Archive for category #jesus
Therefore one must be subject [to authorities], not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [NRSV]
Faith Sharing: Early in our journey toward sharing the gift of our faith, we need to address the WHY question. Why share our faith. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some basic reason WHY we share our faith.
Today’s text from Paul in his letter to the church in Rome we will look at two:
- Because of Love
- Because we have limited Time
Paul reminds us of Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor. God loves us and how to relate and interact with others around us reflects and influences others.
Invest/Trust/Living Sharing LOVE
- Don’t get side tracked with politics, trust God is using every authority for God. If they are not, they must answer to God, err on the side of being a responsible citizen.
- Don’t get weighted down with debt, If you must be in debt, do so in showing love, respect, and honor, to THOSE who it is due.
- Do not split hairs over the law of the land or the church, devote your selves to loving sinners, so they/we will go sin no more.
Look at the times, read the signs, know it is closer to the end than the beginning.
Live as though the test is TODAY, rather than next week.
Our physical bodies, our earthly structures, our laws and rules, needs and wants need to be focused on what is spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like.
- Live worried about your wealth of love instead of things
- Live focused on caring for sinners instead of comforting the found.
- Live devoted to satisfying the hunger of your spiritual relationship/s, for eternity instead of pacifying your physical urges and weaknesses.
Our Question: Why do we need to be sharing our faith with others?
We who know love trumps and triumph over all, need to show a
- self-gratifying society,
that accepting world’s idea of good and the world’s understanding of love is not the love that stands with you in ‘firey’ furnace.
How do we share our faith in these conditions?
- One way is by honoring and respecting those whom honor and respect are due.
- One way is by being the best citizen and neighbor under the laws of the world’s authorities. If any leader, authority or government is not Godly, the leaders and representatives will be accountable,
- One way is loving sinners, as sinners, who a seeking to not be sinners. (We don’t love a gambler by betting our farm when they have lost theirs, we love them but help them make new better choices.)
Why not let someone else share their faith?
- God loves you and me. God instructs that we respond to love by loving. We have skin in the game because we have been loved, we respond in love.
- Jesus is coming soon and you and I have to answer for those we have not reached out to love.
Examples of Loving
Jesus gave the command to feed, clothe, visit and encourage not as an exclusive list of rules/laws to fulfill, but as examples of everyday loving…
Love those who need to be loved so that your loving acknowledges God’s love.
Witness Trusting God by being honorable, respectful, contributing the good of neighbors and citizens. AND let people know that is your drive/motive/purpose.
Model for your neighbors: honor, respect, and responsibility so they see you trust God.
Love, not so that they see YOU are a good person, rather that they KNOW God’s love drives you.
Participate in community responsibility not so they approve of you, but they see God can conquer brokenness.
The Temptation is to leave the light shining on ourselves.
This is the daily, “home work”
love others, participate in community life
1. In response to God’s love, AND
2. with the urgency that the world comes to know Christ through your faithfulness.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea, Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. [NRSV]
Why Tell No One?
“Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” v. 20
Ceaserria Phillipi was a worship center for many different faiths and deities in the region at the time Jesus visited with his disciples. Now it is but a historical site where pilgrims and tourist come to visit the remnants of a shopping-mall of temples at the edge of one of Herod’s many palaces. Jesus gathers with his core leadership and asks for a status report. “What are people saying?”
Opinion vs Completing the Circut
Somewhere in the past generation of 15-20 years, we have upgraded the value of opinions over the value of facts. One of the dangerous tools that we have come to accept is public opinion polls.
My undergrad major is in sociology. When I changed from Chemistry as a pre-pharmacy student, I jumped 180 degrees into contextual perspectives of the human experience. As a social science, this discipline tries to make observations and predictions about human behavior. A random selection of people targeted for their similarities or differences is given questions to ask about perceptions and opinions. The bottom line on all opinion polls is that the collected information gives feedback for strategic planning, marketing, and predictive observations. The dangerous part is when we use feedback to validate rather than inform.
