Mark 1:14-20 Believe, Now!

closings

 

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]

This is always a tricky time to balance safety and closing the church for programs, activities and especially for worship. One of the challenges of our UMC slogan since the 1990s has been closing for weather conditions when we claim we have “open hearts, open minds, open doors.” No matter the common sense of being safe and off icy roads, we communicate a conflicting message: We Urgently want you to comes join us, just Not today when the weather is bad.

It is not only in inclement weather but in many conversations and situations that we “think” with our minds, welcome, friendly, open and inviting and yet the words and actions/or in-actions we witness closed, divided, judged and not welcomed.

It is vital to hear Mark’s account of Jesus beginning his ministry with words and witness of invitation and urgency.

The Urgency of believing the Good News

Several motivations:

  1. We believe the opportunity to help others believe is imminently limited.
  2. We believe any amount of time not believing the Good News is time lost or wasted.
  3. We might believe it’s important but not urgent or that if it were an urgent situation we might help in a pinch.
  4. We believe there is plenty of time to share the Good News, and if we don’t help others then someone else will or they will figure it for themselves.

Urgency: importance requiring swift action.

Jesus begins his ministry with a call for people to find God was near, make a spiritual change in their lives and believe God is working to love, transform and fulfil our lives.

Two Usual Tracks

Urgency through repetition:

Were you aware that it takes viewing the same commercial 16 times for us to become motivated to consider buying or using a product or service were previously not interested or aware existed? That doesn’t mean after watching the same commercial 16 times we automatically buy the product, but after that much repetition, we begin to make an internal action toward a new product. We are 50% likely to try, talk about, take some action to learn more about a product or service. Advertising creates a sense of urgency or importance.

Urgency transformed through repentance

Before and After stories. This is my life before Jesus, and this is my life after. For those who grow up in in the faith and in the church, we have the repetition model. For those who come to the church later have a more clear before and after witness.

EITHER MODEL, Jesus is the one describing the Good News as something IMPORTANT and something REQUIRING SWIFT ACTION.

BUT… It is hard to look back 2000 plus years and say, you need to be in a hurry to give your life to Jesus.   A God who works in billions of years starts with a message of urgency..Mark 1:14-20

..NOW is the time,

The cooling of the sun and the increase of earthquakes, volcanoes and colder winters will be the new norm for the next thirty years. Some would say these are signs of the end times/others would say we are in a long cooling cycle of the sun.

The “Now is the time” perspective is that whether our time is long or short, the weather is not going to be pleasant. (Now is the time to invest in a heavier coat!)

Mark account of Jesus’s Marketing Message: is about the second type of URGENCY:

How long do we let someone stand in the cold before we open the door and convince them it is better inside the house than out?

How long do we let folks run around in with fear, emptiness, loneliness, grief, grudge, judgment or any other reason, when we know that in this fellowship, in this word, in this body that God is near, God is here!

We who have found Christ, or We who have known Christ all these years, look out the windows and doors and see a hurting, searching, failing, struggling, divided-world and we are called to invite people to believe in Jesus.

Believe, Now! Not because the end is near, rather because

  • you don’t have to be alone
  • you don’t have to be afraid
  • you don’t have to be divided
  • you don’t have to be correct
  • you don’t have to be perfect
  • you don’t have to be hungry
  • you don’t have to be captive
  • you don’t have to be a stranger
  • you don’t have to be lost
  • you don’t have to be cold

..but you do need to come to Jesus

  • This is what is urgently needed.
  • This is what is Good: God so loves us that he gives us Jesus
  • This is what is Good: Jesus died for our sin/brokenness/failures and pride/
  • He emptied himself to fill us with a new chance a life with God and all God’s people.
  • Don’t stand out in the cold, come inside
  • Let the cold weather be your opportunity to invite someone into the fellowship.. into the church, into your spiritual journey- travel together

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John 1:43-51 Come See Heaven Open Up

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]

CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUR OF ROCK SPRING

  • The power of doubt
  • Consumption of assumption
  • Oh little town of Rock Spring,
  • Nathanael, the product of Peter and Andrew

COME AND SEE

  • Come see with your own eyes,
  • The shepherd saw the angels but said to one another, let us go see for ourselves, what has been told to us
  • Thomas who had not yet seen Jesus raised from the dead, told the others, I will not believe until I see with my own eyes
  • The invitation is for tag team invitation for people to come see.
  • The greatest showman is a wonderful new musical that is a great movie even if you don’t ususally go see movies, it is worth experiencing. Is about PT Barnam’ seeing a dream come to life, loose it, and being reminded that joy can be found through people who love and trust.

