Posts Tagged hope
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! [NRSA]
Walking in the Light
Just last night I stubbed my little toe for the third time this week. OOOh. OWwww. UMph! I was not looking where I was stepping. I was thinking of my destination and didn’t pay attention to the path. I suppose I am as stubborn and my toe pays the price.
This first Sunday of Advent is a call to walk the path of light. We will see the path in the words of prophets from long ago, in the brilliance of angel songs, in the order of distant stars and throughout the witness of God’s word for us and for the world.
If the world is to be transformed by the AWESOME work and news we find at Christmas it will not be through packages, decorations and jolly traditions of giving. We find Christ when we follow the path Christ’s light leads us, and then, only then, other traditions may follow.
The Advent Tradition Reveals our Journey
We will light candles of Hope Peace Joy and Love
These are our milestone markers along the way
Start Walking – Walking in the Light
Start disciplines of singing, reading, preparing for Christ.
With Luke’s Gospel, start reading and studying the core story in Chapter 1 and the start of 2. You will surely know the stories but read them with an intention to retell them, teach them, and find your presence in the stories.
- Are you the parent?
- A child?
- a messenger?
- an unbeliever?
- a doubter?
- a late-night employee?
- The aunt or uncle?
- a bystander?
- one blessed ready to serve?
- one who was scared?
We can find ourselves in many if not most of these throughout our lives.. These are the perspectives
The prophet Amos had a son, Isaiah, one of the most prolific prophets of God’s people, has a word for all of God’s people, those of the North and the South; those of the Left and the Right; a word for those Then and for us Now!
Advent is our Journey toward Christmas
- It is an upward climb up the highest mountain, with a the greatest view
- The path is a process with purpose and faithfulness.
- Instructions are for the world and not the reverse
- The Word of the Lord is from Jerusalem for the world to hear, see, believe and trust
- We have a judge among the nations
- The judgment will be working toward peace and not war
- The work will be transformational
- Everyone in the house, listen up and be ready for the journey
- It is time to walk in the light.
I have enjoyed many hikes in my life. The memorable ones were not easily accomplished. The same will be true for our spiritual journey this month. We are tempted to take the ride up to the top or look at someone else’s photos taken at the summit but we are cheating ourselves from the hike.
Isaiah’s call is to follow the path.
There are times that the adventure is off the beaten path, but the spiritual path toward finding Christ born afresh and anew in outlives is found following God’s path.
God’s path follows
- the wisdom of prophets
- the messages of angels
- the call of faithfulness, and
- the steadiness of trusting God to be revealed in the process.
There is not a shortcut in spiritual growth.
Our Task is to make Peace
We know Jesus is the Prince of Peace and if we are following Christ’s path, it will be a journey of peacemaking.
It is worth great note that Isaiah is addressing a divided kingdom.
The answer is not for the northern or southern kingdom to yield to one or the other, RATHER
BOTH are to yield toward God’s heart
The witness of doing God’s Work revealed in Christ is to TRANSFORM the elements of the
battle into implements of building, feeding, clothing and healing the nations.
We have witnessed a great day of rivalries in the college football world this weekend.
- It is easy to take sides
- maintain traditions
- cheer for our team
- and boo the enemies
- It’s a fun legacy of honoring alma mater and celebrating traditions
But it is just the opposite of the work we have ahead of us as those looking for Christ.
We begin in the HOPE of peace.
Before HOPE is fulfilled for us in CHRIST, begin our work of TRANSFORMING the things that divide us so that we are less apt to resume a battle if we are not preparing for battle.
We have friends whose child just got accepted to UT, the mother is an alumnus of Vanderbilt, she was lamenting the wearing of Orange. We reminded her that she could wear White and Smokey Grey and still show her support as a loving mother.
In the weightier matters of our lives, we see the division of politics and the best place to transform the weapons might be social media. Avoid the public responses that brand and shame, and find ways to communicate one-to-one in ways bridge rather than promote the fight.
There are times that we are scared, threatened, challenged, inconvenienced, tested and even attacked and out self-preservation is to return the attack or withdraw. Nations become divided when people stop treating one another with respect and trust. Instead of working toward the same goal, selfishness wins.
The church is divided over selfishness in the name of God. That is actually blasphemy
The nation is divided over power in the name of Good. That is delusion
When families or friends are divided over agendas. That is polarization
Blasphemy – Delusions – Polarizations have NOTHING to do with the path of God’s Kingdom.
The Road to Christ
is shedding the tools of fear and brokenness
Transforming these talents for those that build
Trust in God, A quest for God’s Heart and the unity that ONLY God can provide.
We celebrate these being made clearest and nearest through Jesus Christ.
First, Start climbing, spend the time, words, relationships, and tools we have on God’s path and not our own.
Confess our sins, fear, brokenness, selfishness, shame, and journey together
May the first week of December/ Advent be transforming ourselves to become God’s implements, God’s people
- God’s prophets,
- builders, and
- all those who know to stay on God’s path of Light.
This is our HOPE to start the climb.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.’ ” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. [NRSV]
- Not a business trip,
- Not a vacation,
- Not a luxury,
- Not even a mission trip,
- Before Doing No Harm and Doing all the Good, it is the maturing of the Spirit of God within us.
- Studying, prayer, fasting, listening and waiting for God.
- But a necessary beginning point for ministry and faith.
Work of Nurturing Spirit within Us.
If you ever ask, “why am I so weary, worried or stressed?” think about the last time you devoted serious time to spiritual retreat.
- The first lesson Jesus models is to be a strong spiritual person we need serious time for spiritual preparation.
But there is more.
Not only do we more often say to ourselves: “I don’t have time and energy for spiritual training, I did that years ago, or I will do that later.”
But when we invest the time, is not going to keep evil from confronting us.
We are preparing ourselves when evil, temptation, hopelessness comes our way.
2. The second lesson Jesus models is that Spiritual Training doesn’t help us avoid evil, it helps us confront evil and temptation.
Spiritual Training makes us ready for
- On the last day of a month and a half spiritual journey, Jesus is hungry. Jesus is wrestling with acceptance. Jesus is contemplating his use of power.
- The scope of the temptations takes him from Judea to Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, thus matching the three journey of Jesus’s ministry that Luke will recount in this gospel.
- The weight of the three temptations ranges from small to medium to larger.
- The reality of the three temptations was personal to Jesus’s condition, opportunity and position.
- The thing about dealing with temptation for us is that it is equally personal, timely and as dangerous for us as it was for Jesus.
The SCENE: Evil shows us in our life and says: You are not getting what you deserve. You are not loved, attractive,
Fairness, Belonging, and Responsibility.
3. Jesus models listening to the voice of evil. We can’t live to hide and avoiding temptation. Jesus could not and neither can we.
On three particular fronts, Jesus is tempted.
- How far can I lie to myself (Jesus was physically hungry, but his training was to trust God to provide.)
- How can I fool my family and friends (Jesus knew God would provide, His training was to test himself, trust God and not test God.)
- How can do what I want, use my family and friends and have the world at my feet. (If you and I have the power of God, how would alter physical and how far to test.)
Jesus doesn’t believe the twisted truth, lies, fears and threats, but he listens to know what the issue behind the words.
The devil asks him to use his authority to serve himself.
- He was hungry, justifiable.
- He was at the end of the journey, cut some slack, not going to be legalistic. and
- No one will find out, only you and I will know.
The devil was asking:
- serve yourself first
- you can bend the lines
- It’s all about you.
If we listen to the lies, twisted words, fears and threats of temptation, NOT BELEIVEING THEM but hearing what is at stake we can make better choices about faithfulness.
After listening Jesus speaks/acts:
4. The response Jesus models for us is to trust scripture to speak to us and tell our actions.
With every temptation, Jesus draws on scripture to tell and frame
- One does not live by bread alone
- Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him
- Do not put the Lord your God, to the test.
40 days of Bible study, prayer and spiritual training, gives the opportunity to get familiar with scripture to allow God to speak through us, to face evil face-on, with the authority of God.
DANGER: It’s not using scripture as sarcasm to cut down our enemies, it is allowing God to speak to our enemies and let God deal with them.
God speaks the Love, the Truth, the Power, the Life, the Hope. Let temptation deal with God.
How does Jesus deal with evil
- Spiritual Training
- Preparing to Face and not Avoid Evil/Temptation
- Listening for the truth about the voice of Temptation
- Speaking God’s word instead of My words
- Take these next forty days to read the Bible, as much as you can study
- Take the next forty days to pray for the church, your faith, all the politics of the world, all the economies, all the fears
- Take the next forty days to as the framework as a training program. Service, fasting, forgiving, singing, etc.
- Take the next forty days to name, name, write down the things that temp and test our faith personally. seek out verses that speak to them.
- Take the next forty days to prepare for Christ to live, speak and love through you.
- Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
When I face temptation: I need to hear God speak through
Romans 8: 31-39 If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God is with us, in Jesus, in 30 AD in 2016 AD, in politics and poverty, in school and prisons, in church and walmart, GOD IS WITH US, ALWAYS.
Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
I’m as fickle, afraid and as vulnerable as grass blowing in the wind, and so are the opinions, polls, and agendas, but GOD IS EVERLASTING, GOD, is not tired, weary or uninterested. GOD WAS, IS AND WILL BE.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I can’t do anything on my own, but if my strength and endurance are in God’s, I can do all things.
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. [NRSV]
The car I most often drive has over 271,000 miles registered on the odometer. I wish they were all business miles because Uncle Sam would allow me nearly $150,000. While many are work related, some include trips to the beach, Braves games and a 30 minute glimpse of the Grand canyon. A good many reflect trips to the grocery store, school events and gatherings with friends. But the bottom line is that every miles is part of many journeys with many people where the Love of God, the Grace of Jesus Christ and Power of the Holy Spirit have carried me. My hope and prayer is that I have used those opportunities to share these very gifts with folks along the way. Otherwise I have wasted more than gas and insurance.
As difficult and unsettling as it is to uproot and change churches our appointive system allow me to great opportunity to journey here to share God’s love, Christ’s grace and the power of the Spirit as we share our lives together. For half a century I have been moving and sharing a journey of faith. All those previous miles and experiences have lead me to this very moment.
But let me be clear: as happy and excited as we are to be here in ministry together, I am not here because of what I have done, rather I am here with you because what God has done for me and through me.
In our text today, Cleopas and his wife are walking on the road from Jerusalem toward to village of Emmaus. Three years ago I had the opportunity to walk along that path. I can’t say it was the very spot where Cleo and his wife were talking to Jesus but I was powerful to imaging sharing the same road. The text describes the seven mile walk as one filled with grief and disappointment.
The passage is one of my favorites. It is an Easter passage. The risen Jesus Christ is present but not recognized through the perspective of grief and disappointment. These are emotions and experiences that we all share at different times throughout our lives. Not may of us are shepherd or fisherman or tax collectors. but all of us experience broken hearts, lost dreams and unrealized hopes.
The passage is also about a two of the ordinary folks, not the chosen 12 or main characters of the temple court. Instead we have two family members who found themselves caught up and invested in politics and religion and they are heading home focus on what they lost.
How familiar? How many people within 2o miles of where we sit at this very moment can’t see the forest for the trees, this very morning.
Jesus meets them on the road, in the middle of their journey, sharing the witness and power of the scriptures, using the occasion of their loss and detachment as a time to reach into their hearts and bring them to the table.
At the table.
My grandmother always had a bring round oak table at her house. My maternal grandfather was ousting me from his familiar chair at the declaring he was king of the castle and as such he was at the head of the table and only he was to be seated in the throne. (Halmark never call him to play the part of grandfather of the year) My grandmother called me to the kitchen. She told me about her table, explaining that it was round. And many chairs could fit around the table and that everyone who had a seat at the table was seated at the head, because they had a place they were welcomed to break bread together.
So we could let grandman think he was whatever he wanted to be because the table was for us all. it is in the blessing and breaking of the bread that Cleo and his wife see what they had bee missing all along. The Risen Lord.
This is the work we share now and until Christ return. As long as our bodies hunger and thirst. We are called to share Jesus and the scriptures along the journey and through the meals and prayers. This is what we are saved and charged to do. And so it begins a new chapter of the journey for us together.
