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Archive for category Worship

1 Timothy 2:1-7 “Right Time”

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all–this was attested at the right time.For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. [NRSA]

The Right Time for Christ 

We live in an era where the perceived acceptable times: 

  • to speak of Christ or 
  • to give witness of Christ or 
  • to worship is limited to a handful of moments, locations and circumstances. 

1. This is evidence and witness that there are those in the world works against us

2. This witness that we have listen to the powers and voices of our society and affirmed that our voice is second to others

3. This example shows that when pressed we as a whole are more comfortable clamming up, acquiescing the message of Christ.

Q: So a question is: When is the Right Time for Christ?

From the text, in history, God chose a specific season in human history to reveal covenants, commandments, and challenges.

In the specific time in history, God chose to be revealed not in words and idea, not in law and rules, but as person inviting relationship.

Paul’s words to the youthful pastor and church leader-in-training to see that God continues to have specific moments for showing the world, 

1. what the world needs to know and experience and 

2. what the faithful followers need to know and experience.

We are clear that God calls us to know and experience God’s power, teaching, presence, and guidance in dependable ways:

  • Worship
  • Home
  • Private groups – study groups, fellowship groups, gathering to learn and share
  • through actions of service

We come to recognize that there are some places that it seems less appropriate to live peaceably with our non-believing, non-agreeing neighbors:

  • Not work or school 
  • Not social media or 
  • Not with strangers in a public place

This is the grey zone that gets us in trouble.

There ARE times that we are called to be prophets and to call out the king/leader

There ARE times we take the political platforms to make clear God’s word.

There are times we interrupt social comforts and cross boundaries so that those who do not know and trust God know God’s word, will and expectations for all humanity.

The majority in the church, and even in our church, is quick to let 

someone else be a prophet

Someone else speaks the uncomfortable,

Someone else feeds, clothe, comfort, correct

There are times that we called to speak clearly what the world, the congregation, and the whole church needs to hear.

In order to do this we have to follow and trust the example Paul gives to Timothy carefully:

This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

In all times, God desires for EVERYONE to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  • When the world twists the truth.
  • When people trust the power of wealth
  • When people are blind the plans of those who call for kindness, goodness, and peace, but don’t have the goal of what is right and acceptable in God’s sight as the agenda.

Bottom line: if someone is NOT promoting what is right and good in God’s sight, they are promoting something or someone other than God. This is one of the lines in the sand that become a defining moment.

If someone speaks of unity and community but it is not a gathering in the heart of God and is empty of God… this is not something we can stand back and accept.

If someone is speaking of fairness without justice

If someone is offering that the only authority is Government and not see that authority as entrusted by God, then we are misplacing our trust. 

If someone is calling a lie, the truth because the majority of people agree, does not make something true.

Every generation struggles with authority, wealth, leaders, nations and wars, greed, poverty and worse..

BUT we now living in a world that is more populated, more divided, more selfish, more controlled by evil and apathy than any other time.

Some will say, it’s not that bad or 

Others will say, it’s not worse

Others will say, I’m will bury my talents and head in the sand.

Others will speak up for the truth of God.

  1. AM I compromising God’s call upon my life?
  2. AM I watering down God’s authority in exchange for what I am comfortable managing or accepting?
  3. AM I ready to devote my talents, times, skills, dreams, family, resources on the heart of God over the values and powers of the world?

If we are not ready to consider these questions then we have already answered them!!

Christ was revealed at a certain time.

  • We are living in a time that the church is being outnumbered by others faith,
  • made irrelevant by those without faith,
  • and our authority challenged by our inaction

As we prepare to be the church in the new decade and for the next 200+ years, what are we doing today, individually and collectively to make ready the GOD’s visions, God’s plan, God’s goodness, God’s will is revealed in THIS time?

The right time for shaping the future is THIS morning, this year, this moment.

Here is our call to accountability that we share with Timothy in his time.

The church was being born and shape for us now by the faith of Timothy and his congregation then.

Q: How are we seeking to make clear the heart of God in what we are doing this morning  — stop fear, complaints, blame…

Q: How are we making bold the vision of God for our church

How are we bring the goodness of God’s authority within the grasp of those who are hungry, thirsting, wandering and running 180 degrees away from God?

Final thoughts:

It is an interesting statement Paul gives to Tim and the churches then, “I’m not lying.”

Usually when some will say, “now pastor, preach I’m going to tell you the truth.” Does that mean they usually don’t tell the truth but this time I’m going to speak truthfully 

Is there a right time to be quiet and allow the society and the leaders lead so that we may live peacefully with those who oppose us, but there are right times that we boldly speak the truth of Christ. 

This time for us to begin to more clear and intentional about speaking the truth in the world that will sell a lie, greed, fear IN the name of GOODNESS but without the heart of God’s.

The “I’m not lying” is an affirmation of the timeliness to be 

  • Strong
  • Bold
  • Clear
  • Intentional
  • Faithful
  • and Devoted to God who loves, saves and empowers us to lover 
    • our family, AND 
    • our neighbors, AND 
    • our enemy, AND 
    • the stranger 
    • SO THAT everyone, EVERYONE may find the heart of God!!
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Luke 10:38-42 The Better Part

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [NRSV]

DISTRACTED BY MANY

It does not take much to distract me.

1. New Study on Multitasking from Forbes 15 point loss on IQ  Stanford major degradation

2. Recent Study on ADHD from Fox/Reuters 14% boys and 6% girls

3. Article: Fascinating Email Facts and Statistics

       Statistics, extrapolations, and counts by the Radicati Group found the following:

    • Over half of the world population uses email in 2019.
    • The number of worldwide email users is expected to grow to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.
    • The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023.
    • DMR has curated these other fascinating tidbits about email:
    • The first email system was developed in 1971.
    • Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails.
    • The click-through rate for email sent in North America is 3.1%.
    • The average click-through rate on desktop computers is 13.3% and, on mobile devices, it’s 12.7%.
    • The average amount of overall emails opened on desktop computers is 16%, on mobile devices is 55.6%, and on webmail is 28%.
    • The Apple iPhone email client is used most, followed by Gmail.
    • The open rate increases by 17% when the subject line is personalized.
    • Forty-two percent of Americans admit to checking email in the bathroom, and 50% do so while in bed.
    • The average open rate for retail emails is 20.96%, and for political emails is 22.23%.
    • The top spam content category in 2017 was healthcare, followed by malware.
    • The top reason U.S. internet users unsubscribe from email lists is, “I get too many emails in general.”
    • 99Firms has its own curated list that includes the following facts:
    • Despite the rise of social messaging apps, 78% of teenagers use email.
    • A majority (62.86%) of business professionals prefer email to communicate for business purposes.
    • Ninety percent of workers check their personal email at least every few hours.
    • Email click rates increase by up to 300% if a video is included.
    • The best times to send email are 10:00 AM or between 8:00 PM and midnight; the best days are Thursday and Sunday.

Texting:

  1. Funny top 10:TOP 10 REASONS PEOPLE DON’T RESPOND TO YOUR TEXTS

[1] The person really doesn’t like you.

[2] They are getting back at you for ignoring one of their text messages.

[3] They find your text message dialogue really boring and are on social media looking for something better to distract themselves with.

[4] They are playing mind games with you, full well knowing that by keeping you waiting for a response will cause you bitter frustration and they get a kick out of it.

[5] They are lazy and don’t respect you enough to respond to you.

[6] Very rarely, but some times, their battery dies. This is usually an excuse……go back to reason number 5.

[7] Some people work for a living, get off their back! They are WORKING… smarten up, the world doesn’t revolve around you.

[8] They just installed the new iOS and lost all their contacts (yes, even your precious contact info). They don’t recognize your number and are worried that your text might be from that person they gave their number to the night before.

[9] They are upset with you and decide to be passive aggressive with you instead of facing the problem head on up in a mature forward thinking fashion.

[10]… and finally… did you actually check to see if you pressed send after you finished writing your emotionally charged message? This is the worst feeling ever and really makes you look at yourself as a super self-centered individual, realizing that you are the only one to blame for getting all upset over nothing.

  1. 50% of the world has an email account. 86% USA 17% read more than 3 second/per.
  2. 97% who have cel phone carry them with them. 62% ignore half of their text
  3. How long before we begin speaking in response? 200 milliseconds

THE NEED FOR ONE THING

The one thing is being connected to God. We do this in many ways, but its the one thing.

Mary is choosing to focus and listen

Martha is choose to control, prepare, define, assume, look from martha’s perspective and not Jesus’s

CHOOSING The BETTER PART

The better part are the choices we make to be

    • unplugged from TV and politics,
    • unplugged from working when we need Sabbath Rest.
    • setting down the technology and to-do lists and listening to God so that we don’t miss God in our presence, in our homes, in our daily moments.

Action: moving toward God through worship, service, and devotion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to the text:

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

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

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

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

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain

Holy, holy is Thee

Sing a new song to Him who sits on

Heaven’s mercy seat

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain

Holy, holy is He

Sing a new song to Him who sits on

Heaven’s mercy seat

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

You are my everything and I will adore You

Clothed in rainbows of living color

Flashes of lighting rolls of thunder

Blessing and honor strength and glory and power be

To You the only one who’s King

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

You are my everything and I will adore You

Filled with wonder awestruck wonder

At the mention of Your name

Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water

Such a marvelous mystery

Oh, You’re worthy, mystery

You are worthy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty

Who was and is and is to come

With all creation I sing praise to the King of kings

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

Songwriters: Jennie Lee Riddle

(2) Revelation Song lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

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

Thank you for the cross Lord

Thank you for the price You paid

Bearing all my sin and shame

In love You came and gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord

Thank you for the nail pierced hands

Washed me in Your cleansing flow

Now all I know Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crown

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Thank you for the cross Lord

Thank you for the price You paid

Bearing all my sin and shame

In love You came and gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love Lord

Thank you for the nail pierced hands

Washed me in Your cleansing flow

Now all I know Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crown

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Seated on the throne

Crown You now with many crown

You reign victorious

High and lifted up

Jesus, Son of God

The Treasure of Heaven crucified

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb

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

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

G. G. G. F. E.

Worthy is the lamb

Worthy is the lamb

F. F. F. E. D.

Seated on the throne

Seated on the throne

G. G. G. F. E.

Worthy is the lamb

Worthy is the lamb

F. F. F. E. D.

High and lifted up

High and lifted up

G. G. G. F. E.

Worthy is the lamb

Worthy is the lamb

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

Worthy is the lamb, that was slain

In the state d Heaven EVERYONE can be heard singing.

Let the congregation say together “amen”

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

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

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

With full voice we come to worship God

Is it about me or you, no

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

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

Sing like we are standing before the throne.

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

Wesley’s Directions for Singing UMBoH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lk 19:28-40 Ps 118 “Prepare the Palms”

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever! Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.. [ Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? The Lord is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off! I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly; the right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.]

Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Luke 19:28-40

After [Jesus] had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?’ just say this, “The Lord needs it.’ ” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Outline:

• The Lord is God

• God has given us light

• Bind the path with branches all the way to the alter

• You are my God

• I will give you Thanks

• I will extoll you

Palm Sunday is the kickoff for welcoming Jesus into a harsh and hardened world

Have you ever wondered why people waves palm branches?

The Sunday school explanation has been that people grabbed the nearest thing as an impromptu banner of party decoration

I suggest that if you had a month to prepare for the return of Christ what would you do to be ready for his appearing in the heavens?

Come join us and let’s find out..

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Matthew 2:1-12 “Find” Epiphany Sunday

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                                Lectionary Readings *Vanderbilt Epiphany Sunday 01-06-2019

Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.  May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more. ..May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gift. May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,  and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,  a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.  In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:  that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Matthew 2:1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

This year we arrive at Epiphany as the exclamation mark of Jesus’s birth. Beyond the historical events of Jesus’s birth is OUR response to the reality of God-with-us now. In the moments and experiences where we ‘find’ Jesus ourselves:

What are our responses?

Will we find him in the journey that awaits?

Will we start something new or wait a better sign?

In this week we stop to recognize three important foundational legs to being the year:

  1. What is our star? our signs? How is God trying to be ‘found’ in the world?
  2. Will we take action to meet him or hope he shows up on our terms?
  3. How will we honor him when we recognize him, how will we say thank you?

What is our sign: Bill Engvald, comedian and friend of Jeff Foxworthy, uses the tag line about find if someone says something foolish without hearing the words that are coming out of their mouths: Example, [ In the lost luggage section of an airport… Agent said, “Can I help you?” Bill said, “Yes ma’am, the airline lost my luggage.” She looked Bill right in the eye and said, “Has your plane landed yet?” He replied, ”No, princess, I’m having an out-of-body experience! I’m just checking on it before it arrives! : Here’s your sign]

It would be nice if we had signs that we wore to let people know what was going on inside our hearts and minds. For a time people would wear black for an extended period of time to remind the world their were grieving the loss of a loved one, but now we put on a happy face and tell the world I’m Just fine.

If someone is feeling forgotten, alone or unappreciated they could wear a hat with a large exclamation point on top. We would could then be more intentional about supporting, befriending and recognizing them and their needs.

In most every Bible study I have shared the wisdom of a renown Christian educator, Dick Murry, who share the “bunny-ears-running-off-into-the-woods hand sign” is fair game to use when someone is dominating the discussion in a class.  I have received that signal and shared it as well.

If someone is anxious or nervous, it would be good to see a gauge that revealed the gasket was about to blow, so we could help support a change of state.

What are the signs that inform and inspire us to find God?

  • At time this is the role of scripture, but we have to be reading and digesting it to do so.
  • At times there are songs and music that draw us to heart or lead us to praise.
  • At times there are opportunities of service and sharing that allow Christ to show up around us.
  • At other times it is opposite:

Sometimes it is in the darkest of our fears, when can find no stars present, what do we do?

we must allow room for grace to show us..

Epiphany : is a preventative call:

  • to live looking for signs,
  • anticipate God’s revealing,
  • watch with hope

The special word for this week is “Find.” In both Isaiah 60:1-6 and Matthew 2:1-12, there is movement toward the new king who was born in Bethlehem. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, the land of Israel will witness how “nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn”(v.3). The text makes reference to young camels of Midian and Ephah and Sheba will come with gold and frankincense to proclaim the praise of the Lord (v. 6,7). In the gospel of Matthew, the visit of the magi is also about rendering praise not to a land, but to a newborn king.

In these texts, there is an invitation to give honor, glory, and praise to God, who has acted in favor of the covenant people and who has come to us through the Messiah. In the gospel, the wise men from the East have had a brief encounter with King Herod. We know that Herod had an ulterior motive when having what seemed like an honest and sincere conversation with these visitors. He was intending to begin a search for the newborn king to get rid of him (vv.13).

Once they went to Bethlehem and were welcomed by Joseph and Mary, the first thing they did was kneel and honor the newborn child.

QUESTION:

Does my/your spiritual journey that take us to meet Jesus or are we distracted along the way?

Where are the places we must stop in our spiritual journey and how do we get back on track?

KEY:

Does our daily living point us toward where God wants us to go?

What is our response to finding Jesus? The wisemen offer praise, honor, and gifts. How are we inspired to offer our time, talents, gifts, service, participation and witness?

What is the taking the place of the star in guiding us toward finding Christ in our daily lives?

Where is the prevenient grace working ahead of us to show us the way?

Are we seeing the signs God gives us? Are we interpreting God’s signs to follow? Are we taking the action to find him? Are we taking gifts of praise for when we arrive or wait until we stumble upon him and be empty handed?

As we begin 2019

  1. Where do we expect to ‘find’ and experience God this year?
  2. What direction and actions do we need to begin this journey?
  3. What are we taking with us in anticipation of praising and honoring God when we find him?

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Mark 16:1-8 As You Go and Tell

Garden Tomb of Jesus

The stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Go Tell his Disciples, “There” you will see him.

A confirmation that the Church is the Body of Christ and a sure and dependable place and moment to share our living Savior.

My crazy grandfather used to tell me that I could not go swimming until I learned to swim. I would reply, “How can I learn to swim without getting in the water.” His reply, “Go ask your grandmother.”

It is in the act of doing that we come to experience Jesus as our Savior.

If I only think about Jesus, then my faith would be a theory that could exist just fine within my own understanding, and you could have your understanding and I could have mine and we’d be fine as long as we didn’t share where we had a conflicting understanding. (skip the opportunity for sarcasm.)

The specific instruction on the first Easter Sunday was to find Jesus, where and when you are telling the other disciples about the resurrection.

Our worship, fellowship, music, visuals, conversations, scripture, and are ways we gather to experience Jesus, living with us.

How do I experience Jesus?

  • I see Jesus: in the scriptures
  • I hear Jesus: in the music
  • I smell Jesus: in your questions
  • I feel Jesus: in your singing and responding
  • I taste Jesus: in the bread and cup and fellowship dinners, why I cook.

How do I prevent people from experiencing Jesus?

  • When I’m not sharing, the world sees the wines of complaining, division, fear, anger, selfishness, and pride.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people hear whatever news, movies, celebrities, squeaky wheels will tell, print or post.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people smell doubt, insincerity, and shallow words that don’t relate to people’s hunger and thirst for what is good and right.
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people continue to feel alone, confused and divided
  • When I’m not telling about Jesus, people taste the bitterness of a sin-filled worldview.

Q: So What do I tell people?

  • Jesus lives for a sinner like me
  • Jesus speaks through scripture and the church
  • Jesus smells fresh and hopeful if what I’m saying is mean-spirited, nope, not Jesus.
  • Jesus feels present and relevant to people.
  • Jesus tastes satisfying and whole.

So When and How Often do I have to tell about Jesus?

NOW!

Easter is the best day to tell about Jesus

  • Who will you tell see
  • Who will hear
  • Who will feel
  • Who will smell
  • Who will taste

Easter is the reminder of our real urgency that someone is

  • bound and
  • blind and
  • afraid and
  • confused and
  • misinformed and
  • betrayed and
  • some clouded by religion
  • alone making up something they call the truth
  • any of these, but they DO NOT have to be

Some have smelled the difference between the joy of our worship and the judging, barking, and silence

Some have tasted the world and are left hungry

A Word to Disciples

Back to the instruction, with the urgency: Easter is a day to come and experience Jesus as our Risen Savior so that every day that follows we are ready to be the living Jesus until he returns.

Use every way that we experience life to lead the world to experience Jesus in us.

When we are cady, controlling, fussing, griping, condescending, bothered with others around us we are in a danger zone of NOT allowing others to experience Jesus. We get in the way. 

The invitation is for this day, for Disciples to regroup in Jesus, as ‘THE’ way and be ready to live to experience Jesus with others

,

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Acts 19:1-7 People of the Spirit

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. [NRSV]

The Coach’s Gator-Aid Baptism: Acceptance and Celebration for winning or setting a record, but Christian baptism is not just a public celebration: it is about covenant making and covenant keeping.

Baptized in the Spirit vs Second Birth

Over time some churches and denominations have made more of the verse that is like intended. Some would teach that when you and I repent, acknowledge that we are sinners and believe Jesus to be our “Lord and Savior” that it is somehow a partial baptism that we must have a second baptism in the Spirit, as the sign of some spiritual maturity or marker of spiritual progress. When in fact this passage is about a lack of information, a shortcoming in the teaching and Paul wants all disciples to ha e the full story, the full benefit, and full connection as a disciple, believer and follower of Jesus.

John Wesley

Salvation for Wesley is the process that begins in the Holy Spirit before we are aware of what is happening, We mark our part in the process when we acknowledge Jesus Christ has died for our sins personally (thus justifying us through Grace and the Spirit), what follows in our response of becoming the person Jesus died and rose to save, the Spirit guiding us in the journey of sanctification toward the goal of wholeness in the Spirit, he called perfection.

Bottom line, if someone speaks of not having the Spirit it is actually a matter of perspective, ignorance (being misinformed or uninformed) and/or misinterpretation.

From the beginning of Creation, the Holy Spirit moved through the great chaos and spoke order and purpose. The Spirit moved in creation over the earth and was breathed into humanity giving us that very image, breath and spirit of God in us.

What makes us exceptional is that we each are Spirit-filled people, we all have the Spirit of God to credit for our life, our purpose and our meaning.

When the world denies or runs from God’s Holy Spirit

They do so in fear, misinformation, pride, personal desire to control, or a lack of experience/understanding.

So what? Our personal faith journey is to affirm we are spirit filled people, saved by Christ and living for God’s purpose, in God’s love, uniquely through each one of us.

So what’s the deal with this passage and Paul re-baptizing these folks?

  1. This passage is about teaching what baptism is about
  2. This passage s about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit
  3. It is for us a reminder that to be a Christian is to 1) be aware we are born of the Holy Spirit, 2) we are connected by the Spirit and 3) empowered by the Holy Spirit for Spiritual work and witness.

 

Part of this verse is about competing traditions:

“We have John the Baptist”… Our baptism is older and more closely connected to the first baptism, John the Baptizer, who baptized Jesus, “If John was Good Enough for Jesus, then John’s baptism is good enough for me. “Ours is the more traditional flavor.”

Paul is teaching that Baptism is the vehicle and not the destination.

It’s not owning/experiencing something, it is becoming something more important.

Paul’s correction is not saying John’s baptism was wrong, only that it conveyed part of the power:

The Two Parts of Baptism

The Jesus Part and the “my” part.

John the Baptist’s baptism was about repenting, acknowledging our sinfulness and our brokenness and that Jesus is the hope and salvation for our sins.

The second part is what difference does the Jesus part make in my life and how will accomplish my response to Jesus’s part.

Too many people settle for the utterance of words instead of the building of a relationship. Are you and I settlers?

Think of the marriage covenant:

Legally a couple is married when they have exchanged vows and pledged themselves to one another and both say the traditional, “I DO.”

But that is not the marriage, that is only the beginning of the covenant. The marriage is the journey of joys and struggles that span the time the couple shares.

Paul reminds us that we are

  • Spiritual
  • Need Christ but also the Spirit
  • Therefore help others find a way to grow in the Spirit

Invite someone to a life in Christ

Inquire what Baptism means to someone’s daily life

Back to School Homework

Do you remember your baptism?

Do it make any difference to you on this day?

If so how,

If not, let’s work on it together, is Paul model

 

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Trust the Old Story for New Life

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. [NRSV]

Jesus the parable painter

  • Mustard seed
  • Yeast
  • Treasure hidden
  • Pearl
  • Net

Every story is a out the same thing. The kingdom of Heaven. Billy Graham preached for all his years and always the same sermon: Jesus Christ and him crucified fir our sins.

Parables train us for what is new and old.
Scripture through the eyes of
tradition AND
reason and
experience.
Not any one or two of the other.

The Old is the scripture the new is the contemporary context. Jesus is giving the new as examples of the old

Jesus is establishing building blocks: look at the pieces.

Mustard seed
The kingdom of heaven is larger and with more purpose then we can imagine

Yeast
The kingdom of heaven spreads and transforms whatever it comes in contact with

Treasure hidden
The kingdom of heaven is worth security and investing in pursuing

Pearl
The kingdom of heaven is something to be searched for and pursued and is worth more than what we have

Net
The invitation to the kingdom of heaven is open to a home but not everyone will find it is their home for eternity.

The kingdom of heaven:
1. TKoH is more than we expect
2. TKoH is to be shared
3. TKoH is worth the journey
4. TKoH cost everything
5. TKoH is open to all but all will not find it home

TKoH

  • begins here and now
  • Is found when we share it
  • Is the labor of our life
  • Is priceless
  • Some will give it up

Is Gods Heavenly Kingdom

  1. Something you are experiencing
  2. Are you Sharing it
  3. Is your life devoted to loving God completely more than thinking God correctly
  4. Are you at home in God, with the People of God now?

Bottom line: get to

  • living
  • giving & sharing
  • loving & trusting
  • Building & doing and
  • worshiping & growing

Or else (Parables can kick us in the butt)

  1. You just have a seed stuck in you shoe
  2. You just have the ingredients but no cake
  3. You just have treasure but never use it
  4. You just stay busy without joy
  5. You talk and think but are like the grass that withers when it dies.

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Matthew 13:1-9 They Withered

witheringbeansThat same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”  [NRSV]

Our generation lives on a minimum amount of resources while consuming more stuff than the majority of the world.

  • This passage is not about the injustice of poverty.

Our generation prefers being served over serving others.

  • This passage is not about feeding those who are hungry.

Our generation assumes rights and access to information, energy, and wealth it has not labored nor earned.

  • This passage is not about clothing the naked.

Those who have never planted seeds for food have only second-hand appreciation for harvesting pepperoni’s for their pizza or nuggets for dipping, or sugar cane for their soda.

We are a consumer society and the idea that disciples, followers of Jesus, as those who plant, invest, tend, nurture, nourish and prepare others a life as disciple.

Typically we are more interested in our own self and/or our own family, and sometimes our friends.

The challenge Jesus gives to disciples and followers like us is a charge to be extravagant in sharing our faith.

But what if we are weary of sharing our faith? What if we are tired, scared, hesitant?

  • Might be because we only have a heard and experiences a few seeds along the way that have been held in reserved instead of planted and harvested.
  • Might be because we only see different pieces and have to put the parts together in a way that brings meaning, power and purpose to our daily lives.
  • Might be because we have tried and fail, or tried and did not find what we thought or hoped and we have given up on God’s seeds of love, good, hope, grace and power.
  • Might be because we have the seeds but expected them to work like Jack’s magic beans rather than a way for God to grow and reach us.
  • Might be we have not trusted God’s seeds to taste as good as other seeds. Other words, teachings, ideas, philosophies, agendas and platforms have hold of our hearts.
  • It might be a hundred more reasons..

The reality of God’s work of love and grace for us, is this:

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it has become a profound corner stone of my understanding.

  • While you are I were dying
  • While you and I were starving
  • While you and I were fooling ourselves and others
  • While you and I were lying
  • While you and I were thirsting
  • While you and I were withering

Christ gave himself as a way to the heart of God that no other path could accomplish.

We are people of God’s working.

We receive the gift of God’s work through Christ, but we are called to labor instead of comfortable consumers:

We are called to be laboring, working, sharing, preparing, challenging, encouraging, activating the process of building relationship where the love of Christ can thrive and make us spiritually mature and whole.

Christ died for us, not because we had it all figured out correctly

Christ died for us, because we have a tendency either:

  1. Hope someone will do our work for us, or we
  2. Hope that our work will be rewarded for our faithful duty.
  3. Neither of these is correct

Christ died giving us the benefit of love and salvation before we have done anything good, true or right.

The message of how God works is preemptive:

God does the sow.

This is experienced first

  • through Christ and the Holy Spirit,
  • through people, worship, songs, service, and study.

The process continues with each generation.. but along the way some folks

miss the seeds

  • some get interested at first but tire or give up
  • some compete with thorny ideas and competing promises
  • some make room for growth and fruit follows.

Today we gather not as those who have never heard and not as those who have gone on to glory, we live in the middle having heard enough for faith, knowing there are those who are bitter, hurting, afraid, lonely, angry, confused, abused, neglected, ignored, selfish, mis-informed, or just plain wrong: and God has entrusted us with making relationships with one another, While we are still sinners.

 The kernel of this parable is about recognizing the withering and the thorns.

Look around here today: Are their those who are tired, hesitant, weary, afraid to share a life of faith?

Look around: Are there those who are thorny obstacles other here or those outside the church?

I am challenged and challenge you to strengthen you spiritual roots.

  • connect a new with bible study, Sunday school,
  • pray with your family, small group, friend groups
  • take the steps to know more of God’s word, do more of God good and be ready to lead others in Christ, more than follower/consumer.

Galatians 6:9 (NRSA) So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

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Psalm 100 Enter Ready to Praise

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. [NRSV]

Fill my cup Lord

  • If we are coming to church to be served, pumped up or filled we have not prepared for worship 
  • Come to worship
  • Come to church
  • Come in the holy gathering of the holy people ready for praise

Survey says

  • People come to church because of tradition, habit or hurting 
  • We owe it to God to encourage, prepare and teach each other to come ready to find God

Why?

  • God made us
  • We belong to God
  • We are Gods holy people 
  • We are sheep needing to a shepherd. 

How to Prepare

  • Joyful noise
  • Glad hearts
  • Start with Singing
  • Shouts of Thanksgiving g 
  • Proclaiming God’s goodness
  • Anticipating God’s faithfulness 

Are we Ready to worship?

Or start over

Bottom line today is a day of praise 

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