Archive for category #2017

1 Corinthians 1:18-24 Sharing Foolishness

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For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  [NRSV]

We live in a world with a growing distrust of the faith we share.

  • Feed the hungry school children is important because of fairness rather than as an act of love of God and neighbor.
  • Caring for the sick has been identified as a human right instead of as an act of love of God and neighbor.
  • People want to live a neighborhood where folks love their neighbors but don’t make it a religious thing.
  • Business rally to support the Red Cross but not UMCOR and the church
  • I don’t need God or the church because I have government and laws instead
  • I don’t need Jesus because I can live with a different reality of what pleases me.
  • I trust what is preached in the name of “news” but not the “Good News”
  • NOTE: We waste precious time assigning blame, so may we encourage one another to be faithful to the task.

Blame: Because a few have been foolish

We must take responsibility and ownership, confess our sin and remain faithful to God.Before we share our faith: Our task is to be clear about our faith, hold to it, through the storm.

Foolishness and Wisdom

The Problem: Culture says, “When I can get enough people to agree with me that  YOUR wisdom is foolish, we can call our approved-proofed foolish pure “Wisdom” and truth.

The Reality: Wisdom and Truth have not changed. But the pillars of our faith have been discredited by unfaithfulness, exploited by those who are threatened by the Christain Faith and our believing/wanting more than God as our hope.

Our response

The reason why it is foolish to use social media to persued beliefs is: Anyone with any purpose can log on, speak what they call truth, wisdom, and salvation, but that does not make it wise, true nor the hope of our salvation.

Our charge is not to be ignorant, stubborn or inflexible, rather relying on SCRIPTURE, understood through Tradition, Reason, and Experience to inform and encourage us and God will not fail or forsake us.

Perspective:

  1. Tradition tells us the successes and failures of the past: learn from mistakes and successes.
  2. Reason tells us that God has purpose, order, relationship and love hard-wired into us and the universe and expects us to use the mind and reasons that set us apart from everything else in creation.
  3. Experience is the direct effect of God, Jesus, The Spirit, and the church that reveals something that tradition and reason cannot.

Remember:

  1. Being faithful is not a political position. My ultimate allegiance is to God, not any government. (We are called to participate in our civic community, but it will never be our hope, purpose or salvation.)
  2. Love cannot be summed up by ideas, scientific study, research, and theories.
  3. Blame/Fault does not mend spirit, heart, minds: This is God’s work in us.
  4. Being faithful is not something someone else can do for me. Faith is our way of life. with every breath, our task is to grow closer to God and one another.

Examples

Wise Acts of Foolishness

  • To assume God and religion were created and thus we can create something we like better.
  • To believe that the majority of voices of self-focused blindness can see better than God.
  • To believe the Bible is only a history book rather than a living point of access.
  • To let the world define
    • you and
    • your mission
    • your identity and
    • your value.
  • It is foolish to write off God and the church because you have been hurt, judged or offended by someone in the name of God.
  • It is foolish to think we have told our story once and that is enough.

Foolish acts of Faithness

  • To forgive
  • To trust
  • To give our gifts, tithes, support
  • Devoting time to prayer and acts of service
  • The study, exploration, and celebration our faith milestones: Staying current with our examples as witness and testimony. Don’t just tell the big story, also tell today’s story of faith.

Home Work:

  1. Be diligent, committed, intentional to hold, grow and share your faith

2. Trust God will guide us through the most twisted and backward reversal of what is good and evil, right and wrong, true and false, wise and foolish.

3. Test it: Take something you hear our culture say and ask what does God say? What do God’s people say? What Scripture says? What is God trying to have us hear/know/experience now compared to times in the past?

4. I mean we are called to wrestle with the hard stuff in our lives, in our families, in our word and trust God will guide us through. When we do this for the world to see, we are sharing our faith in everyday ways.

 

 

 

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Romans 13:5-14  Faith Sharing: Love and Time

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Therefore one must be subject [to authorities], not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [NRSV]

Faith Sharing: Early in our journey toward sharing the gift of our faith, we need to address the WHY question. Why share our faith. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some basic reason WHY we share our faith.

