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Archive for category 5 Practices

Psalm 100 Enter Ready to Praise

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. [NRSV]

Fill my cup Lord

  • If we are coming to church to be served, pumped up or filled we have not prepared for worship 
  • Come to worship
  • Come to church
  • Come in the holy gathering of the holy people ready for praise

Survey says

  • People come to church because of tradition, habit or hurting 
  • We owe it to God to encourage, prepare and teach each other to come ready to find God

Why?

  • God made us
  • We belong to God
  • We are Gods holy people 
  • We are sheep needing to a shepherd. 

How to Prepare

  • Joyful noise
  • Glad hearts
  • Start with Singing
  • Shouts of Thanksgiving g 
  • Proclaiming God’s goodness
  • Anticipating God’s faithfulness 

Are we Ready to worship?

Or start over

Bottom line today is a day of praise 

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Gen 1-2:3 Look What Good God is Doing 20170610

Sermon Broadcast: Remote from Culebra, PR on  Facebook on the RSUMC FB page on 20170610 at 9am and 11am EST.

rainbowCulebra

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. [NRSV]

The Core of our faith is God.

The creation account in Genesis chapter 1 teaches us three things about God. Intentionality is Love, Purpose is Order and Order is to share that relationship of God.

I will go and prepare a place for you, if it were not so I would have told you. Jesus describes to the disciples and early followers that God’s ongoing purpose is to prepare a place for us. The story of the promised land is a story of the grand adventure of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of the garden of Eden is witness of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is a witness the God is committed to doing whatever is necessary to give us a path, access, to a relationship.
No matter how much emptiness and chaos, God chooses to prepare and order a place for us.

God orders relationship.

I will have a side of fries with that. God speaks and calls for a physical, tangible place as preparation for being with us.

It is through this very passage, in Monterrey, Mexico in the summer of 1983, while on a mission trip at the John Wesley Seminary, that God revealed a call to create a relationship for ministry in my life.
I can’t say that it was orderly. I was struggling down a path to become a pharmacist. Can you picture me sitting quietly behind a counter, wearing a white lab coat, in the basement of hospital or as the drive-in window of a Walgreen’s/ CVS? A life spent orderly counting pills, filing insurance forms and dealing with hospital or retail bureaucracy and politics? Why was I ever interested in such a career?
First it paid a respectable wage and I loved Dr “Red” Connelly.

Through much prayerful reflection and a specific night in a worship service, staring at a 100 watt light bulb, what had compelled me to love the job, was the person and personal ministry of Dr Connelly. It was not running a store that inspired me, it was the conversations over the counter, the listening to a hurting words and offering a response of hope, compassion and healing that reflected God’s presence through his vocation. It was not the job, it was the relationship.

God is about Good Order

Looking at the brokenness, failures, emptiness and chaos in our lives we see things through the eye of disappointment, defeat, regret, anger, shame and others. None of these bring order, peace and the type of relationships that make us whole or joyful.

God is very intention about, not only bringing order, but structure that is filled with cycles, processes, systems, and inter-connected relationships.

When we are around someone who is ordered by brokenness we feel the physical, emotional, financial and others feelings of being drained. There is never enough money to fix, there is never enough words to comfort, the are never enough things falling into order, that open us to the wholeness and goodness that God has given for us.

In all of creation, God names it’s purpose: Goodness

God orders dark and light, day and night, earth and heavens, fish, animals and people for the purpose of Goodness. Every story of sin and brokenness in the Bible and in our lives reveals how we take what is ordered for Good and use it for what is not Good/evil.

God alone can take what is broken and evil and make it into Goodness.

When the world takes was is Good, sees it as a threat.
When the world takes what is Whole and crucifies it to prove point
When the world takes what is God’s love, and turns it into order without live
The God of creation
Define Good
Order’s Wholeness and
Reveals Love

The complexity of creation
The building blocks of mathematics, physics and energy
The charge and challenge to subdue, have dominion and feast on Christ
but why?

Creation and all that orders it and the reason to suggest that none of it has meaning, purpose or intentionally, reveals that God continues longing for us to chose a relationship of Goodness.

