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Archive for category #newlife

Isaiah 43:16-21 Do the New Thing

Isaiah 43:16-21

This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, 17 who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: 18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 20 The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, 21 the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. [NRSV]

  1. Remember What God Has done
  2. Forget the Past
  3. Trust God to Provide
  4. Do the New Thing: Live a Witness of Praise to God for all the world.

REMEMBER

One of the themes repeated throughout both the old and new testaments is the call for God’s people to remember. There is a call to learn the workings of God, and to remember the works of God, not only for our benefit or for God’s praise, but remember so that others can know and experience God’s works of love, strength, protection, and grace. 

a. Remember so you will know in times of personal trouble, when you feel lost or alone, remember where and how God has been found for thousands of years and through trillions of people.

b. Remember so that God will remain on your mind, in your emotions, on your lips, in your ears and in your tasting of life. Remember to praise God with all that we are

c. Remember so that generation will know. How easily our faith could be lost with just one generation failing to share or one generation of twisting the memory. The lesson of the wondering in the wilderness was the life practice of ensuring that two generations from your own are assured of knowing God because you and I are intentional of doing so. Remember we are called to the heart of God so that other will find the way through us. [Which begs the question: Who are the people that you are certain that your witness has lead and continues to lead to God in Jesus Christ?]

FORGET

The balance of remembering is that some things are not helpful to us and our relationship with God and one another and we also need to develop the ability to forget.

Have you ever wrestled with forgetting the sins of someone or do you hold them over for protection, prevention or punitive just-in-case circumstances?

a. Don’t remember the former life of slavery to sin. Don’t hang on to the hurt that others done nor the good others have neglected to do. Don’t blame the previous generation? Don’t blame the institutions, the structures and system – ONCE WE HAVE LEARNED the lessons for our past, let the pain, the judgement, the division be forgotten. 

b. Have we not all had some parent, grand, or maybe aunt or uncle try to motivate us to see how easy the next generation has it because of the hardships of the past. On one hand we MUST remember to respect what previous generations have done, endured and struggled through, that we now no longer have to deal with today. It is why we hold our elders in honor. But we can forget their complaints about doing. This act of forgetting has a double edge: on the one we must always retell how God has been faithful in generations past, but forget the idea that we did these great thing alone, by our own strength, our own will, our own resources.. for without God we are nothing.

c. Forget the hurt and remember the healing. Forget the disease and remember the loving. Forget the separation and remember the renewed unity. Again our call to forget comes AFTER we have learned from the past. But we will never fully know forgiveness, grace, new life, until we are fully forgive, extend genuine loving -kingness and celebrate new life at God’s banquet table. {23 Psalm ..you make a place for me, even in the presence of my enemies, you anoint, you bless, you provide for us all the days of our living.}

TRUST

How do we ever remember. I once preached a sermon in my preaching class for Dr Fred Craddock, the prince of all Preaching teachers in the second half of the 20th century if not beyond.  My point was that the first phone number I memorized with my grandmother’s home phone number. I declared that I would NEVER forget that number. That number lead me to someone who always, unconditionally loved me and God. It connected me across states and various dates to someone who had stories, songs, gifts, treasures for ever occasion. It connected me to family, faith, creativity, thriftiness, appreciation of beauty and creation. All I had to do is remember:  and I began to recite it as, 404.475.3244. But half way in I pulled a Barney Fife (recall how he could not think of the next word until Andy coached him through the preamble of the Declaration of Independence.) In my sermon on remembering I forgot my means of connecting.  Dr Craddock, interrupted and to remind me. Trust your notes and not your nerves. I promptly looked down at the pages and read the numbers I had most certainly had forgotten. 

Trust the notes and not my own weak-mindedness. Proverbs 3.5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

NEW THING

Verse six in the fifth Proverb takes us back the beginning of today’s Isaiah verse: God making a way for us. It is a historical call to do the new thing: ACTUALLY Remember God, Forget the brokenness of ourselves and others and Trust God, ACTUALLY do the thing we read about, talk about, sing about, dream about: Live a live showing the world what it means to trust God.

Living as poster-child for God. 

February 19, 1855, Charles Sumner, the Massachusetts senator, wrote his supporters about an enslaved 7-year-old girl (Mary Mildred Williams) whose freedom he had helped to secure. She would be joining him onstage at an abolitionist lecture that spring. “I think her presence among us (in Boston) will be a great deal more effective than any speech I could make,” the noted orator wrote. He said her name was Mary, but he also referred to her, significantly, as “another Ida May.” Sumner enclosed a daguerreotype of Mary standing next to a small table with a notebook at her elbow. She is neatly outfitted in a plaid dress, with a solemn expression on her face, and looks for all the world like a white girl from a well-to-do family. When the Boston Telegraph published Sumner’s letter, it caused a sensation. Newspapers from Maine to Washington, D.C. picked up on the story of the “white slave from Virginia,” and paper copies of the daguerreotype were sold alongside a broadsheet promising the “History of Ida May.” [cite:https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/enslaved-girl-americas-first-poster-child-180971444/]

The call of the prophet Isaiah calls out through history to the people of God, to you and to me: Are you living a faithful witness of trust God? The New Thing is the original things, but we hear and living a new today!

The answer Isaiah was looking for from the people in his day was, “NO!” Tell us how! Hear now comes the Good News! Jesus Christ lived and died to save sinner like us. Jesus emptied himself taking on the form of a servant and served us. The lamb the was slain became a life – sacrifice – payment – solution – redemption for us who could find no other way. Jesus said, “I am the way” 

Remember Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Forget our failures, excuses and weariness

Trust the presence of God that wait with a place for us at the table, even in the presence of our enemies,

TO DO THE THING that we have been called, saved, equipped and loved to do.

Love the Lord your God will all you have and let the world see God through you.

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Matthew 5:38-34 The New Commandment

enemylove

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. “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? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [NRSV]

Love your enemies

The prescription for healing our personal relationship, to our national and global relationships, requires love.

That makes this teaching one of the hardest.

The Big Ten Commandments are a list of “do and don’t,” Jesus raises the bar beyond following rules of “do or don’t.” Jesus is after our “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” [Luke 10:27]

To love our enemies requires more resource that we have.

God’s Love can do what nothing else can do.

In order for us to love with God’s love, we must rely on God’s love to shape our love.

  • STEP 1: Love God and know God Love you
  • STEP 2: Love God and know God loves your enemy
  • STEP 3: Model God’s love by loving first, without merit, rather because we are modeling God’s work in us.

Easy Love, does not require God’s help.

Find someone who likes you,

  • Find those who think and believe as you do like you,
  • Find those who will not challenge your actions or opinions, and
  • You can easily be successful in love that is self-affirming.
  • This might feel or seem to be loving others,
    • but love is actually not even noticed
    • and may not even be real.

What is the difference in Easy Love and Challenging Love

One we can do without God’s help and lasts as long as everyone is of like mind.

But when someone challenges the core, we desire “them” to return to the comfort and conformity of “us”

While we yet sinners.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [Romans 5:8]

  • Jesus didn’t wait for us to go first,
  • Jesus didn’t judge us first to see if we are worthy of forgiveness
  • Jesus didn’t make us prove any reason to receive love, grace and new life.
  • Jesus loves us. Period.

In our Steps toward loving our enemies:

  • STEP 1: Love God and know God Love you
  • STEP 2: Love God and know God loves your enemy
  • STEP 3: Model God’s love by loving first, without merit, rather because we are modeling God’s work in us.

God’s love is preemptive

  • God goes first.
  • God makes the first move toward forgiveness
  • God makes the way possible where there is division.

The model for our loving those who are difficult to love

  • Begins by opening the conversation
  • Begins by making a way for grace
  • Begins by reminding ourselves and our enemies that God loves us even though we are at odds, broken or divided.

BUT WHY? Why does God loves us first?

It is the fundamental core of the nature of God

The core of our relationship with God and one another

God intervenes because we have broken the trust, we have divided our hearts, we have sided with like-minded.

If one side is righteous and the other totally corrupt, we would expect God to ‘smote’, flood and drive out the sinner from the garden. All these leave us separated and divided.

Jesus Reveals God’s Love as THE way to the heart of God.

Why don’t we move a far apart from one another and don’t cross paths, don’t interact, just avoid each other?

Why not write off the relationship and the people that are enemies?

  1. It’s not what God does
  2. It’s not what God has called us to do
  3. It keep us both from knowing Love/God

 

You can Never make someone love you

But you and I, as God models for us, a love, respect, hope, and longing for good with our enemies.

  • They may never repent
  • They may never respond in love
  • They may never relent

But their response is

  • not our responsibility,
  • not our challenge, and
  • not our calling.

The Way God’s Love Works

  1. It goes first, overlooking sin, broken, past, etc, with the hope of restoring the relationship
  2. It waits, not condoning sin, but hoping that by being loved first, the door/conversation/way is opened.
  3. It is genuinely longing for good, peace, joy, reunion, and the like to follow.
  4. It remains even if rejected.

Dirty Work, but Most Rewarding

  • Loving our Enemies is more difficult than following any rule or commandment
  • It is the primary work that we are all called to share.
  • Our ability to love and reciprocate love is linked to our salvation and eternity.

This is where it matters.

The challenge is to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect.  Yikes!!

It is crucial that we define perfection as wholeness, completeness and not correctness, or a test score.

To be able to love those who have sinned, who are our enemies, is God’s work

And God gives us the same task to find wholeness by loving sinners.

To your Neighbor:

I’m a sinner, love me, forgive me and love me more

Back to your Neighbor: I’m a sinner too, I love you, I forgive you and need you to love me more,

God says: repeat daily.

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Micah 6:1-8 A New People, Yes or No?

protestculture2017
Hear what the LORD says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.” “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of [Dodge] rams, with ten thousands of [pipelines] rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [NRSV]

Living in a World of Protests

The Presidential Election was a protest voice giving upheaval to our political system.

The various marches and movements are protest voices. Have any of us here and everywhere not heard the voice of those drawing attention to racism, class-ism, sexism, socialism, communism, ism-ism.  The Voices have been heard!!

It is time for active transformation, healing an Atonement

  • We are living in a time when people are talking and not thinking.
  • We are witnessing a period where people are acting and not grounded.
  • We are experiencing a rending of our national fabric stumbling over our righteousness in the name of God’s righteousness.
  • We have woven identities of like-minded factions using the threads of grace and gifts of our collective spiritual journey.

Atonement: At-One-Ment

When we deserve entombment God intervenes in human experience to save, claim and restart our lives.

  • We call this grace.
  • God created Atonement,
  • We think we need extra credit home work, God just starts us fresh.

God’s Good News has something to say about our collective sins AND God offers a solution for healing.

Two Roads Diverge in a Nations Path

  • God has doubled-down our on innocence.
  • The world is being driven by blame, guilt, shame, fear, and failures.

God is all-forgiving. He does not seek to judge and punish us, but to correct and heal us. He is not invested in our guilt but in our innocence. The spiritual principle by which He helps us return to love when we have strayed from its ways is the principle of Atonement. The Atonement was introduced into human consciousness by God Himself, as a response to our capacity for fear. It is our eternal opportunity to choose again. That is what makes the Atonement a miracle: it is something introduced into the laws of time and space, by a power beyond them both. Grace supersedes the law of karma. To atone is to admit our errors, praying that God free us from what would otherwise be their inevitable consequences. It is a humble return of our minds to God’s love. It is to recognize where we ourselves have taken a path away from God’s will, and ask to be corrected and forgiven and healed. The story of the Prodigal Son makes clear how delighted God is when the son who strayed returns. By willingly and consciously unburdening ourselves of the weight of our mistakes, we are given the chance to begin again, to go forward in life from a healed perspective. Could America not use a miracle? The command to atone is a universal spiritual theme. In the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, where Jews admit our errors of the past year, asking God’s forgiveness and for His willingness to inscribe us in the Book of Life for another year. (Healing the Soul of America, Marianne Williams p.92)

The Lord Requires a relationship

[1 Cor. 18-31] For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

  • The First Action for Healing: Confession

  • The Second Step of Action is GOD’s work of Atonement. God Forgives and restores FIRST.

  • The Third is to model God’s Atonement and make whole to the extent that we can.  We Follow God’s lead.

  • Note: Law can give leverage to Atonement, but only God can make us new, whole, complete.

  • The Final Step is to continue walking with God, until such time that we wander again.

 

Frustrating Game of Jenga: by Hasbro. The fun of the game is tearing the tower apart, God’s game is about building a people together.

Something to try this week: If you hear/see/experience someone protesting, tell/email/notify them this:

  • “I hear your voice,
  • Your Voice is Heard.”
  • Now let’s ask God to heal us,
  • make us new (God is not about revenge or back-pay, God simply starts us over.)

Let us find God’s foolishness our new way together and walk together in grace, humility and seeing the justice God has shown us all.

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John 20:19-31 NRS. “Be Believing” RSUMC 20160404

believeWhen it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin ), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [RSV]

Seeing is Believing

  • Show Me, What Proof is convincing for one is not convincing for all
  • Evidence might be physical, emotional or spiritual
  • Understanding is the starting point

Not Seeing, yet Believing is Faith

  • Faith is based in what we do not control
  • Faith is Trusting what is untrustworthy
  • Faith is Affirming what God provides

Faith is the Core

  • Faith is generally a process
  • Faith is tested as a muscle is strengthen
  • Faith is hardened as steel is heated and cooled.

The Purpose of Faith is for our Relationship of Salvation

  • Jesus’s Death pays for our sin
  • Jesus’s Resurrection restores our life
  • Jesus’s presence in the Holy Spirit is to build the relationship

Commitment to the Relationship

  • Starting with the Scriptures, Feed your Faith and Belief
  • Building on the faith you have seen, heard, read, experienced Test
  • Take the Jesus relationship to life: Family, Work, School, Community, etc.
  • Jesus makesFoundation for our Relationship with God Through Christ Jesus
  •  COMMIT to Intentional Spiritual Growth. Bible Study, Sunday school, Daily Devotion, Small Group.
    • Disciples were Gathered, even in fear and doubt, Jesus SHOWS up.
    • Disciples share their faith stories, Jesus Shows up to Confirm
    • Disciples offer questions and challenges, Jesus Shows up for Faith
    • Disciples meet Jesus in the process and their life is filled with Faith and Salvation, through Jesus Christ, living with them.

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Luke 24.36-48 “What’s For Lunch?” RSUMC 20150419

broiled_fishWhile they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself ! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence.  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses,the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. [NRSV]
Jesus is not just an idea, a theory, a collection of stories, Jesus was a real, person, human, like us: a spiritual being in a physical body.
  • Ideas don’t get hungry
  • theories don’t need to eat
  • collections of stories and moral teaches don’t need physical nourishment.
The resurrection Jesus is a physical person freed up, by the resurrection to affirm we are more than our bodies.
  • We are more than our physical needs
  • We are more than our material posessions
  • We are more than the health of these bodies
  • We are more than the suffering of this present age
  • We are Spiritual people, child of God, joint heirs, brother/sisters with Jesus, God’s people, God’s family.
Jesus continues to show the faithful the signs of the struggle and proof of the resurrection.
  • Jesus keeps showing up, directing us to OUR purpose.
  • We need the signs just like everyone else.
  • We need reminding and encouragement
  • We need Jesus to show us the same old story because our doubts and fears are real.
We need proof of the resurrection because we:
  • forget
  • let go
  • look away
  • taste other fruit
  • wrestle
  • break the commandments
  • are unfaithful individually AND collectively
  • THESE are the FAITH STRUGGLES in the OT, NT, and today.
The old testament is not to be forgotten, rather stands to say that Jesus is not an after-thought. But God has been at work since the beginning.. for our purpose, our foundation… our base..
Yes, it’s all about the base: the basis for God’s work of creation to this very day and beyond is LOVING RELATIONSHIP.

The base and foundation of our relationship is expressed in the Gracious give and take of

REPENTANCE: God loves us so much we know we can ask and God will forgive.

FORGIVENESS: God loves us so much, when we ask, God sees our change of heart and forgives.

We mess us… See list above… and offers of Forgiveness when we repent, turn around.

of repentance and forgiveness. The corrective and creative renew of relationship.
RESURRECTION PEOPLE can turn around, 180 degree.
In the power of Jesus Christ our lives can turn around,
God gives us the power to change, the freedom to choose, no matter what world, family, politics, etc. We can choose to follow God,
So do a 180, eat lunch and get to work sharing the signs the Christ is living in you.

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