Today’s text from Paul in his letter to the church in Rome we will look at two:

  1. Because of Love
  2. Because we have limited Time

LOVE Motivation

Paul reminds us of Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor. God loves us and how to relate and interact with others around us reflects and influences others.

Invest/Trust/Living Sharing LOVE

  • Don’t get side tracked with politics, trust God is using every authority for God. If they are not, they must answer to God, err on the side of being a responsible citizen.
  • Don’t get weighted down with debt, If you must be in debt, do so in showing love, respect, and honor, to THOSE who it is due.
  • Do not split hairs over the law of the land or the church, devote your selves to loving sinners, so they/we will go sin no more.

Limited Opportunity

Look at the times, read the signs, know it is closer to the end than the beginning.

Live as though the test is TODAY, rather than next week.

Our physical bodies, our earthly structures, our laws and rules, needs and wants need to be focused on what is spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like.

THE PROBLEM

  • Live worried about your wealth of love instead of things
  • Live focused on caring for sinners instead of comforting the found.
  • Live devoted to satisfying the hunger of your spiritual relationship/s, for eternity instead of pacifying your physical urges and weaknesses.

Our Question: Why do we need to be sharing our faith with others?

We who know love trumps and triumph over all, need to show a

  • divided,
  • self-serving,
  • self-gratifying society,

that accepting world’s idea of good and the world’s understanding of love is not the love that stands with you in ‘firey’ furnace.

How do we share our faith in these conditions?

  • One way is by honoring and respecting those whom honor and respect are due.
  • One way is by being the best citizen and neighbor under the laws of the world’s authorities. If any leader, authority or government is not Godly, the leaders and representatives will be accountable,
  • One way is loving sinners, as sinners, who a seeking to not be sinners. (We don’t love a gambler by betting our farm when they have lost theirs, we love them but help them make new better choices.)

Why not let someone else share their faith?

  1. God loves you and me. God instructs that we respond to love by loving. We have skin in the game because we have been loved, we respond in love.
  2. Jesus is coming soon and you and I have to answer for those we have not reached out to love.

Examples of Loving

Jesus gave the command to feed, clothe, visit and encourage not as an exclusive list of rules/laws to fulfill, but as examples of everyday loving…

Love those who need to be loved so that your loving acknowledges God’s love.

Witness Trusting God by being honorable, respectful, contributing the good of neighbors and citizens. AND let people know that is your drive/motive/purpose.

          Model for your neighbors: honor, respect, and responsibility so they see you trust God.

The Caveat

Love, not so that they see YOU are a good person, rather that they KNOW God’s love drives you.

Participate in community responsibility not so they approve of you, but they see God can conquer brokenness.

The Temptation is to leave the light shining on ourselves.

This is the daily, “home work”

love others, participate in community life

1. In response to God’s love, AND

2. with the urgency that the world comes to know Christ through your faithfulness.

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Matthew 16:21-28 “Worth the Journey”

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From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” [NRSV]

Making Disciples: What is a life worth?

A very difficult thing asked of me was after mom’s death, from being hit in a head-on car accident was to give a value of her life. The attorney asked my brother and me, what was the value of mother’s life for the court case. To come up with a number for the judge. The determination was to be made on what her contributions to the common good would be. The value of her reading to middle school students, mentoring graduate school students, visiting in prison ministry, writing Sunday school lessons, volunteering at her church, and the impact would have a neighbor and citizen. If one were compensated for volunteering at a reasonable rate a figure could be determined for the projected number years she would likely live to serve and that number came to roughly $200,000. But was that value of her life? The young man who drove his uninsured luxury car into her had no assets, and his family had twenty-six previous suits against them, so the final assessment of her life was valued at 1000 hours of community service and no dollars. Is that justice? Is this how God measure our lives? For me, it was a life lesson about the misplaced value of one’s life.

What is your life worth to God?

  • You are worth the life of his only child,
  • You are worth designing energy, matter, gravity, physics, and mathematics,
  • You are worth sharing a relationship with God.
  • God has paid for our life, but does not force us to pay God back,
  • God offers a way to joy, peace, and wholeness, yet wants us to want to appreciate, trust and follow.
  • God says your life is worth it all, hoping you will choose the life God paid for you to live.

The journey of our life is about what we do with the time we have: Choosing God or humanity as our highest goal.

Discipleship: It Ain’t Easy

  • Peter declares: God forbid it to be difficult, hard, challenging, unpleasant or demanding
  • Jesus responds, Get away your evil thoughts away from me.
  • It is evil lived from only a human point of view.

Remembering we are Spiritual People in a Physical Incubator.

There are times that we make following Jesus even harder,

this is a charge against the church if we hold the keys and call the shots for what it means to follow, then there is room for abuse

Jesus models choosing God’s call for his life or the voice of emotions and reason alone.

Peter says: Don’t take the hard path, choose the path most traveled.

Sometimes things get in the way of our best plans:

A story about a country farmer who had a mule with blocked-up plumbing, he called the new veterinarian in town to come help. The young vet had a bottle of large laxative pills that modeled the phrase, ‘horse pill’ that was fast acting and guaranteed to unstop the most stubborn gastric stoppages. He found a long piece of pipe with a contraption to secure one end into the mouth of the mule and the other end he would insert the pill and make certain the pill went right to work. He secured the pipe and straps around the mule, added two horse pills, took a deep bread, but the ass blew first.

Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block

setting one’s mind on human things instead of divine things

Pray right now!

ACTION: “Lord, forgive me for being a stumbling block..”

  • Disciples recognize that life devoted to Jesus is greater than the life we can make without him. (justice)
  • Disciples recognize that life is a gift and God gives us a choice to use our life as we choose. (freedom)
  • Disciples recognize God desires good for us but does not force God on us. (meaningful relationship)
  • Disciples recognize that a good life is not measured by having stuff, or a comfortable life. (worth/value)
  • Disciples recognize God is willing to follow the choice we are called to make. (sacrifice)

Choose God’s self over the self you choose

To follow God is to find:

    • wholeness,
    • justice,
    • freedom,
    • meaningful relationship,
    • worth, value and
    • sacrifice.

in 2017 We live in mountain top period of thinking that is human focused.

  • What is best for humanity, the majority, the minority
  • What is best for me and those like me
  • My right and the right of others to choose what it good and right
  • It’s my life, my decisions, my definition, my right, my understanding, my dream, my ideal

When we exclude God or even allow God to slip into second place, we choose with the best of humanity has to offer, but without the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God.

When hearing this when others say things like: (Human limitations)

  •   Love me or accept me for choosing myself
  •   It is my life, my will
  •   Accept me for choosing my own way,
  •   Accept me for believing the common denominator is our safest place.
  •   Shame on you for not accepting my choice made from my perspective.

The court of public opinion may have the majority of human perspective and still miss the mind and heart of God.

   Peter, one of Jesus’ chosen, is telling Jesus,

     you know what is best for yourself,

     we don’t want to see you suffer

     You have God powers, just zap trouble out of your way,

The Heart of the passage: Losing and Finding

finding ourselves in following Jesus

The Journey of sharing our faith is affirmed where our trust, faith, and allegiance is grounded.

Faith means we see that for all you and I can do, we never can do enough on our own

Trust God means we know we are awesome creations with great minds and dreams, but without God death is our worst limitation.

Walking with Christ, we bring together the best of being human into a relationship with God.

Choosing a different path is ends in trusting what is evil, broken, limited, empty and apart from God.

How many people do you know today who have:

evil rules in their lives?

experience brokenness in their bodies, relationships, minds, and hearts?

find themselves living at the limits or out of bounds on a daily basis?

someone who feels lost and empty and distant from God and God’s people?

These are the people who need the gift of Christ that guides us..

  1. Step one for today: Pray that I am not a stumbling block. (At least don’t let me lead someone astray)
  2. Step two for today: know it is a daily choice to walk with Christ ourselves
  3. Step three for today: acknowledge it is not easy, and we need Christ to lead, bless, carry, push and call us on.

Let’s get to the journey today

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Matthew 16:13-20 Who Do You Say?

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea, Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. [NRSV]

Why Tell No One?

“Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” v. 20

Banias03 Ceaserria Phillipi was a worship center for many different faiths and deities in the region at the time Jesus visited with his disciples. Now it is but a historical site where pilgrims and tourist come to visit the remnants of a shopping-mall of temples at the edge of one of Herod’s many palaces.  Jesus gathers with his core leadership and asks for a status report. “What are people saying?”

Opinion vs Completing the Circut

Somewhere in the past generation of 15-20 years, we have upgraded the value of opinions over the value of facts. One of the dangerous tools that we have come to accept is public opinion polls.

My undergrad major is in sociology. When I changed from Chemistry as a pre-pharmacy student, I jumped 180 degrees into contextual perspectives of the human experience. As a social science, this discipline tries to make observations and predictions about human behavior. A random selection of people targeted for their similarities or differences is given questions to ask about perceptions and opinions. The bottom line on all opinion polls is that the collected information gives feedback for strategic planning, marketing, and predictive observations. The dangerous part is when we use feedback to validate rather than inform.

Example: If sixty percent of you sitting here said the wall appeared to be painted beige and 40 percent say white, what color is the wall? We have shifted from caring that Sherman Williams calls it bisque 106 to say that the 60% have a better perspective in the context of this room.

Jesus is not concerned with opinions. Jesus asks the disciples about what the people are saying and what the disciples are saying not to be validated, but to read the measure of progress or failure in informing and preparing people for their Messiah.

Listening to Feeback

The word on the street was divided about Jesus’s role and identity. Most data suggested Jesus was a prophet. Someone who taught and spoke for God, but not in the Messiah category.

Jesus asks the same question and asks the disciples about themselves. Who do you say Jesus is? So as a congregation of disciples the question is posed to each of us. When you are asked about Jesus, how do you first describe Jesus?

  • As a historical figure?
  • As a teacher
  • as healer
  • as the son of God
  • as God in human form
  • As a friend
  • As Savior
  • As a liar, a lunatic, or as Lord? (CS Lewis, Rabbi  John Duncan, Bono, W)
  • I suggest that most of us have some answer in our head, but hope it doesn’t come up in conversation and if it does we just as likely to say nothing.

“A Reality Check with the Truth”

  • Jesus Want to know where things stand,
  • Jesus wants to hear what the world says
  • Jesus wants to hear what the disciples say

The World is most likely to have a general idea but lacks the relationship to know for sure

You and I have the advance of some form of relationship, but our answer might be either a desire to be correct and give the ‘right’ answer so as to be rewarded for our knowledge, OR we speak from the heart and declare who Jesus is in our heart and faith.

Ask you neighbor today: Who is Jesus to you?

I challenge every member to begin preparing an answer to the question. “Who do I say Jesus is?”

  1. This is not to be answered swiftly with the goal of having the accurate answer.
  2. This IS a question to help us gauge where we are in a relationship with Jesus and each other.
  3. This IS a question that we need to be ready to share with:
    1. Those who ask
    2. Those who need to know but don’t ask
    3. As an affirmation of our faith to Jesus himself.

The Need to Know, then Tell

  • Pre-resurrection the charge is to NOT tell.Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
  • Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
  • We are people of the resurrection and world needs to hear, we need to be ready to tell, share, shape, instruct, inform, encourage and enrich the spiritual life of others.

Our missions to feed, clothe and visit those in prison FALL short if we don’t use these opportunities to make disciples.

We need more than daily bread, we need the bread of eternal life, and so does our neighbor and our enemies.

The time to prepare ourselves to share the Good News is at hand.

A Four Month Goal

One of the 5 Practices of an effective church is based on our commitment to be spiritually informed, spiritually maturing, growing in understanding, Bible study to feed our spiritual self.

In the next four months, in preparation for Christmas, I expect every member to find themselves part of a Sunday school class, a small group or a Bible study.

That might mean you have to start one of these yourself.

The CASE: If we are to be prepared to answer who Jesus is in each day, it takes real effort and practice.

 

Making Disciples is an all member responsibility. Job number #1 is making disciples. Helping introduce, equip and support others to know who Jesus is in their life, in my life, in your life.

What does this mean? What does this look like to me?

Starting in September we will be learning the process of sharing our faith. Starting this fall are classes and small groups and studies that some of you will be leading and facilitating to encourage others.

Starting in October we will begin preparing our leaders for 2018. Every ministry and service area of the church will share the goal of making disciples. We will make sure every leader in the church is modeling our discipleship goals.

By November will begin asking every member to report how they are connecting for study and spiritual growth, for those who have not connected or begun we will help find at least one connecting point for each member.

In December we will celebrate the season of Advent with a church-wide emphasis on faith-sharing as a Christmas gift.

Rock Spring is our foundation in Christ. It is our nearest access to living water. We want to prepare for a near year of Sharing Jesus Christ as a congregation.

  • Are you ready?
  • Are you scared or doubtful?
  • Are you willing to invest your time?
  • Are you with me?

First commitment: I want to know from every member which is the very best way to personally contact you?  Contact me: Give me your Name and number or email or cell.

  1. a phone call         404-DAD-JOHN
  2. an email                john@brantley.net
  3. a text                      404-323-5646

This will be the best way for you to stay informed about what is going on and how we are doing.

 

 

,

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Matthew 15:10-28 Feed the ‘Dogs’

DogScrapsThen he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:  it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”  He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”  But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”  Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”  Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. [NRSV]
The story is about is clean and acceptable to God and what is not.

Clean and Neat

I once had a local barber who said his hairstyles were guaranteed to make one “clean and neat.” He also loved buzz-cuts and flat-tops and used his Georgia Tech degree to talk about subjects far above the heads of most customers who had never even dreamed about anti-matter, black holes, and general relativity.
The teaching moment from Jesus would say to my old barber that God is not concerned with our hairstyle or any physical or cultural context.
Rather, what is acceptable is measured by our words and actions.

A Timely Teaching

This passage is important to hear in our hypersensitivity to politics, racism, and contextual priorities.
The debate and argument, in these exchanges, contain (1) racial-cultural division,  (2) accusations of fundamentalist theologies, and (3) challenging questions about who is correct.

(1) Racism/Culture

The story is interrupted by a Canaanite woman (double challenge: the descendants of Cain and a woman) The division between the Jews and the Canaanites were a polorized as any today.
The role of women is transformed in the Gospel as God works through women as often as men to reveal, teach and serve.

(2) Accusation of Fundamentalism

This woman comes to Jesus requesting healing for her daughter and hears Jesus say she was not going to have her prayer granted and for her to leave his presence. He declares that his mission was more important than the people. His response is that he had not come to work with the Canaanites. His mission was to the Jews. Those who were connected to Cain were cursed from generations before. (Why so harsh? hang on we are getting there in a moment)

(3) Who is correct in the Context?

Wouldn’t it be great to get a clear judgment these days about who is right and who is wrong? Is it the conservatives or the progressives? Is it the rich or the poor? Is it the wise or foolish? Is it the needed or the greedy?
Jesus is clear on the counts of culture, mission, context, and purpose:
Some folks will not be healed,
some will not have prayers answered,
some will be rejected and some sent away.
(As hard as that is, feels or sounds: This message confirms that some are defiled.)

What Defiles, what makes us unacceptable?

  • evil intentions:
    • Wishing, work and hoping that evil will come to another. “I wish he were dead, gone, out.”
  • murder:
    • Willful taking of life, and the neglect of loving one’s enemy
  • adultery:
    • Disregard of marriage and family covenants
  • fornication:
    • Misplaced use of our sexuality
  • theft:
    • Taking what does not belong to us, taking advantage of the system
  • false witness
    • Speaking in ways that protect ourselves over what is true in the eyes of God.
  • slander
    • Discrediting our enemy and our neighbor instead of loving and encouraging them.

CONTEXT:

Jesus and the Disciples change their context, leaving the region of Tyre and Sidon and in Canaan, they are confronted with a woman who challenges the words of the teaching with faith and persistence.
Q: What has she done that defiled her that would warrant Jesus’ rejection of her request and her presence:
She comes asking for healing, for her child, recognizing the power and authority of Jesus, she comes from a different culture, gender, and no apparent charge by Jesus of her behavior being unacceptable. The rejection is on theological and missional grounds:
You’re not Jewish, You’re not in the plan, You are not the right gender, You are not at the right time.
The transforming moment comes when she expresses her faith and trust in God.
All I need is a crumb.
All I need is a mustard seed.
All I am is one lost sheep.
Lord have mercy on me a hungry sinner in need of a crumb of the bread of life.
Recognition: Even in our different back stories, Jesus’s measure is faith.
Recognition: Even in poverty, what we need is Jesus more than fairness.
Recognition: God’s plan changes on the side of including the faithful, not just the poor.
Recognition: Faith is measured by the persistence of staying in the conversation, at the table.

Here are the power questions to answer honestly:

Are the polarized messages you and I hear about what divide us questions about what someone deserves or acknowledgments of what God can do?
In the stories of what persons of different races, culture, gender or economics bring to the conversation about how wrong and evil the establishment is or how possible healing and transformation are for God?
In the story is the woman trying to receive justice or give witness to her trust in God?
In the example is the woman trying to demonize and prove how evil others are or is she calling on God to show up where faith is present?
In this passage, what defiles: the faith we hold in our hearts and minds or the persistence in which we voice it on behalf of those who are lost, dying, broken and alone?

Our society has it all backward:

  1. It is not about having the correct ideas in our heads, it is about having trust in God in our requests.
  2. It is not about putting down the establishments, leaders, and systems, it is about telling the world how to trust God to show up.
  3. It is neither about being made whole,
  • fair nor equal, it is about the power of God at work in the crumbs, in the small things,
  • in the daily bread, in the hourly actions, in moments of our real actions.
  • in the hourly actions, in moments of our real actions.
  • in the every moment of our real actions.

Take Away:

We are defiled when our actions and words DO NOT reflect God’s power and presence.
Even if it is only daily crumbs, let God be our persistent trust.
When the woman asks for a mustard seed of what God can do, Jesus celebrates her faithfulness.
All the slander, divisions, false witness, evil intentions, murder, theft, disregard for covenants and responsibilities and the passionate preoccupations with vilifying our enemies: leaves us mistaking passionate lip service instead of actions of trusting God.
  • When you hear evil, divisions, and fear: This is our call to trust God.
  • When you are tempted to join in the tradition divisive agenda: Trade that for a crumb of faithful trust.
  • When you see, read words of hate and separation: Persistently remind yourself and all others what God can do.
And Jesus will praise our faithfulness, heal our brokenness and make us whole in grace.

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Trust the Old Story for New Life

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. [NRSV]

Jesus the parable painter

  • Mustard seed
  • Yeast
  • Treasure hidden
  • Pearl
  • Net

Every story is a out the same thing. The kingdom of Heaven. Billy Graham preached for all his years and always the same sermon: Jesus Christ and him crucified fir our sins.

Parables train us for what is new and old.
Scripture through the eyes of
tradition AND
reason and
experience.
Not any one or two of the other.

The Old is the scripture the new is the contemporary context. Jesus is giving the new as examples of the old

Jesus is establishing building blocks: look at the pieces.

Mustard seed
The kingdom of heaven is larger and with more purpose then we can imagine

Yeast
The kingdom of heaven spreads and transforms whatever it comes in contact with

Treasure hidden
The kingdom of heaven is worth security and investing in pursuing

Pearl
The kingdom of heaven is something to be searched for and pursued and is worth more than what we have

Net
The invitation to the kingdom of heaven is open to a home but not everyone will find it is their home for eternity.

The kingdom of heaven:
1. TKoH is more than we expect
2. TKoH is to be shared
3. TKoH is worth the journey
4. TKoH cost everything
5. TKoH is open to all but all will not find it home

TKoH

  • begins here and now
  • Is found when we share it
  • Is the labor of our life
  • Is priceless
  • Some will give it up

Is Gods Heavenly Kingdom

  1. Something you are experiencing
  2. Are you Sharing it
  3. Is your life devoted to loving God completely more than thinking God correctly
  4. Are you at home in God, with the People of God now?

Bottom line: get to

  • living
  • giving & sharing
  • loving & trusting
  • Building & doing and
  • worshiping & growing

Or else (Parables can kick us in the butt)

  1. You just have a seed stuck in you shoe
  2. You just have the ingredients but no cake
  3. You just have treasure but never use it
  4. You just stay busy without joy
  5. You talk and think but are like the grass that withers when it dies.

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Romans 8:12-25 Worth Groaning

laborpainsSo then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. [NRSV]

We are Spiritual

  • Children of God
  • Living to fulfill/follow the Spirit
  • Preparing to inherit God’s kingdom

We Suffer Spiritually

  • Comparing Physical and Spiritual
  • I’m only human, I’m just a man/woman/child is not our spiritual excuse
  • We live in hope of being set free from suffering

 

Groaning of Labor Pains

  • The mixed blessing of suffering for the gift of life.
  • Groaning inwardly in anticipation of adoption
  • Trusting hand hoping in what is known but not seen

Romans 8:13-25

  • Acknowledge the reality of suffering and Labor of faith
  • Call for encouraging the children of God
  • Hold one another and our self in patience.

Applications

  1. Know it is struggle to live in the Spirit
  2. Know we are not alone nor forgotten
  3. Trust God who loves, saves and call us is worth the work and waiting.

 

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Matthew 13:1-9 They Withered

witheringbeansThat same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”  [NRSV]

Our generation lives on a minimum amount of resources while consuming more stuff than the majority of the world.

  • This passage is not about the injustice of poverty.

Our generation prefers being served over serving others.

  • This passage is not about feeding those who are hungry.

Our generation assumes rights and access to information, energy, and wealth it has not labored nor earned.

  • This passage is not about clothing the naked.

Those who have never planted seeds for food have only second-hand appreciation for harvesting pepperoni’s for their pizza or nuggets for dipping, or sugar cane for their soda.

We are a consumer society and the idea that disciples, followers of Jesus, as those who plant, invest, tend, nurture, nourish and prepare others a life as disciple.

Typically we are more interested in our own self and/or our own family, and sometimes our friends.

The challenge Jesus gives to disciples and followers like us is a charge to be extravagant in sharing our faith.

But what if we are weary of sharing our faith? What if we are tired, scared, hesitant?

  • Might be because we only have a heard and experiences a few seeds along the way that have been held in reserved instead of planted and harvested.
  • Might be because we only see different pieces and have to put the parts together in a way that brings meaning, power and purpose to our daily lives.
  • Might be because we have tried and fail, or tried and did not find what we thought or hoped and we have given up on God’s seeds of love, good, hope, grace and power.
  • Might be because we have the seeds but expected them to work like Jack’s magic beans rather than a way for God to grow and reach us.
  • Might be we have not trusted God’s seeds to taste as good as other seeds. Other words, teachings, ideas, philosophies, agendas and platforms have hold of our hearts.
  • It might be a hundred more reasons..

The reality of God’s work of love and grace for us, is this:

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it has become a profound corner stone of my understanding.

  • While you are I were dying
  • While you and I were starving
  • While you and I were fooling ourselves and others
  • While you and I were lying
  • While you and I were thirsting
  • While you and I were withering

Christ gave himself as a way to the heart of God that no other path could accomplish.

We are people of God’s working.

We receive the gift of God’s work through Christ, but we are called to labor instead of comfortable consumers:

We are called to be laboring, working, sharing, preparing, challenging, encouraging, activating the process of building relationship where the love of Christ can thrive and make us spiritually mature and whole.

Christ died for us, not because we had it all figured out correctly

Christ died for us, because we have a tendency either:

  1. Hope someone will do our work for us, or we
  2. Hope that our work will be rewarded for our faithful duty.
  3. Neither of these is correct

Christ died giving us the benefit of love and salvation before we have done anything good, true or right.

The message of how God works is preemptive:

God does the sow.

This is experienced first

  • through Christ and the Holy Spirit,
  • through people, worship, songs, service, and study.

The process continues with each generation.. but along the way some folks

miss the seeds

  • some get interested at first but tire or give up
  • some compete with thorny ideas and competing promises
  • some make room for growth and fruit follows.

Today we gather not as those who have never heard and not as those who have gone on to glory, we live in the middle having heard enough for faith, knowing there are those who are bitter, hurting, afraid, lonely, angry, confused, abused, neglected, ignored, selfish, mis-informed, or just plain wrong: and God has entrusted us with making relationships with one another, While we are still sinners.

 The kernel of this parable is about recognizing the withering and the thorns.

Look around here today: Are their those who are tired, hesitant, weary, afraid to share a life of faith?

