Posts Tagged heart
He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.[NRSV]
There was a time when the penny was made of copper and would buy small items in the store. Now it is simply the fraction of tax that helps us feel better about spending $39.99 instead of wasting 40 bucks. When I ran for the office of President of the United States in 2000 to celebrate my 35th birthday, one of my platform items was to only mint pennies for numismatists and casual coin collectors, so that we could conserve our copper supply, allow accountants to sleep at night and kids at fast food establishments could make change. What good is the penny?
The mighty penny might seem insignificant much like a tiny mustard seed in the text. There was a time where pennies were collected as the first apportionment in our Methodist tradition to build a church for worship. Together, the pennies added up to reach a common goal just as profit margins on gasoline and at grocery stores are volume types of business. But the adage that pennies add up to dollars is a good starting point for reading the parable from Jesus.
One year at Vacation Bible School we collected nickles to help the United Methodist Committee on Relief effort to respond to the victims of Katrina. Each day the children were invited to bring in nickles which were affixed to long strands of tape that wrapped around the sanctuary several time reflecting a couple hundred dollars of nickles. On the same week, the neighboring Baptist church held their VBS and agreed to pool our resources to the same effort. A great witness of cooperation, ecumenical effort and common sense. At the Baptist church they had asked the children to bring in one dollar bills each day that were taped together, end to end, and also wrapped around their sanctuary a few times. The differences was in the total. Nearly the same effort to give, the difference was their seed was larger.
Jesus is using a gardening and farming illustration to look at the effectiveness of broadcasting compared to targeted conversations of witness. In summary of the text: We do not know how or where one little seed of faith, grace, compassion, feeding, healing, forgiving, love, trusting, blessing will inspire fruitful faith of someone else. But the mustard bush is more of a weed. The text has a double depth of meaning if we read it hearing how God can make weeds we might cut down and discard something useful and necessary.
A second, and very Methodist part of the text, is Jesus’s description of a process of spiritual growth. We start with someone sowing a seed, but that is followed by power in God’s creation that has nothing to do with us beginning to germinate what one person beings. First the stalk, then the head and then the full grain. The structure or core support system comes first, then the evidence of the maturity and THEN follows the fruit of the whole process.
The nano-second world we fly through is reluctant to hand on for the process. Imagine yourself watching a beautiful large screen television with 4K resolution and super surround sound in a custom contour recliner with refreshment access. Some team of producers, directors, investors, designers, musicians, technicians, actors, marketers, promoters and accountants have spend months and millions of dollars to create a movie experience to entertain you. You hold in your hand the powerful remote control with fresh batteries. How long does it take for you to decide if you want to watch the two hours of drama, action, comedy or information that awaits you? It takes just a about one second for the image to change per remote click, (new remote reducing to .5 seconds). Average view spends ten minutes reviewing 200 channels during an average 2-3 hours of time watching per day. (10 out of 120 minutes surfing), but 80% of the time they revert to ten favorite channels.
Whether we are are overwhelmed by choice, attention defects, devote that kind of time to our decisions, or like the control part facet of operating a remote, I invite you to step back from this common practice and think about the tiny bits of time and information that are involved in this daily exercise. (It is humorous to talk use the word exercise when talking about tv remotes.) Nonetheless, small visual clues based on past experiences, current stimulus signals, small movements of the thumb or finger indicate how we will be informed or entertained, How we spend 2-3 hours of each 24 hours. 10% of that time in devoted to searching and scanning.
Transfer this set of skills and behaviors. If we spend 2-3 hours studying scripture and books of faith and inspiration, how different would our 24 hours be? 2-3 hours of faith driving content, music, videos, ebooks, etc. Imagine how this would shape our own faith identity, our church and the world.
Think back about the process describe in Jesus’ parable teaching: First the seed, time to develop a structure, following the structure produces maturity, maturity produces fruitful witness, life and relationships.
Take a double look and hear the God is at work even in the relationships we might write off as unimportant can become the place others thrive. So take care to grow more than you cut out.
We have the ability to make small actions of shaping our faith and the future of the church. The task is to be intentional.
INTENTIONAL SPIRITUAL GROWTH
- First the seed
- Then the stalk
- Then the head
- Then the full fruit
I would make a case that we allow our spiritual seeds to become “genetically modified” by those who use the church, rather than nurtured by the church. We have allowed the power of Christs presence for the shell of a body of tradition or a competitive entertainment . We need to get to the good seeds and scatter them far and near, and often We need to get back to sharing and planting and teaching the seeds of our faith.
- God loves us, unconditionally
- God has purpose for us, without doubt
- God is with us, the presence of God’s spirit
- God has made a way, Jesus and the cross
- God is seen, through the intentional fruits of the church
- God is real
- God wants our heart, our trust, our love
- God connects us
These are the seeds that we need to know, encourage and rely on in every day.
The seed is neither mighty nor the end of the story.. it is the continuous flow of starting points, that are repeated in every season.
- Plant seeds of faith, small ones, every day, every where, every one.
- Develop the stalk, don’t tear someone down, build the structure and support
- Start with the heart work toward the head, rather than reverse.. roots grow with stalk, not the fruit first
- Fruit is for sharing and enjoying and replanting
We Told You So Acts 4:5-12
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” [NRSV]
Cornerstone, Jesus is the
- Power from the Cornerstone
- Truth from the Cornerstone
- Salvation through the Cornerstone
Our Shepherd Knows Our Needs Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long. [NRSV]
The shepherd leads the sheep to what they need
- Daily Bread
- Daily Walk
- Daily Struggle with Evil
- Daily Worship
1 John 3:16-24 God Jumped In First
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. [NRSV]
Love is an active verb not just a cognitive affirmation
- Christ Acts Before We Do
- God Loves Frist
- Our Response to Grace and Love is Commitment
- We Obey because God Has Already Moved in to Help/Save
John 10:11-18 Listening and Hearing
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away–and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” [NRSV]
Listening and Hearing
- The shepherd and sheep listen for one another
- Listening because we can
- Listening because we have to
- Listening to see what we choose to hear
- Listening to be found by God
- Jesus has hardwired our connection
1 Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord; praise the name of the Lord. 2 Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. 4 The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, 6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord! [NRSV]
Praise the Lord!
Call to the crowd, now is the time to praise.
Bless the Name, now and always
Start at sun up until you sleep
God is AUTHOR and all authority,
In Heaven and on earth
Cheer: Who is like our God, who is at the highest high?
Response: God who is way up there raises the poor from the dust,
Lifts the needy from the ash heap
Makes them sit with princes and kings
He gives life and make our hearts and homes fruitful and meaningful
I introduce to you a topic we will study and practice for years to come:
Worship too often is twisted around 180 degrees.
If you every hear someone say, “I just didn’t get anything out of worship.”
If you every hear someone say, “ I didn’t care for the music or the sermon.”
If you every hear someone say, “I need to find worship that makes me feel good or even my toes stepped upon.”
These are examples that worship has been flipped upside down and backwards.
Worship is not about the preacher, its not about the musicians, it is not about the congregation.
Worship is about God.
It is both a time and a place to direct ourselves toward God
It is a time to gather for God’s benefit and not our own.
Worship is putting the REALITY of our hearts into the hands and heart of God.
Sometimes we bring to God our poverty, brokenness and weakness.
Sometimes we bring to God our celebration, love and devotion.
Always it is God’s people coming to connect and give ourselves, our gifts and our futures to God.
Is placing our hearts, empty or full on the alter of God and becoming a living sacrifice through Jesus Christ.
Is coming together as unique individuals with differing depths of relationship to God and sitting together as fellow heirs in the court, together as son and daughters of the God.
Is putting our life on the line each time we gather in this place to be both strong and vulnerable. Bringing our faithfulness and our failures. Offering out sweat-equity and in-equities to be used through God’s Spirit in this world.
Worship the primary way we show our praise of God
Is putting our hearts on the line, that God and God’s people in trust and with integrity.
Passionate Worship is doing the Spiritual HokyPoky and putting our whole self in God’s hand…
Passionate Worship is not counting the minutes until we are done, rather counting the minutes until we are here again.
Is our Worship Passionate?
This is our home work.. Tell one person this week, Name one thing you bring to worship that pleases God, and explain why.