Example: If sixty percent of you sitting here said the wall appeared to be painted beige and 40 percent say white, what color is the wall? We have shifted from caring that Sherman Williams calls it bisque 106 to say that the 60% have a better perspective in the context of this room.
Jesus is not concerned with opinions. Jesus asks the disciples about what the people are saying and what the disciples are saying not to be validated, but to read the measure of progress or failure in informing and preparing people for their Messiah.
Listening to Feeback
The word on the street was divided about Jesus’s role and identity. Most data suggested Jesus was a prophet. Someone who taught and spoke for God, but not in the Messiah category.
Jesus asks the same question and asks the disciples about themselves. Who do you say Jesus is? So as a congregation of disciples the question is posed to each of us. When you are asked about Jesus, how do you first describe Jesus?
- As a historical figure?
- As a teacher
- as healer
- as the son of God
- as God in human form
- As a friend
- As Savior
- As a liar, a lunatic, or as Lord? (CS Lewis, Rabbi John Duncan, Bono, W)
- I suggest that most of us have some answer in our head, but hope it doesn’t come up in conversation and if it does we just as likely to say nothing.
“A Reality Check with the Truth”
- Jesus Want to know where things stand,
- Jesus wants to hear what the world says
- Jesus wants to hear what the disciples say
The World is most likely to have a general idea but lacks the relationship to know for sure
You and I have the advance of some form of relationship, but our answer might be either a desire to be correct and give the ‘right’ answer so as to be rewarded for our knowledge, OR we speak from the heart and declare who Jesus is in our heart and faith.
Ask you neighbor today: Who is Jesus to you?
I challenge every member to begin preparing an answer to the question. “Who do I say Jesus is?”
- This is not to be answered swiftly with the goal of having the accurate answer.
- This IS a question to help us gauge where we are in a relationship with Jesus and each other.
- This IS a question that we need to be ready to share with:
- Those who ask
- Those who need to know but don’t ask
- As an affirmation of our faith to Jesus himself.
The Need to Know, then Tell
- Pre-resurrection the charge is to NOT tell.Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
- Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
- We are people of the resurrection and world needs to hear, we need to be ready to tell, share, shape, instruct, inform, encourage and enrich the spiritual life of others.
Our missions to feed, clothe and visit those in prison FALL short if we don’t use these opportunities to make disciples.
We need more than daily bread, we need the bread of eternal life, and so does our neighbor and our enemies.
The time to prepare ourselves to share the Good News is at hand.
A Four Month Goal
One of the 5 Practices of an effective church is based on our commitment to be spiritually informed, spiritually maturing, growing in understanding, Bible study to feed our spiritual self.
In the next four months, in preparation for Christmas, I expect every member to find themselves part of a Sunday school class, a small group or a Bible study.
That might mean you have to start one of these yourself.
The CASE: If we are to be prepared to answer who Jesus is in each day, it takes real effort and practice.
Making Disciples is an all member responsibility. Job number #1 is making disciples. Helping introduce, equip and support others to know who Jesus is in their life, in my life, in your life.
What does this mean? What does this look like to me?
Starting in September we will be learning the process of sharing our faith. Starting this fall are classes and small groups and studies that some of you will be leading and facilitating to encourage others.
Starting in October we will begin preparing our leaders for 2018. Every ministry and service area of the church will share the goal of making disciples. We will make sure every leader in the church is modeling our discipleship goals.
By November will begin asking every member to report how they are connecting for study and spiritual growth, for those who have not connected or begun we will help find at least one connecting point for each member.
In December we will celebrate the season of Advent with a church-wide emphasis on faith-sharing as a Christmas gift.
Rock Spring is our foundation in Christ. It is our nearest access to living water. We want to prepare for a near year of Sharing Jesus Christ as a congregation.
