Archive for category #rsumc

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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Isaiah 1:1,10-20 Let’s Argue

 The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah….Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation— I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [NRSV]

A Vision of Isaiah

Concerning Period 3 Kings and 1 regent

The period of time is between 790 to 690 BC. Isaiah lead as a prophet through the end of Uzziah into the reign of Hezekiah. 

During this period, God’s people of Judah fought with God’s people of Israel and made expedient allies of Syria and Egypt as they needed help. The people shifted for faithfulness to completely selling out to Idolatry with the Canaanites, with King Ahaz made a replica of the idea of Baal in the temple of Judah and made offering go his son’s life to the altar of Molech. Hezekiah finally brings faithfulness back after heading Isaiah’s warning and even invited the Northern Kingdom to celebrate Passover together.

An Argument with God.

First, it’s acceptable to argue with God if you know in the end that God is God and that you and I are not. With that said God is supremely patience, but will, in the end, call us to faithfulness and obedience.

Isaiah’s Account of God side setting up for the argument:

  • rulers of Sodom! 
  • you people of Gomorrah! 
  • So you talk about the many sacrifices? 
    • Do You think that your offerings buy my favor?
  • Your many holiday and celebrations? I don’t want your songs and gifts.
    • Why would I want to be at your good holiday, and you ignore your sin?
  • You think you have figured out creation, and use the heavens as a tool to measure and control me?
  • You can raise your hands and prayers and songs, I’m not listening. 
    • If this is how you make religion replace a relationship of trust and obedience, then I don’t want you in my sight.

INSTEAD

  • Wash yourselves; 
  • make yourselves clean; 
  • remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; 
  • cease to do evil, 
  • learn to do good; 
  • seek justice, 
  • rescue the trampled, taken advantage of, or forgotten.

When you have done these things, then let’s argue.

The Good News is that when we find ourselves through obedience to God, we find the Goodness in life.

  • It is easy to dismiss this passage as history and not hear it applying to ourselves. 
  • First, as this is presented as God’s Message for the political and spiritual leaders of the day.
  • So it is easy to point fingers and blame the king. 
  • This word does not excuse the king of doing what is Godly.
  • Nor does this word excuse US for doing what is Godly and obedient, we can’t blame our leaders for all the sin.

You pick the topic of news, debate, crisis, and threat of this past week alone, and know-how quickly people look for blame. Isaiah’s word is for Judah and Israel. It is for you and for me. 

  1. Stop Blaming
  2. Stop making excuses
  3. Stop looking for our own ideas and solutions
  4. Turn back to God
  5. Trust God’s Goodness and Word
  6. Trust God’s will and wisdom
  7. Trust God’s way and place ourselves as a servant of God and God’s people and will then God will make us the witness to all the nations.

We live more in time like Ahaz rather than Hezekiah. When the world is rejecting God and replacing anything and everything in God’s place, it is no wonder that evil and chaos.

So what are we to do about our nation and our leaders?

We are not only called to

  • Repent of our sins,
  • Stop acting like knuckleheads
  • Start witnesses to those who are
  • and be a strength to those who are trampled and taken advantage of.

But not in reverse: 

  • Repentance
  • Transformation
  • Prophets
  • Servant

We’d rather just do one or two on the list… but its a process

  • It’s not about just serving the oppressed
  • It is also dealing with sin, ours and theirs
  • It’s not just about talking about forgiveness and change
  • it is becoming an actual example of obedience.

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Study Notes for Amos 7:7-17 Who’s Plumb line do you use?

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by;  the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”  Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’ ” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there;  but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”  Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ “Now, therefore, hear the word of the Lord. You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ Therefore thus says the Lord: “Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’ “ [NRSV]

Amos the Unlikely

The first verse of this book identifies the author as “Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa” (1:1). Much has been made of the fact that Amos was a shepherd—a man more comfortable among the company of sheep than of people—an unsophisticated fellow, amazed and dazed by urban excess—a redneck, with a desire to tell the truth, even when his life is at risk.

Amos had a humble start, but he was authorized and equipped for the job because the Lord called him. It was Yahweh who took Amos from his flocks. It was Yahweh who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel”.

When and Where?

The first verse of this book also tells us when Amos served as a prophet. It was “in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (1:1). Uzziah and Jeroboam ruled in the eighth century B.C., and scholars believe that Amos had a relatively short ministry in the middle of that century—around 760-755 B.C.

At that time, the Jewish people were divided into the tribes of the northern kingdom (Israel) and the two tribes of the southern kingdom (Judah). It was the time between the end of Solomon’s reign (c. 930 B.C.) and the fall of the northern kingdom (c. 721 B.C.). Amos makes a place in our faith history as we read about his faithfulness today.

Only a few years after Amos’ prophecies, the Assyrians forced the ten tribes of Israel into exile in Assyria. Unlike the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), the ten tribes of Israel never returned to their homeland in any organized way. Instead, they were assimilated and disappeared as a people.

The Jeroboam mentioned in the text was successful militarily, but “he did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh: he didn’t depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, with which he made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 14:24).

We tend to think of Amos as a northern prophet, because his prophecy was directed primarily toward the northern kingdom (Israel)—but he was from Tekoa, a few miles south of Jerusalem in the southern kingdom (Judah)—and, as we will see in 6:1, he addressed both “those who are at ease in Zion” (the capital of the southern kingdom) and “those who are secure on the mountain of Samaria” (the capital of the northern kingdom).

Amos spoke against misplaced allegiance and religious arrogance. He warned the people of an upcoming military disaster that would reflect God’s judgment.

AMOS 7:7-9. THE PLUMB LINE

“Thus he showed me” (v. 7a). As is clear from verse 6, it is the Lord God who showed Amos a vision. The Plumb Line is the third in a series of five visions:

• The first vision (7:1-3) was a vision of locusts.
• The second vision (7:4-6) was a vision of fire.
• Now we have the third vision, a vision of a plumb line (7:7-9).
• The fourth vision (8:1-3) will be a vision of a basket of summer fruit.
• The fifth vision (9:1-4) will be of thresholds shaking and shattering on the heads of the people—and people being killed by the sword—a vision of inescapable judgment.

“the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand” (v. 7b). A plumb line is a string with a weight (known as a plumb-bob) attached. When the user holds a plumb line by the string, the plumb-bob at the bottom will point with great exactness to the earth’s center of gravity. People use plumb lines, even today, to determine whether a wall is perfectly straight, i.e., exactly perpendicular to the horizon. In other words, a plumb line enables the user to test the straightness of a wall. A plumb line hung from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa would confirm what our eyes already know. But the plumb line is more for noticing the small errors that lead to big mistakes.

A crooked wall can be difficult to correct. In many cases, an out-of-plumb wall must be torn down and rebuilt if it is ever to be right.

A Test of the Wall? Is sound for its intended purpose?

Now Amos sees Yahweh standing beside a wall with a plumb line in his hand. Yahweh’s purpose is to test the wall to see if it is straight or not—usable or not. We sense, of course, that Yahweh is concerned with something more than a wall. The next verse will make clear the real nature of his concern.

“Yahweh said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel’” (v. 8a). Now Yahweh explains the meaning of the plumb line metaphor. Israel (the northern kingdom) is the wall that is being tested.

While the next verse will make it clear that Yahweh has pronounced the people of Israel guilty and plans to execute judgment against them—nevertheless, in this verse, he calls them “my people.” God is not pleased with this.. It is a broken-hearted Lord who has tried and tried to bring these people to faithfulness, but who is finally having to admit that it just didn’t work.

“I will not again pass by them any more” (v. 8b). The northern kingdom (Israel) has been in existence for nearly two centuries—since the end of Solomon’s reign and the division of Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms. With regard to the northern kingdom, there have been ups and downs, but mostly downs. Yahweh has given them opportunity after opportunity to repent and mend their ways, but they have failed to do so. Now Yahweh has decided not to “pass by them” any further—not to shower grace upon grace any longer. The time has come to put an end to their corruption, once and for all.

“The high places of Isaac will be desolate, the sanctuaries of Israel will be laid waste” (v. 9a). The high places were sacred sites dedicated to the worship of pagan gods. Old Testament references to high places are uniformly negative (Leviticus 26:30; Numbers 33:52; 2 Samuel 1:19; 1 Kings 3:2-3; 12:31-32; 13:2, 32-33; 14:23, etc.), because worship at the high places was inconsistent with the worship of Yahweh.

The “high places of Israel” were temples established by Jeroboam I in Bethel (in the far south of Israel, just a few miles north of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah) and Dan (in the far north of Israel). Jeroboam I feared that, if his people were to continue going to Jerusalem to worship, they would soon form loyalties to Judah (where Jerusalem was located) and overthrow Jeroboam in favor of Rehoboam, the king of Judah. “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look and see your gods, Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ He set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. This thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one, even to Dan” (1 Kings 12:28-30).

“and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (v. 9b). Yahweh will bring a violent end to the house of Jeroboam. This will come to pass when Shallum, son of Jabesh, conspires against Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, strikes him down and assumes the throne (1 Kings 15:8-10).

After the first two visions, Amos begged for mercy (7:2, 5), and in each of those instances, Yahweh relented (7:3, 6). However, in this third vision, Amos makes no such plea and Yahweh shows no signs of relenting. Presumably, Amos has seen the righteousness of Yahweh’s judgment and no longer has the heart to protest Israel’s punishment.

When Others Revile You.. AMOS HAS CONSPIRED AGAINST YOU

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel,
saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel.
The land is not able to bear all his words.

11 For Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.’”

“Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words’” (v. 10). Amaziah is the priest of Bethel—one of the “high places of Israel” established by Jeroboam I (see comments on v. 9a above).

What we heard in verses 7-9 were the words that Yahweh spoke to Amos. We have no record of Amos speaking to the people, but verse 10 makes it clear that Amos has been telling people what Yahweh said—warning them of the judgment to come. Amos would have done so, not out of personal pique, but because Yahweh told him, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (7:15). His purpose would have been to secure the people’s repentance and, perhaps, to stave off the worst of the judgment which Yahweh is about to impose.

The priest, Amaziah, has become aware that Amos has been preaching to the people, and interprets Amos’ words, not as prophecy, but as sedition against Jeroboam. There is an element of self-interest involved in Amaziah’s report to the king, because it was almost certainly Jeroboam who appointed Amaziah to his priestly position (1 Kings 12:31; 13:33).

Amaziah sends word to Jeroboam concerning Amos’ preaching, slanting his report to portray Amos, not as a prophet, but as a traitor. The fact that Amos came from Judah rather than Israel made this a believable charge.

Amaziah’s report reflects his loyalty to Jeroboam, his desire to curry the king’s favor, and a desire to hang onto his comfortable sinecure in Bethel. But above all, Amaziah’s report makes it clear that his first loyalty is to the king rather than to Yahweh.

“For Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land’” (v. 11). This report is fairly consistent with Yahweh’s words to Amos, but it deviates at two points. First, Yahweh said that it would be the “house of Jeroboam” (7:9) rather than Jeroboam personally who would die by the sword. As noted above, it will be Jeroboam’s son who dies by the sword. Second, this is the first mention of the people going into exile.

Like Scar in the Lion King, Leave and never come back.

YOU SEER, GO, FLEE AWAY!

12 Amaziah also said to Amos, “You seer, go,
flee away into the land of Judah,
and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 but don’t prophesy again any more at Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary,
and it is a royal house!”

“Amaziah also said to Amos, “You seer, go, flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there” (v. 12). The word “seer” is roughly synonymous with “prophet,” although it might have carried a negative connotation.

Amos is from Judah, so Amaziah tells him to go home to Judah and earn his keep there. Amaziah’s assumption that Amos is profiting financially from his prophecy is surely influenced by the fact that Amaziah is profiting from his priesthood. However, Amos isn’t prophesying for profit. He makes his living by serving as “a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees” (v. 14).

“but don’t prophesy again any more at Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a royal house” (v. 13). There is a turf issue here. Bethel and its sanctuary belong to King Jeroboam—and, by extension, to Amaziah, the king’s priest. If there is religious work to be done here, Amaziah considers it his privilege to do it.

Amos Confirming His words is God’s message to God’s people

14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
neither was I a prophet’s son;
but I was a herdsman and a farmer of sycamore figs;

15 and Yahweh took me from following the flock,
and Yahweh said to me, ‘Go,
prophesy to my people Israel.’”

“Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son’”  The high priest is trying to make Amos out to be a for-profit, prophet.

“but I was a herdsman, and a farmer of sycamore figs” (v. 14b). Amos goes on to make it clear that he is a simple man who makes his living as a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees.

The Core of a Prophet’s Message: LISTEN TO THE WORD OF YAHWEH!

16 Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh:
‘You say, Don’t prophesy against Israel,
and don’t preach against the house of Isaac.’

17 Therefore thus says Yahweh:
‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be divided by line;
and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean,
and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.’”

“Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh: ‘You say, Don’t prophesy against Israel, and don’t preach against the house of Isaac’” (v. 16). Yahweh told Amos to prophesy (v. 15), but the priest Amaziah tells him not to prophesy.

In doing this, Amaziah is attempting to countermand Yahweh’s commandment. He is presenting Amos with a stark choice—obey the priest or obey Yahweh. From the context, we can see that this is not a difficult choice for Amos. Amos will obey Yahweh.

“Therefore thus says Yahweh: ‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided by line; and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land’” 

  • Whereas Amaziah the priest has given his first loyalty to the king rather than to Yahweh—
  • and whereas Amaziah the priest has failed to call the people of Israel to faithful service to Yahweh—
  • and whereas Amaziah the priest has attempted to countermand Yahweh’s commandment—
  • therefore, Yahweh has decreed that these five punishments will follow.
  • Amaziah’s wife will become a prostitute. While it is possible that she would suddenly take on a degenerate character, it is more likely that she would become a prostitute once her husband and children were taken from her. Left on her own, she would have few options to support herself. For the wife of a priest to become a prostitute would be a great humiliation for both wife and priest.
  • Amaziah’s sons and daughters will die by the sword. While Amos doesn’t provide further details, we know that the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser, captured a number of Israelite cities and carried their people into exile (2 Kings 15:29). Then, when Hoshea, the last king of the northern kingdom, rebelled against Assyria, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, besieged Samaria for three years. The city finally fell in 722 B.C., and many of its people were killed and the rest were taken into exile. Amaziah’s sons and daughters could have been killed in any of these conflicts, but most likely died when Samaria fell
  • Amaziah’s land will be parceled out when he is exiled.
  • Amaziah will die in an unclean land—Assyria.
  • Israel will go into exile in Assyria.

These five punishments, taken together, cut off all possibility of hope for Amaziah. Because he gave his first loyalty to the king and opposed the word of Yahweh, he will lose everything—family, property, status, and finally, his life. Once the Lord executes these judgments, Amaziah will know nothing but slavery, poverty, loneliness, and humiliation.

Today we turn to an 8th century BC prophet named Amos. Amos was a shepherd tending sheep in southern Judah. He was also concerned for the poor in his community and he tended a sycamore tree, which yields an inferior type of fig which was part of the diet of the poorest people at that time. But Amos saw something that disturbed him very much. So he went to Israel with a desire to confront the king.

The Lord gave Amos three visions of what could happen to Israel.

  • In the first vision the Lord was sending locusts, just as their later crops began to sprout. This would devastate their food supply starving the people and destroying the nation. But Amos prayed that the people of Israel would be spared, and the Lord relented.
  • In the second vision Amos saw the Lord covering the land with fire that would evaporate the oceans and devour the land. And again Amos prayed for Israel and the Lord relented.
  • In the third vision Amos saw the Lord judging Israel and sentencing King Jeroboam to death. After this vision of judgment Amos did not pray and the Lord did not relent. Why?

Bethel is a Hebrew word which means “the house of God”. It was a place where God comes close to earth to interact with his people. In other words Bethel was a holy place, a location set aside for God’s use, a sanctuary.

We are told that Bethel was first discovered by the patriarch Jacob. He was fleeing from his brother Esau and one night as the sun was setting he found an ancient shrine and used one of the stones as a pillow. That night he had a remarkable dream that the Lord had come near with a great promise. When Jacob woke up he thought that this place was somehow a gateway to heaven. It was a place where God had come near to his people. So he called it Bethel, the house of God.

Today we are worshiping in a Bethel. This is a sacred place, through worship, we come close to God. That makes this spot holy, set aside for God’s purposes, a sanctuary. 

Centuries later Amos went to the same spot where Jacob had encountered God, the holy place, the sanctuary, called Bethel. And there he delivered to the priest of Bethel the frightening message of God’s judgment. But rather than praying to God in this sacred space the priest, Amaziah, prayed to his king accusing Amos of treason. And then Amaziah told Amos to leave because prophets were not welcome in the King’s sanctuary. So what had been a sacred house of God had been turned into a possession of the King, and this was the reason God had condemned the King and his kingdom to death and destruction.

The sin of Jeroboam and his priest was the sin of idolatry. Rather than worshiping God in God’s house they were worshiping other gods. Of course the priest, Amaziah would deny this. If we could ask him he would argue that the proper worship of the Lord, the God of Israel, was taking place at Bethel. But Amos knew differently. The nation was worshiping not God but the kingdom’s power and prosperity. The people knew the commandments of God to care for the poor and the needy, but they spent their money on ivory furniture imported from Africa, polished stone homes that glistened in the sunlight, and gourmet beef from the cows of Bashan. They knew that their faith should be in the Lord, but they were more confident in the strength of their armies and the alliances they had made with neighboring countries. They put their trust in money and power rather than in the God who had protected them in times past. And they were doing these things, worshiping other gods, worshiping money and power, right there in Bethel, God’s house.

God sent an unlikely person, a poor shepherd from somewhere down south. He had no qualification as a seer or prophet. But he knew the word of God. And he saw the decay that was happening in his society. He realized that the idolatry of money and power would lead to the nation’s destruction. So Amos traveled north to God’s house, Bethel, with a message of judgment. This holy place, set aside for God’s use, would be given over to the enemies of Israel. Their women would be violated, their children killed, and a remnant would be carried into exile, all because they had stopped worshiping God in God’s house.

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Luke 8:26-39 What have you Done for me Lately?

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. s20190623

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”– for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him. [NRSV]

This is a long story in comparison to the parables of Jesus

The wild and crazy guy, let’s call him Steve (1980s ref)

Is known by the towns people as the wild, crazy, possessed dangerous beast outside of town.

This beast was somewhat under the spell of many demons. And Jesus comes to set him free. By showing love for the unloved man he becomes Jesus’s disciple and follower.

The towns folks had been afraid of the beast. They had tried to chain him but he was stronger than thief restraints.

His condition has been explained away by some that he suffered from mental illness. But that negates Jesus’s conversations with the host of demons in the store.

There is a clear message that evil was not removed from the world but certainly the man was now free from the power of evil because of Jesus.

This is where the story begins to be about Jesus for us as well.

Once we have given Christ the evil that controls, tempts and taunts us over to God we become a new person, even though evil remains a threat near by.

The pigs, known to be unclean, in Jewish food guide are the requested target of the demons. Now deviled ham on the run. Evil Long’s to be at home in what is ungodly and unclean.

Just as the prodigal son recognizes his place is with the father and not the pigs, so the man who was possessed by evil is also restored through God’s work in Jesus Christ.

The response of having been at the feet of Jesus is:

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

As we come to the table to for communion we eat what is not a boy clean but bread and cup that give new life.

The power of this whole store is in what happens after the man is man new, restored, made clean or whole:

He wants to stay in the easy comfort of Jesus feet, but is challenged to

1. Return home

2. Remember what God ha done in your life

3. Tell everyone how much God has done for you

Here is the place of homework.

When we leave this place of familiarity and comfort of worship we go into a world where evil continues to thrive and we are charged to tell the world what God ha done for us personally.

What has God done for me lately?

God has heard prayers for healing

God has heard prayer Sid frustration and doubt answering we hope and blessing

God has heard prayers of worry and uncertainty and is bringing hope and peace

God has heard cries of loss and division and is opening doors of restoring and making us knew

God has heard prayers from the lonely and answered with friendships, covenants and new partnerships

God continues to set us free

God continues to call out evil

God continues to restore us to faithful, even in a evil time

God calls his people to trust his power and grace to overcome sin, fear, anger, greed, lust, shame, and more

Our homework is to leave ready to tell everyone what Hod ha done for you

Practice – what is one thing God has done for you this year?

Not just a decade ago, or a couple of millennial ago, but what has God doing lately

If nothing comes to mind, then maybe you are feeling chained up, possessed by something or someone else. Today is a day to ask Jesus to break those things that keep us divided, afraid, alone, lost in sin. Today is a day of freedom, renewal and proclaiming God’s News For the world to see and hear.

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Easter Sunrise 2019 Isaiah 65 Our New Day in Christ

Isaiah 65:17-25

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord. [nrsv]

  • Jerusalem as a Joy?
  • People will be a delight?
  • No more weeping and no more distress?
  • No more infant deaths or those whose life is cut short?
  • Those who work will receive the benefits of their own labor?
  • No injustice in wealth and home for all?
  • No labor in vain, (note not a absence of work)
  • Wolf and the lamb will feed together but not on each other
  • Lion and the ox will eat straw
  • Serpent will eat the dust…
  • Though without war

God is building a new heaven and a new earth.. will we recognize it when we get there? 

As we gather early on Easter’s sunrise we remember God is creator

  • In the Big Inning, God makes all things
  • In Christ, Changes the whole world,
  • By the Holy Spirit, God is guiding us toward the New Jerusalem, that we might lead the world to God, through Christ.

In the New Jerusalem, there is not hurt, pain, suffering or injustice, but even the serpent has a place

evil, pride/selfishness, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, wrath, and envy are no longer needed.

Think of the power of these forces in our world and in our lives

What would it take to no longer behave these ways?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

There is not other power, no other answer, no other hope, no other way.

There are various camps;

  • Those who no longer care
  • Those who want to prove there is another way
  • Those who know Jesus is the way, but trust later
  • Those who are free in Christ now and forever. 

The prophetic words of the prophet Isaiah 

[The whole chapter]

1 I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. 2 I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; 4 who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; 5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. 6 See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps 7 their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions. 8 Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all.9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there. 10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. 11 But you who forsake the Lord, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny;12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my sight, and chose what I did not delight in. 13Therefore thus says the Lord God: My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; 14my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. 15 You shall leave your name to my chosen to use as a curse, and the Lord God will put you to death, but to his servants, he will give a different name. 16 Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of faithfulness, and whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of faithfulness; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my sight. 17 For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.20 No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22 They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23 They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. 24 Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

Why read from Isaiah at the Sunrise?

When the day is new we can better see the darkness of our past and hope of our future in the Word of God made new and whole through Jesus Christ, for us

  • May we invoke the blessing of this day
  • May we call on Jesus Christ to make this day new
  • May we trust Christ to overcome our sin and shame
  • May we speak God’s name and not our own
  • May the former things are forgotten
  • And the New Day in Christ is eternally on our lips and in our deeds.

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Mark 16:1-8 As You Go and Tell

Garden Tomb of Jesus

The stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Go Tell his Disciples, “There” you will see him.

A confirmation that the Church is the Body of Christ and a sure and dependable place and moment to share our living Savior.

My crazy grandfather used to tell me that I could not go swimming until I learned to swim. I would reply, “How can I learn to swim without getting in the water.” His reply, “Go ask your grandmother.”

It is in the act of doing that we come to experience Jesus as our Savior.

If I only think about Jesus, then my faith would be a theory that could exist just fine within my own understanding, and you could have your understanding and I could have mine and we’d be fine as long as we didn’t share where we had a conflicting understanding. (skip the opportunity for sarcasm.)

The specific instruction on the first Easter Sunday was to find Jesus, where and when you are telling the other disciples about the resurrection.

Our worship, fellowship, music, visuals, conversations, scripture, and are ways we gather to experience Jesus, living with us.

How do I experience Jesus?

  • I see Jesus: in the scriptures
  • I hear Jesus: in the music
  • I smell Jesus: in your questions
  • I feel Jesus: in your singing and responding
  • I taste Jesus: in the bread and cup and fellowship dinners, why I cook.

How do I prevent people from experiencing Jesus?

  • When I’m not sharing, the world sees the wines of complaining, division, fear, anger, selfishness, and pride.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people hear whatever news, movies, celebrities, squeaky wheels will tell, print or post.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people smell doubt, insincerity, and shallow words that don’t relate to people’s hunger and thirst for what is good and right.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people continue to feel alone, confused and divided
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people taste the bitterness of a sin-filled worldview.

Q: So What do I tell people?

  • Jesus lives for a sinner like me
  • Jesus speaks through scripture and the church
  • Jesus smells fresh and hopeful if what I’m saying is mean-spirited, nope, not Jesus.
  • Jesus feels present and relevant to people.
  • Jesus tastes satisfying and whole.

So When and How Often do I have to tell about Jesus?

NOW!

Easter is the best day to tell about Jesus

  • Who will you tell see
  • Who will hear
  • Who will feel
  • Who will smell
  • Who will taste

Easter is the reminder of our real urgency that someone is

  • bound and
  • blind and
  • afraid and
  • confused and
  • misinformed and
  • betrayed and
  • some clouded by religion
  • alone making up something they call the truth
  • any of these, but they DO NOT have to be

Some have smelled the difference between the joy of our worship and the judging, barking, and silence

Some have tasted the world and are left hungry

A Word to Disciples

Back to the instruction, with the urgency: Easter is a day to come and experience Jesus as our Risen Savior so that every day that follows we are ready to be the living Jesus until he returns.

Use every way that we experience life to lead the world to experience Jesus in us.

When we are cady, controlling, fussing, griping, condescending, bothered with others around us we are in a danger zone of NOT allowing others to experience Jesus. We get in the way. 

The invitation is for this day, for Disciples to regroup in Jesus, as ‘THE’ way and be ready to live to experience Jesus with others

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Luke 2:1-7 Placed in a Manger

mangerIn those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. [NRSV]
God is Born in Human form
God is placed in a receptacle intended for feeding
In a world that has no room for God to be received, God comes through those willing to receive him.
It is into a world that diligently to ignore, disprove, discredit, disarm and deny a need for God, is given God’s most simple and direct appearance and encounter.
Those who are willing to receive, do find God.
We have had a three month season of preparing to place Jesus in the manager. I invite you to see yourself as manger holding Jesus Christ.
  • The manger is an instrument serving a purpose larger than it is away.
  • This manger is not simply a historical reference to a cattle feeding implement, it is God placing Jesus where others are spiritually empty.
  • The manger is a not simply a place to hold hay, it is the vehicle entrusted to hold the bread of life for a world of persons who hungers.

You and are about to begin a season of sharing Jesus Christ. The final step of preparing to be a people of faith-sharing is affirming that we are those who hold Christ for the world.

Do you have the gift of Jesus in your heart and mind?

Turn to your neighbors, left and right, and share with them: “I’ve got Jesus and I’m ready to share him.”

I remember making prank phone calls at my grandfather’s request. He would open the metro Atlanta phone book at random, point to a number and dial the phone, he would hand us the receiver and were we instructed to say to the party on the line: “Sir/Mama, on behalf of the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, Do you have Sir Walter Raleigh in a can? If you do, you should let him out.”  Which was a corny twist, that made my grumpy grandfather cackle with laughter with every call.

Not unlike the Forrest Gump line when Srgt Dan asks Forrest if he had found Jesus, to which Forrest replied, “I didn’t know he was lost.”

Having Jesus vs Sharing Jesus

Turn and ask your neighbors: Are you a manger?

Are you carrying Jesus ready to feed someone the bread of life?

Too often we looked to Jesus as our daily bread as though there were not enough mana to go around and we want to save Jesus for use in our own struggles and fears.

What an awesome opportunity you and I have to be the box that carries the gift of Christ until they unwrap and find Christ for themselves.

The Good News:

You and I don’t have to be gift

You and I don’t have to know all the answers

You and I are called to carry and share what WE know and experience Christ.

“I am a manger”

I carry the bread of life, Jesus Christ, so that not only am I nourished but those who I carry Christ to will also be fed and filled.

“I am a manger”

God is using me and using your life, your words, thoughts, your praises, you lessons, you conversations to give hope, grace, forgiveness and power to broken and hating world.

“I am a manger”

No one might expect God to be using my life and witness, but God is at work in us for those where we live, work, play and rest.

“I am a manger”

We carry Jesus to keep him or we carry him both trust and to share. Mary places Jesus in a feeding trough, he is not only her child, Jesus is for us all to be nourished and made whole.

“I am a manger”

I hold the keys of heaven. God is entrusting us with sharing hope for the world or we can double-down on fear, grudges, doubts, weakness, shame and all matters of brokenness.

“I am a manger”

The God who loves us, calls us to love our enemies and one another

The Jesus that saves us calls us to feed and fill those who hunger in a sea of sin and fear.

The Spirit that guides us leads us to those who need to hope.

“I am the manger”

“Here is my Jesus, Here is my God, Here is the Spirit, I am the manger”

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Matthew 15:10-28 Feed the ‘Dogs’

DogScrapsThen he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:  it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”  He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”  But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”  Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”  Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. [NRSV]
The story is about is clean and acceptable to God and what is not.

Clean and Neat

I once had a local barber who said his hairstyles were guaranteed to make one “clean and neat.” He also loved buzz-cuts and flat-tops and used his Georgia Tech degree to talk about subjects far above the heads of most customers who had never even dreamed about anti-matter, black holes, and general relativity.
The teaching moment from Jesus would say to my old barber that God is not concerned with our hairstyle or any physical or cultural context.
Rather, what is acceptable is measured by our words and actions.

A Timely Teaching

This passage is important to hear in our hypersensitivity to politics, racism, and contextual priorities.
The debate and argument, in these exchanges, contain (1) racial-cultural division,  (2) accusations of fundamentalist theologies, and (3) challenging questions about who is correct.

(1) Racism/Culture

The story is interrupted by a Canaanite woman (double challenge: the descendants of Cain and a woman) The division between the Jews and the Canaanites were a polorized as any today.
The role of women is transformed in the Gospel as God works through women as often as men to reveal, teach and serve.

(2) Accusation of Fundamentalism

This woman comes to Jesus requesting healing for her daughter and hears Jesus say she was not going to have her prayer granted and for her to leave his presence. He declares that his mission was more important than the people. His response is that he had not come to work with the Canaanites. His mission was to the Jews. Those who were connected to Cain were cursed from generations before. (Why so harsh? hang on we are getting there in a moment)

(3) Who is correct in the Context?

Wouldn’t it be great to get a clear judgment these days about who is right and who is wrong? Is it the conservatives or the progressives? Is it the rich or the poor? Is it the wise or foolish? Is it the needed or the greedy?
Jesus is clear on the counts of culture, mission, context, and purpose:
Some folks will not be healed,
some will not have prayers answered,
some will be rejected and some sent away.
(As hard as that is, feels or sounds: This message confirms that some are defiled.)

What Defiles, what makes us unacceptable?

  • evil intentions:
    • Wishing, work and hoping that evil will come to another. “I wish he were dead, gone, out.”
  • murder:
    • Willful taking of life, and the neglect of loving one’s enemy
  • adultery:
    • Disregard of marriage and family covenants
  • fornication:
    • Misplaced use of our sexuality
  • theft:
    • Taking what does not belong to us, taking advantage of the system
  • false witness
    • Speaking in ways that protect ourselves over what is true in the eyes of God.
  • slander
    • Discrediting our enemy and our neighbor instead of loving and encouraging them.

CONTEXT:

Jesus and the Disciples change their context, leaving the region of Tyre and Sidon and in Canaan, they are confronted with a woman who challenges the words of the teaching with faith and persistence.
Q: What has she done that defiled her that would warrant Jesus’ rejection of her request and her presence:
She comes asking for healing, for her child, recognizing the power and authority of Jesus, she comes from a different culture, gender, and no apparent charge by Jesus of her behavior being unacceptable. The rejection is on theological and missional grounds:
You’re not Jewish, You’re not in the plan, You are not the right gender, You are not at the right time.
The transforming moment comes when she expresses her faith and trust in God.
All I need is a crumb.
All I need is a mustard seed.
All I am is one lost sheep.
Lord have mercy on me a hungry sinner in need of a crumb of the bread of life.
Recognition: Even in our different back stories, Jesus’s measure is faith.
Recognition: Even in poverty, what we need is Jesus more than fairness.
Recognition: God’s plan changes on the side of including the faithful, not just the poor.
Recognition: Faith is measured by the persistence of staying in the conversation, at the table.

Here are the power questions to answer honestly:

Are the polarized messages you and I hear about what divide us questions about what someone deserves or acknowledgments of what God can do?
In the stories of what persons of different races, culture, gender or economics bring to the conversation about how wrong and evil the establishment is or how possible healing and transformation are for God?
In the story is the woman trying to receive justice or give witness to her trust in God?
In the example is the woman trying to demonize and prove how evil others are or is she calling on God to show up where faith is present?
In this passage, what defiles: the faith we hold in our hearts and minds or the persistence in which we voice it on behalf of those who are lost, dying, broken and alone?

Our society has it all backward:

  1. It is not about having the correct ideas in our heads, it is about having trust in God in our requests.
  2. It is not about putting down the establishments, leaders, and systems, it is about telling the world how to trust God to show up.
  3. It is neither about being made whole,
  • fair nor equal, it is about the power of God at work in the crumbs, in the small things,
  • in the daily bread, in the hourly actions, in moments of our real actions.
  • in the hourly actions, in moments of our real actions.
  • in the every moment of our real actions.

Take Away:

We are defiled when our actions and words DO NOT reflect God’s power and presence.
Even if it is only daily crumbs, let God be our persistent trust.
When the woman asks for a mustard seed of what God can do, Jesus celebrates her faithfulness.
All the slander, divisions, false witness, evil intentions, murder, theft, disregard for covenants and responsibilities and the passionate preoccupations with vilifying our enemies: leaves us mistaking passionate lip service instead of actions of trusting God.
  • When you hear evil, divisions, and fear: This is our call to trust God.
  • When you are tempted to join in the tradition divisive agenda: Trade that for a crumb of faithful trust.
  • When you see, read words of hate and separation: Persistently remind yourself and all others what God can do.
And Jesus will praise our faithfulness, heal our brokenness and make us whole in grace.

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Assurance 1 Peter 1:3-9 Benefits of Faith

assurance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,  so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. [NRSV]

SALVATION

  • Kept in heaven,
  • protected by the power of God
  • an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading

SUFFERING and SUFFERING for our faith

  • You will know trials for a little time, but God’s salvation forever.
  • This is one of the most difficult to accept parts: God doesn’t make it any easier on us than the next person.
  • God doesn’t make it any easier on us than the next person.
  • Living as a person of faith means:
  • Knowing you are ultimately love and valuable to God who gives us breath, lives, love and hope.
  • Choosing God’s ways AS our ways
  • Choosing God’s way as our ways when the world says, begs, models challenges us otherwise.
  • EXAMPLES

FAITH TESTED BY FIRE

  • Faith is more precious than gold
  • Love without Seeing
  • Genuiness of faith rather than Successfulness of FAITH
  • Faith is expressed in Praise, Glory, and Honor

ASSURANCE of REWARD

  • Rather than cut each other down, be challenged to live one another up.
  • Rather than focus on the loss in the moment, look to the hope in eternity
  • Rather than be devastated in the current disappointments, know Jesus is readily available to restore and renew us living as a commitment.

Athletes: commit to

Scouts: Getting it done and completing the task

Work: Doing what no one wants to do builds character and strengthen the team bond

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