Archive for February, 2015

1 Peter 3:13-22 “For Our Sins” 20150222 RSUMC

 ForOurSin_Ashes

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. [NRSV]

Suffering: Physical Suffering for a Spiritual Purpose: The Lenten Season

Jesus’ prime example is suffering death on the cross, exchanging his life for our life.

Peter’s instructions DON’T LIST

  • Don’t give up, even when tempted, tested and tired
  • Don’t be afraid, even though there are things, powers and people to fear

DO BE DO BE DO…

  • Do have patience in suffering for Christ
  • Be ready to explain your hope
  • Do so with kindness
  • Keep your conscience clear
  • Don’t give in to what broken world dishes out

ENCOURAGEMENT:

  • Remember Jesus has already suffered for you.
  • Return the example, as a RESPONSE to LOVE not a duty.
  • SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL 1PT 3:18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,

CITIZENSHIP: THEREFORE: Live like you are a baptized person..

  • live like your saved
  • live like God’s Spirit is in you…
  • live like Jesus and all power, authority, angels and powers are at your disposal through Christ.

We begin a holy Lenten season of practicing..

We are Baptized, (Claimed, Saved, Empowered and Loved Children of God)  Who we are,

We are encouraged by (Suffering in Faithfulness) what God has done through Jesus

The Lenten Test

  • If you were a extravagantly generous wealthy person: How would you treat other people
  • If you were a passionate lover of God: How would you express your devotion?
  • If you were a radical host and friend: How would you welcome a stranger?
  • If you were risk-taking servant: How far would you go to help someone who is hurting?
  • If you were purposeful and intentional about growing your Spiritual self, What exercises would you do?

If you let yourself off the hook and say none of these are for me, this is the season to pick just one and practice.

Practice trusting Jesus.

Practice telling about our hope in the life Jesus promises.

Practice singing about the Good News that God continues to love us

Practice giving like God’s heart is your heart.

Practice looking at strangers as new best friends

Practice looking at suffering in the world is a place for you to personally plug in and be involved making one-on-one change

Practice your faith OUT LOUD, not just in your mind and not just with your friends and family.

PRACTICE giving power and grace to those who don’t deserve another chance.

LENT

is forty days plus Sundays between this past Wednesday and Easter for us to begin practicing what it means to be Easter people, BECAUSE the truth is we are not there yet.

We begin this journey acknowledging this is a journey

  • it is not easy
  • it is not quick
  • it is not over
  • it is not fair
  • it is vitialy important and
  • it is worth the time and faith to try…

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2 Corinthians 4:3-6 RSUMC “Shine Jesus Shine” 20150215

lightindarknessAnd even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [NRSV]

  • Shine Jesus
  • Shine your shoes
  • Shine as in moonshine
  • Shiner as in a black eye
  • Shiny as in a new car, red Corvette or a white Tahoe
  • Shiny as in a proof coin

But today we talk about the Flashlight.

Some debate:

  • in 1886 the first dry-cell batteries were made which powers a variety of emerging ideas
  • In 1898, Russian immigrant inventor, Conrad Hubert made the first flashlight. And later founded the Ever-Ready Battery Company.
  • In 1899, English inventor David Misell invented the first flashlight. He was the first to use the “D” battery which had a stronger light.

But those early models had a weak and inconsistent power source and bulbs that were more fragile and temperamental than modern LED and HID flashlights. The name flashlight came from the intermittent light that burn for a short while and had to rest before it was read to be used again. Thus the short flash of light gave the battery with bulb stick the nickname: a flashlight.

I suggest that we have much to learn from the early flashlight as an example of our spiritual development.

1. When we find ourselves connected to the power God gives us, that is within each of us, we tap into a the source of awareness, knowledge, guidance, counsel and spiritual strength. We seem to quickly do one of two things: a) doubt it is a way of life that God has intended for us and/or b) confuse our personal power, talents and strength with God’s.

Like the flashlight, God’s presence is revealed in the darkness of a broken and sinful world and when we turn it on in the dark, the darkness is no more. But for some reason we turn off the lights.