- Are you ready?
- Are you scared or doubtful?
- Are you willing to invest your time?
- Are you with me?
First commitment: I want to know from every member which is the very best way to personally contact you? Contact me: Give me your Name and number or email or cell.
- a phone call 404-DAD-JOHN
- an email email@example.com
- a text 404-323-5646
This will be the best way for you to stay informed about what is going on and how we are doing.
Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52
He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."
44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. [NRSV]
Jesus the parable painter
- Mustard seed
- Treasure hidden
Every story is a out the same thing. The kingdom of Heaven. Billy Graham preached for all his years and always the same sermon: Jesus Christ and him crucified fir our sins.
Parables train us for what is new and old.
Scripture through the eyes of
Not any one or two of the other.
The Old is the scripture the new is the contemporary context. Jesus is giving the new as examples of the old
Jesus is establishing building blocks: look at the pieces.
The kingdom of heaven is larger and with more purpose then we can imagine
The kingdom of heaven spreads and transforms whatever it comes in contact with
The kingdom of heaven is worth security and investing in pursuing
The kingdom of heaven is something to be searched for and pursued and is worth more than what we have
The invitation to the kingdom of heaven is open to a home but not everyone will find it is their home for eternity.
The kingdom of heaven:
1. TKoH is more than we expect
2. TKoH is to be shared
3. TKoH is worth the journey
4. TKoH cost everything
5. TKoH is open to all but all will not find it home
- begins here and now
- Is found when we share it
- Is the labor of our life
- Is priceless
- Some will give it up
Is Gods Heavenly Kingdom
- Something you are experiencing
- Are you Sharing it
- Is your life devoted to loving God completely more than thinking God correctly
- Are you at home in God, with the People of God now?
Bottom line: get to
- giving & sharing
- loving & trusting
- Building & doing and
- worshiping & growing
Or else (Parables can kick us in the butt)
- You just have a seed stuck in you shoe
- You just have the ingredients but no cake
- You just have treasure but never use it
- You just stay busy without joy
- You talk and think but are like the grass that withers when it dies.
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” [NRSV]
Our generation lives on a minimum amount of resources while consuming more stuff than the majority of the world.
- This passage is not about the injustice of poverty.
Our generation prefers being served over serving others.
- This passage is not about feeding those who are hungry.
Our generation assumes rights and access to information, energy, and wealth it has not labored nor earned.
- This passage is not about clothing the naked.
Those who have never planted seeds for food have only second-hand appreciation for harvesting pepperoni’s for their pizza or nuggets for dipping, or sugar cane for their soda.
We are a consumer society and the idea that disciples, followers of Jesus, as those who plant, invest, tend, nurture, nourish and prepare others a life as disciple.
Typically we are more interested in our own self and/or our own family, and sometimes our friends.
The challenge Jesus gives to disciples and followers like us is a charge to be extravagant in sharing our faith.
But what if we are weary of sharing our faith? What if we are tired, scared, hesitant?
- Might be because we only have a heard and experiences a few seeds along the way that have been held in reserved instead of planted and harvested.
- Might be because we only see different pieces and have to put the parts together in a way that brings meaning, power and purpose to our daily lives.
- Might be because we have tried and fail, or tried and did not find what we thought or hoped and we have given up on God’s seeds of love, good, hope, grace and power.
- Might be because we have the seeds but expected them to work like Jack’s magic beans rather than a way for God to grow and reach us.
- Might be we have not trusted God’s seeds to taste as good as other seeds. Other words, teachings, ideas, philosophies, agendas and platforms have hold of our hearts.
- It might be a hundred more reasons..
The reality of God’s work of love and grace for us, is this:
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it has become a profound corner stone of my understanding.
- While you are I were dying
- While you and I were starving
- While you and I were fooling ourselves and others
- While you and I were lying
- While you and I were thirsting
- While you and I were withering
Christ gave himself as a way to the heart of God that no other path could accomplish.
