Archive for December, 2010

Christmas is Not Just for Angels Hebrews 2:10-18 12262010 JUMC

2:10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.” 14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

 “Its for the Children” – Not for the angels but for God’s children
 “It’s a Family Thing” – Became our brother and sister”
 “Loved, even though Known” – Merciful and faithful High Priest
 “No One Made Him Do It” – by choice of love, Sacrifice of Atonement
 “You Mean There is a Test?” Help for the test.

Theme: Addressing the Christmas Question: Why was Jesus born?
Matthew 2:13-15
2:13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

The evil of the world will not stop that Glorious Love of the One who made the world.
Not Childishness, Not Favoritism, Not Sin, Not Blame, Not Failure

Isaiah 63:7-9
63:7 I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, because of all that the LORD has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 8 For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely”; and he became their savior 9 in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

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Advent3 Matthew 1.18-25 “Wake up and Take Responsibility” JUMC

Matthew 1:18-25 (The Message)

18-19 The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.  20-23While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—’God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:  Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”). 24-25Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

Life is not just about myself. We have a new life to be responsible for.

Life is more than my family and my work and my reputation.

Life is not a dream. It is difficult and has consequences.

Joseph Builder: builds family, builds faith, builds witness/reputation.

Call to action:  Wake up, take responsibility for the life given you.

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Hit the Highway Isaiah 35.1-10 Advent3 JUMC 12122010

Isaiah 35:1-10
35:1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 35:2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 35:3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 35:6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 35:7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 35:8 A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 35:9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

James 5:7-10
5:7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 5:8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 5:9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

The prophet Isaiah describes a highway, called the Holy Way, paved for God’s people to find their way to God. No wandering, not even fools will go the wrong way on that road.

I don’t know about you but I am so grateful for GPS directions. It is not 100% accurate, but it has helped me find back road to get around traffic, helped when my sense of direction is defective, give an example.., so cool.

Guys, remember the days of taking a short-cut hoping it will come out close enough. Now we don’t have an excuse for getting lost… unless.

The database does not include the correct coordinates for the location we want to find. The parsonage shows up on Google at Pete’s house. Hmm.

Isaiah has his own GPS… God’s Promised Salvation!

Isaiah and James point toward the intersection of our ways and God’s way. One of the spelling words I got to learn in seminary was hermeneutics. It is the 50 cent word for preaching… the weekly opportunity of directing traffic of our travel and God’s path in Scripture.

It is Christmas, that leads us to scriptures that teach and remind us of God’s promise to meet us on the road and guide us home toward God.

It is Christmas that is a reminder and a promise that God wants to save us.
But the real question is, “From what do we need saving?”

Hear the prophet Isaiah: The Lord’s highway leads to a place where the relationship Weak hands are made strong.

The first instruction for finding our way toward God comes from those already on the path. That is us, the witnesses of God’s promise and Word.
Tell those who have fearful hearts, “Be Strong, God is near!”

The opportunity Christmas gives us is to tell those people who are:

Afraid of loosing jobs, homes, business, “Be Strong in God’s strength.”
Afraid of illness, pain, death, “Be Strong in God’s strength.”
Afraid of failure, loss, loneliness, shame, Be Strong in God’s strength.”

It is a word of encouragement to someone, giving directions without judgement, from the perspective of Salvation…
Come this way is safe, this way is sure, this way is strong.

What keeps us from telling others? “Weak knees.”
Isaiah, tells that meeting God is the strength to the fear of reaching out to others.

Why not reach out?
We are busy. They are busy.
We are afraid, they are afraid,
We are un-prepared, they already know.
We don’t care, they don’t think we care.

Hear Isaiah’s witness.. God has a highway, room for everyone, not a narrow path, but a great seven lane highway

Where wandering… folks just enjoying the Blue Highways, sight seeing, who are more lost than they realize:

On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing, but those brevities just before dawn and little after dusk, times neither day nor night, the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in trough, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and its that time when the pull oft e blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beaconing, the strangeness a place where a man can lose himself. William Least Heat-Moon
Isaiah warns that God’s highway of salvation is even open to the wander.
Isaiah comforts to say that even the fool, can’t get lost following God.

Definition of FOOL: a person lacking in judgment or prudence.

Do you know anyone just killing time hoping to find meaning?
Someone hoping to win the $Billion lottery so they can start living.
Do you know someone lacking judgment about life decisions.
Someone who wastes resources with foolish choices, or
Someone who hoards resources with foolish choices.

God’s Way, the spiritual highway that leads us toward God,
Is a path of certainty for those who wander,
Is a path of hope for the who despair.
Is a road to meaning and purpose

So the passage call for you and me to be a guide, a witness.
Of God’s Highway.

It is great to have those signs that tell us what to expect at a highway’s exit. FOOD, LODGING, FUEL…

What are you telling folks this Christmas, and every day..
Merry Christmas.. Happy Christ Worship.
Still have folks who won’t say, Merry Christmas, like

If someone says, Happy Holidays, ask them, what makes them Holy Days for you? Jesus has come to show us the way to God… is my answer.
PRACTICE: “What makes them Holy Days for you?”

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