Archive for category #trustGod

Luke 4:1-14 Lead by the Spirit

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.’ ” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. [NRSA: LK 4:1-14]

Do you remember being held by the hand when you were young?

Crossing the street?

Guided through the grocery store away from the sugary sweet cereals? 

Taken into school, the doctor’s office, or some place you’d rather not be on that day?

At times, being held by the hand is a comforting experience.

Holding hands with a spouse or some one special in your life.

As an adult holding the hand of a child in your care.

Facing difficult news or a time of suffering, holding someone’s hand is a way of communicating connection, empathy, and affection.

As an adult child, I look back and wish I could hold my father’s hand, and be guided by my grandmother in stressful points along life’s journey.

I recall a witty youth director asking if we believed in “Pre-marital-interdigitation?” [hand holding] it was using a larger than usual vocabulary word to being a conversation about signs of affections.

This passage is a rare occasion where we see someone leading Jesus by the hand, and leading Jesus by the Spirit.

Led by the Spirit

Often overlooked in this passage is the supernatural method of traveling from place to place by means of the Spirit. We understand the Spirit to be God’s invisible presence that gives breath, power, direction, and guidance to us.

Jesus and the Devil visit three locations. A dry and barren place in the wilderness near Jericho where Jesus had been spending over a month in prayer, fasting, and preparation for his ministry. The second was an extremely high mountain vantage point where the two could see the kingdom and empires of the world. The third spot was atop the temple in Jerusalem. 

Is this passage a figurative narrative? Are they simply visiting this perspective in a mental exercise of “What if?”

 4:1-14

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.’ ” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’  and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”  Jesus answered him, “It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. [NRSA: LK 4:1-14]

Do you remember being held by the hand when you were young? 

Crossing the street? 

Guided through the grocery store away from the sugary sweet cereals? 

Taken into school, the doctor’s office, or some place you’d rather not be on that day?

At times, being held by the hand is a comforting experience.

Holding hands with a spouse or some one special in your life.

As an adult holding the hand of a child in your care.

Facing difficult news or a time of suffering, holding someone’s hand is a way of communicating connection, empathy, and affection.

As an adult child, I look back and wish I could hold my father’s hand, and be guided by my grandmother in stressful points along life’s journey.

I recall a witty youth director asking if we believed in “Pre-marital-interdigitation?” [hand holding] it was using a larger than usual vocabulary word to being a conversation about signs of affections. 

This passage is a rare occasion where we see someone leading Jesus by the hand, and leading Jesus by the Spirit.

Led by the Spirit

Often overlooked in this passage is the supernatural method of traveling from place to place by means of the Spirit. We understand the Spirit to be God’s invisible presence that gives breath, power, direction, and guidance to us.

Jesus and the Devil visit three locations. A dry and barren place in the wilderness near Jericho where Jesus had been spending over a month in prayer, fasting, and preparation for his ministry. The second was an extremely high mountain vantage point where the two could see the kingdom and empires of the world. The third spot was atop the temple in Jerusalem. 

Is this passage a figurative narrative? Are they simply visiting this perspective in a mental exercise of “What if?” 

Is this passage a literal account of the pair visiting different locations in moment of an instant?

What do we know about the Spirit?

The spirit is not bound by the rules and limitation of the physical world. We are so very worldly minded that we might be quick to not hear this account as the literal hyper-drive of motility. But to assume this was only a mental journey, dismisses God’s ability to bring order out of chaos and breath life into dust. 

Most likely, even if we read this with a more literal perspective, we assume this type of activity is for Jesus and the devil only? 

Isn’t it odd that the devil is the doing the leading, in the spirit.

This suggests that God’s spirit and all it’s power and mystery is not limited to those who are good or even mature in the ways of God. The devil uses God’s words, tools, and mysteries to twist our imager of God.

This is a particularly important detail to remember. 

The power of evil people, evil spirits, evil organizations, and institutions to use the words of goodness, value, and even love to give a twisted view of God’s work in the world, and in our lives.

As we interpret the good and evil we experience in the world it is important to be clear on who is leading us, and where.

How do we decern the difference?

In Jesus’s example he repeatedly compares scripture with the reality presented and measure the current reality with the timeless power of God’s word. 

The three twisting of God’s word by the devil are: • If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” • “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”• “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’  and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’1. The first is a command to prove to the world, but the world’s standards.2. The second is a command to use authority for one’s self-interest, power, and glory.3. The third is to ignore the reality of the human experience and skip the struggle.

