Archive for category #sharingfaith

Mark 4:26-34 “Kingdom Seeds”

cornears

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. [NRSV]

{Happy Father’s Day: You are here because some planted a seed of faith. Thank you for the gift of life.}

The Kingdom of God: 

Jesus uses parables to paint the picture of what the church is to look like to the world. Some parables are about the Kingdom of Heaven, Some are the kingdom of earth. But this sample directs our attention to the Kingdom of God.

Recall when we pray the Lord’s prayer that we have learn from repetition: I draw your attention to the phrase “..Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus describes what it looks like when we receive glimpses of heaven on earth. 

  • The image is the of someone scattering seeds that would grow night and day. 
  • How they grow is a mystery. 
  • How they continue to grow, night and day, is a mystery.

Growth is seen in stages:

There is a plan. There is a process. There are points to measure and signs for us to watch and anticipate.

  • The Shoot
  • The Stalk
  • The Head
  • The Full Head
  • Sickle Time
  • The Harvest is the fruit of the seed.

Parable TWO: The Kingdom of Heaven is like..

The tiny mustard seed with might potential

  • The fruit is not only in the seeds for its expected yield
  • Also it provides home and shelter for others

Holding these two parables of God’s Kingdom on revealed to us is:

  • a mystery
  • a process
  • a harvest
  • some expected
  • some unexpected.

How our world longs to see what God has to reveal

I want to invite you to see the kingdom here in Rock Spring.

Over the next two years, you and I will be planing seeds.

No, I’m not helping you plant your garden, we will be scattering seeds of the kingdom. 

How difficult is to scatter seeds?

  • What equipment do you need?
  • Seeds,
  • Hands or a spreader,
  • Some movement, locomotion, transportation, usually we picture simple walking

I know how many places we can expect seeds to sprout.

3,600

What 3,600? That is part of the mystery.

Where they take root first will be a mystery, but once our seeds start being scattered, we will begin seeing sign of the Kingdom of God, both night and day.

I know that over seeding will be needed.

Today I want to show  you the first part: The Mustard Seed.

  1. Hello, My name if John Brantley
  2. I am here today on behalf of Rock Spring UMC
  3. I would like ask you two questions today.
  4. May I?
  5. Is there some need our concern that I can pray for in your life?
  6. Is there anything our church can do for you? I can’t promise that we can do every thing you ask for, but I can promise you that we will try.
  7. Here is my phone number/ email I hope you will contact me if you think of a prayer or something we can help with you and your household.

The Seed:

May we pray for you?

Can we help you in any way?

Both are filled with potential to see the Kingdom of God. 

If they say no or no thank you, or ignore you. Promise them we will check later.

Practice for now:

First I hope that you will try this wherever you go. Work, School, shopping, sporting events, vacation, start to practice. 

We will begin planting rows of a garden in Rock Spring and you need to practice scatting seeds.

When we open our hearts in prayer to listen and serve others we will begin to see the Kingdom of God growing around us.

Will you practice? I need a volunteer.

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1 John 5:1-6 Water and the Blood

wearethechurchEveryone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. [NRSV]

  1. When were you baptized? By whom? At what age were you baptized?
  2. What is the Spirit saying to the world through you as a baptized person in Christ?
  3. If you have not been baptized would you like to talk with John about Baptism?

Late summer in 1964, my parents handed me over to some old white-headed preacher in South Georgia, who I think was the District Superintendent at the time, who baptized me. The pastor asked my parents, my family, and the congregation gathered at the church to reaffirm their faith, to join in the promise to raise me in the faith. I believe I was less than three months old, but I don’t remember the details first hand. But I remember thirteen years later confirming that infant baptism. And in the past forty years have been lived on the roller coast of trust and doubt, obedience and sin, all grounded in life in Jesus Christ.

The water of salvation and the sacrificial blood of love have paved this ride. In the letter of first John there is in Chapter 5, the confirmation that belief in Jesus Christ is an ongoing choice of

  • Baptism as Incorporation into the Body of Christ.
  • Baptism as Forgiveness of Sin.
  • Baptism as New Life.
  • Baptism and Holy Living.
  • Baptism is the doorway to the sanctified life.
  • Baptism as God’s Gift to Persons of Any Age.
  • Baptism is appropriate for any day the community of faith is gathered.

 

Baptism by Water and the Holy Spirit.

