Archive for category Disciples

Day 22 Servant for God Over the Hill

clear glass teacup with coffee beverage
“Do you appreciate the labor that goes in harvesting, transporting, roasting, and preparing your coffee?” Photos on Pexels.com

Read: Joshua 14.4-7 (NRSA)

Joshua and Caleb remember how God called them in their forties to do great things, even under great scrutiny from the people of God. On Joshua’s birthday, the day they entered the Promised Land, they could share in the fruits of their long labors. Faith is working toward a goal of completeness with God. Even if we seldom grasp a glimpse of those divine moments, the goal is about finding ourselves in God and not some reward that is ours to do as we please. Faith is learning to find peace, connection, trust, and connection with God and the People of God.

Most people think of themselves as being a younger age than the real number of years they have lived. Our culture links to age and usefulness in ways that seldom honor our experiences and talents. People are working longer, retiring later, and returning from retirement more frequently. Our spiritual work continues with every breath throughout our lives. We do not retire from serving and worshiping God. God has created our purpose and usefulness that we sometimes overlook in and ourselves and others because of age or maturity. Age is not the only discriminator we see dividing and demeaning people. Gender, culture, skin color, political views, and economics are some of the measures we most quickly use to define worth. Instead, we are called to see ourselves and others as God sees us. Each of us is worth the sacrifice of the cross. What are we worth to God? Everything!

Action Plan: Buy some fair-trade coffee and enjoy a taste of justice.

Prayer: Give me strength O, God to build faith and trust, and to share these with the world each day.

Leave a comment

Mark 9:2-9 Discipleship “Nurturing, and Being Nurtured”

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.  Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. [NRSA: Mark 9:2-9]        

  • “Transfiguration Sunday
  • February 14, 2021
  • Video: TBA

The Peacock is a symbol the church has used to help us remember the transformation of weaving past, present and future from the lumpy and clumsy first appearance that is revealed as the peacock spreads its wings. We are called to sharing THAT story with the world.

Many different passages in scripture it is important to see ourselves in the context of the disciples or crowd. This gives us the view as a participant. This verse is different.

It is the turning point in which Jesus shifts his focus from expanding the reach of his ministry and begins heading toward the cross. Each year it is a helpful time to mark this transition as we begin our journey toward Easter.

We listen to the account of Jesus’s Spiritual nature being revealed and we see through the eyes of others who have seen. And so it is for us today, we see through the witnesses of those who have gone before us. We see through the witness of the church. We see through the lives of those who have experienced the true nature and full awareness of Jesus. We come with questions, doubts, and uncertainties.

What do we hear from accounts of Disciples, who shared what they heard from God, about Jesus, for our behalf. But it is an account that only a few who are hopely more mature in the faith to know Jesus so plainly.

The remarkable and unbelievable parts of the encounter on the mountain top of Mt Tabor were the witnessing of Moses and Elijah, talking with God, and the even more impressive booming declaration of God’s voice, and then silence.

Peter

Peter sees the miraculous events of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, and thinks he has the best response: Let’s make three alters so crowds of people can come to this spot and worship. God’s response is to listen now, and not get ahead of God’s revealing in the past, present, and future of this holy moment.

But what do we make of this account?

This is where the story is also ours to hear and join. God work in Christ is to reveal the connections for our past, present, and futures, and our response is to see, experience, understand, be blessed, and trust, not to get ahead of God’s plan.

In summary of the day on Mt Tabor:

  1. Jesus comes to reveal God’s glory
  2. Jesus fulfills the work of the Law and the Prophets
  3. Jesus is the Son of God
  4. Jesus is to be trusted, believed, and followed.

I have ascended this mountain. I have been to this church. I have seen the multiple alters. I have been to the gift shop.

Geographically it sits in the middle of a plane that is surrounded by mountain, but it a singular light set on a lamp stand in the region.

What makes this moment special is not what happened on Mt Tabor, but to weave together all the roads and mountain top experiences that lead to Mt Calvary.

The take away for this passage calls for a time apart for us to rewind the moments of our own faith journey and single out the people who have taught us the word, the law, the rules, the guidelines and commandments. To list those who have revealed the living presence of God and those who have helped us piece together our own faith journey and see that the one event that holds us together is united in the cross and the empty tomb.

Mark recalls Jesus using a series of “don’t tell anyone” to contrast the news of the empty tomb, which the disciples are instructed to “tell everyone”!

