Archive for August, 2015

James 1:17-27 Jesus Wants Dewars 20150830 RSUMC

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Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.  Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act–they will be blessed in their doing. If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. [NRSV]

What do we know in our head?

  • Love neighbor
  • feed hungry
  • clothe the naked
  • forgive your enemy: doesn’t mean they are not to be accountable, we allow them the opportunity to change
  • read and study the scriptures
  • Remember the forgotten, the widow and children/orphan

Today we have heard about a terrible social problem. (Trafficking)

Is it enough to know about the problem

or is there something we can we about the problem

  • report abuse and crimes
  • give children safe place to be
  • get involved in community and schools
  • Get help to victims and support change in he hearts of abusers
  • Others

Jesus empowers us as a moody not a museum

  • Don’t be deceived is the repeated warning
  • the devil is known as the great deceiver: say one thing and do another
  • we can be deceived
  • deceive others and deceive ourselves
  • but we cannot deceive God

therefore, repent and trust God in all things

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ephesians 6:10-20 What to Wear: Armor All Protection 20150823 RSUMC

FullArmourTrooper.jpgFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, [NRSV]

Equipment Issue Check List:

  • Belt: What holds everything together? the Truth
  • Body Armor: Righteousness: Living for God.
  • Shoes: Ready to Running shoes, Walking shoes for relationships, Boots for building and going where others do not want to go to share the good news of peace (sticking point: Is peace always violent? When is defending the widow and orphan from the visiting resident alien or the rod to defend the sheep?)
  • Shield: Protection from spiritual arrows and fire storm
  • Helmet: Knowing and Remembering the power of our Salvation through Jesus Christ
  • Sword: Scripture that speaks the eternal truths in contemporary situations. (God entrusts word with people not just marks on a stone.)

The Battle defines the Equipment

A sword is a weapon. It is not for passive show. It is intended to be wielded and used for assault and defense, thus two edges. The weapon is scripture, God’s word entrusted to us to be shared, to teach and restore. The Bible, for inclusion and exclusion; it is for clarifying the boundaries of our faith relationships and the world of evil.

God made the world, which included the presence of evil and called the crucible good.

This illustration’s focus is on the battle and then the equipment

Spiritual assault is to be the expectation, we need to have the equipment and resource to defend and share God’s goodness in the face of evil.

How might you define the equipment for Spiritual Battle?

What holds your life and faith together in the face of spiritual weariness? The US Constitution or the Bible? If both, which holds our greatest allegiance?

Who are the Good Guys?

Ok, so if we don’t have enough violence and fighting from within and from outside the church. We know being a Christian is not what it has been. One of the early mission statements I helped a church develop was “Proclaiming the never changing Gospel in an ever-changing world.” I was very proud of the team prayer, effort and study that went into claiming that statement for that congregation. I’m personally thrilled they still use it 25 years later. It is an obvious statement and yet it is one we struggle to believe.

We want things to stay the same from generation to generation. “If it’s good enough for Granddaddy it’s even better for the grandchildren.” Half of the statement is true and half is a indifference we struggle through in each generation.

One of the wonderful things I love about Rock Spring UMC congregation is that we don’t fuss and fight with each other. And if we do, we either work through it, learn from it and grow on, or we know who likes to complain and we love each other and grow on together. So many churches are confronted with so much internal division and distraction. I’m thankful we can be a model reaching out.

The Question: How to hold on to what it means to follow Christ in world that is radically changing.

This is the spiritual battle we face in the world, as a denomination and as individuals…at home, school, work, everywhere we go.

Look back at the text:

  • Be strong in the Lord,
  • Pray in the Spirit,
  • Keep alert,
  • Persevere one another/supplication,
  • Make known the message with boldness.

Anyone can start buying tactical equipment: We need to know

  • what the battle is and
  • how to survive and
  • how to prevail.

The battle is first, a spiritual one.

We survive in the strength of Christ, as a body, the church, as a people in covenant and prayerful, intentional studiers.

Our Goal is not new, it continues to be to share the love of God, the grace of Jesus and the power of Spirit to make disciples, for the transformation of the world.

I don’t want to battle, I’m a conscientious objector.. I don’t want to get messy, dirt, involved. I want to put my head in the sand and wait it out.

Paul is preparing the church to be the church at its beginning and we are to prepare to be the church in its present:

Eph 5.

1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
When times are toughest, it is time to wake up, work closely with one another in the Spirit and be bold in Sharing God’s love in JEsus Christ.
            Now put on your armor.

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Ephesians 5:15-20 Time for Spiritual Songs 20150816 RSUMC

image Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts. giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. [NRSV]

Spiritual feeding:

We have talked about connecting with the Spirit through scripture, communion and today I offer through songs, spiritual songs. success and hard work make our salvation

 

There are many ways to empty our spirit.  

Poor, unwise choices

wasting time

fooling ourselves that we make our own rules, success and blessings

numbing ourselves in the drunkenness of wine and ignorance

Focus on what feeds our spirit 

the prescription for drunkenness is spiritual singing.

