Posts Tagged Holy Spirit
I do not fear that the people called Methodist shall ever cease to exist in Europe and America. I only fear that they shall exist as a dead sect knowing the for, of religion, but not the power three of, and that undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast to the doctrine, disciplines and spirit with which they first set out.” (John Wesley 1786, age 83)
Wesley did not have a simple statement about accepting Christ, he being a preachers kid, professor, theologian and preacher offer a process of profession.
1. God has saved us in Christ
2. The point at which I know/feel/experience the effect of saving Grace (our professing/accepting Christ)
3. The point at which I become aware that the Holy Spirit is working to shape my life toward the life/hope Jesus has saved
4. Glimpses, moments and finally when I am made whole through Chris, by the Holy Spirit I to the person God graces us with to live.
Accepting what God has done for humanity
Accepting what God has done for me
Accepting God help in becoming the person a God
Living fully as the person God hope, dreams, calls me to be.
Beginning: Understanding our desperate need for Jesus and reaching the lost.
Christian faith is uniquely personal
If you ceased believing in Jesus at midnight how would tomorrow be different?
Most important thing to know about witnessing is: what is the Holy Spirit doing in your life right now.
What adjustments do you make daily between what the Holy Spirit. Reds/expects and what you do each day
Our Task: Evangelizing the Gospel
Living the Gospel in “word, deed and sign”
Three people in the Evangelism committee proposed they way the church should plan to “do evangelism” this year.
1: One wanted the Church to focus on physically embodying the love of Jesus by serving people around them and acting on issues of social justice.
2. The second said, “Anybody could be kind or good to others. Only the Spirit could do signs and wonders.” We must study, listen and wait for the Holy Spirit.
Liam also believed in the Holy Spirit. Who didn’t? And of course we 3. We must communicate Jesus clearly to everybody because serving and praying might not be clear to everyone in the community or even the church.
The obvious answer is to combine all three, word, deed, & sign
Living in expectant hope of the Holy Spirit
Frame, guide your daily life in the Spirit
Live in Prayer is preparation and conversation
pray with others,
pray for other,
read the prayers of others
Sharing in first person what Jesus has done for you, and is doing
Clearly inviting others to encounter Jesus through you
Graceful faith Sharing
No law rules or formulas
Reality of what the spirit does to meet our needs
Start with someone who wants to know how to accept Jesus.
What would to tell someone who asked you, “What do I do to become a Christian?”
1. They bring it up directly,
2. They want simple, direct, clear instructions.
3. They want your personal instructions
First let us pray: “I thank you God for loving ana saving us. I praise you for the opportunity to share the gospel with <name> today. Guide my words and my heart by your love and grace.”
A. I believe God so loved the world that he gave his only child to save all people who believe in God, father son Holy Spirit. Do you. Believe this too?
B. I tell the church, my family and friends, that I believe Jesus’ saving work, has saved me, personally. Do you believe this for you.
C. I invited God’s Spirit, scriptures, and church to guide my life until Christ returns to take us to heaven. Do you believe this for your life?
D. We are both believers on the journey together. I want to thank God for Sharing your faith. Do you want to pray to say thank you too?
Follow up with introducing them to another believer and Co tire the conversation. Pray for those God entrusts to you.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. [NSRV]
Love is KEY
Paul’s “if you only hear one thing I say” phrase piggybacks Jesus answer to the question about the greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Some people don’t love themselves, don’t respect themselves, don’t value their life so are they excused treating others the way they view and treat themselves? No. For all the easy to remember, foundation principles, core sound-bites are an oxymoron. Therefore Paul follow that with an example: If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
A clearer explanation is to:
- Love others first
- Love others the way you would want to be loved
- Love others first, the way you want to be loved and you will Love as God loves.
- Even with this clarification, the advice is given to walk by the Spirit.
Walk By the Spirit.
Admonition: Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
In a culture that prefers shades-of-grey rather than black-and-white, yes-or-no, we have more trouble with Paul’s teaching than we dare admit.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Walk where every you want to walk, as slow or fast, jumping or crawling, BUT
stay on the path.
Follow the leader.
Walk by the Spirit.
When what I want is lined up with what God wants there is no problem. But what about when:
I have such a good idea.
Such a simple deviation?
