Archive for category Spiritual
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord— the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. [NRSV]
The words of praise. Hurray! Glory! Wonderful! come to mind, but this is a more unique word that Hebrew and recorded in Jesus’s native Aramaic. It is a phrase word. Just as the folks from Athens, GA might say: “How ‘bout them Jackets” (haha, twist intended) it would be a celebratory “Glory, Glory to ole Georgia.” If these phrases were encapsulated into a word we would the idea of ‘Hosannah”
Hosanna began as Lord, God Save us! and through the Gospel’s has come to mean, Highest Praise, who has saved us. So their use of the original context is twisted with the early church’s use of the old testament word.
So we have Palm Sunday as a pre-celebration that Jesus coming into the world, and in our hearts and lives, is the celebration of our salvation.
Which means if Jesus does not come to the world, to our heart, and to our town, then we are NOT saved. Here in is theological of preparing for a life as Easter People.
We usually only read this passage as an observer of a historical event, but it is shared in the Gospels as Good News and not just historical newspaper clippings.
Hosannah: Jesus has saved me, even though we celebrate the death on Good Friday and the Resurrection of next Sunday as Easter, we look at this story of entry into the city as a necessary part of the process.
We prepare for Easter knowing it is our victory march! The ASSURANCE of what WILL be and not just hope of what MIGHT be.
The disciples did not gather to get Creighton’s Florist to order dozens of palms to be ordered, the palms were a response from the people who are making a traditional sign of welcoming the king.
This is a difficult time for us to respond in unison with any unifying act of praise and celebration because we have become a culture of suspicion, rebellion and divided support.
Some might hope, in our country that the “Stars and Stripes” would be an obvious rally flag. For some, it an illicit political protest.
I hope that you will do the spiritual work to see that the people might have divided reasons for welcoming Jesus as King.
Some who were in the crowd that day had experienced Jesus teaching, healing or miracles, while others knew only the oppressive Roman rule, and still, others were supporting glorious days of kings of the past hoping for the revival of political greatness.
Bottom line the palms are unifying symbols of many different individual reasons, some helpful and some dangerous.
Why a donkey’s colt?
Jesus came to town with is Colt? Would mean have met the expectation of many who were hoping for a new sheriff to clean house and restore order. When in fact, Jesus comes in humility to spiritually reorder the whole world and all time.
Think of the Jesus riding in a church parade. If this were a political parade there would have been legions of soldiers, a banner of the empire and emblems of Cesear. This is a church parade. Not everyone entered a float, but the people respond as if it is a political, flag-waving event.
Jesus rides in, not in a BEAST of an armored car, not on the back of a convertible, not even proud Clydesdale stallion. It’s more like he rides in on a pickup truck, not a four-door, HEMI, but a simple work truck.
But the symbol for some would be as if the self-proclaimed president was riding in ‘on’ a smart car. You know that Consumer Reports does not the rate the “Smart Car” in their rating in a polite way of saying: “If you can’t say something good and helpful, don’t say anything at all.”
The palms and praises are the people’s response, Jesus message is the spiritual work that is being completed through the events of the week at hand. We call it Holy Week, but it is the week when everything we hold dear is lost and hope is out of our grasp… Oh, how we long for Easter, Salvation, Life, and Christ!
Wave OUR palms because we need to lead others out of hopelessness, fear, and sin into the joy that aways through the journey at hand.
This is what we share, this is why we praise, this is why we are the church, we are Christian, not for ourselves, but for OUR collective hope in the ONE who does save us. This week of Journey is the toughest part. Reach out to one who is in the hardest part o that spiritual and physical journey sharing the hope and joy that we KNOW is coming soon!
Again the call is to share the journey with those who cannot see this week is holy.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. [NRSV]
The Coach’s Gator-Aid Baptism: Acceptance and Celebration for winning or setting a record, but Christian baptism is not just a public celebration: it is about covenant making and covenant keeping.