The script for ignorance is spiritual singing

the medicine for fulling ourselves is spiritual singing

Historically, Methodist have been known as “Those singing Methodist”

Different songs for different courses

Praise

Confession

Strength

Celebration

Thanksgiving

Grief

Healing,

Silence

New songs /old Favorites

Tell the Story, in song

Share Songs with God and Neighbors and yourself

Write your favorites  3×5 cards to turn in and share with others , two copies

write new songs,

sing old songs

Sing sing sing, get your new bucket with no holes

 

 

 

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John 6:35, 41-51 “Hungry?” 20150809 RSUMC

biscuits-plate Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [NRSV]

Communion:

I ritual of disciples: I have always been conflicted about holy communion being something the church designates as responsibility of the ordained clergy, when Jesus gives the instruction to disciples to remember and relive the ritual with every meal.

We speak of “asking the blessing” or “saying grace” as a mini-ritual of prayer before our meals. I dare not disregard one of few things that the church has made necessary for our elders, but I want to expand what it means to “eat the bread of life.”

Who is hungry?

Poverty among our neighbors.

How will they be fed?

In the text there are references to Moses and the following traditions of ministry of feeding. There are hungry people in Walker and Catoosa, There are hungry people in Culebra and Costa Rica. There are people who are hungry for eternal food on facebook and faceless corners of the earth. Who will feed those we know to be hungry.

Look the other way and change the channel when you see someone who hungers for Jesus. The work is be for us.

How often do we Communion?

Communion is our reminder that there are those who hunger for Jesus. If we feed without sharing Jesus we fool ourselves and those we feed. If we think we can share Jesus without feeding the hungry we fool them and ourselves.

Communion is a celebration of union with Christ Jesus, disciples and all who hunger for grace, forgiveness, direction, answers, hope, freedom, power: Jesus.

An Invitation:

Break bread with someone this week and share Jesus. It might be stranger or your family or best friend, but use the time to share Jesus with one another: read the scripture, sing the songs, tell the story that Jesus gives his life in exchange for ours and Jesus entrusts his presence in the church/body.

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John 6:24-35 Which Tank is Filled? 20150802 RSUMC

GasTankFilledSo when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. [NRSV]

We want a new sign

From the text, the people ask Jesus for something new and improved. We like something bigger, better and more sensational that the last performance. Human nature has not changed since Jesus’s time.

You fed 5000 yesterday what will you do today?

We actually want more.

You gives us something we didn’t work for yesterday, keep feeding us so we don’t have to work.

Occupier Mentality: “It’s no trouble for you to feed us, we don’t have to do any work, we just ask and you give.”

Jesus said, you will be hungry for food everyday, You sound like Moses’s people. God wants to feed your spirit.

We want ANOTHER show. 

The crowd: was also saying. We are heard to be fed and entertained.

Keep proving yourself to us. A little is never enough, we want the greatest show on earth.

Jesus tells the crowd, You need to be asking for the “true” bread that gives eternal life from heaven. Not just daily bread, heavenly bread.

We want tangible, physical proof of more and we want it now.

Prosperity-preachers tell folks that the way to wealth is to trust in Jesus: Are the people who are in Costa Rico, Culebra, Porte Rico, or 80% of our students at our local schools who are faithful in Jesus, but stay wealthy. Who can’t afford to make it to the wealth palaces.. there is a disconnect..

In a world filled with struggles, grief, trials and sin… we want to find the path of least resistance for the greatest personal yield..

Here is Jesus’s question to those who seek peace, satisfaction, fullness, wholeness, justice, power and life.

Which tank do you fill first?

The gas tank or the prayer tank? The stomach tank or the spirit tank? the bank tank or the eternity tank?

A couple of years ago I remember pumping eighty dollars of gas into my gas tank on the way to the grocery store. Preoccupied with my grocery list, I looked back at the tank I realized I had nothing left to spend at the grocery store. I went home empty-handed but with the one tank full, the other empty.

Jesus wants us to be full, in the eternal way.

Communion in one certain way we fill our spiritual tank. This is not just bread and juice this is the presence of Christ live and at work in us. This is not just the juice this is the real power of Jesus’s sacrifice at work on our behalf making us whole, fresh and new.

Do you have room for communion?

One Sunday afternoon I watch Monty Python’s Meaning of life and reached scene where the very large person was eating a disgusting amount of food and was do full that he was expanding to the point of exploding his fullness. The waiter offers him a “wafer thin mint” to cleanse his pallet. “Oh I couldn’t eat one bite more.” the man protests. The waiter persists: It ‘s just a wafer thin mint. They banter back and forth and the large, completely full man yields and places the thin mint on his tongue and proceeds to literally explode. I was both disgusted and rolling with laughter at the literal interpretation of having eaten beyond the point of being full. I could not keep from laughing all through communion that night. How could a wafer and drop of juice fill us beyond fullness.

alternate..

Phil DeMoore: What you do when you get ready to cut the grass: Fill the Mower.

Rather than drain   tank, lets fill each other’s tank.

Bottom line.

We don’t need to be entertained by Jesus

We don’t need more proof.

We don’t need another illustration.

We know we need Jesus.. Are you full of Love? Are you filled with a passion to share the Good News? Are you filled with the peace and assurance that God will be with us and will prevail through all evil and all trials and struggles and if we stick with God and do what God guides and calls us to do for others,… then we will already know what eternity will be like.

Communion

The filling station is here. Check you gauge, is it time to fill up.

 

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