When everyone else is taking that road not taken that diverges into a yellow wood, who wants to follow the Spirit then?
One of Frances’s teacher was giving them instructions on social media, she said, if it would make your grandmother happy AND proud, then it’s probably ok to post your words and pictures.
Paul states: It should be clear, it ought to be obvious, BUT it is difficult to see the obvious when our hearts and minds are set on ourselves, our fears, our brokeness and that of others.
Paul offers himself as a role model on many occasions, but most of us are not too quick to travel the known world to support others, reject family and traditions that were misinformed and misguided, and to be run out of town, ridiculed and imprisoned for our faith and trust in the Spirit.
Therefore: He gives us a sample list:
“And the like”
- sexual and physical immorality
- Impurity –
- debauchery -allegiance to corruption
- selfish ambition
- emotional immorality
- hatred, jealousy, fits of rage
- Community/Social immorality
- and the like.
- This list is not prioritized
- While we might be clear about sexual and emotional immoralities, what about Social immorality? When we step off the path to the “Left”, we are not spiritual progressive. When we step off the path to the “Right”, we are not spiritual conservative.
- The List is not exclusive
- The catch-all is “and the like.”
- There are others, so don’t be legalistic and thing these are our only temptations and points of sin
- The List is NOT a Check List to try either,
- These let us know when we are out of bounds. It is grace that gives us a way back on the path, on the wagon, and in the heart of God. The Spirit will give us power and guidance if we trust and follow.
FRUITS of the Spirit.
- Relationship with God
- Relationship with Others
- “And the like”
Like the obvious OFF-THE-PATH, these are the obvious “On-the-Path” fruits.
- This list is not prioritized
- Those that relate to our relationship with God and Others are equally important.
- The List is not exclusive
- Too many over time have tried to make this an exclusive list, when there are as many ways to be fruitful in the spirit as their are ways to not.
- Don’t be legalistic and thing these are our only points of evidence.
- The List IS a Check List to try,
- It is grace that gives us a way back on the path, on the wagon, and in the heart of God.. The Spirit wil give us power and guidance if we will trust and follow.
So WHAT? Paul’s advice is to “Keep in Step”
In step with the spirit, not our neighbor.
Hiking at Glisson is “point” and “tail” most experienced hikers setting the pace and keeping the group together.
Bookends of protect accountability and ???
Stay on the path Bilbo Baggins.
Luke shared with us that the graduates practices marching out of the tunnel and into their seats at graduation for four hours to make smooth turns the 812 graduates to enter and be seated in less than five minutes, as compared to the 60 faculty entering single file over 8 minutes)
When you get out of step or off the path there is uncertainty.
Freedom comes on the path of the Spirit.
Stepping out is dangerous. Slippery and obviously out of bounds of the spirit and the law
Love us the freedom to be in the heart of God
(MissionInsite: Demographic Report: Baptist and Methodist in a ten mile radius are down 1-2 percent and people who report spiritual but not church are up 2-3 percent.) Who is leading whom, where?
Hear the Good News: God loves us even though we get out of step. God’s spirit is in direct connection with our spirit. Paul’s advice is to trust God, find our purpose and freedom in God. Trust the Spirit and walk in God’s direction.
Still not sure which direction? Join us every Sunday, find a class, study or small group, open your bible, read-study-share-question-grow; ask for direction and support in praying, serving, sharing…
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [NRSV]
- Shine Jesus
- Shine your shoes
- Shine as in moonshine
- Shiner as in a black eye
- Shiny as in a new car, red Corvette or a white Tahoe
- Shiny as in a proof coin
But today we talk about the Flashlight.
- in 1886 the first dry-cell batteries were made which powers a variety of emerging ideas
- In 1898, Russian immigrant inventor, Conrad Hubert made the first flashlight. And later founded the Ever-Ready Battery Company.
- In 1899, English inventor David Misell invented the first flashlight. He was the first to use the “D” battery which had a stronger light.
But those early models had a weak and inconsistent power source and bulbs that were more fragile and temperamental than modern LED and HID flashlights. The name flashlight came from the intermittent light that burn for a short while and had to rest before it was read to be used again. Thus the short flash of light gave the battery with bulb stick the nickname: a flashlight.
I suggest that we have much to learn from the early flashlight as an example of our spiritual development.
1. When we find ourselves connected to the power God gives us, that is within each of us, we tap into a the source of awareness, knowledge, guidance, counsel and spiritual strength. We seem to quickly do one of two things: a) doubt it is a way of life that God has intended for us and/or b) confuse our personal power, talents and strength with God’s.
Like the flashlight, God’s presence is revealed in the darkness of a broken and sinful world and when we turn it on in the dark, the darkness is no more. But for some reason we turn off the lights.
Life in the Dark, holding a flashlight.
It sounds unbelievable, buy there a just a few times (denote the sarcasm) that while we are holding on the the switch that connects us to scriptures, worship, Christian fellowship, prayer, opportunities to serve, witness and give, we allow the darkness to take us over.
The Reality of Darkness
- When human beings behead, cage and burn, degrade and devalue women and children. Here we see the darkness of evil.
- When other the teachings of other faith’s say Jesus is but another prophet and deny Jesus is God’s present in our history and at the thrown as the begotten of God. When Jesus is left behind, or left out all together, darkness grows stronger.
- When human beings long for governments to provide what God gives or what God equips us to provide for ourselves, evil has made dark the world.
- The less we proclaim the light of Christ, the more expanse of darkness increases along with the grip of evil and brokenness.
The starting point is to affirm that some things are good and some bad, some light and some dark:
- Shine the light, the light erases the darkness. The darkness is not present where the light shine
- Darkness, where is the darkness? In your check book or cupboard? In your plans and dreams? In you behavior and attitude?
- The Gravitational darkness of the back hole of evil.
- Stumbling in the dark.
- The futile task of traveling in the dark… without night vision.
- Thermal signature from the energy emitted from a beating heart.
AFRAID OF THE DARK:
- As a boy I had a teddy bear that would allow me to hide under the covers and was brave enough to keep his head out in the dark room to keep watch over shadows and strange noises. He would occasionally be willing to be held by his feet and look under the bed or even fly across the room to check the closet door.
- We have more than a teddy bear to watch over our fears. We never out grow fear. We manage and mature over different fearful situations, but fear is a life long struggle. Jesus is our stand in. Jesus hold us and grounds us while we explore a fear-filled world.
- Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t be Afraid to take Jesus with You when it IS dark.
Let Christ’s light shine:
- Sometimes that darkness is people’s behaviors and attitudes and we need not face the conflict alone.
- We face conflict knowing the Jesus never promised to have a life free of fear, but to be our counsel when the darkness surrounds, threatens and tempts us.
JESUS COME QUICK
- Sometime Shining the light is calling on Jesus out-loud and directly.
- Sometime Shining the light is deliberate words and actions that unfold over time.
- Sometime Shining the light is charging our spiritual batteries when we are strong for times we are weak.
- Bottom line: Shine the light of Christ is allowing CHRIST to shine through me and through you.
PAUL the PHYSICS AUTHORITY
I doubt Paul knew the speed of light. But lighting a lamp in a darken room; carrying a torch into a dark street; proclaiming and trusting God to show up in a cell in prison, or in conflict in the church, or the pull of governments and other types of worship.. Paul calls on the Spirit that cause him to become blind, so that he could see, to guide his steps in all things.
Turn on the flashlight. Not with the weak beam of light that you and I have to add. Rather allow Christ to light through us.
Let the world hear the Good News in our words, songs and witness
Let the world hear that evil is present but not in charge.
Pray, Speak up, be pro-active, Don’t wait for darkness to leave, Shine Christ in it.
Where is the darkness around you?
At work: Pray for the trouble makers, and difficult cases, and stumbling blocks to see Christ in you.
At home: Make time for study, worship, fellowship and communication.
In community: Small groups, worship, service, witness and fellowship.. bring the dark to the light
Online: For all the good that comes with information overload technologies, comes the easy access of evil and darkness to be at our fingertips 24/7. Set limits, support accountability and confess our sins.
Around the World: God didn’t wait for God’s people to get their act together, but went to the Shepherd and Magi to and revealed where they looked into the darkness and show them THE GREAT LIGHT at Jesus’ birth.
Carry your a flashlight with you. When you see evil and darkness, shine the light of Christ.. your flashlight might be scripture, songs of faith, words of hope, and lessons of accountability. Don’t sit in the dark and don’t let others either.
