Archive for September, 2020

Ezekiel 18 Fair, Good, or Just?

crop kid weighing on scale
Justice in the Balance of Righteousness / Photo by KS on Pexels.com

The word of the Lord came to me: 2 What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? 3 As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4 Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die. 5 If a man is righteous and does what is lawful and right— 6 if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period, 7 does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 8 does not take advance or accrued interest, withholds his hand from iniquity, executes true justice between contending parties, 9 follows my statutes, and is careful to observe my ordinances, acting faithfully—such a one is righteous; he shall surely live, says the Lord God. 10 If he has a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, 11 who does any of these things (though his father does none of them), who eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, 13 takes advance or accrued interest; shall he then live? He shall not. He has done all these abominable things; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself. 14 But if this man has a son who sees all the sins that his father has done, considers, and does not do likewise, 15 who does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not wrong anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, 17 withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no advance or accrued interest, observes my ordinances, and follows my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, he dies for his iniquity. 19 Yet you say, “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 20 The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own. 21 But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? 24 But when the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity and do the same abominable things that the wicked do, shall they live? None of the righteous deeds that they have done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which they are guilty and the sin they have committed, they shall die. 25 Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? 26 When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. 27 Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. 28 Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? 30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live. [NRSA: Ez 18:23-25]

  • Ecclesiastes 3:17 I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
  • Hebrews 10:30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
  • Hosea 12:6 But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.
  • Proverbs 21:15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
  • Proverbs 28:5 Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.
  • Matthew 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
  • Psalm 37:27-29 Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever. 28 For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed ; the offspring of the wicked will perish. 29 The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.
  • Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
  • Isaiah 30:18-19 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.
  • Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  • Psalm 106: Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.
  • Deuteronomy 16:20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • Leviticus 19:15 “ ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
  • Psalm 33:5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
  • Isaiah 51:4-5 “Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. 5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.

What is Justice?

Justice bears fruit of God’s righteousness.

We experience justice when we are doing what God has determined what is right – this is known as righteousness.

If we live, aware that God has revealed how to live rightly with one another, and we follow God’s idea of what is righteous, we find God to be forgiving, gracious, and we find the wholeness of our purpose.

Typically, we general divide it up Justice into an either-or condition. In doing so, we empty it’s true power.

We do need to distinguish our understanding of civil justice and divine justice. At times they can be the same things, but not always. When civil justice does not reveal what God has determined is good and right for humanity, but we will come back to this in a moment. For now, I ask us to focus on divine Justice.

Recap: Divine Justice is living, behaving, and conducting our relationship in the way God has instructed, we call Justice. When someone has been injured by another person, the just thing to do is to show mercy, help make them whole, and do so in a spirit of love and mutual respect.

In a civil case someone might grudgingly pay a fine and give restitution to a victim but there is no expectation that God will be revealed in the process, and there is no expectation beyond the payment or the terms of the contract or sentence. The parties are likely still enemies even though the justice has been served.

For divine justice, many times, we separate the righteousness from the justice: we say things like, “She is a good woman.” “He is a good citizen”, or “They are kind.” In so doing, we can confuse the good in our goodness with the righteousness of God’s goodness.

In our civil context, the laws of one country might define what is good in that nation that is not considered good in another. And as a further extension, when individual people have different ideas of goodness, that might be good for the one person or even good for both parties, but not aligned with God’s righteousness at all.

We are called to be more than good citizens, we are called to be Godly neighbors.

In the very familiar parable of the good neighbor, it is the person who shows compassion, mercy, and self sacrifice that Jesus confirms with the disciples and crowd. So as we think about Justice, our actions, attitudes, and relationships are  to be in God’s eyes even if the world’s expectations differ.

Divine Justice is always understood through God’s Goodness and no other context. Throughout the scriptures, the examples of God working through our human experience has the goal of revealing our trust and dependance on God’s direction for us. Therefore, the big difference between those who define Justice being civil or contextual and independent of faith in God only know a slice of what is just.

Round Two. Even within Divine Justice, we typically split the meaning in a hybrid of civil, contextual AND partially divine.