Life in the Dark, holding a flashlight.

It sounds unbelievable, buy there a just a few times (denote the sarcasm) that while we are holding on the the switch that connects us to scriptures, worship, Christian fellowship, prayer, opportunities to serve, witness and give, we allow the darkness to take us over.

The Reality of Darkness

  • When human beings behead, cage and burn, degrade and devalue women and children. Here we see the darkness of evil.
  • When other the teachings of other faith’s say Jesus is but another prophet and deny Jesus is God’s present in our history and at the thrown as the begotten of God. When Jesus is left behind, or left out all together, darkness grows stronger.
  • When human beings long for governments to provide what God gives or what God equips us to provide for ourselves, evil has made dark the world.
  • The less we proclaim the light of Christ, the more expanse of darkness increases along with the grip of evil and brokenness.

The starting point is to affirm that some things are good and some bad, some light and some dark:

  • Shine the light, the light erases the darkness. The darkness is not present where the light shine
  • Darkness, where is the darkness? In your check book or cupboard? In your plans and dreams? In you behavior and attitude?
  • The Gravitational darkness of the back hole of evil.
  • Stumbling in the dark.
  • The futile task of traveling in the dark… without night vision.
  • Thermal signature from the energy emitted from a beating heart.

AFRAID OF THE DARK:

  • As a boy I had a teddy bear that would allow me to hide under the covers and was brave enough to keep his head out in the dark room to keep watch over shadows and strange noises. He would occasionally be willing to be held by his feet and look under the bed or even fly across the room to check the closet door.
  • We have more than a teddy bear to watch over our fears. We never out grow fear. We manage and mature over different fearful situations, but fear is a life long struggle. Jesus is our stand in. Jesus hold us and grounds us while we explore a fear-filled world.
  • Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t be Afraid to take Jesus with You when it IS dark.

Let Christ’s light shine:

  • Sometimes that darkness is people’s behaviors and attitudes and we need not face the conflict alone.
  • We face conflict knowing the Jesus never promised to have a life free of fear, but to be our counsel when the darkness surrounds, threatens and tempts us.

JESUS COME QUICK

  • Sometime Shining the light is calling on Jesus out-loud and directly.
  • Sometime Shining the light is deliberate words and actions that unfold over time.
  • Sometime Shining the light is charging our spiritual batteries when we are strong for times we are weak.
  • Bottom line: Shine the light of Christ is allowing CHRIST to shine through me and through you.

PAUL the PHYSICS AUTHORITY

I doubt Paul knew the speed of light. But lighting a lamp in a darken room; carrying a torch into a dark street; proclaiming and trusting God to show up in a cell in prison, or in conflict in the church, or the pull of governments and other types of worship.. Paul calls on the Spirit that cause him to become blind, so that he could see, to guide his steps in all things.

SO WHAT:

Turn on the flashlight. Not with the weak beam of light that you and I have to add. Rather allow Christ to light through us.

Let the world hear the Good News in our words, songs and witness

Let the world hear that evil is present but not in charge.

Pray, Speak up, be pro-active, Don’t wait for darkness to leave, Shine Christ in it.

Where is the darkness around you?

At work: Pray for the trouble makers, and difficult cases, and stumbling blocks to see Christ in you.

At home: Make time for study, worship, fellowship and communication.

In community: Small groups, worship, service, witness and fellowship.. bring the dark to the light

Online: For all the good that comes with information overload technologies, comes the easy access of evil and darkness to be at our fingertips 24/7. Set limits, support accountability and confess our sins.

Around the World: God didn’t wait for God’s people to get their act together, but went to the Shepherd and Magi to and revealed where they looked into the darkness and show them THE GREAT LIGHT at Jesus’ birth.

HomeWork:

Carry your a flashlight with you. When you see evil and darkness, shine the light of Christ.. your flashlight might be scripture, songs of faith, words of hope, and lessons of accountability. Don’t sit in the dark and don’t let others either.

