Posts Tagged Salvation
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. [NRSV]
Three perspectives about sin:
- I determine my reality and morality, you are responsible for your own.
- I occasionally sin, but not the “big ones” and if I do Jesus will get me out of hot water.
- I am a sinner, but Jesus covers me with Grace, so its ok to continue to do as I please and let Jesus step in when I need him. (Oh, that’s basically the same as number 2)
- I am a sinner and no matter how hard I try I will continue to be a broken vessel, in a broken world, and totally rely on God’s grace in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to renew and guide me, every hour of every day.
Most of the world lives with the confidence of option number one. I am the master of my own life and sin is either the infraction of a moral code or the ignorance or carelessness of someone else.
First John is a letter appealing to us in our weary state of sin to remember that sin is more than breaking rules, disobeying the law, or having anything to do with our definition of appropriate behavior.
We Confess Our Sin
Genesis 1:27 asserts that we’ve been made in the image of the Creator. Like God, we have the capacity to love and care, to communicate, and to create. Like God we’re free, and we’re responsible. We’ve been made, says Psalm 8, “a little lower than God” and crowned “with glory and honor.” We believe that the entire created order has been designed for the well-being of all its creatures and as a place where all people can dwell in covenant with God.
But we do not live as God intends. Again and again, we break the covenant relationship between God and us. We turn our backs on God and on God’s expectations for us. We deny our birthright, the life of wholeness and holiness for which we were created. We call this alienation from God, sin.
A distinction should be made between sin and sins. We use the word sins to denote transgressions or immoral acts. We speak of “sins of omission and commission.” These are real enough and serious, but they’re not the essential issue.
The issue is sin in the singular. Sin is our alienation from God, our willful act of turning from God as the center of life and making our own selves and our own wills the center. From this fundamental sin, our various sins spring. Sin is estrangement of at least four kinds:
Separation from God
Sin is breaking the covenant, separating ourselves from the One who is our origin and destiny. It’s trying to go it alone, to be out of touch with the God who is the center of life. Based on the story in Genesis 3, the church has described this break in dramatic terms: the Fall.
Separation from other people
In our sin, we distance ourselves from others. We put ourselves at the center of many relationships, exploiting others for our own advantage. Instead of loving people and using things, we love things and use people. When confronted with the human need, we may respond with token acts of kindness or with lip service or perhaps not at all.
For some people and some groups, we’re totally indifferent or actively hostile. Sin is a denial of our common humanity and our common destiny on this one small planet.
Separation from the created order
In our sin, we separate ourselves from the natural environment. Greedily we turn upon it, consuming it, destroying it, befouling it. As natural resources dwindle, as possibilities increase for long-term damage to the atmosphere and seas, we pause to wonder. But our chief concern is for our own survival, not for the beauty and unity of all God’s creation.
Separation from ourselves
We turn even from our own center, from the goodness, happiness, and holiness that is our divinely created potential. Sometimes it seems that there are two wills warring within us. As Paul put it, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).
Paul continues: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Like Paul, we discover that we are powerless to extricate ourselves from sin. Though we work ever so earnestly at various means of saving ourselves—being good, going to church, reading the Bible—these in themselves cannot save us. Sin is not a problem to be solved. It’s our radical estrangement from God, a separation that only God can heal by a radical act of love. We yearn for this reunion, this reconciliation, this redemption, this salvation.
From United Methodist Member’s Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006), pp. 74-75
Sin is the reality of three important pillars/foundations:
- Sin is I think and act in ways that separate me from God and God’s people.
- Sin is the evidence that I am choosing and behaving in ways that distance myself from God and others.
- Sin is the evidence that I am not trying, working, trusting God to ‘save’ me in my daily life.
These correspond to the three rules of what it means to be a United Methodist:
- Do no harm
- Do all the good you are able to do
- Practice being in love a loving and trusting relationship with God and the people of God.
We live in a broken and sinful world.
- When people, groups, governments, cultures, businesses, families, parties, agenda organizations, classes, families couples, and individuals declare and decide they know a better way to order and understand our self, our world, God and all in the universe that is OTHER than God’s design and purpose, we distance ourselves, we move away from God and this separation is sin.