Baptized in the Spirit vs Second Birth
Over time some churches and denominations have made more of the verse that is like intended. Some would teach that when you and I repent, acknowledge that we are sinners and believe Jesus to be our “Lord and Savior” that it is somehow a partial baptism that we must have a second baptism in the Spirit, as the sign of some spiritual maturity or marker of spiritual progress. When in fact this passage is about a lack of information, a shortcoming in the teaching and Paul wants all disciples to ha e the full story, the full benefit, and full connection as a disciple, believer and follower of Jesus.
Salvation for Wesley is the process that begins in the Holy Spirit before we are aware of what is happening, We mark our part in the process when we acknowledge Jesus Christ has died for our sins personally (thus justifying us through Grace and the Spirit), what follows in our response of becoming the person Jesus died and rose to save, the Spirit guiding us in the journey of sanctification toward the goal of wholeness in the Spirit, he called perfection.
Bottom line, if someone speaks of not having the Spirit it is actually a matter of perspective, ignorance (being misinformed or uninformed) and/or misinterpretation.
From the beginning of Creation, the Holy Spirit moved through the great chaos and spoke order and purpose. The Spirit moved in creation over the earth and was breathed into humanity giving us that very image, breath and spirit of God in us.
What makes us exceptional is that we each are Spirit-filled people, we all have the Spirit of God to credit for our life, our purpose and our meaning.
When the world denies or runs from God’s Holy Spirit
They do so in fear, misinformation, pride, personal desire to control, or a lack of experience/understanding.
So what? Our personal faith journey is to affirm we are spirit filled people, saved by Christ and living for God’s purpose, in God’s love, uniquely through each one of us.
So what’s the deal with this passage and Paul re-baptizing these folks?
- This passage is about teaching what baptism is about
- This passage s about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit
- It is for us a reminder that to be a Christian is to 1) be aware we are born of the Holy Spirit, 2) we are connected by the Spirit and 3) empowered by the Holy Spirit for Spiritual work and witness.
Part of this verse is about competing traditions:
“We have John the Baptist”… Our baptism is older and more closely connected to the first baptism, John the Baptizer, who baptized Jesus, “If John was Good Enough for Jesus, then John’s baptism is good enough for me. “Ours is the more traditional flavor.”
Paul is teaching that Baptism is the vehicle and not the destination.
It’s not owning/experiencing something, it is becoming something more important.
Paul’s correction is not saying John’s baptism was wrong, only that it conveyed part of the power:
The Two Parts of Baptism
The Jesus Part and the “my” part.
John the Baptist’s baptism was about repenting, acknowledging our sinfulness and our brokenness and that Jesus is the hope and salvation for our sins.
The second part is what difference does the Jesus part make in my life and how will accomplish my response to Jesus’s part.
Too many people settle for the utterance of words instead of the building of a relationship. Are you and I settlers?
Think of the marriage covenant:
Legally a couple is married when they have exchanged vows and pledged themselves to one another and both say the traditional, “I DO.”
But that is not the marriage, that is only the beginning of the covenant. The marriage is the journey of joys and struggles that span the time the couple shares.
Paul reminds us that we are
- Need Christ but also the Spirit
- Therefore help others find a way to grow in the Spirit
Invite someone to a life in Christ
Inquire what Baptism means to someone’s daily life
Back to School Homework
Do you remember your baptism?
Do it make any difference to you on this day?
If so how,
If not, let’s work on it together, is Paul model
That 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:
- Hope someone will do our work for us, or we
- Hope that our work will be rewarded for our faithful duty.
- 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.
Sermon Broadcast: Remote from Culebra, PR on Facebook on the RSUMC FB page on 20170610 at 9am and 11am EST.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. [NRSV]
The Core of our faith is God.
The creation account in Genesis chapter 1 teaches us three things about God. Intentionality is Love, Purpose is Order and Order is to share that relationship of God.
I will go and prepare a place for you, if it were not so I would have told you. Jesus describes to the disciples and early followers that God’s ongoing purpose is to prepare a place for us. The story of the promised land is a story of the grand adventure of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of the garden of Eden is witness of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is a witness the God is committed to doing whatever is necessary to give us a path, access, to a relationship.
No matter how much emptiness and chaos, God chooses to prepare and order a place for us.
God orders relationship.
I will have a side of fries with that. God speaks and calls for a physical, tangible place as preparation for being with us.
