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Matthew 12:46-50. Intentional In Christ

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]

THE FAMILY OF Jesus is the intentional group of those who do the will of the Father.

-Those who are listening to Jesus are those who are preparing to go when sent, not react when interrupted.

-Those who are choosing this relationship place it’s strength as the foundation of all other relationships. (Not that other relationships are not meaningful or valuable)

-Those who are in the house, the oikos, are those who gather around the family fire, the spirit, the word, the table, the conversation, those who are ready to study, listen, worship, and grow in fellowship.

-Those who remain focused on the presence of Jesus are not listening to the cries of temptation and distraction.

-Those in the fellowship will be sent by Christ, with all power and authority, but the first place to gather is in the presence of Christ and that family.

This IS the clearest picture of the church, community, fellowship that we have been discussing the past three weeks. Koi-no-nia.

We are the fellowship that the world hunger for, now and always.

There are countless studies that reveal that people who are looking to belong will join the worst of gang simple because they fulfill our need to be in, and be accepted.

EXAMPLE: The fight is in the church over gender is a battle over how to be in the community when we are divided about how to be inclusive and at the same time restrictive. The answer is found where Jesus says to people, be forgiving (and this included) but go and sin no more.

STORY: We watch most any show that touches on war: revolutionary, 1812, Civil, WWI, World War II, KOREA, VIETNAM, GULF.. and other nations as well can all be seen at our house.it may be a documentary, a drama, a romance, or editorials. Having a history major and having Wendy’s father live with us for a decade might explain the why, but there is a helpful message I’ve been trying to grasp in the context of the events we see and hear on the news.

I think of the fears that people had when the skies were filled shells, when armed warriors were evacuated and looting houses, when people would hide in shelters and found rationed foods and fuel. And I ask myself are we heading tot his place. The civil war of the 19th century had families divided, property burned and stolen, patches of unbelievable numbers dead and, hatred and fear guiding every step. I think of people hiding in the homes hope all the destruction would end… and I ask what have learned from our previous struggle in those moments in history where we believe we cannot live with peace, trust, and civility in our lives.

We long for Clarity and certainty

It is clear that the historical markers are not respected and educational reminders.

It’s clean that fewer people are taught history or make the effort to study it when it is not required.

It’s clear that people are quicker to blame and fear than be logical, rational, and passionate in trust and accountability.

Think back to the passage, Jesus is preparing followers for loving, serving, and witnesses to a world that is ready to take all we have and there is no time to be distracted from the task at hand. Even when and especially when it is family.

The passage is an object lesson for al, of our family. Don’t be leveraged out of being faithful. When families become divided of faith, the priority is settled in listening to Jesus.

When things go astray in our family and friend groups, Jesus is acknowledging that one priority is greater than the other.

Most people list their family has their greatest treasure. “Where your treasure is, so will be your heart” Jesus is most interesting in that heart priority. BECAUSE when our values, morals, trust, beliefs, are grounded in Christ, we have the resource to be the strongest of family and friends.

It is a mistake to say that Jesus doesn’t care about families, so silly. Just as when you hear people guilting you on social media, trying to use your words against you. Jesus want all our family and friends to be built up and shaped by our faith and trust in him.

Having around the church for many year does not assume we have listened and trusted what we have heard.

So how does this passage help us be better prepared in a world that is distracting and dividing us? We don’t let the voices of the news, the media, the fears, not even our families, or the division be what motivates our actions and thoughts.

We are the intentional fellowship listening, learning and following Christ lead.

What to do when those other voice interrupt out time set on Preparing?

1. Assess the interruption

2. Reaffirm the priority

3. Invite others to join the church, fellowship, faith family’s work

4. Get back to Jesus’s work.

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1 COR 14:26 Koinonia Fellowship Builds the Body of Christ through Loving and Listening

What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. [NRSA]

In chapter 14, 1st Corinthians, Paul is having a conversation with the church Corinth regarding worship for believers and unbelievers and about gifts of the spirit. He is addressing what has become a division in the church between believers and those outside of the community of faith. So in our context of the world today this is an appropriate passage for us to study and learn as the church.

I remind you in our series here on being a koinonia fellowship that we as the church or cold to be intentionally with purpose, working to be a community that brings unity in Christ. It is not just unity for the sake of unity and unity for the sake of of peace and quiet in and that it is unity in the heart of Christ.

And the kernel the core of our lesson today is that as a Quintanilla fellowship we are called to build up the body of Christ and we do that through a variety of ways the the one verse that we draw out of chapter 14 is when it comes to the point of what to do about the division Paul instructs the church: when you come together everybody has a different part of the service everyone has different gifts everyone has different needs and expectations the common purpose is to be worshipful of God to be drawn together seeking the heart of God.

We recognized in the world today and all the division in and fighting, tensions, and passions that are exploding around reflects that not everyone is driving or working toward God’s point much less having the heart of God at the center of what they’re doing.

In our effort to be ecumenical and to be appreciative of the faith of others outside of the church is not our primary calling. We live in a world where the ideology of coexistence of diversity is valued more than the heart of God. It’s centrally clear in the first two of the 10 Commandments to have to worship God and to have no other gone. If our goal is not to find our our joy and our fulfillment and our purpose and our connection in God then we will never find connection with one another.

So our church our kononia fellowship is committed to finding the heart of God even though there are different voices, different agendas, and different ideologies confronting what we do. Our task is to build up the body of Christ to build up the community of faith by drawing people to God through Christ.

Think about a particular conversation that you found yourself in with someone who looks at a given situation from a very different even opposing perspective. It’s very easy for us just to say I’m right you’re wrong unless you see it my way you will continue to be wrong. This response it does not work when there’s no trust and a relationship.

When you read more of this 14th chapter you find Paul is trying to help mediate and help the congregation discern about which things are helpful for believers and which things are helpful for nonbelievers. While we all have gifts and parts of the conversation summer more helpful for those who agree and those who disagree we use different methods in different talents and different parts of what God has given us to build up the community.

At one point in my ministry I had the opportunity to serve a church that had about 1/3 of the members were interracial couples and families. And in this context I recognize that I did not have enough experience in knowing their perspective of the world and the church. They share terrible stories of oppression from both black and white congregations. They shared stories of how children and relationships had been pressured to agree or disagree with Bible verses in a variety of doctrine and dogma from different churches. I found it necessary to go back to seminary to a historically black seminary in Atlanta to audit some classes to gain a better perspective.

After the first class was complete one of the professors introduced me to the admissions director and said if I would consider working on a doctor of ministry and attending as a full-time student that they would give me credit for the classes I had audited. I live 5 miles from the campus at the time and so it is a great opportunity.

One of the classes that I had the opportunity to take in that program was simply to learn to listen to peoples faith stories and in the process a class of 40 people took the entire semester to listen and learn from each other’s faith journeys and faith stories. This was just tremendous help to my ministry not just relating to how to better serve one part of my fold. This experience allowed me to hear passionate stories of of the struggle for faith in a very divided world with common stories that dealt with race but also at the heart of them was an ongoing quest for God reaching out to speak in peoples lives and people responding to that call from God.

That’s the conclusion of the class it became well evident why this was part of the core curriculum because learning to hear gods call through peoples questions and struggles and divisions is the heart of what we do as a koinonia fellowship as the church and it’s a task we need learn.

I admit that I forget and I get caught up and don’t use the same listening skills as often as I may need to but I am reminded of how important they are. One thing you should know about me is that I am a very deep and reflective person when I have time to think and reflect. If you ask me for something instantaneously I don’t give you my best answer. Not all of life forwards the opportunity for the time and patience of of practiced and intentional responses. But as we look around and listen to the world we can see the evidence of not listening. We can see the evidence and proof of not paying attention. We can see the and hear the cries for being heard and being trusted and being accountable in the community around us.