Three things that are the antithesis of God’s work of love, grace, and salvation through Jesus. 

In the span of our lifetime, we are collectively experiencing an unprecedented season of what it means to be Children of God, Christians, living a faithful life. 

We are conforming to the world’s expectation for the church to be irrelevant, calling our purpose and calling one of privilege and exclusion, and making it easy for us to say and do nothing or suffer the chastisement of shame, blame, and division. 

We are going on six months of saying that it is unhealthy for us to gather in public as a church, but the public can be trusted to go to the home supply, grocery, protest, and businesses that have “sin-taxes.” We have taken for granted the freedom of worship and assembly. While we have complied in the name of health, is it possible for us to fulling do the work of the church from home for the rest of the forceable future? As soon as vaccines are developed and tested, isn’t it likely we will have the next virus or flu that will keep us separated and subjugated to the world definition of vital or essential? 

Don’t miss interpret my words that I deny the threat of contagions and infections, but step back and see how quickly we comply with the most radical transformation of the church in the blink of an eye for a risk factor ofless than one percent of the population. We were not as motivated by starvation, war, and political genocide. 

If we think for a moment about the greatest risks for death: When we have heart disease, diabetes, obesity, emphysema, and being over eighty, have always been at-risk groups even before covid-19. Certainly, those with these conditions are already at greater risk and faced with a deadly virus with added features, it would be something to work to avoid, but at what cost. It is seemingly impossible to find the number of people ding from these conditions this year that are not attributed to precisely infection by Covid-19. 

If I have the typical symptoms of the above conditions and went to the doctor for healing and relief and tested negative, how likely would the doctor say, well you are likely ‘asymptomatic’ go quarantine yourself. 

Hear the words of the devil in the context of Covid-19: • Do no harm is more important than do all the good you can.

It is more loving to shut down the church, than the church risk spreading the illness because if infections increased you have caused people to suffer and at worse contributed to their death, shame for even considering non-compliance.• Let’s trust the authorities. Who grants and verifies authority? Of the CDC? WHO? White House? Media? Numbers? • Science knows best in all matters of social assembly• The only agenda is the health of the world• Only Some people are important• My opinion has more authority than God.

Jesus’s respond to the twisting of Words.

First, remember that the devil was using the occasion of Jesus’s weariness as a timely moment to break through Jesus’s work.

The devil was leading Jesus. (Jesus doesn’t give in to the devil, but that doesn’t stop the devil from trying to influence him.)

Jesus turns to scripture: 

One does not live by bread alone.’• We are more than bread and food. We are children of God worth God’s love, sacrifice, grace, and redemption.• God is most interested in our eternal relationship and not just the struggle of our physical moment.

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’• There is one authority that is greatest. • That is who are to trust with all of our heart, mind, and strength.

“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’• People, organizations, and powers, will try to lead us astray• Choose to be lead to the green pastures and still waters of God love.

So what of our being lead by the world instead of God 

We are more than the life of this body. • We will all face death and it is most important to be in love with God, neighbors, and enemies

We can’t control temptation, but we can trust God with our lives• God is greater than all other authority. Worship God

If there is a time that we need to worship, praise, study, pray, encourage, be spiritually strong it in times of our greatest weakness and threat.• The World will always test, tempt, twist, and make it easy to worship our will over God’s will

The Big So What: • We trust God’s word in helping us determine if are doing more ‘harm’ or more ‘good’ staying at home or living in the world?• Is our worship limited to the building and to Sunday?• Who is the greater authority in our daily lives? In times of crisis? • Who do we follow? • How long can we be lead by the devil before we give up, give in, or forget God and God’s word as our strength , authority, and foundation?

Words to Remember

You are more than your body. You are created in the image of God, to be God’s treasure.

You are called to worship God and not two masters, rulers, -a divided house cannot stand.

You are very likely to trust yourself and the world if left along – encourage one another and be strong in the Spirit.

What do we know about the Spirit?

The spirit is not bound by the rules and limitation of the physical world. We are so very worldly minded that we might be quick to not hear this account as the literal hyper-drive of motility. But to assume this was only a mental journey, dismisses God’s ability to bring order out of chaos and breath life into dust. 

Most likely, even if we read this with a more literal perspective, we assume this type of activity is for Jesus and the devil only? 

Isn’t it odd that the devil is the doing the leading, in the spirit.

This suggests that God’s spirit and all it’s power and mystery is not limited to those who are good or even mature in the ways of God. The devil uses God’s words, tools, and mysteries to twist our imager of God.