Not all sin has the same immediate consequence, but all sin is a movement away from God.
In God’s grace, we have the ability to repent,
1. to acknowledge that we are wrong, incomplete, not the designer but the created, and we choose or ‘re-choose’ to follow, trust and seek God’s way. Turning away from our own strength, heart, soul, and mind and affirming our reliance on God and the people of God who are also following God.
Repentance is our way of returning to God, move from separation from God, moving back, thinking back toward God.
While we might need to repent every day. The hope in 1st John is that we might not continue to sin the first place
The Three Rules of Methodist Theology are intended to help us keep from sinning.
- Do no harm
- Do all the Good you can
- Participate in worship, studying, and serving and practicing the things of God so that we continually grow, moving and living in God.
The great divide in our culture is who is on the ‘correct’ side of what God is doing and believing and revealing.
We look at scripture as our first and primary resource. Jesus is our best example and our means of repentance and grace we discussed above.
Jesus preached to groups and to individuals without regard to sin, rather because all are sinful. God is revealed and shows up in Jesus because we are separated from God.
With every person, who comes to Jesus, or Jesus reaches out to be with, he accepts in sin, forgives, and calls them to sin no more.
God loves us no matter what, and is ready and willing to forgive us, but expects us to not living in the safety-net of grace.
Get back on the high-wire and live life fully, trusting God to be the source of balance, force, and function.
The three rules are simple enough to learn and remember, but built into them is the affirmation that we know without God, we are lost in sin/ we are separated from God, our purpose, our meaning, and our fulfillment.
- If someone says that don’t need God, they likely don’t know God and cross the boundary into resisting God’s grace.
- If someone says that DO need God, they try to trust God at times, but generally, wing-it their own way until that breaks down or becomes overwhelming. [ The need to practice the three rules is key ]
- If someone says that need God but are not reflecting God’s heart, they may be saying or thinking they need God but are further over the boundary from God than they suppose.
1 John is affirming that Jesus is working on you, and me and all of us and the whole world.
Keep in mind that Jesus offended many people, ‘followers and ignore-rs.’ [Our culture is lost in the murky waters of what is offensive to the destruction of us all.]
1 John reminds us that Christ is interested in loving, saving and extending grace to us all. —All who will refrain from moving away.
- Is my way of living, thinking, acting revealing my trust of God’s word and God’s love?
- Is my way of living, thinking and acting revealing my self-awareness that without God I am alone and lost.
- Is my way of living, thinking and active revealing God’s desire to rescue and prevent, but not without choosing God’s saving help.
Examples: Am I loving rules more than a relationship with God?
- Am I loving my comfort over your discomfort?
- Am I loving my interpretation compared with what God is about to reveal to me through your faithfulness?
- Am I loving my understanding of love more than God’s word call me to go and sin no more?
- Sin is walking in the dark with saying “I can see fine.”
God is the light that exposes the darkness in all of us, calling us to trust Christ actions AND words.
Our culture is in a relentless attack on the body of the church, the scriptures, and the understanding of what God’s will and purpose for us truthfully is.
There is a collective and corporate sin, darkness leading into darkness for fear of the light. For the light of Christ may reveal that those who love without the Word and those who trust with Word without love are both wrong.
Back to the three rules:
The first two are directed toward our personal actions, how we love and avoid hurting.
The third is the affirmation that the Bible, the church and the traditions of the faith filter and keep us away from sin.
The key is not to keep one or two of the rules to faithfully balance all three.
- Am I faithful in following Christ?
- Am I a sinner?
- Am I a United Methodist?
Practice all three rules and you will find the grace of Christ drawing you toward God and your enemies in love. This is the measure. God is not only interest in you, God longs for us all.
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..
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “ [NRSV]
Shootings, terror incidences, oppresses and abuses!! It feels as if each day brings terrible news of violence and tragedies. We either struggle to renew our claim to hope or add to the calluses built on the previous tsunamis of chaos and generations of apathy.
But from these witnesses of evil we look and hope for the good. We hear people ask:
- Is the racism of the systems that cause police to unjustly do their jobs or is it the lawlessness of thug culture to blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
- Are we to blame drugs and alcohol, those who produce and traffic them, or those who use them for the death and mayhem associated with their abuse, or those who stand by and watch to only direct blame? Which is the evil and which is the good?
