Archive for category #koinoniafellowship

2 Corinthians 6:3-18Christ Focused Living

We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also. [2 COR. 6:3-18 NRSV]

The context for these words are for a time that salvation is needed.

When we have a year of locus in Africa, fires in Austria, flooding in China, global rise of earth quakes, global economic and political unrest, AND a pandemic and all its effects, this would be a GREAT time for some salvation! Am I right?

Paul is describing a time when the church is facing:

afflictions,

hardships,

calamities,

beatings,

imprisonments,

riots,

labors,

sleepless nights,

hunger”

Is this verse meant for today?

Our challenge by Paul is to live and operate by:

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

The tools we use are “weapons of righteousness for

the right hand and for the left;

in honor and dishonor,

in ill repute and good repute.

When we are faithful in living, thinking and behaving in these ways in response to our faith we can expect:

Thank you?

Praise?

Affirmation?

Wealth?

Ease from problems?

No! This is the list we think and the world expects

The reality of believing, thinking and acting this way:

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;

as unknown, and yet are well known;

as dying, and see—we are alive;

as punished, and yet not killed;

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;

as poor, yet making many rich;

as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

This is why we don’t always operate from these:

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

And yet we wonder why we feel that:

don’t see God at work,

Why the church is facing division,

And is cast off as irrelevant to the worlds agenda

Where do we correct our mission and faith with God’s gifts as our hope and treasures?

Purity comes from God, not ourselves

Knowledge comes from God not our creation

Patience is God’s work

Kindness, holiness, love, truth… all come from God

The challenge is to be filling “in God”,

As the chaos and disorder,

the darkness and distraction,

the division and injustice

All these are not good things,

these are not life giving,

these are not truth

These are the fruit of seeking meaning without God

But how?

  1. Do not be yokes with unbelievers
  2. What do righteousness and wickedness have in common
  3. What fellowship can light have with darkness
  4. what harmony is there between Christ and Belial
  5. Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
  6. What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

[2 Cor 6:14-18: NRSA]

A Koinonia fellowship is at its strongest for the world when not dependent on the world.

Citizenship has been a treasure through history. The only reason Paul was not executed for the many things he did that were disobeying the Roman laws was that his citizenship provided him some measure of due process under the law.

But Paul is discussing a dual citizenship that we balance. When we try to serve two master and they are in agreement everything appears to be good, but when our worldly citizenship conflicts with our heavenly citizenship, and we are not choosing God, we are ultimately choosing chaos and death.

Don’t hear my words as the freedom to be disobedient. Recall the list of choosing Gods ways over the worlds ways:

purity, – without sin, how other than Christ?

knowledge, – make a brain and order the universe first

patience, – how many years has God been patience with us

kindness, – mercy is being kind when not deserved

holiness of spirit, – we are not holy without God

genuine love, – unconditional, not self serving love

truthful speech, and – truth threat comprehends the above

the power of God”. Our only answer

It begins in the awareness that we out of bounds (in sin relation)

That following prayer and confession

That follow repentance and change of thinking and behaving

That follows aligning with God and not with the world when there is disagreement with God

We are an society of achievement, wealth, and power…

We are quick to give loyalty to whose who have the greatest

And we trade for God.

I have been surrounded by this pass for the past two weeks:

(Not just the familiar vs 14)

2 Chronicles 7: 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17 As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, “You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.’ 19 “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will pluck you up from the land that I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21 And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?’ 22 Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.’ “

We cannot say we have not been warned?

Do you want to show the world our only hope and salvation?

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

Do you want to hand over our salvation to technology, governments, and the dreams of worldly leaders? Then count on even more

Who do we serve because they are holy, knowing, patient, merciful, genuine, love and filled with divine power over the universe?

Who will you serve?

Who will we serve come Sunday afternoon? And M-S?

The answer is too simple:

The prayer for every day – throughout the day and night.

This is our hope and strength

This is what God is wait for from the whole world:

Lord have mercy on me a sinner.”

“Model and make my life your today, for your will.”

“You are my hope and salvation”

“I forsake, yield and give back to the world what is the worlds”

“Use my life today for your work and witness”

We must first be in Christ to focus on the world else we are blind to the worl

OR

keep fighting, crying, dividing and dying.

It remains our choice… isn’t God patient? Good?

Hand over the reigns of your heart, and soul, and strength

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Known for singing John 12:12-15

A Koinonia Fellowship is know for singing.

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” [NRSA: John 12:12-15]

John’s Gospel recounts Jesus’s arrival on what we usually think of as Palm Sunday. Today, I invite us to look at this passage as the response of the people when God comes near.

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Bill Gaither|Songwriters: GENE BARTLETT, CHARLES GABRIEL, C.D. MARTIN © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.”

Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

Precious Lord Take My Hand (Tommy Dorsey:1938]

Ps 16:8 I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born in Villa Rica, a small rural town near Atlanta, Georgia. In 1919 he moved to Chicago. Most of his musical training was in the church, but he also studied and played jazz and blues. He later combined jazz and blues with religious texts, giving birth to gospel music. In 1931, along with Magnolia Lewis-Butts and Theodore Roosevelt Frye, he established the first gospel choir at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Chicago. He went on to lead the gospel choir at Pilgrim Baptist Church, which he led for 60 years. Dorsey was also instrumental in founding the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses (NCGCC) in 1933. The convention taught choirs all over the country how to sing gospel music. [Dianne Shapiro, from “Gospel” in Encyclopedia of Chicago (accessed 8/12/2020)]

Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand, I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone, Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light, Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Deuteronomy 33:26 There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, majestic through the skies. [NRSA]

How Great Thou Art, [Boberg: 1885]

Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Boberg in 1885. It was translated into German, then Russian, then into English Stuart K. Hine, who also added two verses of his own. It was made famous by George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows during the Billy Graham crusades.

Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed, Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art, Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart

Reckless Love, written by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson

Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me, you have been so, so good to me. Before I took a breath, you breathed Your life in me, You have been so, so kind to me O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, O, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine, I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away, O, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, the Lord,

James 5:13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

Lord I lift Your Name on High: written by Rick Founds in 1989.

Lord, I lift Your name on high, Lord, I love to sing Your praises, I’m so glad You’re in my life, I’m so glad You came to save us

Psalm 95:1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

What a Beautiful Name, written by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

What a beautiful Name it is, What a beautiful Name it is, The Name of Jesus Christ my King, What a beautiful Name it is, Nothing compares to this, What a beautiful Name it is, The Name of Jesus

Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. [Variation of Pharaoh, Pharaoh, let my people Go from Louie, Louie using the tune and variant words from 1963 hit version by The Kingsmen.]

Revelation 11:1 NRSA Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there,

O Come to the Altar, written by Chris Brown, Mack Brock, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? Jesus is calling, Have you come to the end of yourself, do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling, O come to the altar, The Father’s arms are open wide, Forgiveness was bought with, The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Micah 5:4 NRSA and he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth;

 Great are You Lord, written by David Leonard, Jason Ingram, and Leslie Jordan

You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness, You give hope, You restore, Every heart that is broken, And great are You, Lord, It’s Your breath in our lungs, So we pour out our praise, We pour out our praise, It’s Your breath in our lungs, So we pour out our praise to You only

John proclaims that when we see God, when we need God, when we praise God, when we thank God, When share God: We sing

Amazing Grace: v3 John Newton 1779,

The Lord has promised good to me. His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.

He Lives: 1933 by Alfred Henry Ackley.

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

Here I am to Worship:by singer-songwriter Tim Hughes

Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness, Opened my eyes, let me see, Beauty that made this heart adore You, Hope of a life spent with You, Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God

May the world know that we are the body Christ as we go out sing.

  • Sing in Joy, sing sorrow
  • Sing in times of faith and doubt
  • Sing in the presence of God and when we are in the far country
  • Sing on Sunday and on the darkest night
  • Sing when you know the words and tunes, and sing when you are learning new songs
  • Sing the praise of God, Follow the Spirit, Sing that the world know our heart belongs to Christ

Copy-write for lyrics and information credited to authors and writers. There is no intent to misuse or miss credit anyone. If this record needs additional notation please advise. CCLI# 1403064: Rock Spring UMC

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Luke 9:51 In My Mind I’m Gone to Jerusalem

Garden of Gethsemane

*A Koinonia Fellowship is focused on the God’s Presences

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” [NRSA: Lk 9:51]

Why one verse?

This verse is the central turning point in the Gospel of Luke. Everything in the first half of Luke is leading to this moment, and everything following leads to the cross.

We all are grateful for the formative works of grace, the loving relationships, the moments of study, service, and worship that shape our lives to the point in which we recognize God’s love for us personally. Our moment of salvation was accomplished in Christ millennia ago, but there are moments in our own relationship with God in Christ that we accept and acknowledge this in our lives personally.

And within this moment we may at first begin this transformation spiritually, physically, or mentally, but today we make the turning point in Jesus’s life and ministry and learn more about our own journeys.

This one first holds the most dramatic actions of Jesus “setting his face on Jerusalem.” 

It is not that Jesus has learned everything at this point, and no further testing or temptation would follow, it is the defining moment that we dedicate the remaining days on this earth to the work of God in our lives.

I had grown up going to church all my life. I mean my earliest memories are being with church families, doing church activities, worship and fellowship dinners. I played at the church, I ate at the church, I took naps at the church. I had a desk in my father’s office made where I did my work while he did his. I am privileged, not because I’m (white-middle-class-educated-male), I’m privileged because I have been surrounded by people devoted to serving, worshiping, seeking Christ from my earliest years. 

On one hand, there are those who are overloaded by this and rebel after a childhood of church. 

I found strength from Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, confirmation leaders, choirs, drama teams, worship teams, and summer camp… In fact, it was a camp Glisson that I put all the pieces together and recognized all the words, songs, and services were calling me personally to the heart of Christ. 

Every day since that Thursday evening, I have been growing toward God’s heart. Now some days I have grown stagnate and even run the other way at times, but I have never been out of God’s sight and grasp. 

The mission trips, the call to ministry, the school work, the line of congregations, dissertation, and daily work of being a United Methodist minister can point back to a pew, on the second row on the right-hand side of the chapel, where the heart was turned toward Christ. 

Your journey has been different from mine, and no one person’s journey is to that of someone else. My advisor at Gammon Seminary, Jonathan Jackson, was a classmate of Martin Luther King Jr.  He shared that he struggled to be like Martin but could never live up to the dedication that Martin expressed and he felt that he had failed himself and God. In his heart he heard God speak, clear as day, telling him. I only needed on Martin and I only need one Johnathon Jackson, set your path on becoming Johnathon. 

Jesus spent much time preaching, healing, teaching and traveling, until Luke 9:51. When he set his face on Jerusalem, he had a singular mission. 

What did it mean to head to Jerusalem?

For Jesus particularly it meant the precious gift of the cross and his glory and grace for us. But, why did thousands journey to Jerusalem through the years and millions still today?

Why Jerusalem?

  • Jerusalem is the place where Abraham offers his adult son, his only son, as an offering to God. 
  • Jerusalem is the place of the temple, the art, the holy of holies, the dwelling place of God where God’s people came to worship, make offerings, and find the home that was guided by the Holy Spirit to rest. 
  • Jerusalem is the place of pilgrimage. The spiritual journey of walking in the steps where generations of previous worshippers and servants have traveled to learn, find, and celebrate God’s power and grace.
  • Jerusalem is filled with demarcations of other religions and that is no different as Egyptian, Babylonian, Roman, and Muslim faiths and cultures have known its power and significance. 
  • Jerusalem for Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s love revealed on the cross.
  • We could have political discussions about Jerusalem today, and 
  • Jerusalem for us is the tourist destination for some, territory to defend and protect for others, but what is it for us in Rock Spring?

Jerusalem is a witness of God’s promises and presence fulfilled

  • It is the call to worship
  • It is the reminder that God has a purpose for us in Christ
  • It is the living history to shape our present and our future.
  • It is the promise of restoration, resurrection, and return to take us home.
  • Jerusalem is the place that Christ has promised to first reveal himself when he comes. 

Off all the signs to anticipate it is not weathers, wars, and fammon: THE sign is the coming of Christ for the children of God, for the church, for the elect, for the righteous. 

What’s the big deal about Jerusalem?

If we say we have no need for Jerusalem, we have no need to be looking for Christ.

The Koinonia Fellowship is the people of Christ who anticipate Christ’s return today and every day until he comes.

  • Jerusalem continues to be a place of learning and preparing
  • A place of prayer and service
  • A place of worship and spiritual connection…

The key is looking there for the moment Christ’s face is revealed again to us. 

  • We know Jesus in the words of a song
  • We know Jesus in the words of scriptures
  • We know Jesus in the hands of loving service
  • We know Jesus in the symbols and rituals of our faith
  • We know Jesus in the fellowship of the Church…

But there is coming the moment that Jesus’s face will be set upon those who he will come to take with him to the place he has gone to prepare for those who believe and trust.

It is much more important to seek the face of Christ than the signs of the end.

  • For all those who wonder if the wars and rumors of wars,
  • The unrest in ours and all the nations of the world
  • The signs of nature and politics that begin to fit into place,

Therefore, our task is to not wait to find for ourselves that moment of turning and yield, giving ourselves to accepting Christ

And for those who have accepted we are called to lead, encourage, and disciples others who are struggling to find Christ for themselves.

The church may be in a stressful and even oppressed time, yet we are all-the-more needed to help a word that is lost in politics, fear, worry, shame, sin, and self to find that Christ indeed has died and lives for them.

Imagine facing these weary days without the promises of Christ? We cannot be true to Christ and ignore the spiritual hunger and spiritual blindness of those wandering through these days. 

Our mission, work, and calling is now and always to make disciples of Jesus Christ, which means helping people turn their hearts to Christ, the cross, Jerusalem, and grace God has revealed for us all.

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MT 5:43-47 Loving you is going to hard

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? [NRSA: Matthew 5:43-47]

Koinonia Fellowship is hard

a.       We are already doing what is hard these days, why tackle something else that is hard?

b.       It is the one thing that God has commanded us to do.

c.       It is the motivation on God’s part that provides for our own salvation.

d.       Finally, we see what heaven is like, every time we love someone who is difficult to love.

e.       And if do don’t want to love then we are not likely to enjoy, being the body of Christ, heaven, nor eternity with God and the al People of God.

Typically this is how the conversations start: 

Q: Preacher, When it comes to loving our enemies, the favorite example, “do you mean we are suppose to love someone like Hitler?”

A: the easy to say, but difficult to do answer is: a 100% yes!, but..  

Interruption: 

If you are sharing a conversation with someone and they respond to you by saying, “Yes, but ..” then 99% of the time they think they are being polite or kind, and follow up explaining why your wrong with their perspective. It is a good way to start or continue an argument or have someone stop communicating?

Return to the example

In this case, our answer to the radical question, “Are we we suppose to love someone like Hitler?”, will answer with this question: “is there someone who need to learn how to love more than a Hitler?” 

In this case, the yes is a Yes!, and the “but” is a qualification that it is not easy to follow through in action with the words about being loving. 

In the example of Hitler, there is nothing acceptable about his beliefs, leadership, behavior, or role in history. Someone filled with evil is not our excuse to judge them and skip loving them as the person of God’s creation that has become so twisted. 

Our role is not to judge, it is to be witness to a world of sin, evil, corruption and  destruction, a doorway to the grace of God.

How easy it was for people to adopt the group think, to fear retaliation, to not want to take a stand, to exchange the words of faith for the compliance of the community. But let us not be stuck on the character of history.

We have plenty of people that we would not want to have lunch with, not want to invite into our homes, not what to sit next to – even in church. If you started a list of people be careful because these may be the very people God is calling you to reach out with your witness of love and grace.

This is where the words of love come to life and reveal what we hope for in heaven.  

Daily we are surrounded with the push and pull of people calling for us to be politically intolerant of someone else. There is not a parable, teaching, or example where Jesus says for us to divide up people in the groups and to hate one and love the other. That’s the task of politics these days.. It is not our command, goal, or charge.

Action 1

The First step is to have a reversal prayer: When I hear some, I try my best to give that moment to God. Sometimes I fail, and social media is vicious. I am hopeful we will soon no longer be dependent on FB to provide our streaming. (we will share it on multiple platforms, but no longer require people to use FB to share our worship, that’s like only using wine in communion for those who struggle with alcohol, an aside.)

When we are confronted with someone difficult to love or to think of in a loving way, begin to look at them as God see them. God loves us while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us before we ask for his help. Someone who is our enemy be based on something about them, ourselves, or both. 

The prayer is this. “God help me to see the world from their perspective, your perspective, and see the sins and evil in my own life. Transform us all to your will and heart. Amen.” Or something toward seeing these three perspectives.

The second action is not just pray but make a first step toward loving.

An action is not simply a good thought and a hurried prayer. Allowing the words of our faith and heart to marinate with God’s word and love, prepares us to begin with INTENTIONAL steps of loving, reconciliation, forgiveness, invitation, opening dialogue. 

For those stuck on the Hitler example, there are times that were a mortally at risk for showing love. What would Germany have looked like if every person stepped forward in love rather than either joining the crowd or keeping to themselves?

The End of Days:

It has been the most frequent question I have been asked in the month of July. I offer the two things we do know from scripture: While no one know the hour or the day, we all can see the seasons and signs.

Behind that question is desire to have some order in the chaos we experience in the world. The more hurricanes, tropical storms and tornados, flooding and earthquakes in China, pandemic threats, political ultimatums, and the drama of being on the winning side, not to mention that threat to split our denomination…

a)       Its fair to ask is this it? If yes, then we just need to hang on and be faithful a little while longer, 

b)      If no, we don’t have to deal with the tribulation AND all this chaos.. 

People are asking this because they want to know is God going to show up and fix things?

Is God going to speak those words to justice and healing to the nations?

Is God going to let us suffer and die, ask the persons with leprosy outside the city?

Is God hearing our suffering and struggles, our fears and lack of control? 

Do God love us?

Is God’s love based on events of the world, or is God’s love for us greater than all the chaos??

Step 1. Reversal Prayer, Step 2. Taking the first steps in ACTing in love. Step 3.

Do not measure love by the world’s standards. 

We need God’s love most when we are not pacified by being part of the majority.

We need God’s love most when its not easy to see with our eyes and heart alone.

We needs God’s love when we are afraid, broken and pressed down more than when we can manage.

And if “WE” need that much love, then so do our enemies.

Go back to the idea of a list of enemies. Don’t list them all, but who are the first three people who you picture or name when you hear enemies. (Don’t list groups of people, name the first personal names that fill you heart and mind.)

1.       Pray for that person all day, all afternoon, all evening. Ask God to help you see the world and you from their perspective. Pray for God to transform their heart and your heart to find some point of grace between you.

2.       Pick up the phone, reach out in person/at a distance, write a prayerful email, send a love letter to that person telling them what you are praying for them and yourself. Make the first step.

2B. To not act, to not take the first step is to not trust God’s love to heal. Try and fail is rewarded, ignoring is participating in the lie that we are loving as we have been loved.

3.       The Reward for loving first, is the treasure of seeing who God deals with us in Christ. God has no idea if we will love back, God has been disappointed many times… And yet, it is that never failing love that is my only hope and grace. 

We don’t have to love people’s ideas, behaviors, choices… and we don’t have to give them what they want us to give them to prove our love… the love is what we are commanded to do by God, with God, for God. 

Failure is to not try loving because we are afraid, or have failed before. Koinonia people love because Christ loved us first, and continues to love us always. Hear the Good News and live it!

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1 Corinthians 13 “Love Always”

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSA: 1 Cor 13]

This chapter is both wonderful and intimidating. We love it and we held to its words and love.

Paul calls us to “love like we are family.” 

Families do not always agree. Families fight, divorce, hold grudges, abuse, neglect… why in the world would we want to love like a family’s love?

Too often we label our failures of trying to be a loving family as the standard. Therefore, we confuse reality with the model that is before us.

Instead of modeling family experience, we look to the fellowship God reveals for us:

Loving as Paul describes is 

1) a love based in God. What is love? Look and listen to God for God’s examples of love and loving relationship.

2) a love that can hold people in relationship even when their thoughts and behaviors are out of bounds. (I love you even though you are doing ‘wrong’ or thinking ‘wrong’.

3) a love that is not grounded in emotions but loves us in relationship to God even when you and I both have failed to love as God loves.

The Framework of God’s family: Based in Love, Loving the sinner, Love is Eternal

It’s important to clarify: I family operating on God’s love will look like the love described in this chapter. And, a Church family or koinonia fellowship, operating on God’s love, will look and sound like the relation described in chapter 13. But it is not automatically true.

We are a church denomination, that has actively talked about divorce for 22 years. We have been more focused on trying to keep the family together than learning to love the sinners despite their sins. We have aligned ourselves in the those who are correct and those who are wrong, blaming each other for the current reality. WHEN the reality is that we have accepted this lie as our truth.

The Church has always been called to be Christ’s body and not ours. It even sounds awkward to hear ourselves say: RS Church is Christ’s church, we usually say, “RS Church is ‘my’ church.” My service, my music, my class, my friends, my history, my offering, my, my my… 

Christ came to give himself for sinners. He always named the sin, and forgives the sinner, so that new life my eternally be in God.

Talking about loving people and actually loving people is the difference in saying the latest slogan or catch phrase about who we love, or who we support is not, in itself, AND loving enough to actually stay in relationship with God’s strength. This is to love as Paul describes. It is not at easy when we deal with the worst in each other.

Marriage

There is a reason that many couples include this passage in their wedding ceremony as it is the description of the type of relationship that are setting as their measure. At the foundation of a marriage it is a good base to start. When half of all marriages end in divorce we must reexamine how we love. 

Love sets boundaries for everyone in the relationship. When we are out-of-bounds, we break the relationship of love. Through GRACE God works to redevelop trust and rebuild. But our continued disobedience leads us to end relationships. Sometimes ending a relationship is the only way we can move forward.

Social Love

In society, we recognize that we might love our enemies, but their behaviors so violate trust and respect that we incarcerate them to separate them from others. This is not the model of love, but it is the accountability of not loving.

•             Just as God is revealed in creation, in the purposeful design of creation, with its order, beauty, and seasons of life, death, and renewal of life. 

•             God’s love can be seen throughout creation, in God providing for what we need not only to eat and drink, but to challenge and expand our minds, and to live together in community.

Pieces are the Whole

Wisdom, knowledge, faith, sacrifice are all parts of the relationship, but love is the reason behind them all. Prophecies, knowledge, physical nature all need to mature, but only mature in love.

Reclaiming the Heart and Hope for our Relationships

Love is..  (This activity ALWAYS requires God’s help, when we are on our own, we our out of bounds)

Love is patient; kind; not envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, not selfish, irritable, nor resentful; it rejoices in doing what is Godly, what is true. It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things; Love never ends. 

Starting with Confession

Which of these do we struggle?

Proactive

Օ – Patient

Օ – Kind

Օ – Rejoices in Truth

Օ – Seeks what is Godly

Օ – Bears

Օ – Believes

Օ – Hopes

Օ – Endure

Reactive / opposite

Օ – Envious / Content

Օ – Boastful / Humble

Օ – Arrogant / Respects

Օ – Rude / Kind

Օ – Selfish / Selfless

Օ – Irritable / Care

Օ – Resentful / Appreciative

Which do we experience from others most?

Proactive

Օ – Patient

Օ – Kind

Օ – Rejoices in Truth

Օ – Seeks what is Godly

Օ – Bears

Օ – Believes

Օ – Hopes

Օ – Endure

Reactive / opposite

Օ – Envious / Content

Օ – Boastful / Humble

Օ – Arrogant / Respects

Օ – Rude / Kind

Օ – Selfish / Selfless

Օ – Irritable / Care

Օ – Resentful / Appreciative

What are the correlations and connections with what we struggle and the struggles of others?

Are they connections that begin in opposition? Then we know where to ask for God’s help.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSA: 1 Cor 13]

Patient and Kind, Truth and Godliness

Bears and Believes, Hopes and Endures

Content and Humble, Respects with Care and Kindness

Selfless and Appreciative. Love is forever.

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Genesis 2:1-3 “A Day of Resting”

Wake up it’s time to rest!

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 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. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. [NRVA]

Mark 2:27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.

Howard Thurman, a preacher, teacher, dean, and mystic, was an black preacher that knows the human condition and the path of a spiritual giant. He shared in sermon and later in in his many books and writings: he describes….

[The Coming to the end of one’s rope… we can’t go on. We just don’t have enough physical energy to move another step or do another chore or face another crisis,

And from some where we find what we call a “second wind” we are able to tap resources that were previously unaccessible. The body seems to know where the secret is and the energy flows. Researches can give descriptions of what happens, but what makes this possible, from where does this second surge come, just when it need to arrive to finish our work

[Though his ministry span from 1900 to 1980] He knew then as we know now: under In uncertain times, we too able to go beyond, the limits of our bodies, with the renewal of our minds, ..and so it must be true with our spirit, also.

It is in the moments of crisis we discover again and again there are resources of spirit, additional resources, other power, new life, That we ONLY discover in the very tests of life. It is here that we find the amount we CAN do, without destroying our joy,

And it is in these moments, in times just as we live now that, This is the gift of God, the gift of God’s work, not our strength, but the necessary resources, at the moment they are required, not before, and not with any extra.] (paraphrased from his own words)

We come to moments of exhaustion and see well trained athletes pedal one more hill in hills with thinking air. We see the fruit of preparing done long ago for this very moments in the battle of competition that the victors have anticipated but not yet realized.

It is with this very breath of God that we face the days in which we live.

I tell you truly that we much cherish the concept and invitation of Sabbath. Just as we push and push and find strength to complete the spiritual heavyweight lifting that surrounds us on every side…. we come to the sabbath and find out hunger and ghost for rest….

If we have arrived at the sabbath are not weary then we have not done the work before us. The weeks of bedrest in my recent recovery have been a powerful reminder of my limitations. The current confinement we all face and test the waters to overcome, we see that it is different, uncomfortable, tentative and uncertain, where we have come to find the very certainty that brings us peace and much find the power of sabbath rest.

In rest that is a different type of work. We rest from our labors and find ourselves spent, yet hungering to hear God, but to hear God, we must stop talking, planing, worrying, preparing, stop doing and be present for God and in God.

With the exception of the first five or six years and two years in college, I have been at work on the sabbath. As a child I tagged along fully dependent on my parents choices and blessings, and in college it was rare that I missed worship, but in al, the other years I have had some responsibility in worship that might at times look, sound and feel like work. I feel I have worked on the sabbath most of my life.

It was not until I met the words of Dr Thurman that I began to immerse myself in Sabbath rest. It is not always on a Sunday, but with out time to surrender ourselves in God we never grasp the fullness God has for us all.

If i am always in control, always responsible, always managing, always going and doing then I leave little to no room for trust, faith, devotions and thus Sabbath rest. We make take turns to assure that one another finds God refreshing and renewing rest.

No this is not a devotions to sleeping. This is not an excuse to be lazy or irresponsible, it is to place all that is of worth and value and ask God to hold the reins and give us the breath, the second wind, the extra resources that we need for the week ahead.

You and I need to ask one another in keeping that sabbath. Again is not about when to cut the grass or when to take a nap… it’s a spiritual part of being a spiritual being.

Let’s practice, join me a a meditation

Closer your eyes, find a comfortable as possible position and let’s everything else got for a few precious moments,

You are a work of art that God has thrown and spun with hope, purpose and love.

You are a child of the Gods breath and have value and meaning to god when we the whole world has other words and no words for you

You have come to find food and drink for your spirit

You have come to experience peace hope and belonging

You have carried much in your mind and with your body and with your emotions.

As you hear distractions give thanks that God has given you the ability to hear, and think and be responsible

In this moment focus toy hearing in the spirt ofGods blowing and moving

Be attentive to how God is reaching out to you personally

It may come in words and sounds, it may be feeling or something better

There may be many things that keep God distance, invite God unto your heart and give your rest.

Speak these words silently to god, OR JUST LOUD ENOUGH TO HEAR YOURSELF

“be my strength be my rest”

“Be in my breath and in be my peace”

“Show me your love, your grace”

“I release my control and trust you with my life”

“ be my strength and be make rest”

Being to open your eye to see, hear, touch, and taste the goodness god has for you and for us all.

Let us pray…. ah Holy Spirit, breath into us your life, your strength, your love. Amen

Luke 10:38-42 MARY AND MARTHA

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.[a] Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [NRSV]

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1 COR 14:26 Koinonia Fellowship Builds the Body of Christ through Loving and Listening

What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. [NRSA]

In chapter 14, 1st Corinthians, Paul is having a conversation with the church Corinth regarding worship for believers and unbelievers and about gifts of the spirit. He is addressing what has become a division in the church between believers and those outside of the community of faith. So in our context of the world today this is an appropriate passage for us to study and learn as the church.

I remind you in our series here on being a koinonia fellowship that we as the church or cold to be intentionally with purpose, working to be a community that brings unity in Christ. It is not just unity for the sake of unity and unity for the sake of of peace and quiet in and that it is unity in the heart of Christ.

And the kernel the core of our lesson today is that as a Quintanilla fellowship we are called to build up the body of Christ and we do that through a variety of ways the the one verse that we draw out of chapter 14 is when it comes to the point of what to do about the division Paul instructs the church: when you come together everybody has a different part of the service everyone has different gifts everyone has different needs and expectations the common purpose is to be worshipful of God to be drawn together seeking the heart of God.

We recognized in the world today and all the division in and fighting, tensions, and passions that are exploding around reflects that not everyone is driving or working toward God’s point much less having the heart of God at the center of what they’re doing.

In our effort to be ecumenical and to be appreciative of the faith of others outside of the church is not our primary calling. We live in a world where the ideology of coexistence of diversity is valued more than the heart of God. It’s centrally clear in the first two of the 10 Commandments to have to worship God and to have no other gone. If our goal is not to find our our joy and our fulfillment and our purpose and our connection in God then we will never find connection with one another.

So our church our kononia fellowship is committed to finding the heart of God even though there are different voices, different agendas, and different ideologies confronting what we do. Our task is to build up the body of Christ to build up the community of faith by drawing people to God through Christ.

Think about a particular conversation that you found yourself in with someone who looks at a given situation from a very different even opposing perspective. It’s very easy for us just to say I’m right you’re wrong unless you see it my way you will continue to be wrong. This response it does not work when there’s no trust and a relationship.

When you read more of this 14th chapter you find Paul is trying to help mediate and help the congregation discern about which things are helpful for believers and which things are helpful for nonbelievers. While we all have gifts and parts of the conversation summer more helpful for those who agree and those who disagree we use different methods in different talents and different parts of what God has given us to build up the community.

At one point in my ministry I had the opportunity to serve a church that had about 1/3 of the members were interracial couples and families. And in this context I recognize that I did not have enough experience in knowing their perspective of the world and the church. They share terrible stories of oppression from both black and white congregations. They shared stories of how children and relationships had been pressured to agree or disagree with Bible verses in a variety of doctrine and dogma from different churches. I found it necessary to go back to seminary to a historically black seminary in Atlanta to audit some classes to gain a better perspective.

After the first class was complete one of the professors introduced me to the admissions director and said if I would consider working on a doctor of ministry and attending as a full-time student that they would give me credit for the classes I had audited. I live 5 miles from the campus at the time and so it is a great opportunity.

One of the classes that I had the opportunity to take in that program was simply to learn to listen to peoples faith stories and in the process a class of 40 people took the entire semester to listen and learn from each other’s faith journeys and faith stories. This was just tremendous help to my ministry not just relating to how to better serve one part of my fold. This experience allowed me to hear passionate stories of of the struggle for faith in a very divided world with common stories that dealt with race but also at the heart of them was an ongoing quest for God reaching out to speak in peoples lives and people responding to that call from God.

That’s the conclusion of the class it became well evident why this was part of the core curriculum because learning to hear gods call through peoples questions and struggles and divisions is the heart of what we do as a koinonia fellowship as the church and it’s a task we need learn.

I admit that I forget and I get caught up and don’t use the same listening skills as often as I may need to but I am reminded of how important they are. One thing you should know about me is that I am a very deep and reflective person when I have time to think and reflect. If you ask me for something instantaneously I don’t give you my best answer. Not all of life forwards the opportunity for the time and patience of of practiced and intentional responses. But as we look around and listen to the world we can see the evidence of not listening. We can see the evidence and proof of not paying attention. We can see the and hear the cries for being heard and being trusted and being accountable in the community around us.

As I had mentioned last week just as looking for the person to blame continues the the power struggle our task as the church is to hear people struggle and find the ways that God has given us gifts and talents to draw each other to respond to that call that God has for all of us.

This draws us back to the first part of this verse 26. “Well what should be done?” This is where we use our fellowship we use the talents of those who are prophetic we use those who can teach we use those who can sing we use those who can teach we use those who can instruct we use those who can build we use all the talents that we have in a way that ultimately builds up the relationships in the world around us.

What do we do?

Listen to the stories of others, is the first step in building relationships. Prior to this that means you and I have to be willing to sit down and spend time with people who think differently without getting upset without reacting negatively without drawing lines in the sand. You know that’s what God does with us we may be sinful and broken and filled with shame and blame and fill in the blank. We see Jesus sitting down with men and women and children those who are healthy and those who are ill, physically, mentally and spiritually.

1. We have to make a commitment to God and others that we want to be in relationship with all persons.

2. We have to trust and use the gifts and resources that God has given us as the body of Christ to be that strength and presents for the world.

3. Vs. 40 “ but all things should be done decently and in order.”

As good Methodist we love those verses that call for order and decency. These two words might be better seen through as process and respect.

The change that needs to occur in our society calls for us to respect even when we are not respected; we are to love where we are not loved; we listen even when we are not listened to by others. This gives us the process of God to speak through us.

Make a commitment today to be an intentional listener to someone who disagrees.. best if this is with a person but even what to hear on the media you choose.

1. Listen for how God is using this person and myself to build up the work of God.

2. Listen for the gifts, talents, experiences you have had that help you identify with what the person is saying.

3. Finally, what can you appreciate, respect, or love about this person?

4. This is the intensity of intention and purpose that koinonia people will go to reach one in the building up In Christ.

It is not easy if it were, politicians would have done it.

The sin of racism will be healed through Christ and our fellowship with him and all Gods people. So get busy!

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