2 Corinthians 8:7-15 Generous Love 20170701

Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of otheFor you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become richAnd in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–  now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” [NRSV]
Learning from Past Generosity

How wonderful are Paul’s words of encouragement to the church in Corinth and Rock Spring. We have been blessed with a tremendous opportunity to complete our building fund with a matching gift. The initial response in the first year reflected the creativity, generosity and commitment of the membership to tackle this challenge. It is with gene rose faith this mission was begun and in Generosity it will be completed. 

Faith in Finances

We have been faces with opportunities to do many things and it has been hard to put things on hold while we best utilize this matching challenge.  

The Balance
Paul speaks of a balance between the areas that receive our attention. Those of single vision saying feed the poor instead of pay for building overlook the generosity of:

  • the home of Lazarus 
  • Those who provided the upper room
  • The boat in the sea
  • The well to draw water
  • The price of the field with a hidden treasure
  • The cost of the pearl

Counter Weights /Waits

  • Judus is famous for helping us remember the other voices that eat away at our Generosity 
  • Those times we look only at the management of monies
  • Those ways sees gift and value its price in currency
  • Those words we insert that reflect fear, control and. Isplaced power

Listen to Words of faith from Corinth

  1. Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 
  2. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 
  3. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 
  4. it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 

May we revive our first excitement t in showing love in gifts of generosity 

For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have. 

Leave a comment

Matthew 10:24-39 Acknowledge Jesus Daily

talk2hand
“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. [NRSV]

We know too well many ways to ignore, reject, and avoid sharing our faith and allowing others into our faith journey. This passage warns us of the consequences of pushing others away. Don’t tell folks to talk to the hand, share the hand of Christ who loves, saves and calls us into life together.

Acknowledging Jesus is With Us

  • Talking About who Jesus was, is and will be is the easiest and beginning point of our promise to Witness Jesus Christ.
  • Learning the stories, details, and information about Jesus is the foundation, but it is only our starting point.
  • More people stop at this place and find know many things about Jesus something of which to be proud and comfortable
  • Example: you and I might know many stats and details about a person who plays a sport and many seasons of many players, but that never assumes that we are on the field ourselves. But knowing the rules, stats and stories are a place to begin to connect.

Acknowledging Jesus Saves Us

  • Developing a Relationship with Jesus begins in a relationship with the people of Jesus’s body, church folks.
  • We live in a an era where we have to earn the respect and opportunities to share the church’s message.
  • No longer can we assume we have a voice in the community.
  • No longer can we take a pass waiting for someone to ask us about Jesus
  • No longer can we bemoan or complain about how easy the church once had a central role.
  • Now is the time for the church to rekindle and reclaim that faith story of salvation, hope, and love we assume the world knows, trusts and believes.

Acknowledging Jesus is Shaping Us

  • The Good News is acknowledging Jesus is not a regurgitating of historical information to a lost and hurting world.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is giving the invitation to join in a spiritual journey where the answers unfold along the way.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is seeking Jesus’s story is woven through our story.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is finding our role is leading others to follow, as we follow Jesus.
  • Acknowledging Jesus is placing our purpose in the heart of the one who died and lives for our present and our future.

I challenge you to acknowledge Jesus Today

  • Find someone here today and practice: Tell how you become a follower of Jesus,
  • Tell someone why you continue to grow as a following of Jesus
  • Confess a struggling place you fail without Jesus’s saving help.
  • Give someone the opportunity to give their brokenness, emptiness, questions, doubts, and fear to Jesus.

Together we find ourselves in sharing ourselves in Christ. This is the daily work:

  • Lord, I am broken without you, Save me again today,
  • lead me in your work even though I don’t deserve or even know how to start again,
  • I recognize, affirm, acknowledge, proclaim and accept, you complete me. Make me yours
  • Make us restore us in the ways you have worked, hoped and created us to become.
  • Go Repeat, share and lead others

Leave a comment

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 

Leave a comment

Gen 1-2:3 Look What Good God is Doing 20170610

Sermon Broadcast: Remote from Culebra, PR on  Facebook on the RSUMC FB page on 20170610 at 9am and 11am EST.

rainbowCulebra

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. [NRSV]

The Core of our faith is God.