  • We live as those who have heard God’s call to trust, be not afraid, to proclaim the Good News!
  • We live has those who have the story of the cross etched in our view of our human experience.
  • We are the ones who have see Christ transform lives and make our lives filled with joy, hope, and love.
  • We are NOT instructed to keep quiet
  • We are NOT told to wait
  • We ARE called to lives as those TRANSFORMED by Christ

That our living reflects God’s Grace and Love.

It only take 5 minutes to see where we have blurred the lines of Christ in our lives with the world around us in a quest to be right or wrong, left or right, in our out, where we are called to belong to Christ, in the world but not of the world.

The world debates whether people are self identifying themselves by their own choice, and the Church is actually called to recognize and share that we are all nothing with Christ.

  • We live in a world that some value when we are ‘self-made’ men and women.
  • Others long for the government to define who we are and what we are supposed to be and do.
  • God tells Jesus and Disciples to be transformed by God’s power, sacrifice, and resurrection.

What are we to do with this passage: Remember our journey is not over. We have time to allow Christ to more fully transform our hearts, minds, our work and rest, our families and enemies, the church, community, and world. The call to follow Christ as our hope and salvation is clear. Q: Are we clear in that purpose with our lives?

If not, today is a day of confession and a prayer for strength

If so, today is a day to invite others to join in God’s ongoing work thorugh us.

Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 9:16-23 “Let’s Go to the Neighbors

Do Your Neighbors Know Joy and Grace in Christ like you?

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “”Everyone is searching for you.”” He answered, “”Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. [NRSA: 1 COR 9:16-23]

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 7, 2021 Video:

  • 5th Sunday after the Epiphany
  • February 7, 2021
  • Video Link:

Jesus did an unexpectedly good job at the synagogue teaching and casting out demons, but his mission and ministry is not to be spent just in one town.

His healing of Simon Peter’s mother opened the can of worms! Everyone who had not come to the synagogue the day before was now showing up at the house to be healed and set free.

Again we think of Jesus being the Great Physician and healer, as he gives witness to the power of God, but his primary mission was not to heal family and friends.

Jesus model’s teach, healing, setting people free from all sorts of evil, obsession and addiction. He reaches out to his disciples, their families and those who they shared about what Jesus might do for them.

But the mission is more than one lesson, one town, one family, or even one community…

For all the out-pouring of power and healing, Jesus is intentional about claiming time away from the work. It is not simple taking his vacation days, rather making time and making and a way, and making a space that is AWAY from everyone else, for his renewal.

As an itinerant ministry i am claiming a personal place that is apart and away. , I have been on I’ve been using some of my personal time to build a place to pray ; It’s made from pallets, used doors and leftover parts from previous projects. But it is a place that I have dreamed about for many years. It is a 32 square feet set apart from all other responsibilities this is a place of prayer and renewal. I’m calling it a chapel. If it is ever empty you are welcome to visit, but if I’m there you will have to wait for me to leave. It’s not finished and it’s not heated but it is a work in progress… just as i am.

But Jesus’s ministry was not to stay sequestered alone as monk in a monastery, he ministry was to share God’s power and presence with the next neighborhood.

It is time to go to the neighbors.

We have made several attempts to start a ministry to the neighbors who live in close proximity to our church building as a response to Jesus’s own call to do the very same ministry.

When we have been moved out of our own building, we have been given the chance to see what it is like for our neighbors who have no church family, no relationship with Christ. We now have felt what it is to look from the outside in and wonder, grieve, and be tempted by so many distractions from being the body of Christ.

We have not been to our neighbors in Culebra and Costa Rica, We have not been to our neighbors in the name of safety and we find ourselves on the edge of wondering when we will be the body, united again…

Jesus’s discovery from his time in prayer and renewal was this: It’s good to be with family and friends, but there are other neighbors that are our primary work.

If anything, this past year has awakened the call to

1. Lift the hand of those who are sick

2. Lift the heart of those who grieve

3. Lift the hope of those who have given up or given in

4. Lift the Spirit of those who are feel forgotten

5. Lift the Spirit of those who have forgotten the joy of fellowship

6. Lift the foot of those who have stumbled and lost their way

7. We too have been in that wilderness and place of separations and yet we know Christ is with us. —- we have neighbors who we don’t even know.

THE ministry of Disciples is to disciple others

We have less than two weeks before Ash Wednesday. We will have some variation of a worship service on the 17th to make the beginning of our journey to the neighbors.

