Posts Tagged Jesus
2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 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. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 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. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—”I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. [NRSA]
A CLAY JAR
A piece of clay that has been fashioned into a bowl, a mug, or a vase is many things.
- It is an expression of the potter.
- It is more than the sum of it’s parts,
- It is more than a lump of dirt and water,
- It is both durable and delicate,
- It is fragile, yet useful,
- It is one of the precious images Paul uses to remind us, and the churches in Corinth, that we are precious treasure of God.
Clay can never form itself as wonderfully, purposefully, or longingly as can the potter.
This is one of the power messages of Good News you and I must share with a world that hungers for meaning and is willing to create alternate realities rather than simply trust God is that very potter of our lives.
Do you ever feel like a clay pot?
Winnie the Pooh is always appreciative of having a useful clay pot near by, in the hope that it contains honey, or that it will soon be filled with honey.
It is Paul’s pray, and one that we also share, that we remember that we are the clay pots that are
- Filled with a treasure greater than golden honey
- Our time and lives are to maximize the opportunity to share God’s treasure with those we interact each day.
As Clay Pots, there are times we feel like the roughness of a clay pot. One that has been fired by trial and suffering heat or pressure, but has not been glazed. We feel ordinary, worn, or even fractured.
When we focus on the vase, bowl, mug, the body, the bills, the money, the demands, we think our usefulness is measured by the world’s use or uselessness of our lives, INSTEAD of trusting that GOD has determined our PURPOSE and USEFULNESS and fills us with God’s Power, Spirit, Truth, and Grace to transform a broken, fragile, power-hungry world.
- The First lesson to remind you neighbor is this. God makes us.
- The second is that God fills us.
- The third is God desires to work through us, making us the vessel of God’s presence.
The Body of Christ…
- God is more plainly revealed in the life, body, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, showing us that God is in charge, command, and in love with us all.
- God can transform all things to God’s heart and will.
- God can use each of us, no matter the age, style, durability, or fragile nature we perceive.
- God is calling us to be the container.
Our Containers may be
- We are afflicted in every way,
- but not crushed;
- perplexed, but
- not driven to despair;
- but not forsaken;
- struck down,
- but not destroyed;
But here is the Good News: We are carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies
When are we carrying the death and life of Jesus?
- When we feed, cloth, be friends, remember the forgotten,
- seek the lost, search for the weary,
- knock on the table of those who are using God’s name for power, politics, and personal gain.
The old American Express slogan, “Don’t Leave Home without It” is just a good of a reminder that everywhere, in everyday, in every situation, we are the useful pots, the containers of Jesus for the world.
The Hitch in the Get Along
- The catch is, we either don’t believe this to be true everyday,
- We take it for granted and think it is something we can pick and choose to share , or
- We don’t trust God’s power, word, and heart.
For weeks I have ask you to pray for someone that you can disciple, and share your faith. On one hand it is a poor attempt to suggest that there might just be one person, when there are thousands within our areas of influence that we would dare pick one. But this is just the thing:
Most of us don’t use the powers and gifts entrusted.
We are more focused on protecting our own pot, our own body, our own stuff, our own problems, and we miss the point of “God with Us”, Emmanuel, the Good News, the treasure that is entrusted us to share.
Which leaves us with the question to URGENTLY answer:
If you and I are those God is expecting the share the Good News, what do we have to report?
Why do you say URGENT, hasn’t it been thousands of years since Christ arose and might it be a thousand more? It might, but not for me and you.
We do not know the number of our days.
“ Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”
- How many conversations about the weather and politics can we waste talking with one another about what is certain instead of what is perplexing?
- How many trips to work and town to do something necessary that we do not reach out to those who are afflicted with the blindness of what the world has to offer.
- How much breath do we withhold in an effort to avoid persecution, social shaming, and ridicule?
- How many times do we take a stand and risk being struck down for doing what is right for the kingdom of God?
Thank Goodness Paul is only talking to the church in Corinth and not the church in Rock Spring, Georgia! (Oh but his words touch us all, in all time, ALWAYS.