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.” 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]
1. Jesus told Philip who told Nathanael who told Philip about Jesus.
Discipleship is process of networking.
The invitation is “Follow Me”. Go where I am going.
We are not called to tell people where to go nor what to do. We don’t have to have the answers, we just take them where we are going and growing.
Philip didn’t know it all, but he knew enough.
In knowing Jesus Christ, we know enough to lead us to a community faith, into small groups of study and prayer and Christian fellowship
Our mission is to invite others to follow. Come WITH me and we will find the Lord together.
Goal of fifty new members. Will you join me in finding one person who will follow you to church. Out of the 100-150 of us here, make it your personal mission to bring ONE person this year.
Philip Brings Nathanel, doubting and questioning and complaining, Nathaniel follows and is found by Jesus. Philip on askes Nat to follow, to come with me.
2. How could anything Good come out of the little town of Nazareth?
Nazareth: population 100-150, not included in the Talmud/OT as a city.
Rock Spring: population 4,500 in 2012. Villanow at 1900. Plainville 375. The smallest incorporated village in Georgia is my home town, Garfield with a population of 202 souls.
- Steve Wozniack was an electronics hacker, and he and his long time friend Steve Jobs had this idea to create a personal computer. In 1976, the two approached a local electronics store to see if they would be interested in buying a personal computer that Wozniack had built. Their first order was for 50 “Apple” computers.
- In 1971, three academics each invested $1350 of their own money into the first Starbucks located in downtown Seattle. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker opened the store called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice
- In 1978, twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open the doors of a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas. Within a year of opening the store, the couple was evicted from their home for using their apartment storage for the store. Homeless and with no place to go they decided to save costs by moving and living at their store full time. Since their store “Saferway” was zoned for commercial use only, there was no shower stall. According to the company’s website, the two instead bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.
- In the spring of 1891, the 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago with only $32 to his name. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Wrigley began selling soap. As an incentive to the customers, if they purchased his soap, he would give them a free can of baking powder. Soon baking powder proved to be more popular than the soap he was selling, so he switched his business. A year later, in 1892, Wrigley used chewing gum as an incentive for buying his baking powder. Again, chewing gum proved to be more popular than baking powder, and so he switched business again. The first brand of chewing gum Wrigley produced was Juicy Fruit in 1893.
What good can come from RSUMC? Look at the (bulletin). Years ago folks would have said nothing but look we have living witnesses.
What good can come from sharing Christ with folks with whom we work, school, live, play, shop and travel? Nothing in we don’t invite them to follow.
The greatness is not in the size of the person nor the size of the church. Greatness is found in the responding to the invitation to find Christ
Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning
3. Trust the witness of Philip as if Jesus told you first hand.
Trust that you might not be able to reach everyone, but there is someone who will follow you, someone who will journey with you.
We might want it to be someone we know, a family member or someone we conveniently see each week or day.
I keep asking and inviting until i find one who will follow with me.
When the chapel was first built on this location, did the members see the need for an education building, or two, or a preschool, of the spring… who can imagine what ministries will call for what facilities 50 to 100 years from now. But the congregation we will be is shaped by the faithful willingness of those who have paved and reached, taught and sung, praised and raised in times past, stand as a witness for us to continue to extend the invitation. Come, follow me.
The was once the slogan of the United Methodist Church, we moved to Open Door, Open Minds, Open Hearts, to Rethink Church to now the watch word is.. don’t ask, don’t tell.
Seriously, we are not limited by a slogan, our mission is follow Christ and to invite others to join our faith journey.
So why are you sitting here, when there are those still out there.
1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [NRSV]
The first halloween costume recall know about was odd. I was given a cat mask, a number one crew cut and a ankle length wool over coat and a cloth sack for the loot. It might have been appropriate for Oak Park, Chicago weather at the end of October, but the photos reflect a back-robber-in-the-making-look. At ten or eleven I meticulously planned a vampire costume with a grandmother-custom-made cape, plastic teeth and fake blood and white face paint. The only reason I didn’t win the best costume in the class contest was Jennifer’s aunt was our teacher. Shenanigans, I called shenanigans! The last time I dress up I wore a rubber mask of a former political figure, where small children ran away from the house before grabbing any candy.
Halloween is one time that we wear costumes. Homecoming dances, weddings and school plays might come to mind. I suggested to you that we all wear masks and costumes in everyday living.
Scholar of Early New Testament community convey Paul uses words from a familiar hymn of the church to make is clear God is to be lifted up, believed and trusted because of the self revelation through Jesus Christ. This early hymn describes how Jesus had the mind and spirit of God but came incognito, hidden in the costume of a person. We have the unique opportunity to see the all seeing, invisible, God, always wise in human form through Jesus.
Typically we think wearing a costume is an activity of where we pretend something we are not. Just as in the movie, Let’s Be Cops, two roommates misunderstand the dress altair for a masquerade party and come in full police uniforms instead. They pretend in light of real world situations. Instead picture the young child who tries on their parents shirt or blouse is a shadow of the desire of who they will become.
One of the critiques of the church, by those outside the church, is that we are hypocritical. We talk about being good and right and righteous, but we are just as sinful and broken as the rest of the lot. There is truth in this assumption, but its a twisted glimpse. Even though we are sinful and fall short, we are becoming who God hopes and dreams we will become. This is a practice of living the life know reflect’s God we see in Jesus.
Paul wants to church, now and at Galatia to know, God is fully God, masked in Jesus, reveals the humility of taking the consequences of our sins and brokenness, Jesus takes the fault and blame for our mistake and failures. Jesus takes responsibility for our poor choices, exchanging all that is flawed as a life-gift, given through the cross. And this powerful gift is revealed and uncovered through the cross.
Jesus is not trying to hid the gift, not should we. There are Christians being persecuted, threatened and killed in Egypt, Northern Iraq, Palestine, Houston, Atlanta, and even in Gainesville, GA. When the cross comes near we’d rather find another way. We’d like to remember simpler and safer times.
Homework. Is to get our costume in order. Is the witness, image and presence I share with my family, community and world one that reflect Jesus or protects Jesus. Jesus needs no protection. We have God’s promise to be in and with us in all things, knowing that God desires for nothing to separate us from the love, power, grace and spirit of God. This is our confidence and witness. This is our praise and passion.
Homework applied: Plan to allow your self, your image, your dress, your personal, your influence, your countenance, your witness to reflect the present of the Spirit, the power of God and the grace of Jesus Christ. Or, just hid all that good God stuff and save it for next Sunday where we can let out little glimpse here where it is safe at church.
Bottom Line: You are going to reveal something to the world, will it be the Spirit? God? Jesus? the Body of Christ? or something, someone else?
Pray for the Church under attack in Houston: http://vimeo.com/109484294
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.” [NRSV]
Disciples Gathered in grief and fear. Jesus brings peace
Disciples Separate themselves away from the world and are filled with doubt. Jesus reveals his crucifixion.
Disciples Recognize Jesus as Lord and Rejoice. Jesus fortifies their peace.
Disciples Hear the mission to be a “sent” people. Jesus fills them with the Spirit.
The mission is transferred. The Church is born.
Our task is to mature the church, continue the work. be filled with peace and Spirit and give grace and hope to the world of grief and fear.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. [NRSV]
This scene is one we can only imagine. Luke recounts how after the resurrection, after breakfast on the beach, after the crowds of believers began to grow again and things looked so promising, Jesus leaves the disciples.
His final words area a charge for those who believe to be witnesses: At home, in the community, to strangers and enemies, foreign and domestic. Tell the world about Jesus. Tell the world about God. Tell the world about the Holy Spirit. Tell the world about the church.
The disciples’ response to this call to action is to stare up at the sky with their heads in the clouds.
Two angel’s show up and remind them of the words that they just heard less than sixty seconds prior. What are you doing here, when there is work to be done. Get up and get to it.
How long are we suppose to be witnesses?
Until Jesus Comes Back.
How long are we suppose to volunteer, serve, lead, cook, clean, clothe, teach, sing, remind and remember, forgive and trust?
Until Jesus Comes Back.
How long are we suppose to be the body of Christ? Until we retire? Until we get burned out? Until we give the next check? Until it’s summer vacation?
Jesus left us with work, until he returns.
The disciples devoted themselves to prayer and began the mission of the church..
We come to the table of the Lord, breaking bread and drinking from the cup to be renewed in this work and fed in the Holy Spirit.
If we rely only on our skills, knowledge and our patience, we will fade, fail and fall away.
Pray with me…
Gracious God, may we reveal your kingdom, may we teach your Word and ways. May we remember and retell of your death and resurrection and the power. May we find your strength to accomplish your challenge.
5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. [NRSV]
Paul’s words of encouragement are for times that we recognize the gift of grace and for the times, while we may be living in grace, but do not recognize the neighborhood. God stands with us. Pauls invites us to stand with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
This is a rich and thick passage:
Justification: The work God has done through Christ that gives us grace.
Boasting in our Hope: Something worth celebrating and worth talking about with others, in the faith and those outside the bounds.
You who are Star Wars fans will remember when Jedi Master Yoda speaks to young Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”
Fear we know! Fear of failure, the unknown, revealing our shame, Storms of winds, emotions and nature: all powers that appear greater than our own.
Paul writes to encourage and remind us of another progression of learning: “suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
The role we have as the church, as the present and living body of Christ is to stand firm in the Power of the Holy Spirit and teach and remind one another not to be lost in our suffering.
Tragic deaths in Oklahoma, London. Rumors of corruptions, deceit, and mis-use of power from our leaders and government. Uncertain times of economic change. Relentless news of Cancers, wars and divisions. We do not have to look far to see and hear news of suffering.
Our prayers are a most often litanies of suffering. If not our own suffering the hurt and fears of the world and those dear to us.
Why do we bring these to the attention of the body? Why share them in church? Is it for us to share a one-up story of who has the worse news or the latest gossip? No. Sometimes people ask me to repeat the concerns lifted up by others, so they can hear the news. I offer to you that it is not for our ears that we share our prayer concerns. It is for the heart of God to hear our suffering. If you want to know what someone said, go ask them after worship, but right now it is God’s time of hearing and receiving.
We share with God to remind ourselves and God that we so desperately and earnestly need the power of God’s Spirit in our lives.
This is the challenge Paul gives to the church in Roman and to us in our hearing of his words:
STAND FIRM in the GRACE God has given us. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
When you and I see and hear suffering, become reminder of the Grace
What is grace: It is God’s loving-kindness given to us, that even while we are filled with sin, fear, anger, and hate.. God gives us the love and life we need and the means to find our way back to the heart of God.
Is there anything that is stronger than God?
Is there anyone more powerful than God?
Is there any place God will not go to save us?
Is there any time God stops loving us and desiring our heart to be in relationship with God’s heart?
Oh, how the world around us needs to hear what we know by heart.
BOAST: Brag! Tell with joyful pride, that Christ has claimed even me, and you, and those who hear our witness!
Could you imagine gives peace to someone who was sad? broken? empty? lonely? afraid? enraged? at the end of their hope?
Simply by sharing with them what gives you peace…
What gives us peace? We may not always use the term or name, but it is God’s Spirit that gives us peace.
We experience it through relationship, creation, song and art, scripture and science, alone and with whole crowds and congregations..
but it is the Holy Spirit that is our peace.. God’s continuing council, presence, power, advocate and strength.
REJOICE: BOAST: Be glad, you are in the Spirit. Tell the hurting and suffering world…
The suffering you have endured has built your character and that new appreciate of a life in Christ is the evidence and power of God’s hope in you.
Have Hope, Share Hope
Have Grace, Share Grace
Have the breath of God, Breath the Good News to all who still suffer.
23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. [NRSV]
This is an intimate and paternal conversation between Jesus and the disciples.
Words of Assurance: Yes I am leaving you, but yes I am coming back for you.
These are words of comfort and mystery. Defining a certainty and reality of the separation as well as the certainty and reality of the ongoing connection and presence.
The lesson is to, above all else listen to the words of Jesus and do what he says.
Salvation is realized and experienced by those who have been listening.
Message of Grace: Yes, the opens arms of God are outstretched for all, but those who recognize and follow will know when to run toward the Savior.
We the clue of the relationship: We will come to them.. vs 23.
In the mean time, in the waiting time, in the between time,
Wait for the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
We are people of the Spirit. This is our business. This is our heart. This is our activity.
We are spiritual folks in a physical reality.. but look what comes first and list. The Holy Spirit.
We come to communion today to feed, nourish and tend to our Spirit.
Listen, Follow and Wait.
It may not be the flashy and exciting thing to do, but it is our salvation.