 

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Be Strong in Praising God 20150208 Isaiah 40:21-31 RSUMC

bladeofgrass
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. [NRSV]

WARNING: Don’t forget God in the PROCESS of Leading the People

The prophet Isaiah is warning King Hezekiah to be clear as the leader who is God and for the king to put himself and the people in perspective of God.

The prophet Isaiah is warning King Hezekiah to be certain there will soon be a day when all the wealth and possession will be taken away. Where will the king turn when there is no peace?

The prophet Isaiah is warning King Hezekiah to be aware that they people and his kingdom will be turned over to Babylon and he speaks for God saying: Who is mighty, Who is in control, who is THE king when the kingdom is overthrown due to arrogance, misplaces alliance and a loss of faith?

Isaiah reminds the king of God’s place in the order of politics:

TO THE PEOPLE

1. FIRST, God’s words are to the people: “Comfort, O comfort my people” The king may be leading you to destruction but that does NOT mean I have forgotten you.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

2. (There are consequences for following a king that leads people away from God)  Nevertheless: God is still with us.

3. FOLLOW GOD FIRST, above all:

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

FOLKS WILL SAY

People will say… Folks will shout out… Leaders will talk but let’s look at the basics:

GRASS: Flowers, grass.. When the winds blow, where will you run?

MOUNTAINS: High places don’t make you closer to God.

GOD is a GOOD SHEPHERD: Feed on God’s grace… grazing

OCEANS and SEAS and LAND: God’s handiwork, and it operates by God’s design, not king’s command and laws.

POWER, WISDOM, KNOWLEDGE, JUSTICE, UNDERSTANDING:

God’s heart/spirit is God’s to will.

God is God’s own counselor.

You might explain how a tomato is formed, but who designed and produced the first one.

Who taught your kings what they know and who taught them..

A DROP in the bucket

Add up all the wealth, knowledge, wisdom and talents in the world and no one can make a blade of grass from scratch.

The DEFINITION OF DEPRAVITY

Here is an equation: Take all the fuel in the world, efforts of humanity focused on one task, use all your resources, all the gross national products of all nations combined and who can make a blade of grass.

WE ARE ALL EMPTY and NOTHING without God.

COMPARISON: piss’n contest (forgive the crudeness)

To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?

IS an IDOL greater than God?

A thing, shaped by a workman, guilded by another, and displayed by another with (no rot wood)

Designer’s CHALLENGE

CAN ANYTHING WE MIGHT FORM, DESIGN OR DREAM UP out do what God has already done. Start with a mustard seed, a carrot, a flea, on tick on an fly….

WHAT ABOUT THE ORDER of things?

WHO WAS AT THE BEGINNING? Who created the matter? Who defined gravity, mass and energy? Who started the big bang? Who determined relativity, string theory and quantum mechanics would be the guiding factors?

WHO ARE YOU KIDDING: Who are you king? Who are you president? Who are you Hezikiah? compare yourself to God. God says through ISAIAH: I think, at best, you are a grasshopper.

You didn’t form the earth and all that is in it.

You didn’t form a chicken or an egg.

You didn’t make a blade of grass much less the seasons that both kill the grass and renew it in the spring.

SO WHAT ?

LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND SEE. (KNOW and SPEAK the truth)

WHY DARE do you ask: Where is God? What does it matter? Life is not fair!

HAVE YOU NOT HEARD

  1. God is everlasting.
  2. God is always creating and recreating
  3. God gives power to the fainting and powerless
  4. God does not get tired.
  5. God renew those who are tired.

Therefore, Fly, Run and Walk

The Soar like eagles makes for a good song or placard.. but more significant is the series of perspective.

Can you fly, can you run, can you even walk without using what God has already made for you?

A CASE for reminding the king, the people and the nations of the world:

God, who made heaven and earth, shows grace through his Son, and power, knowledge and wisdom through his Spirit and Counselor is to be trusted with all that we are.

BOTTOM LINE: (Yeah, Preacher, we know all that stuff, so what?)

Isaiah is making a case for us to tell the king, tell each other and tell the world, God is all around. Don’t doubt it. Don’t forget it. Don’t confuse it. Don’t deny it. Don’t take it for granted. PRAISE the LORD.

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