Archive for October, 2017

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Faith Sharing: The Abundant Witness

5GenWitness

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! [NRSV]

Abundance

This text is often misused by many, including popular tv-preachers, to justify a theology of material wealth abundance. The promise God makes us is to multiply what we give, but that is not a multi-level get-rich investment plan for our bank accounts.

Starting Balance

First, let’s look at our account. God has given us love, breathe and choice, in a broken world where sin, temptation, and selfishness keep these gifts in the balance.

Second, God further gives us the Word, (scriptures), the witness of the faithful who has gone ahead of us, namely, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church.

Understanding Blessings,

A blessing is God taking what is ordinary and making it/us extraordinary.  Paul writes to the Corinth church and us, through several letters, know as 1&2 Corinthians, encouraging us to see how God is showing up through the many ways we show/witness God’s presence to the world.

The more we show the world Jesus, the more the God works with us to make our small part a greater witness, a longer-reach, a bigger impact, a more abundant gift.

Key Text: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

It Only Takes a Spark 

Picture a time when your occasion that someone to whom you have shared Jesus Christ with uses the words you shared with them to inspire someone else.

Parents hear their children say all sorts of words. O e of my favorite kids speak moments was when a five-year-old smelled myrrh one Christmas Eve and belted out how terrible the smell was and it smelled like “$hit”. “This stuff smells like bull$hit” not the words of faith his parents and grandparents St had hoped they would share.

There are precious slices of life where a child will remind fighting parents that Jesus hears their hurtful words just as the child has heard them and that’s not what Jesus wants.

When the whole event is ruined by rain and the child stops to celebrate the promise of the rainbow, that God has saved us for a different purpose than the mess that has flooded today.

But when you hear campers at Glisson teaching another generation about what a friend in Christ is about knowing that you heard it started at camp in the summer of 1984 and summer after summer kids have experienced friends in Christ and will sing that song in 2017 to generations to follow another thirty years.

The challenge of Abundance

So we know God is with us. We have a great supportive cloud of witnesses to learn from, both those living and those who have gone ahead to heaven. We have the Word, the Wisdom and Wit God gives us, a World of opportunities…

  • WHAT are you committed to planning for an abundant crop?
  • What does my collection of tools empower me to do?
  • What does a house full of stuff afford me to share?
  • What does an experience of a job give me to teach others
  • What does the money, talents, resources give us the opportunity share?
  • What do the facts, stories, memories in our heads have for other hearts and minds?

We must recognize that we, while we all have different parts to share, we are all gifted.

  • If I want to see God’s praised
  • If I want to see others know what I know
  • If I want the next generation to be strong in the faith
  • If I want my enemy to no longer me, my enemy
  • If I want my community, nation, and world to be healed
  • If we have the same mind as Christ,
  • if we have the same love for God,
  • If we have the same journey as the Holy Spirit,

Key Text: Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

So what does this call us to be doing?

the obedience that follows our own confession of faith.

If I say that I am a follower, a Christian, a disciple, a member, a child of God, what follow is to be obedience.

What do we do to show that we obey?

We share our faith, our hearts, our witness, our love with others.

  • Not only, but continually,
  • Our whole lifetime.

God wants each of us in a relationship with God, AND with one another.

So we are getting to the gift challenge for this Christmas:

What are we suppose to do?

  1. Pray for someone whom you have not shared your faith with before.
  2. Pray for God to reveal this person/s to you, that you believe God wants you to share your faith story/journey with as gift this Christmas.
  3. Begin to set up the opportunity. Make a plan to be with this person during the Christmas season, December 25 and the 11 days following make the Christmas Season. Make a date to spend time with them, face-to-face, on the phone, online, but make a date inviting them to know that you have a most special gift you want to give them this year.
  4. Begin to listen in prayer for what God wants you to say. (It might be one simple thing, it might be a detailed list.) {Don’t tell him, yet if you see my brother} [God wants me to tell my brother that I love him, that God has Good for his life, and the Christmas is the time for him to be growing his faith, writing his heart and loving someone in the way God loves him. (He doesn’t have to love me, yet. The message is it is time to find your home in God’s house and God’s heart. Start where you have found in the past, with people who love God, go to the church closest to your home or work and meet God there; Talk with his people, listen to his call and song, grow and work in grace.]
  5. The Plan: In my plan, I am called to share a repetitive gift. Same gift wrapped in three ways. Mail it in a letter, send it in an email, and call and talk in person. I have not set up the day, but I know the message.
  6. The expectation: My exercise is not to get a response, not to expect feedback, not to expect anything. God’s expectation is that I share the message with love and grace.
  7. The fruit will be for his heart and God’s and that will be joy abundantly to me.