Examples

  • A: There are those who are high on keeping the rules, laws and teachings of scripture, but are unkind to their neighbor and might be more unkind to their enemies. OR
  • B: There are those who are high on caring for the person who is poor, the widow, the orphan and the oppressed but don’t want to some slack on keeping the rules, statutes and laws of righteousness and settle for the world’s good mark of neighborliness.

Question: HOW Do we keep both parts together.  Righteousness and Mercy

The prophet Ezekiel gives several instructions in his conversation with God about Justice:

Learn from the witness of others… Children learn from parents by their good example or from their bad examples.

Be a good example for others… once you find God’s righteousness, be a light, a witness, a teacher, a model of mercy.

At the core is the need to repent and start fresh

REPENTANCE

To repent is to not only acknowledging or own up to our sins, injustice, and self-driven motives and actions, we are promising that we will devote ourselves to the righteousness God is expecting. Looking for the do-over, mulligan

Which is better to have someone say the words “I apologize” or to have the person treat you will respect and love?

The power is not in OUR words, it is in doing what GOD expects of us. We begin by confessing and then working by God’s help and grace to keep God’s righteousness as our guide.

Repentance is when we see that we are sinful, broken, wrong, hurtful, and have not done what God expects AND tell God and those we have been unjust toward, AND we begin to stop doing what we were doing and living God’s ways, by God’s rules, to reveal God with our living in all our relationships.

How do you impose divine Justice on someone who has been unjust toward you? Typically, most things in the civil, in the world’s control are swayed by power and money. That is why we pay fines and restitutions.

But take my favorite example of collecting speeding fines on Burning Bush road. For how many years have officers been writing tickets to have people slow down on that road and yet people continue to speed on that road? The people on live on that road, who drive through those curves to get home to their families. I think it would be better to have speeders and their families out gathering trash on the roadside while cars zoom past and see what physical danger lurks around each corner firsthand. If you believed a family was standing at the road’s edge just around the corner it would be a better deterrent because it connects the danger of harm or life and property rather than just the loss of money or access to the roadway. In this case the Just thing is to connect the unjust behavior with the reality of life and death consequences. This connected command to not kill to the unjust actions that speeding on those blind curves creates.

Ezekiel is relaying a conversation with God to the people of God.

  • Don’t settle for being good, be godly
  • Do keep God’s righteousness as the guide.
  • Learn from the good and bad examples we have conducted in the past, knowing God is ready to forgive and offer new life.
  • Another confusion is the difference between Fairness and Jusitice.

Which would you prefer: Fairness or Justice?

FAIRNESS: While we are created with equal value to God, we are born uniquely ourselves, and therefore some with greater strength, some with more talents, some with compassion, and some who are weaker, stubborn, and some less aware of the needs of others.

Repeat: we are equally love by God, but are created uniquely different from one another. So what would farness look like? Everyone would need to have the same strength, same talents, some capacity to reason and learn, it’s not just fair access to wealth and power.

Justice: is not getting evening or balancing the material resources, that is the civil, contextual answer.

JUSTICE: We do live in a universe where God is Just, and seldom fair.

When politicized Justice, we risk making it about civil goodness but the power is not likely God’s, it’s some political power.

God’s message for Ezekiel is to that showing Justice is our way of showing one another hos God’s purpose, work, will, statutes, commands, and examples bring hope, light, fellowship and God’s intended relationship with one another.

We hear the word justice throw around more than usual these days.

Our test is this: Is the justice being sought something that reveals God’s righteousness, or just power for a person, a movement, or the government. If it does then it is missing God and will be imperfect and incomplete.

The world in which we live we will always experience unfairness. Justice for the weak, the forgotten, the lost is to be found, remembered, and valued in the community.  The BLM movement in its inception was to accomplish these things: a people who were feeling unheard, forgotten, and undervalued in society, collectively gathered a voice. The question of justice is to measure if GOD’s righteousness is found and witnessed. If not then its not justice.

FAIRNESS vs CIVIL JUSTICE vs GOD’s JUSTICE

There is not another diverse nation in the world, now or in history, that have more civil rights and protections for those oppressed anywhere, at any time. But there is not an assurance that we are in the right, if we are not reflecting God’s goodness, what is God’s will, What is God’s heart.

