Posts Tagged faith in action

John 1:43-51 Come See Heaven Open Up

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]

CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUR OF ROCK SPRING

  • The power of doubt
  • Consumption of assumption
  • Oh little town of Rock Spring,
  • Nathanael, the product of Peter and Andrew

COME AND SEE

  • Come see with your own eyes,
  • The shepherd saw the angels but said to one another, let us go see for ourselves, what has been told to us
  • Thomas who had not yet seen Jesus raised from the dead, told the others, I will not believe until I see with my own eyes
  • The invitation is for tag team invitation for people to come see.
  • The greatest showman is a wonderful new musical that is a great movie even if you don’t ususally go see movies, it is worth experiencing. Is about PT Barnam’ seeing a dream come to life, loose it, and being reminded that joy can be found through people who love and trust.

YOU WILL SEE HEAVEN OPENED UP

  • Peter and Andrew promise Nathaniel that he will see heaven open if he goes to see Jesus,
  • That is what it means to find Jesus
  • It might. It be coming to church, the music and events, the ministries and activities, but it is through these people and the relationships we share that the Kingdom of God can show up
  • Some folks will tell you they don’t like church because all they talk about is money, or the Christian people gossip, lie and stab each other in the back, these are folks who have seen people WITHOUT Jesus
  • The challenge is to strive to share Jesus and not ourselves. Or at least not sharing our selves without Jesus opened up and visible.

You hold the keys to heaven, who will you keep out? Who will you let in?

  • So this passage holds our model:
  • Have an encouragement accountability partner,
  • Reach out to the people we know and meet
  • Invite them to come see Jesus at work in our lives, in our worship, ministry, fellowship, etc..

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Psalm 107:42 “Well, Shut My Mouth” 20150620

ShutMyMouth

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; 7 he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 9 For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor; they fell down, with no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 14 he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. 

23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,

34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;

37 they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, 40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.

42 The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. 43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord [NRSV]

One thing that strikes me about this psalm is that describes so many thing we recognize in the life and witness of Jesus. So it is important that we keep in context the words of this hymn for worship as images that Jesus later embodies that those who were familiar with the psalm in the Jewish community could see as fulfillment of God’s presence in Jesus.

If on Father’s Day, a dad wanted to see the good works of his son, the psalmist gives a good list that Jesus reveals in his teaching and witness.

  • Water for the woman at the well
  • The tearing of the curtain at the temple at the crucifixion
  • The woman who avoided death because none could cast the first stone
  • The calming of the sea
  • The healing of the sick at the gate
  • Jesus’ parables of sowing
  • Jesus’ parable of loosing saltiness
  • Jesus multiplying food for the hungry
  • The invitation for the prince to sell  and follow

This somewhat obscure psalm tells so many of Jesus’s teachings and stories in one and was written a millennium-plus before hand. It is remarkable inclusive of many ways God’s presence and message is revealed across the testaments.

Verse 42 is the response to the stories of God’s work.

When we see the ways God is reveled in the world, we can response in one of two ways:

a. We see God at work and we are glad, energized and joyful to see God at work.

b. We see God at work and shut our mouths.

The admonition (advice) is to

  • be wise,
  • give heed and
  • consider God’s love at work among us.

2015 Shut our Mouths or Proclaim God’s love?

Conference statistician Darris Baker reported the following 2014 statistics compared to 2013: And are we yet alive?

Conference Membership: 361,329 (Down 2054)
Professions of Faith: 5,398 (Down 204)
Average Worship Attendance: 119,976 (Down 3,121)
Average Sunday School Attendance: 48,888 (Down 296)

The mighty North Georgia conference is no longer the leader and we pray it is not on the same track that Mr Wesley’s beloved Church of England was on. But it begs the question: When we see God’s love present in the world do we give God the praise and witness to God’s presence? Are we considering and looking for God’s revelation in the world? Are we following in the witness of Christ in our actions and bolding in our words or have shut our mouths too long?

Homework: Outline this psalm and see at least 10 ways to practice our piety, to grow our spirit and witness God’s love through Christ in our lives, and then act accordingly. For we live in a world and season when people

  1. long for God and are thirsty. Give them living water.
  2. feed hungry,
  3. encourage the prisoners,
  4. offer thanksgiving and sacrifice,
  5. sing songs of joy,
  6. give peace to those at their wits end,
  7. go to church to support and be supported.
  8. be salty and bold in the face of evil.
  9. water a garden to feed the famished.
  10. open your mouth and share the joy rather than stay quiet and in your own mind.

Now Get to Work!

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Luke 3:1-6 “The King Is Coming Soon” RSUMC ADV: 2 20141206

 ElvisBWIn the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” [NRSV]

Prepare the way of the King: There is some confusion about who the real king is at Christmas? Is it Jesus or Santa. South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker pit Jesus and Santa clause in a boxing match and the victor is Brian Boitano who instructs everyone Christmas is a time to be good to one another. Smoothies all around the cult classic born.