It is through this very passage, in Monterrey, Mexico in the summer of 1983, while on a mission trip at the John Wesley Seminary, that God revealed a call to create a relationship for ministry in my life.
I can’t say that it was orderly. I was struggling down a path to become a pharmacist. Can you picture me sitting quietly behind a counter, wearing a white lab coat, in the basement of hospital or as the drive-in window of a Walgreen’s/ CVS? A life spent orderly counting pills, filing insurance forms and dealing with hospital or retail bureaucracy and politics? Why was I ever interested in such a career?
First it paid a respectable wage and I loved Dr “Red” Connelly.
Through much prayerful reflection and a specific night in a worship service, staring at a 100 watt light bulb, what had compelled me to love the job, was the person and personal ministry of Dr Connelly. It was not running a store that inspired me, it was the conversations over the counter, the listening to a hurting words and offering a response of hope, compassion and healing that reflected God’s presence through his vocation. It was not the job, it was the relationship.
God is about Good Order
Looking at the brokenness, failures, emptiness and chaos in our lives we see things through the eye of disappointment, defeat, regret, anger, shame and others. None of these bring order, peace and the type of relationships that make us whole or joyful.
God is very intention about, not only bringing order, but structure that is filled with cycles, processes, systems, and inter-connected relationships.
When we are around someone who is ordered by brokenness we feel the physical, emotional, financial and others feelings of being drained. There is never enough money to fix, there is never enough words to comfort, the are never enough things falling into order, that open us to the wholeness and goodness that God has given for us.
In all of creation, God names it’s purpose: Goodness
God orders dark and light, day and night, earth and heavens, fish, animals and people for the purpose of Goodness. Every story of sin and brokenness in the Bible and in our lives reveals how we take what is ordered for Good and use it for what is not Good/evil.
God alone can take what is broken and evil and make it into Goodness.
When the world takes was is Good, sees it as a threat.
When the world takes what is Whole and crucifies it to prove point
When the world takes what is God’s love, and turns it into order without live
The God of creation
Order’s Wholeness and
The complexity of creation
The building blocks of mathematics, physics and energy
The charge and challenge to subdue, have dominion and feast on Christ
Creation and all that orders it and the reason to suggest that none of it has meaning, purpose or intentionally, reveals that God continues longing for us to chose a relationship of Goodness.
So what is the relationship of Goodness?
All these gifts of God are good when they direct us to a relationship with God.
When they do not we sin, twist the purpose and celebrate chaos.
If your give your child or grandchild a puzzle, you hope they will find both challenge and joy developing motor skills, perspective and proportional reasoning, the benefits of trial and error and you want them to have fun in the process.
If instead they use it as a material to start fires, they have missed the fuller gift.
If you gift your child or grandchild a sum of money you hope there will learn to make wise choices about saving, investing and making value judgements of Goodness. you know they will often make poor choice, but if you never teach them and they never ask for instruction, why would we expect them to choose the good use of your gifts?
We know too well about making poor choices: concerning money, health, relationships, time, energy or strength.
God has given gifts, words and Spirit to teach us.
If we throughout the instructions because we want to do it on our own, then we rely on chance that our way is God’s good way. We are 99.9999% likely to choose poorly.
The story of creation in Chapter one is a faith account of intention, purpose and challenge.
Chapter two reveals how quickly we choose what is not Good, what is not God, and the consequences effect us and others, immediately and eternally.
Here the Good News
God has created for Good for us. God has not given up, even if the rationalist, the political community, and the fear-filled folks have:
The basic instruction is to use the gifts around us for God.
Guide the relationships around us, toward God and Good will complete us.
Guide our relationship around ourselves, and Good will be farther from us, hidden.
Everyday life, outside garden
More days are work days, days to rest in God are more rare.
The ratio of 6:1 is an interesting idea.
52 days of rest and 313 days of work each year.
God is investing a work of Goodness that we might meet God, heart to heart
God is gifting us in the struggle that connects 1/7th of the time.
We think perfection is wholeness. striving to be the best..
The best place to be is in the heart of God’s goodness.
You don’t have to rich, smart, short or tall, fat or thin, young or old, you and I DO have to be in God to find this goodness.