We are people of God’s working.
We receive the gift of God’s work through Christ, but we are called to labor instead of comfortable consumers:
We are called to be laboring, working, sharing, preparing, challenging, encouraging, activating the process of building relationship where the love of Christ can thrive and make us spiritually mature and whole.
Christ died for us, not because we had it all figured out correctly
Christ died for us, because we have a tendency either:
- Hope someone will do our work for us, or we
- Hope that our work will be rewarded for our faithful duty.
- Neither of these is correct
Christ died giving us the benefit of love and salvation before we have done anything good, true or right.
The message of how God works is preemptive:
God does the sow.
This is experienced first
- through Christ and the Holy Spirit,
- through people, worship, songs, service, and study.
The process continues with each generation.. but along the way some folks
miss the seeds
- some get interested at first but tire or give up
- some compete with thorny ideas and competing promises
- some make room for growth and fruit follows.
Today we gather not as those who have never heard and not as those who have gone on to glory, we live in the middle having heard enough for faith, knowing there are those who are bitter, hurting, afraid, lonely, angry, confused, abused, neglected, ignored, selfish, mis-informed, or just plain wrong: and God has entrusted us with making relationships with one another, While we are still sinners.
The kernel of this parable is about recognizing the withering and the thorns.
Look around here today: Are their those who are tired, hesitant, weary, afraid to share a life of faith?
Look around: Are there those who are thorny obstacles other here or those outside the church?
I am challenged and challenge you to strengthen you spiritual roots.
- connect a new with bible study, Sunday school,
- pray with your family, small group, friend groups
- take the steps to know more of God’s word, do more of God good and be ready to lead others in Christ, more than follower/consumer.
Galatians 6:9 (NRSA) So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.
Sermon Broadcast: Remote from Culebra, PR on Facebook on the RSUMC FB page on 20170610 at 9am and 11am EST.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. [NRSV]
The Core of our faith is God.
The creation account in Genesis chapter 1 teaches us three things about God. Intentionality is Love, Purpose is Order and Order is to share that relationship of God.
I will go and prepare a place for you, if it were not so I would have told you. Jesus describes to the disciples and early followers that God’s ongoing purpose is to prepare a place for us. The story of the promised land is a story of the grand adventure of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of the garden of Eden is witness of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is a witness the God is committed to doing whatever is necessary to give us a path, access, to a relationship.
No matter how much emptiness and chaos, God chooses to prepare and order a place for us.
God orders relationship.
I will have a side of fries with that. God speaks and calls for a physical, tangible place as preparation for being with us.
It is through this very passage, in Monterrey, Mexico in the summer of 1983, while on a mission trip at the John Wesley Seminary, that God revealed a call to create a relationship for ministry in my life.
I can’t say that it was orderly. I was struggling down a path to become a pharmacist. Can you picture me sitting quietly behind a counter, wearing a white lab coat, in the basement of hospital or as the drive-in window of a Walgreen’s/ CVS? A life spent orderly counting pills, filing insurance forms and dealing with hospital or retail bureaucracy and politics? Why was I ever interested in such a career?
First it paid a respectable wage and I loved Dr “Red” Connelly.
Through much prayerful reflection and a specific night in a worship service, staring at a 100 watt light bulb, what had compelled me to love the job, was the person and personal ministry of Dr Connelly. It was not running a store that inspired me, it was the conversations over the counter, the listening to a hurting words and offering a response of hope, compassion and healing that reflected God’s presence through his vocation. It was not the job, it was the relationship.
God is about Good Order
Looking at the brokenness, failures, emptiness and chaos in our lives we see things through the eye of disappointment, defeat, regret, anger, shame and others. None of these bring order, peace and the type of relationships that make us whole or joyful.
God is very intention about, not only bringing order, but structure that is filled with cycles, processes, systems, and inter-connected relationships.