We will do many things together in this place for the glory of God and the strengthening of our faith and fellowship, but we do so for work outside these doors. Where our paths cross. Where our ideas and opinions differ and are strained. Where our experiences and perspective intersect and even conflict.
It is in these moments that we help one another and even strangers come to find Jesus lives and reigns for us. The story and scriptures are true and they are lifted up that we might have faith, hope, joy and new life together.
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.
21:5 When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. “But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.
This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.
You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. [NRSV]
For some reason I remember one of the lines of actor, Ed Asner, who as an over-worked newspaper editor goes home to get much needed rest tells his staff, “Don’t call me unless the moon collides with the earth.” Well the big story breaks during the night and they call to let him know. He answers the phone after fumbling for the receiver, he says, “Oh my God, the moon has collided with the earth!”
While the news story was big it was nothing compared to the typhon of recorded history in the Philippines. We remembered and prayed for the people last Sunday, just as we did for those in the typhon of Japan 2011, and hurricane Katrina, Andrew or Camile. But the magnitude, not of loss of property nor number of deaths, but the power of the storm ranks this latest as the worst in history.
Not having been on board with Noah, nor sitting around when the Asia and Europe plates collided, this terrible storm has the makings of an apocalyptic storm in the minds of some and surely those in the Philippines have been asking, “is this the end?”
While it has been terrible and tragic, I don’t think it is anymore the end that the storm before or the next one that follows. Storms might be signs but they are not the end of days.
Jesus points to signs of wars, global conflicts, earthquakes and famine. All might be signs, but are not the BIG sign.
SO WHAT is ‘THE’ SIGN?
“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.
When the storms become spiritual and personal and political. Be ready when you are involved.
The UMCOR gives us a great way to know our money is going to meet human needs on the ground when disasters strike, They may not spend the money marketing that good news, but that is our job. The also count on us to tell the story and save the money for the real needs. When you hear of suffering know your church will be ready to serve and give generously to keep this mission alive and strong.
The task we have at home, every day, is to be ready for attacks on our faithfulness, our trust, our core values and beliefs. The end is near, Jesus reveals, when we are being arrested for our faithfulness. The end is near when the powers of authority come after us for standing up for God’s power and grace. The end is near when you are imprisoned for giving to the church, oppressed for telling God’s Good News.
The end is near when anyone gets in the way of your faithfulness. This is not to belittle the great and terrible day of the Lord, but think of the times that we back down before we are called to speak out.
Think of the times that we help back when we needed to be ready to stand up to individuals and governments that water-down our faith.
Think of how easy it is to do nothing, rather than lead the way. What would the crowd who watched Jesus be crucified say before God at their judgement. “Well, everyone else kept quiet.”
The real end of days are the days that we hold back, give-in and keep quiet. The storms of life with come and go. Wars and nations will take their toll on us all. But the one thing that remains:
What are you and I going to do, right here in ‘river city’, to make sure the last words of grace, love and power have not already been spoken.
The occasion of tragedy and persecution become opportunities for us to share, witness and proclaim. Don’t avoid them, be ready to make sure each day is not the last day to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
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.
35:1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 35:2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 35:3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 35:6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 35:7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 35:8 A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 35:9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
5:7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 5:8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 5:9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
The prophet Isaiah describes a highway, called the Holy Way, paved for God’s people to find their way to God. No wandering, not even fools will go the wrong way on that road.
I don’t know about you but I am so grateful for GPS directions. It is not 100% accurate, but it has helped me find back road to get around traffic, helped when my sense of direction is defective, give an example.., so cool.
Guys, remember the days of taking a short-cut hoping it will come out close enough. Now we don’t have an excuse for getting lost… unless.
The database does not include the correct coordinates for the location we want to find. The parsonage shows up on Google at Pete’s house. Hmm.
Isaiah has his own GPS… God’s Promised Salvation!
Isaiah and James point toward the intersection of our ways and God’s way. One of the spelling words I got to learn in seminary was hermeneutics. It is the 50 cent word for preaching… the weekly opportunity of directing traffic of our travel and God’s path in Scripture.