The creation account in Genesis chapter 1 teaches us three things about God. Intentionality is Love, Purpose is Order and Order is to share that relationship of God.

I will go and prepare a place for you, if it were not so I would have told you. Jesus describes to the disciples and early followers that God’s ongoing purpose is to prepare a place for us. The story of the promised land is a story of the grand adventure of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of the garden of Eden is witness of God preparing a place for us to be in relationship. The story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is a witness the God is committed to doing whatever is necessary to give us a path, access, to a relationship.
No matter how much emptiness and chaos, God chooses to prepare and order a place for us.

God orders relationship.

I will have a side of fries with that. God speaks and calls for a physical, tangible place as preparation for being with us.

It is through this very passage, in Monterrey, Mexico in the summer of 1983, while on a mission trip at the John Wesley Seminary, that God revealed a call to create a relationship for ministry in my life.
I can’t say that it was orderly. I was struggling down a path to become a pharmacist. Can you picture me sitting quietly behind a counter, wearing a white lab coat, in the basement of hospital or as the drive-in window of a Walgreen’s/ CVS? A life spent orderly counting pills, filing insurance forms and dealing with hospital or retail bureaucracy and politics? Why was I ever interested in such a career?
First it paid a respectable wage and I loved Dr “Red” Connelly.

Through much prayerful reflection and a specific night in a worship service, staring at a 100 watt light bulb, what had compelled me to love the job, was the person and personal ministry of Dr Connelly. It was not running a store that inspired me, it was the conversations over the counter, the listening to a hurting words and offering a response of hope, compassion and healing that reflected God’s presence through his vocation. It was not the job, it was the relationship.

God is about Good Order

Looking at the brokenness, failures, emptiness and chaos in our lives we see things through the eye of disappointment, defeat, regret, anger, shame and others. None of these bring order, peace and the type of relationships that make us whole or joyful.

God is very intention about, not only bringing order, but structure that is filled with cycles, processes, systems, and inter-connected relationships.

When we are around someone who is ordered by brokenness we feel the physical, emotional, financial and others feelings of being drained. There is never enough money to fix, there is never enough words to comfort, the are never enough things falling into order, that open us to the wholeness and goodness that God has given for us.

In all of creation, God names it’s purpose: Goodness

God orders dark and light, day and night, earth and heavens, fish, animals and people for the purpose of Goodness. Every story of sin and brokenness in the Bible and in our lives reveals how we take what is ordered for Good and use it for what is not Good/evil.

God alone can take what is broken and evil and make it into Goodness.

When the world takes was is Good, sees it as a threat.
When the world takes what is Whole and crucifies it to prove point
When the world takes what is God’s love, and turns it into order without live
The God of creation
Define Good
Order’s Wholeness and
Reveals Love

The complexity of creation
The building blocks of mathematics, physics and energy
The charge and challenge to subdue, have dominion and feast on Christ
but why?

Creation and all that orders it and the reason to suggest that none of it has meaning, purpose or intentionally, reveals that God continues longing for us to chose a relationship of Goodness.

So what is the relationship of Goodness?

All these gifts of God are good when they direct us to a relationship with God.
When they do not we sin, twist the purpose and celebrate chaos.

If your give your child or grandchild a puzzle, you hope they will find both challenge and joy developing motor skills, perspective and proportional reasoning, the benefits of trial and error and you want them to have fun in the process.
If instead they use it as a material to start fires, they have missed the fuller gift.

If you gift your child or grandchild a sum of money you hope there will learn to make wise choices about saving, investing and making value judgements of Goodness. you know they will often make poor choice, but if you never teach them and they never ask for instruction, why would we expect them to choose the good use of your gifts?

We know too well about making poor choices: concerning money, health, relationships, time, energy or strength.

God has given gifts, words and Spirit to teach us.