Justice for those who are oppressed, but it is also for the unjust to learn how to become just, to learn how to not oppress. If the widow has a home, the hungry have food, the lost have a community, the naked some clothes, but they don’t see God’s goodness transform those who oppress, overlook, overpower, neglect, or do harm.

  • Just is for the restoring of nations not simply a system of fairness.
  • Once we receive justice, there is no more oppression.
  • One someone is convinced of God’s righteousness and the consequences of God, then justice is complete.
  • God is good at forgetting the past, on purpose, that is the grace part,
  • God is hoping we will start fresh everyday, not holding the past over one another.
  • God expects us to choose right, and hopes we repent, but does hold us accountable..

God’s Justice has Grace and Accountability.

So what do we do with this passage?

Ez. 18:31-32

Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

  • Ask for forgiveness, for sins against others AND God.
  • Know God desires to give us life and not death,
  • But if we are not finding God’s righteousness AND justice.. then we will die from our sin.
  • Hear the Good News Christ died for us,
  • Turn and live in Christ Jesus, our hope and salvation.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Matthew 20:14-16 Who Matters to God?

farm land during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
20:14-16 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” [NRSV: Matthew 20:1-16]

One of the pearls of the Lord’s Prayer is that ask God to help us experience the kingdom of heaven on earth. This is best revealed in the body of Christ, the church, the Koinonia Fellowship.


The Greek word Koinonia appears 19 times in most editions of the Greek New Testament. The NASB this word is translated “fellowship” 12 times, “sharing” 3 times, and “participation” and “contribution” 2 times each.
• Acts 2:42: “in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread,”
• Romans 15:26: “Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints”
• 1 Corinthians 1:9: “whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ”
• 1 Corinthians 10:16: “we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The”
• 1 Corinthians 10:16: “we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
• 2 Corinthians 6:14: “unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
• 2 Corinthians 8:4: “gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the”
• 2 Corinthians 9:13: “of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto”
• 2 Corinthians 13:14: “of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with”
• Galatians 2:9: “and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the”
• Ephesians 3:9: “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from”
• Philippians 1:5: “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first”
• Philippians 2:1: “if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels”
• Philippians 3:10: “resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his”
• Philemon 1:6: “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by”
• Hebrews 13:16: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such”
• 1 John 1:3: “ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly”
• 1 John 1:3: “and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and”
• 1 John 1:6: “we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk”
• 1 John 1:7: “the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the”

We have been talking about this fellowship for a couple of months, this unity, this calling of the church that God on us, for the world and us, calls for labor, hard labor. Today is the moment we place the other bookend on the topic and look back to see if we are any closer to revealing the Kingdom of God.

There are times that a few can do a majority of the work. The good ole’ 20-80 rule. Not only in the church but in other institutions, congresses, organizations and associations, a few people typically are the focal point and/or the driving forces, but there are sometimes that every member of the group is needed.

This passage from Matthew is one of those times that Jesus share the parable of the laborers as a description of expectation of our fellowship as the Christian church, the body of Christ, the witness of the Kingdom’s work in the world, the Koinonia Fellowship.

Text Summary: 20:1-13
Building and Experiencing the Kingdom of God on earth:
At about 9 in the morning, the landowner goes looking for those who work in the vineyard. Aren’t you glad to hear that heavenly work starts about 9:00 in the morning? For some of you, that means it’s ok to sleep longer than you do, and for others its time to wake up.


The Fruit of working it the vineyard was a day’s wage; the agreed rate of fruit, reward, payment for the amount of work that is estimated to be accomplished in a day’s time deserves a fair wage.


As the day goes along either the worker’s labor has proven to be not enough, the task given has increased, or both. And more laborers are needed.


If the vineyard’s task is to gather all the harvest, the hourly rate that is agreed to as fair at one time if different at different points in the process of production. If a storm is looming that would destroy the vineyard, the urgency of completing the task increases the value of the time to finish the whole task.


Clarification. The church’s task is to live as a fellowship of people who are living like they are heavenly citizens while also living as earthly citizens for the purpose of witness, invitation, and discipleship of those who are not living as heaven citizens, in preparation of actually living in heaven.

Back to the Vineyard: at Noon, Three, and Five, the need for more workers is at steadily increasing demand as the task of completing the harvest before the Storm destroys the vineyard… the value of those who are coming to work later is as equally as valuable to the owner of the vineyard.