As I had mentioned last week just as looking for the person to blame continues the the power struggle our task as the church is to hear people struggle and find the ways that God has given us gifts and talents to draw each other to respond to that call that God has for all of us.

This draws us back to the first part of this verse 26. “Well what should be done?” This is where we use our fellowship we use the talents of those who are prophetic we use those who can teach we use those who can sing we use those who can teach we use those who can instruct we use those who can build we use all the talents that we have in a way that ultimately builds up the relationships in the world around us.

What do we do?

Listen to the stories of others, is the first step in building relationships. Prior to this that means you and I have to be willing to sit down and spend time with people who think differently without getting upset without reacting negatively without drawing lines in the sand. You know that’s what God does with us we may be sinful and broken and filled with shame and blame and fill in the blank. We see Jesus sitting down with men and women and children those who are healthy and those who are ill, physically, mentally and spiritually.

1. We have to make a commitment to God and others that we want to be in relationship with all persons.

2. We have to trust and use the gifts and resources that God has given us as the body of Christ to be that strength and presents for the world.

3. Vs. 40 “ but all things should be done decently and in order.”

As good Methodist we love those verses that call for order and decency. These two words might be better seen through as process and respect.

The change that needs to occur in our society calls for us to respect even when we are not respected; we are to love where we are not loved; we listen even when we are not listened to by others. This gives us the process of God to speak through us.

Make a commitment today to be an intentional listener to someone who disagrees.. best if this is with a person but even what to hear on the media you choose.

1. Listen for how God is using this person and myself to build up the work of God.

2. Listen for the gifts, talents, experiences you have had that help you identify with what the person is saying.

3. Finally, what can you appreciate, respect, or love about this person?

4. This is the intensity of intention and purpose that koinonia people will go to reach one in the building up In Christ.

It is not easy if it were, politicians would have done it.

The sin of racism will be healed through Christ and our fellowship with him and all Gods people. So get busy!

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Matthew 16:13-20 Who Do You Say?

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea, Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. [NRSV]

Why Tell No One?

“Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” v. 20

Banias03 Ceaserria Phillipi was a worship center for many different faiths and deities in the region at the time Jesus visited with his disciples. Now it is but a historical site where pilgrims and tourist come to visit the remnants of a shopping-mall of temples at the edge of one of Herod’s many palaces.  Jesus gathers with his core leadership and asks for a status report. “What are people saying?”

Opinion vs Completing the Circut

Somewhere in the past generation of 15-20 years, we have upgraded the value of opinions over the value of facts. One of the dangerous tools that we have come to accept is public opinion polls.

My undergrad major is in sociology. When I changed from Chemistry as a pre-pharmacy student, I jumped 180 degrees into contextual perspectives of the human experience. As a social science, this discipline tries to make observations and predictions about human behavior. A random selection of people targeted for their similarities or differences is given questions to ask about perceptions and opinions. The bottom line on all opinion polls is that the collected information gives feedback for strategic planning, marketing, and predictive observations. The dangerous part is when we use feedback to validate rather than inform.

Example: If sixty percent of you sitting here said the wall appeared to be painted beige and 40 percent say white, what color is the wall? We have shifted from caring that Sherman Williams calls it bisque 106 to say that the 60% have a better perspective in the context of this room.

Jesus is not concerned with opinions. Jesus asks the disciples about what the people are saying and what the disciples are saying not to be validated, but to read the measure of progress or failure in informing and preparing people for their Messiah.

Listening to Feeback

The word on the street was divided about Jesus’s role and identity. Most data suggested Jesus was a prophet. Someone who taught and spoke for God, but not in the Messiah category.

Jesus asks the same question and asks the disciples about themselves. Who do you say Jesus is? So as a congregation of disciples the question is posed to each of us. When you are asked about Jesus, how do you first describe Jesus?

