships. (Do not home, do good, practice the path toward God.

What our of our differences in this broken and sin-filled world?? [ Look to 1 John 3:1-7 ]

See what love the Father has given us

that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.

  1. Seek the truth of God’s love and know God loves us.

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be, has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  

  1. When the way is unclear, know the truth looks like GOD’s love.

And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. [WHOLE] 

  1. We complete the cycle of love, when we find ourselves in God’s love.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 

  1. When we don’t trust God, our hearts are not in God’s.
  2. We live in a world filled with those who run from God, twist God’s word, and don’t love.

You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 

  1. To live in God is to be free from Sin.
  2. To live in God is to be in the truth.

Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

  1. We are frequently and easily deceived and mislead others.
  2. Just because a group says this is love, does not make it so..

God loves us even in our sin, hoping that we grow out of sin, toward wholeness in him.

PRACTICAL UNDERSTANDING

Some people are born with an easier journey toward God

Some are born with a more difficult path

If the path is not leading someone to God, it is not the right path.

We come into the world that is sinful and divided, Our goal is to find our way to God’s heart

We cannot find our way to God’s heart without confronting our sin and the sins of the world.

If we excuse each other to remain in sin, we forfeit the God’s gifts of grace for self and others.

Where divided people call on the name of God that they are following the TRUTH

Know the power of deception is enormous, we must be willing to question ourselves and learn from one another, learning from our failure rather than fueling our division.

The final word in this passage is about deception, the final challenge is to NOT deceive nor be deceived.

  • The greatest threat to God’s love is that that we listen to a voice other than the voice of God.
  • The first story of faith in the scripture is the children and a talking snake, the children listen to the snake instead of listening and trusting God. Sin follows sin corrupts, sin divides.
  • 1 Jn 3 vs7 The Right path, the right direction, the way to God, has nothing to do with my opinion, nor my theology, not my understanding, nor my experience. It is about our continuing to find our selves right when we belong, together, IN God.

Where we are divided, we are separated from God: What must we do to return to the heart of God.

Here is the call for us to lay down our traditions, our brains, our opinions, our faith and place ourselves at God’s direction. God will complete all that follows.  (the sins we struggle with are not as much the Top Ten, but the little assumptions, fears and ignoring when God is with us, to love and help us, always.

john@brantley.net

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1 John 2:1-2 Children Need to Love Rules

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My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. [NRSV]

Three perspectives about sin:

  1. I determine my reality and morality, you are responsible for your own.
  2. I occasionally sin, but not the “big ones” and if I do Jesus will get me out of hot water.
  3. I am a sinner, but Jesus covers me with Grace, so its ok to continue to do as I please and let Jesus step in when I need him. (Oh, that’s basically the same as number 2)
  4. I am a sinner and no matter how hard I try I will continue to be a broken vessel, in a broken world, and totally rely on God’s grace in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to renew and guide me, every hour of every day.

Most of the world lives with the confidence of option number one. I am the master of my own life and sin is either the infraction of a moral code or the ignorance or carelessness of someone else.

First John is a letter appealing to us in our weary state of sin to remember that sin is more than breaking rules, disobeying the law, or having anything to do with our definition of appropriate behavior.

Sin is..

[ http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/we-confess-our-sin ]

We Confess Our Sin

Genesis 1:27 asserts that we’ve been made in the image of the Creator. Like God, we have the capacity to love and care, to communicate, and to create. Like God we’re free, and we’re responsible. We’ve been made, says Psalm 8, “a little lower than God” and crowned “with glory and honor.” We believe that the entire created order has been designed for the well-being of all its creatures and as a place where all people can dwell in covenant with God.

But we do not live as God intends. Again and again, we break the covenant relationship between God and us. We turn our backs on God and on God’s expectations for us. We deny our birthright, the life of wholeness and holiness for which we were created. We call this alienation from God, sin.

A distinction should be made between sin and sins. We use the word sins to denote transgressions or immoral acts. We speak of “sins of omission and commission.” These are real enough and serious, but they’re not the essential issue.

The issue is sin in the singular. Sin is our alienation from God, our willful act of turning from God as the center of life and making our own selves and our own wills the center. From this fundamental sin, our various sins spring. Sin is estrangement of at least four kinds:

Separation from God

Sin is breaking the covenant, separating ourselves from the One who is our origin and destiny. It’s trying to go it alone, to be out of touch with the God who is the center of life. Based on the story in Genesis 3, the church has described this break in dramatic terms: the Fall.

Separation from other people

In our sin, we distance ourselves from others. We put ourselves at the center of many relationships, exploiting others for our own advantage. Instead of loving people and using things, we love things and use people. When confronted with the human need, we may respond with token acts of kindness or with lip service or perhaps not at all.

For some people and some groups, we’re totally indifferent or actively hostile. Sin is a denial of our common humanity and our common destiny on this one small planet.