YOU WILL SEE HEAVEN OPENED UP

  • Peter and Andrew promise Nathaniel that he will see heaven open if he goes to see Jesus,
  • That is what it means to find Jesus
  • It might. It be coming to church, the music and events, the ministries and activities, but it is through these people and the relationships we share that the Kingdom of God can show up
  • Some folks will tell you they don’t like church because all they talk about is money, or the Christian people gossip, lie and stab each other in the back, these are folks who have seen people WITHOUT Jesus
  • The challenge is to strive to share Jesus and not ourselves. Or at least not sharing our selves without Jesus opened up and visible.

You hold the keys to heaven, who will you keep out? Who will you let in?

  • So this passage holds our model:
  • Have an encouragement accountability partner,
  • Reach out to the people we know and meet
  • Invite them to come see Jesus at work in our lives, in our worship, ministry, fellowship, etc..

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Acts 19:1-7 People of the Spirit

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. [NRSV]

The Coach’s Gator-Aid Baptism: Acceptance and Celebration for winning or setting a record, but Christian baptism is not just a public celebration: it is about covenant making and covenant keeping.

Baptized in the Spirit vs Second Birth

Over time some churches and denominations have made more of the verse that is like intended. Some would teach that when you and I repent, acknowledge that we are sinners and believe Jesus to be our “Lord and Savior” that it is somehow a partial baptism that we must have a second baptism in the Spirit, as the sign of some spiritual maturity or marker of spiritual progress. When in fact this passage is about a lack of information, a shortcoming in the teaching and Paul wants all disciples to ha e the full story, the full benefit, and full connection as a disciple, believer and follower of Jesus.

John Wesley

Salvation for Wesley is the process that begins in the Holy Spirit before we are aware of what is happening, We mark our part in the process when we acknowledge Jesus Christ has died for our sins personally (thus justifying us through Grace and the Spirit), what follows in our response of becoming the person Jesus died and rose to save, the Spirit guiding us in the journey of sanctification toward the goal of wholeness in the Spirit, he called perfection.

Bottom line, if someone speaks of not having the Spirit it is actually a matter of perspective, ignorance (being misinformed or uninformed) and/or misinterpretation.

From the beginning of Creation, the Holy Spirit moved through the great chaos and spoke order and purpose. The Spirit moved in creation over the earth and was breathed into humanity giving us that very image, breath and spirit of God in us.

What makes us exceptional is that we each are Spirit-filled people, we all have the Spirit of God to credit for our life, our purpose and our meaning.

When the world denies or runs from God’s Holy Spirit

They do so in fear, misinformation, pride, personal desire to control, or a lack of experience/understanding.

So what? Our personal faith journey is to affirm we are spirit filled people, saved by Christ and living for God’s purpose, in God’s love, uniquely through each one of us.

So what’s the deal with this passage and Paul re-baptizing these folks?

  1. This passage is about teaching what baptism is about
  2. This passage s about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit
  3. It is for us a reminder that to be a Christian is to 1) be aware we are born of the Holy Spirit, 2) we are connected by the Spirit and 3) empowered by the Holy Spirit for Spiritual work and witness.

 

Part of this verse is about competing traditions:

“We have John the Baptist”… Our baptism is older and more closely connected to the first baptism, John the Baptizer, who baptized Jesus, “If John was Good Enough for Jesus, then John’s baptism is good enough for me. “Ours is the more traditional flavor.”

Paul is teaching that Baptism is the vehicle and not the destination.

It’s not owning/experiencing something, it is becoming something more important.

Paul’s correction is not saying John’s baptism was wrong, only that it conveyed part of the power:

The Two Parts of Baptism

The Jesus Part and the “my” part.

John the Baptist’s baptism was about repenting, acknowledging our sinfulness and our brokenness and that Jesus is the hope and salvation for our sins.