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. If you have been raised with Christ. I would guess that on any given Easter Sunday, 99% of those who show up at an Easter Sunrise service are indeed already believers. Who in their right mind would get up so early to take part in a service they had no idea what it was about. So I’m, as they say, preaching to the choir, this morning. I would also guess the Paul writes to the church at Colossi knowing they are believers. But they are believers who might have lost the connection with what it means to be raised with Christ. The power of Christ’s resurrection affects our life more than our death. Christ arose so that we could start living the whole life God has for us from our birth, confirmed in our baptism, strengthened throughout our lives and bridges us through death into eternity. So much our grief over those loved ones who have died is evidence that we forget what it means to be raised with Christ. Certainly we miss them in the flesh with us, but in Christ we are never separated. I know my father’s love, guidance and tears in my walk. He was my best friend. He still is. The emphasis Paul implies is not so much ‘IF’ were are raise, but ‘SINCE’ we are raised with Christ. His word remind us of the foundation of our faith and the bedrock of our relationship. This is the Good News of the Easter story: He is alive, for us. Christ is alive because God has a claim on our hearts and struggles. Setting Your mind on Christ Sometimes we think the answer is to focus our mind on some area we would like to change and that would be enough to transform our living. I struggle every day making choices about my diet. I struggle every day making choices about my work, my finances, my relationships and my life. Paul gives the starting point for transformation. The best way to a person’s heart starts with their mind. We see, hear or experience a hungry child and our heart is motivated to feed and save. We see a broken step or windowpane at a neighbors house and we have the perspective they have learned to over look. We become aware of our neighbors sins and struggles and our mind can judge and condemn or our mind can have compassion and identify with our own sin and struggle and work toward mutual healing. The starting point is in the wonderful mind that God has created, but it is not the final answer. Our heart is the target that God claims and seeks to unite. Hiding or Revealing The tradition of Easter eggs is rooted in a way of teaching about the treasure of the tomb. It would be a more accurate practice if they eggs that children hunted were found to be empty instead of filled with treats from the magic bunny. Bunny have been used for their prolific ability to reproduce which points to the power of the resurrection. It would be a better example if we replicated the Easter message as prolifically as bunnies multiply. But with those knocks against the Easter bunny and his hiding eggs the text begs us to ask are we: hiding or revealing Christ in how we live our lives. I don’t know about you but I’m guilty of both. Sometimes I thrilled to share the Good News and help folks hear and know the love God has for them in Jesus Christ and him crucified. And other times I am hiding in fear, frustration and sin.
- Paul writes to encourage the church to be proactive in remembering and reclaiming the hold Christ has on their lives. His words invite us to do the same.
- He writes to give them a starting point: First set your mind and your heart can follow. If both your heart and head are not heading in a Christ like way, we are fooling ourselves, and others. (but not God.)
- Finally Paul asks us to reveal what is hidden and allow the light of Christ to guide our whole lives. In doing this the resurrection we celebrate at Easter lives in us now and for ever.
It’s Easter: You are claimed by Christ, set your mind on God and grow in Spirit by sharing Christ with others.
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. [NRSV]
Are you blessed? Look at the blessing side of these equations:
- Citizenship in Heaven
- Comforted here and now.
- Inheritors of the earth
- Filled with Satisfaction
- Swimming in Mercy
- Able to see God’s presence
- Known to be God’s child
- Have a place in heaven
- Heavenly Reward Waiting
Character Traits of the faithful
- Poor in spirit, Mourning, Meek
- Righteousness Seekers, Mercy, Seekers of God’s heart
- Makers of peace; Teased, Taunted, Tested and Tormented for doing what is Godly.
Jesus begins his teaching ministry to the crowds with instructions that define the measurable, witness-able, tangible descriptors of those who ‘get it’, those who would be followers, disciples, Christians.
Look Around you today
Are you surrounding by the blessed or cursed? Honestly we are some of both, some of the time. This is why we continually repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live a new the new life we celebrate in Holy Communion.
We come to the table because we have turned the other way.
Jesus begins be giving us a measuring stick of identify and path toward citizenship.
Forgive me, for I have sinned.