Speaking of Always, let’s compare Sunday afternoon to Eternity.
- What is the most pressing thing we have today?
- What is waiting for us in this week ahead that we are responsible to do, lead, or complete?
- What can be placed on the back burner, or until we have more time, money, energy, or feel more like it?
I have an idea for social media this week:
Instead of posting the usual, or just reading others post and liking or skipping them. Let’s use this powerful tool to share a more powerful message.
- Let’s share how God is at work in our lives
- Share what songs and verses are guiding your day.
- Share what conversation are drawing others closer to God
If you are not only social media, get on the phone, in the car, our out in person and start telling story, sharing the treasure, resume feeding and clothing, visiting and making friends in Christ, start knocking on hearts and heads, ask people how you can pray for them, how God can bless them.
- Use these clay bots that we are
- And share the treasure that God has invested in us
- And transform the world and tell the good news…
Because keeping quiet is not the method that is working very well.
If we stay silent, if we keep it too ourselves, it is as if we only an empty, useless pots and that is not at all what God has blessed, saved, calls, nor expects us to be.
Are you with me? Let’s stop focusing on the pot and sharing the treasure we’ve already got.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [NRSA]
You are witnesses of these things.
This is a helpful story of repetition to strengthen our faith. This is yet another time that Jesus appears after the resurrection. And his purpose is the same as before.
He greets them with the breath of the Holy Spirit and the presence of a Holy Peace. And again they were terrified.
Why are you still frightened? Why are you still afraid? Why do you continue to have fear and doubts?
It is here that we can join with those disciples as disciples today and Jesus asks the very same of us!
Again Jesus offers the signs of his crucifixion, his side, his hands and his feet.
The next verse nails the point we know too well: “While in their joy, they were disbelieving and still wondering.”
We gather in the good news of the power and truth of the resurrection. We celebrate, we sing, we rejoice, we find comfort in our gathering to worship and praise, and in 30 mins we will hesitate in making a faithful choice or decision. We will ignore someone we should have reached out to help. We will have talked through when we should have listened. When challenged we will justify our thoughts and behaviors are just, kind, and righteousness, and not listen to our neighbors.
To further prove Jesus was not a ghost, a vision, or the collective fruit of their imaginations and hopes, he asks for something to eat.
Those who have died have no need to eat.
Those who are spirit only do not hunger or thirst. Here. Jesus is spiritually filled AND yet hungry. And asks for food!
David Brennet, The good Jewish, Italian, or even Southern mother we force anyone who comes in the house to eat, even if they have eaten, say they are not hungry, get a plate of food, if you say you are hungry get a feast.
Jesus says he is hungry.
Proof that he is alive and in full human/Divine form. This is the foundation of the covered dish dinner Jesus asks for food and the bring what they know best, fish.
This appearance Jesus not only gives assurance and proof he reminds us of the
Then he said to them,
1. Let’s knit the lessons of the Old Testament and the promises of prophets and laws of Moses to see the fulfillment of God’s word and messengers.
2. He opened their minds to the scriptures, this is not our understanding of being “open minded” as much as it is to read and heard Gods work with both fresh ear and deep faith, to see Gods new message is not actually new,
3. Hear the Good News in the Hard Truth. Explaining the cross and the debt for sinus’s been paid.
4. Go call for repentance and forgiveness in Christ name.
5. To all nations, starting at home.
What verses of the Bible do you turn to when you are teaching someone who is becoming a disciple they explain who Jesus is, what Jesus has done for us, and what God is expecting us to do as the living presence of Christ?
Shout them out loud! What are you shy or don’t know where to start? We have one job and we have clouded it with what entertains and pleases us in worship? We worry about light bills and building maintenance. We focus on what time we ga5er at the church…. none of which in itself teaches discipleship, none of it completes the assignment.
Church is calling a sinful world what it is and inviting us all to become what God has intended from the beginning. What God makes possible when we have messed things up in our lives, when we have handed authority of life anywhere other than to God…
We start in the closest circle and head for the ends of the earth.