Separation from the created order

In our sin, we separate ourselves from the natural environment. Greedily we turn upon it, consuming it, destroying it, befouling it. As natural resources dwindle, as possibilities increase for long-term damage to the atmosphere and seas, we pause to wonder. But our chief concern is for our own survival, not for the beauty and unity of all God’s creation.

Separation from ourselves

We turn even from our own center, from the goodness, happiness, and holiness that is our divinely created potential. Sometimes it seems that there are two wills warring within us. As Paul put it, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

Paul continues: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Like Paul, we discover that we are powerless to extricate ourselves from sin. Though we work ever so earnestly at various means of saving ourselves—being good, going to church, reading the Bible—these in themselves cannot save us. Sin is not a problem to be solved. It’s our radical estrangement from God, a separation that only God can heal by a radical act of love. We yearn for this reunion, this reconciliation, this redemption, this salvation.

From United Methodist Member’s Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006), pp. 74-75

Sin is the reality of three important pillars/foundations:

  1. Sin is I think and act in ways that separate me from God and God’s people.
  2. Sin is the evidence that I am choosing and behaving in ways that distance myself from God and others.
  3. Sin is the evidence that I am not trying, working, trusting God to ‘save’ me in my daily life.

These correspond to the three rules of what it means to be a United Methodist:

  1. Do no harm
  2. Do all the good you are able to do
  3. Practice being in love a loving and trusting relationship with God and the people of God.

We live in a broken and sinful world.

  1. When people, groups, governments, cultures, businesses, families, parties, agenda organizations, classes, families couples, and individuals declare and decide they know a better way to order and understand our self, our world, God and all in the universe that is OTHER than God’s design and purpose, we distance ourselves, we move away from God and this separation is sin.

Not all sin has the same immediate consequence, but all sin is a movement away from God.

In God’s grace, we have the ability to repent,

1. to acknowledge that we are wrong, incomplete, not the designer but the created, and we choose or ‘re-choose’ to follow, trust and seek God’s way. Turning away from our own strength, heart, soul, and mind and affirming our reliance on God and the people of God who are also following God.

Repentance is our way of returning to God, move from separation from God, moving back, thinking back toward God.

While we might need to repent every day. The hope in 1st John is that we might not continue to sin the first place

The Three Rules of Methodist Theology are intended to help us keep from sinning.

  1. Do no harm
  2. Do all the Good you can
  3. Participate in worship, studying, and serving and practicing the things of God so that we continually grow, moving and living in God.

The great divide in our culture is who is on the ‘correct’ side of what God is doing and believing and revealing.

We look at scripture as our first and primary resource. Jesus is our best example and our means of repentance and grace we discussed above.

Jesus preached to groups and to individuals without regard to sin, rather because all are sinful. God is revealed and shows up in Jesus because we are separated from God.

With every person, who comes to Jesus, or Jesus reaches out to be with, he accepts in sin, forgives, and calls them to sin no more.

God loves us no matter what, and is ready and willing to forgive us, but expects us to not living in the safety-net of grace.

Get back on the high-wire and live life fully, trusting God to be the source of balance, force, and function.

The three rules are simple enough to learn and remember, but built into them is the affirmation that we know without God, we are lost in sin/ we are separated from God, our purpose, our meaning, and our fulfillment.

  • If someone says that don’t need God, they likely don’t know God and cross the boundary into resisting God’s grace.
  • If someone says that DO need God, they try to trust God at times, but generally, wing-it their own way until that breaks down or becomes overwhelming.  [ The need to practice the three rules is key ]
  • If someone says that need God but are not reflecting God’s heart, they may be saying or thinking they need God but are further over the boundary from God than they suppose.

1 John is affirming that Jesus is working on you, and me and all of us and the whole world.

Keep in mind that Jesus offended many people, ‘followers and ignore-rs.’  [Our culture is lost in the murky waters of what is offensive to the destruction of us all.]

1 John reminds us that Christ is interested in loving, saving and extending grace to us all. —All who will refrain from moving away.

The test:

  • Is my way of living, thinking, acting revealing my trust of God’s word and God’s love?
  • Is my way of living, thinking and acting revealing my self-awareness that without God I am alone and lost.
  • Is my way of living, thinking and active revealing God’s desire to rescue and prevent, but not without choosing God’s saving help.

Examples: Am I loving rules more than a relationship with God?

  • Am I loving my comfort over your discomfort?
  • Am I loving my interpretation compared with what God is about to reveal to me through your faithfulness?
  • Am I loving my understanding of love more than God’s word call me to go and sin no more?
  • Sin is walking in the dark with saying “I can see fine.”

God is the light that exposes the darkness in all of us, calling us to trust Christ actions AND words.

Our culture is in a relentless attack on the body of the church, the scriptures, and the understanding of what God’s will and purpose for us truthfully is.

There is a collective and corporate sin, darkness leading into darkness for fear of the light. For the light of Christ may reveal that those who love without the Word and those who trust with Word without love are both wrong.

Back to the three rules:

The first two are directed toward our personal actions, how we love and avoid hurting.

The third is the affirmation that the Bible, the church and the traditions of the faith filter and keep us away from sin.