- Forgive me, for I have acted like I knew better than God and other Godly saints.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten that you gave your son for my life. I forgot what that feels like.
- Forgive me, for I have stopped growing my spiritual relationship.
- Forgive me, for I have taken your grace, but not shown it to others.
- Forgive me, for I have not had pure thoughts, motives, actions and words.
- Forgive me, for I have not tried to make peace and even stirred up trouble myself.
- Forgive me, for I have persecuted others because they were different.
- Forgive me, for I have said and done all kinds of evil that does not reflect your presence in my heart and life.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten your Joy and misplaced your Gladness and Love.
Jesus words start as descriptors for Disciples and become daggers of conviction when we have not stayed on the path of Blessing.
An Opposing View
- Cursed are those who are full-of-themselves
- Cursed are those who stoic, selfish, and prideful,
- Cursed are those who know better than the rest of us
- Cursed are those who know better than God
- Cursed are those who judge with a log in their own eye
- Cursed are those who see only their wants and vision
- Cursed are those who to quiet to stop injustice or too loud in self-preservation
- Cursed are those who to sacred to be bold for God
The attitudes of Matthew 5.1-12 are the called such as they begin in our hearts and minds and then affect our actions and environment.
If our task is to make disciples of others for the transformation of the world, it begins by ‘checking’ our attitude to see if our heart and minds are God before we move to words and deeds.
Have someone ask you these questions this week and answer them honestly:
- Am I always right?
- Where does pride blind me and hinder others?
- Who knows best how to live in relationship with others?
- Am I willing to change what is broken in my life?
- Am I willing to see and feel how others feel and see life? And me?
- Will I speak bolding for God today? Each day?
- What scares me? Why would I be afraid if God is captain of our team?
What’s at Stake? EVERYTHING
- Being Blessed or Curse.
- Being included or outside.
- Saved or Damned.
- Loved or hated
- Remembered or forgotten
- God’s or my Own.
What is God doing about it?
- Has given us Christ to follow
- Has given us Christ for our sin
- Has given us Christ for living
- Has given us The Spirit for power and guidance
- Has given us the Church for fellowship and encouragement
- Has given us Word to study, learn, grow and share
- Has given us Music to tell and share
- Has given us ministry to share and reach
- Has given us resources to build and invest
The question, Our Question:
“What am I doing about my attitude and my actions as child of God?”
Come to the Table and start fresh in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Come to the table and be filled, anew.
2 Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.
3 Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart.
4 Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart. In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart.
Dont be an Idiom.. What do we mean by heart..
- aching heart
- after one`s own heart
- at heart
- bleeding heart
- break (someone`s) heart
- close to (someone’s) heart
- cross one`s heart and hope to die
- die of a broken heart
- do his heart good
- do it in a heartbeat
- eat one`s heart out
- find it in one’s heart to (do something)
- follow one’s heart
- from the heart
- from the bottom of one`s heart
- go (somewhere) in a heartbeat
- have a big heart
- have a change of heart
- have a heart
- have a heart of gold
- Bless their heart
- have a heart of stone
- have a heart-to-heart talk with (someone)
- have a soft spot in one’s heart for (someone or something)
- have one`s heart set on (something)
- heart and soul
- heart bleeds for (someone)
- heart goes out to (someone)
- heart is dead set against (something)
- heart is in one’s mouth
- heart is in the right place
- heart is not in (something)
- heart is set against (something)
- heart is set on (something)
- heart misses/skips a beat
- heart stands still
- heart to heart
- heartbeat away from (something)
- heavy heart
- in one’s heart of hearts, more correctly, core of ones heart, said Hamlet
- lose heart
- near to your heart
- not have the heart to do (something)
- open one`s heart to (someone)
- pour one’s heart out (to someone)
- search one`s heart/soul
- sick at heart
- sin sick heart
- strike at the heart of (something)
- take heart
- take to heart
- he ate at the buffet until his heart’s content
- tug at your heartstrings
- Warm some one’s heart
- warm the cockles of (someone’s) heart
- way to (someone’s) heart
- wear one`s heart on one`s sleeve
- win (someone’s) heart
- with all one`s heart (and soul)
- young at heart
But today, the idiom of our text is to be known by heart, known within our heart.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people [Jeremiah 31:33, NRSV]
As Paul writes to encourage and instruct the church at Corinth, he draws in the Passover Tradition of starting with Unleavened bread. How do we know Christ in our heart?