- Are those killed as victims of holy wars made especially righteous for their martyrdom or are they only casualties of evil. Where is the good? Are we safe? Are we Saved?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- Why do bad people seem to get away with anything?
- Why do the good die young?
- Did those faithful and innocent folks loose salvation because their deaths were tainted with the evil acts of an oppressive government? This question, like those above are put to Jesus for understanding:
A Question, An Answer. A Warning, and a Parable.
Jesus is asked a question. He gives a straightforward answer. He adds a warning and teaches with a parable.
- Is the life of a faithful person of more value than the life of a criminal?
- Is the life of a victim more important than the life of an oppressor?
- Is the life of an innocent person of more worth than the existence of a thug?
- Is the life of a politician worth less than a… well you know what I mean.
Jesus gives an answer:
Are you ready? The answer is.. No!
Not complicated, not filtered, not qualified, no need for interpretation. Just, No.
No the life of the innocent, the victim, the faithful one is no less valued to God than the life of the criminal, the oppressor, or the thug.
- Which leads to Jesus’s warning.
- Our salvation, value/existence are connected to our relationship with God in this life.
- WARNING: Worry about repenting more than blaming.
- Worry about grace instead of rules and laws
Focus on God instead of yourself or anything that leads you away from God.
Crazy Questions: This warning leads us to ask questions:
- Are the Jews Going to Heaven?
- Are the Muslim Lost?
- If someone has not been baptized are they saved?
Answer is not about words and thoughts as much as it is about actions
Jesus answers with a WARNING:
- Were they trying to live a life that leads to God?
- Can you look at their lives and see God at work in them?
- Were they working with the hope of finding God?
- Were they working to assure themselves an entrance ticket or a relationship with God?
- Was God an add-on to a host of things they did?
- Was God the reasons they woke up live and lied down to rest?
- Are you more worried about what you can’t control
- or more assured with what God CAN control?
The Warning: Don’t live or die without repenting.
REPENTANCE: Turning one’s life toward God’s heart.
- Repentance is not about the words we speak and the thoughts we think
- Repentance is the fruit of a searching heart
- Repentance is the evidence of our struggle toward God and overcoming evil.
- Repentance is active, observable and gives at witness to others and encouragement to ourselves.
The Parable: Jesus uses a time of worry, fear and evil as a time for faith and fruitfulness.
The Fig Tree
It should be cut down, but it is not, because the gardener has patience and grace
The prescription is for intentional work, nutritious effort and waiting for fruit.
The Goal is fruit
- The Process is Grace
- The Danger is to
- Not work
- Not Study, Struggle and Share
- To end up empty
- This is a day to work on the relationship
- This is a day to study, pray, serve, forgive, love, teach, question, grow
- This is a day to look for the presence of God bearing fruilt
- If there is not fruit, the get to work.
BECAUSE: No fruit waists the soil, wastes the trust, wastes the grace, wastes the time.
- The question is not about are we saved?
- The question is God’s presence obvious in my life, thought, words, and actions?
- The question is what am I waiting for, if not for God?
- Are the things and thoughts that consume me, bringing God closer to me and closer to God’s people, or not?
- If you don’t see the fruit, get to work, add some fellowship, worship, study and service and wait for God to work through God’s process.
Begin by the act of spiritual inventory:
Do I need to repent? Do I need God? Want God? Have I got it covered?
Ask your neighbor: Where do you see God at work in my life? Tell your neighbor the truth because their salvation weighs in the balance.
Or keep to yourself, mind your own business, assume the best and stay away from your enemies the best you can… that is not what Jesus said.
Jesus said, the harvest is coming, surly. Where’s fruit? (Where’s the beef? dated, ref)
-When we gather with one another at the funeral home or around the pews at times of shared grieving, we struggle for comfort and perspective and utter questions
-As each day grows closer to the November election, the shouts and rants of politicians and publicists point rear-view fingers of blame, current insults of shame, and future dreams of promise filled salvation for those on their side. Some are compelled to take sides, while others retreat into the camps of apathy and indifference.