Where to start
Below are ten passage I invite you to study, learn, memorize them or memorize where to find them when you need them. Feel free to add more, but start here as a set of tools for the work of disciplining
Dad bought me a socket set to work on my first car. A car that I paid $300, drove 100,000 miles and sold for $300. I’d love to have that Impala back for $300. 8 miles to the gallon, no air, and ugliest green you have ever seen. But I could work on it. I had the tools, now my Tahoe is in the shop 9 days and has a team of folks stumped.
I need someone with the right tools and experience. When it come to discipleship we have the tools, and we have the presence of The Holy Spirit, the power of Christ, and all it take is making the experience possible for our neighbors, and then the rest of the world. It won’t happen sitting in worship. We’ve got to get busy, cause Jesus is coming and what are we going to show when he gets back.
Key verses for Discipling
John 8:31–38: So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
Matthew 28:16-20: Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
2 Timothy 2:1-2: You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Luke 9:23-24: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
John 13:34-35: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [NRSV]
DISTRACTED BY MANY
It does not take much to distract me.
2. Recent Study on ADHD from Fox/Reuters 14% boys and 6% girls
3. Article: Fascinating Email Facts and Statistics
Statistics, extrapolations, and counts by the Radicati Group found the following:
- Over half of the world population uses email in 2019.
- The number of worldwide email users is expected to grow to over 4.3 billion by the end of 2023.
- The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023.
- DMR has curated these other fascinating tidbits about email:
- The first email system was developed in 1971.
- Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails.
- The click-through rate for email sent in North America is 3.1%.
- The average click-through rate on desktop computers is 13.3% and, on mobile devices, it’s 12.7%.
- The average amount of overall emails opened on desktop computers is 16%, on mobile devices is 55.6%, and on webmail is 28%.
- The Apple iPhone email client is used most, followed by Gmail.
- The open rate increases by 17% when the subject line is personalized.
- Forty-two percent of Americans admit to checking email in the bathroom, and 50% do so while in bed.
- The average open rate for retail emails is 20.96%, and for political emails is 22.23%.
- The top spam content category in 2017 was healthcare, followed by malware.
- The top reason U.S. internet users unsubscribe from email lists is, “I get too many emails in general.”
- 99Firms has its own curated list that includes the following facts:
- Despite the rise of social messaging apps, 78% of teenagers use email.
- A majority (62.86%) of business professionals prefer email to communicate for business purposes.
- Ninety percent of workers check their personal email at least every few hours.
- Email click rates increase by up to 300% if a video is included.
- The best times to send email are 10:00 AM or between 8:00 PM and midnight; the best days are Thursday and Sunday.
- Funny top 10:TOP 10 REASONS PEOPLE DON’T RESPOND TO YOUR TEXTS
 The person really doesn’t like you.
 They are getting back at you for ignoring one of their text messages.
 They find your text message dialogue really boring and are on social media looking for something better to distract themselves with.
 They are playing mind games with you, full well knowing that by keeping you waiting for a response will cause you bitter frustration and they get a kick out of it.
 They are lazy and don’t respect you enough to respond to you.
 Very rarely, but some times, their battery dies. This is usually an excuse……go back to reason number 5.
 Some people work for a living, get off their back! They are WORKING… smarten up, the world doesn’t revolve around you.
 They just installed the new iOS and lost all their contacts (yes, even your precious contact info). They don’t recognize your number and are worried that your text might be from that person they gave their number to the night before.
 They are upset with you and decide to be passive aggressive with you instead of facing the problem head on up in a mature forward thinking fashion.
… and finally… did you actually check to see if you pressed send after you finished writing your emotionally charged message? This is the worst feeling ever and really makes you look at yourself as a super self-centered individual, realizing that you are the only one to blame for getting all upset over nothing.
- 50% of the world has an email account. 86% USA 17% read more than 3 second/per.
- 97% who have cel phone carry them with them. 62% ignore half of their text
- How long before we begin speaking in response? 200 milliseconds
THE NEED FOR ONE THING
The one thing is being connected to God. We do this in many ways, but its the one thing.
Mary is choosing to focus and listen
Martha is choose to control, prepare, define, assume, look from martha’s perspective and not Jesus’s
CHOOSING The BETTER PART
The better part are the choices we make to be
- unplugged from TV and politics,
- unplugged from working when we need Sabbath Rest.
- setting down the technology and to-do lists and listening to God so that we don’t miss God in our presence, in our homes, in our daily moments.
Action: moving toward God through worship, service, and devotion
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]
CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUR OF ROCK SPRING
- The power of doubt
- Consumption of assumption
- Oh little town of Rock Spring,
- Nathanael, the product of Peter and Andrew
COME AND SEE
- Come see with your own eyes,
- The shepherd saw the angels but said to one another, let us go see for ourselves, what has been told to us
- Thomas who had not yet seen Jesus raised from the dead, told the others, I will not believe until I see with my own eyes
- The invitation is for tag team invitation for people to come see.
- The greatest showman is a wonderful new musical that is a great movie even if you don’t ususally go see movies, it is worth experiencing. Is about PT Barnam’ seeing a dream come to life, loose it, and being reminded that joy can be found through people who love and trust.
YOU WILL SEE HEAVEN OPENED UP
- Peter and Andrew promise Nathaniel that he will see heaven open if he goes to see Jesus,
- That is what it means to find Jesus
- It might. It be coming to church, the music and events, the ministries and activities, but it is through these people and the relationships we share that the Kingdom of God can show up
- Some folks will tell you they don’t like church because all they talk about is money, or the Christian people gossip, lie and stab each other in the back, these are folks who have seen people WITHOUT Jesus
- The challenge is to strive to share Jesus and not ourselves. Or at least not sharing our selves without Jesus opened up and visible.
You hold the keys to heaven, who will you keep out? Who will you let in?
- So this passage holds our model:
- Have an encouragement accountability partner,
- Reach out to the people we know and meet
- Invite them to come see Jesus at work in our lives, in our worship, ministry, fellowship, etc..
Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [NRSV]
The World is divided
Politics, Religions, Football Teams and Left Twix or Right Twix. Have you tried having a meaningful conversation about the hot topics of the day?
- You either talk to no one and TRY to avoid the conversation and grow cynical and isolated?
- You surround yourself with like minded people for comfort and protection.
- We dare begin the conversation because we think we can change someone’s mind and end up fueling fires we didn’t intend to start or
- We love starting arguments because we enjoy bullying, shaming or agitating people.
I suggest we need to show the world an alternative to the division. Hear Paul’s challenge and calling to do just that:
Paul writes at the opening of his letter.
- His first letter,
- his first matter,
- his most important point is about agreement and division.
He urges us to think about how we define ourselves.
- I’m one of Chloe’s people
- I belong to Apollos,
- I belong to Cephas
- I belong to Paul
- I belong to the original member core
- I belong to the newbies
- I belong to this Preacher or that minister
- Well, I belong to Christ, with a self-righteous tone of judgment.
Paul’s Letter begins with a Super Nanny Interruption.
You know the Super Nanny, that British nanny that sets up cameras throughout a frustrated parent-child home and observes and then lays down the new laws to correct the dysfunctional and divided family.
Paul’s Letter begins laying the hammer down on what divides us.
- I will tell you what divides us?
- It is not Christ that divides us,
- WE divide ourselves
We are being called to take responsibility for what divides us.
- It’s not social media
- It’s not tv and politicians
- It’s not elections and conversations
- It is what is cooking in our own hearts, mind and souls.
Paul’s call is #1, first step
- Stop with the groupings.
- Stop with the interest groups.
- Stop with the privileged class, stop being in the victim group.
#2, Second Step: Remember the Goal,
- Same Mindedness
- Same Purpose
As an aside, one of the things I love about this passage is Paul’s (wasteful misuse of paper in writing his rambling thoughts about who he did or did not baptize in the middle of a power challenge and stern instruction.)
Number #3, Step three
Personal Question of Faith and Self-Reflection
What does the cross of Jesus Christ actually mean to you and your life?
We are studying the Apostle’s Creed as a historic listing of points about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the church. But there is a core question that is at the heart of any statement of beliefs:
What does the cross of Jesus Christ personally mean to you and your life?
When we have come clinging to the power of the death and resurrection as our only hope and salvation, then we have a place to reflect on our differences.
Facebook proves verse 18 to be true. “The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but a power to those being saved.”
When we start talking to another person, we might heart lovely words about Jesus, but sometimes the words are a
- noisy gong,
- empty platitudes,
- self-righteous memes, or
- “the correct answers, without listening to the questions.”
Let’s be clear about step #3:
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus died for all your mistakes, sins and failures?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Died for your times of pride and arrogance?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Offers himself in your place in judgment?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the face of fear?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Promises to stand with you in the fiery furnace?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Gives your strength in the face of persecution when you are trying to be faithful to his example?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Encourage and empower you to see the best in others?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Divides us into groups, camps, parties, etc.?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Calls us to bully and shame one another as long as in his name?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to continue sinning and testing?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus Wants us to act nice when we are together, but ponder evil in our hearts?
- Does the cross of Jesus Christ mean that Jesus excuses us from avoiding evil and confrontation because we are uncomfortable?
- What power does the cross of Jesus give your daily life?
If you don’t have an answer, then we have found our place to start.
We will not find agreement, one mind, one purpose until we find the POWER of the cross.
Paul calls on Chloe’s people, people of Apollos, Cephas, Paul, Rock Spring, Peavine, D.C., Chattanooga, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, and every nation and tribe.
God offers us the power of true hope, complete salvation, and confidence to see a way out when we have closed our hearts, our minds, and doors.
If you are ready to claim the power of Jesus has for you, for our church, for our country, for a world hurting and divided. We let go of control and commit ourselves newly or renewed, Take my Life and let it be filled your power, your word, your love, your truth,
Your hope, Your Peace
And Jesus leads the way from there.
Paul’s call here is for the faithful, the church, not the unbeliever. His task is to make sure the GOSPEL has a POWERFUL hold on our hearts.
Ask your neighbor: Do you know the Power of Jesus Christ
- IF they say yes, say praise the Lord
- If that say no or I’m not sure, say, let’s talk
- If they don’t say anything, then say, Today’s the day to “get of the pot/fence” and live in Christ.
- When you hear division: Call on Christ to heal, protect and bring solutions.
- When you see chasms of thought: Think what does the Cross compel me to do or say.
- When you experience a brother or sister remaining quiet and not backing you up, ask them if they want to know more about Jesus or are in their silence are they choosing someone/thing other than Christ. Now is when the world needs the cross.
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? [NRSV]
The primary role of the prophet is NOT to tell the future. Job number one is to help the people and the king see the present as it truely is. The present without the bias, without the spin, but will all of the honesty and frustration that the people and the king are trying to avoid or blow out of proportion.
Start with the weather: Who can be our prophet today and tell us the weather conditions today? Hot! How hot? Dry or Wet? How Dry/Wet?
What does knowing the current conditions tell us about what we do this afternoon or tomorrow?
Measurement and Standards
How do we measure current conditions?
In matters of faith we turn to scripture and read it through the Ben Franklin glasses of National Treasure fame. One lense shows the traditions that have shaped our past. One lens reflect what our God created brains tell us through reason. One lens opens our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit in our own experince. No one lens is stronger than the other and all three are directed toward our understanding and encounter with the Bible as the holy Word. True comes when we are willing to use all three lens as we read, listen and respond to the bible.
We have other measurea in our standards, but scripture through these three perspectives is our greatest tool.
Using the Tools for Good.
The reasons we gather for worship are not only to praise God, but to learn the traditions of the church, experience the work of the hold spirit and spark our inspiration to learn and grow together.
The reasons we have Sunday school and small groups is not just to socialize, gossip and drink coffee, but to share our journey of study and reflection, practicing our ideas, suggestions and standards before we must act on our faith in our daily lives.
The reason we reach out to feed, cloth, comfort, build, repair, heal and be-friend others in Jesus name is to practice the faith that is in our minds in the real needs of the world around us.
- If we only had worship we would never grow our faith.
- If we only studied and shared our minds we would never see faith in action
- If we AND those we serve only served others we might forget why we act the way we do.
When the Signs Call for Action
A Baptism of Fire and Compelled to Complete it.
This passage shows a moment of frustration from Jesus. I have a mission of cleansing, purifying, renewing, and restarting and I wish you would see what I see.
Conditions of the Present Age:
- Are people divided?
- Are people so committed to their own convictions that they have quit listening to others of different views?
- Are people hurting for real hope?
- Are people more dependant on the government solving problems than turning to God?
- Are the churches reflecting the Body of Christ as God’s presense in the world?
- Where do we get our information?
- Where do we connect with God
- Where do study, reflect and practice our faith?
- Why do we think continuing without changing our method that we will find away through?
- What is our call to action?
Take the Field
As the Olympics begin to fade, the beginning of football season is about to break open. I would suggest that the average person knows more about thier favorite team and leauge than they do how to transform the division in our communities and hearts.
We come to worship to practice connecting with God. If there is someone you know who is not here, connect and bring them next week. Connecting others with God is the best way to connect with God.
I believe we might not feel ready to connect someone with God because we have not been present a practice or not had our heart in the drills. This is why we have Sunday school and small groups to prepare us.
I asked two weeks ago for someone to answer a call to pick up the lead of our Feed My Sheep ministry and in the past two weeks no one has stepped forward to keep this powerful ministry alive. In this present time of people hungry for the love and hope of Christ, is this the time we keep safe and quiet?
We live in a place where we are called to get in the game knowing we need more practice and preperation than time allows. We take the faith we have been given, in the grace we have been clothed and step in where and when we would rather not go and reflect Christ.
- Otherwise, we are not the church.
- Otherwise, we remain in the place of frustration
- Otherwise we are only people of mind OR tradition OR expereince..
- (Jr Bird Man finger lenses)
Tell you neighbor, you look goofy like that, but I know you are showing me Christ.
I’d rather show Christ than lead you astray.
Let’s take the field together, the clock is running and we don’t need a delay of game.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. [NRSV]
Capitalizing on the Word
Annually throughout the 1990s, crowds of over 80,000 of faith and proof seekers gathered in Conyers, Georgia to visit the site of Nancy Fowler’s home each October 13th for a visitation from the Virgin Mary. In the area of Conyers, signs began to post in Chamber-of-Commerce style reading: Visit Conyers: Eat, Drink and See Mary. Drawing on the text from Luke’s gospel capitalizing the entrepreneur spirit of the text.
Even now, instead of seeing, hearing and experience Christ among us, we might settle for a crowd with generous pockets instead in place of visit with Jesus.
This text opens forcing Jesus, in the role of Moses or a rabbi, charged with settling matters of inheritance. The request is for Jesus to resolve our financial disputes when Jesus is interested in preparing our spiritual selves.
I recall a moment of misdirected attention on my very first mission trip. While visiting a home worship service, of one of the seminary students from the Juan Wesley Seminario, one of the neighbors began speaking in tounges. This style of worship was not a tradition of our mission team, and one of the group leaders insisted I take photos to show the Rotary Club, the Men’s and Women’s groups and others who had helped fund our trip. “That picture will be worth a $1000 for our next trip.” Somehow a moment of personal worship was being transformed into a monetary moment. (I took several photos, but they were all blurry when I developed the film.)
Why Leave Home to Serve?
With every mission trip, there are always those who asked, suggest and even demand: Why don’t we take care of our neighbors in our home neighborhood before we go giving away our money, time and resources?
The answer is simple: We are a community of people with ample goods. We have the ability to feed and clothe our neighbors here in Jerusalem AND help neighbors in Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
Sometimes the travel outside our communities to serve allows us the perspective to “practice” what we can continue in our home communities. If we mess up, strike out, and just plain fail where we are not known, we are less likely to give up trying at home. Those who know us best are too often the quickest to judge and criticize our efforts.
And finally, the risk that we take to serve is the place we experience measurable growth in our spiritual practice. This week our Culebra team was starting work on a project where we assumed proper communication had approved the work before we arrived. The ‘homeowner’ had not received the message we would be digging holes in their yard and building a pole barn over the rusting old bus/van they used for a home. What would you do if a team of foreign folks began digging holes in your yard? There is a risk that cross-culture and language barriers are not working.
Taking the RISK to Find Christ
Entering someone’s home with the intention of sharing the love of God and not fulling knowing the language you need to speak, call for faith to override the situation. That is risky business.
We are a month away from when we would like to resume the Feed My Sheep Ministry but we need someone to take charge of that ministry and deliver or build a team to deliver the food, or that ministry will come to an end. That is a risky place to put the meals our neighbors who have come to depend on that meal.
We are weeks away from packing backpacks, will we have enough food? Enough money? Enough volunteers?
This lesson of the barn and bigger barns reminds us that we have the means and the persons to do all these AND even more.
Jesus’s work to disciples like ourselves is not to worry about ourselves, our opinions, our limitations, our excuses and focus on what God CAN do through us.
Risk Taking Service: Is doing whatever it takes to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house, comfort, support, nurture, remember and stand with those who suffer.
We need persons willing to deliver food. If you have a vehicle and a license your barn is big enough.
We need persons willing to pack, buy and hand out food. If you can do these tasks, your barn is full enough.
We need people who will go to Culebra, and other destinations where we can share the living Christ, your barn is full enough.
OUR Barns are Full Enough
Turn off your political filters.
Turn off your speakers that sound off, “I can’t do something like that.”
Turn off your “I’m too busy.”
Turn to your neighbor and remind them, In Christ, your barn in full enough.
In Christ, your barn is full enough.
Christ calls us to serve those around us and the world.
Our barns are full enough to serve.
Therefore, go and do likewise.
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for, in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. [NRSV]
Who knew Gene Roddenberry was as a fan of Galatians?
The Star Trek cultural iconic uniforms that allow for individuals to be known for their role in the community by the color of their uniform not matter their origin, citizenship, nor gender.
What if the clothes Christ places on us, rather than the garments and cultural markers we self-define one another?
- What if those who wore blue were known as healers.
- Teachers, Grower and Designers in Green
- Administrators and Safety persons in Golden Rod
- Builders, Helpers, Support persons in Red
- Orange for those who Harvest and celebrate
- White for those who are wisdom and faith-sharers
- Black for those who comfort and counsel
Known by the clothes of Christ.
- Some would work to discover what Jesus wore and tried to replicate first-century apparel. but that would miss the mark of the text.
- Some would be looking at the blended areas of overlap where roles cross in different situations and contexts.
- Some would not like the color assigned and protest
But think for a moment, what if we wore the gifts, graces, ministries and presence of Christ as we wear our clothes.
It surprises me that the first question that people ask about ‘my/our’ church is about our dress code. Not that we have a formal dress code, most folks would want folks to be ‘in’ the fellowship with us no matter what close they might wear.
But we follow that with a few qualifications, even if we don’t say them aloud:
You don’t have to wear a coat and tie or dress, just be clean and neat.
We live in a time when folks have extremes about clothes, fashion is a billion dollar industry for nearly every price point of our society.
We also have a culture that would rather buy or receive something new than wash and care for the clothes we have. How does this culture connect with our being clothed by Christ.
One Time Use for Christ
- We wear difference clothes for different occasions.
- Jesus Clothes us for eternity.
- We wear something for a season
- Jesus Clothes us for eternity
- We wear something until we wear it out or outgrow it or tired of it.
- Jesus Clothes us for eternity
- We wear something so people will respond to us in a certain way.