We have to empty the refrigerator sometime… to start fresh.
So our relationship, needs a good old fashion dose of the resurrection of Jesus to wake up what is dead and leading us to death.
Easter is not a day of rest, it is a day to open our hearts to the very Heart of God.
God wants the CORE of who we are, not just a holiday, not just a Sunday. God wants US everyday.
This is the power of Easter for us right now.
God has given all, I mean ALL, for your heart.
God wants you to not just know ABOUT him nor only ABOUT the story.
GOD is dying for you.
GOD is living for your life.
This is what EASTER means to us today… Most likely you have all hear the Good News of the Easter message..
SO WHAT? I have ben wrestling with the book NOT A FAN, about being a follower compared to being a fan.
ASK yourself this morning: What does it mean that God wants to be at CENTRAL OFFICE, the CORE, at the CPU, at the beginning and end of you.?
Am I willing to give the Live God, the power of the God’s Spirit? The grace and love of Jesus the steering wheel wherever we go,
If so, than I need to forgive some folks, serve some folks, trust some folks, meet some folks, let go of some folks,
In my Heart, In my Heart, Lord I want to be your son, daughter, man/woman, youth, child, YOURs.
This is the Easter Invite..
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [NRSV]
Matthew 1.18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. [NRSV]
Matthew’s Joe the Carpenter
Matthew spends the first portion of the first chapter telling the world his research from his early Christmas present from tryancestry.com 30-day free offer. He gives a concise history of relating father Abraham through King David to the father of Jesus, Joseph. It was customary to track the family relation line through the mother’s side of the family, so what is up with Matthew’s version? He stretches the family tree branches to roots into two neat and balanced sets of 14 generations linking the father of the covenant with the favored king of the people of God up to Joseph’s little Jesus boy.
One of the fun features of the online family tree database helps determine how many generations you might be related to famous founding fathers and mothers or former presidents.. no matter how far the stretch, we are related famous people some where. Unlike my paternal grandmother’s claims that we were of French decent, it turns out that after many years of researching the BRANTLEY name through England and possibly Switzerland. Our family name is said to a meaning: “Those who live in burned out lands.” So we conclude that we are from a long line of moonshiners, indentured servants and squatters. Sort’a makes you proud to know our roots run deep with fame and great integrity.
Joseph’s family tree squeezes a few branches to neatly fit on a the page of history in Matthew’s book for what purpose? He link’s Jesus to a history of God’s self-revealed witness in promise, favor, divine purpose. So why does Joseph have any doubt that God would be ready to continue to prized heritage?
So little is known of Joseph. It many painting and stories his vocation of a carpenter is captured in images of furniture making. But is a time of stone, break and tile construction, it is more likely that he made gates, wooden locks or crosses. These were the places where woodwork was most commonly used in Jesus’s time. But that is not as fitting with our image of contemporary or renaissance carpentry.
Never the less, Joseph, with a great family tree, must have forgotten his royal blood line as well as his trade was working with resources that were more rare than we could imagine. No mighty pine forests, no oak and poplar farms, cedars were scattered and wood was a scares commodity.
Joseph, was a decent fellow. He found himself in an embarrassing social setting with Mary, his fiancée. Joseph being a resourceful fellow, tries to down play, move one, no harm- no foul, perspective. Joseph is ready manage the problem and work out a solution with the lead damage for either he or Mary.
He was a fix-er: Someone who can identify the problem, find a solution and execute with precision.
HERE IS WHERE TO STORY BECOMES read and interesting to each of us personally.
Compare what we know about Mary and Joseph. She found favor with God and was eagerly ready to be an instrument and vessel for God’s work and witness. Joseph see’s the problem not the opportunity. He finds a solution to what he has identified as a problem and is ready to “make it so” as the Captain orders.
Joseph is our modern example of what to do when God’s will and way is 180-degrees from “our best judgment” and we choose to follow God’s instruction. Joe the Carpenter stands as a ordinary good person who lay aside the focus of the self in exchange for focus on God.