Water is the cleansing from the fate of sin and death, the blood is that sacrifice in grace through Christ the we become part of the presence of Christ in the world, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

“I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together…

” The Church is the people of Christ.   [UM Book of Hymns #475]

  • Stories of the Believers:
  • Witness of the Believers”

 

From the UMC.org site below:

Who tells you who you are?

We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.

To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”

Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.

God Initiates the Covenant

We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.

God Has Chosen Us

Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.

So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”

The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”

Baptism Is the Door

From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.

Why Baptize Babies?

From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.

Baptism Is Forever

Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.

Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End

You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.

If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.

What Is a Sacrament?

The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.

 

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Romans 13:5-14  Faith Sharing: Love and Time

sharelove

Therefore one must be subject [to authorities], not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [NRSV]

Faith Sharing: Early in our journey toward sharing the gift of our faith, we need to address the WHY question. Why share our faith. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some basic reason WHY we share our faith.

Today’s text from Paul in his letter to the church in Rome we will look at two:

  1. Because of Love
  2. Because we have limited Time

LOVE Motivation

Paul reminds us of Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor. God loves us and how to relate and interact with others around us reflects and influences others.

Invest/Trust/Living Sharing LOVE

  • Don’t get side tracked with politics, trust God is using every authority for God. If they are not, they must answer to God, err on the side of being a responsible citizen.
  • Don’t get weighted down with debt, If you must be in debt, do so in showing love, respect, and honor, to THOSE who it is due.
  • Do not split hairs over the law of the land or the church, devote your selves to loving sinners, so they/we will go sin no more.

Limited Opportunity

Look at the times, read the signs, know it is closer to the end than the beginning.

Live as though the test is TODAY, rather than next week.

Our physical bodies, our earthly structures, our laws and rules, needs and wants need to be focused on what is spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like.

THE PROBLEM

  • Live worried about your wealth of love instead of things
  • Live focused on caring for sinners instead of comforting the found.
  • Live devoted to satisfying the hunger of your spiritual relationship/s, for eternity instead of pacifying your physical urges and weaknesses.

Our Question: Why do we need to be sharing our faith with others?

We who know love trumps and triumph over all, need to show a

  • divided,
  • self-serving,
  • self-gratifying society,

that accepting world’s idea of good and the world’s understanding of love is not the love that stands with you in ‘firey’ furnace.

How do we share our faith in these conditions?

  • One way is by honoring and respecting those whom honor and respect are due.
  • One way is by being the best citizen and neighbor under the laws of the world’s authorities. If any leader, authority or government is not Godly, the leaders and representatives will be accountable,
  • One way is loving sinners, as sinners, who a seeking to not be sinners. (We don’t love a gambler by betting our farm when they have lost theirs, we love them but help them make new better choices.)

Why not let someone else share their faith?

  1. God loves you and me. God instructs that we respond to love by loving. We have skin in the game because we have been loved, we respond in love.
  2. Jesus is coming soon and you and I have to answer for those we have not reached out to love.

Examples of Loving

Jesus gave the command to feed, clothe, visit and encourage not as an exclusive list of rules/laws to fulfill, but as examples of everyday loving…

Love those who need to be loved so that your loving acknowledges God’s love.

Witness Trusting God by being honorable, respectful, contributing the good of neighbors and citizens. AND let people know that is your drive/motive/purpose.

          Model for your neighbors: honor, respect, and responsibility so they see you trust God.

The Caveat

Love, not so that they see YOU are a good person, rather that they KNOW God’s love drives you.

Participate in community responsibility not so they approve of you, but they see God can conquer brokenness.

The Temptation is to leave the light shining on ourselves.

This is the daily, “home work”

love others, participate in community life

1. In response to God’s love, AND

2. with the urgency that the world comes to know Christ through your faithfulness.

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Matthew 16:21-28 “Worth the Journey”

mywaygodsway

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” [NRSV]

Making Disciples: What is a life worth?