The Twist
The Twist of Value comes at the end of the day: Remember the parable of the talents? One received 5 talents, another 2 talents, and the third, 1 talent.
The Twist at payment time comes when workers who worked longer expected to be paid extra and/or expected the other workers who worked fewer hours to receive less.

Check-in Questions:
• Who agreed to work for the wage and fruits offered? Every laborer who worked in the vineyard.
• How many laborers were needed to complete the harvest? All off them.
• To whom does the vineyard belong? Not the laborers. It belongs to one who owns the land, the plants, the press, the baskets, the tools, the one who paid the taxes, invested in the whole endeavor who offers the labor in the first place.
• The Vineyard owner.

Lessons learned from the Text:


Salvation part B: I am not the only worker God needs. God is genuinely interested in all persons. God is not needing one group, one period in history, or race, or culture, and not us ALL.

Yes, All injustice toward any person is sinful. No matter the reason, race, or purpose. But, it is NOT a racist statement to say that ALL LIVES MATTER. It is NOT Christ-like to say that one group matters more than all the rest. That is not a political declaration, that is a grace-filled truth of the Gospel.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a vineyard owner who pays all the laborers/workers the same fruit, the same pay, the same reward, the same.

The pay is NOT the value of the labor. The payment is for hard work from everyone to participate and complete the vineyard owner’s work.

If the first, second, or third shift could have completed the task they fourth round laborers were never needed, but the reality is that FAIRNESS is not how the landowner operates.

All the laborers were needed.

The Vineyard Owner is more interested in the harvest being complete than distributing earthly wealth fairly. REPEAT.

The Vineyard Owner is more interested in being generous with all the labors.

The Vineyard Owner needs the workers on every shift and at every stage of the process.

The TWIST comes when those who are not God, saying they know what justice, fairness, and equality is from their earthly perspective.
Simply stated: God is more interested in everyone know the love and grace of Jesus Christ, that every person who knows Christ is give both the CHALLENGE and the OPPORTUNITY to witness, welcome and disciples those who don’t know the GRACE and LOVE of Koinonia Fellowship in Christ and the Kingdom’s agents here on earth.

The focus on fair wages swings the focus from completing God’s purpose over own individual goals. Earthly wealthy, blessing, reward OVER earthly wealth, blessing, and reward.

So finally, we get to today’s text of scripture: Matthew 20:14-16
“Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
What do we learn about the kingdom of God from this passage? And our part in God’s work?


Important Questions
These questions will help you in this post-modern generation figure out if you are part of Christ’s koinonia fellowship or some other fellowship: Listen carefully…
• To whom does the world belong?
• Do all people MATTER to God?
• Does ONE group of people MATTER more than another?
• In the kingdom of heaven, who makes the rules about fairness, grace, love, blessing, value, and meaning? Is that up to God or is that up to each person?


I started this long series on Koinonia Fellowship in response to the events that have surrounded us from every side concerning RACISM and the events of unfolding in our country and the nations around the world.

For John T Brantley: Sinner, male, husband, father, pastor, neighbor, citizen, and human being. I accepted to be devoted to the heavenly work at age 13, I had been put to work all my life, but accepted for myself to work for the kingdom of God for the following 43 years at the wage, that is the very same wages offered to the thief on the cross and I offer to you today. THE WAGES, the Blessing, the grace, the offer — remains the same.

Christ died for us while we were still sinners so that we could know what the heavenly life was like NOW -AND- for eternity. I cannot complete the work alone, it takes the whole KOINONIA FELLOWSHIP. There we go full circle.

We are committing our lives to Christ for the purpose of our salvation, we are ALSO, included in the labor of bring others to know the same grace and salvation.
I would twist the offer earthly to say, “We’ll I’m saved, you figure it out if you like.” That is not the covenant, contract, agreement… There is the part B.

This passage is clear: The sooner we gather all harvest, all God’s harvest, the sooner we all get to be in heaven together. The salvation I enjoy and depend is the vineyard to be shared. It is not my story but God’s story of grace and love in Christ, shared through me – that I share, just you are to share yours, — God is working to reach others.