The key is not to keep one or two of the rules to faithfully balance all three.

  • Am I faithful in following Christ?
  • Am I a sinner?
  • Am I a United Methodist?

Practice all three rules and you will find the grace of Christ drawing you toward God and your enemies in love. This is the measure. God is not only interest in you, God longs for us all.

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Mark 16:1-8 As You Go and Tell

Garden Tomb of Jesus

The stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Go Tell his Disciples, “There” you will see him.

A confirmation that the Church is the Body of Christ and a sure and dependable place and moment to share our living Savior.

My crazy grandfather used to tell me that I could not go swimming until I learned to swim. I would reply, “How can I learn to swim without getting in the water.” His reply, “Go ask your grandmother.”

It is in the act of doing that we come to experience Jesus as our Savior.

If I only think about Jesus, then my faith would be a theory that could exist just fine within my own understanding, and you could have your understanding and I could have mine and we’d be fine as long as we didn’t share where we had a conflicting understanding. (skip the opportunity for sarcasm.)

The specific instruction on the first Easter Sunday was to find Jesus, where and when you are telling the other disciples about the resurrection.

Our worship, fellowship, music, visuals, conversations, scripture, and are ways we gather to experience Jesus, living with us.

How do I experience Jesus?

  • I see Jesus: in the scriptures
  • I hear Jesus: in the music
  • I smell Jesus: in your questions
  • I feel Jesus: in your singing and responding
  • I taste Jesus: in the bread and cup and fellowship dinners, why I cook.

How do I prevent people from experiencing Jesus?

  • When I’m not sharing, the world sees the wines of complaining, division, fear, anger, selfishness, and pride.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people hear whatever news, movies, celebrities, squeaky wheels will tell, print or post.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people smell doubt, insincerity, and shallow words that don’t relate to people’s hunger and thirst for what is good and right.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people continue to feel alone, confused and divided
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people taste the bitterness of a sin-filled worldview.

Q: So What do I tell people?

  • Jesus lives for a sinner like me
  • Jesus speaks through scripture and the church
  • Jesus smells fresh and hopeful if what I’m saying is mean-spirited, nope, not Jesus.
  • Jesus feels present and relevant to people.
  • Jesus tastes satisfying and whole.

So When and How Often do I have to tell about Jesus?

NOW!

Easter is the best day to tell about Jesus

  • Who will you tell see
  • Who will hear
  • Who will feel
  • Who will smell
  • Who will taste

Easter is the reminder of our real urgency that someone is

  • bound and
  • blind and
  • afraid and
  • confused and
  • misinformed and
  • betrayed and
  • some clouded by religion
  • alone making up something they call the truth
  • any of these, but they DO NOT have to be

Some have smelled the difference between the joy of our worship and the judging, barking, and silence

Some have tasted the world and are left hungry

A Word to Disciples

Back to the instruction, with the urgency: Easter is a day to come and experience Jesus as our Risen Savior so that every day that follows we are ready to be the living Jesus until he returns.

Use every way that we experience life to lead the world to experience Jesus in us.

When we are cady, controlling, fussing, griping, condescending, bothered with others around us we are in a danger zone of NOT allowing others to experience Jesus. We get in the way. 

The invitation is for this day, for Disciples to regroup in Jesus, as ‘THE’ way and be ready to live to experience Jesus with others

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John 12:12-16 Jesus is Coming to Town

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The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!”  Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. [NRSV]

Why Hosanna?

The words of praise. Hurray! Glory! Wonderful! come to mind, but this is a more unique word that Hebrew and recorded in Jesus’s native Aramaic. It is a phrase word. Just as the folks from Athens, GA might say: “How ‘bout them Jackets” (haha, twist intended) it would be a celebratory “Glory, Glory to ole Georgia.” If these phrases were encapsulated into a word we would the idea of ‘Hosannah”

Hosanna began as Lord, God Save us! and through the Gospel’s has come to mean, Highest Praise, who has saved us. So their use of the original context is twisted with the early church’s use of the old testament word.

So we have Palm Sunday as a pre-celebration that Jesus coming into the world, and in our hearts and lives, is the celebration of our salvation.

Which means if Jesus does not come to the world, to our heart, and to our town, then we are NOT saved. Here in is theological of preparing for a life as Easter People.

We usually only read this passage as an observer of a historical event, but it is shared in the Gospels as Good News and not just historical newspaper clippings.

Hosannah: Jesus has saved me, even though we celebrate the death on Good Friday and the Resurrection of next Sunday as Easter, we look at this story of entry into the city as a necessary part of the process.

We prepare for Easter knowing it is our victory march! The ASSURANCE of what WILL be and not just hope of what MIGHT be.

Why Palms?

The disciples did not gather to get Creighton’s Florist to order dozens of palms to be ordered, the palms were a response from the people who are making a traditional sign of welcoming the king.

This is a difficult time for us to respond in unison with any unifying act of praise and celebration because we have become a culture of suspicion, rebellion and divided support.