I cannot tell you who, or exactly what God wants you to reach out to, but I have not shared my faith with my brother in many years. I have assumed, that has not served him, God, nor our relationship. It’s time to be faithful in faith-sharing.

 

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Phillipians 1:21-30 Share Faith: Progress in Joyful Faith.

difficultJoy

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them, this is evidence of their destruction but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. [NRSV]

I’ve Got my ticket, Who Cares if you have yours?

One of the reasons that we find to justify why to NOT share our faith is summed up in the thought: “I figured it out, they can too.”

“They have the bible to read.”

“They could have gone to church.”

“They should have made other choices.”

“It’s their choice/fault/responsibility/issue.”

Paul acknowledging an affirmation we need to remember: Through Christ, we have salvation. While salvation is a ticket to heaven, it is not a pass from suffering.

The joy of finding Salvation ourselves is that we have the most wonderful and appropriate gift to share with those who are suffering.

Even though life is not easy, we have hope beyond this life, we have encouragement in this life, and we know how to love when everyone else is [Hobbes:] is selfish, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. T

In Jesus Christ, we have Joy knowing our future is more certain than our past and present and that What God has done for us in Christ and what God’s Spirit is doing through us now.

We live in the assurance of our place in heaven AND in the assurance that even though we might be experiencing hell on earth, we continue here to help each other progress in JOY and in FAITH.

We don’t want to be like Lot’s wife, don’t look back.

The tragedy in Las Vegas shows how broken one person’s mental illness can affect hundreds of others.

The tragedy of flooding in Texas, Peurto Rico, Culebra, Florida and again now in the gulf, the earthquakes in Mexico, Japan, and New Zealand; the nastiness in social media and divisive words, accusations and assumptions upon people’s character, the threats of war from

When the signs say run.

With melting glaciers, erupting volcanos, multiple hurricanes, and storms,

When we heart of attacks, wars, rumors of wars, and see people value political principle above God’s, when people would rather blame and attack rather than forgive and love.

It is no wonder we feel the call to be “traveling on”

I feel like traveling on,

My heavenly home is bright and fair I feel like traveling on
No pain nor death can inner there I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on I feel like traveling on
My heavenly home is bright and fair I feel like traveling on
Its glittering towers the sun outshines I feel like traveling on
That heavenly mansion shall be mine I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on…
The Lord has been so good to me I feel like traveling on
Until that blessed home I see I feel like traveling on
Yes I feel like traveling on…

Written by J. R. Baxter, William Hunter • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group, Popularized by Loretta Lynn, All Time Gospel Favorites.

The Reason for Staying and Standing In (Why doesn’t Vanderbilt call the game at half-time?)

If everyone who believed in Jesus left and went to heaven how would those who doubt, question, reject and run the other way have a chance?

We remain to encourage others.

We remain to enjoy each other’s company

We remain to strengthen each other faith

We remain to be that light on a dark night

Stay without Standing Still

Paul see’s the importance of sticking with people who are difficult, sticks in the mud and working with persistence for some measure of progress.

Joy is the passion that we are making a difference in a broken world

I’ve not reached my goal, but at least I’m making progress.

Joy in the progress

Celebrate the advances in what is Godly

Remember where we see God is faithful

Highlight where we experience the Holy Spirit showing up

Continue to call and challenge each other to progress.

Progress in Faith, Progress in Joy, Progress in Sharing

If you go-to story of faith is over a year old, we have not progressed in faith since that time.

We affirm the historic ways we meet God, but let’s be about the business of progressing, even where it weary, dry and difficult.

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