Archive for category #savealife
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, he received the power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance, they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. [NRSV]
A Better Country
- What kind of country will our nation have become in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what will be?
- What kind of church will our congregation be in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you hopeful or filled with doubts?
- What will your faith look like in forty years, four years? four months?
- Are you empowered or searching?
A Better Country
We have so entwined religion and politics that we have become polarized and paralyzed in our misappropriated patriotism. It is not a matter of separating church and state conversations, it is about using the freedoms our nation has to most fully express and experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Our freedoms allow for many faiths, but we place our trust in a better country. W
If we were as preoccupied with living as citizen of heaven as we are citizen of the USA, what would it look like??
- Facebook would be filled with words, pictures, and messages about our faith and church
- Our conversations would be about news and report of where we see God at work in the world. We would be trying to out-do each other in love and service.
- We would stay up at night worrying about how many people we had reached, transformed, and welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
- People would see our commitment to the citizenship we hold highest is in the heart of God.
The OT Case for Building a “more perfect union.”
Creation, Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, key examples of faith that have shaped the faith we now live. The bottom line of each of these persons witnessed examples of placing themselves and their personal trust in God to lead, protect, save, heal, and bless. The fruit of seeking our ultimate allegiance is in God, is that God uses us to build a better country, a heavenly one.
New Testament Case
In the parable that the lawyer asks Jesus who is my neighbor, we find it is the one who shows grace and loving kindness.
In this faith-history lesson begs the question: What is my home? What is my citizenship? To home and where do I belong?
What is my home? Is it only the building at my address? Is it the sum of my stuff and assets and debts? Is only my family and extended family?
The Call to Live in our Heavenly Citizenship, (On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Is this the story of our nation? Is this the story of our people? Is this the story that bears fruit in our lives?
Call to make disciples:
- Love one another in service, AND
- Inspire others to join the fellowship, AND
- Worship and Fellowship to strengthen another before God.
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [NRSV]
- Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Good News to the Poor
Release to Captive
Sight to the Blind
Freedom to the Oppressed
To Proclaim, Now is the Lord’s Moment
- The Rest of Isaiah
Bind up the brokenhearted
Comfort the mourning
Provide for the grieving in Zion
Beauty instead of ashes,
oil of joy instead of mourning
garments of praise instead of despair
These will be called mighty oaks of righteousness
The destroyed will be rebuilt
There will be a reversal where the world serves the holy in the holy places.
- To Follow Jesus is to do these types of things for the glory of God.
- To Follow Jesus is to begin doing these things today
- To Follow Jesus is to transform the world
Why Do These?
Good News, freedom, vision, encourage, comfort, beauty, joy, praise.. all to reveal God’s claim on this day.
United Methodist 3 Rules Applied
Practicing our Piety, Doing Good and Silencing Evil.
- Ministry of Sharing Good News and praise
- Ministry of addressing physical needs
- Ministry of addressing emotional needs
- Ministries of showing beauty and joy
- Start with one and move to the next
God lays upon our hearts, opens doors in our lives, gives us opportunities to serve,
What Jesus did not say:
- Take the weekends off, nope.
- Show up when you feel like it, nope.
- Retire when you are tired, nope.
- Don’t start until you get your act together, nope.
Jesus is talking to family, friends, neighbors and hometown folks.
- This is not a message in the wilderness
- This is not a message in the market place
- This is not a message in meadow by the sea
- This is sitting at the kitchen table conversation…
This is a message for homefolks, us!
- If we are tired, let these words charge us up
- If we are afraid, let these examples give us courage
- If we are weak, let these gifts become our strength
- If we are lost, let these paths be our way back to God
- If we are too busy, let these instructions interrupt us.
Affirming our mission to make Disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Year of the LORD’s Favor, Isaiah 61 [NRSV]
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORDfor the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” 10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done,
added to them all by shutting up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [ NRSV ]
I baptize with water
- Reclaiming the terms: Dunked, dipped or drizzled
- TELL USE ABOUT YOUR BAPTISM. Giving witness to our journey.
I am not worthy: we can do great things as good folks but without Jesus our value is he whim of popularity or eternity.
- Not the time for Jesus to be shut up. The corrupt government figures tried to quiet and stop the voice of the faithful, but God is not in our government. God is beyond laws.
- Baptism: the first step of many. John’s ministry begins with preparing us for a life with Jesus. Dressed in grace to transform the place.
Reclaiming our mission to baptize the world as the entry point to a life in Jesus Christ. Think of the people who we work, live, play, fellowship or struggle every week: who amount them does not know the power of Jesus living in there hearts?
- This is the year to have the conversations of intentionality and purpose: open our relations and interactions to be ways of revealing Jesus.
- Dont keep him imprisoned in our hearts, sing out the witness, love and presence of Christ. Leave it to guessing people have Christ or be certain. NOT FOR THIER SALVATION BUT FOR OURS
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.”
And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.
Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. [NRSV]
John the Baptizer
John the Baptizer is best known for pronouncing the arrival of Jesus as the Message and baptizing Jesus in the Jordon river. As a prophet, he is not only preaching to the crowds of ordinary folks. He is also the voice holding the leaders accountable. People throughout the region respected John; some thought he might be the embodiment of the prophet, Elijah, promised from generations ago.
The role of a prophet is to be a messenger reminding people of the things they should already know. Occasionally a prophet will have an apocalyptic message, but it general always followed with, a warning to repent and return to being faithful for God. John the Baptizer is no different.
His message to the king was the same as it was to the people. Repent. Namely John was called out Herod for inappropriate marriage. He married his brother’s wife.
The Herod Family: The Royals, Kardashians and Jerry Springer Meet Billy Graham
Herod’s mother was Jewish, therefore Herod was ½ and Jewish by technicality. He married Herodias after they both divorces their spouses. Herodias, grand-daughter of Alexander the Great, married Phillip who happened to be her uncle. Herodias used her daughter, Salome, to entice and entrap Herod to have John the Baptizer executed for calling the family’s sinful behavior out.
Happy Birthday Dear Herod
The scene is a birthday party: Herod’s birthday party. Herodias uses he brother’s daughter to dance provocatively for her uncle/step-father. Herod is pleased so much that he offers half his kingdom to the child. Salome goes to ask her mother how to best cash-in on the oath of an offer. A pony? A chest of jewels? Her own palace? No, mom has her ask for the head of John the Baptizer. ??Happy birthday to you…Oh dear how dreadful.
So let’s get to the lesson: John the Baptizer calls out the twisted, brokenness on which Herod and Herodias family and relationship are held together. Treachery, murder, divorce, inappropriate re-marriage and abuse of children.
1. No one disputes that John is wrong.
2. Even Herodias knows John is right and holy, she simply does not like what she hears.
3. For calling out the family’s sin, Herodias holds a grudge against John the Baptizer, no forgiveness
4. Herod agrees by his silence and complicit behavior.
5. Herod give his word and will not change his word even when it conflicts with God’s word, (though shall not kill for one.)
6. Herod also listened to John the Baptizer and liked what he heard about repentance, but Herod didn’t hear this for himself and apply the teaching to his own life.
Prophets are ordinary folks who: REMIND people and leaders to be FAITHFUL to God
Being a prophet is risky business.
The People might turn on you, and not listen and follow someone they like better.
The Leader might have you killed.
Question: So who would ever want to be a prophet?
I suggest that God calls each of use to be prophets, at different times. As we study and grow in understanding of God’s laws, guides, grace, love and power in our own lives. When I am selfish, brutish and unforgiving, I experience life without God’s love, power and grace.
We can see the same in others. Because we know the power of God’s word, love and grace we are also entrusted with sharing with other where we see sin, as a warning, not a judge.
- If someone is walking too close to the street from the sidewalk, we say, move to the center before you get hit by that truck.
- If someone is speeding down the highway, we say, hey slow down your might get a ticket and you might kill us if someone stops suddenly in front of us.
- If someone is choose a circular pattern of destructive behavior, habitual abuse, addictions, uncontrolled anger, etc. we say, you need to get some help, you need to see a doctor, you need a counselor, you need to stop and break the cycle. There is better way; you have another choice. God loves you more than you love you. Don’t ever forget it.
When we point out sin with the purpose of sharing a way of repentance, we are not judging, we are affirming that sin power, real and destructive in our lives. We have a way out of sin, Jesus Christ.
We are all guilty of sin. We all have different ways that we put our word, ideas, will and value ahead of God’s. John the Baptizer models a way to get back to God. He is not judging, he his holding up a mirror to see the truth..
We are the mirror people. Why don’t we believe were are all prophets? Because it’s dangerous.
We want hazard pay at best. Ask Jesus. He’s got you covered. Now get out there and call for repentance. They world is going on a hand basket. And Gos is calling us to call out sin, offer repentance and bring people back to God.
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]
My Task is to Remind You about Jesus
- Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
- God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
- God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
- God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
- God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.
You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.
- A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
- When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
- Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
- (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)
Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain.
I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery
Did you know in the National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.
Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.
On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.
When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes
When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.
What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?
-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.
How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…
How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.
Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.
- GOD knows us:
- we forget,
- mess up,
- get in a jam,
- fall off the wagon,
- the dog eats our homework,
- the car breaks down,
- we loose our job,
- we forget to study,
- we miss the deadline,
- we get distracted
- and tempted…
- we sin, big ones and little ones,
- we drift or run..
God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.
- I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
- I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
- I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
- I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given you.
- God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
- God’s grace is not an after thought…
- along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
- God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
- God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
- God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.
This is what Easter message is about.
- It’s not just about Jesus,
- its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
- its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
- Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
- Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.
So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus…
- I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
- I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
- I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
- I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
- I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
- I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
- I hear Jesus in your music and singing
- I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
- I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
- I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
- He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.