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2 Corinthians 6:3-18Christ Focused Living

We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also. [2 COR. 6:3-18 NRSV]

The context for these words are for a time that salvation is needed.

When we have a year of locus in Africa, fires in Austria, flooding in China, global rise of earth quakes, global economic and political unrest, AND a pandemic and all its effects, this would be a GREAT time for some salvation! Am I right?

Paul is describing a time when the church is facing:

afflictions,

hardships,

calamities,

beatings,

imprisonments,

riots,

labors,

sleepless nights,

hunger”

Is this verse meant for today?

Our challenge by Paul is to live and operate by:

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

The tools we use are “weapons of righteousness for

the right hand and for the left;

in honor and dishonor,

in ill repute and good repute.

When we are faithful in living, thinking and behaving in these ways in response to our faith we can expect:

Thank you?

Praise?

Affirmation?

Wealth?

Ease from problems?

No! This is the list we think and the world expects

The reality of believing, thinking and acting this way:

We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;

as unknown, and yet are well known;

as dying, and see—we are alive;

as punished, and yet not killed;

as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;

as poor, yet making many rich;

as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

This is why we don’t always operate from these:

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

And yet we wonder why we feel that:

don’t see God at work,

Why the church is facing division,

And is cast off as irrelevant to the worlds agenda

Where do we correct our mission and faith with God’s gifts as our hope and treasures?

Purity comes from God, not ourselves

Knowledge comes from God not our creation

Patience is God’s work

Kindness, holiness, love, truth… all come from God

The challenge is to be filling “in God”,

As the chaos and disorder,

the darkness and distraction,

the division and injustice

All these are not good things,

these are not life giving,

these are not truth

These are the fruit of seeking meaning without God

But how?

  1. Do not be yokes with unbelievers
  2. What do righteousness and wickedness have in common
  3. What fellowship can light have with darkness
  4. what harmony is there between Christ and Belial
  5. Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
  6. What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

[2 Cor 6:14-18: NRSA]

A Koinonia fellowship is at its strongest for the world when not dependent on the world.

Citizenship has been a treasure through history. The only reason Paul was not executed for the many things he did that were disobeying the Roman laws was that his citizenship provided him some measure of due process under the law.

But Paul is discussing a dual citizenship that we balance. When we try to serve two master and they are in agreement everything appears to be good, but when our worldly citizenship conflicts with our heavenly citizenship, and we are not choosing God, we are ultimately choosing chaos and death.

Don’t hear my words as the freedom to be disobedient. Recall the list of choosing Gods ways over the worlds ways:

purity, – without sin, how other than Christ?

knowledge, – make a brain and order the universe first

patience, – how many years has God been patience with us

kindness, – mercy is being kind when not deserved

holiness of spirit, – we are not holy without God

genuine love, – unconditional, not self serving love

truthful speech, and – truth threat comprehends the above

the power of God”. Our only answer

It begins in the awareness that we out of bounds (in sin relation)

That following prayer and confession

That follow repentance and change of thinking and behaving

That follows aligning with God and not with the world when there is disagreement with God

We are an society of achievement, wealth, and power…

We are quick to give loyalty to whose who have the greatest

And we trade for God.

I have been surrounded by this pass for the past two weeks:

(Not just the familiar vs 14)

2 Chronicles 7: 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time. 17 As for you, if you walk before me, as your father David walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, 18 then I will establish your royal throne, as I made covenant with your father David saying, “You shall never lack a successor to rule over Israel.’ 19 “But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will pluck you up from the land that I have given you; and this house, which I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. 21 And regarding this house, now exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished, and say, “Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this house?’ 22 Then they will say, “Because they abandoned the Lord the God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they adopted other gods, and worshiped them and served them; therefore he has brought all this calamity upon them.’ “

We cannot say we have not been warned?

Do you want to show the world our only hope and salvation?

purity,

knowledge,

patience,

kindness,

holiness of spirit,

genuine love,

truthful speech, and

the power of God”

Do you want to hand over our salvation to technology, governments, and the dreams of worldly leaders? Then count on even more

Who do we serve because they are holy, knowing, patient, merciful, genuine, love and filled with divine power over the universe?

Who will you serve?

Who will we serve come Sunday afternoon? And M-S?

The answer is too simple:

The prayer for every day – throughout the day and night.

This is our hope and strength

This is what God is wait for from the whole world:

Lord have mercy on me a sinner.”

“Model and make my life your today, for your will.”

“You are my hope and salvation”

“I forsake, yield and give back to the world what is the worlds”

“Use my life today for your work and witness”

We must first be in Christ to focus on the world else we are blind to the worl

OR

keep fighting, crying, dividing and dying.

It remains our choice… isn’t God patient? Good?

Hand over the reigns of your heart, and soul, and strength

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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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1 Corinthians 13 “Love Always”

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSA: 1 Cor 13]

This chapter is both wonderful and intimidating. We love it and we held to its words and love.

Paul calls us to “love like we are family.” 

Families do not always agree. Families fight, divorce, hold grudges, abuse, neglect… why in the world would we want to love like a family’s love?

Too often we label our failures of trying to be a loving family as the standard. Therefore, we confuse reality with the model that is before us.

Instead of modeling family experience, we look to the fellowship God reveals for us:

Loving as Paul describes is 

1) a love based in God. What is love? Look and listen to God for God’s examples of love and loving relationship.

2) a love that can hold people in relationship even when their thoughts and behaviors are out of bounds. (I love you even though you are doing ‘wrong’ or thinking ‘wrong’.

3) a love that is not grounded in emotions but loves us in relationship to God even when you and I both have failed to love as God loves.

The Framework of God’s family: Based in Love, Loving the sinner, Love is Eternal

It’s important to clarify: I family operating on God’s love will look like the love described in this chapter. And, a Church family or koinonia fellowship, operating on God’s love, will look and sound like the relation described in chapter 13. But it is not automatically true.

We are a church denomination, that has actively talked about divorce for 22 years. We have been more focused on trying to keep the family together than learning to love the sinners despite their sins. We have aligned ourselves in the those who are correct and those who are wrong, blaming each other for the current reality. WHEN the reality is that we have accepted this lie as our truth.

The Church has always been called to be Christ’s body and not ours. It even sounds awkward to hear ourselves say: RS Church is Christ’s church, we usually say, “RS Church is ‘my’ church.” My service, my music, my class, my friends, my history, my offering, my, my my… 

Christ came to give himself for sinners. He always named the sin, and forgives the sinner, so that new life my eternally be in God.

Talking about loving people and actually loving people is the difference in saying the latest slogan or catch phrase about who we love, or who we support is not, in itself, AND loving enough to actually stay in relationship with God’s strength. This is to love as Paul describes. It is not at easy when we deal with the worst in each other.

Marriage

There is a reason that many couples include this passage in their wedding ceremony as it is the description of the type of relationship that are setting as their measure. At the foundation of a marriage it is a good base to start. When half of all marriages end in divorce we must reexamine how we love. 

Love sets boundaries for everyone in the relationship. When we are out-of-bounds, we break the relationship of love. Through GRACE God works to redevelop trust and rebuild. But our continued disobedience leads us to end relationships. Sometimes ending a relationship is the only way we can move forward.

Social Love

In society, we recognize that we might love our enemies, but their behaviors so violate trust and respect that we incarcerate them to separate them from others. This is not the model of love, but it is the accountability of not loving.

•             Just as God is revealed in creation, in the purposeful design of creation, with its order, beauty, and seasons of life, death, and renewal of life. 

•             God’s love can be seen throughout creation, in God providing for what we need not only to eat and drink, but to challenge and expand our minds, and to live together in community.

Pieces are the Whole

Wisdom, knowledge, faith, sacrifice are all parts of the relationship, but love is the reason behind them all. Prophecies, knowledge, physical nature all need to mature, but only mature in love.

Reclaiming the Heart and Hope for our Relationships

Love is..  (This activity ALWAYS requires God’s help, when we are on our own, we our out of bounds)

Love is patient; kind; not envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, not selfish, irritable, nor resentful; it rejoices in doing what is Godly, what is true. It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things; Love never ends. 

Starting with Confession

Which of these do we struggle?

Proactive

Օ – Patient

Օ – Kind

Օ – Rejoices in Truth

Օ – Seeks what is Godly

Օ – Bears

Օ – Believes

Օ – Hopes

Օ – Endure

Reactive / opposite

Օ – Envious / Content

Օ – Boastful / Humble

Օ – Arrogant / Respects

Օ – Rude / Kind

Օ – Selfish / Selfless

Օ – Irritable / Care

Օ – Resentful / Appreciative

Which do we experience from others most?

Proactive

Օ – Patient

Օ – Kind

Օ – Rejoices in Truth

Օ – Seeks what is Godly

Օ – Bears

Օ – Believes

Օ – Hopes

Օ – Endure

Reactive / opposite

Օ – Envious / Content

Օ – Boastful / Humble

Օ – Arrogant / Respects

Օ – Rude / Kind

Օ – Selfish / Selfless

Օ – Irritable / Care

Օ – Resentful / Appreciative

What are the correlations and connections with what we struggle and the struggles of others?

Are they connections that begin in opposition? Then we know where to ask for God’s help.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSA: 1 Cor 13]

Patient and Kind, Truth and Godliness

Bears and Believes, Hopes and Endures

Content and Humble, Respects with Care and Kindness

Selfless and Appreciative. Love is forever.

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Romans 12 “Word for the Church in 2020”

You were made to belong in God’s family

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. [NRSA: Rom 12]

As a koinonia fellowship we are committed to being one in Christ as we live as a worship to God.

We are able because we live in the power of Gods  grace and mercies. Without god we quickly serve ourselves and only those who are like minded. 

1. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

2. Do not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober, logical, judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 

We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: 

prophecy

  • Prophecy
  • Ministry
  • Teaching
  • Exhorting
  • Giving
  • Leading
  • Showing compassion

Instructions for all

• Let love be genuine; hate what is evil,

• hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

• Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

• Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

• Contribute to the needs of the saints;

• Extend hospitality to strangers.

• Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

• Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

• Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

• Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Busy ourselves with this list instead of worry fear and fighting

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Our task is to love!

“if your enemies are hungry, feed them; 

if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; 

for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

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1 Timothy 4:7-16 A Community Set on Progress In Serving

Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and struggle because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. [NRSA]

Being a church committed to Koinonia Fellowship calls on us to have a balance of commitment.

We have put on hold most of our hands-on ministry of feeding and clothing ministries that have been “bread and butter” of our ministry efforts. We need to find new ways to make sure those who are hungry and naked have what they need as we respond to the Great Commandment. These new and renewed restraints are calling us to rethink how we witness as the body of Christ.

1 Tim 4 also recognized that the physical ministry of the church is valuable, but it is not the primary work we are called to be about. It might be easier and more rewarding in the moment for us. One of the cautions is that we not do ministry so that we can be praised, or we can feel good, or look good to others — these things do come when we are genuine in our ministry to physical needs, but we are a spiritual body as well as a physical one.

This is why Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit when he leaves. We are Christ’s presences in the world, doing God’s work, empowered by God’s Spirit as spiritual people of God.

1Tim 4 [Physical Training and service is of some value, but the more important service is living out our trust in God.]

There are things that we work our spiritual self and the spirit of others, and not just the physical.

Paul is encouraging Timothy with some of his strongest language: “Insisting” that he teach the church.

As for the physical work we do: Let your service reflecting God’s presence, love, and sincerity.

As for the Spiritual work we are to do:

1. Give attention the public reading of scripture, preaching, and teaching

(Your prayers you may do in private, but when it comes to exhortation:

Be walking billboard for the scripture.

2. Develop and Use your spiritual Gifts.

a. What are your spiritual gifts. There are a number of online helps and books, but a good way to start is to ask five people what they believe your spiritual gifts are. Their feedback reflects what you are already likely been doing.. Now you may have other spiritual gifts and differing times of your life, so this is not a one-time check list.

b. The Part two of Spiritual Gifts calls for asking God, and others do I have other Spiritual gifts as well as praying for God to reveal these to you. We also need to be anticipating hearing and coming to understand what talents, opportunities and gifts God entrusts with us.

3. Put these two things into practice: Be fluent in the scripture so that others hear the word through you and be diligent to use the gifts and opportunities God opens to your life.

We are living in a time and season when being open, direct and bold about our faith is clearly risky.

We are hesitant because we don’t want to be labeled, rejected, attacked or negatively effected by letting the world know we are God’s People in living for Christ, powered by the Holy Spirit.

I’m guessing you have heard the saying, “the way you live you life maybe the only Gospel someone reads.” While part of this is true, it comes without any interpretation, explanation, context, and we risk great misunderstanding.

The instruction is not to beat people up with being right or wrong about scripture, it is a call for us to be devoted to what we think in our head and act in our service, but to also be clear in our reasons and lessons WHY we think and act as we do.

Our clearest example is Jesus’s relationship with his disciples. He was ever placing real life observations and even conflicts, in the context of scripture: And drawing on the Old Testament as such. And sometime Jesus would give an new understanding to an older text as well.

Jesus Sayings and Teachings Are strong and give explanation of why we think and act as disciples do

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 NIV

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 NIV

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

There are the “You have Heard, but I say”

Matthew 5:21 NIV 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

Matthew 5:27 NIV 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’

Matthew 5:33 NIV 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’

Matthew 5:38 NIV 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

Matthew 5:43 NIV 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

The Contextual Power is revealed when scripture is lived out as a witness for God

Luke 7:22 NIV So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

The world is transformed by God, THROUGH US, when we become those who speak God’s work to the hurting, broken, blind, suffering world.

The Conviction: Not always the popular thing for the world to hear, because God is often using us as prophets and teachers… but if you and I are not telling, teaching, preaching, and proclaiming, what will the world hear from us?

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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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