When we are around someone who is ordered by brokenness we feel the physical, emotional, financial and others feelings of being drained. There is never enough money to fix, there is never enough words to comfort, the are never enough things falling into order, that open us to the wholeness and goodness that God has given for us.
In all of creation, God names it’s purpose: Goodness
God orders dark and light, day and night, earth and heavens, fish, animals and people for the purpose of Goodness. Every story of sin and brokenness in the Bible and in our lives reveals how we take what is ordered for Good and use it for what is not Good/evil.
God alone can take what is broken and evil and make it into Goodness.
When the world takes was is Good, sees it as a threat.
When the world takes what is Whole and crucifies it to prove point
When the world takes what is God’s love, and turns it into order without live
The God of creation
Order’s Wholeness and
The complexity of creation
The building blocks of mathematics, physics and energy
The charge and challenge to subdue, have dominion and feast on Christ
Creation and all that orders it and the reason to suggest that none of it has meaning, purpose or intentionally, reveals that God continues longing for us to chose a relationship of Goodness.
So what is the relationship of Goodness?
All these gifts of God are good when they direct us to a relationship with God.
When they do not we sin, twist the purpose and celebrate chaos.
If your give your child or grandchild a puzzle, you hope they will find both challenge and joy developing motor skills, perspective and proportional reasoning, the benefits of trial and error and you want them to have fun in the process.
If instead they use it as a material to start fires, they have missed the fuller gift.
If you gift your child or grandchild a sum of money you hope there will learn to make wise choices about saving, investing and making value judgements of Goodness. you know they will often make poor choice, but if you never teach them and they never ask for instruction, why would we expect them to choose the good use of your gifts?
We know too well about making poor choices: concerning money, health, relationships, time, energy or strength.
God has given gifts, words and Spirit to teach us.
If we throughout the instructions because we want to do it on our own, then we rely on chance that our way is God’s good way. We are 99.9999% likely to choose poorly.
The story of creation in Chapter one is a faith account of intention, purpose and challenge.
Chapter two reveals how quickly we choose what is not Good, what is not God, and the consequences effect us and others, immediately and eternally.
Here the Good News
God has created for Good for us. God has not given up, even if the rationalist, the political community, and the fear-filled folks have:
The basic instruction is to use the gifts around us for God.
Guide the relationships around us, toward God and Good will complete us.
Guide our relationship around ourselves, and Good will be farther from us, hidden.
Everyday life, outside garden
More days are work days, days to rest in God are more rare.
The ratio of 6:1 is an interesting idea.
52 days of rest and 313 days of work each year.
God is investing a work of Goodness that we might meet God, heart to heart
God is gifting us in the struggle that connects 1/7th of the time.
We think perfection is wholeness. striving to be the best..
The best place to be is in the heart of God’s goodness.
You don’t have to rich, smart, short or tall, fat or thin, young or old, you and I DO have to be in God to find this goodness.
Work on it six times to hear it the seventh.
Lector Divina: Re-reading to hear the text in different ways: What if you committee to listen and reading this passage seven times today. You will be six times more likely to hear it’s message.
But who wants to give the time?
God does. This is the goodness. God is faithful to the order and process of a relationship of Good shared with us.
- Revealed in Creation
Revealed in Resurrection
Revealed today in Spirit and fellowship as the church.
I thank you for the support and prayers to take part in mission trip and to share this word from Genesis today. This verse interrupted my life 34 years ago and it continues to reconnect me to God’s call upon outlives.
- God creates to show us love
God orders to give us a path/process to follow
God waits to meet us on the road, even while we are yet sinners.
God longs for us to find our peace, rest and heart resting in God’s heart.
We come to Culebra tardy to share this love with neighbor in PR and in RS.
Look what God has done for us,
Let us find our rest in him, together.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. 7 The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. [NRSV]
I do not remember being excused from taking final exams in my schooling career. Some of the final days of each term were easier than others. There is something fundamentally missing if we exclude the final exams.