Some might hope, in our country that the “Stars and Stripes” would be an obvious rally flag. For some, it an illicit political protest.

I hope that you will do the spiritual work to see that the people might have divided reasons for welcoming Jesus as King.

Some who were in the crowd that day had experienced Jesus teaching, healing or miracles, while others knew only the oppressive Roman rule, and still, others were supporting glorious days of kings of the past hoping for the revival of political greatness.

Bottom line the palms are unifying symbols of many different individual reasons, some helpful and some dangerous.

Why a donkey’s colt?

Jesus came to town with is Colt? Would mean have met the expectation of many who were hoping for a new sheriff to clean house and restore order. When in fact, Jesus comes in humility to spiritually reorder the whole world and all time.

Think of the Jesus riding in a church parade. If this were a political parade there would have been legions of soldiers, a banner of the empire and emblems of Cesear. This is a church parade. Not everyone entered a float, but the people respond as if it is a political, flag-waving event.

Jesus rides in, not in a BEAST of an armored car, not on the back of a convertible, not even proud Clydesdale stallion. It’s more like he rides in on a pickup truck, not a four-door, HEMI, but a simple work truck.

But the symbol for some would be as if the self-proclaimed president was riding in ‘on’ a smart car.  You know that Consumer Reports does not the rate the “Smart Car” in their rating in a polite way of saying: “If you can’t say something good and helpful, don’t say anything at all.”

The palms and praises are the people’s response, Jesus message is the spiritual work that is being completed through the events of the week at hand. We call it Holy Week, but it is the week when everything we hold dear is lost and hope is out of our grasp… Oh, how we long for Easter, Salvation, Life, and Christ!

Wave OUR palms because we need to lead others out of hopelessness, fear, and sin into the joy that aways through the journey at hand.

This is what we share, this is why we praise, this is why we are the church, we are Christian, not for ourselves, but for OUR collective hope in the ONE who does save us. This week of Journey is the toughest part. Reach out to one who is in the hardest part o that spiritual and physical journey sharing the hope and joy that we KNOW is coming soon!

Again the call is to share the journey with those who cannot see this week is holy.

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John 12:20-33 Lost In a Life of Love

percentloved

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—”Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Attractive line from Gnostism: Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Antithesis from the world’s message: Those who love their life seize it, and those who hate their life in this world will give it away, now is the moment.

John’s Gospel is written for the stated purpose of helping us come to believe and once believing to have a greater faith to stand and share.

Those who love are about to live eternally, don’t trade it for the world of comfort, fame, control.

Approaching Easter is the ongoing journey we travel in following Jesus.

  • What percent of me does God love?
  • What percent of me does God forgive?
  • What percent of me does God save?
  • What percent of my time does God ask of me?
  • What percent of my possessions does God ask of me?
  • What percent of my thoughts and actions does God want to use for his glory?

This is where we been to see the hard ache of this passage

Has it become one you would like to edit out? Swap the yellow highlighter for the black sharpie, right?

Our journey is not about distance in miles, it is about millimeters in our hearts and

mind.

How much more of my self am I entrusting and devotion to a god this trip to Jerusalem?

The difference in our calling and That of Jesus is that his live was given up for us and

Our calling is to give our living to Jesus that other folks find the journey toward Christ

Winning by Loosing

As an adult we learn that “winning” is not always the reason to play a game.

There are some folks who work most every Sunday and miss church but they give more heart and time on other days and nights, so don’t judge one another. We are on the journey together

I read about an educator this week who was admonished by their supervisor for holding an adult student accountable for their ability to write. “Someone else passed them along, it’s not our place to stop the wheels of higher education.  We don’t need problems, blame, distractions, just let it slide and don’t single out this purpose that. Ugh the be offended

And so it is on the journey of faith, just let misinformed people believe what they will because I’m just a wrong as the next person and just as correct as the other. Then why bother?

God not only bothered, but gave his only child for us, God gives himself for us.

God loose, so that we win.

The warning in this passage is to not loose God, but settling for part, when God offers whole life.

Don’t share your faith because I encouraged you to do so,

Keep the context of what God has done for us – and ask what part of my love do you want me to share?

What part of the gospel do you want me to tell?

What part of the song do I sing?

What part of the fellowship to I offer?

What part of the gift do I give?

What part of the day is mine, alone?

The Way Home

Confession: Lord, Jesus I have not loved you with my whole self. I have not loved my neighbor. I have not loved my enemies. I have not always made room for you in my day and night. Forgive me and continue to offer your grace. Make me yours and put me to living for you, in love others and loving my life with you. Amen.

Remind your neighbor

Love your neighbor, welcome the stranger, forgive your enemy and add to the percent of your living and give for God.