Look around: Are there those who are thorny obstacles other here or those outside the church?

I am challenged and challenge you to strengthen you spiritual roots.

  • connect a new with bible study, Sunday school,
  • pray with your family, small group, friend groups
  • take the steps to know more of God’s word, do more of God good and be ready to lead others in Christ, more than follower/consumer.

Galatians 6:9 (NRSA) So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

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2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Generous Love 20170701

Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of otheFor you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become richAnd in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–  now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” [NRSV]
Learning from Past Generosity

How wonderful are Paul’s words of encouragement to the church in Corinth and Rock Spring. We have been blessed with a tremendous opportunity to complete our building fund with a matching gift. The initial response in the first year reflected the creativity, generosity and commitment of the membership to tackle this challenge. It is with gene rose faith this mission was begun and in Generosity it will be completed. 

Faith in Finances

We have been faces with opportunities to do many things and it has been hard to put things on hold while we best utilize this matching challenge.  

The Balance
Paul speaks of a balance between the areas that receive our attention. Those of single vision saying feed the poor instead of pay for building overlook the generosity of:

  • the home of Lazarus 
  • Those who provided the upper room
  • The boat in the sea
  • The well to draw water
  • The price of the field with a hidden treasure
  • The cost of the pearl

Counter Weights /Waits

  • Judus is famous for helping us remember the other voices that eat away at our Generosity 
  • Those times we look only at the management of monies
  • Those ways sees gift and value its price in currency
  • Those words we insert that reflect fear, control and. Isplaced power

Listen to Words of faith from Corinth

  1. Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 
  2. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 
  3. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 
  4. it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 

May we revive our first excitement t in showing love in gifts of generosity 

For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have. 

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Matthew 10:24-39 Acknowledge Jesus Daily

talk2hand
“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. [NRSV]

We know too well many ways to ignore, reject, and avoid sharing our faith and allowing others into our faith journey. This passage warns us of the consequences of pushing others away. Don’t tell folks to talk to the hand, share the hand of Christ who loves, saves and calls us into life together.

Acknowledging Jesus is With Us

  • Talking About who Jesus was, is and will be is the easiest and beginning point of our promise to Witness Jesus Christ.
  • Learning the stories, details, and information about Jesus is the foundation, but it is only our starting point.
  • More people stop at this place and find know many things about Jesus something of which to be proud and comfortable
  • Example: you and I might know many stats and details about a person who plays a sport and many seasons of many players, but that never assumes that we are on the field ourselves. But knowing the rules, stats and stories are a place to begin to connect.

Acknowledging Jesus Saves Us

  • Developing a Relationship with Jesus begins in a relationship with the people of Jesus’s body, church folks.
  • We live in a an era where we have to earn the respect and opportunities to share the church’s message.
  • No longer can we assume we have a voice in the community.
  • No longer can we take a pass waiting for someone to ask us about Jesus
  • No longer can we bemoan or complain about how easy the church once had a central role.
  • Now is the time for the church to rekindle and reclaim that faith story of salvation, hope, and love we assume the world knows, trusts and believes.

Acknowledging Jesus is Shaping Us

  • The Good News is acknowledging Jesus is not a regurgitating of historical information to a lost and hurting world.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is giving the invitation to join in a spiritual journey where the answers unfold along the way.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is seeking Jesus’s story is woven through our story.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is finding our role is leading others to follow, as we follow Jesus.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is placing our purpose in the heart of the one who died and lives for our present and our future.

I challenge you to acknowledge Jesus Today

  • Find someone here today and practice: Tell how you become a follower of Jesus,
  • Tell someone why you continue to grow as a following of Jesus
  • Confess a struggling place you fail without Jesus’s saving help.
  • Give someone the opportunity to give their brokenness, emptiness, questions, doubts, and fear to Jesus.

Together we find ourselves in sharing ourselves in Christ. This is the daily work:

  • Lord, I am broken without you, Save me again today,
  • lead me in your work even though I don’t deserve or even know how to start again,
  • I recognize, affirm, acknowledge, proclaim and accept, you complete me. Make me yours
  • Make us restore us in the ways you have worked, hoped and created us to become.
  • Go Repeat, share and lead others

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