Posts Tagged believe
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSV]
Jesus talks about money on several occasions:
- The lost coin,
- giving Cesar what is Cesar’s,
- highliting the gift of the widows copper coins,
- selling all your possessions of the rich young ruler,
- serving one master,
- being content with your pay,
- love of money being the root of all evil,
- turning over the exchange tables at the temple for extorting grace,
- give to the needy,
- calculating tower building before the project begins,
- hidden treasure is with selling everything, the pearl of great price.
- In fact, Jesus talks about money a great deal.
Let’s look at tithing: We have a long tradition of response-giving of 10%.
- The earliest example of giving one tenth is done by Abram (Abraham) giving 10% of the spoils of war to God and returning 90% to the loosing king. Abram says, I don’t want you to call me rich at your expense. (So much for Robert Tilton and Guuy Smiley, I mean Mr O’Steins.)
- There is also the addition of the 3-year tithe once the temple construction begins. There are tithes for the poor, the widow, the children, the travelers in need. If we want to more literal the requirement for tithing for poor, the Levites and the temple up-keep would be more like 23-25%. So where are we on our tithing now?
- Take the many ministries of the United Methodist Church: We might be most familiar with the UMCOR in funding support to people in emergency disaster crisis. We have special offerings for missionaries, students higher education, clergy education, education in Africa, world/global poverty, local poverty and housing, care for native Americans, The UMW and UMM and UMYF support mission work and mission projects, We support Decatur, Mt Top, Murphy, Harps children’s homes, retirement homes for elder care, local ministries of feeding, supporting, caring, praying and clothing.
Where does tithing start and stop? Offerings, first fruits, gifts, giving, etc?
- Q: Do we tithe for each of these? We are compelled by our hearts to directly support the feeding, clothing, comforting and supporting those in need in direct response to Jesus call to do so in scripture.
- The physical plants, storage facility, meeting space, worship space, fellowship space, education space, and administrative space for our global, nations, regional, state, district and local ministries are much less interesting, but they are necessary to facilitate all the good we do above. We heat and cool, keep dry and safe, we gather for fellowship and worship and study places around the globe and the thousands of staff people to lead, serve, guide, facilitate and support our millions of members around the world.. all doing small parts to be the body of Christ, visible, tangible and present for a hurting and searching world.
What about giving when your heart is not in it? Give to earn or give to love?
- Q: Do we tithe for each of these? We are called to be the church physical and present as witness, a lamp stand. The oil in the lamp, the one to light it, clean and maintain it, the one to maintain and facilitate the city on a hill.
- What if we turned off the air/heat? didn’t have insurance? sold our building? had no paid staff, no worship space, no instruments, what if we had no overhead, it was just up to us as a group of people… What would we do to be the body of Christ, united, present and giving witness to Christ for the transformation of the world?
- It might satisfy the passive-agressive side of our minds, for a short time, we could say, see, we don’t need all that stuff! We can save our money.
- Q: What are we sharing our money for in the first place. Feed 5000 with out a kitchen and tables and chairs and fellowship hall? We would need a miracle! What if we had the miracle and the physical plant… could we do even more.
- A: There must have been those who didn’t think building the first temple was a good idea because the had the old mobile tent that was vintage, historical and traditional… and David and Solomon go and get us in the building business??!!
Solution: Text: Spiritual Birth… it’s all just a building and material until the Spirit is alive through it.
- Jesus fed the 5000 after he prayed and spirit shows up and begins to multiply the small gifts into more.
- Jesus reminded Nick, about the time the people were wandering in the wilderness when they had no temple expenses… God told Moses to trust God heal the sick, keep the people safe from the snakes, and drawn together for God’s purpose..
- Be faithful in the physical and open the door to spiritual things.
- The Tithe is about intentional-planned giving. It’s not just a matter of the heart or attention. It is practice of the will and mind and heart, that God uses to grow us spiritually.
- If money represents my labor, work, talent, skill, time and energy and I give God a regular, deliberate amount then my relationship with God is both, a) shared and b) connected, c) committed, d) intentional, e) on a track of growth and maturity.
- If I only need God when I am interested, inspirited, entertained, or required, then I don’t have a mutual relationship. I’m only a customer/consumer. God is interested in partnership and fellowship.
- The regular, planned, intentional gift is thought out and not a dependent on me.
- The regular, planned, intentional tithe is a statement of faith, that God expects something of me, just as I expect something of God.
Make your tithe, your gift, your giving as planned, intentional priority.