 

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Luke 2:15-19   Acts 1: 7-11 , Matthew 23:32-39 Matthew 14:25-30, Mark 15: 18-23 (Lynyrd Skynyrd at Church?)

skynners

(FULL Video link from worship on YouTube)

My story with Lynyrd Skynyrd is not too different from many young boys who lived in the south as a child of the sixties and seventies. I received my first guitar at the age of 12 and would listen to the anthems of the southern rock. Trying to listen to the radio and pick out the notes to the intro to “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird”. Knowing all along that I could step in to play if they needed a back up, at least in my own mind. Flash forward to a couple of years ago I was going through my mother’s piano song books of church music, classical, show tunes and a few others like the collection of Bet Midler, Barbra Streisand, and the Carpenters, some she played in my youth. But as I went through the stacks of song books I found the classic collection of Lynyrd Skynyrd. What? Why did mom hide this contraband collection from my youth?

As I thumbed through the pages the idea of these songs being known as Southern Rock Anthems set the tone for me reinterpreting titles and lyrics as songs of God and faith. In fact some of the stories within the lyrics and the music speak for a generation and a culture within that generation, just as music does with every generation and every culture. (We are getting to the faith and God part, in a moment, hang in there.)

These Skynyd “anthems” of southern rock and roll are such because they speak the words of pride in once community, once way of life, for God and Country, The music speaks to the hearts of a people. Sometimes in rebellion of war and politics, other times lifting up the value of community and patriotism.

Which got me to thinking! (This is a the dangerous part.)

I clergy pier and friend, Bob Winsted, share some stories about his experience with Skynyrd band members. Bob and I had the privilege of experiencing the Holy Land pilgrimage and various small groups.

The piano player with Skynyrd band was Billy Powell. Billie was my friend Bob’s backyard neighbor in Jacksonville, Florida. He was also a friend with Leon Wilkensen and Ronnie Van Zant. They all went to Robert E Lee High school where Coach Skinner annoyed them about having long hair. Bob relays how they would collect Coke bottles and cash them in for the refund for the glass bottles and go give to coins to the old black blues player who sang out front of the local grocery story with his Dobro guitar. (They knew Curtis Loew personally, and were moved by his ballads. They wanted to heart the music, which wanted to feel the blues. They wanted to experiences the words and songs that moved them. Bob wanting to avoid going to Vietnam, joined the Navy and sign up to play in the Navy Band. This took him out of being the Skynyrd band, but it opened his music to play drums for Lou Rolls. Which prepared him for ministry playing USO tours around the world. Bob later had the honor of conducting the funerals of his high school buddies Ronnie and Billy.

So when I was holding this hymnbook of Skynyrd classics, the words jumped off the page into my eyes and ears of faith: The Skynyrd discography: “That Smell”: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. “I’m not the One, “ John the Baptist tells his disciples the same that he is not worthy to tie Jesus sandals. Peter stepping out onto the water with Jesus and only making it “Three Steps”

I share these stories to highlight how music and songs have an important part in shaping who we are and it is vital for us as people of faith to know what music shapes, defines, moves and inspires us.

The reason it’s okay to play Lynyrd Skynyrd in Church is because a) we changes some of the lyrics and b) there reflect something that has defined generations of people. Most important is to recognize that as we embrace each other’s music, we are also learning to understand, listen/hear, and appreciate each other.

To ride in the car, with my whole family, on a long, long, car trip to the beach, with Wendy, Frances, Mikey, Susanna, Luke and myself means that listen to Benny Goodman, The Weather Girls/Mother’s Finest, Dion Warwick, Ed Shereen, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Taylor Swift, Judah and the Lion, the Head and the Heart, Mumford and Sons, and I would add in some Randy Travis, Eagles and Skynyrd. If we voted, who liked each other’s music best, we would have to leave the radio turned off.

So I ask you what are your anthems?

Hymns, Songs, Chorus, Praise songs, Classical hymns, Traditional Hymns, Contemporary Hymns, Praise songs, Praise choruses, anthems, special, arrangements, compilations, indie-contemporary, modern Praise and worship, post-modern praise, what’s on the radio, what’s being written and is not even popular yet?

Just as important it was for Bob, Billy, Ronnie and the Jacksonville FL friends to listen to the blues to shape their own anthems that touch and hold meaning for generations… So it is necessary for us to hear each other’s anthems and songs and music to touch and hold meaning for the generations that are coming.

So, to the homework,

  1. What are your anthems that shape your heart and view of this world?
  2. Who needs to hear that song that moves and shapes your heart and life.
  3. Musician do what they do because they get to share that experience every time they play and we might not have their talent, but we can share the words and notes that move us to love, to live and to salvation.

May we always be known as the singing Methodist. (Not that John Wesley was expecting Skynyrd)

Singing all the songs the world needs to hear because they have lead us through and guide us where we are headed.

Worship Song List for March 18, 2018

Luke 2:15-19 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this they made known what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.[NRSV]

Song 1 “Simple Man”
 (Lyrics tweaked very little)

Mama told me when I was young

“Come sit beside me, my only son

And listen closely to what I say

And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day”

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast

Troubles will come and they will pass

You’ll find a path and you’ll find love

And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”

“And be a simple kind of man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold

All that you need is in your soul

And you can do this, oh baby, if you try

All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Oh yes, I will

“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself

Follow your heart and nothing else

And you can do this, oh child, if you try

All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Baby be a simple kind of man

Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Man, be a simple, be a simple man

Oh, be something you love and understand

Man, be a simple kind of man

Matthew 14:25-30 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Mark 15: 18-23 And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.