The second part is what difference does the Jesus part make in my life and how will accomplish my response to Jesus’s part.

Too many people settle for the utterance of words instead of the building of a relationship. Are you and I settlers?

Think of the marriage covenant:

Legally a couple is married when they have exchanged vows and pledged themselves to one another and both say the traditional, “I DO.”

But that is not the marriage, that is only the beginning of the covenant. The marriage is the journey of joys and struggles that span the time the couple shares.

Paul reminds us that we are

  • Spiritual
  • Need Christ but also the Spirit
  • Therefore help others find a way to grow in the Spirit

Invite someone to a life in Christ

Inquire what Baptism means to someone’s daily life

Back to School Homework

Do you remember your baptism?

Do it make any difference to you on this day?

If so how,

If not, let’s work on it together, is Paul model

 

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Galatians 4:4-7

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But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. [NRSV]

The Gifts of Christmas

How unusual it would be to have a grand birthday party where no one brought gifts to the honored guest, rather the one having the celebration had gifts for each of the guests.

The Good News is that Jesus is born bringing Gifts to each of us.

For months we have prepared to share the gift of Jesus Christ:  Thankfully we have a season and not just one day to begin sharing the gift of Christ, that is our faith and our hope and salvation

The Prize Closet

I have a dear friend who is the best and most attentive giver and sender of cards. She would carry in her purse no less than a dozen cards for just the right occasion to express love, loss, prayers, compassion or cheer where ever she sent. She was once having surgery and handed her husband her purse i the pre-op waiting room and she told him to give a card to one of the people in the waiting room while she was having her surgery.  She was prepared to give the gift.

My grandmother had a special gift drawer where magical gifts materialized when someone needed a last minute gift for a forgotten occasion or a guest revealed it was their birthday or an unexpected guest showed up when others were opening Christmas presents. Tommye would disappear to the secret drawer and retrieve a small treasure for the surprise occasion.

Some folks may have a top shelf, others might have a closet or other special collection of gifts for every occasion.  All good things can be taken too far, but it is a great tradition and practice of anticipating the sharing of gifts.

The danger of gifts is that we see and value only the object in place of the relationship expressed in the gift.

The Angel Tree

We have some very generous folks who gave great gifts to young boys who are forgotten by so many but were given not just one, or two, or three but fives gifts: Nice gifts. I affirm that your generosity was shown in the assortment of games, toys, clothes, teddy bears and various gifts that were requested. The director shared the boy’s appreciation of the gifts and that love and thoughtfulness that strangers would be so generous. He reminded them that we may not have met, but were are not strangers because we share the same love and trust in Jesus Christ.  (That is the gift given and received!)

Church and Money

We try not to be a church that talks about money too much. But we do need to talk about the spirit of faithful generosity that shares 60 prayer quilts in the last 52 weeks.

We see the generous gifts that have helped retire hundreds of thousands of dollars of building debt in record time.

We see the sack lunches, the pottery – mud for Culebra to share hope and rebuilding of lives,

We have given one another generous gifts that we enjoy and remember that gifts are given and share not out of duty or requirement but given as expressions and extension of love, faith, and hope.

The Galatian Gifts

The Gift of Freedom

The Gift of Family

The Gift of Inheritance

Freedom: Christ comes and gifts us the gift of freedom from slavery to the law. We are not measured by rules instead of by love and grace.

Family: We are not only set free from rules we could never fully keep, to being adopted as family. We are made to be equal to the household/family. We are not junior worker-bees, we are brothers and sisters in the royalty. (We have different jobs, skills, gifts and talents entrust, but we aril equally valued and needed.

Inheritance: Not only are we free from forced faith and made equal partners, we share in the work and have shares in the company.

What does the gift look like?

What we do as the church is living out God’s business in a family owned business as equal partners with equal value and voice.

  • God is revealing to the whole world, one person at a time, God’s love, power, mercy, and grace
  • and has invested all his business in us
  • to do God’s work
  • with each other as co-owners and co-workers.
  • Paul reminds the church at Galatia and us:
  • We are gifted to freely share our faith
  • We are gifted with a family to support and be supported
  • WE are gifted with a life that is eternal, fulfilling, hopeful and directed by love.

So who do we share our gift of Christ with?

  • Someone who is locked in rules, fear, and spiritual blindness
  • Someone who my have all the civil right but no joy nor hope
  • Someone who complains, judges, hates and cowers
  • Someone who knows so much that don’t need Christ
  • Someone who is more interested in fairness than grace
  • Someone who is alone and finds no only to be family
  • Someone who’s family is so dysfunctional they don’t know what family can be
  • Someone who wants to look of a perfect family without the sweat equity of honor, respect and trust.
  • Someone who hope is in stuff rather than spirit.

        (You can buy me a boat and a truck to pull it…)

Buy Me a Boat

Chris Janson

I ain’t rich, but I damn sure wanna be

Working like a dog all day, ain’t working for me

I wish I had a rich uncle that’d kick the bucket

And that I was sitting on a pile like Warren Buffett

I know everybody says

Money can’t buy happiness

But it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it

It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets

Yeah, and I know what they say

Money can’t buy everything

Well, maybe so,

But it could buy me a boat

They call me redneck, white trash and blue collar

But I could change all that if I had a couple million dollars

I keep hearing that money is the root of all evil

And you can’t fit a camel through the eye of a needle

I’m sure that’s probably true,

But it still sounds pretty cool

‘Cause it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it

It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets

Yeah, and I know what they say,

Money can’t buy everything

Well, maybe so,

But it could buy me a boat

To float down on the water with a beer

I hear the Powerball Lotto is a-sitting’ on a hundred mill

Well, that would buy me a brand new rod and reel

And it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it

It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets

Yeah, and I know what they say,

Money can’t buy everything

Well, maybe so,

But it could buy me a boat

Yeah, and I know what they say,

Money can’t buy everything

Well, maybe so,

But it could buy me a boat

It could buy me a boat

Songwriters: Chris Dubois / Chris Janson

Buy Me a Boat lyrics © Spirit Music Group, Ole Media Management Lp

  It’s not both/and,

Here is the Heart of Paul’s word for us, the church

it is that we are the Gift the World is freed by, claimed by and saved through

The Christmas Gift: Jesus Gives us the gifts so we will

  1. Know God loves us
  2. Know we are of great value to God
  3. Know that God’s work is our work and witness.

verse 7) So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God

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Luke 2:22-35 Christmas a Season of Holidays

doortobethlehemchurch

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ),  and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”  Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,  Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:  “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation,  which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:  a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”  The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  [NRSV]
Rituals that mark and celebrate our faith.
Celebrating Christmas took 1000 years to develop traditions of formation. It is actually a collection of celebrations that being with the birth and include how Jesus being human connects with a suffering world, come to save us.

A season of Feasts

December 26 is the feast of St. Stephen—a traditional day for giving leftovers to the poor (as described in the carol “Good King Wenceslas”). As one of the first deacons, Stephen was the forerunner of all those who show forth the love of Christ by their generosity to the needy. But more than this, he was the first martyr of the New Covenant, witnessing to Christ by the ultimate gift of his own life.

St. John the Evangelist, commemorated on December 27, is traditionally the only one of the twelve disciples who did not die a martyr. Rather, John witnessed to the Incarnation through his words, turning Greek philosophy on its head with his affirmation, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, KJV).

On December 28, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents, the children murdered by Herod. These were not martyrs like Stephen, who died heroically in a vision of the glorified Christ. They died unjustly before they had a chance to know or to will—but they died for Christ nonetheless. In them we see the long agony of those who suffer and die through human injustice, never knowing that they have been redeemed.

So it became their custom to celebrate the “Feast of Fools” around January 1, often in conjunction with the feast of Christ’s circumcision on that day (which was also one of the earliest feasts of the Virgin Mary, and is today celebrated as such by Roman Catholics).

The twelve days of Christmas saw similar celebrations of the topsy-turvy and the unruly. A “Lord of Misrule” was often elected at Christmas and ruled the festivities until Epiphany. A schoolboy was traditionally chosen as bishop on December 6 (the Feast of St. Nicholas) and filled all the functions of bishop until Holy Innocents’ Day. The Christmas season also sometimes saw the “Feast of the Ass,” commemorating the donkey traditionally present at the manger. On this day, people were supposed to bray like a donkey at the points in the Mass where one would normally say “Amen.”