If we throughout the instructions because we want to do it on our own, then we rely on chance that our way is God’s good way. We are 99.9999% likely to choose poorly.

The story of creation in Chapter one is a faith account of intention, purpose and challenge.

Chapter two reveals how quickly we choose what is not Good, what is not God, and the consequences effect us and others, immediately and eternally.

Here the Good News

God has created for Good for us. God has not given up, even if the rationalist, the political community, and the fear-filled folks have:

The basic instruction is to use the gifts around us for God.
Guide the relationships around us, toward God and Good will complete us.
Guide our relationship around ourselves, and Good will be farther from us, hidden.

Everyday life, outside garden

More days are work days, days to rest in God are more rare.
The ratio of 6:1 is an interesting idea.
52 days of rest and 313 days of work each year.

God is investing a work of Goodness that we might meet God, heart to heart
God is gifting us in the struggle that connects 1/7th of the time.
We think perfection is wholeness. striving to be the best..
The best place to be is in the heart of God’s goodness.

You don’t have to rich, smart, short or tall, fat or thin, young or old, you and I DO have to be in God to find this goodness.

Work on it six times to hear it the seventh.
Lector Divina: Re-reading to hear the text in different ways: What if you committee to listen and reading this passage seven times today. You will be six times more likely to hear it’s message.

But who wants to give the time?

God does. This is the goodness. God is faithful to the order and process of a relationship of Good shared with us.

  • Revealed in Creation
    Revealed in Resurrection
    Revealed today in Spirit and fellowship as the church.

I thank you for the support and prayers to take part in mission trip and to share this word from Genesis today. This verse interrupted my life 34 years ago and it continues to reconnect me to God’s call upon outlives.

  • God creates to show us love
    God orders to give us a path/process to follow
    God waits to meet us on the road, even while we are yet sinners.
    God longs for us to find our peace, rest and heart resting in God’s heart.

We come to Culebra tardy to share this love with neighbor in PR and in RS.
Look what God has done for us,
Let us find our rest in him, together.

,

Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 12:3-13 Use Your Giftcards

useyourgiftcardsTherefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another, the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.  For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. [NRSV]

Unused Gift Cards:

We’ve all experienced the unbridled joy of finding a $10 bill in the dryer after a washing load or $5 on the sidewalk. But nearly all Americans could have untapped cash just sitting in the back of our wallets or the bottom of our purses.

The most requested gift by far

Gift cards may get a bad rap for being impersonal. However, they are the most requested holiday gift for 10 years running. In 2016 more than 60% of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they wanted a gift card this holiday season.

So how many gift cards actually get bought — and how many go unused?

Over $970 million in gift card cash went unused in 2015 alone. Meanwhile, total gift card spending in 2015 clocked in at $130 billion, up 6% from the year before. Despite the billions of dollars that go unused, it’s estimated that gift card sales will make another 9% jump this year up to $143B.

Since 2005, some $45.7 billion has been floating around in unused gift card balances. For cards that are lost or accidentally thrown away, that money may never be used.

Why this isn’t free money for companies

Sounds like free money for businesses, right? It’s all in the accounting.

When gift cards are sold, they are counted as a liability until spent. Only when they are spent does that money count as revenue. This means that US businesses carried $970 million in liabilities on unused cards last year.

Further, closed-loop gift cards — or gift cards that can be used at a single store or chain only — are generally bought through card vendors. These vendors can charge for everything from setup to stocking the card inventory. When you’re not using, they’re losing.

The state of gift cards in 2016

Despite all the unused gift cards out there, 2016 is slated to bring on even more gift card purchases. It’s estimated that $140 billion will be spent on gift cards in the US alone.

To give you an idea of just how much money that is, with $140 billion you could buy the Chicago Cubs 140 times over. (Given their recent World Series win, that might not be a bad idea.) Of that $140 billion, it’s projected that over $1 billion will go unspent. Still enough to buy the Chicago Cubs once.

So Put your Gifts to Work

If you don’t want to use them, donate in addition to your regular gifts and we will find ways to make them meaningful in ministry.

  • We will buy bibles and small group study materials from Barns and Nobles,
  • we will feed hungry folks with food cards,
  • and clothes for homeless.
  • If you have generic cards we can use them in limitless ways,
  • If they are not doing you any good, re-gift them.

Our Spiritual Gift Cards

To each of us is given gifts of the Spirit. Different outlets and different amounts for different work and witness. God is ready to fill us with limitless possibilities if we will

  • identify and recognize these gifts
  • not attemp to save, ignore or store them for some other day
  • trust the verse in Phillipians that we can do all things in Christ who gives us Spiritual strength

What Spiritual Gift Cards are in your purse, billfold or dresser drawer?

  1. What would you do if you had an unlimited gift card to sing, praise?
  2. What would you do with an unlimited gift card to share stories of your faith?
  3. If your unlimited gift card could teach, inform, inspire?
  4. If your gift card could multiply in value for others to use in a variety of ways
  5. If your gift card were kept safely, privately, quietly for a special occasion that may never come by, all the while folks are hungry, thirsting and passing by empty.

Holy Communion is our re-fill station

We come to this holy meal and God fills us with grace, purpose, love and makes us whole, read for:

  • spiritual living,
  • spiritual giving,
  • spiritual loving,
  • Spiritual growing,
  • Spiritual sharing,
  • Spiritual Praising..

Don’t come to the table and go home that same as you came. Don’t keep your Spiritual gift cards hidden in your wallet or purse,

Come to the Table and Get busying living growing, love, sharing the Spirit.

Leave a comment

1 Peter (4:12-14,)  5:6-11

finalexampass

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. 7 The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. [NRSV]

I do not remember being excused from taking final exams in my schooling career. Some of the final days of each term were easier than others. There is something fundamentally missing if we exclude the final exams.

I realize it has become the incentive to study and work hard all along and if you do so throughout the term, the final would be a redundant pressure, and yet, real life is filled with final exams that we ‘wish’ we could skip, but we are not given the pass.

Do you remember any particular finals?

I remember feeling overloaded with information that I questioned its importance on the remainder of my life.

I remember wondering in some classes, would I have an “A” and others would I have a “D” and be grateful.

My studiousness improved the longer I went to school.  Kindergarten to the senior class, two years at Oxford, two years at Emory, three years at Candler, five years at Gammon at the ITC. 25 of my 53 years have been spent in school. 53 of my 53 have been filled with tests and exams that question, measure, and challenge my faith.

If I gave myself a grade on my spiritual maturity I would prefer to be compared and measured with the hitters in baseball. Where a good season might be in the .300-.400s. comparing that is still failing compared to the A,B, C etc scale.

What I can say, is that my needs improvement is improving, the more exams I prepare for, face, endure, and reflect upon in my life.

For our Students and for us all

Real life/Faith is not excused from exams, tests, & trials.

Verse 7 begins with a call for the end of all things as the context in which we live.

Live as if the final exam is tomorrow.

  1. Be Serious: Be responsible for your own actions
    1. Don’t sign up for the blame your neighbor course
    2. Don’t be uninformed or excuse yourself from
      1. learning and
      2. growing
  2. Discipline Yourself
    1. No one else can have faith for you
    2. The prayers of others are not enough
    3. Take the mindfulness of #1 and apply it with accountability
  3. Maintain Constant Love for one another
    1. The extra credit is to matriculate in practicing love for each other
    2. The place to get on track, when we fall off the wagon, is to love
      1. and keeping practicing love,
      2. even if you don’t feel it,
      3. love will come to life.
  4. Hospitable without Complaining
    1. Hospitality: Doing what it takes to connect, welcome, share, interact, with others
    2. Even when we have reason to complain, do not let that stop us from showing hospitality
    3. Even when we disagree with one another, err on the side of hospitality, (not just a southern thing.)
  5. Be responsible with God’s grace as a good steward
    1. We thrive on Grace but know that with freedom that Grace afford
    2. Arrogance, Apathy, Anger, Selfishness, Coveting, Untruthfulness, and the like cloud and distance us from living in Grace.
      1. If the teacher allows you to rework your paper if you received a failing grade, don’t wait to fail in the future. God see us as we are.
  6. Use the gifts you have been given
    1. Don’t wait to get started for the new equipment
    2. Don’t hesitate to procrastinate
    3. See that God gives each of us, what we need to begin in faith.
  7. If you talk, speak God’s word
    1. Not everyone’s gift is speaking, but if you do, make clear that your message is true in reflecting God’s Word and not our twist on God’s word.
  8. If you serve, rely on God’s strength alone
    1. Not everyone is good at responding and acting when it comes to sharing your faith, but know that God does not take a summer break from expecting us to trust God’s strength and not rely on ours alone.
  9. The Goal: All this, so that God get’s the glory in all things through Jesus Christ

The Catch/Hook: Final exam is the same as daily exams.

  • Do you wait and study only when you must?
  • Do you procrastinate?
  • Do you get lost in the getting prepared to learn and lead and are so organized but never find God’s strength or grace?
  • Do you give us when it get’s difficult?
  • Do you find yourself distracted?
  • 1 Peter is a prayerful call to action and accountability
  • The Teacher has left the room but will show up at any moment, what type of student will you and I become?

Hear the Good News!

Jesus is our strength and teacher

Jesus is our grace and hope

God’s Holy Spirit is our guide and power

If Christ’s return is today, tomorrow or 10,000 years from now, the final exam is in progress.

 

Leave a comment

1 Peter 3:13-22

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

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

Leave a comment

John 14:1-16 “Beyond Belief”

Bbelief.png“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. [NRSV]

Access and Frustration

Jesus shows us two important revelations in the passage.  The first, and more obvious, is about Jesus’s relation to our heavenly father and along with that is our access to God through Jesus. The second is the human side of Jesus, revealing his frustration with his closest followers and allies not understanding or seeing God in their presence.

It is worth exploring Jesus’s frustration with the disciples. (“Show us the Father”?) Do you not believe or do you not understand. It is very human to be frustrated why people are reluctant or hesitant to believe in Jesus. The gift Jesus gives is how he presses through what is to himself obvious to continue explaining until the understand.

This Mother’s Day, we honor all those who have been a mother to us. Some of those are our birth-mother, others are grandmothers or great-grands, some are friends and some are not necessarily beloved, but those who stick with us when all others have left us.

Jesus reveals a mother’s love of working through frustration to make certain the heart and mind connect with God’s heart and mind.

The Core Theme: Access

Not only does Jesus make plain his divine relationship, but he moves beyond simply saying, “I am God” to say, you know me, you have access to me, you are connected to me, and being with me, you are with the heart of God. God is with you now. “Emanuel”

Recalling the angel’s words to Mary when Jesus was promised to her, “his name will be Emanuel” God is with us.

Motherhood can also be both frustrating and accessible.

There is a daily model with life-long practice of wanting your children to understand, know, “get it” so they can make the best choices

And yet, a mother has to allow each child to make their own way, learn from both the good and bad.

Jesus Presses the Disciples to Understand

AND, reminds them that understanding the gateway to pro-active, engaging, faith-walking belief.

A Mother’s hope

is for us to trust God with not only our thoughts but also in our actions

is for us to reflect God’s presence, even when we are failing

is for us to trust God’s power, in our strength and in our weakness

is for us to know the answer, but even more, to test the truths in our choices.

Whatever you ask, In My Name, 

This is not attaching God’s name to our wish list,

it is asking for what is God’s will.

Mom’s learn when to let the brood go on their own, hoping they will fly on the food and practice that has been shared.

Jesus lets disciples go on their own, hoping they will ask for what God seeks to reveal in their lives.

Thank and Praise the mothers who have revealed God’s presence

Leave a comment

John 10:1-10 “Entrance Gate”

gate_lock“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.[NRSV]

I am the gate.