  • As a historical figure?
  • As a teacher
  • as healer
  • as the son of God
  • as God in human form
  • As a friend
  • As Savior
  • As a liar, a lunatic, or as Lord? (CS Lewis, Rabbi  John Duncan, Bono, W)
  • I suggest that most of us have some answer in our head, but hope it doesn’t come up in conversation and if it does we just as likely to say nothing.

“A Reality Check with the Truth”

  • Jesus Want to know where things stand,
  • Jesus wants to hear what the world says
  • Jesus wants to hear what the disciples say

The World is most likely to have a general idea but lacks the relationship to know for sure

You and I have the advance of some form of relationship, but our answer might be either a desire to be correct and give the ‘right’ answer so as to be rewarded for our knowledge, OR we speak from the heart and declare who Jesus is in our heart and faith.

Ask you neighbor today: Who is Jesus to you?

I challenge every member to begin preparing an answer to the question. “Who do I say Jesus is?”

  1. This is not to be answered swiftly with the goal of having the accurate answer.
  2. This IS a question to help us gauge where we are in a relationship with Jesus and each other.
  3. This IS a question that we need to be ready to share with:
    1. Those who ask
    2. Those who need to know but don’t ask
    3. As an affirmation of our faith to Jesus himself.

The Need to Know, then Tell

  • Pre-resurrection the charge is to NOT tell.Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
  • Post-resurrection until his return, we have to tell everyone.
  • We are people of the resurrection and world needs to hear, we need to be ready to tell, share, shape, instruct, inform, encourage and enrich the spiritual life of others.

Our missions to feed, clothe and visit those in prison FALL short if we don’t use these opportunities to make disciples.

We need more than daily bread, we need the bread of eternal life, and so does our neighbor and our enemies.

The time to prepare ourselves to share the Good News is at hand.

A Four Month Goal

One of the 5 Practices of an effective church is based on our commitment to be spiritually informed, spiritually maturing, growing in understanding, Bible study to feed our spiritual self.

In the next four months, in preparation for Christmas, I expect every member to find themselves part of a Sunday school class, a small group or a Bible study.

That might mean you have to start one of these yourself.

The CASE: If we are to be prepared to answer who Jesus is in each day, it takes real effort and practice.

 

Making Disciples is an all member responsibility. Job number #1 is making disciples. Helping introduce, equip and support others to know who Jesus is in their life, in my life, in your life.

What does this mean? What does this look like to me?

Starting in September we will be learning the process of sharing our faith. Starting this fall are classes and small groups and studies that some of you will be leading and facilitating to encourage others.

Starting in October we will begin preparing our leaders for 2018. Every ministry and service area of the church will share the goal of making disciples. We will make sure every leader in the church is modeling our discipleship goals.

By November will begin asking every member to report how they are connecting for study and spiritual growth, for those who have not connected or begun we will help find at least one connecting point for each member.

In December we will celebrate the season of Advent with a church-wide emphasis on faith-sharing as a Christmas gift.

Rock Spring is our foundation in Christ. It is our nearest access to living water. We want to prepare for a near year of Sharing Jesus Christ as a congregation.

  • Are you ready?
  • Are you scared or doubtful?
  • Are you willing to invest your time?
  • Are you with me?

First commitment: I want to know from every member which is the very best way to personally contact you?  Contact me: Give me your Name and number or email or cell.

  1. a phone call         404-DAD-JOHN
  2. an email                john@brantley.net
  3. a text                      404-323-5646

This will be the best way for you to stay informed about what is going on and how we are doing.

 

 

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Matthew 15:10-28 Feed the ‘Dogs’

DogScrapsThen he called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:  it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?”  He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.”  But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.”  Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”  Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. [NRSV]
The story is about is clean and acceptable to God and what is not.

Clean and Neat

I once had a local barber who said his hairstyles were guaranteed to make one “clean and neat.” He also loved buzz-cuts and flat-tops and used his Georgia Tech degree to talk about subjects far above the heads of most customers who had never even dreamed about anti-matter, black holes, and general relativity.
The teaching moment from Jesus would say to my old barber that God is not concerned with our hairstyle or any physical or cultural context.
Rather, what is acceptable is measured by our words and actions.

A Timely Teaching

This passage is important to hear in our hypersensitivity to politics, racism, and contextual priorities.
The debate and argument, in these exchanges, contain (1) racial-cultural division,  (2) accusations of fundamentalist theologies, and (3) challenging questions about who is correct.

(1) Racism/Culture

The story is interrupted by a Canaanite woman (double challenge: the descendants of Cain and a woman) The division between the Jews and the Canaanites were a polorized as any today.
The role of women is transformed in the Gospel as God works through women as often as men to reveal, teach and serve.

(2) Accusation of Fundamentalism

This woman comes to Jesus requesting healing for her daughter and hears Jesus say she was not going to have her prayer granted and for her to leave his presence. He declares that his mission was more important than the people. His response is that he had not come to work with the Canaanites. His mission was to the Jews. Those who were connected to Cain were cursed from generations before. (Why so harsh? hang on we are getting there in a moment)

(3) Who is correct in the Context?

Wouldn’t it be great to get a clear judgment these days about who is right and who is wrong? Is it the conservatives or the progressives? Is it the rich or the poor? Is it the wise or foolish? Is it the needed or the greedy?
Jesus is clear on the counts of culture, mission, context, and purpose:
Some folks will not be healed,
some will not have prayers answered,
some will be rejected and some sent away.
(As hard as that is, feels or sounds: This message confirms that some are defiled.)

What Defiles, what makes us unacceptable?

  • evil intentions:
    • Wishing, work and hoping that evil will come to another. “I wish he were dead, gone, out.”
  • murder:
    • Willful taking of life, and the neglect of loving one’s enemy
  • adultery:
    • Disregard of marriage and family covenants
  • fornication:
    • Misplaced use of our sexuality
  • theft:
    • Taking what does not belong to us, taking advantage of the system
  • false witness
    • Speaking in ways that protect ourselves over what is true in the eyes of God.
  • slander
    • Discrediting our enemy and our neighbor instead of loving and encouraging them.

CONTEXT:

Jesus and the Disciples change their context, leaving the region of Tyre and Sidon and in Canaan, they are confronted with a woman who challenges the words of the teaching with faith and persistence.
Q: What has she done that defiled her that would warrant Jesus’ rejection of her request and her presence:
She comes asking for healing, for her child, recognizing the power and authority of Jesus, she comes from a different culture, gender, and no apparent charge by Jesus of her behavior being unacceptable. The rejection is on theological and missional grounds:
You’re not Jewish, You’re not in the plan, You are not the right gender, You are not at the right time.
The transforming moment comes when she expresses her faith and trust in God.
All I need is a crumb.
All I need is a mustard seed.
All I am is one lost sheep.
Lord have mercy on me a hungry sinner in need of a crumb of the bread of life.
Recognition: Even in our different back stories, Jesus’s measure is faith.
Recognition: Even in poverty, what we need is Jesus more than fairness.
Recognition: God’s plan changes on the side of including the faithful, not just the poor.
Recognition: Faith is measured by the persistence of staying in the conversation, at the table.

Here are the power questions to answer honestly:

Are the polarized messages you and I hear about what divide us questions about what someone deserves or acknowledgments of what God can do?
In the stories of what persons of different races, culture, gender or economics bring to the conversation about how wrong and evil the establishment is or how possible healing and transformation are for God?
In the story is the woman trying to receive justice or give witness to her trust in God?
In the example is the woman trying to demonize and prove how evil others are or is she calling on God to show up where faith is present?
In this passage, what defiles: the faith we hold in our hearts and minds or the persistence in which we voice it on behalf of those who are lost, dying, broken and alone?

Our society has it all backward:

  1. It is not about having the correct ideas in our heads, it is about having trust in God in our requests.
  2. It is not about putting down the establishments, leaders, and systems, it is about telling the world how to trust God to show up.
  3. It is neither about being made whole,
  • fair nor equal, it is about the power of God at work in the crumbs, in the small things,
  • in the daily bread, in the hourly actions, in moments of our real actions.
  • in the hourly actions, in moments of our real actions.
  • in the every moment of our real actions.

Take Away:

We are defiled when our actions and words DO NOT reflect God’s power and presence.
Even if it is only daily crumbs, let God be our persistent trust.
When the woman asks for a mustard seed of what God can do, Jesus celebrates her faithfulness.
All the slander, divisions, false witness, evil intentions, murder, theft, disregard for covenants and responsibilities and the passionate preoccupations with vilifying our enemies: leaves us mistaking passionate lip service instead of actions of trusting God.
  • When you hear evil, divisions, and fear: This is our call to trust God.
  • When you are tempted to join in the tradition divisive agenda: Trade that for a crumb of faithful trust.
  • When you see, read words of hate and separation: Persistently remind yourself and all others what God can do.
And Jesus will praise our faithfulness, heal our brokenness and make us whole in grace.

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Romans 19:10-15 Beautiful Feet

10 With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” 11 Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.” 12 It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. 13 “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” 14 But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? 15 And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims, A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God! [MSG]

15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” [NRSV]
Beautiful feet

A foot hold, a toe in the door, feet on the ground, boots on the ground, 

Feet are not needed to have a presence in a give spot.

Examples: 

Beautiful: the joy of someone showing up to help

The tow truck arriving on rainy night while in the ditch

Paying the mortgage or note is no fun, until you see the last coupon payment is beautiful
Encouragement 

 How beautiful it is to lead someone to a point of finding God’s heart.   

If you know you have beautiful feet show them off when you are sharing Jesus

If you don’t think you have beautiful feet, introduce people to the heart of God through Jesus Christ and you will find you have the most beautiful feet.

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Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

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“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. [NRSV]

I have been to more churches in the past two weeks than I have in two years. The stories of places people gathered to worship ranged 640 A.D. to those being constructed and remodel.

The stories behind different traditions and flavors of worshiping in the name of Jesus have been filled with extraordinary faith and tragic divisions. Stories of generations of people committed to building and defending as well as dividing and taking advantage of the church for personal gain or power.

At the same time visiting structures that span hundreds of years we heard stories of people who have given up on the church and our stories, buildings and lack of meaning. It is sad to hear someone who has heard what we believe to be foundations of our daily lives and experience quick sand or nothing at all.

What is the message of Jesus Christ for a world that calls faith empty? Or one that looks at the church as history and not present or future?

Everyday of my vacation a neighbor from Walker county called asking chronically for help with rent. Is our charge to share Jesus or facilitate a lifestyle of dependency? Is this the persistence of the poor widow or the would be disciple who will not leave the dead to bury their dead?

Does our message have to be pleasing to be loving

Does our witness have to be wise or logical to be truth and love

Does our foolishness need to be measured by the world to be validated or even measured?

What are we called and charged as those who fight to defend and promote Jesus?

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

There is a both/and relationship I following Christ.

A yoke of scripture through tradition, reason and experience that holds and binds us

While following and trusting this yoke has a freedom, ease and lightness.

How can relenting of self and trusting Christ make life easy and free?

This journey is where the words of our faith meets the reality of the life we live.

Isn’t this obvious? Then why the divisions. Denominations and debates?

Here is what I have learned through this text.

The world is not defining Jesus
God continues to call us to faith
The life devoted to Christ requires work, hard work

Let talk next week..see you next Sunday

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1 Peter 3:13-22

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good?  But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. [NRSV]

  • Always be ready to make your defense 
  • an accounting for the hope that is in you;
  • do it with gentleness and reverence. 
  • Keep your conscience clear, 
  • baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—
  1. not as a removal of dirt from the body, 
  2. but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, 
  3. through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 

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Luke 24:13-33 Walking, Talking, Sharing

walking

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. [NRSV]

Imagine having a four-hour walk home?

Travel experiences:  WALKING

  • We walk from our homes to our cars to parking lots to our destinations.
  • We might walk for “race-for-a-t-shirt” or
  • a fund or awareness event to show support
  • we might walk to exercise for health
  • we might walk on a hike to see the view
  • What about walking to be spiritual present with someone?

Many would say that’s not for me.

[Note: Honestly, I am not sure why mini-pilgrimages have not been the tradition on Easter afternoon?]

  • Maybe walk home from church on Easter?
  • Or, walk back to church Easter Sunday evening for communion?

Travel Stories can be very powerful.

When we travel with someone, we have concentrated time together.

  • Have your ever recounted funny, interesting or challenging events?
  • Past vacation?
  • Meet new friends who were strangers on a previous vacation. The Hymian’s
  • Events that happened where you are passing on the road?
  • Anticipating what will happen when we arrive at our destination?
  • Sharing common adventures

If you had four hours travel time. How would you use that time in your car?

Would your faith come up as a topic of conversation?

If it did, What verses would you turn to reveal Jesus to a stranger?

Before we get to Bible verses:

  • Some people are better at striking up a conversation than others.
  • Some people are slow of heart to believe.
  • Some people know the details of the story yet they doubt or are still searching.

Excused assignment?

A: There is not one verse that reaches and convinces or convicts all people.

A: Some people are uncomfortable discussing their faith and spiritual life

A: I’m uncomfortable when people talk about their faith with it is different from mine.

A: Isn’t it more polite to not be pushy.

Question: What is Jesus’ model?

  • He is observant, see’s the sadness and disappointment
  • He is inquisitive, asking for clarification
  • He is instructional, drawing on scripture to transform the sadness and disappointment.
  • He is well studied, and well prepared to share.

One Easter Sunday, the first appearance of Jesus is modeling what disciples are called to do.

When the words are not enough, he resorts to actions.

There is a problem with the saying: “Your Actions may be the only Gospel someone sees”.

  • It assumes we have the heart of God in all our actions
  • It assumes how we act always reflects God
  • It assumes we are intentional about modeling our faith in all situations.
  • It assumes we know why we do the things we do in the name of Christ.

CONFESSION

All my actions are not always reflecting Jesus.

I need to know the core of my faith before I rely on actions only.

Think of Train leaving the tracks

If I see the resurrection as God’s ultimate victory over death and complete sacrifice of love for you and for me and name that as the core of my understand of LOVE:

If someone says, I love peanut butter or I love you if you agree with my world view, then are they talking about the same LOVE?

Which do we value more?

God’s heart or our freedom?

God’s word or our comfort?

God’s grace or our opinions?

God’s hope or our answers?

God’s patience or our resourcefulness?

God’s work or our work?

God’s love or

Bottom Line: Easter people need to know the scriptures, AND be ready to show them in action, AND meet people at Christ’s table.

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Assurance 1 Peter 1:3-9 Benefits of Faith

assurance

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,  so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. [NRSV]

SALVATION

  • Kept in heaven,
  • protected by the power of God
  • an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading

SUFFERING and SUFFERING for our faith

  • You will know trials for a little time, but God’s salvation forever.
  • This is one of the most difficult to accept parts: God doesn’t make it any easier on us than the next person.
  • God doesn’t make it any easier on us than the next person.
  • Living as a person of faith means:
  • Knowing you are ultimately love and valuable to God who gives us breath, lives, love and hope.
  • Choosing God’s ways AS our ways
  • Choosing God’s way as our ways when the world says, begs, models challenges us otherwise.
  • EXAMPLES

FAITH TESTED BY FIRE

  • Faith is more precious than gold
  • Love without Seeing
  • Genuiness of faith rather than Successfulness of FAITH
  • Faith is expressed in Praise, Glory, and Honor

ASSURANCE of REWARD

  • Rather than cut each other down, be challenged to live one another up.
  • Rather than focus on the loss in the moment, look to the hope in eternity
  • Rather than be devastated in the current disappointments, know Jesus is readily available to restore and renew us living as a commitment.

Athletes: commit to

Scouts: Getting it done and completing the task

Work: Doing what no one wants to do builds character and strengthen the team bond

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Luke 18.1-8 Who Finds Justice? 20161016

godjusticeThen Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city, there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’  For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ”  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?  I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” [NRSV]

Note: Jesus’s the new Parable method to teach God’s actions, kingdom, or love.
Parable Summary: Even those who are disrespectful and godless can show justice.
Lesson: God is ready to make you whole.
I’ve heard it said:He just ain’t right in the head. She just ain’t right in the heart. They ain’t right with each other.
  • He just ain’t right in the head.
  • She just ain’t right in the heart. They ain’t right with each other.
  • They ain’t right with each other.
Today we are talking about the idea and action of justice and I hope you will think if justice in terms of being made whole, complete or righteous.
The parable is taken from learning from worst-case example
To know God’s best-case example of making us right.
1. The example of the UN-godly judge knowing how to make things right but hesitant to do so.
2. With nagging persistence, the victim will not relent from asking, pleading, begging for justice.
3. When inconvenienced to the point, or annoyed to the limit, or a desired to see and hear her no more, the judge makes her loss whole.

It is one thing when it is your child in the grocery store saying: Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,  mommy, mommy.

It is another thing to hear someone else’s child drone the chant: Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy,  mommy, mommy.

My questions are as follows

  1. What in the world does that child want?
  2. Why in the world does that parent not listen?
  3. If I were the child/parent what would I want an annoyed stranger to say or do about the situation?

Persistence Works!

Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising in 1885.[6] The saying he used is still being used today.

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.

 Back to the text:

If we know children will ask with persistence, and
we know advertisers will reach out to us with persistence, and
we know widow made victim will seek justice with persistence
What do we know about persistently asking God to make us justified, whole, complete, right (righteous)?

God who breathes life and spirit into each of us.

  • Looks at our brokenness
  • Hear our persistent complaining
  • Knows our overwhelming frustration
  • See our rejection, failures, and weakness
  • and cannot wait to heal us, restore us, hear us, claim us, renew us, and empower us with new life.

In this parable God is the one persistently calling and begging and pleading for you and for me.

How many people do you know who feel: broken, guilty, afraid, ashamed, rejected, alone, or weary?

Even if it is only one: You have the opportunity to show them the love, saving, life-giving power of Jesus Christ as quickly as you open your mouth to tell, your heart to receive, your hands to serve and your ears to listen and your heart to bless.

The Catch

For all the persistence God offers, there are those who continue to not listen and there are those who know and do not tell/share/show what has save themselves.

When Christ looks at us, does he find someone who offers God’s justice?

When Jesus shows up, in the end of days or on an ordinary Tuesday,

  • Does he find us making people whole?
  • Does he hear us telling the Good News?
  • Does he see us being peacemakers?
  • Does he watch us bless and forgive one another?

or

  • Does he find us making divisions
  • Does he hear us tearing relationships
  • Does he watch us picking fights
  • Does he see us sitting back, holding back, knowing what we know and doing nothing to make others whole, complete, nor right

This is place where we get to work

If governments and special interest groups corner the market on social justice
Who will tell the world about Jesus with the persistence of one who knows they are lost with that saving grace?

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