This is a particularly important detail to remember. 

The power of evil people, evil spirits, evil organizations, and institutions to use the words of goodness, value, and even love to give a twisted view of God’s work in the world, and in our lives.

As we interpret the good and evil we experience in the world it is important to be clear on who is leading us, and where.

How do we decern the difference?

In Jesus’s example he repeatedly compares scripture with the reality presented and measure the current reality with the timeless power of God’s word. 

The three twisting of God’s word by the devil are: • If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” • “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”• “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’  and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’1. The first is a command to prove to the world, but the world’s standards.2. The second is a command to use authority for one’s self-interest, power, and glory.3. The third is to ignore the reality of the human experience and skip the struggle.

Three things that are the antithesis of God’s work of love, grace, and salvation through Jesus. 

In the span of our lifetime, we are collectively experiencing an unprecedented season of what it means to be Children of God, Christians, living a faithful life. 

We are conforming to the world’s expectation for the church to be irrelevant, calling our purpose and calling one of privilege and exclusion, and making it easy for us to say and do nothing or suffer the chastisement of shame, blame, and division. 

We are going on six months of saying that it is unhealthy for us to gather in public as a church, but the public can be trusted to go to the home supply, grocery, protest, and businesses that have “sin-taxes.” We have taken for granted the freedom of worship and assembly. While we have complied in the name of health, is it possible for us to fulling do the work of the church from home for the rest of the forceable future? As soon as vaccines are developed and tested, isn’t it likely we will have the next virus or flu that will keep us separated and subjugated to the world definition of vital or essential? 

Don’t miss interpret my words that I deny the threat of contagions and infections, but step back and see how quickly we comply with the most radical transformation of the church in the blink of an eye for a risk factor ofless than one percent of the population. We were not as motivated by starvation, war, and political genocide. 

If we think for a moment about the greatest risks for death: When we have heart disease, diabetes, obesity, emphysema, and being over eighty, have always been at-risk groups even before covid-19. Certainly, those with these conditions are already at greater risk and faced with a deadly virus with added features, it would be something to work to avoid, but at what cost. It is seemingly impossible to find the number of people ding from these conditions this year that are not attributed to precisely infection by Covid-19. 

If I have the typical symptoms of the above conditions and went to the doctor for healing and relief and tested negative, how likely would the doctor say, well you are likely ‘asymptomatic’ go quarantine yourself. 

Hear the words of the devil in the context of Covid-19: • Do no harm is more important than do all the good you can.

It is more loving to shut down the church, than the church risk spreading the illness because if infections increased you have caused people to suffer and at worse contributed to their death, shame for even considering non-compliance.• Let’s trust the authorities. Who grants and verifies authority? Of the CDC? WHO? White House? Media? Numbers? • Science knows best in all matters of social assembly• The only agenda is the health of the world• Only Some people are important• My opinion has more authority than God.

Jesus’s respond to the twisting of Words.

First, remember that the devil was using the occasion of Jesus’s weariness as a timely moment to break through Jesus’s work.

The devil was leading Jesus. (Jesus doesn’t give in to the devil, but that doesn’t stop the devil from trying to influence him.)

Jesus turns to scripture: 

One does not live by bread alone.’• We are more than bread and food. We are children of God worth God’s love, sacrifice, grace, and redemption.• God is most interested in our eternal relationship and not just the struggle of our physical moment.

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’• There is one authority that is greatest. • That is who are to trust with all of our heart, mind, and strength.

“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’• People, organizations, and powers, will try to lead us astray• Choose to be lead to the green pastures and still waters of God love.

So what of our being lead by the world instead of God 

We are more than the life of this body. • We will all face death and it is most important to be in love with God, neighbors, and enemies

We can’t control temptation, but we can trust God with our lives• God is greater than all other authority. Worship God

If there is a time that we need to worship, praise, study, pray, encourage, be spiritually strong it in times of our greatest weakness and threat.• The World will always test, tempt, twist, and make it easy to worship our will over God’s will

The Big So What: • We trust God’s word in helping us determine if are doing more ‘harm’ or more ‘good’ staying at home or living in the world?• Is our worship limited to the building and to Sunday?• Who is the greater authority in our daily lives? In times of crisis? • Who do we follow? • How long can we be lead by the devil before we give up, give in, or forget God and God’s word as our strength , authority, and foundation?

Words to Remember

You are more than your body. You are created in the image of God, to be God’s treasure.

