Archive for category 5 Practices
A Strange Order to Keep Quiet
- Could it be Jesus we testing reverse psychology?
- Could it be Jesus didn’t think they understood what they saw
- Could it be Jesus want these disciples to have something the others did or couldn’t know?
- Could it be Jesus had more than one purpose in taking the disciples along to see this event?
Learning the timing when to tell
- If Jesus had multiple reasons for the trip, what were they?
- Jesus sharing with Moses and Elijah, Law and Prophets
- Jesus is confirmed for being foretold
- Jesus is confirmes preparing to complete the law
- Jesus places himself in the context for the disciples
- What did the disciples learn from the trip
- Peter, James and John were either more mature or needed remedial reinforcement
- Peter receives a lesson in
- asking before declaring,
- praying before acting,
- trusting before explaining.
- If Jesus had multiple reasons for the trip, what were they?
Can you keep Quiet about who Jesus is to you?
- Do you notice that the disciples 2:1 keep quiet on the mountain.
- Reasons for speaking
- Reasons for listening and observing
- Learning lessons for future opportunities
- Trusting the lessons of the law
- Trusting the lessons of the prophets
- Affirming the mission and minsitry of Jesus
- knowing they can Get up and do not be afraid
- Trusting God’s time for telling.
Knowing your time to listen and your times to tell.
- Being in the right place and time for learning
- Taking time to wait and listen to God
- Asking for guidance instead of declaring (our agenda/thinking/etc.
- Jumping ahead: This story is appears in Matth 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, it is retold for us.
Someone needs to hear about Jesus
- Have you prepared for those moments?
- Have you mis-spoken in the past?
- Have you ever gotten up from fear of taking what we have experienced and kept it in the past?
- Go tell someone what Jesus Christ has done for you.
- If you don’t then spend this Lenten season in prayer and study, because Easter is coming!
“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.
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.
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.
Now 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?
- You either talk to no one and TRY to avoid the conversation and grow cynical and isolated?
- You surround yourself with like minded people for comfort and protection.
- 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
- 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,
- Same Mindedness
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Know the story:
- God is good, loving and kind
- God showed up as Jesus
- Through Jesus, God saves us from sin
So What, Footnotes:
- Note 1: God’s actions have nothing to do with our worthiness
- Tell you neighbor: “I’m not worthy. You’re not worthy. We are not worth it, but God loves us anyway.
- Note 2: through baptism, we find the rebirth and renewal of God’s gift through the Holy Spirit.
- Ask you neighbor: “I want the Holy Spirit to make me new.” “Fix me, forgive me, make me whole!”
- 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.
- 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]
- 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.
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)
- God sends the powerful delusion, (God allows evil, as the consequence of choice)
- Sin is when we trust ourselves over trusting God. (Pleasure in unrighteousness)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.)
- 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.
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.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. [NRSV]
The Title song, “Unchained Melody”, of the 1955 movie Unchained has been sung and recorded by many different sings becoming a platnum recorded hit in both the US and UK. The list of singers included:
- Co-Authors: Alex North and Hy Zaret
- Les Baxter
- Roy Hamilton
- Todd Duncan
- the Righteous Brothers
- Elivs Presely
- Perry Como
- the Platters
- Roy Orbison
- Neil Diamond
- Barry Manilow
- And my others.
The original theme song captured the torn heart of a man who while in prison was pulled between escaping prison and serving his term to return to his love and family.
Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Lonely rivers flow
To the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Lonely rivers sigh
“Wait for me, wait for me”
I’ll be coming home, wait for me
Oh, my love, my darling
I’ve hungered, for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?
I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me
Lonely mountains gaze
At the stars, at the stars
Waiting for the dawn of the day
All alone I gaze
At the stars, at the stars
Dreaming of my love far away
We live in a culture where it is easy to be torn between hearing the Gospel as a message that frees us to live for God while others hear it as exclusive words that harn and divide.
Each time you hear song, one of the most popular songs worldwide, in the 20th century, think of God singing it to the church.
- Time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much, Are you still mine?
- .. Wait for my, I”ll be coming home, wait for me. wait for me.
Paul again is sharing with Timothy, call him to remind the church to not be ashamed of the Gospel but live as a person who is free to live for God, even if you are in prison.
Think of all the reasons to keep silent? To escape the grace of the Gospel?
If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful
Q: The Task for us to how to encourage one another in remaining faithful.
Actions over Words: The say is true and sure: Your witness may be the only Gospel someone reads.*
*Note the asterisk: I don’t have to preach, teacher, prophet, or spokesperson as long as I am presenting myself as one who is freed in Christ, as one approved and accepted by God.
The (*) requires that we make sure know of the message has been received as intended.
Present Yourself as a Worker for God.
- “Dressed” for work that reflects God’s grace. Not a church dress code, rather dressed to serve.
- “Dressed” to witness
- “Dressed” to represent God.
“Dressed” is an act of preparation:
Prepare not by having the right words, but the Godly actions
- am I prepared to love?
- am I prepared to forgive?
- am I prepared to lead others to Christ?
- am I prepared to feed, clothe and comfort?
- am I prepared to be persecuted, rejected, inconvenienced?
am I prepared to tell God’s truth or my convenient version
The Path Taken
Whether broad or narrow: God is with us.
There be faithful in sharing the Gospel.
Last week I invited you to make contact and pray for someone
This week our homework is to prepare to show some part of the Gospel in our actions.
- Plan for it
- Expect God to send someone in your path
- Dress for the Gospel, live like you work for the Kingdom.
- Remember you are not chained but freed to love and live for Christ.
- Know you are free in Christ to set other free.
- Be ready to share what happens when you show your faith.