I realize it has become the incentive to study and work hard all along and if you do so throughout the term, the final would be a redundant pressure, and yet, real life is filled with final exams that we ‘wish’ we could skip, but we are not given the pass.
Do you remember any particular finals?
I remember feeling overloaded with information that I questioned its importance on the remainder of my life.
I remember wondering in some classes, would I have an “A” and others would I have a “D” and be grateful.
My studiousness improved the longer I went to school. Kindergarten to the senior class, two years at Oxford, two years at Emory, three years at Candler, five years at Gammon at the ITC. 25 of my 53 years have been spent in school. 53 of my 53 have been filled with tests and exams that question, measure, and challenge my faith.
If I gave myself a grade on my spiritual maturity I would prefer to be compared and measured with the hitters in baseball. Where a good season might be in the .300-.400s. comparing that is still failing compared to the A,B, C etc scale.
What I can say, is that my needs improvement is improving, the more exams I prepare for, face, endure, and reflect upon in my life.
For our Students and for us all
Real life/Faith is not excused from exams, tests, & trials.
Verse 7 begins with a call for the end of all things as the context in which we live.
Live as if the final exam is tomorrow.
- Be Serious: Be responsible for your own actions
- Don’t sign up for the blame your neighbor course
- Don’t be uninformed or excuse yourself from
- learning and
- Discipline Yourself
- No one else can have faith for you
- The prayers of others are not enough
- Take the mindfulness of #1 and apply it with accountability
- Maintain Constant Love for one another
- The extra credit is to matriculate in practicing love for each other
- The place to get on track, when we fall off the wagon, is to love
- and keeping practicing love,
- even if you don’t feel it,
- love will come to life.
- Hospitable without Complaining
- Hospitality: Doing what it takes to connect, welcome, share, interact, with others
- Even when we have reason to complain, do not let that stop us from showing hospitality
- Even when we disagree with one another, err on the side of hospitality, (not just a southern thing.)
- Be responsible with God’s grace as a good steward
- We thrive on Grace but know that with freedom that Grace afford
- Arrogance, Apathy, Anger, Selfishness, Coveting, Untruthfulness, and the like cloud and distance us from living in Grace.
- If the teacher allows you to rework your paper if you received a failing grade, don’t wait to fail in the future. God see us as we are.
- Use the gifts you have been given
- Don’t wait to get started for the new equipment
- Don’t hesitate to procrastinate
- See that God gives each of us, what we need to begin in faith.
- If you talk, speak God’s word
- Not everyone’s gift is speaking, but if you do, make clear that your message is true in reflecting God’s Word and not our twist on God’s word.
- If you serve, rely on God’s strength alone
- Not everyone is good at responding and acting when it comes to sharing your faith, but know that God does not take a summer break from expecting us to trust God’s strength and not rely on ours alone.
- The Goal: All this, so that God get’s the glory in all things through Jesus Christ
The Catch/Hook: Final exam is the same as daily exams.
- Do you wait and study only when you must?
- Do you procrastinate?
- Do you get lost in the getting prepared to learn and lead and are so organized but never find God’s strength or grace?
- Do you give us when it get’s difficult?
- Do you find yourself distracted?
- 1 Peter is a prayerful call to action and accountability
- The Teacher has left the room but will show up at any moment, what type of student will you and I become?
Hear the Good News!
Jesus is our strength and teacher
Jesus is our grace and hope
God’s Holy Spirit is our guide and power
If Christ’s return is today, tomorrow or 10,000 years from now, the final exam is in progress.
I am the gate.
Jesus said, he was that gate.
The metaphor of a gate.
Is the gate open or closed?
In or Out: What side of the gate?
Jesus is the gate, we trust the gate.
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. [NRSV]
Imagine having a four-hour walk home?
Travel experiences: WALKING
- We walk from our homes to our cars to parking lots to our destinations.
- We might walk for “race-for-a-t-shirt” or
- a fund or awareness event to show support
- we might walk to exercise for health
- we might walk on a hike to see the view
- What about walking to be spiritual present with someone?
Many would say that’s not for me.
[Note: Honestly, I am not sure why mini-pilgrimages have not been the tradition on Easter afternoon?]
- Maybe walk home from church on Easter?
- Or, walk back to church Easter Sunday evening for communion?
Travel Stories can be very powerful.
When we travel with someone, we have concentrated time together.
- Have your ever recounted funny, interesting or challenging events?
- Past vacation?
- Meet new friends who were strangers on a previous vacation. The Hymian’s
- Events that happened where you are passing on the road?
- Anticipating what will happen when we arrive at our destination?
- Sharing common adventures
If you had four hours travel time. How would you use that time in your car?
Would your faith come up as a topic of conversation?
If it did, What verses would you turn to reveal Jesus to a stranger?
Before we get to Bible verses:
- Some people are better at striking up a conversation than others.
- Some people are slow of heart to believe.
- Some people know the details of the story yet they doubt or are still searching.
A: There is not one verse that reaches and convinces or convicts all people.
A: Some people are uncomfortable discussing their faith and spiritual life
A: I’m uncomfortable when people talk about their faith with it is different from mine.
A: Isn’t it more polite to not be pushy.
Question: What is Jesus’ model?
- He is observant, see’s the sadness and disappointment
- He is inquisitive, asking for clarification
- He is instructional, drawing on scripture to transform the sadness and disappointment.
- He is well studied, and well prepared to share.
One Easter Sunday, the first appearance of Jesus is modeling what disciples are called to do.
When the words are not enough, he resorts to actions.
There is a problem with the saying: “Your Actions may be the only Gospel someone sees”.
- It assumes we have the heart of God in all our actions
- It assumes how we act always reflects God
- It assumes we are intentional about modeling our faith in all situations.
- It assumes we know why we do the things we do in the name of Christ.
All my actions are not always reflecting Jesus.
I need to know the core of my faith before I rely on actions only.
Think of Train leaving the tracks
If I see the resurrection as God’s ultimate victory over death and complete sacrifice of love for you and for me and name that as the core of my understand of LOVE:
If someone says, I love peanut butter or I love you if you agree with my world view, then are they talking about the same LOVE?
Which do we value more?
God’s heart or our freedom?
God’s word or our comfort?
God’s grace or our opinions?
God’s hope or our answers?
God’s patience or our resourcefulness?
God’s work or our work?
God’s love or
Bottom Line: Easter people need to know the scriptures, AND be ready to show them in action, AND meet people at Christ’s table.
Revealed in Christ
The Big Change in the Meal
Who am I in Christ Jesus
Easter People Celebrate
NARRATOR: As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them,
JESUS: “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
NARRATOR: This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
PROPHET: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
NARRATOR: The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
THE CONGREGATION: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
NARRATOR: One of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,
JUDAS: ”What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?”
NARRATOR: They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying,
DISCIPLES: “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
NARRATOR: He said,
JESUS: ”Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”
NARRATOR: So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said,
JESUS: ”Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
NARRATOR: And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another,
DISCIPLES: “Surely not I, Lord?”
NARRATOR: He answered,
JESUS: ”The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
NARRATOR: Judas, who betrayed him, said,
JUDAS: “Surely not I, Rabbi?”
NARRATOR: He replied,
JESUS: ”You have said so.”
NARRATOR: While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said,
JESUS: ”Take, eat; this is my body.”
NARRATOR: Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying,
JESUS: ”Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
NARRATOR: When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them,
JESUS: ”You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
`I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
NARRATOR: Peter said to him,
PETER: “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”
NARRATOR: Jesus said to him,
JESUS: ”Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”
NARRATOR: Peter said to him,
PETER: ”Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
PRAYER IN THE GARDEN
NARRATOR: And so said all the disciples.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples,
JESUS: ”Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
NARRATOR: He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them,
JESUS: ”I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”
NARRATOR: And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed,
JESUS: ”My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”
NARRATOR: Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,
JESUS: ”So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
NARRATOR: Again he went away for the second time and prayed,
JESUS: ”My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
NARRATOR: Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them,
JESUS: ”Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
NARRATOR: While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying,
JUDAS: ”The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”
NARRATOR: At once he came up to Jesus and said,
JUDAS: ”Greetings, Rabbi!”
NARRATOR: and kissed him. Jesus said to him,
JESUS: ”Friend, do what you are here to do.”
NARRATOR: Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him,
JESUS: ”Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”
NARRATOR: At that hour Jesus said to the crowds,
JESUS: ”Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
NARRATOR: Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said,
ACCUSERS: “This fellow said, `I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'”
NARRATOR: The high priest stood up and said,
HIGH PRIEST: “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?”
NARRATOR: But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him,
HIGH PRIEST: “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
NARRATOR: Jesus said to him,
JESUS: ”You have said so. But I tell you,
From now on you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of Power
and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
NARRATOR: Then the high priest tore his clothes and said,
HIGH PRIEST: “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?”
NARRATOR: They answered,
CHIEF PRIESTS: “He deserves death.”
NARRATOR: Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying,
CHIEF PRIESTS: “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?”
NARRATOR: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said,
SERVANT GIRL: “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”
NARRATOR: But he denied it before all of them, saying,
PETER: ”I do not know what you are talking about.”
NARRATOR: When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders,
SERVANT GIRL: This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
NARRATOR: Again he denied it with an oath,
PETER: ”I do not know the man.”
NARRATOR: After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter,
BYSTANDER: Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”
NARRATOR: Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath,
PETER: ”I do not know the man!”
NARRATOR: At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said:
JESUS: ”Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”
NARRATOR: And he went out and wept bitterly.
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said,
JUDAS: ”I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
NARRATOR: But they said,
CHIEF PRIESTS: “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”
NARRATOR: Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said,
CHIEF PRIESTS: “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.”
NARRATOR: After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him,
PILATE: ”Are you the King of the Jews?”
NARRATOR: Jesus said,
JESUS: ”You say so.”
NARRATOR: But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him,
PILATE: ”Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?”
NARRATOR: But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them,
PILATE: ”Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
NARRATOR: For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him,
PILATE’S WIFE: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”
NARRATOR: Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them,
PILATE: ”Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”
NARRATOR: And they said,
NARRATOR: Pilate said to them,
PILATE: ”Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
NARRATOR: All of them said,
CONGREGATION: “Let him be crucified!”
NARRATOR: Then he asked,
PILATE: ”Why, what evil has he done?”
NARRATOR: But they shouted all the more,
CONGREGATION: “Let him be crucified!”
NARRATOR: So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,
PILATE: ”I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”
NARRATOR: Then the people as a whole answered,
CONGREGATION: “His blood be on us and on our children!”
NARRATOR: So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,
SOLDIERS: ”Hail, King of the Jews!”
NARRATOR: They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
NARRATOR: As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying,
BYSTANDERS: “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
NARRATOR: In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,
CHIEF PRIESTS: “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, `I am God’s Son.'”
NARRATOR: The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice,
JESUS: ”Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
NARRATOR: that is,
JESUS: ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
NARRATOR: When some of the bystanders heard it, they said,
BYSTANDERS: “This man is calling for Elijah.”
NARRATOR: At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said,
BYSTANDERS: “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”
NARRATOR: Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,
CENTURION: “Truly this man was God’s Son!
NARRATOR: Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said,
CHIEF PRIESTS: “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”
NARRATOR: Pilate said to them,
PILATE: ”You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”
NARRATOR: So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
[ To be continued ]