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done,
added to them all by shutting up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [ NRSV ]
I baptize with water
- Reclaiming the terms: Dunked, dipped or drizzled
- TELL USE ABOUT YOUR BAPTISM. Giving witness to our journey.
I am not worthy: we can do great things as good folks but without Jesus our value is he whim of popularity or eternity.
- Not the time for Jesus to be shut up. The corrupt government figures tried to quiet and stop the voice of the faithful, but God is not in our government. God is beyond laws.
- Baptism: the first step of many. John’s ministry begins with preparing us for a life with Jesus. Dressed in grace to transform the place.
Reclaiming our mission to baptize the world as the entry point to a life in Jesus Christ. Think of the people who we work, live, play, fellowship or struggle every week: who amount them does not know the power of Jesus living in there hearts?
- This is the year to have the conversations of intentionality and purpose: open our relations and interactions to be ways of revealing Jesus.
- Dont keep him imprisoned in our hearts, sing out the witness, love and presence of Christ. Leave it to guessing people have Christ or be certain. NOT FOR THIER SALVATION BUT FOR OURS
When all through the town,
Folks were snuggled comfy and sound.
All my night guests had checked in,
And I was exhausted and tucked in my kin,
When out at the door the I heard a swift rap,
of the door knocker knocking interrupting my nap.
I sprang up from my cot to see what was the issue,
Couldn’t they read. “NO VACANCIES! We’ll miss you.”
But my old grandpa’s business voice, said clear as day,
“There’s still some money to be made, and bills to be pay.”
So I thought about the stable stalls out back,
I knew there was fresh straw, out with the tack.
“Meet me in the back yard,” I told the young couple,
His wife was expecting; it looked like a double.
The sky was dark but for an enormous new star,
That lit up the night from so very far.
There among cows, donkeys and sheep,
I offered them the last place to sleep.
It was so late; they were wearier than I,
So I left them to rest, until morning came by.
As much as I hoped that would be all for the night,
after a few hours later, the yard was a sight.
Shepherds and sheep had come straight to the stable,
Some were young while others, barely able.
But all reported hundreds of angels in the air,
Singing the world’s savior is born, “Have no dispair.”
Have no fear they proclaimed,
Peace on Earth was their refrain.
It was odd how they left their posts in the night,
They risked losing their jobs, to report on their sight.
I walked out the back and up to the rail,
I saw the young beaming mother, the father quite pale.
But there shown a warm aura of light in the barn
I half-worried about fire and sounding the alarm,
But the numinous, radiant, wonder I saw,
was a life changing scene that filled me with awe.
My Lord and My God was born on that night.
To love and to save and to give us all life.
I went to my front door and pulled down the sign,
I’m glad I made room for my Savior, divine.
As keeper of strangers and travelers and folks,
Mine is the task of lifting the yoke.
I hope that you will find Christ in your way,
to make room for Jesus, who lives still today.
A “Real” Merry Christmas, Jesus is born,
Afresh and anew in your heart, sound your horn. Merry CHRISTmas to all!
JTB with inspiration from the meter of CC Moore
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’ ” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” [NRSV]
WHAT IS GOODNESS?
- Be a good boy or a good girl?
- Act like a good young man or good lady?
- Work hard, follow the rules and do t get into trouble?
- Do good things and you will become a good person?
- Just avoid doing really bad things, get away with being good enough?
- All wrong.
AM I GOOD? GOOD ENOUGH?
- The short answer: no
- your no good, your no good baby your no good
- And no matter what you give up you cannot buy, make, earn or steal
- Goodness is a God given gift
THERE IS GOOD IN ALL OF US, Right?
I trust that is the image I which we are created
GOODNESS IS NOT SELF INTERESTED
GOODNESS IS GOD INTERESTED, GOD FOCUSED, GOD DRIVEN
ITS TOO HARD TO BE GOOD
- WE ENJOY BEING BAD
- No one WANs to be the goody-two-shoes
- No Eddy Haskle faking it when the auority is looking
- I fact there are times WE ENJOY DEFINING WHAT IS GOOD
WHO ARE WE TO DECLARE SOE THING TO BE GOOD, IF IT IS INDEPENDENT OF GOD
JESUS IS DEFINING GOODNESS AS GOD-ness.
Good comes with the persecution
God is Good, so give God your self, your all.
Am I all in?
The reward of Goodness is realized in heaven
- The world will define its own goodness
- Good will not get you into heaven if it’s your own goodness
- So what’s the deal with being good?
- We think and behave is goodness because God is at work in us
- Keeping the Rules for the rules’ sake, correctness is not God’S Goodness
- Keeping the commandments because we trust God reflects Gods goodness guiding us
The time to be good:
- When our team looses. When our team wins
- When face life. When we face death
- When he world says it’s good to be bad, we ask Whatglories God
- When wealth, comfort, fortune, acceptance surrounds us AND when povert, discomfort, rejection, and unfortuent events weight us,
- When we have governments we like and those we dislike, goodness is still defined by God, not politics, agendas nor principles.
So is God my trust, my focus, my faith?
- There are fears of wars, financial crashes, changes of power and culture
- The Question: is it my Goodness that will save or Gods?
- Whomever can save us is the good that we are to follow.
- So don’t follow me. I’m not following you. We are called to trust Good as Gods
This is what the world need to know
Not their they are bad, we are all short of Good if God is not at the heart
Are you telling the world that simple blessing
“God is greatest, God is Good” everything and everyone else will fail you.
Invite Gods goodness to make you Gods own Goodness
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 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 side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas. Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [NRSV]
Who is missing?
After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus went to Jerusalem, just as he said, to meet the disciples.
Judas was missing. Overwhelmed with regret and confusion takes his life and is missing from the circle. Given the events in the garden the disciples would have at least known why Judas might not show up.
Thomas was also missing. Where was Thomas? There is no mention of his absence at the first appearance of Jesus. Neither by Jesus nor the others, Thomas was absent.
What he afraid? Was he hiding? Had he given up? Did he not check his email or Facebook page or maybe his cell phone battery was not charged after a busy weekend. His absence goes un-noted for the moment.
This is one of the occurrences in the church that is just as true today as it was then. If we take a moment and look around at who is missing.
Some folks have recently died and we continue to grieve for the emptiness of their home going.
Others are ill and not physically able to be her or it is hazardous to their health or ours if the came to worship. Other have other limitations that keep them from being in this place.
Some are on vacation. Some are sleeping. Some are working. Some are accounted for, while others are missing, absence and not connected.
Which category did Thomas fit into?
Because we are so focused on our own worship, our own needs, and our own stuff, that we are looking to Jesus for all the help we can get. We make no note of who is missing.
So look around and see who is missing:
Not that we will take away a gold star, no demerits, no red ‘X’ by their name, but think back to last Sunday, where nearly 250 people gathered in this place and this morning, some of those are missing.
Still others were missing last week and like Thomas have come today. Thanks be to God that you are all hear.
Be know it is important that we have our shepherding ministry of paying attention to who is not hear, so that a week, or month , or a season does not go by and we not notice who is not in the fellowship, not in the circle.
Did you ever think Thomas was out evangelizing and telling the world about the resurrection? It is doubtful as he questions the resurrections when he has the opportunity to see Jesus in the flesh.
Thomas want to see the evidence, the proof, the touch and hold the hands and side confirmation, that what Jesus said was true and real.
Here is Good News, Thomas shows up. And, when he shows up he wants to believe. He wants to see Jesus. Jesus wants him to have peace. Jesus wants him to believe. Jesus wants him to know the power and gift of the resurrection is for Thomas too.
Think about what Thomas is asking Jesus
- Jesus who died for Thomas
- Jesus who conquered death for Thomas
- Jesus who rose from the dead for Thomas
- Jesus who came looking for Thomas and Thomas was missing
- Jesus who came looking for Thomas a second time is met by Thomas’s question and challenge.
..I will not believe unless I touch his hand / feel his side.
Despite any arrogance or ignorance: Jesus wants Thomas to believe.
Jesus is going the extra-mile of the extra-mile for the extra-stubborn folks like me… Praise the Lord!
SO Jump ahead to 2015
Jesus has been reveal to us in worship, Word, works of grace and service in his name. He STILL lives..
Why are their folks missing out?
Is there something missing the witness?
Here is a test question: Will your grandchildren (or that generation) know what your grandparents believed? That’s a five-generation spread of 100 years, @20 years.
We all know “WE” believe, but what about those who are missing what we cherish and treasure?
What if folks are looking at our hands and stand at our sides, do they see and touch Jesus when they are around us?
Is something missing?
- Jesus Gives the disciples PEACE
- Jesus Gives the disciples SPIRIT
- Jesus Gives the disciples WORD
- Jesus Gives the disciples Repeat Visits
- Jesus Gives the disciples hands-on
- Jesus Gives the disciples the Church
- Jesus Give the Church the peace, spirit, word, presence, contact and life to share with the world that is missing from the table.
Do you know anyone who has seen the signs, but is missing the:
Peace, Spirit, Welcome, Presence and/or Christ in their daily living? Then you know what’s on your disciple’s to-do list this week.
Show the signs,
breathe the presence and spirit,
share the word,
ask and invite again,
Jesus lives for us and those who are missing.
Jesus is sending us to show the cross and it’s Good News
Jesus is resending us to live the life for the missing.
Who is missing? So get to work.
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]
My Task is to Remind You about Jesus
- Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
- God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
- God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
- God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
- God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.
You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.
- A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
- When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
- Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
- (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)
Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain.
I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery
Did you know in the National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.
Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.
On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.
When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes
When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.
What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?
-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.
How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…
How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.
If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.
Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.
- GOD knows us:
- we forget,
- mess up,
- get in a jam,
- fall off the wagon,
- the dog eats our homework,
- the car breaks down,
- we loose our job,
- we forget to study,
- we miss the deadline,
- we get distracted
- and tempted…
- we sin, big ones and little ones,
- we drift or run..
God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.
- I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
- I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
- I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
- I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given you.
- God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
- God’s grace is not an after thought…
- along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
- God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
- God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
- God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.
This is what Easter message is about.
- It’s not just about Jesus,
- its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
- its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
- Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
- Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.
So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus…
- I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
- I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
- I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
- I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
- I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
- I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
- I hear Jesus in your music and singing
- I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
- I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
- I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
- He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.
So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. [NRSV]
In reading this passage we find no parable or stories, no historical travel plans to orient or date the occasion. This is part of a larger lesson or even sermon about Jesus Christ.
The book is called Hebrews and was most likely written by someone who had excellent writing skills in Greek, who knew the Greek version of the Old Testament but was not so concerned about Jesus being the messiah as much as Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Most High.
The audience seems to be those who might have a mental understanding of Jesus as the Christ, but lack a motivation to have relationship with the Christ. The heart of the book seems to be 4:14 “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”
- Jesus who has been made perfect, [whole] for our brokenness.
- Jesus becomes our source for salvation.
- We connect to this source through obedience.
- With obedience, we can expect suffering.
- Through suffering we can expect to find Christ.
- Therefore, Trust the Jesus with all things.
- In suffering, joy and eternity
So let’s get to the trouble spot: Obey?!
To obey is to respond in direct relation to command, instructions, or restrictions.
WHY? Would we give up our will to choose God’s?
The resume’ of resume’s
- Christ was appointed by God for you and me
- Christ’s kingdom is eternal one, high priest of the order of Melchizedek.
- Christ who suffered for you and me, died and lives for our benefit
- Christ modeled the power of obedience as child of God
- Christ connects us to God as children of God, joint heirs
Bottom line: in a world that is tearing countries, families and lives apart. We need to know our Savior is near!
Melchizedek is this mystical priest that shows up with Abram in the midst of a 4 nations against 5 nations battle, when the larger forces raid one of the nations in the night, Abram takes his trained special force folks at night and brings back the people/families, animals and other possessions and returns them to the king who was defeated. For Abram’s since of justice and restoration, King “Mel” shows up, offers up bread and wine and blesses Abram for his graciousness. (Sound familiar?)
Abram is lead by the creed of grace and is blessed.
It is through the same priesthood that Jesus the Christ is sent by God to give us grace and to bless us in a world that is dividing families and nations and resources.
Why do we obey Jesus?
- Because he has come to us as a Son
- He has suffered for our benefit
He has come to bless us who are fighting and divided
Who needs to hear about Obeying Jesus
- Those who would run from such a request.
- Those who have not hear or have lost faith that Jesus coming to suffer has anything to do with us now
- Those who might have heard but don’t see the personal benefit Jesus affords us.
- Those who are closed to seeing and experiencing the blessing of following, trusting and obeying THE highest of priest. The one who came to seek and save the lowest and the greatest. Me and you.
The Greatest Threat: is to Obey ourselves in the name of God or in the place of God. (don’t fool yourself, God or anyone else)
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. [NRSV]
Before you found salvation
- You were walking dead
- Traveling on a dead end road
- You were like zombies, those who thought the only thing real in this world was themselves, their own efforts and failure, their own riches or poverty, their own reality and rules.
- DON’T Go Back To That Pace!
We once were children of wrath
- You love to push the limits of both God and yourself.
- How many people hate God because one or two people in the church act inappropriately
- How many people run from God because we never explained why God/Jesus/Spirit are vitially important to our own lives (We just hope they see the testimony we live and say nothing.)
- Say that one again: (We just hope folks see our intended testimony of our actions and we teach, explain, tell folks nothing to confirm they got the correct message.) SAVI
But we are no longer on the dead end road.
- We are on the alive for evermore road
- We are on the alive road with Jesus
- We are on the alive road together with one another, we are not alone
- We are on the alive road that is paved with grace, paved with the sacrifice of blame, sin, curse, and judgement that is due us, but has been taken on by Jesus instead.
- Don’t be rude, but don’t get lost in political correctness,
- Reach out to the lost and show them, tell them, plead with them the way of grace in Christ.
- So in at a future time, when we leave this earth and this physical body is no more
- So when Christ returns to claim us and clean things up for the fresh start.
- So at a time in the future of God’s own choosing we can look back and see that God is not nearly as concerned about where we have wandered, as much as God is ultimately concerned about our being with God for today and the time from NOW on.
- God is kind enough to judge us, give the sentence to himself, and restore our relationship.
- For we are what he has made us,
- We are created in Christ Jesus for good works,
- To become the people God has hoped and dreamed we would be
- for the way of life intended from the beginning.
- for the relationship that was at the start, God opens to us,
- because God operates from a bedrock, foundation of love and kindness.
COUNTER Point: There are those who will be so quick to respond.
- Why did my parent or child or sibling have to suffer and/or die.
- Why did God take them?
- From a loving point of view, which would you rather God be interested in your life:
- The absence of a family member for four to forty years or for them to be absent in eternity?
- GOD is not punishing up with death.
- If God is so good and kind, why doesn’t God stop evil in the world? hunger, disease, acts of terror, etc?
- The presence of evil in the world affirm that we still have choice to live for God.
- If evil were removed from the world without our our choice in the matter, then life and relationships would not matter.
iii. The reality of evil is evidence that God is still wanting us to choose to be in relationship with God.
- If I give up to the dead end road and allow evil to consume my heart and intentions and actions, then I don’t need God.
Go back to the key verse, the heart of this passage to the church and community at Ephesus:
***STAR (by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is God’s gift.)
Step you through… Tab A into Slot B:
- 1. Our life and relationships are entrusted to us from God. God made each of us, and declares we are good.
- 2. Before, Christ, you and I were walking dead…like zombies
- 3. We lived like we had no choice and no help.
- 4. Because God operates from Love, God has not forgotten nor forsaken us.
- 5. Evil is still present because God still wants us to have a choice in the matter of our lives.
- 6. By Faith, by intentionally choose to live in God and grow in God, the gift is opened and realized.
- 7. We are in this together. See a zombie, open the love of God to them in kindness.
- 8. God is more concerned about who you now than who you were, God makes us all new.
- **Because God operates from love for us, God takes the time, for settling our crime.
- God love us, the whole world, God waits patiently for us to want to travel with God…
- Q: What road are you traveling? dead end or life transforming?
- Q: People are going on the dead end road and we have news that will save them.
- There are people who are living as though they are not spiritual people in a physical body.
- Do go back down the road that dead ends
- Do go back, Don’t give up
- Turn town God, even at a crawl. baby steps before we run.