But we all know better? We just want our manger and our presents. I have tried to share some Advent and pre-Christmas photo posts on Facebook each day. So far the one the has drawn the greatest comment has been the most misunderstood:

startrekstarwarsbatmanaNativityMost folks have thought i was promoting this as a creative, post modern spin on the traditional nativity. (When actually I’m totally offended by the collection.) But this passage is not so much about Elvis as King or Super Hero Movie action figures holding court in a fake moss-crusted manger set. Let’s get to the juicy part. Politics and Christmas.

Politics at Christmas? Jesus comes into the world to transform all powers.

I good friend of mine shared a personal commentary this week. She observed that there were two conversations going on this week. Christmas bargains and responses to the turmoil in Ferguson. It was interested to here to two radically different conversation interwoven without clashing until she brought them together.

Who wants to talk about politics at Christmas time?

But this is the very thing that John the Baptist, John the son of Zacharia, called attention to in the introduction of Jesus’ ministry.

Luke retells of John’s ministry of Advent, preparing for Christ’s arrival, in the context of the politics of the day.

The Emperor was Tiberius, [ a soldier become leader, opposed by others, wanted to Senate to make all the decisions, married for politics and was concerned a very unhappy person and leader. ]

Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, [ primary functions were military, but as representatives of the empire they were responsible for the collection of imperial taxes,[25] and also had limited judicial functions ]

Herod was ruler of Galilee, [ Born Arab, Became Jewish in Marriage, Gave himself the name, Herod the Great, massive building and taxes for his glory in the name of Rome. Killed many, fears everyone, 2000 body guards, pool in is house on the Med Sea. ]

herodpoolHerod’s brother Philip was ruler of the region of I-tur-aea and Tra-cho-nit-is, [ Self titled, Phillip the Tetriarch, married his niece to secure the family conquest of ‘dynasty’ ]

Ly-sani-as ruled Abilene, [ Arab city of Damascus, in Syria, little is know, but Luke uses the regional context as inclusive of powers ]

And the high priests in Jerusalem were An-nas and Cai-aphas,
[ The Annas family ruled the temple from 3 AD to 63 AD and Caiaphas married into the family, think of the church dynasties today ]

For us, in 2014

It would be like telling the Jesus story today in the context. When Obama was president, and Deal was Governor of Georgia, Haslam was Governon or Tennessee, Paul Johnson was coach at GTech, Mark Richt was a UGA, and Mike Watson was Bishop and Herzen Andone was DS in the Northwest District.

Why would set the Spiritual story in the context of political leaders?

Because the spiritual story is unfolding now.

Because the spiritual story in a context of current realitiy

Because the spiritual story is a contrasting story to the culture in which it is revealed.

Because to NOT know the reality of the context is to ignore the role and power of the message.

A call that Challenges Authority

Think of John the Baptizers Call to the Nations: Prepare the Way of the King, the Lord, the Authority

Q: What preparations would be made if we knew the president, governor, coach, bishop or DS were coming?

A: It kind of depends on what you think of their leadership or how you respect the office.

John is calling for God’s Children to prepare for a greater Authority..

Who is our Authority?

There are many levels in many different contexts. But who is responsible for shaping our view, motives and responses to the world in which we live?

Take the injustice of racism: In my doctoral studies I attended Gammon Seminary. It is a historically Black United Methodist seminary on the Atlanta University campus. At the time I started my degree, one third of my congregation persons who were Black, African-American, culturally different from my experience. My going to school was to try to learn and better understand so I could better connect, serve and lead as their pastor. When I choose the topic of addressing racism through the repetition of worship as a white pastor, I was quickly set straight by both students and faculty that that was not possible for a “little white boy” to do. I was told that fighting racism was the job of “the black man” and the “black church.” It took me several years to find an adviser who would work with me.

The political reality of racism is a real as ever. But the current charges in the news are not based on solving the problem, instead it continues to be a struggle for power and authority. It fall right in with John the Baptist’s call for making away for a NEW AUTHORITY. One that is more than black or white or yellow or red or brown or tan. BUT TO PAVE A NEW ROAD, old ways have to be torn away. The answers to the conversation of Ferguson, MO. are not impossible, but they call for our society to look at people as people and crime as crime. Folks on both sides of the conversation are not necessarily ready to do both simultaneously.

Have yourself a politically correct happy holiday.

Again I say, we can applaud the efforts of those individual and merchants who continue to state, Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, but that is only an attempt at resurfacing a road that many have given up traveling in the first place.

John Preaches Prepare the LORD’s path, the KING’s road, Christ’s Way.

The Way

From the beginning the church was known as the “Way”:

  • The way to God,
  • the Way to live,
  • the way to follow Jesus,
  • the way to heaven,
  • the Way to salvation,
  • the Way to life eternal

The Lord’s Way… The way God is working in the world, through the Spirit and through those who follow.