A very difficult thing asked of me was after mom’s death, from being hit in a head-on car accident was to give a value of her life. The attorney asked my brother and me, what was the value of mother’s life for the court case. To come up with a number for the judge. The determination was to be made on what her contributions to the common good would be. The value of her reading to middle school students, mentoring graduate school students, visiting in prison ministry, writing Sunday school lessons, volunteering at her church, and the impact would have a neighbor and citizen. If one were compensated for volunteering at a reasonable rate a figure could be determined for the projected number years she would likely live to serve and that number came to roughly $200,000. But was that value of her life? The young man who drove his uninsured luxury car into her had no assets, and his family had twenty-six previous suits against them, so the final assessment of her life was valued at 1000 hours of community service and no dollars. Is that justice? Is this how God measure our lives? For me, it was a life lesson about the misplaced value of one’s life.

What is your life worth to God?

  • You are worth the life of his only child,
  • You are worth designing energy, matter, gravity, physics, and mathematics,
  • You are worth sharing a relationship with God.
  • God has paid for our life, but does not force us to pay God back,
  • God offers a way to joy, peace, and wholeness, yet wants us to want to appreciate, trust and follow.
  • God says your life is worth it all, hoping you will choose the life God paid for you to live.

The journey of our life is about what we do with the time we have: Choosing God or humanity as our highest goal.

Discipleship: It Ain’t Easy

  • Peter declares: God forbid it to be difficult, hard, challenging, unpleasant or demanding
  • Jesus responds, Get away your evil thoughts away from me.
  • It is evil lived from only a human point of view.

Remembering we are Spiritual People in a Physical Incubator.

There are times that we make following Jesus even harder,

this is a charge against the church if we hold the keys and call the shots for what it means to follow, then there is room for abuse

Jesus models choosing God’s call for his life or the voice of emotions and reason alone.

Peter says: Don’t take the hard path, choose the path most traveled.

Sometimes things get in the way of our best plans:

A story about a country farmer who had a mule with blocked-up plumbing, he called the new veterinarian in town to come help. The young vet had a bottle of large laxative pills that modeled the phrase, ‘horse pill’ that was fast acting and guaranteed to unstop the most stubborn gastric stoppages. He found a long piece of pipe with a contraption to secure one end into the mouth of the mule and the other end he would insert the pill and make certain the pill went right to work. He secured the pipe and straps around the mule, added two horse pills, took a deep bread, but the ass blew first.

Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block

setting one’s mind on human things instead of divine things

Pray right now!

ACTION: “Lord, forgive me for being a stumbling block..”

  • Disciples recognize that life devoted to Jesus is greater than the life we can make without him. (justice)
  • Disciples recognize that life is a gift and God gives us a choice to use our life as we choose. (freedom)
  • Disciples recognize God desires good for us but does not force God on us. (meaningful relationship)
  • Disciples recognize that a good life is not measured by having stuff, or a comfortable life. (worth/value)
  • Disciples recognize God is willing to follow the choice we are called to make. (sacrifice)

Choose God’s self over the self you choose

To follow God is to find:

    • wholeness,
    • justice,
    • freedom,
    • meaningful relationship,
    • worth, value and
    • sacrifice.

in 2017 We live in mountain top period of thinking that is human focused.

  • What is best for humanity, the majority, the minority
  • What is best for me and those like me
  • My right and the right of others to choose what it good and right
  • It’s my life, my decisions, my definition, my right, my understanding, my dream, my ideal

When we exclude God or even allow God to slip into second place, we choose with the best of humanity has to offer, but without the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God.

When hearing this when others say things like: (Human limitations)

  •   Love me or accept me for choosing myself
  •   It is my life, my will
  •   Accept me for choosing my own way,
  •   Accept me for believing the common denominator is our safest place.
  •   Shame on you for not accepting my choice made from my perspective.

The court of public opinion may have the majority of human perspective and still miss the mind and heart of God.

   Peter, one of Jesus’ chosen, is telling Jesus,

     you know what is best for yourself,

     we don’t want to see you suffer

     You have God powers, just zap trouble out of your way,

The Heart of the passage: Losing and Finding

finding ourselves in following Jesus

The Journey of sharing our faith is affirmed where our trust, faith, and allegiance is grounded.

Faith means we see that for all you and I can do, we never can do enough on our own

Trust God means we know we are awesome creations with great minds and dreams, but without God death is our worst limitation.

Walking with Christ, we bring together the best of being human into a relationship with God.

Choosing a different path is ends in trusting what is evil, broken, limited, empty and apart from God.

How many people do you know today who have:

evil rules in their lives?

experience brokenness in their bodies, relationships, minds, and hearts?

find themselves living at the limits or out of bounds on a daily basis?

someone who feels lost and empty and distant from God and God’s people?