Give and Three Steps (Lyrics tweaked a lot, a whole lot)

We were out sail’n that day

The sea was storm’n away.

And the water was filling the boat.

And he’s tell’n me son,

Well, that He is the one

As I’m staring down at the floor.

he turned and called me Peter who

That was the rock I was looking for.

Stepped out on the water that day

Headed out towards my Lord.

“Oh, won’t you give me three steps,

Gimme three steps a-mister,

Gimme three steps towards my Lord?

Gimme three steps

Gimme three steps a-mister,

And you will see me forever more.”

Show me the Lord.

I was climbing the hill

Near at a place called The Skull

With a man name Simon, who

Stuck out his hand

And he was looking to help me through

He said, “Hey there fellow,

you not look’n so well

What you tryin’ to prove?

Cause the crowd over there

and a solider don’t care

And this might be all for you.”

“Oh, won’t you give me three steps,

Gimme three steps a-mister,

Gimme three steps towards my Lord?

Gimme three steps

Gimme three steps a-mister,

And you will see me forever more.”

Matthew 23:32-39 O Jerusalem

Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?  Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!  See, your house is left to you, desolate.  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

Sweet Home O Jerusalem

Big wheels keep on turning

Carry me home to see my kin

Singing songs about the promised-land

I miss the ole’ garden once again, all cause of a sin

Well I heard prophets sing about her

Well I heard ole Caesar put her down

Well, I hope God’s people will remember

A Godly man do need him around anyhow

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Where the skies are so blue

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you

In Jerusalem they love the Gov’nor, boo-hoo-hoo

Now we all did what we could do

Now Caiaphas does not bother me

Does your conscience bother you, tell the truth

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Where the skies are so blue

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you, here I come

Now Galilee has got some Disciples

And they’ve been known to feed one or two (yes they do)

Lord they get me going so much

They pick me up when I’m feeling blue, now how bout you?

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Where the skies are so blue

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you

Sweet home O Jerusalem, oh sweet home

Where the skies are so blue and the praises too

Sweet home O Jerusalem

Lord, I’m coming home to you

Acts 1: 7-11 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Freebird (Words slightly tweaked)

If I leave here tomorrow

For I must be traveling on, now

Cause there’s too many places I’ve prepared to see

But, if I stayed here with you, now

Things just couldn’t be the same

Cause I’m as free as a bird now

And this bird you can not change

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

And this bird you can not change

And this bird you can not change

Lord knows, I won’t change

Bye, bye, baby, it’s still a sweet love

Though this feeling I can’t change

But please don’t take it so badly

Cause Lord knows I’m the same

But, if I stayed here with you, now

Things just wouldn’t be the same

Cause I’m as free as a bird now

And this bird you’ll see again.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

And this bird you will meet again.

And this bird you will meet again.

Lord knows, I will come again.

Lord help me, I’ll come again.

Lord, I will come again.

Won’t you fly high, free bird, yeah

Would you still remember me?

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Ephesians 2:1-10 “Love: I can’t do it.”

JesusLoveEvenMe

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. [NRSV] 

  • What is it that someone who is feeling as though they don’t matter need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who is feeling unworthy because of poor choices they have made need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who feels helpless and vulnerable need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who feels broken and worn out from not achieving or completely their work need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who is feeling distant from God, with unanswered prayers need to hear?
  • What is it that someone who is searching but not finding faith need to hear?

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God [NRSV]

What do I tell someone who is alone, empty, guilty, broken, weary, failing, lost and afraid?

By grace, you are saved through faith, not for what you have done, not done, failed doing or never tried, but by God’s love, God is saving you to be in relationship with God.

What is it that you and I are called to share with a broken and hurting world?

God’s gift for us

God so loves the world that he gave us himself, in Jesus Christ, that we might believe and trust him as the way to find God’s love.

How many people are afraid where you live and work?

All they talk about is how worried, afraid, alone, unworthy, or unhappy they are… all symptoms and signs of not knowing God’s love.

99.9% of those who say that don’t believe in God are also saying they don’t feel or sense God loves them. “How could a God, if there is one, love? And more miraculously, how could God love me?

Look into your own mirror, your own spiritual self: Do you know God loves you?

The correct answer is Yes, because Jesus Christ saves me to prove God’s love for me.

But the question is not what is the correct answer, the question is: “Do you believe this is true for you?”

I know that God loves me and yet I struggle trusting it at times?

It is most clear when I look back at God’s presence in grand mothers, a grand father, a father, teachers, neighbors, church members, authors, theologians, and friends who have revealed God’s love to me, because they have shown me what God’s love is.

Rather than boast in my or your failures, it is essential to focus on the prize, the gift.

God’s love is awesome: For all the reason God should not love me, my behavior, my selfishness, my greed, my pride, my self determination, my hard work, my correct answers, my untruths, my fears, my failures, none of these are the reason that God loves me.

God loves me because I am created of God. Formed of the stuff and creatures of God’s creation. God has never forsaken us and will never forget us. God love is with us.

  • This is what the world needs to hear.
  • This is what people are dying to know.
  • This is why people are fighting and they don’t even realize how far off base they have become.

So what do we do?

Look to verse 10 “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” [NRSV]

Our purpose is to be loved and to show love.

Our purpose is to be in Christ Jesus for the world, that is hurting, afraid, clueless and against us.

Our purpose is determined before we decided, our purpose to learn to love God and God’s people in response.

  • God loves us when we were enemies.
    • God’s hope, dream and desire is for us to find our belonging and once we are whole our works become the signs for others.
  • We love the poor, not to prove our worthiness, but because, before we had Christ, we were totally poor, no matter how rich or poor the world might label us.
  • We feed the hungry, not to earn our way, but because our hunger is satisfied in Christ. When we think and are driven my/our worldly worries and fears, we remain malnourished.
  • Once we have feasted in the love and power of God’s table our spirits are filled. But we see, hear and know word full of those who hunger for what is right, who trade their own understanding or perspective for what is good in the moment or good in principles, but far from Good in God’s love.

The greatest way to find assurance of our own faith and trust, is to share the gift with others.

I offer that it is not just feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, comforting the sick, healing the broken, forgiving the debt and trespasses, it is when we learn to love our enemies that God’s love and lesson comes full circle and complete.

You can surely find someone in this fellowship this morning who will love you, yet while we are not perfect, I doubt that our enemies are fellow church members.

When we understand and experience love for someone that is not based on what they can do for us, but what we do for God that we understand love.

This is the simple task that is the most difficult of our lives. Loving without expecting reciprocal love.

 

Typically we say, if I show them love, they will love me back. What if love says, if I show them live, they will know how to love me back, but they might never do that.

 

This is what makes our task difficult, even with God as our example and our salvation.

What it proves is that that we actually cannot complete this without God’s work.

When we reach the breaking point of our own limitation, we see/know where God’s salvation and love makes us whole.

 

  • So the answer to the question, “Do I love God?” is never enough, I need God’s help.
  • So the answer to the question, “Do I love my enemy?” never enough without God’s love.
  • So the answer to the question, “Do I need God help?” the answer is Always, even to the end.

Eph 2.1-10

God’s joy is to love us.

Christ is the proof and our eternal hope.

Our purpose is to trust God to love and help love the world, including our enemies.

Let’s get to trusting God, because we love God, not just need to be saved. We are saved to love, that ‘s gift.

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John 2:13-22 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 Signs and Fools

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. [John 2:13-22 NRSV]

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. [1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NRSV]

 

Foolish Signs

Think of the foolish things that Jesus did in his ministry:

  • Cut ties with his family
  • Entrusted 12 ordinary men to lead the church
    • He does not include a body guard
    • He does not find a promoter
  • He does not build building
  • He does not receive people at their very best, usually in their brokenness
  • He does not stay in one place for very long
  • He does not get a college education
  • He preached to the least, the last and lost.
  • He taught using simple stories

I recall one summer at the grandparents farm, my grandfather wanted my eldest cousin to cut his shoulder-length hair to be “clean and neat”. My cousin reminded my grandfather that even Jesus had long hair, (not something we know one way or the other, but tradition would suggest, but my 5th grade educated grandfather replied, “and Jesus walked everywhere he went.”

  • Only once in all the travels of Jesus do we find him traveling other than by foot and he rides a donkey.
  • Just when the crowds start gathering critical mass he leaves the spot light to be alone in prayer.
  • Most every action and example, Jesus lives out what the world and other leaders would identify as foolish.
[ Foolishresulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered; unwise:

a foolish action, a foolish speech; lacking forethought or caution; trifling, insignificant, or paltry. ]

It was foolishness to think that one person could rebuild the temple in three days when teams of workers had been working straight for forty-six years

For all the world’s foolishness, God is working signs of power

Everyone of the sign of the world’s foolishness for Jesus is a sign of God at work, in the world, through people like you and me and the characters we see in scripture.

Think for a moment how the author of love and architect of the universe is reaching out to us through people, through struggles, through impossibilities, through life and death to connect with us and the whole world.

Awesomely foolish. Wonderfully divine!

The words of Jesus from John’s Gospel and Paul’s letter the church in Corinth call our attention toward God and not our own thoughts, success, triumphs and plans.

God is working through our brokenness, through our sin, through our failures.

When we focus on our labors, what we have earned, what we deserve, how we have figured and achieved we loose sight of God in exchange for our best.

In a very practical and plain fashion

Which is more powerful? Words of wisdom from our thinkers, theologians and politicians? Or words spoken by God, Jesus the Holy Spirit?

God continues to trust fools in the most important task for all humanity.