Work on it six times to hear it the seventh.
Lector Divina: Re-reading to hear the text in different ways: What if you committee to listen and reading this passage seven times today. You will be six times more likely to hear it’s message.
But who wants to give the time?
God does. This is the goodness. God is faithful to the order and process of a relationship of Good shared with us.
- Revealed in Creation
Revealed in Resurrection
Revealed today in Spirit and fellowship as the church.
I thank you for the support and prayers to take part in mission trip and to share this word from Genesis today. This verse interrupted my life 34 years ago and it continues to reconnect me to God’s call upon outlives.
- God creates to show us love
God orders to give us a path/process to follow
God waits to meet us on the road, even while we are yet sinners.
God longs for us to find our peace, rest and heart resting in God’s heart.
We come to Culebra tardy to share this love with neighbor in PR and in RS.
Look what God has done for us,
Let us find our rest in him, together.
You Are In the Spirit
Mind Set on the Spirit
Life Set on Righteousness
2. Spirit’s part is to make us complete, whole, God’s
Dwelling in God
- Not just following the rules, “Grace beyond Belief“
- Not just accepting Christ, “the uttering of the prayer or confesstion“
- It is the “carrying the cloke as well,”completeing the Spiritual Circuit,
- Devotion to Serve in the Spriit. IT MORE THAN ‘MY’ SALVATION, Our Salvation
- fulfilling our purpose, of being light in the darkness for others.
- living in the promised land, as a model/lighthouse for others
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” [NRSV]
Give me a drink:
Give us this day our daily bread. Our bodies need water each day. The proper amount to remain hydrated is varried, but if the general consensus is that our bodies are 50%-70% based on many factors.
Water serves multiple purposes:
- Water is the primary building block of cells.
- It acts as an insulator, regulating internal body temperature. This is partly because water has a high specific heat, plus the body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature.
- Water is needed to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates used as food. It is the primary component of saliva, used to digest carbohydrates and aid in swallowing food.
- The compound lubricates joints.
- Water insulates the brain, spinal cord, organs, and fetus. It acts as a shock absorber.
- Water is used to flush waste and toxins from the body via urine. ref
I have no bucket
Jesus knows that this woman has no bucket, because of the time of day and the lack of others at the well.
Well of Jacob – promised land: Spiritual water – a promise of eternal home.
Gushing up to eternal lifestyle not still water waiting in a well, but living water moving toward us.
What does it mean to spiritually thirst?
Spiritual thirst is the underlying motive that people have to seek after God, to start and continue their search for God.
It could be guilt over sin, it could be a longing for honest community, it could be guidance and direction, among some ideas.
It could be a stark realization that the person has made a giant mess of their life. Driven hard, past empty and now stuck.
Quenching our Spiritual Thirst
- Living Water is the Building Block of our spiritual self
- Living Water protects and insulates us in times of temptation and testing.
- Living Water helps us digest, understand and apply scripture.
- Living Water lubricates when we get stuck, dry, worn out, afraid.
- Living Water flushes sin out of our systems and spirits.
- Living Water is bottled, distributed and provided by God as a living presence in our lives.
- Drink Up! Don’t be spiritually dehydrated
- Look To Jesus and the church for the Bucket!
- God desires to reach out to our spirit and make us whole.
- If you find someone needing access to the well, lead them to Living Water.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]
1. Ticket to Ride
- Nicodemus is having a rabbi-to-rabbi
- Talking about faith is not having faith
- Talking about eternal life is accessing spiritual birth
- Birth comes as a process of conception, maturity, and birth
- Spiritual Birth is God’s process of bringing Spirit to become alive in us.
2. Being Born of the Spirit in No Physical Accomplishment
- Spiritual Birth is God’s Work, not our work
- We can’t explain salvation into being, The Jesus’s work
- We can’t scientifically prove salvation, That is Jesus’s work
- We can’t hold the Spirit, but it can move us like the wind moves the trees.
3. Spiritual Awakening vs. Spiritual Birth
- Jesus makes Spiritual birth possible before our awareness
- Our waking up the Spirit within us is our awakening
- Philosophers, poets, musicians, lawyers, teachers and scholars have lead people to spiritual awakening but they cannot create the Spirit of God within us.
4. Wind Blown, Spirit Lead
- Jesus helps find Jesus in his being and not just in his head and in the words.
- More than being people of God or followers of Jesus, you and I are people of the Spirit.
- We are spiritual beings in a physical body.
- Awakening comes to us when we realize there is more to us than the sum of our parts.
5. Jesus brings Us to Spiritual Life
- The many physical and mental things that divide us in society are not of the Spirit.
- Racism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over people based on the color physical parts
- Sexism is a spiritual problem: The misuse of power over a gender.
- Political polarization is a spiritual problem that is not solved by converting the enemy, it is solved by spiritual awakening to follow God.
- Division in the church is a spiritual problem. The answer is not getting the colors right or the money right nor is it getting the theology right.
- The answer is being in right relationship with the Spirit
6. God is doing whatever it takes to save us.
- Hear the Good News: God is working to save us, not condemn us.
- When you hear someone talk about church, God or the Bible as judgmental, know their perspective is out of right relationship.
- God’s work in Jesus is to save us.
- God’s work in Jesus requires that we see what separates are physical things.
Nicodemus is holding on to his own way of thinking, and Jesus is saying the gift of salvation is already available, ONE has to let go of SIN, let go of PRIDE, let go of being CORRECT, Let go of
SO WHAT does all that have to do with my life?
- Know God is working to love, save and claim us.
- Know Jesus makes new birth possible
- Know that following Jesus is following the Spirit
- Know that following your heart is not the target.
- Following the Spirit will let go of selfishness, sin, brokenness, control
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [NRSV]
Core Values of One Made New in Christ
Core Value Number 1 (Murder with Words)
How you communicate affects your relationships and your identity.
Sticks and Stones AND words can kill someone’s spirit, reputation and ability to be included into the community.
Word’s spoken in anger carry poisoned daggers that kill one’s spirit, identity, reputation and relationship to the community.
- “Well I only thought it, I didn’t do anything wrong”
- “What’s in my own head doesn’t hurt anyone.”
- “I was so angry at what I saw on FB I had to teach them a lesson, I didn’t kill anyone.”
Core Value Number 2 (Satisfying Self in a Covenant Relationship)
How we respect one another, affects both them and us.
Sexual sins occur first in the heart and head. Stop the sin there to avoid going further to lessen the effect on others. But best of all see that sin occurs before the action.
- Don’t be looking
- Don’t just love the one you are with
- Don’t invalidate the person by objectifying the person and justifying a behavior that is harmful to God, self AND the other person.
Our society has so twisted the self-satisfaction, self-pleasing and self-affirming our sexual selves has become paramount in movies, songs, and laws and even in the church.
Core Value Number 3 (Don’t Look at the Line, much less cross it)
Marriage is the basis for integrity and of the family unity.
Marriage is a covenant with God, while you can’t change your spouse you can add to their relationship with God or you can pull them away from God by your actions of both fidelity and by infidelity. Everything we do affects our spouse. Don’t get into a marriage covenant if you are not holding God the whole time because marriage is not always easy nor simple.
Core Value Number 4 (Integrity Speaks truth in love)
Speaking as a person of integrity.
Speak the truth.
Don’t dodge the difficult conversations, don’t blame anyone or anything. Speak with respect, certainly don’t add God’s name to your ideas, thoughts or excuses. The practice of taking an oath or swearing our testimony assumes that most of the time we are untruthful except on these special circumstances.
- “Don’t lie to me, we are in church.” But if we weren’t at church it might be alright to bend the truth, is the implied false assumption.
- “I’m not under oath” I don’t have to be completely truthful with you because we are not in court. The rules are flexible to benefit me, especially when I might be in the wrong.
- I said, “Yes, your honor, I believe I completely certain that No, I have no recollection of having said what you thought I said or did. That is my honest testimony”
Jesus said: The ten commandments were easy, I’m stepping up the game.
How will we ever measure up? Don’t be Discouraged:
Jesus model’s some real life issues that we twist:
Jesus said: you will need to out behavior the most devout religious leaders. Jesus said this knowing we also say/think things like:
- I want to be right
- Its what they do in the movies/tv, in songs, etc.