What is needed? Jesus was calling, training, teaching, and sending disciples to make beyond the walls to reach the neighbors.

Here is the measure of what it means to be RSUMC, or every church… To be the church of Jesus’s Christ in 2021 is to be making disciples

? What, that’s not new and creative? The mission has not changed by our method need to be fresh and meaningful, but the message has not changed. Our call has not changed…

Every person in our church family can disciple someone their know or someone God leads us to…. in every age and faith experience… there are people God needs us to reach. (Others may have tried, we are called to go next.)

What does this look like?

1. Standup to follow.

2. Spending time in prayer

3. Looking for Jesus

4. Be ready to follow where the Holy Spirit is leading us…

If you feel even the nudge of this calling make some sign to God, raise you hand, stand where you are, put in writing, type it in the comments, shout it out. Claim this as the moment that we activate our mission for Christ in 2021. Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Here I am, I am yours. Make is so, amen.

Leave a comment

John 1:43-51 “Answering the Call”

Photo: https://www.ginfoundry.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fig-tree.jpg
  • John 1:43-51     New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha
  • “Second Sunday after the Epiphany” January 17, 2021
  • Video: https://youtu.be/j3KH3CnKq2w

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSA: John 1:43-51]    

Central to Jesus’s work is the calling and equipping of disciples. He calls Philip who is influential in reaching Nathanael and other disciples and further sharing the Good News.

The convincing thing that Jesus grab Nathanael’s interest, trust, and response concerns both Philip and a Fig Tree.

Let’s look at the fig tree first.

As a personal testimony concerning fig trees, I have shared with you that I’m not a big fan of figs unless they are inside a Newton. Then, along with a glass of whole milk, I find the combination rather enjoyable. In reflection of thirty-six years of ministry and eighteen years prior as a preacher’s kid, there have been seven parsonages that had fig trees in the yard, and typically near the driveway. I don’t believe there are such instructions in the Book of Disciples about the furnishing of parsonages that include fig-trees, but as it is a prominent story in scripture I see that it is more likely to have fig bushes than mulberry or olive trees.

The things I have disliked about fig trees are the birds flocking to eat the fruit just when it is ripe that startle one passing by and the mess the birds leave when the remnants have fallen to the grown and one slips on a slimy fig leftover walking around the bush. Also, it’s another item that needs pruning, trimming, and maintenance in the yard. Nevertheless, the one bush that is at the end of our current driveway and near the path to the back yard in our current home is a fig bush. But by now, I have grown accustomed and find it a fond site every day. (I still don’t care to eat a fig, thankful our bush doesn’t have many left after the birds do their job.)

Why would someone be sitting under the fig tree? Likely, the broad branches filled with leaves would provide a cool and shaded spot on a blistering hot day. Secondly, for those who enjoy eating that fruit, it would be a shaded spot filled with snacks available at arms reach. What better place to rest: cool shade and convenient easts. Together, that tells us that Nathanael is a smart cookie. (maybe not as smart as a Fig Newton? I digress)

It is actually more important to see that Jesus’s call of disciples is not by chance. It is with insight, purpose, and intention that Jesus is looking for those to start the work of the church and to see it through times of struggle as well.

Part of what makes Nathanael a candidate for disciple-hood, is resourcefulness, his smarts, and practicality. These are good skills for a disciple. Part of what Jesus saw in Philip was his ability to reach other people. And this is just how Nathanael comes to meet Jesus, that is through Philip. The story of this fig tree is only to further persuade ‘Nate’ that God is already at work in his life.

The “Fig Tree” becomes a symbol of God’s patience, grace, and judgment later in Jesus’s ministry. But today’s fig tree is a person’s moment and place of being known by God.

Too often we don’t actually live thinking about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit being with us on a daily basis. Surely they are too busy, with more important matters, than to monitor our moment by moment activities. And if so we imagine that God must at least be looking aware at times and not see, hear, and be aware of our everyday life.

If we think of God being with us we would either be emboldened to defy God’s righteousness by doing what is evil, or opposite, or contrary to God, in God’s presence. And, if we think that God is too busy to be present with us, always, then we are not always trusting God’s presence in our fears, anxieties, and worries.

I’m assuming that we all just don’t think God is with us in the minute details, rather just checking in when we are at church, or in prayer, or study, or some random chance. Part of the Philip and Nathanael ‘call’ stories teach us that God is at work intentional with us, even when we are not aware of those moments.

When we think of God being busy, looking the other way, with some more important, more needed, or more evil than ourselves, we actually are teaching ourselves God is much smaller. Know that we don’t have to fully figure out God, even though God fully knows us.

Though this passage teaches us God is concerned, Jesus is with us, the Holy Spirit is in the breeze, in the share, in the daily tasks, and no matter how ingenious, smart, clever, resourceful, or alert, God is always a step ahead, a step behind, and standing with us.

So what do fig-trees, Philip, and Nathanael have to do with us in 2021?

God is no less interested in working in our lives than God was working with that tree, the tree in the middle of the garden or the bush at the end of our driveway. God is not less interested in working through our relationships, our days and night, our work and rest, to reveal the kingdom of God throughout the world in our time.

2021 is a call for the church, our church, every church to see the ordinary elements of our work and rest and the relationships that we already have established to be open to God’s revealing the Kingdom today.

In review, what has God seen us do this week that reveals God’s presence? Are our words, thoughts, and actions reflecting God’s presence, God’s patience, God’s power, and God’s plan — or have we done a better job of reflecting our own understanding, our own expectations, and our own goals?

Both Philip and Nathanael have different talents. God uses each of us in different ways, but the core, our starting point comes in recognizing that God’s Spirit is with us, and is longing to love us and work through us to bless the whole world.

2020 the church faced the greatest threat of being not relevant than ever in our lifetimes. We have clearly been labeled as non-essential workers. I’m not trying to make a political statement, I am clearly making a spiritual statement. In our collective lifetime, we have not been instructed to close our doors. Recall our motto was once, “Open Doors..” The threat of pandemic has made it easier to not gather for Christian fellowship, to NOT share our questions and stories of faith in the study; it has made it easier to occupy our time and interest in other activities.

When the pandemic started, if you were listening, your pastor/preacher reminded that this would be a time to spend more effort in prayer, study, and spiritual preparation. For some of us, 2020 was a good excuse to be sitting under the safe shade of a fig tree and not risk the heat of the day. We have grown more comfortable expending less in being the church in the name of safety.

We have tried to be innovative and creative, but the question comes to us: for a world that is starving for faith, security, peace, hope, trust, truth, love, and grace — have we been eating figs under the shade of the tree to prepare us for what is next, or simply to get by, be safe, be contented.

Nathanael’s ‘call’ story is as convicting for us as it was for him. Philip and Nathanael have a similar story to the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Both of those sisters had great talents and skillsets; Mary’s were needed more at one time, while Martha’s at a different time.

2020 was our retreat under the fig tree. 2021 is our call to reach out to those we know and those we are called to reach out to bring people to the love, truth, and heart of Christ for themselves.

Take this week to begin a list of persons that God might be calling you to reach, invite, call, and bless.

Take this week to move from the silent prayers of homes and hearts, into the conversation with share with others that they might clearly experience God’s Spirit working in their own lives.

2020 might been names Nathanael. 2021 is Philip. The year of stepping out of the shade, away from the figs, and into each other’s hearts.

Leave a comment

Advent2 Mark 1:1-8 “Tying Laces”

closeup photo of brown lace up boot
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [NRSA: Mark 1:1-8]

  • It is interesting that Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus and John the Baptist.
  • The starting point is baptism. John’s invitation was a call for people to repent.

REPENTANCE

Moving spiritually closer toward God requires that we acknowledge our separation from God.

  • Some of the spiritual distance comes from our moving away from God by wilfully choosing what we know to be harmful to others, ourselves, and/or the opposite of God’s best for us.
  • Some come as we allow other relationships and responsibilities to come before God. It is not that the relationship and responsibilities are bad, it is that we look for strength, judgment, discernment from ourselves, or others ahead of God.
  • In this year we have particularly been asked to trust the science, trust the scientists. We appreciate those who devote themselves to using the mind, research, calculations, measurements, and follow the methods and practice of science. But even science is the discovering, understanding, and use of God’s creation. There are those who want science to be void of God and stand as an authority that needs no idea of God, this is not why God has given us the ability to reason, to be self-aware, and to imagine new solutions. If we study at the marvel of God’s creation and not honor that God is greater than our greatest minds, then we create our own God. (commandment #2)
  • Some the gap is created when we choose little, by little, our will over God’s: The fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden was just one piece of fruit. What difference does one tangerine, one apple, one pomegranate make in a garden of plenty?
  • God is gracious to forgive, but our failures to follow God’s direction and call in our daily lives in whatever form reveals the chasm we are from God. (Lazarus and the Rich Man)

John drew crowds of people from all around who came to hear him help them see their weakness and make changes. The sign of this fresh start was given through baptism in the Jordon.

  • Think about a good athletics coach, their job is not to only talk about the good things that the team accomplished, but they spend more time pointing out the problem, potential problems, studying tapes of past problems, assistant coaches to look out for offense and defense, all to make changes to improve each player and the team.
  • Even the very best teams, in every sport and league, are made of players that have mistakes, misjudgments, poor choices, grow weary, break the rules, miss opportunities, don’t score, and lose games and seasons.
  • Repentance is looking at the tapes and seeing where we failed and grace is knowing there are another game and other opponents the next day or week.

SANDALS and SERVANTS

John’s illustration is about a simple task that most everyone in this room and stream has done throughout their lives… tying shoes and sandals.

Do you remember learning to tie shoes? We have a different experience with our footwear. The task of washing feet was the task of the least person of status to prepare people for leaving the dirt of the world in the street and washing the feet to be clean in the house.

There are strong images of baptism in foot washing. Recall how Jesus surprised everyone when he washes the disciple’s feet.

There are several example of sandals, feet, and laces in the old testament:

  1. Gn 14 Abram tells the King of Sodom that he would take even a thread from his sandals so he would be faithful that the Lord’s work provides and not the wealth of other nations.
  2. Dt 25. If a woman’s husband died, her husband’s brother was to take her in and provide a family for her. If he would not, the woman would take offer her sandal and spit in his face.
  3. Ruth 4. If someone took off their shoe and give it to his neighbor, he was disowning their friendship and not welcome them as part of the community.

These three examples cover, tithing, marriage, and care of one’s neighbor, and now baptism. Key themes we weave together through laces.

John’s connection is that the Messiah was so much more qualified, able, AND worthy to look for, follow and trust, that John, himself, was not even worthy to carry his shoes or untie his laces.

The baptism John is offering is a helpful sign of washing away the past to start fresh, but it was only symbolic, and all the ‘work’ and the need to ‘wash’ happens as often in daily life. BUT, Jesus is coming to wash our spirit!

LACES and BETTER FIT

  • When we tie our laces we are drawing together the wide open gaps to a snug fit.
  • When we untie our laces we are making room and setting free our feet for rest and welcome.
  • What can set our spirit free to be fulling God’s People?

John the Baptist:

  • I’m famous, but I am not worthy to set you free,
  • I’m a good coach, but I am not worthy to hold your faith together;
  • I can draw a crowd, but I am not worthy to keep your family safe;
  • I can offer you a valuable message, but I am not worth enough to make you wealthy,
  • I am not able to hold the community together, BUT the Messiah can do all that and more…

Here John Proclaims the coming Good News: Jesus both holds’s us snug in this world and free’s our spirit and makes us both physically and spiritually whole.

  • You and I help each other see our sins and Jesus is the one who saves us
  • You and I care for those who hunger, and Jesus makes our spirit new and full.
  • You and I can do great things, but if we think they are possible without God, we steal the glory
  • You and I cannot do all things, but Christ can.
    • This is who we seek,
    • this is who we trust,
    • this is who we praise.

In this second week we review the tapes from this year’s season and see what we need to repair, renew, and restore… Through this we repent and make ourselves ready to meet Jesus who is our salvation, hope and joy.

Leave a comment

Matthew 5:1-12 ‘The’ Sermon

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]

• Jesus calls disciples
• Jesus calls followers
• Jesus calls for everyone who follows to become a disciple.
• Jesus calls everyone who follows a higher standard of actions and attitudes.

The most famous part of the sermon is the “Blessed” section.
What is the designation of being blessed?
In the context of the teaching, Jesus is making self declarative statements.

That is, the seal of approval is given through the attitude behind the action of goodness.
1. The poor in spirit, receive the kingdom of heaven.
2. Those who mourn will receive comfort.
3. The meek will be given the world.
4. Those who long for what is right will be fulfilled.
5. Those who show mercy will receive mercy.
6. The pure of heart see the heart of God.
7. Those who make peace, are God’s children.
8. Those who are persecuted for the work of Christ find heaven.
9. The summary blessing is for those to remain true to God when the world calls them evil.
10. The summary is that followers and disciples of Jesus need to count on being persecuted for their faithfulness.
If we are not confronting evil we are complacent. LORD HAVE MERCY ON OUR WEAKNESS!

If we are keeping quiet about our faith, then we are missing out on the blessing of our faith.

Every Religion
• In every world religion, there is some challenge for people to be kind, compassionate, good-hearted, caring people, to at least those who belong to that group.
• In every world religion, there are affirmations of caring for the widow, the orphan and the poor.
• In every world religion, there are teachings to live with devotion to the god of their worship.
• What is different in Jesus’s teaching?
If we look at this list as more than general suggestions, but not just a checklist, we hear Jesus teaching a way of thinking, a perspective of living and behaving that draws us TOWARD GOD, THROUGH our RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS.

ATTITUDES as BEHAVIORS as a WAY OF LIFE
Every blessing comes when we live out the ideas in our heads and hearts through the lives of other people.
• The poor in spirit: Those who know they don’t know it all, might have room to grow, mature and journey more.
• Those who mourn: Those who open their eyes to the things that are broken and can weep with those who hurt.
• The meek: Those who don’t seek the things of this world as their salvation, know salvation comes through Jesus.
• Those who long for righteousness: Those who seek God’s way over their own way.
• Those who show mercy: Those who can live their faith AND be kind, compassionate in the process.
• The pure of heart: Know their best self by trusting God’s vision of their life and motives.
• Those who make peace: We are God’s children when we trust our heavenly father’s justice, judgment & grace.
• Those persecuted for Christ: We cannot withstand persecution unless God stands with us, that is heaven/garden
• Those who are steadfast: When the world calls our actions and thoughts evil, are a good measure of doing good.
• Those being persecuted for their faithfulness to God is living out our heaven citizenship over our earthly one.

The Hard Part
Here is the worst part of the list: It’s not a cafeteria, pick-and-choose, list to select from at our pleasure.
It is an all-inclusive list. The blessing of the buffet is ours, but we are to work on the whole menu.
Blessing as a measure of being on the right track is seen in each lane.
Blessing of our work is completed comes when we wear every hat in the officer’s handbook. (Not just church leadership roles)

The Catch
The picture Jesus gives is not for us to focus on one area and stay in that lane, rather drive on the interstate on the highway to heaven. The goodness is that the same attitude behind our motives is the same attitude:
Philippians 2:2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
One love, one spirit, one mind
Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
• If we can comfort those who mourn, we can all so feed those who know their hunger for more of Christ.
• If we can endure showing grace and compassion, we can endure being ridiculed and judged by the world.
• If we can long for truth and righteousness, we can also be pure in our motives and grace-filled in our service.

THE BOTTOM LINE
• You and I are followers and disciples of Jesus today.
• We are blessed with many things in this world, but God has a greater blessing than all the stuff, money and power.
• We are blessed with relationships, but these relations are empty if they are lacking the sharing of our faith.

We are blessed with opportunities that only a few have in the world, and to not use what we have for God is to waist our heavenly inheritance, in the present.
• TRUE BLESSING comes from God, for bringing to life the ideas and teachings that come from God.
• TRUE BLESSING comes not from the world’s list of value, but in the value of being God’s hands and feet.
• TRUE BLESSING comes when we move from HEARING the Word and BECOME the Word for the World.

The SO WHAT?
We know this, why are telling us what we already know?
Because part of our job is to hold the mirror of accountability that reflects God and ask:
1. Are people being spiritually fed through my actions and words? What can I do then?
2. Do people turn to me when there are hurting, sad, disappointed or grieving? What should I do?
3. Do people around me know God’s kingdom is my priority or the world’s priority?
4. Do people see and hear God’s word through my daily life?
5. Do people see that I am kind/compassionate or do present a grumpy, judgmental, too busy advertisement?
6. What do people see about God’s heart through me?
7. Do people trust me to bring people together or do they trust me to take sides and defend?
8. When was the last time I was persecuted, judged or penalized for expressing my faith? Am I overdue?
9. When it is easier to going along with the crowd even though I know it’s not right or not best, I roll with the tide?
10. People know I will put God first, over all else. Except for game day, family, money, career, or something else?

WHEN OUR ALL OUR ACTIONS AND THOUGHTS REFLECT GOD, JESUS, HOLY SPIRIT
Our work is done, in the meantime, we have much to work on, and MUCH to work with because in Jesus’s teachings we are promised the world, mercy, heart, family, heaven, goodness, faithfulness, comfort, Jesus, Spirit, and God himself.
This familiar list of attitudes is a reminder, a measure and a wake-up call to look at our head, our heart and our actions and ask: Can I see God? Can others see God? If so, I have great news to praise and share. If not, Lord let’s get work today.

Leave a comment

Matthew 4:12-23

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. [NRSA]

The call to follow is an invitation to

  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Follow
  • Transform
  • Call others

We talking about the need to listen last week
We hear the week before what it means to follow
The most important part of this challenge is the call to impact the lives of others

Q: What am I doing that others see, hear and know that Jesus is healing, calling, working through me?

Step back to the do no harm rule:
What am I doing that is harming my witness and getting in the way of others experiencing Jesus in me?

What can I do? To disciple others.

Discern one person before the end of the month that God is calling you to reach out to disciple.
Pray for them every day
Find multiple ways to reach out to them and show the love and power of Jesus Christ
Persistence and variety. Many gifts and avenues
Call theirs friends and co-workers
She scriptures that invite learning and following
Take them to follow with you in your faith journey
Make it easy, no pressures salesmen.
Some will follow others will be reached by someone else.
Repeat each month.

Goal of your own 12 disciples..
A year of reaching our own dozen for Christ.

Now go and make Disciples of Jesus Christ
( next week food for the journey)

Leave a comment

John 1:29-42

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ). [NRSA]

The beginning of becoming disciples

From the Text: we see the prophetic promises

• fulfilled from Isaiah through a John the Baptist

• Jesus is baptized and calls us join him in that adoption

He invites followers to listen to him

Jesus calls followers to follow

Followers listen to Jesus

Followers follow

Even as leaders we follow Jesus

… Last week we all heard a good example of what it means to radically listen and radically follow Jesus invitation. Todd reminded us that to follow Jesus might take us away from our family, away from our comforts, away from our plans. We appreciate and admire someone’s journey when they follow so radically. But as passionate was their story.. I ask you today to where and to what is God invite you to go and to do today?

We don’t all have a calling to the Bush of Africa

A. But one thing that Todd shared is that he and his wife we listening to God

B. And they heard go, and then go back, and then stay and keep listening.

The question for us today is

1. Are we listening? Are we asking for God’s leading and direction or are we relying on what God told us two years or two decades ago and have not genuinely stopped to listen, in light of where we current are.

2. Do we not listen because we don’t want to hear something that might lead away from our comforts of what is familiar or easy…

3. John heats and tell Andrew, Andrew listens and follows, Andrew reaches out to his brother with what he had heard.

4. He bring Simon, Simon listens and is transformed. Simon now becomes Peter, the Rock Man, we people of the Rock, Rock Spring….

There are two profound part to give our attention tot his morning:

A. Jesus continue to call us now, through others

B. Jesus continues to call other, through you.

What are we hearing Jesus needs us to be, do or go?

What are others hearing and seeing from Jesus through us?

Both demand our attention if we are follow Jesus

I said two weeks ago and will say again,

Now more than any time in our lifetime, Jesus Long’s for us to

• listen,

• follow, and

• share.

Discipleship

The shift from living in anticipation of faith

theological we shift from anticipation of Jesus to a season of living with Christ, listening, following and sharing with others.

All of us don’t need to go to the Bush, but all of us need to be following Christ’s call.

Where ARE you in this journey?

I think everyone here has heard of Jesus

We come together to sing, study and hear the words of Jesus’s teaching

Where do we see Jesus day? Or do we?

What is Jesus saying to you this week or today?

Are willing to take the day for Jesus or simple a few minutes now and then

How am I responding to Jesus’s call to follow

How am I bringing others

How am I being transformed

How is Jesus using me, you, RS in this day?

This is where we benefit from fellowship… small group, prayer partners, faith friends

Someone or group that is small enough to listen to one another

Strong enough to to provide accountability

Loving enough to challenge us to allow Christ to continue transforming us together?

• If I know what Jesus asks me to do and I’m doing it, you have good news we all need to hear

• If you know but are not doing anything about it then get to it now

• If you don’t know it’s time to pray study ask, seek Jesus from those who have heard

• If you have tried and failed, learn why and try again

• If you are scare to start because you know things will be different in your life hear the stories and witness of those who have heard

• If you don’t know where to begin, here John’S question of Jesus: where are you,that I can come listen and get to know you and learn your call for my life.

Today is the day for doing, acting, responding and not just thinking

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: