Archive for category Lent C

John 4:10-14 Spiritual Thirst


Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” [NRSV]

Give me a drink:

Give us this day our daily bread. Our bodies need water each day. The proper amount to remain hydrated is varried, but if the general consensus is that our bodies are 50%-70% based on many factors.

Water serves multiple purposes:

  • Water is the primary building block of cells.
  • It acts as an insulator, regulating internal body temperature. This is partly because water has a high specific heat, plus the body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature.
  • Water is needed to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates used as food. It is the primary component of saliva, used to digest carbohydrates and aid in swallowing food.
  • The compound lubricates joints.
  • Water insulates the brain, spinal cord, organs, and fetus. It acts as a shock absorber.
  • Water is used to flush waste and toxins from the body via urine. ref

I have no bucket

Jesus knows that this woman has no bucket, because of the time of day and the lack of others at the well.

Well of Jacob – promised land: Spiritual water – a promise of eternal home.

Gushing up to eternal lifestyle not still water waiting in a well, but living water moving toward us.

What does it mean to spiritually thirst?

Spiritual thirst is the underlying motive that people have to seek after God, to start and continue their search for God.

It could be guilt over sin, it could be a longing for honest community, it could be guidance and direction, among some ideas.

It could be a stark realization that the person has made a giant mess of their life. Driven hard, past empty and now stuck.

Quenching our Spiritual Thirst

  • Living Water is the Building Block of our spiritual self
  • Living Water protects and insulates us in times of temptation and testing.
  • Living Water helps us digest, understand and apply scripture.
  • Living Water lubricates when we get stuck, dry, worn out, afraid.
  • Living Water flushes sin out of our systems and spirits.
  • Living Water is bottled, distributed and provided by God as a living presence in our lives.

So What?

  • Drink Up! Don’t be spiritually dehydrated
  • Look To Jesus and the church for the Bucket!
  • God desires to reach out to our spirit and make us whole.
  • If you find someone needing access to the well, lead them to Living Water.

 

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John 3:1-17 Spirit Born, Spirit Living

bornanewNow there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.  He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”  Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]

1.   Ticket to Ride

  • Nicodemus is having a rabbi-to-rabbi
  • Talking about faith is not having faith
  • Talking about eternal life is accessing spiritual birth
  • Birth comes as a process of conception, maturity, and birth
  • Spiritual Birth is God’s process of bringing Spirit to become alive in us.

2.   Being Born of the Spirit in No Physical Accomplishment

  • Spiritual Birth is God’s Work, not our work
  • We can’t explain salvation into being, The Jesus’s work
  • We can’t scientifically prove salvation, That is Jesus’s work
  • We can’t hold the Spirit, but it can move us like the wind moves the trees.

3.   Spiritual Awakening vs. Spiritual Birth

  • Jesus makes Spiritual birth possible before our awareness
  • Our waking up the Spirit within us is our awakening
  • Philosophers, poets, musicians, lawyers, teachers and scholars have lead people to spiritual awakening but they cannot create the Spirit of God within us.

4.   Wind Blown, Spirit Lead

  • Jesus helps find Jesus in his being and not just in his head and in the words.
  • More than being people of God or followers of Jesus, you and I are people of the Spirit.
  • We are spiritual beings in a physical body.
  • Awakening comes to us when we realize there is more to us than the sum of our parts.

5.   Jesus brings Us to Spiritual Life

  • The many physical and mental things that divide us in society are not of the Spirit.
  • Racism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over people based on the color physical parts
  • Sexism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over a gender.
  • Political polarization is a spiritual problem that is not solved by converting the enemy, it is solved by spiritual awakening to follow God.
  • Division in the church is a spiritual problem. The answer is not getting the colors right or the money right nor is it getting the theology right.
  • The answer is being in right relationship with the Spirit

 

6.   God is doing whatever it takes to save us.

  • Hear the Good News: God is working to save us, not condemn us.
  • When you hear someone talk about church, God or the Bible as judgmental, know their perspective is out of right relationship.
  • God’s work in Jesus is to save us.
  • God’s work in Jesus requires that we see what separates are physical things.

 

Nicodemus is holding on to his own way of thinking, and Jesus is saying the gift of salvation is already available, ONE has to let go of SIN, let go of PRIDE, let go of being CORRECT, Let go of

 

SO WHAT does all that have to do with my life?

  1. Know God is working to love, save and claim us.
  2. Know Jesus makes new birth possible
  3. Know that following Jesus is following the Spirit
  4. Know that following your heart is not the target.
  5. Following the Spirit will let go of selfishness, sin, brokenness, control

 

 

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Matthew 4:1-11 Get Away from Sin

skunkgetaway

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]

There have been an unusually high number of skunks trying to cross the road on Long Hollow and Burning Bush Roads.

The ride smells horrible for days, just when the odor relents there are other carcasses on the road and the stench continues for a few more days.

Sin and Temptation to Sin are equally as persistent

Confession Time: What are you tempted. Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Lust, Fear, Laziness, Apathy, Arrogance start my list. Whats on your list?

Jesus’ temptation covers a wide, wide range.

  • Physical Hunger: strength. It takes more than satisfying the body to eternally satisfied
  • Physical Health: heart and mind. It takes more than a single act of healing or protect to have eternal salvation
  • Self will: mind, you can fool yourself all of time, and that can fool everyone except God.

Lk 10:27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’

  • one does not live by bread alone
  • do not put your Lord God to the test
  • away with you, Worship God and serve only him.

Jesus was tempted and tested.

  • Jesus was tested by the devil in the wilderness.
  • Jesus was tested at the most vulnerable time. (at the end of the fast,
  • Jesus was tested with integrity (at issue is the why of sacrifice, cross, why not just skip the suffering and hard parts.
  • Jesus was tested when the whole world was at stake

Temptation and Testing are Real for us

Jesus responds with scripture, not for the devil’s benefit but for his own reference and strength.

Bear Encounters  [Direct from the National Parks Service website] Ref to Jesus to show similarities are not on the nps site.

Once a bear has noticed you and is paying attention to you, additional strategies can help prevent the situation from escalating.

Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal.[Jesus starts the conversation directly leading the situation] Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.

Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by woofing, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.

Pick up small children immediately.

Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.

Make yourselves look as large as possible [Jesus started relying on scripture] (for example, move to higher ground).

Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.

Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.

If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase fleeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.

Leave the area or take a detour. [Jesus ends the stand-off, and calls for the devil to leave.] If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.

Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.

Ultimately, it is having the strength to say, no, and get away from me.

 

 

Jesus models how to deal with temptation, Go back to the Garden, the same remedy

Address it for what it is, head-on

Rely on the strength of scripture and God’s presence to speak, not our spin or the twisting ideas of others.

Jesus is in charge, calling for the devil/evil to leave and have no power over. [The devil can’t make you do anything]

Choose, this day whom you will serve and follow God and no one else.

Practice: Get away from me.

Name sin and temptation for what it is in your life

Rely on God’s word and strength to be your starting point

Finally, Get away!! You take responsibility for your own choice and choose not to eat from the tree at the center of the garden.

 

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2 Corinthians 5.16-21 LENT: Your Jesus is Showing 20160306 RSUMC

reflect_jesusFrom now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [NRSV]

The One sentence sermon: Because of God’s work of grace in Christ makes our spirit  new, we are charged with a ministry of doing the same with the world through Christ.

Paul Case for the Church:

  1. God has been busy.
    1. God has changed the world, the rules and has changed us.
    2. The rules and boundaries have changed.
    3. We are no longer in control and no longer responsible for our salvation.
    4. Because God lived, died and conquered death, we now know God, in this new resurrection life.
    5. Everything old has passed away.
    6. Everything is being made new
  2. God’s goal is to make things whole.
    1. Reconciliation: God making our relationship whole.
    2. Why would God want to reset the relationship with us? The old ways are not working for us.
    3. What are the old ways?
      1. Choosing to Trust God with the purpose of our living.
      2. Choosing What God would want for us, because we trust God’s love and authority
      3. Choosing not because death is the alternative, rather because trusting God is
        1. Good
  3. God is working through us, just as God worked through Jesus.
    1. Ministry of Reconciliation
    2. Work as Ambassadors
    3. Being whole is God reflects our purpose,
    4. get your Jesus Shine on, show them, Chrost

 

Ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Official spokespersons and witnesses of Jesus.

  • Because
  • In Christ we are a new creation, the old passes away,
  • This is made possible by God, through Jesus, for a ministry of reconciliation.
  • We are entrusted with God’s message of reconciliation,
  • As resident representatives.
  • God appeal is make through us, when we are in Christ.

Ministry of reconciliation:

Be Reconciled, find the common ground, that leads to truce, which gives space for steps toward what is consistent with both parties and for Christians that is when we recognize that we are sinners, made new in Christ, to be witnesses to others sinful, broken, hurting folks toward the whole world accepting the work of Grace God has done through Christ for us all.

  • Be reconciled is be working toward Christ.
  • Be Ambassadors of the Journey
  • Be come the Child of God, through Christ, for the transformation of the world.
  • Key verse for being United Methodist

so what?

Applied to how we relate to sin, shine the light of Christ on our family, neighbor, communion, nation and world.. Show Christ

  • sometimes Jesus says take a sword other times put them away
  • sometimes Jesus says come to me and at the same time go and sin no more
  • sometimes Jesus rides in triumphantly and walks on water, other time he disappears in the crowd
  • sometimes Jesus says feed the hungry and  times he says eat this bread

To reflect Christ is neither conservative nor liberal

To reflect Christ is allow the new creation to thrive and the old self to let go

To reflect Christ is to be close enough to Christ, by faith/trust, that it’s Christ the world sees

Go let God make is so through Christ, Shine on!

 

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Luke 13.1-9 Lent3 Bearing Fruit Let’s Get Figgy 20160228

figs.jpg
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “ [NRSV]

Shootings, terror incidences, oppresses and abuses!! It feels as if each day brings terrible news of violence and tragedies. We either struggle to renew our claim to hope or add to the calluses built on the previous tsunamis of chaos and generations of apathy.

But from these witnesses of evil we look and hope for the good. We hear people ask:

  • Is the racism of the systems that cause police to unjustly do their jobs or is it the lawlessness of thug culture to blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
  • Are we to blame drugs and alcohol, those who produce and traffic them, or those who use them for the death and mayhem associated with their abuse, or those who stand by and watch to only direct blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
  • Are those killed as victims of holy wars made especially righteous for their martyrdom or are they only casualties of evil. Where is the good? Are we safe? Are we Saved?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why do bad people seem to get away with anything?
  • Why do the good die young?
  • Did those faithful and innocent folks loose salvation because their deaths were tainted with the evil acts of an oppressive government? This question, like those above are put to Jesus for understanding:

A Question, An Answer. A Warning, and a Parable.

Jesus is asked a question. He gives a straightforward answer. He adds a warning and teaches with a parable.

  • Is the life of a faithful person of more value than the life of a criminal?
  • Is the life of a victim more important than the life of an oppressor?
  • Is the life of an innocent person of more worth than the existence of a thug?
  • Is the life of a politician worth less than a… well you know what I mean.

Jesus gives an answer:

Are you ready? The answer is.. No!

Not complicated, not filtered, not qualified, no need for interpretation. Just, No.

No the life of the innocent, the victim, the faithful one is no less valued to God than the life of the criminal, the oppressor, or the thug.

  • Which leads to Jesus’s warning.
  • Our salvation, value/existence are connected to our relationship with God in this life.
  • WARNING: Worry about repenting more than blaming.
  • Worry about grace instead of rules and laws

Focus on God instead of yourself or anything that leads you away from God.

Crazy Questions: This warning leads us to ask questions:

  • Are the Jews Going to Heaven?
  • Are the Muslim Lost?
  • If someone has not been baptized are they saved?

Answer is not about words and thoughts as much as it is about actions

Jesus answers with a WARNING:

  • Were they trying to live a life that leads to God?
    • Can you look at their lives and see God at work in them?
  • Were they working with the hope of finding God?
    • Were they working to assure themselves an entrance ticket or a relationship with God?
  • Was God an add-on to a host of things they did?
    • Was God the reasons they woke up live and lied down to rest?
  • Are you more worried about what you can’t control
    • or more assured with what God CAN control?

The Warning: Don’t live or die without repenting.

REPENTANCE: Turning one’s life toward God’s heart.

  • Repentance is not about the words we speak and the thoughts we think
  • Repentance is the fruit of a searching heart
  • Repentance is the evidence of our struggle toward God and overcoming evil.
  • Repentance is active, observable and gives at witness to others and encouragement to ourselves.

The Parable: Jesus uses a time of worry, fear and evil as a time for faith and fruitfulness.

The Fig Tree

It should be cut down, but it is not, because the gardener has patience and grace

The prescription is for intentional work, nutritious effort and waiting for fruit.

The Goal is fruit

  • The Process is Grace
  • The Danger is to
  • Not work
  • Not Study, Struggle and Share
  • To end up empty

The Challenge:

  • This is a day to work on the relationship
  • This is a day to study, pray, serve, forgive, love, teach, question, grow
  • This is a day to look for the presence of God bearing fruilt
  • If there is not fruit, the get to work.

BECAUSE: No fruit waists the soil, wastes the trust, wastes the grace, wastes the time.

So What?

  • The question is not about are we saved?
  • The question is God’s presence obvious in my life, thought, words, and actions?
  • The question is what am I waiting for, if not for God?
  • Are the things and thoughts that consume me, bringing God closer to me and closer to God’s people, or not?
  • If you don’t see the fruit, get to work, add some fellowship, worship, study and service and wait for God to work through God’s process.

Begin by the act of spiritual inventory:

Do I need to repent? Do I need God? Want God? Have I got it covered?

Ask your neighbor: Where do you see God at work in my life? Tell your neighbor the truth because their salvation weighs in the balance.

Or keep to yourself, mind your own business, assume the best and stay away from your enemies the best you can… that is not what Jesus said.

Jesus said, the harvest is coming, surly. Where’s fruit? (Where’s the beef? dated, ref)

—–Ramblings

-When we gather with one another at the funeral home or around the pews at times of shared grieving, we struggle for comfort and perspective and utter questions

-As each day grows closer to the November election, the shouts and rants of politicians and publicists point rear-view fingers of blame, current insults of shame, and future dreams of promise filled salvation for those on their side. Some are compelled to take sides, while others retreat into the camps of apathy and indifference.

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John 4:5-42 Dehydration JUMC 20140323

dehydration

So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
[NRSV]

Combating Daily Dehydration

Spiritual thirst is daily
Thirst is satisfied with eternal water
It’s not a one sip for life and your inoculated

In the habits of daily bread, needs and chores come the invitation to begin a regiment of spiritual drinking

The Woman says:

I want water I don’t have to work to receive. Not realistic. Invitation is to start drinking

The Woman Sees more than the water and work:

The leap of faith is made with Jesus reveals the truth about her life and relationships.

The Shift comes in being known and being loved.

Jesus speaks the truth and judges with love and grace, this is the transforming power of the Gospel.

The woman stops talking about her work and starts telling about Gods work in her life.

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John 3.1-17 “I love you so much” JUMC 20140316

faith.jpgGenesis 12:1-4a Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. [NRSV]

Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the hills– from where will my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore. [NRSV]

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. [NRSV]

John 3:1-17 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]

  • The context of this lenten message is a collective voice of ‘faith’.
  • The nutshell is faith is possible because God’s love is so great we are compelled to trust and believe.
  • The “so what” is a compelling reflection to answer honestly do we believe because we dare not or because we dare to love.

Preacher Joke of the week: Angels were talking with God about the current state of the earth. God says, “I think only about 5% of true believers. The other 95% prefer to the ride in the hand-basket.” The angel says, “Do want us to go shake things up?” God says not send our letters of appreciation and thanksgiving to the 5%.” So as your pastor, I ask you: What did you letter say? What? you didn’t get one either..

  • The Genesis text tells of father Abraham trusting God’s call to go where he is send. Methodist Preachers understand that one pretty well. Look where God sent us, to be in this moment together to worship, support and rejoice together. Hallelujah!
  • Abram sets off on a journey of faith and is given God’s blessing for getting off his duff and taking steps of faith in God’s direction. That is faith in action.
  • The Psalmist reminds us to remember God’s presence surrounds us. God is on his holy mountain and God is also by our side. We can take courage to be people of faith because we have both a calling, a mission, a purpose as well as the power and support to make the journey. Both gifts are from God.
  • Paul teaches about Abram to the church at Romans pointing out that from the beginning God is with those God calls. God is with Abram, with Roman and Paul and God is with us in Jackson and beyond.
  • In the gospel lesson we find the midnight debate between two teachers: Jesus and Nicodemus. Nick comes to Jesus in an act of faith. He is putting his life and livelihood on the line to find out more about Jesus and his teaching.

Some people exchange teaching, lessons and knowledge with the life experience our education prepares us to life. I am appreciative for every teacher and mentor that taught, challenged and sparked interest in my thinking. But if I too all that knowledge and never built upon it, never test it, never put those lessons and thoughts to work then I would only have grand ideas.

  • Abram takes God’s word and allows them to change the direction of his life.
  • The Psalmist uses words to step outside of ourselves and see God is ahead calling us and beside us to encourage and save us.
  • Paul draw back on lessons in history to challenge the current church to step beyond the rules, laws and traditions to see God present in our present reality. God is with us here and now.
  • And, it is John’s gospel that retells us just how much God loves us, just how much God wants us to believe, just how much God wants us to be drawn together… so much that he gave his only son, exchanging that life for the broken life we have to offer.

And to claim this gift, we are called to think? no more think. ?We are called to remember? no more than remember. We are called to know the right answer?
Are we called to do the live the perfect life?
No its not just the answers and it’s not how good a manager we manage to be.

The key is belief that God loves us just as much as Jesus reveals to us.
The heart is that we believe enough to change the direction of our lives toward the life God desires for us.

God wants us to walk with, talk with and journey together.
When we take what we know and act on God’s love for us, THEN we believe.

Do you believe God or just know about God?
Do you believe Jesus or just know about Jesus?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, or knows about the wind?

God desires belief witnessed in the action of our lives.
For God has already given us what our spirit hungers for, will we believe it is within our grasp and take it?

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MT 4.1-11 “Lead into Temptation” JUMC 20140309

 

Temptation

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.  The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,  saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;  and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]

Types of Temptation: My Own, My Circle, Strangers

Stone to Bread

We want to blame the devil but we do a good tempting ourselves. We know our own weaknesses and lust without much struggle.

We live with the assumption that if no one knows, if no one else cares, if no one speaks up, then it’s just not that bad.

Living under the radar is directly about are relationship with God.

Pinnacle Jumping

There are those in our circles of influence: Those in our family, community, in the church or other groups who know our actions and see our deeds, and know what’s going on, but we point out each other’s sin and brokenness and keep each other’s silenced by mutual leverage.

We will mind our business and stay out of yours because we want to be perceived as “good Christian folks”

We don’t want to be tested ourselves so we don’t put each other to the test.

Mountain Maybes

Jesus is taken to a mountain top experience and sees the global perspective of personal choices.

We want to find the lowest price on our clothes, tools and toys but don’t tell us about the people working for pennies to make the prices so low.

We don’t want to connect our little sins with the folks who are certainly guilty of bigger sins. A sin maybe a sin, but the consequences aren’t the same.

What do we learn about Temptation

1. It is a real experience for us all, including Jesus

2. It most often comes when we are at our weakest moments.

3. It reaches every level of our experience.

4. Spiritual Retreat can be a good context for being prepared

5. Scripture is the first defence

6. We can be angels or devils to others, offering nurture and support or torment and pain.

If we pray, “Do not lead us into Temptation..” then we ought not “Lead others into temptation either.”

RETREAT ( a Lenten season of practicing being lead by God instead of ourselves, our friends and fears. )

I have a micro retreat in the next five minutes. Don’t look at your watch, allow me to be the time keeper…

Spend the next five minutes prayer for God to strengthen you in the face of your sin, weakness, struggles, fears and failures.

Spend the next five minutes reading scripture for your support

Spend the next five minutes thinking of ways you might minister to someone who has been torn by sin and separation

Then together we will pray for strength and power and trust.

 

 

 

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Romans 8.28 Created to Become Like Christ JUMC 20130310

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Romans 8.28 “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” [NIV]

What on Earth are we here for? We are created to become like Christ.

Review: We are..

  1. YOU MATTER TO GOD. Created for God’s Pleasure;
  2. GOD MEETS US IN WORSHIP. Created to worship God;
  3. CREATED FOR FELLOWSHIP. Created to belong (be in relationship with) God’s family:
  4. DISCIPLESHIP. the focus of today is that we are Created to become like Christ

Jesus Calls us to follow. That calls for action.

We can’t follow from our seats.

Get up. and move with the Spirit drives us.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Spirit directs him to the wilderness (being tempted is not sin, trusting things/desires/callings not from God, are sin)

The Spirit moves him through temptation

The Spirit moves him from his private self, to his public self, to what the world’s value and image.

Jesus Draws on the power to spirit to resist temptations and begins looking for disciples.

Calling the disciples: Come Follow Me and I will make you those who capture the hearts and lives of people.

Discipleship is used in a variety of ways..

God used temptation to grow Jesus’ relationship. God does the same for us.

This season of Lent is a time to face the sin, brokenness, failures, mistakes, regrets, and all that moves us away from God..

Disciples move toward God.

Discipleship is helping each other move toward God.

Forgiveness is a power way to bring people to God.

Walking with someone in their weariness and fear is guiding across a tight rope with NOT for someone.

Listening for the talkers and Speaking out for the Shy and Hesitant… the grace for room for others to grow

Teaching, studying-reading-questioning- and testing move us to understanding and preparation for what we WILL face or help others face.

When we lead other people closer to God, we become like Christ

  • The goal is not perfection.
  •          The call is for progress.
  • The goal is not BE Jesus,
  •          The call is let Jesus’s actions be our inspiration
  • The goal is not to be Correct
  •         The call is to not mind being corrected if it brings us closer to God.

You and I are created to disciples, lead others toward God.

Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, these are some of the reasons we are here: Get to it!

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Ephesians 2:19 “Christian Fellowship” JUMC 20130303

Eph 2.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, [NRSV]

You were made to belong in God's family

You were made to belong in God’s family

As we study Rick Warren’s, “What on Earth am I here for?” We have looked two of the pieces that help answer this question. First we learned that You and I are are planned and made for God’s Pleasure. We were not made by chance and we were not made for our own design and own reasons. We are the product of God’s reason and pleasure. Today we look at the reality that You and I are created for family. Not just any family, God hopes we will choose to be actively part of God’s own family.

As difficult as it might be for some to imaging, not everyone chooses to be part of God’s family. God wants us all. Some people choose other paths and beliefs and that does not make them God’s family in Christ.

The church is not an organization. It is not an institution. The church is not a club or a location or non-profit entity. The church is the spiritual family of God.

Paul writes in his letter to the church at Ephesis 1.5 that God’s unchanging plan is to bring us into family by adoption through Jesus Christ. God wants us to belong and makes a way for us to come into the family through Christ. John 1.12 reminds us that through Jesus Christ we have the privilege of becoming a child of God.

With belonging to the family come family responsibilities: The number on priority of family responsibility is to learn to love everyone else in the family.

I have heard folks say, “I can love them, but I sure don’t like them.” Most often this is not a true statement. If we mean to say. “I can love them, but their behavior makes it difficult for me to be near them.” It can be a true express of our relationship, but it is not a true definition of love.

Jesus called for his disciples to love one another, just as Jesus loves us. He calls us to do this not to make us happy or at peace, but for a reason beyond our own. Prove that your love one another as my disciples so the world will see the power of love and want to join the family as well.

The Christian life is about learning how to love.

Last week I suggested that Sunday’s are a practice day for living the other six. Today I suggest that we think of our church family as a laboratory where we practice and experiment loving someone other than our selves and those in our personal genetic and marriage families.

Christian Fellowship is our lab work for the world to check out.

If we learn to love those in our church family, it will shape the rest of the world, from now own.

Today we will look at (4) four levels of fellowship:

1. SHARING Together
Sharing together, fellowship of sharing.. starts with sharing
sharing conversation, food, shelter, etc.
met together constantly and shared everything

The disciples spent time and stuff together, “in common.”

fellowship takes time and practice
Iti s a choice that we make: choosing to share time and life with other folks…
SMALL GROUPS ARE ULTIMATELY IMPORTANT
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, let us encourage one another Hebrews 10.25
No church building for 300 years… all met in small groups in homes.
Open you home, and you let people in your life..

We share Experiences/Events and Sorrows  Rom 12.15 Share your joy and sorrow.
When you gather, each one share something sing, lesson, story, prayer, insight, dessert, no one taking over, and you will all 1 Cor xx..14

2. Fellowship of Belonging together
KOINONIA” being committed to one another as we are to Jesus
Fellowship with each other as equal heir, child, person in Christ
Belonging is the difference in dating and being married, watcher vs agent of change.
You are members of God’s very own family and you BELONG in God’s household with every other Christian.
without a church we are an orphan without a home, no shelter, no home.. without other people you can’t do it.
rom12.5 we who are many belong to each other…
Belonging is not OPTIONAL.
The person who loves God must love other believers
Love your spiritual family
Taking the STEP of COMMITMENT of BELONGER, not just follower

3. Third, level of fellowship is SERVING together.
Deepen love in marriage, friendship, start serving God together, partner for a common purpose.
You love grows deeper when you rely on one another.
Example : Combat Veterans… last a life time.. What happen to keep them so connected? Serving together on a common task comes from no where else.
a. God never meant for us to serve alone.
b. We are partners working together for God 1 Cor for 3.9
c. You get more done
d. rely on each others strengths and over come each others weaknesses
e. If we don’t worry about the credit, more will get done Eph 4.16 each part does its work
4. Finally, FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING TOGETHER
Most intimate
When you share a heart ache, and walk along side someone without judgement, you will be closer together.
I makes us more human to share suffering
It is unifying
A community after disaster come together to rebuild
SHARE EACH OTEHR TROUBLE SNAPROBLEMS AND IN THIS WAY YOU OBEY THE LAW OF CHRIST
Love your neighbor as your self.
When you serve you do your part but when you suffer together you share your heart.
Help HANDS-ON someone in pain… learning how to love people who are suffering… GRC
Relationship are more important than accomplishments, achievements, success, money,

Life is about learning to Love

Wasting life if we are loving people in pain
Learning to love God : Worship
Learning to love others : Fellowship
PART of CHRIST BODY
if one suffer, all suffer together… if you have a tooth ache, your whole body knows it.
Be devoted like family member
Family lasts forever…God’s family
1 John 3.16 — We know what real love is,..we ought give up our lives for each other.

Our sacrament today is Holy Communion: Where Jesus invites us into this unique relationship once again.

At this table Jesus meetings with fellowship around a meal

We SHARE A loaf and cup

We BELONG because we are invited

We eat to be equipped to SERVE

We remember and share in the Christ’s SUFFERING with our own sin and pain.

Come Join the Fellowship! With Jesus and all the children of God.

Prayer: I’m making a choice to belong to a church and small group.. Im gong to be a belonged not just a believer…

Teach me the meaning of real love.

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