You are called to worship God and not two masters, rulers, -a divided house cannot stand.You are very likely to trust yourself and the world if left along – encourage one another and be strong in the Spirit.

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Deut. 6:1-9 “Love is It”

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. [NRSA: Deut 6:1-9]

Love is the answer.

The Greatest Commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all you soul, and with all your might.

The Key commandment, the one rule that binds them all. Is to love God.

It is the simplest instruction. Love God, Trust God, Depend on God. Follow God. Love God. Say these aloud to God with me: 

·         I love you God

·         I trust you Lord

·         I depend on you Jesus

·         I believe you are my Savior

·         I follow you Holy Spirit.

·         I love you God.

The First instruction is to learn, remember and to recite the nature of our relationship with God.

“God I love you.”

This instruction is simple and direct profession of faith. But it goes a bit further than just loving God.

The instruction is to love God with our whole heart.

Think of the pie charts from school and business meetings. If the whole pie is dedicated to loving God how much is left to love others people and other things?

If the whole pie indicated the amount we are the devote our heart and soul to God what part is lift for being a fan of something else?

If the whole pie reflect that all our energy, strength, and resources are going to God, how much is left over for things other than God.

SURELY THIS IS NOT WHAT GOD MEANS!

If this one commandment is to summarize all the others, it does mean that we devote the fullness of who we are to God, as a sign of our love, trust and devotion.

Reality Check

Who can do this? This is where grace comes to the rescue. We have all sinned and fallen short! 

This is the heart of our target. Some days we do better than others, but our goal remains the same, to love God completely.

There are other things that fall under loving God. 

·         Trusting God’s word. 

·         Caring, protecting, and witnessing to our families, to the community and to the world.

·         We love God by caring for God’s creation. 

·         We love God by seeking justice and showing mercy. 

·         We love God by feeding those who are hungry, 

·         clothing those who are naked, 

·         friending the lost, lonely, and hopeless. 

·         We love God by gathering to worship

·         We love God by using the body, the spirit, the talents, the mind, the gifts, the time entrusted to us to show both God, the world and ourselves what it means to live as a person of love.

There is no great love, than a person to give their whole life for another

THIS is what makes Jesus’s death on the cross the most powerful witness of love

To give to us, those who squander the treasures and time of our life looking for purpose and meaning and God has already revealed that purpose to us. 

To love.

Favorite Prayer in Seminary: “O God, you love is so big, thank you for your bigness.” Amen. 

What does it take for us to do a better job remembering our purpose, goal, and JOY is to love God?

·         Keep these words in your Heart.

·         Teach by modeling these words to each generation

·         Keep them when you are at home and wherever you travel

·         Close and Start the Day with them on your lips

·         Wear them on your hand

·         Wear them on your head

·         Write them on your door and gate.

A modern translation might be: memorize them and recite them in your household, as you begin and end the day. Keep them on your home screen, in your bathroom mirror and in your car rear view mirror. Wear them as you would wear clothes and jewelry, teach them to everyone you meet and live by them everywhere you go.

Love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength.

The Power of a Post-it Note

·         Put one on your bathroom mirror and remind God ever time you wash you hands, brush you teeth, shave or make up your face.

·         Put one on the dash of your car

·         Put one in your wallet on your debt and credit card

·         Take a picture of one and make it your screen background

·         Have you ever written a reminder on your hand hoping it won’t sweat off before you get the list of things from the store?

Having a visual reminder increases connection of memory and action dramatically.

Having a visual remind, a physical touch, and audible sound is the strongest way to remember to act in a certain way.

Try this: Clap you hands, and say “I love your God, Help me to love you more.” A good strong clap, awakens our nerves and sets to memory our words with out actions. The next time you clap you hands or hear others clap their hand, you will bring together a reminder to love God and love God more.

If not clapping, snap you fingers, touch  you ear, squeeze you finger, some action to have reinforce the reminder, 

·         Sometime we need it in front of our eyes: 

·         Sometimes we need to hear the words:

·         Sometime we need to connect our breathing with love so we remember how often we are to love.

Writing on you hand and head

Personally, I have never been a fan of tattoos. In saying that I risk alienating many people. I don’t love anyone any less for having one. I have seen tattoos fifty years after they have been installed and they communicate something very differently. I have see people live with names of people they have divorced. I have seen people cover themselves with images that have one meaning at the beginning that are a regret that are carried daily. What most these days are very detailed, colorful and great works of art, there seem to more reasons not to carry such a permanent billboard for most of the images people receive.