It is Christmas, that leads us to scriptures that teach and remind us of God’s promise to meet us on the road and guide us home toward God.
It is Christmas that is a reminder and a promise that God wants to save us.
But the real question is, “From what do we need saving?”
Hear the prophet Isaiah: The Lord’s highway leads to a place where the relationship Weak hands are made strong.
The first instruction for finding our way toward God comes from those already on the path. That is us, the witnesses of God’s promise and Word.
Tell those who have fearful hearts, “Be Strong, God is near!”
The opportunity Christmas gives us is to tell those people who are:
Afraid of loosing jobs, homes, business, “Be Strong in God’s strength.”
Afraid of illness, pain, death, “Be Strong in God’s strength.”
Afraid of failure, loss, loneliness, shame, Be Strong in God’s strength.”
It is a word of encouragement to someone, giving directions without judgement, from the perspective of Salvation…
Come this way is safe, this way is sure, this way is strong.
What keeps us from telling others? “Weak knees.”
Isaiah, tells that meeting God is the strength to the fear of reaching out to others.
Why not reach out?
We are busy. They are busy.
We are afraid, they are afraid,
We are un-prepared, they already know.
We don’t care, they don’t think we care.
Hear Isaiah’s witness.. God has a highway, room for everyone, not a narrow path, but a great seven lane highway
Where wandering… folks just enjoying the Blue Highways, sight seeing, who are more lost than they realize:
On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing, but those brevities just before dawn and little after dusk, times neither day nor night, the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in trough, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and its that time when the pull oft e blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beaconing, the strangeness a place where a man can lose himself. William Least Heat-Moon
Isaiah warns that God’s highway of salvation is even open to the wander.
Isaiah comforts to say that even the fool, can’t get lost following God.
Definition of FOOL: a person lacking in judgment or prudence.
Do you know anyone just killing time hoping to find meaning?
Someone hoping to win the $Billion lottery so they can start living.
Do you know someone lacking judgment about life decisions.
Someone who wastes resources with foolish choices, or
Someone who hoards resources with foolish choices.
God’s Way, the spiritual highway that leads us toward God,
Is a path of certainty for those who wander,
Is a path of hope for the who despair.
Is a road to meaning and purpose
So the passage call for you and me to be a guide, a witness.
Of God’s Highway.
It is great to have those signs that tell us what to expect at a highway’s exit. FOOD, LODGING, FUEL…
What are you telling folks this Christmas, and every day..
Merry Christmas.. Happy Christ Worship.
Still have folks who won’t say, Merry Christmas, like
If someone says, Happy Holidays, ask them, what makes them Holy Days for you? Jesus has come to show us the way to God… is my answer.
PRACTICE: “What makes them Holy Days for you?”
Psalm 1:1 Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; 1:2 but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. 1:3 They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. 1:4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 1:6 for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
John 17:6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 17:7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 17:8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 17:9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 17:11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 17:12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 17:13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 17:14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 17:16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 17:18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Water the garden.— toopsy turvy
fruit in due season — fruit is love, mercy grace
leaves do not wither — signs to measure too wet..
As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
It would be nice to stay near the buffet.
It would be nice to stay near the oak tree base.
Is that where Christ calls us?
It would be comfortable to stay in the bed.
It would be comfortable to be served instead of serving.
Is that where Christ needs us?
It would be safe to mind your own business
It would be safe to keep to your self.
Is that what Christ tells us?
It would be polite to leave people alone
It would be polite to never bother anyone
Is that what Christ showed us?
It would be understandable to hide our fears
It would be understandable to wait for safer conditions
Is that how Christ leads us?
It would be politically correct to tolerate all things
It would be politically correct to look the other way
Is that how Christ stands for us?
It would be acceptable to the world to only look after our own.
It would be acceptable to the world to justify our own will is divine right.
Is that why Christ died for us?
It would be easy to live Jesus back in history or up in heaven.
It would be easy to say it does matter what I do or do not do.
Is that why Christ rose from the dead, for us
Jesus came, as God Almighty & Al-gracious, to show us how to live and love both God and all people…
We live in a SERVE-me environment
We live in the midst of War, Famine, Fear & Greed
WHAT ARE WE TO DO?