Bring Koinonia Home

To in bringing these chapters on Koinonia Fellowship to a close for now.. we are prepared to place ourselves in finishing God’s race, gathering God’s harvest, finding God’s lost coins, sheep, and children. When we all get to Heaven…

, ,

Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 6:3-18Christ Focused Living

We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also. [2 COR. 6:3-18 NRSV]

The context for these words are for a time that salvation is needed.

When we have a year of locus in Africa, fires in Austria, flooding in China, global rise of earth quakes, global economic and political unrest, AND a pandemic and all its effects, this would be a GREAT time for some salvation! Am I right?

Paul is describing a time when the church is facing:

afflictions,

hardships,

calamities,

beatings,

imprisonments,

riots,

labors,

sleepless nights,

hunger”

Is this verse meant for today?

Our challenge by Paul is to live and operate by:

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

The tools we use are “weapons of righteousness for

the right hand and for the left;

in honor and dishonor,

in ill repute and good repute.

When we are faithful in living, thinking and behaving in these ways in response to our faith we can expect:

Thank you?

Praise?

Affirmation?

Wealth?

Ease from problems?

No! This is the list we think and the world expects

The reality of believing, thinking and acting this way:

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;

as unknown, and yet are well known;

as dying, and see—we are alive;

as punished, and yet not killed;

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;

as poor, yet making many rich;

as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

This is why we don’t always operate from these:

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

And yet we wonder why we feel that:

don’t see God at work,

Why the church is facing division,

And is cast off as irrelevant to the worlds agenda

Where do we correct our mission and faith with God’s gifts as our hope and treasures?

Purity comes from God, not ourselves

Knowledge comes from God not our creation

Patience is God’s work

Kindness, holiness, love, truth… all come from God

The challenge is to be filling “in God”,

As the chaos and disorder,

the darkness and distraction,

the division and injustice

All these are not good things,

these are not life giving,

these are not truth

These are the fruit of seeking meaning without God

But how?

  1. Do not be yokes with unbelievers
  2. What do righteousness and wickedness have in common
  3. What fellowship can light have with darkness
  4. what harmony is there between Christ and Belial
  5. Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
  6. What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

[2 Cor 6:14-18: NRSA]

A Koinonia fellowship is at its strongest for the world when not dependent on the world.

Citizenship has been a treasure through history. The only reason Paul was not executed for the many things he did that were disobeying the Roman laws was that his citizenship provided him some measure of due process under the law.

But Paul is discussing a dual citizenship that we balance. When we try to serve two master and they are in agreement everything appears to be good, but when our worldly citizenship conflicts with our heavenly citizenship, and we are not choosing God, we are ultimately choosing chaos and death.

Don’t hear my words as the freedom to be disobedient. Recall the list of choosing Gods ways over the worlds ways:

purity, – without sin, how other than Christ?

knowledge, – make a brain and order the universe first

patience, – how many years has God been patience with us

kindness, – mercy is being kind when not deserved

holiness of spirit, – we are not holy without God

genuine love, – unconditional, not self serving love

truthful speech, and – truth threat comprehends the above

the power of God”. Our only answer

It begins in the awareness that we out of bounds (in sin relation)

That following prayer and confession

That follow repentance and change of thinking and behaving

That follows aligning with God and not with the world when there is disagreement with God

We are an society of achievement, wealth, and power…

We are quick to give loyalty to whose who have the greatest

And we trade for God.

I have been surrounded by this pass for the past two weeks:

(Not just the familiar vs 14)

2 Chronicles 7: 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17 As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, “You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.’ 19 “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will pluck you up from the land that I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21 And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?’ 22 Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.’ “

We cannot say we have not been warned?

Do you want to show the world our only hope and salvation?

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

Do you want to hand over our salvation to technology, governments, and the dreams of worldly leaders? Then count on even more

Who do we serve because they are holy, knowing, patient, merciful, genuine, love and filled with divine power over the universe?

Who will you serve?

Who will we serve come Sunday afternoon? And M-S?

The answer is too simple:

The prayer for every day – throughout the day and night.

This is our hope and strength

This is what God is wait for from the whole world:

Lord have mercy on me a sinner.”

“Model and make my life your today, for your will.”