- God loves us so much, on purpose, intentional, as a planned gift for our benefit.
- Who ever believes, believes in sharing life, work and love that God has show us, for ever.
- Better start now.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas. Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]
Who is missing?
After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus went to Jerusalem, just as he said, to meet the disciples.
Judas was missing. Overwhelmed with regret and confusion takes his life and is missing from the circle. Given the events in the garden the disciples would have at least known why Judas might not show up.
Thomas was also missing. Where was Thomas? There is no mention of his absence at the first appearance of Jesus. Neither by Jesus nor the others, Thomas was absent.
What he afraid? Was he hiding? Had he given up? Did he not check his email or Facebook page or maybe his cell phone battery was not charged after a busy weekend. His absence goes un-noted for the moment.
This is one of the occurrences in the church that is just as true today as it was then. If we take a moment and look around at who is missing.
Some folks have recently died and we continue to grieve for the emptiness of their home going.
Others are ill and not physically able to be her or it is hazardous to their health or ours if the came to worship. Other have other limitations that keep them from being in this place.
Some are on vacation. Some are sleeping. Some are working. Some are accounted for, while others are missing, absence and not connected.
Which category did Thomas fit into?
Because we are so focused on our own worship, our own needs, and our own stuff, that we are looking to Jesus for all the help we can get. We make no note of who is missing.
So look around and see who is missing:
Not that we will take away a gold star, no demerits, no red ‘X’ by their name, but think back to last Sunday, where nearly 250 people gathered in this place and this morning, some of those are missing.
Still others were missing last week and like Thomas have come today. Thanks be to God that you are all hear.
Be know it is important that we have our shepherding ministry of paying attention to who is not hear, so that a week, or month , or a season does not go by and we not notice who is not in the fellowship, not in the circle.
Did you ever think Thomas was out evangelizing and telling the world about the resurrection? It is doubtful as he questions the resurrections when he has the opportunity to see Jesus in the flesh.
Thomas want to see the evidence, the proof, the touch and hold the hands and side confirmation, that what Jesus said was true and real.
Here is Good News, Thomas shows up. And, when he shows up he wants to believe. He wants to see Jesus. Jesus wants him to have peace. Jesus wants him to believe. Jesus wants him to know the power and gift of the resurrection is for Thomas too.
Think about what Thomas is asking Jesus
- Jesus who died for Thomas
- Jesus who conquered death for Thomas
- Jesus who rose from the dead for Thomas
- Jesus who came looking for Thomas and Thomas was missing
- Jesus who came looking for Thomas a second time is met by Thomas’s question and challenge.
..I will not believe unless I touch his hand / feel his side.
Despite any arrogance or ignorance: Jesus wants Thomas to believe.
Jesus is going the extra-mile of the extra-mile for the extra-stubborn folks like me… Praise the Lord!
SO Jump ahead to 2015
Jesus has been reveal to us in worship, Word, works of grace and service in his name. He STILL lives..
Why are their folks missing out?
Is there something missing the witness?
Here is a test question: Will your grandchildren (or that generation) know what your grandparents believed? That’s a five-generation spread of 100 years, @20 years.
We all know “WE” believe, but what about those who are missing what we cherish and treasure?
What if folks are looking at our hands and stand at our sides, do they see and touch Jesus when they are around us?
Is something missing?
- Jesus Gives the disciples PEACE
- Jesus Gives the disciples SPIRIT
- Jesus Gives the disciples WORD
- Jesus Gives the disciples Repeat Visits
- Jesus Gives the disciples hands-on
- Jesus Gives the disciples the Church
- Jesus Give the Church the peace, spirit, word, presence, contact and life to share with the world that is missing from the table.
Do you know anyone who has seen the signs, but is missing the:
Peace, Spirit, Welcome, Presence and/or Christ in their daily living? Then you know what’s on your disciple’s to-do list this week.
Show the signs,
breathe the presence and spirit,
share the word,
ask and invite again,
Jesus lives for us and those who are missing.
Jesus is sending us to show the cross and it’s Good News
Jesus is resending us to live the life for the missing.
Who is missing? So get to work.
So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. [NRSV]
In reading this passage we find no parable or stories, no historical travel plans to orient or date the occasion. This is part of a larger lesson or even sermon about Jesus Christ.
The book is called Hebrews and was most likely written by someone who had excellent writing skills in Greek, who knew the Greek version of the Old Testament but was not so concerned about Jesus being the messiah as much as Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Most High.