But I can also heart this passage from Deut 6 and see how people might literally take to heart the instruction to write God’s commandments on their hand or head. But I have only seen a fraction of tattoos that ink this commandment or images reflecting God.  While tigers, reptiles, birds, and skulls are all part of God’s creation, I’m not hear these images inked as a testimony of our love for God. 

I risk opening this conversation because some people will take this instruct literally and see the process of using their bodies as a place to witness God’s love in that is unseen in their hearts, minds and souls. And so if a tattoo is telling the world of your devotion to God then that is bold and definitive witness.. But most religious tattoos are in places easily hidden. I know the art of Tattooing is ancient, one of the reasons why it is considered to be taboo, (taboo tattoos) is the practice associate with temple worship of pagan gods with fertility practices. As your pastor, I’m not saying never get a tattoo. I am saying this passage calls us to let the world know who we love with our whole heart, whole soul, and all our strength. And if the world can better see God’s love in you with a reminder in inked in your skin, then that’s a permeant way to say to God, to yourself and to the world: I love you God! Just know there is pain, risk of infection, cost, and in fifty years It might not be as legible. 

Throughout the generations Jewish families have a mezuzah at the front door with a small scroll reminding them of this passage. Some traditions literal tie box with the a scroll of this passage on their forehead. We are more familiar with WWJD bracelets and other pins, rings, jewelry — all are tangible ways to remember.

So what do we do with this passage today?

We remember our highest purpose and the meaning of our lives is to love God.

If you are or know someone who is searching in this “time of craziness” help them get on the track of learning to Love God, for the first time or renewing that love.

We Love God, and ask God to help Love even more.

We encourage one another, by reminding ourselves and others through physical and spiritual ways. We not only can pray, we can send someone a loving reminder, a gift, “agape” – something that has no expectation of love return, just a something that opens door to sharing love.

The more the world says to fear, hid, withdraw, prepare for the worst.. the more you and I need to encourage one another to love.  The more evil abounds, the more love we need to conquer it.

This is the promise of God; the simple commandment. Love and it will go well. Hate and it will not go well.

When I feel the hate, fear, dread, worry, rage…. Make that my prayer: Oh Lord Jesus my savior and friend: make this evil remind me of your love and teach me to love as you have loved. Love is the way. Love is the answer. Love is our foundation. Love is our salvation. God’s love is big enough for whatever the world want to throw our way. “I love you God.” 

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Exodus 17:1-7 God Provides

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?” [NRSA]

This is a helpful passage to hear at a time of fear, want, and uncertainty. The Hebrews have been lead by Moses out of slavery in Egypt, through the miracle of the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, the find themselves thirsty in a dessert.

One of the key definitions of a dessert is that water is not readily available. The fruit of the land is extremely limited and especially when a multitude of people are traveling together.

Even as spectacular and life changing it must have been to cross the sea, evade the enemy army and find themselves on dry land while their oppressors drown. The daily need for food and drink challenge the best experience of faith. We were just remembering how Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness, a dessert place, having spent forty days and thirty-nine nights in the most defining spiritual experience of his life. At the very moment of dealing with the basic needs of life and death, we are confronted with the temptation to fear and doubt.

We look around today and find ourselves being tested by the effects of a virus.
Healthy humans ‘harbor an average of five viruses’ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282751
It is well established that our bodies possess gut bacteria that is beneficial for health. Now, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, have found that our bodies are also home to an average of five viruses responsible for numerous illnesses, although it is unclear whether they have positive or negative implications for health. Strains of HPV were found in around 75% of participants’ skin samples and 50% of nose samples, while new strains of the virus were found in both skin and nose samples. “Most everyone is familiar with the idea that a normal bacterial flora exists in the body,” says study co-author Dr. Gregory Storch, a virologist and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the university. “Lots of people have asked whether there is a viral counterpart, and we haven’t had a clear answer. But now we know there is a normal viral flora, and it’s rich and complex.” The findings, which form a part of the Human Microbiome Project funded by the National Institutes of Health, were recently published in the journal BMC Biology. The research team, led by Kristine M. Wylie, PhD, an instructor of pediatrics at the university, collected 706 samples of bodily fluids from 102 healthy adults aged 18-40. The samples were taken from participants’ [skin and all openings.] All participants were closely screened to ensure they had no viral infections, and they were eliminated from the study if they had had been diagnosed with human papillomavirus (HPV) in the past 2 years, or had a form of active genital herpes in the last 2 months. For each sample, the researchers used high-throughput DNA sequencing that enabled them to detect a wide range of viruses. Expect in-depth, science-backed toplines of our best stories every day. Seven families of viruses identified, including HPV and herpesvirus Among 92% of participants, at least one virus was detected, with some participants harboring around 10-15 viruses. On average, each participant harbored five viruses. The researchers say they were surprised to find so many. “We only sampled up to five body sites in each person and would expect to see many more viruses if we had sampled the entire body,” says Wylie. From the samples, the team detected seven families of viruses. These included viruses responsible for non-sexually transmitted herpes – herpesvirus 6 and 7. These viruses were detected among 98% of participants who were sampled from the mouth. Strains of HPV were found in around 75% of skin samples and 50% of nose samples, while new strains of the virus were found in both skin and nose samples. Around 38% of female participants had HPV strains in vagina samples, with many of these harboring strains associated with increased risk of cervical cancer, such as HPV 16 and HPV 18. The researchers also identified adenoviruses – responsible for pneumonia and the common cold – in the majority of samples. It is possible, the researchers note, that the viruses identified were lurking infections from years before. But Wylie says that dormant viruses usually reside in cells rather than bodily fluids, which is where the viruses were found in this study. Commenting on their findings, the team says: “This study is the first to use high-throughput DNA sequencing to describe the diversity of eukaryotic DNA viruses in a large cohort of individuals who were sampled at multiple body sites. This analysis demonstrates that there is a ‘normal viral flora’ in generally healthy, asymptomatic individuals.” They admit that it is unclear as to whether the viruses are beneficial or detrimental to health, but they hypothesize that the viruses may boost the immune system’s response to harmful pathogens in some cases, while increasing the risk of infection in others. “It’s very important to know what viruses are present in a person without causing a problem and what viruses could be responsible for serious illnesses that need medical attention,” says Dr. Storch. “While more research remains, we now have a much clearer picture of the communities of viruses that naturally exist in healthy people.”

So What?
That means that at any giving time we have from one to over a dozen virus at work in our bodies; some working to build up our immune systems and others might threaten our life.
How do we know when we are at risk? What are the risks? What does God plan to do with us as a global people in the threat of virus, thirst, or any other struggle that faces our mortal experience?

Look at the context of our present global circumstance:
SARS, AVIAN, SWINE, MERS, EBOLA, ZIKA, EBOLA, CORONA – These are not connected to politics, but when we politicize or look to blame the sin of infection, we will never find a cure, love our neighbor, much less love our enemies. Every epidemic has a tragic effect on those who are not able to survive and those who suffer through the effects of each occurrence. When obsess our time on the fear of virus and illness we are admitting that we have no faith, we have no hope, and we have no trust in God to provide.

Tragically, this virus has become infamous within the brewing global kettle of blame and rage that makes illness and suffering the main story rather than where our strength, hope, and help comes.
Pslam 121:2 [NRSA] I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
It’s a word that Moses and those afraid and thirsty in the dessert had forgotten since the parting of the sea.

My Help Comes from the Lord
It’s a word of encouragement the world needs to hear and trust. God is working through researchers and healers to deal with symptoms, causes and cures.
God is working through the church to remind the world that God will provide a way through this struggle and all our struggles.
Our Challenge to one another and all those we can influence:
1. Only check the news once a day, and only long enough to find out if the overall plan of prevention has changed.
2. Spend the hours you might devote to news watching and social media reading to prayer, study and Christian fellowship.
3. When you hear or see someone obsessing on the news, call them out to spend their lives with greater care:

a. Live, Love and Share the Good News Christ is offering us everyday. GOD WILL PROVIDE
b. God provides through medicine, through governments, and despite governments.
c. Trust the Voice of God more than voice of those who are selling fear and promising death.

4. There is no diminishing those who have died, those who are suffering from this virus, but know there are
a. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from bad politics and ungodly politician agendas
b. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from heart disease, cancer, poverty, trafficking and self-imposed evils.
c. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from meth, alcohol, and all sorts of substances,
d. MORE PEOPLE are suffering from sin and separation from God and neighbor.
5. THE HOPE AND ANSWER IS THE SAME: God will Provide

LET THE WORLD HEAR YOU SAY THESE WORDS: God will Provide.

In our Text from the Exodus: God says to Moses, “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” God has a plan, God has a way, God has a process, God is at work behind the scenes, AND God is at work in the People of God, those willing to listen, trust and carry out God’s instructions and message.

Footnote: Moses asks the faith question after the water flows: “Is the Lord among us or not?This is our word!

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Singing with Full a Voice. Revelation 5:11-14

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped. [NRSV]

Reminder: Revelation of John is about three things. Being alert, repentance, and worship. Today we listen to Revelation to learn about worship

1. A. Worship is all about what we do for God that is about praising, celebrating, thanking, appreciating, honoring and expressing our love, devotion and trust of God.

2. B. Is not about us in any way. When it is, our worship is about ourselves.

3. Worship is what United us not our ideas, theologies and practices or behaviors.

4. Worship is about God drawing us together for God.

John Wesley had many things to say about worship and singing in particular:

“The opening pages of the United Methodist Hymnal bear a preface that has bemused and bewildered distracted worshippers for ages.  These seven rules, titled Directions for Singing, were first included in the 1761 publication Select Hymns, a hymnbook for early Methodists.

A few things to keep in mind when you read these directions.  First, the hymns we take for granted as “traditional worship” were almost all new in John Wesley’s day (I mean, Charles was writing them), and most of them would never be sung in church building walls in Wesley’s lifetime. Newton’s Amazing Grace wasn’t even written yet.

The Methodist movement was happening outside of church walls, where all the artful music could be made, and usually only the preacher had a copy of the hymnbook with all these cool new songs.  They would sing one line out at a time, and then the gathered crowd would repeat what they heard.  

Apparently George Whitfield (the white-haired guy in the comic above) was a master at lining out hymns after he finished preaching.  In this context, Wesley’s directions are really rooted in his belief that worship is the work of all the people, meant to unite us as a priesthood of all believers in service to God.

Truth be told, the church historically has a tendency of elevating musicians and preachers as somehow separate from the larger crowd, a crowd which tends to become spectators instead of participants.  Wesley’s directions for singing are meant to offer practical ways we worship together.  Here they are:”

https://shar.es/a0aVNN. (1) Wesley’s Directions for Singing / by Charlie Baber 9/19/17

Directions for Singing.  That this part of Divine Worship may be the more acceptable to God, as well as the more profitable to yourself and others, be careful to observe the following directions.

• I. Learn these tunes (Methodist Hymnal) before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

• II. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

• III. Sing All. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up and you will find a blessing.

• IV. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

• V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

• VI. Sing in Time: whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend closely to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can. And take care you sing not too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from among us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

• VII. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your Heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve of here, and reward when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

Back to the text:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,

The snapshot John gives us in this Revelation is a glimpse of worship In heaven. “Singing with full voice:”

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

https://youtu.be/rGgX_oqdib4 Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain

Holy, holy is Thee

Sing a new song to Him who sits on

Heaven’s mercy seat

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain

Holy, holy is He

Sing a new song to Him who sits on

Heaven’s mercy seat

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

You are my everything and I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color

Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder

Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be

To You the only one who’s King

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

You are my everything and I will adore You

Filled with wonder awestruck wonder

At the mention of Your name

Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water

Such a marvelous mystery

Oh, You’re worthy, mystery

You are worthy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You

Songwriters: Jennie Lee Riddle

(2) Revelation Song lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

In https://youtu.be/rGgX_oqdib4 Worthy is the Lamb

Thank you for the cross Lord

Thank you for the price You paid

Bearing all my sin and shame

In love You came and gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord

Thank you for the nail pierced hands

Washed me in Your cleansing flow

Now all I know Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crown

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Thank you for the cross Lord

Thank you for the price You paid

Bearing all my sin and shame

In love You came and gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord

Thank you for the nail pierced hands

Washed me in Your cleansing flow

Now all I know Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crown

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crown

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

(3)https://youtu.be/4Gae-n0Pb7Q Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir “Worthy is the Lamb”

🎶 A tune from Rev to sing with practice using ones full voice.

G. G. G. F. E.

Worthy is the lamb

Worthy is the lamb

F. F. F. E. D.

Seated on the throne

Seated on the throne

G. G. G. F. E.

Worthy is the lamb

Worthy is the lamb

F. F. F. E. D.

High and lifted up

High and lifted up

G. G. G. F. E.

Worthy is the lamb

Worthy is the lamb

F. F. F. E. D. C. B. C.

Worthy is the lamb, that was slain

In the state d Heaven EVERYONE can be heard singing.

Let the congregation say together “amen”

🎵 A-a-men, A-a-a-m, a-amen, amen, amen

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

Amen has come to mean “let it be so, let it be true, let it be, let it happen.

With full voice we come to worship God

Is it about me or you, no

It is about Jesus has lived, did a s rose again for you and me

Worship is about giving in to God, we might struggle most of the time but in worship we practice living in heaven, practice living for God.

Sing like we are standing before the throne.

It’s ok to tell you neighbor to sing louder or to tone it down as long as everyone is praising … so sing!

Wesley’s Directions for Singing UMBoH

1. Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please.

2. Sing them exactly as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can.

3. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.

4. Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan.

5. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony; but strive to unite your voices together, so as to make one clear melodious sound.

6. Sing in time. Whatever time is sung be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it; but attend close to the leading voices, and move therewith as exactly as you can; and take care not to sing too slow. This drawling way naturally steals on all who are lazy; and it is high time to drive it out from us, and sing all our tunes just as quick as we did at first.

7. Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.

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Psalm 146: 1- 10 “Put No Trust in Princes”

earth puzzle

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD! [NRSV]

It is one thing to complain about division in the world; it is another to offer the solution.

Praise the Lord! Is the solution.

Serve the Lord! Is the solution.

Share the Lord! Is the solution.

Our culture and intellect has pressed diligently from every direction to belittle, dis-empower, and reject God and our faith in God, all the while replacing God’s purpose for creation and humanity with a chaos of something “other”, “non-” or “the anti/pro” or some lowest common denominator of the strongest voice or wealthiest player.

It is actually not a new behavior: Look at Psalm 53:1 NIV

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

The fruit of cultivating a culture without God returns us to chaos, destruction, and emptiness.

  • When the world is in chaos, turn to the one who orders life and light out of chaos.
    • Praise the Lord instead.
  • When the political boxing area calls for title fights,
    • Praise the Lord instead.
  • When we think about placing hope OR blaming trust in someone who is one breath away from their last breath,
    • Praise the Lord instead!
  • When God is the one breathes that breath of life into us all.
    • Praise the Lord!!

Happiness is found by those who have faith in the Lord. The Lord who gives structure to life, and good – justice and faith. Vs 6

Happy, joyful and at-peace are the who find God’s purpose as our purpose.. it is the puzzle piece finding its part in the wholeness when it finds its place in the puzzle’s place and not in its own empty box.

We hear Jesus’s words from the New Testament in the verses 7-8. The core of what we know as the Great Commission for disciples: Giving Justice to the oppressed, food the hungry, freedom for those in prison, vision/insight to the blind. In verse 9 we hear Jesus’s word from the Sermon on the Mount calling for the humble to be lifted up and to care for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.

Political Talk / Silence

First, we talk too much about politics.  Don’t let this be an excuse to avoid politics, but think of it this way, for every hour you spend reading and listening to news and editorials about politics, spend two hours in prayer, bible study and serving others in the name of Jesus Christ.

For those who want to avoid the reality of conflict and controversy but not listening to any news, time trying to ignore the conversations, spend twice that time reading the bible, praying and serving others in Jesus name.

For those who think this invitation is speaking to someone more than yourself, then its time for a wakeup call and spend three times as much effort praying, studying and serving others for the purposes of Jesus Christ.

Exercise for Healing

  • Turn off the TV, social media and get face to face with the people of God and study the word
  • Turn off the worry and fear and model for the world what it means to have faith in the chaos.
  • Turn off the excuses and silence and let your service and worship clearly point to Christ in the world.

Jesus said he was the Way and the Truth. Following Jesus and you bring light to what is dark and evil. Follow the way of princes and political parties and their way leads to a cliff, not a wall.

Hear the core of this Psalm: Our hope is in the Lord, Praise the Lord.

Bottom line: praise the Lord who is

  • strong enough,
  • gracious enough and is
  • the salvation of all generations.

The world is telling us today that, our voice and our place, we are not only wrong, but they are also bold enough to say we are oppressive, abusive and wrong.

The Struggle:

  • If the world does not trust prayer, we must intercede until they do.
  • If the world does not trust scripture, we must read, listen and follow until they do.
  • If the world does not listen to our songs of praise, sing until they do.
  • If the world does not love as Christ loves, then love until they do.
  • If the world does not follow and find its pieces fitting into God’s puzzle and plan, then find your place and invited the pieces next to you to find their hearts true home and fit.

Be the praise, Be the voice, Be the Word, Be the presence. Be the witness. Be the song. Be the church.

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