  • You and I are the witnesses.
  • We are the messengers.
  • We are the ones who hold the keys,
  • You and I have the first line of kingdom of God.

Why do we settle for the world’s foolishness, when God is all-in, relying on us?

One of the legs of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour is Mr Bill Engvall. His catch phrase is, “here’s your sign.”  When people say things that reveal they are not at their brightest moments.

  • Honey our plane hit a deer? Were you still in the air?
  • Dad, I’m going to play you the theme song from Harry Potter on the piano. From the movie? No Dad, from the book.
  • Covered in camouflage clothes head to toe, painted face and smelling of the woods, the Walmart Greeter asked, have you been hunting? No, I’ve been hugging trees.

Rather than worrying about signs of weather and rumors of wars and portents of end times, let’s be about sharing the signs of God’s power at work in our lives.

Signs of Foolishness

  • Taking Cleaning supplies to folks who have none in Jesus Name
  • Taking thread and material and covering people in prayer
  • Singing songs and breaking bread for kids who are hungry for Good News at home and at camp.
  • Taking the Good News we find when we gather in this place and sharing hope with the people we see at work, school, shopping and everywhere we go.
  • Hearing the worry, fear, division in the world’s conversation, and reminding each other that God shows up in our greatest failures and fears to teach us grace, love and power.

These are our signs, show the world!

 

 

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Romans 4:13-25 Trusting Christ with Our Lives

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,

being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. [NRSV]

Apostle Paul drawing on God’s promise and covenant with Abraham to teach about faith

This is one of those passages that helps iron out wrinkles between the Old and New Testaments. Abraham, father of the Hebrews, makes covenant with God. Paul is bridging communities around the topic of faith. As we know people can be divided over our understandings concerning faith.

The deal was Abraham was to trust God to be God and keep God’s promises and God would make Abraham and Sarah the great-great-great grand parents a thousand times over.

First this passage reminds us of God’s timing. God works through generations of time and relationships.

Second God works through individuals, Abram and Sari

Third God works through grace and faith rather than right thinking or right acting.

The central message and lesson is about faith

I suggest that we live in a time that is empty of faith, we would rather have proof.

We live in a time where people are dividing and dying over be correct instead of living in relationship with God and one another.

The world hungers and thirst for The wholeness, strength, peace and loving power God has for us, but on our terms and in our time.

The absence of faith is seen in the covenant breaking

The criticisms of Billy Graham for his focus and perspective of theology, remyinds us that being faithful is seldom the popular thing.

Family friends and denominations splitting over words and ideas reveals an absence of faith and trust in God.

So what does it mean to trust God to be God?

Covenant living is God promising to love, provide, guide, empower, and comp,eye what is broken and missing from our best efforts.

Trusting God vs Trusting our Insurance policy

Trusting God vs Trustig our contracts

Trusting God vs Trsuting our value

Trusting God vs Trusting

God.s promises

Promises to love us

Promises to guide and lead us

Promises to journey with Us

Promises to save us from sin and self

The me I am is who I design or am I the me God sees in me?

By my choices I am becoming my actual self

By my failures, ignorance and self interest I become someone other than the Self God hopes I will become

By God’s love and grace God judges my brokenness and fills in the games and makes me into my whole self.

So ingrained in our freedom to choose that we at our highest self when we have no need for God, but only be being true them myself as decided by myself than my self is valued, whole and this good.

Millions of nasty brutish folk doing the good they desire neglecting those who are different, or less or greater or other

Secondarily is the tendency that if I’m Ok, your ok. That is if I workout my own salvation and identity that you are left to do your own thing and I have no opbligatio. Or responsibility to you or any other. I’ve got my hands full working on my own stuff that I have little to nOtho get left to give for the other.

From John Wesley’s sermon on ““almost Christian”

An Almost Christian

1. May Act justly and kindly and do good

May Speak the Truth

May Give as one is able to help

May Have the look and sound of godliness

May Behave well and follows all the rules

May Speaks well of others

2. May avoid Wine lies gluttony doing no willful wrong

May do all the good one can, friend or enemy

May take part in all the church has to offer, whenever the doors are open

May pray and ask for Prayer that others would think more highly of them

May be the role model of serious and respectful intentions

May ask that God “have mercy on me”

3. Daily prayers out warmly

One missing thing:  Sincerity of Faith

How to tell the difference?

Wicked follow to avoid punishment or to be approved

Sinner follows to be save because he/she knows they are not hug without God

Wesley’s words we “altogether christsin vs almost Christisn”

All together is

1. to love God. Who I’m I without you of lord

2. love of neighbor. Corinth 13

3. To trust that we are saved and made whole being spiritually born of god. (This the our victory, fulfillment. [Wholeness]}

Even devils believe, vs faith

Sure trust  that God saves us and without Christ we are nothing, this is faith

The test is given we with sincerely ask before God, ourselves and the church;

: ““am I all together Christian or an almost Christian?”

What is the truth, and what do you intend to do about it?

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