The audience seems to be those who might have a mental understanding of Jesus as the Christ, but lack a motivation to have relationship with the Christ. The heart of the book seems to be 4:14 “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”
- Jesus who has been made perfect, [whole] for our brokenness.
- Jesus becomes our source for salvation.
- We connect to this source through obedience.
- With obedience, we can expect suffering.
- Through suffering we can expect to find Christ.
- Therefore, Trust the Jesus with all things.
- In suffering, joy and eternity
So let’s get to the trouble spot: Obey?!
To obey is to respond in direct relation to command, instructions, or restrictions.
WHY? Would we give up our will to choose God’s?
The resume’ of resume’s
- Christ was appointed by God for you and me
- Christ’s kingdom is eternal one, high priest of the order of Melchizedek.
- Christ who suffered for you and me, died and lives for our benefit
- Christ modeled the power of obedience as child of God
- Christ connects us to God as children of God, joint heirs
Bottom line: in a world that is tearing countries, families and lives apart. We need to know our Savior is near!
Melchizedek is this mystical priest that shows up with Abram in the midst of a 4 nations against 5 nations battle, when the larger forces raid one of the nations in the night, Abram takes his trained special force folks at night and brings back the people/families, animals and other possessions and returns them to the king who was defeated. For Abram’s since of justice and restoration, King “Mel” shows up, offers up bread and wine and blesses Abram for his graciousness. (Sound familiar?)
Abram is lead by the creed of grace and is blessed.
It is through the same priesthood that Jesus the Christ is sent by God to give us grace and to bless us in a world that is dividing families and nations and resources.
Why do we obey Jesus?
- Because he has come to us as a Son
- He has suffered for our benefit
He has come to bless us who are fighting and divided
Who needs to hear about Obeying Jesus
- Those who would run from such a request.
- Those who have not hear or have lost faith that Jesus coming to suffer has anything to do with us now
- Those who might have heard but don’t see the personal benefit Jesus affords us.
- Those who are closed to seeing and experiencing the blessing of following, trusting and obeying THE highest of priest. The one who came to seek and save the lowest and the greatest. Me and you.
The Greatest Threat: is to Obey ourselves in the name of God or in the place of God. (don’t fool yourself, God or anyone else)
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
So Paul’s words to the church, In Rome and in Rock Spring and everywhere, is a great leap of history, covenant and faith. He takes God’s covenant with Father Abraham and looks back at how God comes to bless and covenant with him to explain how God also related with us.
Imagine Paul is making a grand movie, right up their with the 10 Commandment, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia… He’s telling the great faith story of Abraham. Father of Nations and Founder of Faith for generations and generations. The Covenant of Covenants. Opening in a theater this Spring!
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. [NRSV]
The Prophet Isaiah gives those who seek God’s presence words of encouragement as well as a reality-check about where to placed our faith.
This first Sunday of Advent we begin lighting candles. This is our sign, this is our symbol and logo for the season. There is a great presence of darkness all around us: Economic, Political, Geo-political, Racial and Cultural protests and looting, A woman killed three people in Denver to buying the last discounted TV at Walmart. The valuable has become trivial and the trivial takes on the value of greatest worth.
This prophet work is a call to make a way that prepares for God’s coming
Prepping: The ultimate Boy Scout exercise of being prepared. I will admit there are some items that I have more of than I used to keep around. I’m not a zombie apocalypse follower. But there seems to be some common sense in looking at the signs and seeing the need to prepare for things I can manage and control.
There is a fine line sometimes between having a few extra supplies, jugs of water and basic necessities and those who have bunkers, stock-piles and provisions for decades. Somewhere in between folks will say we are crazy, foolish or even delusional, while others will say we are foolish, crazy and delusional for not getting ready for a return to the 19th century way of life.
Here is a point of learning for each of us: At what sign, moment or circumstance would we change the focus of our regular way of leaving and prepare for Christ’s return. What would I need to experience in order to act most seriously and sincerely about preparing, not only my self, but others for the coming God Christ, God with us here and now?
In other words: how bad do things need to get before we see that we cannot fix world hunger?
How many acts of terror before we confront that the power of Evil is real and irrational.
How tough do our finances drop before we see we can’t buy nor save our way out of trillions of debt?
How long do we allow people to build waves of doom and gloom before we look to God of strength, hope.
How long will we convince ourselves that we can manage any situation without God’s help
How long will we allow those around us to live, plan, lead and struggle managing the world around us without God’s help and allow them the political correctness, fairness and to-each-his-own theology?
The promise in Isaiah warning is that God will certainly put us into perspective, just like we through out old flowers that were once beautiful but are now dried and lifeless.
Jericho: Mt Temptation
Isaiah call to action is to CRY OUT!
But what are we to call out? Who are we to Call out? What is it we are supposed to say? Answers: We will all fade, fail and died… so we best prepare for God’s stepping in our place.
Advent is this call to action: Remember God is God and we are the created. We are very smart, strong, and
This Advent is a time to speak up, speak out, Cry Out. Not so much to remind each other here, but for the rest of the world to know now is the time to make way for God.
“Swords ready? “On Guard! On Watch! Be Alert. Pay Attention. Look for God, for God is coming.
This get’s back to the prepping: If we live like the apocalypse is coming in 2015 then the majority of folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.
If we are talking about Christ’s return and final victory coming this December 25 instead of Santa then folks will think we are crazy, foolish and tune us out.
God is appearing every day. This is the real, reality.
Advent is not just a season prepping us for Christmas; it is the call to faith for each day and every season.
So I offer a balance: On one hand remember we are a fragile and delicate as a flower, think if power of a bacteria or virus, the sudden impact of a crash, the in hailing or injecting or ingesting of substances that end out live quickly as well as those that quietly tear us down.
On the other hand: God’s word is eternal. Ever strong and to be trusted.
Cry out for folks around us to ready, study, share, learn, open and press through God’s word.
How do we prep for God. Trust what is spoken of God. Have faith in God’s promise of grace and salvation.
Be on Guard to speak and share the word with everyone..
The road to heaven is paved with God’s intention. That we believe, trust and follow.
Not our intentions, God’s.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]
We have seen The Lord.. So it is easy for a to believe.
I will not believe unless I see, so look and touch
belief is more important than anything
gods incarnation reveals that god s willing to do what t take for us to see, hear, touch, smell and taste belief.
Therefore beleif is the heart of our witness.
3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [NRSV]
Baptism Text: The text from Matthew focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John and the fulfillment of scripture. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and affirms that baptism is not simply a cleansing ritual, but rather a presence and claim experience between us and God.
We celebrate and practice communion on a monthly basis. Each month we have the visual and tangible experience of finding Christ’s presence and it is a refresher or booster of our baptism.
Our communion table is Christ’s table and it open to all persons, for we are all in need of that grace and power of God’s claim on our lives.
Baptism is not a hoop to be checked-off as a membership requirement, although baptism is a sign that we are indeed members of the faith and joint heirs with Christ.
In Jesus’ baptism, it was not proof of his divinity, it is affirmation that we all need to be claimed by God.
Have you been baptized?
Do you remember?
I do not as I was only three months old and wore a linen dress on a hot south Georgia Sunday. Some strange man took me from my mother’s arms and poured cold water on my head and dress. Messed up my hair and caused me to scream and cry my eyes out. Finally I was returned to my father’s arms and was soon blinded by flash bulb from my grand parents who were then scolded for taking pictures in the sanctuary.
When I was thirteen I wore my sued chuck-a-boots, lime green leisure suit and parrot-paisley knit shirt to gather at the alter with my confirmation class lead by Sergeant Elizabeth Smith. I don’t know if she was ever in Uncle Sam’s army but she was certainly in the Lord’s Army and she prepared us to answer the perfect answers to the questions of examination of the faith. I don’t know if anyone at that altar that morning had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, but we were well dressed, well prepared and knew exactly where to stand.
It was more likely that I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in a recognizable way, for the first time, while a camper at Camp Glisson a year after my confirmation.
Divine Divide of Grace and Time
In the Matthew Text the timing between the human-to-human conversation and ritual of coming to John at the river is not about a confession of sinfulness for Jesus.
- 1. John’s invitation to believers and followers was to turn toward God, repentance. It is a spiritual alignment.
- Placing ourselves aimed toward God, from where ever we are and face where we are going and becoming in God’s grace.
- 2. There is the response of Jesus accepting the ritual and practice of belonging to those who need God’s claim of their lives.
- There is a transformation from John’s invitation to get cleaned-up to Jesus’s choosing to commit his life to the ministry of God’s choosing. So the water becomes not only cleansing; it also is a preparing for part two of our lives.
- 3. Is God’s claim of our willingness to place our lives and trust in God’s hands and heart.
- This is my child. When we are baptized, we also become child of God.
This is My Child
The most powerful part of the text is the claiming part of baptism. God declares, this is MY child. This person that John baptize is claim by God, not by John. Baptism is not so much a church ritual as it is a divine parental defining of our identity and relationship with God. We are the kids, God is the parent. We are the family together.
Questions and More Questions:
So are we not Children of God before we are baptized?
The simple answer is no, but that is not a completely helpful answer.
Yes we are children of God’s creation, filled with grace and hope of becoming one who chooses God’s heart to guide our lives. But God does not force the inheritance upon us. But it is ours for the taking.
The Door is Open
Think of Baptism as a doorway. You can walk in and see the life God has prepared for us. And once you have seen it you know what life God has for you. It is reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.
We might think we can walk through that door, but the only way to undo awareness of coming of age is to choose rejection or apathy. But the Door of Baptism never closes.
There are those who would teach that you better utter the magic words, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” before we draw out last breath because then it is too late. But they does not actually follow with a Gracious Parent who crosses the chasm of death to make a way for us.
A View from the Lap of God.
If you are seated in God’s lap, embraced in arms of love and mercy, kneely at the feet of the one who breathed breath from your first and last, if you look into God’s eyes and say: “I want no part of you, let me go.” I believe God lets us go.
If you are face to face with God in judgement and God asks, “Do you love me” and we reply “I hate you.” God does not force us to love.
If we are faced with the full picture of our life filled with failures, fears, sins and struggle and we say “Lord have Mercy” Why would God of Grace revert to the ways of the Law? God will have mercy
SO WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL THEN?
It is the power, life, claim, assurance, comfort, peace, grace, love that we live without if we wait.
God wants for each of us to be part of the family, why would someone want to just be a guest when they could be kin?
Salvation is a process. (Baptism is the start)
We are claimed and saved so that we can grow in relationship with God and God’s people.
This is why we are a church.
To claim the outsider, the orphan, the widow, the forgotten, the rejected, the proud, the hard-hearted, that together we grow together toward God.
When there are those outside the family, how can we celebrate in the house?
(The unwritten part of the Prodigal Sons story: The father can’t be in the party when there are those on the outside looking in with anger, jealousy, fear, division, confusion, hate, etc.)
Baptism is our entrance into the party of salvation.
Come on in, the Party is on!
Notes from UMC.org and GBOD.org
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”
In the verse just proir this text, the disciples are warned by Jesus that failure and attack are certainties, even among the faithful.
Take the easier way? Give us some faith.
It does nor work that way.
How does it work.
Follow and find out.
Serve and find out.
Trust and you will know.
Support one another and you will learn
My grumpy grandfather use to tell us that he would not take us swimming until we learned to swim by ourselves. So when we learned to swim without help, he said, we didn’t need him because we didn’t need him.
That is not Jesus’ advice. Jesus taught, being a disciples, while it is not easy and everyone is going to fail, except those who never try. They are already washed out.
The text today, contains the mini parable of the mustard seed. It is a lesson about how faith that appears to be small and insignificant becomes the foundation that leads to more faith.
You don’t get it all at once. It is like wisdom, it comes when we learn from our practice succeeding and failing.
A servant’s job is to serve, not to be served.
A disciple follows
A disciple even fails, but learns to encourage and be an encourager.
To ask: Increase our faith
Might sound like a request to
Give us a short cut
Give us a boost
Give us experience
Give us a head start
Give us an extra portion for the road..
Jesus replies, if your want faith-
Share the faith and journey with others
It’s not hand out nor a hand up… it is trust.
Discipleship is a practice, lets get to work
Doctors and Attorney “practice” their vocations,
When it comes to life and death or life or probation.. we want more than someone who is practicing… we want someone who will win, lead and save.
The disciples ask the same: Increase our faith, we don’t want to take any chances nor suffer, nor risk, nor fail…
Jesus gives the tough love: Too bad, we are jumping in the deep end.. are you coming in?
Eph 2.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, [NRSV]
As we study Rick Warren’s, “What on Earth am I here for?” We have looked two of the pieces that help answer this question. First we learned that You and I are are planned and made for God’s Pleasure. We were not made by chance and we were not made for our own design and own reasons. We are the product of God’s reason and pleasure. Today we look at the reality that You and I are created for family. Not just any family, God hopes we will choose to be actively part of God’s own family.
As difficult as it might be for some to imaging, not everyone chooses to be part of God’s family. God wants us all. Some people choose other paths and beliefs and that does not make them God’s family in Christ.
The church is not an organization. It is not an institution. The church is not a club or a location or non-profit entity. The church is the spiritual family of God.