It is a Christmas miracle when we see someone choose the heart of God over their own heart.
That’s what we like about the changed-uncle scrooge.
That’s what we like about the big guy in the red suit doing the impossible to bring joy to a suffering world. That’s what we like about the Grinch who has a change of heart.
That’s what we like about one person allowing the news of the Christmas Story encourage the faithfulness of one to like Charlie Brown to keep Christmas when all the others are packing up the decoration of the world.
Joseph is the change of heart guy, who does the good think God asks.
Did he have to? No.
The story could have been very different of he had walked away from Mary or imposed his plans over God’s plans. God didn’t make Joe have faith. Here is the hidden gift of Christmas.
The messengers come to tell it, the question is do we believe and trust our hearts with God’s.
Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is the task of Christmas, All year long.
Joel 2:28. I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old mean shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. (NRSV)
Colossians 3:1. Therefore if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand. (CEB)
Matthew 6:33. Desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (CEB)
REVIEW of our STEWARDSHIP SERMONS:
- God does not want our money. God wants our hearts. Q: Where is your heart?
- Our pledge card is a spiritual measurement tool. Q: Has Prayer Conditioned your tools?
- TODAY: What is your dream and vision of what God can do through us?
Consider now what you would like to see happen in your life in that same time. In what ways do your passions for the church align with your personal desires? Today I will share my passions for the church in this coming year.
Have you ever seen the movie The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? Two terminally ill men develop a list of all the things they have always wanted to do. They face their task with a great sense of urgency. Today we will explore our bucket list for the church.
This week, I ask you to consider what you would most like to see happen in the church in the next year. When we deal with our own pledge cards we are making a mark toward what we would like to see happen next year.
- LESS? Would you like for us to do less next year? Fewer services? Fewer touches of those lost, hungry or hurting? Fewer studies? Fewer children at Vacation Bible School?
- SAME? Why not do exactly the same thing? Don’t expect growth, simply maintain and hold on with out intention or hope for more? God is content with holding fast our talents?
- MORE? Why not look with the dreams and vision the prophet Joel speaks? Why not look ahead to where we are going and see who has won the race we are running? Why not measure with God’s possibilities? Would we like to do more? Reach another child or youth? Clothe another coat? Reach another searching heart? Invite another person to worship or dinner?
What kinds of church do you want our congregation to be:
Turn to your neighbors and tell them ONE thing you would like for us to be next year?
Know for being First? Rich? Big? Grumbling? Complaining?
Joel offers direction for us, as we consider our vision of the church. Vision comes about as God inspires people to prophesy, dream and have visions. What has God inspired you to envision for the coming year?
Colossians instructs us to set our hearts on things above. It is very difficult to focus our attention on God when we are distracted and overwhelmed by the cultural influences in our lives, but that is the call on our lives.
Matthew’s Gospel sets our personal and community priorities. Together in community, we help one another to seek God first in all things, to strive for righteousness, or right standing, with God.
These verses give us the starting place for understanding what God has called us to do and be as a church in the coming year.
One day I would love to serve as pastor of a church that was a county seat church, that loved to work as a United Methodist Church, where they people embraced that call to make disciples for Jesus Christ, through Radical Hospitality, Passionate Worship, Intentional Spiritual Growth, Risk Taking Mission and who had Generous people who allow their hearts to be Extravagant for God. WOW! The Bishop and DS do know how to answer my prayers!
A Pastor’s Dream Church:
I would like for us to have a 120 children participate in our VBS. I would like for us to send 60 youth in hands on mission work. I would like to increase the number of adult who share skills, talents and faith with our children. I dream of a church where member know our children need the wisdom and experience of all the adults and finding volunteers to work with children and youth never a problem.
I dream of time when the children and youth don’t have to fund raise the support for the ministries we want them to have that will shape the rest of their lives. The can fund raise through our church-wide mission. If the cost of our youth program is $15K and our children’s program is $10K we know the money will be their without question.
I would like to have fellowship, classes and studies for young adults, singles, parents, older-adults that reach EVERY member. Those who do know the support and joy of these small groups, be compelled to share this with those we are missing, (not by guilt, instead through joy)
I hope for our worship to be filled with music, voices, musicians that assure the passion of our worship is present every Sunday. I dream of a time that we don’t worry about two worship services, because we are starting our fourth worship service to reach four times as many people.
I dream of a time that we average feed 200 people on Wednesday night dinners over two dinner seatings and give more people that opportunity to provide meals and give a break to those who have served so faithfully, before we wear them out.
I hope for a time that we are know throughout our region as the church with the heart of Christ to share.
If you want to settle for what we can do to get-by with saving, I don’t think you will be happy at any church… that has kingdom first in their hearts..
Over the last few weeks we have considered what we love and value in our church, who has made a difference in our spiritual lives, and our best hopes and dreams for the next year. Next week we will each make a critical decision about how we will express and grow in our generosity.
Yes, we need our leaders to respond to this call. We need every member, friend and regular visitor to participate in this radical, passionate, intentional, risk-taking, and extravagant dreaming of our hearts.
When you receive the pledge card this week, please be in prayer and seek God’s direction for your expression of generosity toward the life and vision of God’s ministry through this church.
Just Keep ‘IT’ to Your Self
- For some the default is to take this parable’s teaching to the extreme.
- These folks will keep their mouths and hearts closed so tightly that prefer to err on the side of not speaking, rather than say the wrong thing.
- But what does it feel like to keep something inside, something that should not eat at your own heart for keeping quiet.
Yes, there is a place for confidence, trust and secrets.. these are not what the parable is addressing.
- Jesus is teaching about what needs to be shared or told.
Think about the things that have come out of your mouth in the last 24 hours: There are a sets of tools that help us learn to communicate well.
- Some tools prevent good. For example when we focus on blame, sarcasm, and assumptions that close hearts, minds and doors.
- Some tools are information only. Details, information, facts and figures, which in theme selves are not communication, but can either help or hinder what we say.
- Finally there are tools and methods that promote good conversation. When we hear from the other person’s perspective, when we let others know we hear them independent of judging them. When we work toward agreement that is not coerced.
- The catch is that we generally carry more tools from the first bag of resources and give up before we reach the third one.
If you have visited a National Park website lately, you will find new educational resources that give a more afro-centric account about the significance of historical markers and events at the park. Now, this is a tricky business. Because the task is not to re-write history, rather to add more voices to complete the pictures we have of our common history.Jesus is primarily talking, not about politics, rather our faith message to the world:
- We have almost no religious restrictions on our diets. The only one has been a request of Methodist to choose to abstain from drinking alcohol. “I thought we were the all things in moderation church?, aren’t we?” Technically we are not. Our history recognized when society abuses a substance to the degree it affects not only the individual person but the whole society, it would be best to make personal choices to avoid it’s use.
- If we take the same model, and think of how sugar, salt, processed and modified food, on the same grounds we should also abstain from these items. So when out Baptist friends try to tell us that the wine that Jesus consumed was somehow watered down, remind them that Jesus himself turned water into wine, that was the very best the professional sommelier, wine steward, had ever tasted.
- If it is for judgement and condemnation that we demean and divide people because of any substance, then we have allow a ‘thing’ to become more important that the person. That is Idolatry.(a whole other sermon)
So if our lesson is..
- not to simply keep quiet,
- not to say whatever comes to our mind
- not to twist the words of others
- not to use words to judge or condemn
What IS it we are suppose to get?
This is why Peter speaks up to ask for clarification.. give us the Cliff NotesTM Jesus.
Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.
- First, physical things go the way of what is physical.
- Our Words come from the heart… that is what matters.
- Sometimes our words are untrue or insincere and they are only good for the sewer..
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
The disciples and the people would have known this verse by heart.
Jesus gives a list of the terrible things that can come from our heart, even if we don’t speak the words aloud:
evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying, slander
vs what our heart could say:
goodness, healing, respect, love, sharing, truth, and support.
Here is ‘THE’ Question:
What is the world hearing from your heart?
- Is your heart silent?
- Open Up! Speak Out Clear!
- Is your heart screaming Anger, Fear, Judgement, Control
- Stop talking, hear what those around you are saying.
- Is your heart speaking God’s voice!
- Praise the Lord!