Archive for category #chargeyourbatteries
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, [NRSV]
Equipment Issue Check List:
- Belt: What holds everything together? the Truth
- Body Armor: Righteousness: Living for God.
- Shoes: Ready to Running shoes, Walking shoes for relationships, Boots for building and going where others do not want to go to share the good news of peace (sticking point: Is peace always violent? When is defending the widow and orphan from the visiting resident alien or the rod to defend the sheep?)
- Shield: Protection from spiritual arrows and fire storm
- Helmet: Knowing and Remembering the power of our Salvation through Jesus Christ
- Sword: Scripture that speaks the eternal truths in contemporary situations. (God entrusts word with people not just marks on a stone.)
The Battle defines the Equipment
A sword is a weapon. It is not for passive show. It is intended to be wielded and used for assault and defense, thus two edges. The weapon is scripture, God’s word entrusted to us to be shared, to teach and restore. The Bible, for inclusion and exclusion; it is for clarifying the boundaries of our faith relationships and the world of evil.
God made the world, which included the presence of evil and called the crucible good.
This illustration’s focus is on the battle and then the equipment
Spiritual assault is to be the expectation, we need to have the equipment and resource to defend and share God’s goodness in the face of evil.
How might you define the equipment for Spiritual Battle?
What holds your life and faith together in the face of spiritual weariness? The US Constitution or the Bible? If both, which holds our greatest allegiance?
Who are the Good Guys?
Ok, so if we don’t have enough violence and fighting from within and from outside the church. We know being a Christian is not what it has been. One of the early mission statements I helped a church develop was “Proclaiming the never changing Gospel in an ever-changing world.” I was very proud of the team prayer, effort and study that went into claiming that statement for that congregation. I’m personally thrilled they still use it 25 years later. It is an obvious statement and yet it is one we struggle to believe.
We want things to stay the same from generation to generation. “If it’s good enough for Granddaddy it’s even better for the grandchildren.” Half of the statement is true and half is a indifference we struggle through in each generation.
One of the wonderful things I love about Rock Spring UMC congregation is that we don’t fuss and fight with each other. And if we do, we either work through it, learn from it and grow on, or we know who likes to complain and we love each other and grow on together. So many churches are confronted with so much internal division and distraction. I’m thankful we can be a model reaching out.
The Question: How to hold on to what it means to follow Christ in world that is radically changing.
This is the spiritual battle we face in the world, as a denomination and as individuals…at home, school, work, everywhere we go.
Look back at the text:
- Be strong in the Lord,
- Pray in the Spirit,
- Keep alert,
- Persevere one another/supplication,
- Make known the message with boldness.
Anyone can start buying tactical equipment: We need to know
- what the battle is and
- how to survive and
- how to prevail.
The battle is first, a spiritual one.
We survive in the strength of Christ, as a body, the church, as a people in covenant and prayerful, intentional studiers.
Our Goal is not new, it continues to be to share the love of God, the grace of Jesus and the power of Spirit to make disciples, for the transformation of the world.
I don’t want to battle, I’m a conscientious objector.. I don’t want to get messy, dirt, involved. I want to put my head in the sand and wait it out.
Paul is preparing the church to be the church at its beginning and we are to prepare to be the church in its present:
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]
My Task is to Remind You about Jesus
- Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
- God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
- God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
- God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
- God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.
You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.
- A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
- When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
- Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
- (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)
Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain.
I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery
Did you know in the National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.
Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.
On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.
When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes
When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.
What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?
-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.
How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…
How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.
Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.
- GOD knows us:
- we forget,
- mess up,
- get in a jam,
- fall off the wagon,
- the dog eats our homework,
- the car breaks down,
- we loose our job,
- we forget to study,
- we miss the deadline,
- we get distracted
- and tempted…
- we sin, big ones and little ones,
- we drift or run..
God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.
- I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
- I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
- I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
- I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given you.
- God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
- God’s grace is not an after thought…
- along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
- God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
- God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
- God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.
This is what Easter message is about.
- It’s not just about Jesus,
- its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
- its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
- Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
- Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.
So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus…
- I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
- I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
- I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
- I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
- I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
- I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
- I hear Jesus in your music and singing
- I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
- I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
- I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
- He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.