So what is the relationship of Goodness?

All these gifts of God are good when they direct us to a relationship with God.
When they do not we sin, twist the purpose and celebrate chaos.

If your give your child or grandchild a puzzle, you hope they will find both challenge and joy developing motor skills, perspective and proportional reasoning, the benefits of trial and error and you want them to have fun in the process.
If instead they use it as a material to start fires, they have missed the fuller gift.

If you gift your child or grandchild a sum of money you hope there will learn to make wise choices about saving, investing and making value judgements of Goodness. you know they will often make poor choice, but if you never teach them and they never ask for instruction, why would we expect them to choose the good use of your gifts?

We know too well about making poor choices: concerning money, health, relationships, time, energy or strength.

God has given gifts, words and Spirit to teach us.

If we throughout the instructions because we want to do it on our own, then we rely on chance that our way is God’s good way. We are 99.9999% likely to choose poorly.

The story of creation in Chapter one is a faith account of intention, purpose and challenge.

Chapter two reveals how quickly we choose what is not Good, what is not God, and the consequences effect us and others, immediately and eternally.

Here the Good News

God has created for Good for us. God has not given up, even if the rationalist, the political community, and the fear-filled folks have:

The basic instruction is to use the gifts around us for God.
Guide the relationships around us, toward God and Good will complete us.
Guide our relationship around ourselves, and Good will be farther from us, hidden.

Everyday life, outside garden

More days are work days, days to rest in God are more rare.
The ratio of 6:1 is an interesting idea.
52 days of rest and 313 days of work each year.

God is investing a work of Goodness that we might meet God, heart to heart
God is gifting us in the struggle that connects 1/7th of the time.
We think perfection is wholeness. striving to be the best..
The best place to be is in the heart of God’s goodness.

You don’t have to rich, smart, short or tall, fat or thin, young or old, you and I DO have to be in God to find this goodness.

Work on it six times to hear it the seventh.
Lector Divina: Re-reading to hear the text in different ways: What if you committee to listen and reading this passage seven times today. You will be six times more likely to hear it’s message.

But who wants to give the time?

God does. This is the goodness. God is faithful to the order and process of a relationship of Good shared with us.

  • Revealed in Creation
    Revealed in Resurrection
    Revealed today in Spirit and fellowship as the church.

I thank you for the support and prayers to take part in mission trip and to share this word from Genesis today. This verse interrupted my life 34 years ago and it continues to reconnect me to God’s call upon outlives.

  • God creates to show us love
    God orders to give us a path/process to follow
    God waits to meet us on the road, even while we are yet sinners.
    God longs for us to find our peace, rest and heart resting in God’s heart.

We come to Culebra tardy to share this love with neighbor in PR and in RS.
Look what God has done for us,
Let us find our rest in him, together.

,

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Matthew 17:1-9 Can You Keep a Secret?

Church of the Transfiguration

Mt Tabor, Church of the Transfiguration.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”[NRSV]
  1. A Strange Order to Keep Quiet

    1. Could it be Jesus we testing reverse psychology?
    2. Could it be Jesus didn’t think they understood what they saw
    3. Could it be Jesus want these disciples to have something the others did or couldn’t know?
    4. Could it be Jesus had more than one purpose in taking the disciples along to see this event?
  2. Learning the timing when to tell

    1. If Jesus had multiple reasons for the trip, what were they?
      1. Jesus sharing with Moses and Elijah, Law and Prophets
      2. Jesus is confirmed for being foretold
      3. Jesus is confirmes preparing to complete the law
      4. Jesus places himself in the context for the disciples
    2. What did the disciples learn from the trip
      1. Peter, James and John were either more mature or needed remedial reinforcement
      2. Peter receives a lesson in
        1. asking before declaring,
        2. praying before acting,
        3. trusting before explaining.
  3. Can you keep Quiet about who Jesus is to you?

    1. Do you notice that the disciples 2:1 keep quiet on the mountain.
    2. Reasons for speaking
    3. Reasons for listening and observing
    4. Learning lessons for future opportunities
      1. Trusting the lessons of the law
      2. Trusting the lessons of the prophets
      3. Affirming the mission and minsitry of Jesus
      4. knowing they can Get up and do not be afraid
      5. Trusting God’s time for telling.
  4. Knowing your time to listen and your times to tell.

    1. Being in the right place and time for learning
    2. Taking time to wait and listen to God
    3. Asking for guidance instead of declaring (our agenda/thinking/etc.
    4. Jumping ahead: This story is appears in Matth 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, it is retold for us.
  5. Someone needs to hear about Jesus

    1. Have you prepared for those moments?
    2. Have you mis-spoken in the past?
    3. Have you ever gotten up from fear of taking what we have experienced and kept it in the past?
    4. Homework:
      1. Go tell someone what Jesus Christ has done for you.
      2. If you don’t then spend this Lenten season in prayer and study, because Easter is coming!
Location: 3477 Peavine Road, Rock Spring, GA 30739  Rock Spring UMC  http://www.mysundaysermons.com

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Matthew 5:21-37 “People of a New Heart”

 helpup

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [NRSV]

Core Values of One Made New in Christ

Core Value Number 1 (Murder with Words)

How you communicate affects your relationships and your identity.

Sticks and Stones AND words can kill someone’s spirit, reputation and ability to be included into the community.

Word’s spoken in anger carry poisoned daggers that kill one’s spirit, identity, reputation and relationship to the community.

  • “Well I only thought it, I didn’t do anything wrong”
  • “What’s in my own head doesn’t hurt anyone.”
  • “I was so angry at what I saw on FB I had to teach them a lesson, I didn’t kill anyone.”

 

Core Value Number 2 (Satisfying Self in a Covenant Relationship)

How we respect one another, affects both them and us.

Sexual sins occur first in the heart and head. Stop the sin there to avoid going further to lessen the effect on others. But best of all see that sin occurs before the action.

  • Don’t be looking
  • Don’t just love the one you are with
  • Don’t invalidate the person by objectifying the person and justifying a behavior that is harmful to God, self AND the other person.

Our society has so twisted the self-satisfaction, self-pleasing and self-affirming our sexual selves has become paramount in movies, songs, and laws and even in the church.

Core Value Number 3 (Don’t Look at the Line, much less cross it)

Marriage is the basis for integrity and of the family unity.

Marriage is a covenant with God, while you can’t change your spouse you can add to their relationship with God or you can pull them away from God by your actions of both fidelity and by infidelity. Everything we do affects our spouse. Don’t get into a marriage covenant if you are not holding God the whole time because marriage is not always easy nor simple.

Core Value Number 4 (Integrity Speaks truth in love)

Speaking as a person of integrity.

Speak the truth.

Don’t dodge the difficult conversations, don’t blame anyone or anything. Speak with respect, certainly don’t add God’s name to your ideas, thoughts or excuses. The practice of taking an oath or swearing our testimony assumes that most of the time we are untruthful except on these special circumstances.

  • “Don’t lie to me, we are in church.” But if we weren’t at church it might be alright to bend the truth, is the implied false assumption.
  • “I’m not under oath” I don’t have to be completely truthful with you because we are not in court. The rules are flexible to benefit me, especially when I might be in the wrong.
  • I said, “Yes, your honor, I believe I completely certain that No, I have no recollection of having said what you thought I said or did. That is my honest testimony”

 

Jesus said: The ten commandments were easy, I’m stepping up the game.

How will we ever measure up? Don’t be Discouraged:

Jesus model’s some real life issues that we twist:

Jesus said: you will need to out behavior the most devout religious leaders. Jesus said this knowing we also say/think things like:

  • I want to be right
  • Its what they do in the movies/tv, in songs, etc.
  • I want there to be an absence of conflict, so it’s ok to keep quiet even if it is not true
  • I want to be served and satisfied
  • I want to be able to say/do whatever gets me out of this mess in the name of grace and love
  • I don’t want accountability; I ask you to continue trusting me in grace.
  • It’s my turn

The Remedy starts small:

Jesus begins with the small stuff.

  • Start with how you treat the people that are around you every day.
  • Be a truthful person of integrity
  • Speak with strength, but know your words matter, speak truthfully.
  • Speak with integrity
  • Be one who respects boundaries
  • Don’t objectify people
  • Don’t forget marriage is about covenant and not being served
  • If you are looking away from God, spouse or good, you are looking at what is evil, broken even in the name caring for ourselves.
  • Speak with respect, boundaries, and integrity and you will be trusted, blessed and respected.

Don’t let your words kill someone’s spirit

Don’t objectify people in the name of pleasing yourself

Don’t believe you can buy your way out of sin

Don’t let your body kill your spirit.

Don’t think you are caring for your spirit by pleasing your body

Don’t believe your actions only harm yourself.

Don’t look for excuses, look for Christ.

Community Support: The Role of the Church

It is quick and easy for us to judge, blame and segregate ourselves in the name of protection or ideology.

  • Help those who are blaming find Christ
  • Help those who are destroying marriage to refocus on Christ/Covenant
  • Help those who focus on pleasing themselves to see they sin and model loving them.
  • Model speaking the truth instead of swimming in the ocean of blame, regret, fear, etc.

We are people of the New Life in Christ, Protect the heart of God within you and do not trade it for the world.

 

 

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Micah 6:1-8 A New People, Yes or No?

protestculture2017
Hear what the LORD says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.” “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of [Dodge] rams, with ten thousands of [pipelines] rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [NRSV]

Living in a World of Protests

The Presidential Election was a protest voice giving upheaval to our political system.

The various marches and movements are protest voices. Have any of us here and everywhere not heard the voice of those drawing attention to racism, class-ism, sexism, socialism, communism, ism-ism.  The Voices have been heard!!

It is time for active transformation, healing an Atonement

  • We are living in a time when people are talking and not thinking.
  • We are witnessing a period where people are acting and not grounded.
  • We are experiencing a rending of our national fabric stumbling over our righteousness in the name of God’s righteousness.
  • We have woven identities of like-minded factions using the threads of grace and gifts of our collective spiritual journey.

Atonement: At-One-Ment

When we deserve entombment God intervenes in human experience to save, claim and restart our lives.

  • We call this grace.
  • God created Atonement,
  • We think we need extra credit home work, God just starts us fresh.

God’s Good News has something to say about our collective sins AND God offers a solution for healing.

Two Roads Diverge in a Nations Path

  • God has doubled-down our on innocence.
  • The world is being driven by blame, guilt, shame, fear, and failures.

God is all-forgiving. He does not seek to judge and punish us, but to correct and heal us. He is not invested in our guilt but in our innocence. The spiritual principle by which He helps us return to love when we have strayed from its ways is the principle of Atonement. The Atonement was introduced into human consciousness by God Himself, as a response to our capacity for fear. It is our eternal opportunity to choose again. That is what makes the Atonement a miracle: it is something introduced into the laws of time and space, by a power beyond them both. Grace supersedes the law of karma. To atone is to admit our errors, praying that God free us from what would otherwise be their inevitable consequences. It is a humble return of our minds to God’s love. It is to recognize where we ourselves have taken a path away from God’s will, and ask to be corrected and forgiven and healed. The story of the Prodigal Son makes clear how delighted God is when the son who strayed returns. By willingly and consciously unburdening ourselves of the weight of our mistakes, we are given the chance to begin again, to go forward in life from a healed perspective. Could America not use a miracle? The command to atone is a universal spiritual theme. In the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, where Jews admit our errors of the past year, asking God’s forgiveness and for His willingness to inscribe us in the Book of Life for another year. (Healing the Soul of America, Marianne Williams p.92)

The Lord Requires a relationship

[1 Cor. 18-31] For the message of 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; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

  • The First Action for Healing: Confession

  • The Second Step of Action is GOD’s work of Atonement. God Forgives and restores FIRST.

  • The Third is to model God’s Atonement and make whole to the extent that we can.  We Follow God’s lead.

  • Note: Law can give leverage to Atonement, but only God can make us new, whole, complete.

  • The Final Step is to continue walking with God, until such time that we wander again.

 

Frustrating Game of Jenga: by Hasbro. The fun of the game is tearing the tower apart, God’s game is about building a people together.

Something to try this week: If you hear/see/experience someone protesting, tell/email/notify them this:

  • “I hear your voice,
  • Your Voice is Heard.”
  • Now let’s ask God to heal us,
  • make us new (God is not about revenge or back-pay, God simply starts us over.)

Let us find God’s foolishness our new way together and walk together in grace, humility and seeing the justice God has shown us all.

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1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Divided? Power in the Cross

Wooden cross hanging on antique teal blue wallNow I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. 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. [NRSV]

The World is divided

Politics, Religions, Football Teams and Left Twix or Right Twix. Have you tried having a meaningful conversation about the hot topics of the day?

  1. You either talk to no one and TRY to avoid the conversation and grow cynical and isolated?
  2. You surround yourself with like minded people for comfort and protection.
  3. We dare begin the conversation because we think we can change someone’s mind and end up fueling fires we didn’t intend to start or
  4. We love starting arguments because we enjoy bullying, shaming or agitating people.

I suggest we need to show the world an alternative to the division. Hear Paul’s challenge and calling to do just that:

Paul writes at the opening of his letter.

  • His first letter,
  • his first matter,
  • his most important point is about agreement and division.

He urges us to think about how we define ourselves.

  • I’m one of Chloe’s people
  • I belong to Apollos,
  • I belong to Cephas
  • I belong to Paul
  • I belong to the original member core
  • I belong to the newbies
  • I belong to this Preacher or that minister
  • Well, I belong to Christ, with a self-righteous tone of judgment.

Paul’s Letter begins with a Super Nanny Interruption.

You know the Super Nanny, that British nanny that sets up cameras throughout a frustrated parent-child home and observes and then lays down the new laws to correct the dysfunctional and divided family.

Paul’s Letter begins laying the hammer down on what divides us.

  • I will tell you what divides us?
  • It is not Christ that divides us,
  • WE divide ourselves

We are being called to take responsibility for what divides us.

  • It’s not social media
  • It’s not tv and politicians
  • It’s not elections and conversations
  • It is what is cooking in our own hearts, mind and souls.

Paul’s call is #1, first step

  • Stop with the groupings.
  • Stop with the interest groups.
  • Stop with the privileged class, stop being in the victim group.

#2, Second Step: Remember the Goal,

  1. Agreement
  2. Same Mindedness
  3. Same Purpose

As an aside, one of the things I love about this passage is Paul’s (wasteful misuse of paper in writing his rambling thoughts about who he did or did not baptize in the middle of a power challenge and stern instruction.)

Number #3, Step three

Personal Question of Faith and Self-Reflection

What does the cross of Jesus Christ actually mean to you and your life?

We are studying the Apostle’s Creed as a historic listing of points about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church. But there is a core question that is at the heart of any statement of beliefs:

What does the cross of Jesus Christ personally mean to you and your life?

When we have come clinging to the power of the death and resurrection as our only hope and salvation, then we have a place to reflect on our differences.

Facebook proves verse 18 to be true. “The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but a power to those being saved.”

When we start talking to another person, we might heart lovely words about Jesus, but sometimes the words are a

  • noisy gong,
  • empty platitudes,
  • self-righteous memes, or
  • “the correct answers, without listening to the questions.”

Let’s be clear about step #3:

  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus died for all your mistakes, sins and failures?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Died for your times of pride and arrogance?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Offers himself in your place in judgment?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the face of fear?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the fiery furnace?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Gives your strength in the face of persecution when you are trying to be faithful to his example?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Encourage and empower you to see the best in others?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Divides us into groups, camps, parties, etc.?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Calls us to bully and shame one another as long as in his name?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to continue sinning and testing?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to act nice when we are together, but ponder evil in our hearts?
  • Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus excuses us from avoiding evil and confrontation because we are uncomfortable?
  • What power does the cross of Jesus give your daily life?

If you don’t have an answer, then we have found our place to start.

We will not find agreement, one mind, one purpose until we find the POWER of the cross.

Paul calls on Chloe’s people, people of Apollos, Cephas, Paul, Rock Spring, Peavine, D.C., Chattanooga, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, and every nation and tribe.

God offers us the power of true hope, complete salvation, and confidence to see a way out when we have closed our hearts, our minds, and doors.

If you are ready to claim the power of Jesus has for you, for our church, for our country, for a world hurting and divided. We let go of control and commit ourselves newly or renewed, Take my Life and let it be filled your power, your word, your love, your truth,

Your hope, Your Peace

And Jesus leads the way from there.

Paul’s call here is for the faithful, the church, not the unbeliever. His task is to make sure the GOSPEL has a POWERFUL hold on our hearts.

Ask your neighbor: Do you know the Power of Jesus Christ

  • IF they say yes, say praise the Lord
  • If that say no or I’m not sure, say, let’s talk
  • If they don’t say anything, then say, Today’s the day to “get of the pot/fence” and live in Christ.
  • When you hear division: Call on Christ to heal, protect and bring solutions.
  • When you see chasms of thought: Think what does the Cross compel me to do or say.
  • When you experience a brother or sister remaining quiet and not backing you up, ask them if they want to know more about Jesus or are in their silence are they choosing someone/thing other than Christ. Now is when the world needs the cross.

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Titus 3:4-7 ‘Living the Good News’

strawberrycheesebiscuitRemind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure. I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. [NRSV]
My mother, Vicky, made wonderful cheese biscuits. I tried for years to replicate the recipe without success, but finally found where she had written down the recipe I was able to make them at will. My waistline can testify to the accuracy of the formula.
The recipe: Vicky’s Cheesy Biscuits
  • Preheat the oven to 410*F
  • 4 level cups of White Lilly’s self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup of Crisco all vegetable shorting
  • After the dough begins to form add
  • 4 cups of coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • approximately 2/3 cup of whole milk, base on temperature and altitude
  • Mix by floured hands or in KitchenAid with three hole mixing blade
  • Roll with a wooden rolling pin on floured cheese cloth
  • Cut with a medium size round cutter
  • Bake for 9 to 11 minutes based on temperature and altitude
  • Brush tops with melted butter to taste
  • Make enough for one sitting for a family of four with friends.
Now comes the gravy on top: Serve hot with Land-O-Lakes butter and strawberry preserves
Titus 3 is a letter for the faith seeking folks like us who have gathered here to know the ingredients for Christian living plus the how-to enjoy and use them together for maximum benefit.
The Christmas story reminds us how much God wants to be in a collective relationship with us. The ‘gravy’ is that God is willing to love us, save us, and be with us.
We live in a world that knows more information that we can process, but too many have lost faith in the power of Christmas story. They might remember the ingredients, but how and why to combine and used them for our own good is our mission to share.

Advice for 2017 from Paul through Titus

  • Trust and Obey
  • Ready for Good
  • Avoid Fussing
  • Be Gentle
  • Courtesy to everyone

Q: How different 2016 would have been if we Trusted God, obeyed authorities, lived expecting Good, avoided fussing, acting out of gentleness, and showed courtesy to all?

But How? Jesus is How!

The Good News for 2017: But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Know the story:

  1. God is good, loving and kind
  2. God showed up as Jesus
  3. Through Jesus, God saves us from sin

So What, Footnotes:

  1. Note 1: God’s actions have nothing to do with our worthiness
    1. Tell you neighbor: “I’m not worthy. You’re not worthy. We are not worth it, but God loves us anyway.
  2. Note 2: through baptism, we find the rebirth and renewal of God’s gift through the Holy Spirit.
    1. Ask you neighbor: “I want the Holy Spirit to make me new.” “Fix me, forgive me, make me whole!”
  3. Summary: The Spirit is poured out on us, richly, through Jesus who makes us whole through God’ s grace which makes us kin to Jesus, belonging to the ongoing work of God from now and forever.
    1. Join hands with your neighbor and lift hands to Jesus: “I have holes in my heart, in my track record and I want you to make me holy, whole and new.

Memory Verse for 2017

The Good News for 2017: But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Titus 3.4-7]

Challenge

  • By the end of the year, you will know this very my memory, you will know it by heart.
  • By the end of the year, you will learn to share this verse with many other people.
  • By the end of 2017, you will be known as a witness of Titus 3.4-7
  • By the end of the year, you will experience what it means to be gravy coated and ready for the heavenly banquet that we share here on earth and for eternity.

 

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Christmas Sunday Luke 2:1-21 20161225

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. [NRSV]

The Appropriate Response

One fun Christmas movie is “The Holiday.” This romcom by Nancy Meyers about two women on opposite sides of the globe who swap houses only to discover that a change of address can really change their lives. At one point the character played by Jude Law professes his love to Cameron Diaz’s character, oops spoiler aleart. To which Cameron is speahless. Jude’s line is “Well I guess if your first response is not, ‘I love you’ then..”
Likewise the Christmas story, a grand love story, gives us the gifts of hope, joy, peace and love in Jesus Christ. What is our first response?

Shock and Awe

The first response to experiencing the blinding lights and thundering chorus of angelic choirs turning the night sky into daylight has the nightworkers huddled in fear.
We know they are afraid, not only by assumption, but by the angel’s first words. “Be not afraid.”
Why would God’s messengers be sent to the shepherds and not the political and religious authorities. Who should hear the news first? Shepherds: those working third shift, those least likely by the society, those who had been promised hope, joy, peace and love and were the most likely to need to hear news that was Good.

The Shepherds Go

Once having heard and understood, their first repsonse was to go see if these things were true. Given this past year of controversy and stress about “news” and its authenticity and accuracy, the shepherds model a very responsible and proactive step. They go to verify the varsity, (truth), and the meaning of what they have heard.
The heard that God had sent them Good News, and the proof was in the arrival of the Messiah. God’s savior has come for the least, the last and lost.

Who is Christmas Intended?

The most popular answer in my personal research is, “the children.” And that is one of the good answers, but the strong clue from Luke’s Gospel directs our first attention to the engaged teemage new mother delivering her first child in a barn far from her home town. The first visitors are not family and friends but those working third shift and the animals of strangers. The text yeilds that “the child” is for those who have the least give and those most willing to believe, trust and follow.
This familliar passage, recited by Linus in the Charlie Brown’s Christmas classic, reminds us that the ugly, small, rejected and left out are those who Christmas is first revealed.
When is the time to go and share the Good News: the hope, joy, peace and love of God in the world today? Right! Today, and everyday!

Christmas on Sunday

The interruption of our comfortable Christmas traditions is the heavenly day of Spiritual Rest, Worship and Renewal. If Christmas has not interrupted your daily routine to touch your heart to share the hope, joy, peace and love of Christ, then I offer you the interupption of Sunday into your Christmas worship.
Look and Listen for fear and brokenness and you will find the best time to share the Good News of Jesus. Without shame and full pride of God’s works of love and power for the world, show up and join with angels and sing praise, go share the news that everyone may know for him and herself that Jesus shows up for us. God’s gift has been wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger for the whole world.

Our Responses?

  • Thank you Jesus
  • Sharing the News
  • Going to See, Show and Retell
  • Pondering and Remembering in our hearts

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2 Thessalonians 2.1-17 (11-13) “Hold Fast in Christ” 20161106 RSUMC

holdfast2christ_walkinthespirit

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose, he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. [NRSV]

Paul gives the instruction to stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, by example, spoken or written. (Scripture through tradition, reason, and experience)

  1. God sends the powerful delusion, (God allows evil, as the consequence of choice)
  2. Sin is when we trust ourselves over trusting God. (Pleasure in unrighteousness)
  3. Salvation: Way Home: God has given us the gift of salvation and a challenge to grow in Sanctification through the spirit.

From the Letter with the church in Thessaloniki:

God calls us to proclaim the good news and stand firm/host fast to the traditions.

Evil, unrighteousness, destruction, lawlessness, lying wonders, wicked deception

(Those who refuse to love the truth and so be saved.)

This is a practical instruction on what to do when faced with evil, crisis and brokenness: on holding fast to the Good News, what we have been taught and experienced in the Spirit.

When we are faced with a crisis:

  • Our first reaction is to be overwhelmed with the circumstances that are crumbling around us.
  • We often look to find someone, something, some entity to blame.
  • We then realize that even if we can blame someone for the crisis, we have two choices give up or trust God.

Money Crisis, Family Crisis, Political Crisis, Personal Crisis: is the place of powerlessness to face brokenness.

Paul reminds us: God has saved us for a reason and this Crisis might be something we can learn and grow from, but God has more for us than to give up. God has given to us grace and Spirit to save us, eternally and currently.

When we are faced with evil:

In the news, in our family, in our community, in our hearts:

  • Our first reaction might be to say we are strong, smart, tough enough, (Don’t let anyone know we are facing evil.) (Prove that we know better)
  • (Do as we please, without regard to God’s call or our relationship with God) We go it alone: Motivated by our weakest assets (shame, guilt, fear, blame, etc)
  • (Prove that we know better)  (Do as we please, without regard to God’s call or our relationship with God)
  • We go it alone: Motivated by our weakest assets (shame, guilt, fear, blame, etc)

We feel we have only two choices: 1) Give up and die or allow some part of us to died or 2) Give in and join the evil.

We have a third choice: Paul reminds us that “our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.”

When we are faced with layers of evil and layers of crisis:

  • So many forces working to kill our hope, dim our vision, transform our love to fear, and we give up on God and ourselves.
  • The reason we have so many people struggling with drugs is that we have lost the grasp of God with us.
  • The reasons our global church is in division is that we have lost our hold on the Holy Spirit

The reasons our neighbors look hope is that trust someone else to save and to provide for us., Government, technology, knowledge, self-determination instead of learning and teaching what it means to 1) proclaim Good News and 2) hold onto the Word and 3) be lead by the Holy Spirit.

  1. The starting place is to 1) Learn the Good News (God loves us and desires us to have a personal and collective relationship, (first fruits for the church)
  2. The next step is to 2) Make the Word the foundation of all that we do. God wants us committed to building and fortifying our foundation, our relationship and our living with the word (proclaimed, studied, and understood through the Holy Spirit.)
  3. Third, we live following God’s Spirit, to navigate through the evil. The evil will not be taken away, but God promises to go with us through all things. Sanctification is the process of moving past the written or studied word, to trusting God to lead by the Spirit.

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2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 Growing Abundant Faith and Love

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith,so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. [NRSV]

The importance of encouragement 

Paul and company write to celebrate the good and faithfulness of the church’s work in Thessaloniki. 

The call to growth

  • The target encouragment is growth, spiritual growth
  • The third of the 5 fruits of a healthy and growIng church is Intensional Spiritual Growth.
  • Look at what Spiritual Growth can do
  • Quilts, nearly 50 years of show and sell, 1.5 million for this building, mission teams and individuals reaching gout in our ccommunity count and to the end of the earth, counselors and campers at Glisson, from the 200+ of us. Plus our shared ministries, 
  • The encouragement. S to look back to see what has brought us through to the moment, but more than a celebration of the past it is a passionate call to prepare for the generations that follow

The goal of fulfillment of purpose

  • Our purpose is to t me service rather to serve in he name and life of Jesus Christ, by Christs glory strength and spirit. 
  • Call and challenge one another to grow in spirit… 
  • if you are in a as class be faithful to prepare study and pray
  • If have been in a class doe a while pray about starting a small group
  • If you have not connected with a Sunday school class or small group as a weekly part of your Spiritual Growth program, let’s get you connected, praying, studying and sharing. 
  • Our goal is 100% participation in a small group or Sunday school class. 
  • Invite new friend neighbors, coworkers friends from school to join our commitment to grow in spirit 
  • We are not Calle to maintain the faith we are called t grow in the faith and serve with christs help. 

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