Christmas as a Season has become the church way of saying that Jesus is to be

  • celebrated,
  • not on one day, but every day.
  • through a collection of traditions come opportunities to celebrate how Christ is revealed in a world turned upside down.

Tradition is not to be dismissed by Snopes, rather indicates — that our traditions evolve

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues

4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch,” which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.

6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation

7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments

8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

and Jesus on the Cross is the patridge in the pear tree.

The history of the carol is somewhat murky. The earliest known version first appeared in a 1780 children’s book called Mirth With-out Mischief.

 

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Luke 2:1-7 Placed in a Manger

mangerIn those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. [NRSV]
God is Born in Human form
God is placed in a receptacle intended for feeding
In a world that has no room for God to be received, God comes through those willing to receive him.
It is into a world that diligently to ignore, disprove, discredit, disarm and deny a need for God, is given God’s most simple and direct appearance and encounter.
Those who are willing to receive, do find God.
We have had a three month season of preparing to place Jesus in the manager. I invite you to see yourself as manger holding Jesus Christ.
  • The manger is an instrument serving a purpose larger than it is away.
  • This manger is not simply a historical reference to a cattle feeding implement, it is God placing Jesus where others are spiritually empty.
  • The manger is a not simply a place to hold hay, it is the vehicle entrusted to hold the bread of life for a world of persons who hungers.

You and are about to begin a season of sharing Jesus Christ. The final step of preparing to be a people of faith-sharing is affirming that we are those who hold Christ for the world.

Do you have the gift of Jesus in your heart and mind?

Turn to your neighbors, left and right, and share with them: “I’ve got Jesus and I’m ready to share him.”

I remember making prank phone calls at my grandfather’s request. He would open the metro Atlanta phone book at random, point to a number and dial the phone, he would hand us the receiver and were we instructed to say to the party on the line: “Sir/Mama, on behalf of the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, Do you have Sir Walter Raleigh in a can? If you do, you should let him out.”  Which was a corny twist, that made my grumpy grandfather cackle with laughter with every call.

Not unlike the Forrest Gump line when Srgt Dan asks Forrest if he had found Jesus, to which Forrest replied, “I didn’t know he was lost.”

Having Jesus vs Sharing Jesus

Turn and ask your neighbors: Are you a manger?

Are you carrying Jesus ready to feed someone the bread of life?

Too often we looked to Jesus as our daily bread as though there were not enough mana to go around and we want to save Jesus for use in our own struggles and fears.

What an awesome opportunity you and I have to be the box that carries the gift of Christ until they unwrap and find Christ for themselves.

The Good News:

You and I don’t have to be gift

You and I don’t have to know all the answers

You and I are called to carry and share what WE know and experience Christ.

“I am a manger”

I carry the bread of life, Jesus Christ, so that not only am I nourished but those who I carry Christ to will also be fed and filled.

“I am a manger”

God is using me and using your life, your words, thoughts, your praises, you lessons, you conversations to give hope, grace, forgiveness and power to broken and hating world.

“I am a manger”

No one might expect God to be using my life and witness, but God is at work in us for those where we live, work, play and rest.

“I am a manger”

We carry Jesus to keep him or we carry him both trust and to share. Mary places Jesus in a feeding trough, he is not only her child, Jesus is for us all to be nourished and made whole.

“I am a manger”

I hold the keys of heaven. God is entrusting us with sharing hope for the world or we can double-down on fear, grudges, doubts, weakness, shame and all matters of brokenness.

“I am a manger”

The God who loves us, calls us to love our enemies and one another

The Jesus that saves us calls us to feed and fill those who hunger in a sea of sin and fear.

The Spirit that guides us leads us to those who need to hope.

“I am the manger”

“Here is my Jesus, Here is my God, Here is the Spirit, I am the manger”

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Luke 1: 46-54 “How My Soul Glorifies the Lord?”

mysoulglorifies

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” [NRSV]

From Peterson’s, “The MESSAGE” Lk 1.41-56 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly, You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed! And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy. Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true! And Mary said, I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened – I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud.  The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back to her own home. [MES]

Mary Looks at her Self and See God at Work.

It is not every unwed expectant teen mother-to-be who looks at her situation and see’s God’s magnificent working in her life. But is this something we can transfer to ourselves, or is this only an example reserved for the mother of Jesus?

In preparing to share our gift of faith, we too need to be passionate about God’s work in our own lives.

I believe that the greatest hesitation to sharing our faith with another person is related to the doubts, fears, questions, and uncertainties we might have about our own faith, that makes us reluctant to “get all excited” about telling the news to someone else.

So before we sign off this example as something only the mother of Jesus can be “that” excited about, let look at the setting and context.

Mary has gone to be nurtured and protected by a beloved family member, not in her home community, who is going through a similar circumstance.

Separate these three factors:

1. A trusted family or friend who you would feel comfortable showing up at their house to wrestle through a difficult time or experience.

If you have one phone call to make: Who would you call that could be most helpful to you?

2. Mary visits someone out of town, there is the luxury of retreat and respite, in her visit with Elizabeth. She does not reach out to the most convenient person, but the most trusted to receive and give her space and council.

3. She reaches out to share her journey and struggle with someone who is going through the same journey. One of the great strengths of a 12 step ministry is the genuineness of sharing the journey to find encouragement and accountability from those who are also needing encouragement and accountability.

Who to share our gift of faith:

I’m guessing that even though you might have heard even half of the past eight sermons on faith sharing and hear the invitation to identify someone to share your faith with a Christmas gift, I’m guessing the majority have thought about the idea, but not decided or made a concrete choice of who to give you faith story update.

Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus for an example: She goes to a trusted person, who was not in her everyday circle who would welcome, encourage and guide her.

Imagine ourselves in this context and it is easier to answer the question, “How does my soul glorify the Lord?”

I had an opportunity to share my faith with one of my best friends this week.

In this case, he did the traveling to see me, but we could have just as easily talked on the phone, Facetime, or I could have traveled with me. What each of us took the time to share how God has been working in our lives. Where we have failed and fallen short, where God has shone up to bless and save us. My friend Shawn is always a call or message away. We had a real heart to heart sharing where we each needed to confess, encourage and celebrate the passion where God shows up in our lives. 

The Good News: we share is not how faithful ‘we’ are, rather how God is.

Mary’s magnificent hymn is not about how great Mary is, it his about how great God is in her life, in her situation, in her problems, in her opportunities, in her struggle.

This is the song we are called to sing and share:

Make your list and check it twice:

  1. Who are you going to call when you need encouragement, renewal an accountability?
    1. Where have you needed God to show up most?
    2. Where have you seen God working
    3. What is God about to do that is going to shape the next part of your life.

2. What are you struggling with That God can or has transformed that you can be passionate about?

  1. Talk about where God is working
  2. Share about what God is unfolding next

Now it’s almost Christmas: Christ-Mas (God with Us – Worship)

 

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Psalm 85 The Crossroad of Ugly and Grace

xmasSweaters

Invitation: Attend to Intersections (Loving-kindness/faithfulness, Righteousness/peace)

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger. 4 Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps. [NRSV]

Intersections

The hermeneutical point of every sermon is the crossroads of our story and the story of Jesus Christ.

In that regard, every sermon is basically the same message in the context of where we are and where we meet God’s grace in outlives.

Intersections are locations

We are at the crossroad of Peavine and 95 or (Rock Spring Drive)

From a public relations point of view, we need to lobby to have the section of road between the post office up to Catlett be renamed Rock Spring Drive instead of 95. Not only is part of the crossroad already named such, it connects with our church by that same name and the community’s name and if the Baptist have a road, we need to have a crossroads in the community with our name on it as well. Making known our presence in the context.

Intersections are where journey’s inter-mingle.

One of the great seasons for faith sharing is Christmas and even more in the season prior to Christmas. The Christmas pre-season begins November 1st. It is All Saints day and the day the Halloween items go on sale and the Santa sect celebration begins to unfold.

This season between November 1st and December 31st we are more likely to be in contact with more people, spending more resources, traveling to more over-lapping circles of opportunity. This freeze can’t be sustained for 365 days of a year, but it is important to know we are are in the prime of our year of opportunity for intersections.

Where our stories, lives, work, play, celebrations over-lap with other people and others cults and cultures we are more chances to share our faith with more people.

Intersections have the opportunity or congestion and conflict, and we don’t need to let that become our excuse to avoid the crowds, and thus, the greater opportunities.

So it’s time to use the non-Christ stories to intersect with your Christ stories.

As someone who is celebration Santa Clause to explain how Santa’s celebration gives us opportunities to share grace, 1. Giving gifts to people who deserve no gift. 2. Care for those who are forgotten or rescue or save those who are lost. 3.

The Ugly Sweater Crossroad

“That is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen.” A Conversation Starter. 

Partner Practice Time: Find your partner and take terms having these conversations:  Start with the sweater, transition to faith, share the Good News of CHRIST-mas!

  • In a world filled with signs and acts of ugly, it is a good thing we have a season to see the good beyond the surface.”
  • That is a crazy sweater. Where there are so many crazy things going on in our lives, it is good to have a reminder that God brings order out of chaos.
  • That is the most obnoxious sweater, it’s good news that God loves us even though we obnoxious ways.
  • That sweater is in bad taste, it reminds me that God’s word is sweet like honey.”
  • “That sweater is just sad.”
  • That sweater scares me,” Be not afraid, the angels told the shepherds that Jesus comes to bring hope to our frightened world.

Faith Sharing with a stranger can start from the common opportunity as ugly, crazy, obnoxious, bad, sad or scary place we might find ourselves, and THAT is confirmation of the Goodness of the Good News we share in Jesus’s name.

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Faith Sharing: The conversation shared

Wesley’s fear

I do not fear that the people called Methodist shall ever cease to exist in Europe and America. I only fear that they shall exist as a dead sect knowing the for, of religion, but not the power three of, and that undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast to the doctrine, disciplines and spirit with which they first set out.” (John Wesley 1786, age 83)

Wesley did not have a simple statement about accepting Christ, he being a preachers kid, professor, theologian and preacher offer a process of profession.

Salvation:

1. God has saved us in Christ

2. The point at which I know/feel/experience the effect of saving Grace (our professing/accepting Christ)

3. The point at which I become aware that the Holy Spirit is working to shape my life toward the life/hope Jesus has saved

4. Glimpses, moments and finally when I am made whole through Chris, by the Holy Spirit I to the person God graces us with to live.

Accepting what God has done for humanity

Accepting what God has done for me

Accepting God help in becoming the person a God

Living fully as the person God hope, dreams, calls me to be.

Beginning: Understanding our desperate need for Jesus and reaching the lost.

Christian faith is uniquely personal

If you ceased believing in Jesus at midnight how would tomorrow be different?

Most important thing to know about witnessing is: what is the Holy Spirit doing in your life right now.

What adjustments do you make daily between what the Holy Spirit. Reds/expects and what you do each day

Our Task: Evangelizing the Gospel

Living the Gospel in “word, deed and sign”

Three people in the Evangelism committee proposed they way the church should plan to “do evangelism” this year.

1: One wanted the Church to focus on physically embodying the love of Jesus by serving people around them and acting on issues of social justice.

2. The second said, “Anybody could be kind or good to others. Only the Spirit could do signs and wonders.” We must study, listen and wait for the Holy Spirit.

Liam also believed in the Holy Spirit. Who didn’t? And of course we 3. We must communicate Jesus clearly to everybody because serving and praying might not be clear to everyone in the community or even the church.

The obvious answer is to combine all three, word, deed, & sign

Living in expectant hope of the Holy Spirit

Frame, guide your daily life in the Spirit

Live in Prayer is preparation and conversation

Start prayer,

pray with others,

pray for other,

read the prayers of others

Sharing in first person what Jesus has done for you, and is doing

Invitational statements….

Clearly inviting others to encounter Jesus through you

Graceful faith Sharing

No law rules or formulas

Reality of what the spirit does to meet our needs

Example 1)

Start with someone who wants to know how to accept Jesus.

What would to tell someone who asked you, “What do I do to become a Christian?”

1. They bring it up directly,

2. They want simple, direct, clear instructions.

3. They want your personal instructions

First let us pray: “I thank you God for loving ana saving us. I praise you for the opportunity to share the gospel with <name> today. Guide my words and my heart by your love and grace.”

A. I believe God so loved the world that he gave his only child to save all people who believe in God, father son Holy Spirit. Do you. Believe this too?

B. I tell the church, my family and friends, that I believe Jesus’ saving work, has saved me, personally. Do you believe this for you.

C. I invited God’s Spirit, scriptures, and church to guide my life until Christ returns to take us to heaven. Do you believe this for your life?

D. We are both believers on the journey together. I want to thank God for Sharing your faith. Do you want to pray to say thank you too?

Follow up with introducing them to another believer and Co tire the conversation. Pray for those God entrusts to you.

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Starting our conversation on Faith Sharing (Bible verses from NRSV)

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 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.

Acts 10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Luke 15. Lost sheep, lost coin, lost child (prodigal son/elder brother)

Faith Sharing: some practical How to-s

-It is: Role as announcer of the gospel, God will use us to reveal

-It is not: Sharing your faith, verse persuading your point, using your faith.

Simple starting point:

1. Starting: The best way to share your faith is to start sharing your faith.

2. What to say: When it is your story

-you don’t have to figure it out,

-it is authentic, real and genuine

3. Pray for people around you.

-Pray for neighbor, even if it’s for 10 seconds.

-Pray for them to be receptive, open, willing

Start thinking of yourself as announcer: practice- “attention ladies and gentlemen..”

-think of a ball game, see the actions. Tell what you see

be an announcer of the gospel, God will use us to reveal

Prayer is essential for each session of preparing

1. out pouring of the HS

2. a ew awakening by God’s church

3. the teachers and participants of the class

4. God’s grace to empower you to build relationships and share your faith

5. the world to come to know Jesus Christ

What exactly do I say? How to start?

-Begin with invitational statement

-“a send of a question within it and waits for an answers”

Example: Good weather today… That looks like a warm coat… “

TASK: Start the conversation

1. Start with a statement

2. Speak in the first person: I hope you are doing well today.

3. Know you only need one minute to get to the point

or nothing,.. either, lead to conversation of the next

-Fruit any homework: Most helpful, personal experience determined,

I hope you are doing well today.. 99 I get a smile, most people are not interested in cashiers.

TAKE ONE MINUTE

Practice the transition:

“It’s raining cats and dogs”

“Yes”

“Jesus said it (Matthew 5.45) rains on the good and the bad”

“So what”

“I find peace knowing Jesus care about me when it rains and when the sunshine’s”

A statement

A bible verse, faith observation, that introduces faith topic

A person statement I believe

The door is open

Prayer

Preparing

Announce the gospel message and wait on the Holy Spirit, and follow HS lead

Why share our faith?

Motivation

-Christ commanded, not suggested, maybe you should make disciples, nope, you shall

-Christ loves disciples, we are more willing to do something asked by someone who loves us.

-We know what is at stake for us and for those who do not know,

Some success stats

Why should we refresh / share our faith?

77% people become disciples through someone they trust

a year of trust building make be required to earn/build trust

we have to be plain and clear, we can no longer use Christina language

we can no longer depend solely on programs of the church

many people have difficulty building new relationships with new persons.

lots of people have no christian memory

Reasons we stop Sharing (of Church people)

-unaware of sin 1%

-indifferent to sin 16% they live as they want, self id as Xtn, but don’t care

-worried about sin 39% (have not moved on, still worried)

-Forgiven from sin 9% (unhappy members, unfulfilled

-39% Forgiving/Active in Church 24% of those 89% have stopped being transformed or refreshed

Churches historically have been teaching that when you become a member that’s it, your done

11% (Even to 11% need to step it up)

6% have a holy discountent (Know the core, but

3% broken by God ( God will make life good and easy)

1% surrendered / submitted (Do what you will)

0.5% have a profound love for God.

0.5% love for people. (Isnt this the greatest commandment ) love God and neighbor.

NO WONDER WE ARE NOT WITNESSING

Mentally/Spiritually Want to be BUILDING NEW relationship everywhere we go, example is Jesus not at other example

DAILY INITIATING ONE MINUTE CONVERSATIONS

endless

….more practice next week

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