“You are my hope and salvation”

“I forsake, yield and give back to the world what is the worlds”

“Use my life today for your work and witness”

We must first be in Christ to focus on the world else we are blind to the worl

OR

keep fighting, crying, dividing and dying.

It remains our choice… isn’t God patient? Good?

Hand over the reigns of your heart, and soul, and strength

Leave a comment

Known for singing John 12:12-15

A Koinonia Fellowship is know for singing.

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” [NRSA: John 12:12-15]

John’s Gospel recounts Jesus’s arrival on what we usually think of as Palm Sunday. Today, I invite us to look at this passage as the response of the people when God comes near.

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Bill Gaither|Songwriters: GENE BARTLETT, CHARLES GABRIEL, C.D. MARTIN © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.”

Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Precious Lord Take My Hand (Tommy Dorsey:1938]

Ps 16:8 I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, a small rural town near Atlanta, Georgia. In 1919 he moved to Chicago. Most of his musical training was in the church, but he also studied and played jazz and blues. He later combined jazz and blues with religious texts, giving birth to gospel music. In 1931, along with Magnolia Lewis-Butts and Theodore Roosevelt Frye, he established the first gospel choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Chicago. He went on to lead the gospel choir at Pilgrim Baptist Church, which he led for 60 years. Dorsey was also instrumental in founding the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses (NCGCC) in 1933. The convention taught choirs all over the country how to sing gospel music. [Dianne Shapiro, from “Gospel” in Encyclopedia of Chicago (accessed 8/12/2020)]

Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand, I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone, Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light, Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Deuteronomy 33:26 There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, majestic through the skies. [NRSA]

How Great Thou Art, [Boberg: 1885]

Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Boberg in 1885. It was translated into German, then Russian, then into English Stuart K. Hine, who also added two verses of his own. It was made famous by George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows during the Billy Graham crusades.

Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed, Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art, Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart

Reckless Love, written by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson

Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me, you have been so, so good to me. Before I took a breath, you breathed Your life in me, You have been so, so kind to me O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, O, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine, I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away, O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, the Lord,

James 5:13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

Lord I lift Your Name on High: written by Rick Founds in 1989.

Lord, I lift Your name on high, Lord, I love to sing Your praises, I’m so glad You’re in my life, I’m so glad You came to save us

Psalm 95:1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

What a Beautiful Name, written by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

What a beautiful Name it is, What a beautiful Name it is, The Name of Jesus Christ my King, What a beautiful Name it is, Nothing compares to this, What a beautiful Name it is, The Name of Jesus

Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. [Variation of Pharaoh, Pharaoh, let my people Go from Louie, Louie using the tune and variant words from 1963 hit version by The Kingsmen.]

Revelation 11:1 NRSA Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there,

O Come to the Altar, written by Chris Brown, Mack Brock, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling, Have you come to the end of yourself, do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling, O come to the altar, The Father’s arms are open wide, Forgiveness was bought with, The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Micah 5:4 NRSA and he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;

 Great are You Lord, written by David Leonard, Jason Ingram, and Leslie Jordan

You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness, You give hope, You restore, Every heart that is broken, And great are You, Lord, It’s Your breath in our lungs, So we pour out our praise, We pour out our praise, It’s Your breath in our lungs, So we pour out our praise to You only

John proclaims that when we see God, when we need God, when we praise God, when we thank God, When share God: We sing

Amazing Grace: v3 John Newton 1779,

The Lord has promised good to me. His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.

He Lives: 1933 by Alfred Henry Ackley.

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

Here I am to Worship:by singer-songwriter Tim Hughes

Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness, Opened my eyes, let me see, Beauty that made this heart adore You, Hope of a life spent with You, Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God

May the world know that we are the body Christ as we go out sing.

  • Sing in Joy, sing sorrow
  • Sing in times of faith and doubt
  • Sing in the presence of God and when we are in the far country
  • Sing on Sunday and on the darkest night
  • Sing when you know the words and tunes, and sing when you are learning new songs
  • Sing the praise of God, Follow the Spirit, Sing that the world know our heart belongs to Christ

Copy-write for lyrics and information credited to authors and writers. There is no intent to misuse or miss credit anyone. If this record needs additional notation please advise. CCLI# 1403064: Rock Spring UMC

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: