Archive for category #rsumc
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; 8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord! [NRSA]
- At the core of celebrating Christmas is the telling God’s story
- It is not a New Story
- It is a Story of Good News for a Broken World
- It is Your Story to Live
It may be somewhat strange to turn to the Psalms to hear the Good News of Christmas. Be reminded that God who has been calling all people to trust him, has the same heart of love shown in creation, revealed through out shared history, made plane in the manger in Bethlehem, is the same love and message of hope for the world.
Question 1: Do you know God’s Good News in your life?
The Good News that Jesus makes plain is fortold in the worship songs, the Psalms. Here in Psalm 146 the song retells that our HAPPINESS comes from God and not our things, not our money, not our success, not our accomplishment, RATHER – Our Joy and Hope come from God..
If you and I are looking for Joy and Hope in others things and other relationships they will all disappoint us if God is not in them.
Look around, in the world, in our community, in our church, in our homes, in our own hearts: We do not always place God first in our hearts, minds and soul.
Question 2: Are you persuaded and guided by God’s Hope?
If you believe God is at work in the world today and in your life, you have the very message that God has been trying to share with the world. It only takes a moment to see the brokenness and fear that leads people’s hearts, minds and spirits to know — Faith, Hope and Love are precious gifts that need to be shared and unwrapped.
I have to believe that most everyone of us would want to answer, “YES!” I am persuaded! I believe God loves the world and God desires the world around me to see, hear and experience God’s love through my life. (your life). But in how many short minutes or seconds before our pride, our greed, our selfishness, our demons, our dependancies, our fears tempt, test and tear us away?
Question 3. Do you remember that it is God’s Story in us and not the reverse.
Psalm 146 calls the people of God, while in worship, to remember the eternal power God has for us, who believe and serve. The words are comfort to those held captive, those blind, and those oppressed. The Lord lifts up the stranger, the orphan and the widow. The Good News to which Jesus preaches in his first home-town sermon.
The part of the sermon that gets him run out of town is that God is not saving the lost and empowering the powerless to do their own thing, God is blessing us to be God’s servants, witnesses and messengers.
The Psalm is clear that God is not about supporting wickedness, pride, greed, fear, brokenness and sin. God has come to free us from these things, but not to return to them as our master.
The 4 Question is this: Who is entrusted to tell and live the story?
Is it those who test the Lord loving-kindness or those who follow God’s ways? The Psalms sings: Praise the Lord! (Not look what I want, what You want, what I need, what you need… The seperation we experience and witness in the world is that we turn our hearts away from our hope and salvation.
As a culture-of-church we have become more of an institution, an organization and a entity of operations. We talk about OUR ministry, OUR building, OUR mission, and OUR church. We hear the Psalmist remind us, that we about God’s ministry, God’s heart, God’s temple, God’s work and God’s witness.
As a culture-of-church we have grown to expect someone else to do the work and us to receive the ‘Cliff-notes’ gift-pack that makes it easy to receive. When we expect to be served, we are not serving. When we anticipate the transaction of getting because we have given. Whew think of ourselves as entitled to the benefits of membership, we need to revisit the words of the Psalms: Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
In our journey toward Christmas and rekindling the presence of Christ in ourlives, know this:
- God is calling us to worship him
- God is calling us to repent of our sins, fears and selfishness
- God is calling us to trust him
- God is calling me (state your name) to be the witness to the world
- IF THIS IS OUR TO DO LIST: We need Christ to be our
- Our Strength
- Our Good News
- Our Word
- and OUR HOPE
Prayer: Lord make us yours, be our strength, draw us to your word and call, and open the hearts and minds of everyone we meet to receive you through our words and witness of your power, love and grace. Amen.
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.
- 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.
- Stop Blaming
- Stop making excuses
- Stop looking for our own ideas and solutions
- Turn back to God
- Trust God’s Goodness and Word
- Trust God’s will and wisdom
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
Clean and Neat
A Timely Teaching
(2) Accusation of Fundamentalism
(3) Who is correct in the Context?
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.”
- Willful taking of life, and the neglect of loving one’s enemy
- Disregard of marriage and family covenants
- Misplaced use of our sexuality
- 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.
- Discrediting our enemy and our neighbor instead of loving and encouraging them.
Here are the power questions to answer honestly:
Our society has it all backward:
- It is not about having the correct ideas in our heads, it is about having trust in God in our requests.
- It is not about putting down the establishments, leaders, and systems, it is about telling the world how to trust God to show up.
- 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.
- 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.
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]
- 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.
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