These are the people who need the gift of Christ that guides us..

  1. Step one for today: Pray that I am not a stumbling block. (At least don’t let me lead someone astray)
  2. Step two for today: know it is a daily choice to walk with Christ ourselves
  3. Step three for today: acknowledge it is not easy, and we need Christ to lead, bless, carry, push and call us on.

Let’s get to the journey today

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Trust the Old Story for New Life

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. [NRSV]

Jesus the parable painter

  • Mustard seed
  • Yeast
  • Treasure hidden
  • Pearl
  • Net

Every story is a out the same thing. The kingdom of Heaven. Billy Graham preached for all his years and always the same sermon: Jesus Christ and him crucified fir our sins.

Parables train us for what is new and old.
Scripture through the eyes of
tradition AND
reason and
experience.
Not any one or two of the other.

The Old is the scripture the new is the contemporary context. Jesus is giving the new as examples of the old

Jesus is establishing building blocks: look at the pieces.

Mustard seed
The kingdom of heaven is larger and with more purpose then we can imagine

Yeast
The kingdom of heaven spreads and transforms whatever it comes in contact with

Treasure hidden
The kingdom of heaven is worth security and investing in pursuing

Pearl
The kingdom of heaven is something to be searched for and pursued and is worth more than what we have

Net
The invitation to the kingdom of heaven is open to a home but not everyone will find it is their home for eternity.

The kingdom of heaven:
1. TKoH is more than we expect
2. TKoH is to be shared
3. TKoH is worth the journey
4. TKoH cost everything
5. TKoH is open to all but all will not find it home

TKoH

  • begins here and now
  • Is found when we share it
  • Is the labor of our life
  • Is priceless
  • Some will give it up

Is Gods Heavenly Kingdom

  1. Something you are experiencing
  2. Are you Sharing it
  3. Is your life devoted to loving God completely more than thinking God correctly
  4. Are you at home in God, with the People of God now?

Bottom line: get to

  • living
  • giving & sharing
  • loving & trusting
  • Building & doing and
  • worshiping & growing

Or else (Parables can kick us in the butt)

  1. You just have a seed stuck in you shoe
  2. You just have the ingredients but no cake
  3. You just have treasure but never use it
  4. You just stay busy without joy
  5. You talk and think but are like the grass that withers when it dies.

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Matthew 13:1-9 They Withered

witheringbeansThat same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”  [NRSV]

Our generation lives on a minimum amount of resources while consuming more stuff than the majority of the world.

  • This passage is not about the injustice of poverty.

Our generation prefers being served over serving others.

  • This passage is not about feeding those who are hungry.

Our generation assumes rights and access to information, energy, and wealth it has not labored nor earned.

  • This passage is not about clothing the naked.

Those who have never planted seeds for food have only second-hand appreciation for harvesting pepperoni’s for their pizza or nuggets for dipping, or sugar cane for their soda.

We are a consumer society and the idea that disciples, followers of Jesus, as those who plant, invest, tend, nurture, nourish and prepare others a life as disciple.

Typically we are more interested in our own self and/or our own family, and sometimes our friends.

The challenge Jesus gives to disciples and followers like us is a charge to be extravagant in sharing our faith.

But what if we are weary of sharing our faith? What if we are tired, scared, hesitant?

  • Might be because we only have a heard and experiences a few seeds along the way that have been held in reserved instead of planted and harvested.
  • Might be because we only see different pieces and have to put the parts together in a way that brings meaning, power and purpose to our daily lives.
  • Might be because we have tried and fail, or tried and did not find what we thought or hoped and we have given up on God’s seeds of love, good, hope, grace and power.
  • Might be because we have the seeds but expected them to work like Jack’s magic beans rather than a way for God to grow and reach us.
  • Might be we have not trusted God’s seeds to taste as good as other seeds. Other words, teachings, ideas, philosophies, agendas and platforms have hold of our hearts.
  • It might be a hundred more reasons..

The reality of God’s work of love and grace for us, is this:

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it has become a profound corner stone of my understanding.

  • While you are I were dying
  • While you and I were starving
  • While you and I were fooling ourselves and others
  • While you and I were lying
  • While you and I were thirsting
  • While you and I were withering

Christ gave himself as a way to the heart of God that no other path could accomplish.

