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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
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?”
- This is not to be answered swiftly with the goal of having the accurate answer.
- This IS a question to help us gauge where we are in a relationship with Jesus and each other.
- This IS a question that we need to be ready to share with:
- Those who ask
- Those who need to know but don’t ask
- 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.
- a phone call 404-DAD-JOHN
- an email email@example.com
- 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.
Clean and Neat
A Timely Teaching
(2) Accusation of Fundamentalism
(3) Who is correct in the Context?
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.”
- Willful taking of life, and the neglect of loving one’s enemy
- Disregard of marriage and family covenants
- Misplaced use of our sexuality
- 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.
- Discrediting our enemy and our neighbor instead of loving and encouraging them.
Here are the power questions to answer honestly:
Our society has it all backward:
- It is not about having the correct ideas in our heads, it is about having trust in God in our requests.
- It is not about putting down the establishments, leaders, and systems, it is about telling the world how to trust God to show up.
- 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.
- 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.
“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
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—
- 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,
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.
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.
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.
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]
- 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.
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
Then 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]
- 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.
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
- What in the world does that child want?
- Why in the world does that parent not listen?
- If I were the child/parent what would I want an annoyed stranger to say or do about the situation?
Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising in 1885. 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:
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.
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?
- 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
Down in My Heart
It is a great reminder of where the core of the Christian life begins.
To be a follower of Jesus Christ might very different than being a Christian
Paul is building a case for the life and Christain community that is ours to emulate.
Let your love be genuine.
I love fresh lemonade verses I love you even when you misbehave.
Strong words: Let’s be clear about evil. Don’t vilify the person, hate the unGodly things, attitudes, look past the words, to the other persons’ heart.
Hold on to Good.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride; not every handle is one you need to hold.
Devotion to God models our love of others.
Start at the beginning, love God first, greatest commandment.
Honor others, first.
Think from the other side first before you post or speak.
Life for God with a Passion
Don’t leave home without a case of Zeal for God.
Don’t be lukewarm or worse.
Keep the Spiritual fires warm while serving the Lord
So, if you are telling, teaching, explaining what it means to be a Christian:
1. Christian living begins in the heart.
Genuine heart hates evil, but holds on to Good, models devotions, respects we are different, but is passionate about living for God.
Attitudes in Action
Facebook and all social media are easy targets to see where people, who may have great hearts for God, but choose to forget or not to listen to their heart.
Here is the test:
- If you find you can share Joyful Hope on Facebook, sign in!
- If you can use it to patiently see the world through others’ perspectives, log on!
- If you can use the media to offer your heart’s passionate prayers? Get social.
- If not, don’t sign in, don’t log on, get to heating up your God’s Spirit in you instead.
2. Christian living filters God’s voice through the world’s voice.
Our Witness in Community
Paul’s list of sharing our witness in a relationship with others.
+? “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”
Interesting, Paul begins with helping the “Lord’s People” in need.
+ Practice hospitality
Have an open heart and mind that welcomes others.
+ Bless those who persecute you.
Know that not everyone will return kindness and love and grace.
-Do not curse, rather bless
Take the high, Godly, Good Road, don’t blame, bless and grow away from evil.
+ Rejoice with others
Celebrate when the news is good, and Joy is clear
+ Mourn with others
Be open to comfort, even when you are not the one hurting
+ Live in Harmony
Find ways to get along without having to agree with everyone.
– Do not be proud
Remember God loves and saves you, AND everyone else.
– Don’t be conceited, Associate with the poor and wealthy
Be a friend to those who are easy and difficult to live with.
Being a Christian is easy if you rare filling out a survey.
More people are identifying themselves as less Christian these days.
- What does it look like when we say we are Christian but have lost hold of the heart of God?
- What does it feel like when we say we are Christian people but have forgotten or never learned how to find our way home and settle for where we are rather than where we belong?
- What does it sound like when we have our faith all worked out in our head, and heart but other folks don’t see, hear or experience God around us?
Paul reminds the church at Rome and Rock Spring:
Thank goodness we come to the table to start our journey today.
Here is our grace to begin anew and fresh.
Christian living begins in the heart of God
Christian living filters God’s voice through the world’s voice.
Christian living must interact with the community and reflect God at work through us.