  • I would make a case that it is not the government’s responsibility to feed the hungry: it is the church’s
  • It is not the government’s responsibility to clothe and house the homeless, it is the church’s,
  • It is not the government’s responsibility to comfort and help the widow, orphan and imprisoned, it is the church’s
  • It is not the government’s responsibility to provide health care, it is the church’s
  • It is not the government’s responsibility to provide moral instruction to broken families and expectant mothers, it is the church’s

This is a radical road, a difficult road, a path that has been long forgotten and forsaken…

The preparing for Christ coming is not getting our decorations, it is paving a new road, by a new authority, for a new world relationship with God.

Tell me I’m wrong and show me my miss reading and I will repent..

So you say: “Im overwhelmed.” If this is true, I don’t know where to start.

This advent we have started with the conversation of Prayer, the Study of the Word, and today we add Breaking Ground.

Ground Breaking

Isn’t it fun to break ground: to see the shovel of reality break through the dreams of hope and change.

That act is the physical and tangible involvement of putting ideas into motion.

Prayer

Study

Actively Break New Ground for Christ:

and Dig into reality.. get involved. get your hands dirty, get the sweat equity in what you believe..

If Christmas is a time for giving gifts, don’t just get a good deal, use the gift to be witness of JESUS’s love and grace.

If Christmas is a time for traditions of family and friends, use the occasions to make certain Make God known through them

If Christmas is a time for lights and songs, then make sure they clearly point to why we do and sing and remember.

The Season of Assumption is past…

We living in a time of paving, new break through of God’s authority… and we hold the shovels!

And God is coming Soon…

Advent is an annual experience of asking ourselves: If Jesus were coming in a month, what would be different about my life and faith and living… and act accordingly.

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Hebrews 11:29-12:2 Pioneer and Perfecter

pioneerwithChrist By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace. And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. [NRSV]

Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman
She makes Paul’s coking look line a weigh watcher commercial.

Her journey of coping with the transition from city life to life on a ranch in the middle of nowhere is a testimony of living by faith.

Not to mention she gives tips on how to beat the Baptist to the grocery store after church On Sundays.

The text today gives example from the legacy of the Old Testament of how the people of God act and life , by faith

It also gives example of how the eerily church lived by faith to cover new territory.

I’ve been praying about the half of our neighbors who on any given Sunday don’t find church a place they plan to be.

How can we life by faith and reach these folks.

11:40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect...

God has provided something wonderful that we all know, trust and believe. But else have nearly 10,000 neighbors who can see it, don’t believe it and don’t live by yr enjoy we have.

The church is u set persecution. Look at those in Egypt this week that we dragged from their home and violently killed in the streets because of what the believed by faith.

In our own country our faith is being watered down and policed by political correctness while we watch.

How many if our neighbors is it alright for us to
1 hope they will find Christ intent own?
2 hope our witness is good on the day they are willing to look and listen?
3 go about their business without our concern or involvement?

We celebrate later today the life and faith of Charlie Sims who has loved his family church and country we til each the end and rust that God says, well done good and faithful servant.

But what of those who on the sofa, still in bed, on the mower and on the the lake. Not on cation or re popping from illness but those who do Not know the faith we cherish l that is our hope and security.

So what ?

Great faith is our response and not out job.

As we start another year of school the Pre-k students do they begin a journey of completion or start a journey of discovery that equips them to be good decision markers,

those who devalue learning or just turn in assignment and bubble in correct scores?

The text us about being perfected. Not by our work rather trusting the one who has pioneers the way and run the race flew us

We are the great our of witness called to follow into the parted sea, to march around the city walls, to welcome with hospitality and to
Stand firm with Jesus in the face of all persecution

We don’t know the perfection until we are whole.
As long as there are those who don’t know what we trust in Christ Jesus. We are all just dosing kind deeds, it’s tome to stand with Jesus until they come home to him.

Pray for the way we will become a more perfect union, in Christ
Study how we will pioneer through hearts and minds that are closed
Get ready for the new day Christ promises when we stand firm with him.

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Matthew 5:1-12​Bless Said, Jesus Did JUMC 01302011

5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

poor in spirit, theirs is heaven.
Knowing you are spiritually hungry…
​Spiritual Awareness – Searching for Wholeness

those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
​Hurting for the loss of love, dreams, safety,

the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Simplicity

those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Hungry for Right and Good and True.

the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
​Showing loving, kindness to those who do not deserve it.

the pure in heart, for they will see God.
​Honest, Clear conscious

the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Making compromise toward wholeness and community,
those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
​Rejected, judged, avoided for the Good, right

Comparing what we say and what we do….
Searching for Wholeness
we look to wealth, substances, status,

​Hurting for the loss of love, dreams, safety,
​A willingness/ability to feel and not run/hide

​An honesty that we need and are needed
​ we are not alone and we can’t make it by without each other
using people vs serving each other..

​Simplicity
what do we truly need, throw away/ give away what you bring into you home

​Hungry for with is Right and Good and True.
the passion / drive to seek Goodness

​Showing loving, kindness to those who do not deserve it.

​Honest, Clear conscious

​Making compromise toward wholeness and community,

​Willing to be Rejected, judged, avoided for the Good, right

5:1 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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