We are people of God’s working.

We receive the gift of God’s work through Christ, but we are called to labor instead of comfortable consumers:

We are called to be laboring, working, sharing, preparing, challenging, encouraging, activating the process of building relationship where the love of Christ can thrive and make us spiritually mature and whole.

Christ died for us, not because we had it all figured out correctly

Christ died for us, because we have a tendency either:

  1. Hope someone will do our work for us, or we
  2. Hope that our work will be rewarded for our faithful duty.
  3. Neither of these is correct

Christ died giving us the benefit of love and salvation before we have done anything good, true or right.

The message of how God works is preemptive:

God does the sow.

This is experienced first

  • through Christ and the Holy Spirit,
  • through people, worship, songs, service, and study.

The process continues with each generation.. but along the way some folks

miss the seeds

  • some get interested at first but tire or give up
  • some compete with thorny ideas and competing promises
  • some make room for growth and fruit follows.

Today we gather not as those who have never heard and not as those who have gone on to glory, we live in the middle having heard enough for faith, knowing there are those who are bitter, hurting, afraid, lonely, angry, confused, abused, neglected, ignored, selfish, mis-informed, or just plain wrong: and God has entrusted us with making relationships with one another, While we are still sinners.

 The kernel of this parable is about recognizing the withering and the thorns.

Look around here today: Are their those who are tired, hesitant, weary, afraid to share a life of faith?

Look around: Are there those who are thorny obstacles other here or those outside the church?

I am challenged and challenge you to strengthen you spiritual roots.

  • connect a new with bible study, Sunday school,
  • pray with your family, small group, friend groups
  • take the steps to know more of God’s word, do more of God good and be ready to lead others in Christ, more than follower/consumer.

Galatians 6:9 (NRSA) So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

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Matthew 10:24-39 Acknowledge Jesus Daily

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“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. [NRSV]

We know too well many ways to ignore, reject, and avoid sharing our faith and allowing others into our faith journey. This passage warns us of the consequences of pushing others away. Don’t tell folks to talk to the hand, share the hand of Christ who loves, saves and calls us into life together.

Acknowledging Jesus is With Us

  • Talking About who Jesus was, is and will be is the easiest and beginning point of our promise to Witness Jesus Christ.
  • Learning the stories, details, and information about Jesus is the foundation, but it is only our starting point.
  • More people stop at this place and find know many things about Jesus something of which to be proud and comfortable
  • Example: you and I might know many stats and details about a person who plays a sport and many seasons of many players, but that never assumes that we are on the field ourselves. But knowing the rules, stats and stories are a place to begin to connect.

Acknowledging Jesus Saves Us

  • Developing a Relationship with Jesus begins in a relationship with the people of Jesus’s body, church folks.
  • We live in a an era where we have to earn the respect and opportunities to share the church’s message.
  • No longer can we assume we have a voice in the community.
  • No longer can we take a pass waiting for someone to ask us about Jesus
  • No longer can we bemoan or complain about how easy the church once had a central role.
  • Now is the time for the church to rekindle and reclaim that faith story of salvation, hope, and love we assume the world knows, trusts and believes.

Acknowledging Jesus is Shaping Us

  • The Good News is acknowledging Jesus is not a regurgitating of historical information to a lost and hurting world.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is giving the invitation to join in a spiritual journey where the answers unfold along the way.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is seeking Jesus’s story is woven through our story.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is finding our role is leading others to follow, as we follow Jesus.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is placing our purpose in the heart of the one who died and lives for our present and our future.

I challenge you to acknowledge Jesus Today

  • Find someone here today and practice: Tell how you become a follower of Jesus,
  • Tell someone why you continue to grow as a following of Jesus
  • Confess a struggling place you fail without Jesus’s saving help.
  • Give someone the opportunity to give their brokenness, emptiness, questions, doubts, and fear to Jesus.

Together we find ourselves in sharing ourselves in Christ. This is the daily work:

  • Lord, I am broken without you, Save me again today,
  • lead me in your work even though I don’t deserve or even know how to start again,
  • I recognize, affirm, acknowledge, proclaim and accept, you complete me. Make me yours
  • Make us restore us in the ways you have worked, hoped and created us to become.
  • Go Repeat, share and lead others

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Hebrews 10:4-10 A Body of Offering

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.  Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God  (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law),  then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.  And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]

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Here the Good News:

While we were still sinning, God loved us. Sending Christ to make us whole.

The Core of this passage from Hebrews is found in two parts:

  • a. It is impossible for us to eradicate of sin
  • b. Jesus does what is impossible for us to do, on our behalf

Grace:  God loves us, God hopes we will complete the love, Offers us Faith, We trust, love complete.

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Sanctification:

God sanctifies us through the body of Jesus

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Sanctifying Grace

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Through the body

  • Before we were born God knows us. God is working prophylactically on our behalf.
  • Before we have any responsibility of sinning, we have God’s helping grace.
  • It is God choosing for us to have a body, born in a broken world, God joins us in the journey.
  • All different, unique both autonomous and interdependent

The Goal is Wholeness, Perfection, and completeness.

  • God is working before we are ready to work
  • God is making a way where there is no way
  • God is ultimately ready to complete our brokenness

WHAT IS OUR PART?

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This Sanctifying process of Maturing God’s work in our body, time, live, and even then God holds our hands through the muddy, mucky mire.

The Equation of Grace

08_Grace_Equation

The maturity of faith is the growing in trust through practice.

Practice: This is the root of my suggestions of “homework”

We practice, stretch, test and mature our faith by taking steps toward God

  • Worship
  • Prayer
  • Study
  • Service
  • Christian Fellowship
  • Christian Accountability
  • Witnessing, Sharing, Teaching, opening our faith to others

God is not interested in our management of the rules as much as our practice of trusting God in each day.

  • Practice with our words
  • Practice with our bodies
  • Practice with our actions
  • Practice with our thoughts, songs, and stories of faith
  • Practice with our Hospitality, Worship, Intention Study, Service, and Generosity.

Our purpose is not the be right, correct and blameless, our goal is to be faithful.

  1. Our Confirmation Class has begun discussion of this journey
  2. Our SS Classes and Small Groups practice the community
  3. Our church is the struggle to be the body of Christ with our bodies.
  4. This is the practice of Lent and the life as an Easter People.

Let’s help one another practice.

 

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Matthew 17:1-9 Can You Keep a Secret?

Church of the Transfiguration

Mt Tabor, Church of the Transfiguration.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”[NRSV]
  1. A Strange Order to Keep Quiet

    1. Could it be Jesus we testing reverse psychology?
    2. Could it be Jesus didn’t think they understood what they saw
    3. Could it be Jesus want these disciples to have something the others did or couldn’t know?
    4. Could it be Jesus had more than one purpose in taking the disciples along to see this event?
  2. Learning the timing when to tell

    1. If Jesus had multiple reasons for the trip, what were they?
      1. Jesus sharing with Moses and Elijah, Law and Prophets
      2. Jesus is confirmed for being foretold
      3. Jesus is confirmes preparing to complete the law
      4. Jesus places himself in the context for the disciples
    2. What did the disciples learn from the trip
      1. Peter, James and John were either more mature or needed remedial reinforcement
      2. Peter receives a lesson in
        1. asking before declaring,
        2. praying before acting,
        3. trusting before explaining.
  3. Can you keep Quiet about who Jesus is to you?

    1. Do you notice that the disciples 2:1 keep quiet on the mountain.
    2. Reasons for speaking
    3. Reasons for listening and observing
    4. Learning lessons for future opportunities
      1. Trusting the lessons of the law
      2. Trusting the lessons of the prophets
      3. Affirming the mission and minsitry of Jesus
      4. knowing they can Get up and do not be afraid
      5. Trusting God’s time for telling.
  4. Knowing your time to listen and your times to tell.

    1. Being in the right place and time for learning
    2. Taking time to wait and listen to God
    3. Asking for guidance instead of declaring (our agenda/thinking/etc.
    4. Jumping ahead: This story is appears in Matth 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9, it is retold for us.
  5. Someone needs to hear about Jesus

    1. Have you prepared for those moments?
    2. Have you mis-spoken in the past?
    3. Have you ever gotten up from fear of taking what we have experienced and kept it in the past?
    4. Homework:
      1. Go tell someone what Jesus Christ has done for you.
      2. If you don’t then spend this Lenten season in prayer and study, because Easter is coming!
Location: 3477 Peavine Road, Rock Spring, GA 30739  Rock Spring UMC  www.mysundaysermons.com

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