Paul writes in his letter to the church at Ephesis 1.5 that God’s unchanging plan is to bring us into family by adoption through Jesus Christ. God wants us to belong and makes a way for us to come into the family through Christ. John 1.12 reminds us that through Jesus Christ we have the privilege of becoming a child of God.
With belonging to the family come family responsibilities: The number on priority of family responsibility is to learn to love everyone else in the family.
I have heard folks say, “I can love them, but I sure don’t like them.” Most often this is not a true statement. If we mean to say. “I can love them, but their behavior makes it difficult for me to be near them.” It can be a true express of our relationship, but it is not a true definition of love.
Jesus called for his disciples to love one another, just as Jesus loves us. He calls us to do this not to make us happy or at peace, but for a reason beyond our own. Prove that your love one another as my disciples so the world will see the power of love and want to join the family as well.
The Christian life is about learning how to love.
Last week I suggested that Sunday’s are a practice day for living the other six. Today I suggest that we think of our church family as a laboratory where we practice and experiment loving someone other than our selves and those in our personal genetic and marriage families.
Christian Fellowship is our lab work for the world to check out.
If we learn to love those in our church family, it will shape the rest of the world, from now own.
Today we will look at (4) four levels of fellowship:
1. SHARING Together
Sharing together, fellowship of sharing.. starts with sharing
sharing conversation, food, shelter, etc.
met together constantly and shared everything
The disciples spent time and stuff together, “in common.”
fellowship takes time and practice
Iti s a choice that we make: choosing to share time and life with other folks…
SMALL GROUPS ARE ULTIMATELY IMPORTANT
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, let us encourage one another Hebrews 10.25
No church building for 300 years… all met in small groups in homes.
Open you home, and you let people in your life..
We share Experiences/Events and Sorrows Rom 12.15 Share your joy and sorrow.
When you gather, each one share something sing, lesson, story, prayer, insight, dessert, no one taking over, and you will all 1 Cor xx..14
2. Fellowship of Belonging together
KOINONIA” being committed to one another as we are to Jesus
Fellowship with each other as equal heir, child, person in Christ
Belonging is the difference in dating and being married, watcher vs agent of change.
You are members of God’s very own family and you BELONG in God’s household with every other Christian.
without a church we are an orphan without a home, no shelter, no home.. without other people you can’t do it.
rom12.5 we who are many belong to each other…
Belonging is not OPTIONAL.
The person who loves God must love other believers
Love your spiritual family
Taking the STEP of COMMITMENT of BELONGER, not just follower
3. Third, level of fellowship is SERVING together.
Deepen love in marriage, friendship, start serving God together, partner for a common purpose.
You love grows deeper when you rely on one another.
Example : Combat Veterans… last a life time.. What happen to keep them so connected? Serving together on a common task comes from no where else.
a. God never meant for us to serve alone.
b. We are partners working together for God 1 Cor for 3.9
c. You get more done
d. rely on each others strengths and over come each others weaknesses
e. If we don’t worry about the credit, more will get done Eph 4.16 each part does its work
4. Finally, FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING TOGETHER
When you share a heart ache, and walk along side someone without judgement, you will be closer together.
I makes us more human to share suffering
It is unifying
A community after disaster come together to rebuild
SHARE EACH OTEHR TROUBLE SNAPROBLEMS AND IN THIS WAY YOU OBEY THE LAW OF CHRIST
Love your neighbor as your self.
When you serve you do your part but when you suffer together you share your heart.
Help HANDS-ON someone in pain… learning how to love people who are suffering… GRC
Relationship are more important than accomplishments, achievements, success, money,
Life is about learning to Love
Wasting life if we are loving people in pain
Learning to love God : Worship
Learning to love others : Fellowship
PART of CHRIST BODY
if one suffer, all suffer together… if you have a tooth ache, your whole body knows it.
Be devoted like family member
Family lasts forever…God’s family
1 John 3.16 — We know what real love is,..we ought give up our lives for each other.
Our sacrament today is Holy Communion: Where Jesus invites us into this unique relationship once again.
At this table Jesus meetings with fellowship around a meal
We SHARE A loaf and cup
We BELONG because we are invited
We eat to be equipped to SERVE
We remember and share in the Christ’s SUFFERING with our own sin and pain.
Come Join the Fellowship! With Jesus and all the children of God.
Prayer: I’m making a choice to belong to a church and small group.. Im gong to be a belonged not just a believer…
Teach me the meaning of real love.