Comedian, Jim Gaffagin, reflects on heaven having a pearly gate and wonders why Heaven is a gated community. He suggests that they probably had to go to hell to find a contractor to build it.
A gate implies a fence, a wall or some image of division, and the doorway is the expected and intended place of entrance.
Jesus is our gateway to grace, to eternity and most importantly, our gateway to God.
This reference connects to the sacrificial lamb that was roasted and eaten by the Israelites the night before the journey toward the promised land. The blood of the lamb as a sign over the doorway, marked who would be saved and who would die.

Jesus said, he was that gate.

There are walls and boundaries, physical and perceived, that divide us and separates.
There are times, in the name of safety, that we are thankful for fences and particians:
Between the road the playground
The privacy door in the restroom
A understanding of mutual respect and the unintentional wandering of a stranger
There is a place for gates and fences.

The metaphor of a gate.

A gate is a path of access
A gate is an openning, in what is a barrier
A gate is permission
A gate is not always open and not always closed
A gate is grace and judgement
A gate is freedom and restriction
A gate is point of passage.
Jesus said, “I am the gate.”
We come to a holy meal, communion, where Jesus offers himself, still today and eternally, as a gateway to grace
a gateway to forgiveness
a gateway to starting over
a gateway to trusting God
a gateway to life
a gateway to trust
a gateway to, or back to, God.
Jesus joins us at the table, that opens the gate, that has the sacrifice of the lamb as our entry, and himself as the tangible door to enter into a life of sacrificial living for God.
Here is the powerful part of the story: through Christ, through his body and blood, opens us into the life of being gate-keepers. Those who open the door for others or those who close the door.

Is the gate open or closed?

Do we stay huddled in the comfort of what pleases us, makes us feel in control, OR
Do we open it wide and offer all that is good and evil come in under our watch
Do we open hearts or close hearts
Do we close minds or open minds
Do we open the scriptures and trust them
Do we close them and replace them with our own choosing
Do we slip into becoming the door
Christ invites us to be those who place the hand of someone else on the latch,
and allow Christ to welcome them in.
It is not our place to be the door,
rather we are to lead others to the door.
If we remain inside the fence there is no way to go out to welcome others
If we remain outside the fence, there is no need for a way to God, we choose to serve another.
We cross the threshold, back and forth, knowing our place is at the table and in the world.

In or Out: What side of the gate?

What doors, gates, minds and hearts are you and I personally directing toward God?
Our denomination is racing toward a crossroads and we have lost sight of the gate.
Rather than finding the true Christ, we make our own door way in and are committed that our way is the better way.
Lord have mercy on me a sinner
I come to your table and confess I have brought no one to your heart and hand today.
I come as a bandit, and a thief, taking and claiming what is not mine, comfortable in what my mind tells me without concern for your word and comforted in your word without understanding what it means.
This passage calls us to stop looking for a door the left or the right, but to search for the gate that IS Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the gate, we trust the gate.

It is my calling to proclaim to the church that our Jesus, who welcomes us to the table also sends us our into a would that rejects and would persecute us for opening grace and power to them in Jesus name.
Our calling is not to make people believe, but lead people to Christ, lead people to the gateway that has given us hope, transformation, and salvation.

Leave a comment

Luke 24:13-33 Walking, Talking, Sharing

walking

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

Imagine having a four-hour walk home?

Travel experiences:  WALKING

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

Many would say that’s not for me.

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

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

Travel Stories can be very powerful.

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

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

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

Would your faith come up as a topic of conversation?

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

Before we get to Bible verses:

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

Excused assignment?

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

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

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

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

Question: What is Jesus’ model?

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

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

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

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

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

CONFESSION

All my actions are not always reflecting Jesus.

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

Think of Train leaving the tracks

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

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

Which do we value more?

God’s heart or our freedom?

God’s word or our comfort?

God’s grace or our opinions?

God’s hope or our answers?

God’s patience or our resourcefulness?

God’s work or our work?

God’s love or

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

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: