Posts Tagged Meaning
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. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [NRSV]
One of the foundational keys of being United Methodist is faith in God’s Word, spoken and revealed through ordinary people. The people, lessons, foundations witness those who are willing to listen and share God’s Word.
We listen to scripture as God’s word through lenses and filters.
- Scripture is heard and experienced through the context of all those who have read, studied and listened in years past. We call this the voice of tradition or theology.
- Scripture is heard and reflected through the grey matter of reason. God has created each of us with a mind, powers of rational and logical thought. We call this voice of reason.
- Scripture is heard and conveyed through the presence of the God’s Spirit in our own spirit understanding as a spiritual being. We call this voice of experience.
The heart of Methodist living in the scriptures includes all three of these filters.
- For those who state that they read scripture literally, they are making assumptions that are based on using only a filter of tradition OR experience.
- For those who state that scripture is read only in contrast to science and mental reflection, they are only using one filter of reason.
- For those who state the interpretation is weighted by the church’s historical voice or even the church’s majority voice, they use only one filter of tradition.
- For those who state they reading as non-denominational, non-traditional, rather personally inspired alone, they ONLY draw on the voice of experience.
Each of these independent ways are good, but incomplete without all of them together. This complete view of scripture is at the heart of being Methodist. Keep this in heart, mind and spirit as we look, listen and share this mornings reading:
The message of the cross is foolish to those who:
- remember the cross only as a history lesson
- try to explain away the extreme of sacrifice or
- or are turned off by the gruesomeness of crucifixion
Remember it is through all these that the cross becomes a sign of power, love and victory.
Paul is talking to the folks at the churches in Corinth, but as part of the church now, Paul continues the power of tradition for us.
As a practical matter: Sharing our faith is something that we are called, commanded and empowered to do.
But not every attempt to do so is fruitful.
- We could talk about Jesus everywhere we go and most folks will just call us that crazy person that talks about Jesus all the time.
- We could think about Jesus and work out a great thoughts for our own understanding and no one would ever hear a thing, for all the work we have done.
- And We could wait for the moment that it felt right and connect only in an emotional way that is empty of spiritual power.
Consider doing all three, together.
For to only follow one method is foolish..
Take for example our financial stewardship and giving..
- If you talk to some people about tithing as a duty and a faithfulness of following scripture, some will listen and following the challenge.
- For others, you show them a few pictures of children that are hurting and lack and show how a few cents each day will transform their suffering.
- Some are moved by guilt, shame or fear to give because you can’t out give God.
- Still others need to see the balance sheets and of the organization, the estimates of the market place and find ways of saving through giving.
But the whole power of stewardship is some of each of these, but it is rooted in a radical and extravagant love that is willing to do whatever it takes to build a loving relationship with us.. and once we find that kind of relationship, stewardship is our automatic response and expression of love.
John Hayes, my OT professor loved his multiple choice questions. Most ever test had 100-150 multiple choice questions and all of the had a 5th choice: E) all of the above or none of the above. What if:
- Signs are important.
- debate is important
- wisdom is important
- discernment is important
- politics are important
- geography and culture differences are important
- Understanding and sharing the cross of Jesus Christ call for E) All of the above.
The Cross of Christ is God’s eternal gift.
- some folks are not ready to see its power
- some have forgotten the power it held
- some have decided it’s not theirs to carry.
Paul is saying, most simply: it is foolish to live with vanilla when Hershey’s dark chocolate fudge brownie and pistachio-mango-strawberry-swirl give you a better balance of what ice cream can be. Knowing, Living and Sharing the Christ of the Cross takes our whole life.. not just Sunday..
Homework: It sounds foolish, but eat three radically different flavors of ice cream (unless you’re diet or health are endangered, then try three different flavors of what is in your eating plan) Three scoops or three spoonfuls. Or three different fruits, two of which you don’t usually eat. As you taste three different bites ask: What if fruits only tasked like raspberries and never like water melon? What if I only at Brussels sprouts and never tried fried green tomatoes?
What if I were foolish enough to try all three? What if we are foolish enough to think there is on our time, our understanding and our perspective?
25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. [NRSV]
The Cost of Discipleship: Hate your family and carry your cross. How many of you want to sign up?
- The Cost of Discipleship: A building project that needs to be completed
- The Cost of Discipleship: A Battle as the underdog, who had the options for seeking peace.
- The Cost of Discipleship: Give away all your possessions. Who is left to follow?
Why so strict and exclusive?
Disciples redefined: Family comes second to Jesus. Still a hard saying but think of the covenant faith in the context of Jesus’s day: In his context: People would say, we are part of Aarons’ family, we are covered, we have connections.
Jesus redefines family as those who love God as our core family rather than automatically our biological family. (Be clear: I’m not saying that every thing under the umbrella of church should come first, but our relationship to God supersedes all others.
If that is not hard enough, Jesus redefines our self-worth. God does not measure us with a profit and loss statement. It is not about our wealth or debt. It is not about our good works or our sins.
Jesus calls into question first the relationships and then the things that we confuse our: 1 confidence and trust, 2 our value and worth, and 3 who’s work drives our lives.
Jesus speaks of carrying ‘the’ cross. The cross is the sign of ultimate self-less gift of placing all else down and picking up the very thing God calls us to do.
Often we define my cross is different from your cross. The catch is that the cross is neither mine nor your cross. It is God’s work that we carry.
- Have you ever wondered if we took these words literally that the church would not be struggling for members but would the greatest force for good?
- Have you ever wondered if we took these radical and extreme forces of guiding our lives that we would be free from so many rules, fears and limitations?
- Have you ever wondered if we took Jesus at his word in these basic actions, that we would see the same powers, healing, transformations, and life that Jesus shows?
We are quick to water them down. We excuse each other trying to make it easier on each other.
The two mini parables Jesus tells in the context of discipleship are about the process of building and the gift of discernment about choosing our battles.
These are the HOW TO part of this disciples lesson.
If the requirements are outrageous, so should be the ways to faithfully follow
First, as a building project, our life as a disciple is built over time. It is not immediate. Even the Apostle Paul with is conversion on the Damascus road, is transformed from passionate life of rule following, through a radical blindness, to see that the rest of his life was God and not his own. The progressions of faith in his letters give witness to the depth of faith that builds over time. The letter to the church at Thessaloniki addresses problems and disputes. The book of Romans his latest letter is thick with faithful thought and practice.
Second, discipleship is learning the wisdom to choose our battles. There is more than one way to show our faithfulness. We need to be cautious when were here there are four simple truths or seven habits or three priorities that sum of our lives.
We may have core values, but how we use those basic beliefs shapes us in 360 degrees.
The So What? Bottom line
Jesus makes it clear:
Discipleship is not easy, but it is worth seething through to the end.
Discipleship is about constant choices about our relationships, possessions and spiritual compass.
The challenge is for the church, filled with disciples to transform the world for Christ.
How we do it is not easy, but it is worth seeing it through
It calls for constant choices about our relationship, possession and spiritual compass.
Invitation to read “Remember the Future” Bishop Robert Schnase
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
In answering the question: What on Earth Am I here for? We have learned that we are here because
- God loves us, we are here for God’s pleasure
- God desires to hear from use, we are here to worship God
- God wants us to belong, we are here to fellowship with God’s people
- God wants disciples, we are here to become like Christ
- Today, we will talk about how God has shaped us for SERVICE.
Are you a minister? If you said no, that not me, then I tell you, you are not a Christian.
I will ask again: Are you a minister? Did some of you say, “maybe..”
That’s an open door to start our conversation.
Everyone who is a follower of Jesus, everyone who is a disciple, a member of the fellowship of God has been shaped and formed and is here to serve.
That is your ministry.
Most simply and clearly we see Jesus’ life as a model of a servant’s life.
He value of his own life is seen in how he lived with others.
The value and meaning of life is not determined by how LONG we live? How quickly we learn? How well we gather wealth or success. God values how we use the life we are given.
Some folks will take many years to come to a place of seeing the power of life is not in the stuff we want, make, buy or claim. Rather full life is seen in HOW we live.
Look at Jesus.
- When he saw someone who was poor, he didn’t try to end poverty, he gave his time and shared himself with others.
- When Jesus was with someone who was sick, he didn’t bring and end to all disease, he gave God’s power and blessing and was present with those who suffered.
- When he was with those who lived by the rules and laws and system, Jesus healed on Sabboth, ate with sinners, broke customs to include women and children, he invited men to leave their homes, businesses and follow him.
- When Jesus was with someone he was in their presence, even when they did not recognized they were in the presence of God.
We are not called to BE Jesus, but to live in ways that we become LIKE Jesus.
We are not called to be perfect and right, we are made to live life LIKE his lived his life.
In homes and in the garden, in the temple and at the wedding party, at the seat of government and at the feed of children.
One thing to be certain, the moment we realize that God wants us be ministers and we have a plan, you can PLAN for interruptions and the need for a new plan.
The very time we choose to be present in our life and the lives of others, OUR plans will be challenged.
Not challenged by the devil as much as interrupted by the widow, orphan, family member or legal authorities.
This was key for Jesus, but he models that the ministry must be flexible.
My ministry is to inspire, challenge, inform and equip you for your ministry.
If there are those who answered the question, Are you a minister with a “NO” not me, then my work is not done.
How can be a minister?
Jesus called disicples with different talents. Some were good with business, some money, some had connections, some had sales experience, some were parents, spouses, and business partners. Some young, old and others were busy working others intently listening.
Jesus calls us to use the gifts, talents and experience we already have and bring those to the table.
Our life is filled with differing perspectives. We don’t all think alike when it
comes to conservative or liberal,
Krispy Kreme or Dunkin,
Hunts or Heinz,
Early or Late,
wealthy or poor,
short or tall
What we are here to do, is to LIVE a life, LIKE Christ has shown us, with what we have on hand.
Remember the child that shared the sack lunch that fed thousands by the sea? God uses what we bring to the ministry that is at hand.
- Your ministry might be to bring the sack lunch
- Your ministry might be to distribute the pieces
- You ministry might be to clean up after the crowd
- You ministry might be to go ask Jesus
There are plenty of folks who will send the problems away
Call for the crowds to take care of themselves
Look to limits of what we can provide
These are not ministries; these are ministry killers.
Ok, ok, so I’m a minister, “How do I do, whatever it is I’m suppose to do?”
Look to our verse from Ephesians:
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
God has already provided for the needs in this world. There are minds ready to discover. Bodies ready to give strength, Feet ready to move the impossible. Hearts to love and forgive. Spirits to empower and dream.
God has already been at work bringing us to this moment; this place and time.. what we can do RIGHT NOW is made possible by what God can do with those of us in this very place.
Know God has you here to be a minister
Know Jesus shows us what it looks like to LIVE out ministry in our lives
Know God expects interruptions, questions, mistakes and failure along the way.
Most of all: Know YOU are the handiwork of God for this world, and the world needs God through you.
You are shape to serve God… live the LIFE God has designed for you today.
Eph 2.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, [NRSV]
As we study Rick Warren’s, “What on Earth am I here for?” We have looked two of the pieces that help answer this question. First we learned that You and I are are planned and made for God’s Pleasure. We were not made by chance and we were not made for our own design and own reasons. We are the product of God’s reason and pleasure. Today we look at the reality that You and I are created for family. Not just any family, God hopes we will choose to be actively part of God’s own family.
As difficult as it might be for some to imaging, not everyone chooses to be part of God’s family. God wants us all. Some people choose other paths and beliefs and that does not make them God’s family in Christ.
The church is not an organization. It is not an institution. The church is not a club or a location or non-profit entity. The church is the spiritual family of God.
Paul writes in his letter to the church at Ephesis 1.5 that God’s unchanging plan is to bring us into family by adoption through Jesus Christ. God wants us to belong and makes a way for us to come into the family through Christ. John 1.12 reminds us that through Jesus Christ we have the privilege of becoming a child of God.
With belonging to the family come family responsibilities: The number on priority of family responsibility is to learn to love everyone else in the family.
I have heard folks say, “I can love them, but I sure don’t like them.” Most often this is not a true statement. If we mean to say. “I can love them, but their behavior makes it difficult for me to be near them.” It can be a true express of our relationship, but it is not a true definition of love.
Jesus called for his disciples to love one another, just as Jesus loves us. He calls us to do this not to make us happy or at peace, but for a reason beyond our own. Prove that your love one another as my disciples so the world will see the power of love and want to join the family as well.
The Christian life is about learning how to love.
Last week I suggested that Sunday’s are a practice day for living the other six. Today I suggest that we think of our church family as a laboratory where we practice and experiment loving someone other than our selves and those in our personal genetic and marriage families.
Christian Fellowship is our lab work for the world to check out.
If we learn to love those in our church family, it will shape the rest of the world, from now own.
Today we will look at (4) four levels of fellowship:
1. SHARING Together
Sharing together, fellowship of sharing.. starts with sharing
sharing conversation, food, shelter, etc.
met together constantly and shared everything
The disciples spent time and stuff together, “in common.”
fellowship takes time and practice
Iti s a choice that we make: choosing to share time and life with other folks…
SMALL GROUPS ARE ULTIMATELY IMPORTANT
Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, let us encourage one another Hebrews 10.25
No church building for 300 years… all met in small groups in homes.
Open you home, and you let people in your life..
We share Experiences/Events and Sorrows Rom 12.15 Share your joy and sorrow.
When you gather, each one share something sing, lesson, story, prayer, insight, dessert, no one taking over, and you will all 1 Cor xx..14
2. Fellowship of Belonging together
KOINONIA” being committed to one another as we are to Jesus
Fellowship with each other as equal heir, child, person in Christ
Belonging is the difference in dating and being married, watcher vs agent of change.
You are members of God’s very own family and you BELONG in God’s household with every other Christian.
without a church we are an orphan without a home, no shelter, no home.. without other people you can’t do it.
rom12.5 we who are many belong to each other…
Belonging is not OPTIONAL.
The person who loves God must love other believers
Love your spiritual family
Taking the STEP of COMMITMENT of BELONGER, not just follower
3. Third, level of fellowship is SERVING together.
Deepen love in marriage, friendship, start serving God together, partner for a common purpose.
You love grows deeper when you rely on one another.
Example : Combat Veterans… last a life time.. What happen to keep them so connected? Serving together on a common task comes from no where else.
a. God never meant for us to serve alone.
b. We are partners working together for God 1 Cor for 3.9
c. You get more done
d. rely on each others strengths and over come each others weaknesses
e. If we don’t worry about the credit, more will get done Eph 4.16 each part does its work
4. Finally, FELLOWSHIP OF SUFFERING TOGETHER
When you share a heart ache, and walk along side someone without judgement, you will be closer together.
I makes us more human to share suffering
It is unifying
A community after disaster come together to rebuild
SHARE EACH OTEHR TROUBLE SNAPROBLEMS AND IN THIS WAY YOU OBEY THE LAW OF CHRIST
Love your neighbor as your self.
When you serve you do your part but when you suffer together you share your heart.
Help HANDS-ON someone in pain… learning how to love people who are suffering… GRC
Relationship are more important than accomplishments, achievements, success, money,
Life is about learning to Love
Wasting life if we are loving people in pain
Learning to love God : Worship
Learning to love others : Fellowship
PART of CHRIST BODY
if one suffer, all suffer together… if you have a tooth ache, your whole body knows it.
Be devoted like family member
Family lasts forever…God’s family
1 John 3.16 — We know what real love is,..we ought give up our lives for each other.
Our sacrament today is Holy Communion: Where Jesus invites us into this unique relationship once again.
At this table Jesus meetings with fellowship around a meal
We SHARE A loaf and cup
We BELONG because we are invited
We eat to be equipped to SERVE
We remember and share in the Christ’s SUFFERING with our own sin and pain.
Come Join the Fellowship! With Jesus and all the children of God.
Prayer: I’m making a choice to belong to a church and small group.. Im gong to be a belonged not just a believer…
Teach me the meaning of real love.
2:10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.” 14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
“Its for the Children” – Not for the angels but for God’s children
“It’s a Family Thing” – Became our brother and sister”
“Loved, even though Known” – Merciful and faithful High Priest
“No One Made Him Do It” – by choice of love, Sacrifice of Atonement
“You Mean There is a Test?” Help for the test.
Theme: Addressing the Christmas Question: Why was Jesus born?
2:13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
The evil of the world will not stop that Glorious Love of the One who made the world.
Not Childishness, Not Favoritism, Not Sin, Not Blame, Not Failure
63:7 I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, because of all that the LORD has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 8 For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely”; and he became their savior 9 in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.