- Jesus Clothes us for God’s Work
- We wear something to wear to work
- Jesus empties himself and wants to work through us
- We judge and value by what we wear
- Jesus loves who we are with nothing to show
Walter Wangeren Jr’s Rag Man short story invites us to allow Christ to clothe and mark us for service.
People will misuse this passage from Galatians to say that whatever group society might divide and define us is acceptable, but a closer listen to the whole message of Paul’s letter and his message about Christ defining us.
Look in the Jesus Mirror: Who does Jesus See “in Me?”
Does Jesus see me as Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, tall or short, etc. Jesus sees me as I am, and no matter how the world defines me, Jesus sees me as:
- Worthy of his life
- Worthy of his grace
- Worthy of his ministry
- Worthy of his service
- Worthy of his praise
- Worthy of his devotion
The things that we use to limit and divide, Jesus knows, Jesus is not blind, but Jesus sees in us far more than we might see in ourselves.
Paul’s invitation is to see each other as Christ see us
- see each other as Christ sees
- see the value Christ sees in us
- love the persons Christ sees in us and in one another.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered,
because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.‘ [NRSV]
Prophecy: In the last days..
Jesus instructed the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit, Comforter, to empower them. In Acts Chapter 2 we see the Holy Spirit Revealed. Peter begins explaining the scene in the context of the prophet Joel. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples this would be in last days.
Remember how Peter had the great idea to build monuments on the mountain of Transfiguration to remember Jesus, Moses and Elijah being revealed. God interrupts and says, “Listen.”
Remember how Peter promises to proclaim Jesus, even to the point of death and Jesus corrects him, no you will deny me three times tonight.
Remember how Jesus hears the Good News of the Resurrection from Mary and does not believe her, but runs to see the tomb for himself, and leaves not finding Jesus, only the empty grave.
Peter selecting a less than accurate passage from the Old Testaments prophets to make sense of the tounges of fire and the understanding of the Good News through different languages.
The Joel passage is similar to what Peter, the disciples and the great crowd of strangers experience that day. The part that Peter points is the Spirit’s presence being revealed through, men and women, slave and free, young and old.
Some say they are drunk on milky grains, new wine.
This festival, celebration that has brought the crowds into town is also known as the Festival of Weeks. This celebration was a way to serve God by bringing first fruits, the early crops, and waiting for God to provide the full harvest, as a remembrance of when Moses came down from the mountain with the law, the ten commandments. .
The youngest, most tender grains of wheat, barley and fruits like grapes and apples. These would be cooked with the old leaven or yeast and set aside to ferment. At the end of the countdown of seven weeks of seven days, the following, 50th, day would be ‘Pentecost, the 50th day.
So it would not be unreasonable for some to say, the disciples had been drinking the new wine, the freshly fermented beer, cider or wine.
The disciples had not been drinking but they were filled with something else:
The Holy Spirit.
God’s presence was poured out like liquid flames, resting on the disciples, similar to Moses’s burning bush event.
Another mis-understood part of the passage is about speaking in tongues. Actually the text suggests that they were speaking Galilean but the hearers from different regions and foreign lands, heard in thier own native language. Some translations go a step further and say they heard in their own hearts.
So Much for the History Lesson?
What do we learn about the Spirit as a take-away as modern day disciples?
First. The Spirit moves like the wind.
2nd, The power is revealed when they were all together, not a solo event.
3rd, The Spirit worked through the disciples, The disciples were vessels, hose pipes, conductors, channels, God uses to reach others.
4th, The Spirit choose the moment and venue
5th. Not everyone will understand or receive, but those who do, find God alive and at work through our willingness to serve.
Pentecost: A Season of Service
The Weeks of Counting: Are a call to serve God in the weeks ahead.
Our response might be: But school is almost over, it’s vacation time!
It is time to remember God calls us together
It is time count the ways God guides us. Review one commandment a week.
It is time to be available for the Spirit to work through us
It is time celebrate God is will with us. We are spiritual people, saved through Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Young and old, Males and Female, Oppressed or Oppressor, God is in Charge