- I want there to be an absence of conflict, so it’s ok to keep quiet even if it is not true
- I want to be served and satisfied
- I want to be able to say/do whatever gets me out of this mess in the name of grace and love
- I don’t want accountability; I ask you to continue trusting me in grace.
- It’s my turn
The Remedy starts small:
Jesus begins with the small stuff.
- Start with how you treat the people that are around you every day.
- Be a truthful person of integrity
- Speak with strength, but know your words matter, speak truthfully.
- Speak with integrity
- Be one who respects boundaries
- Don’t objectify people
- Don’t forget marriage is about covenant and not being served
- If you are looking away from God, spouse or good, you are looking at what is evil, broken even in the name caring for ourselves.
- Speak with respect, boundaries, and integrity and you will be trusted, blessed and respected.
Don’t let your words kill someone’s spirit
Don’t objectify people in the name of pleasing yourself
Don’t believe you can buy your way out of sin
Don’t let your body kill your spirit.
Don’t think you are caring for your spirit by pleasing your body
Don’t believe your actions only harm yourself.
Don’t look for excuses, look for Christ.
Community Support: The Role of the Church
It is quick and easy for us to judge, blame and segregate ourselves in the name of protection or ideology.
- Help those who are blaming find Christ
- Help those who are destroying marriage to refocus on Christ/Covenant
- Help those who focus on pleasing themselves to see they sin and model loving them.
- Model speaking the truth instead of swimming in the ocean of blame, regret, fear, etc.
We are people of the New Life in Christ, Protect the heart of God within you and do not trade it for the world.
You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. [NRSV]
We have collectively experienced a physical, emotions, spiritual and social wrenching that has come to a crescendo this week.
Some of the most hateful, intolerant and hard-hearted words have been spoken about the election in the past seven days.
- Some have been riding on a seemingly, unending roller coaster that did not stop where it started.
- Others are grieving, spiraling, and building a strong case of depression
- while others have begun acting out of anger, which never leaders to safety, tolerance, and peace.
- Still others have remained silent and afraid to speak, for fear of ridicule.
It is time for us to HEAR the words of God’s prophet.
- God is my salvation.
- I will trust and not be afraid
- The Lord is my strength
- With Joy, draw water from the well of salvation.
- Give Thanks to the Lord, call his name, make his deeds known among the nations.
- Proclaim and exalt God’s name.
- Sing Praise to the Lord,
- Tell the world how glorious God is,
- Shout aloud and sing for Joy, God is with us.
It is time for us to SHARE the words of God’s prophet.
- Salvation is found in God, not our government
- Trust God and do not be afraid
- Find your strength in the Lord
- Draw on God’s joy when yours is missing
- This is a great time to look for and give witness to God in the world.
- Sing praises to God to remind us who leads this world
- Talk of good that God has done for us and the good God will do through us
- Shout loud and Sing the Good News: God is with us.
It is time for us to LIVE the words of God’s prophet.
- Our neighbors are divided and God is counting on us to salvation
- There are people in our workplaces that have lost truth and trust,
- Don’t ignore fears, but don’t be turned to anger and wrath, Find strength in God, not politics.
- Make a withdrawal from God’s account when ours is empty or draining.
- When we are divided is the clearest time to all move toward God.
- Sing praise to remind ourselves and others the God is speaking through us all.
- Talk of Good instead of evil. Speak of hope that is to be revealed.
- Shout, don’t keep quiet, God is with us. God will save us. God will guide us
The Alternative is grim:
- Continue to hold government higher than God and we will surely fall apart.
- Count on our political powers to provide for every need and we have no need for God
- Find our strengths in our efforts, our wealth, our correct thinking, and our feelings and they will all fail
- Sing praises that are only pleasing and comforting and we will be alone
- Only talk about our point of view, our goodness, and correct thinking and we will see only ourselves
- Keep quiet about God and God will speak through someone else who will follow, trust and love.
Lord have mercy on me a sinner.
Lord have mercy on our nation and all the nations, for we are all sinners.
God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing. [Sarum Primer, 1558]