Posts Tagged Spiritual
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. [NRSV]
Means, Purposes, Actions
- We are spiritual people living in a physical body.
- I am more than the features and sum of my parts.
- God longs to work through each of us to reach the whole world one relationship at a time.
varieties of gifts, God works is varied, flexible
varieties of services, God services through us
varieties of activities. God is active, unfolding
- utterance of wisdom,
- utterance of knowledge
- ..working of miracles
- ..discernment of spirits
- ..various kinds of tongues
- ..interpretation of tongues.
- We one get one gift, for life.
- There as only 9 from this text
- I don’t have a gift
- What I like to do is my gift.
- If it comes easy, that’s my gift.
- If I don’t like it, it’s not my gift.
The Way Through
- Start where you are.
- Gifts are not measures Spiritual maturity, rather of Gods faithfulness to work through us.
- Be open to differences and changes
God who activates all Gifts
- Gifts are for Gods work through us.
- Gifts are not for personal reward, sorry Joel OSteen.
- Gifts are fore out for the common Good.
Look at the gifts God has surrounded you with right here and now.
This is one of the big reasons to be part of a church, God is working through each of us. Name, claim and reign
Starting point is here and now:
I am a spiritual person of God
God has skills and work for me
Ask a God to activate our SpiritualPowers. Sounds okay, but it’s actually cosmic,!
As [Jesus] came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs. [NRSV]
Building Blocks of the Temple
One of the most well known attractions in Jerusalem is the Western wall of the temple known as the Wailing Wall. It is not first named this for the prayers shared by the millions of visitors, rather because of a rare and miraculous occurrence of water weeping from the rocks. The last time this happen was over seventy years ago.
Over 60 feet is visible and above ground, but the larger portion of the wall is under ground and accessible by tunnels. The largest stone found in the wall is between 500-600 tons based on different measurements and estimations. It is considered the fourth largest carved stone in the world. If you cut it into pieces it could take almost 156 RAM Max Chassis Cab trucks at maximum capacity to carry the mass to the work place.
The super cranes of today lift 2000-3000 tons. But keep in mind 13 of the top super cranes around the world have been designed in the last six years. And even at their current designs require a minimum 400 foot boom and are situated 200 feet away from the object. Large amounts of animal fat (pigs particularly) burns hot and fast and could be tunneled under the foundation and cause the swift destruction from the massive weight collapsing on itself.
The disciples are as amazed of the scope and size of the temple as every visitor to the temple mount is today. As long lasting as buildings appear to be, in one monsoon season, the pyramids would crumble. As a United Methodist Clergy person I have always struggled with forms that ask for my permanent address. I have since given up wondering and now know it is Ringgold, Georgia. Nothing is as solid and eternal I we act like things are.
Jesus gives a basic geology and architecture lesson: look around, all of this will crumble in time, even God’s physical temple. This is why we have a board of Trustee’s to make improvements and repairs to keep this a viable place to worship, fellowship, learn and share Jesus Christ. But as powerful and meaningful as this place it, this is not who we are.
Building Blocks of the Kingdom
Many will come to tear down your spirit.
Many will come to water down your passion.
Many things, people and circumstances will lead folks away from find this house as God’s house.
If you are going to choose what to build up, maintain and nurture: build the kingdom, no matter the temple.
One of the most powerful reports of mission teams that travel to foreign countries or rural parts of our own country is the powerful presence of the Spirit where there appears to be so little, where to physical needs are so great. It seems the Spiritual presence is seen more clearly and with more power and reality.
Destruction of the Temple
Think of the things that tear down our places of worship. There are those in churches around the world that have their building torn down because it is simply present in the community of our enemies.
Jesus was clear that war would come in the life time of the church. Just as the Romans came and destroyed the temple in 70 AD, during the lift time of early disciples. Wars surround and threaten us now. Is this the end? Are these the battles of the end of days? The easy thing to say is, “Yes.” I say yes, because it is a clear and present danger that motivates us to action. As compelling case that we might make that this is it, I suppose that folks said the same in on these grounds in the Battle of Chickamauga, World Wars, on the ground in Vietnam, and for forty years or more in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. There may be 100 years more of wars.
We look back and give thanks for those who have served us through times of war and in the face of war so that we can build back what is hopefully a better world and a better life.
Jesus does not belittle the reality of war, rather saying wars are not the most important sign, instead they are signs that what we treasure will most certainly be threatened and some will crumble. BUT don’t give up on building the relationship that will be eternal.
There will be lean times in the world, but not in the heart of God.
There will be earthquakes and times that very foundations of the earth will shift, crack and fall, but God will never fail.
If our church building were attacked at the hands of terrorist, we sit quietly by and keep the situation to ourselves. (a sarcastic, and foolish thought) We would be up in arms and have every person doing something about it. We can keep the threat at bay, when it’s over the pond.
Eatonton UMC had the treasured story that their sanctuary was spared because it was used as hospital and barn for Union troops. But a hundred years later one arsonist set fire to that building. But the church was not destroyed. IN FACT, it was the transforming act that forced the congregation out of a rut of safety and protection into growth and a renewal of the mission to make disciples.
Endurance of the Kingdom
Jesus’ promise is the kingdom will endure.
If this is the end time, who has your heart and your back?
If this is only the beginning of years to come, who has your heart and your back?
Don’t worry about the end, Focus on the presence of God right now, right here.
Turn to your neighbor and remind them. This is God’s house, not my house, not your house. This is Jesus’ house. The Spirit is in this house.
Turn to another neighbor and remind them. God has your back just like mine. Jesus has my heart, does he have yours?
Turn to someone in front or behind you and remind them. What is leading you astray? What is crumbing in your spirit? For what do you weep and wail?
This is the conversation Jesus is having with disciples, just like us, just as then, Jesus is now..
Communion, All Saints, Signs and Spiritual Satisfaction: A full meal
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. [NRSV]
First of all: Reminder, there will be no homework during the month of November. Just class work..
It is fitting that we check in with this passage on All Saints Sunday. Each year on the first Sunday in November think back about those who now no longer with us, in the body, but are ever present in Spirit in our hearts and memories and join in worship with us from the stadium seats of heaven.
[the eight people you sit with in heaven: The three in front are three people we have looked for guidance who have gone ahead, they lead us to toward the throne. The three behind are the three folks who have looked over our shoulder, pushed and poke us, and clean up after us all our years. The last two people we think we would want to sit next to for eternity on the left and right. So who would want to go?]
In the passage from John’s Gospel he recounts how the people looking for Jesus remembered their heritage, but they missed the relationship with God of their kin folks.
There is an old preacher story about a student who went to his 25th class reunion and went to the professor and re-introduced himself to the teacher and said, “I am Dan Smith, I was one of your students.” The professor shakes his head and reflects for a time and then replies, “you may have attended my class, but you were never one of my students.”
Do we just go to the church? do we go through the idea or Christianity or is there a relationship in addition to the teachings. I have been reading a remarkable book by the Barna Group that has been studying the church in great detail since the 1970s. There study of Christians in the United States recounts that in the past ten years, the total number of folks who profess to be Christians or believe Christian morals are good has dropped from 49% to 39% (Nearly half to almost a third.) Of that 39% who claim the title and wear the name tag when asked, 8% report having their closes friends in the church. Conclusion: We like what Jesus said, not so much about the people who are talking about him. (RSUMC may not reflect this as drastically, but it does speak of the country as a whole.)
One of the greatest fears of growing old in America, and most everywhere, is that we will be forgotten an alone. Who’s task is it to remember our older generation? Who’s task is it to feed and clothe the poor? Is it the government’s responsibility? (NO!) It is our command, commission and calling!
The Teachers Question and Answer session of teaching
Also in the text, is the first question from the people, after Jesus leaves from feeding the 5000 he goes to pray and rest and the people find him and want to know how he got ahead of them.
Teacher how did you get hear ahead of us? God is not to be figured out..
To the crowds Jesus says, Are you only looking for entrainment? a free meal? something amazing to talk about?
Teaching: Work for what the Son of Man will give you. Feed the hungry and poor so they will know God, Jesus, Spirit, things that are eternal.
Back step 1: How do we do the things that you do? What’s the trick? What’s the power? (We are just like you and we can do what you do if you show us. then we won’t be a bother you any more)
Jesus: First you are not seeing God in Jesus, only a free lunch. Second, I want you all to follow not replicate and replace me….
Back step again: If you want us to know you are God, then give us a sign. We know Our story how Moses and the Israelite tribes ate manna, show us the manna! Show us the manna. Show us the proof and then we will believe you like our kin believed Moses.
Jesus: Moses was not responsible for the manna; God sent the manna then, and I am the manna now. I will satisfy your Spiritual hunger.
Q: How often is too often for communion. One of the complaints about communion is 1) Why don’ t we use wine like Jesus did, and not watered down but the good stuff just like Jesus made for the wedding? 2) If we communion too often it will loose it’s meaning. 3) It takes up too much time in the service. 4) It is just a hot-bed of germs and virus waiting to be swapped.
A: 1) Methodist heritage, Wesley didn’t want to promote alcoholism and didn’t want those who struggled with alcohol to be required to taste what was best for them to avoid, just to received the grace,
2) If we eat food too often we will grow tired of eating and will all starve to death because we have taken the meaning out eating food. Doubt it
3) Preparing, serving always take more time and energy than eating. Thank you servers here and every where you are served.
4) More people touched the door handle to get in this building than will touch one of these cups. If you didn’t get germs off the door, your chair or in greeting each other you are no more nor less likely to get germs from sharing the cup.
Heart of the matter. We are sharing the same menu and same ritual that those who started this church and those who gather in the upper room. It just bigger than we are.
5) Too often is not the question: Is it too often to tell my father that I love and respect and admire him? Now that he has gone to heaven, I think about his most every day. Express you love daily.
Our Class work is to come to the table, with each other.and know we join with those in heaven, and those in this place, and everyone who calls on the name of Jesus to feed and fill and satisfy our hearts today.
Once satisfied, we can do all things in Christ who lives and strengthens us..
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?
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” [NRSV]
• Jesus dismisses the disciples before dismissing the crowd. Leaders need retreat and renewal in order to be fit for leadership.
• Just when rest is needed, the A boat battered by the waves, far from the shore, with the wind against them. Strike three.
• Stepping out of perfectly find boat, into the awesome power of storm is the antithesis of safety?? [Jumping from the frying pan into the fire.]
• Jesus invites us to Come to him, IN the midst of a terrible storm.
o Jesus is in the storm, WITH us.
o Peter walks on the water..
• We are amazed that Jesus walked on the water, but Peter did the same. Ordinary, fallible, doubting, over-thinking, over planning, over talking, over protecting Peter..
• Finds Jesus’ strength to do all things, more powerful than storms and nature, greater than the rules of science and engineering. Peter can do all things in Christ who gives him strength..
BUT, This is what gets us in to real trouble. BUT. Our buts get us into trouble.
We think that following Jesus keeps the storms away. Nope.
Those outside the church look at our lives and see we have illnesses, hardship and struggles. They ask, “Where is God” or think “God is gone or made up.”
Or our trouble is that WE think WE have conquered the waves and storms.
We step out in the waters of faith, God blesses and guides us and we look away.
There is a cinematic focal point where the camera pans from the storm and connects Jesus’ eyes with Peter’s eyes. They are connected.
But when Peter looks away, the connection is broken, the connection is lost, the power is cut off. Because it is not Peter’s power. Peter looks at the storm, at the impossible, at the fear, at anything except Jesus and down he goes into the storm.
Home Work is to get out of the boat and keep our eyes on Jesus.
It is easy to sit here in the fellowship, with great music and friends and good neighbors, but thing of storms of jobs, bills, cancers and broken hearts, fighting fears and families. Step into a storm and bring all eyes to Jesus.
Help someone see Jesus in the storm.
Break up a fight. Make a call, send an email, write a letter, start the conversation, break the silence. Be the messenger that reminds and introduces: “Jesus is here with us now.”
You may say, I don’t get mixed up in others folks troubles. Then get out and look around, live a little and see and hear our neighbors who feel that they are about to drown and we have words of power, hope and life to share.
Practice: Look in the eyes of someone this morning. Do you see Jesus or just evidence of a wrestles night lacking sleep? Tell that person,
“Keep Your eyes on Jesus and he will see you through every part of your life.”
Nothing is impossible in Christ who gives us strength.
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’ Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’
Combating Daily Dehydration
Spiritual thirst is daily
Thirst is satisfied with eternal water
It’s not a one sip for life and your inoculated
In the habits of daily bread, needs and chores come the invitation to begin a regiment of spiritual drinking
The Woman says:
I want water I don’t have to work to receive. Not realistic. Invitation is to start drinking
The Woman Sees more than the water and work:
The leap of faith is made with Jesus reveals the truth about her life and relationships.
The Shift comes in being known and being loved.
Jesus speaks the truth and judges with love and grace, this is the transforming power of the Gospel.
The woman stops talking about her work and starts telling about Gods work in her life.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSV]
Types of Temptation: My Own, My Circle, Strangers
Stone to Bread
We want to blame the devil but we do a good tempting ourselves. We know our own weaknesses and lust without much struggle.
We live with the assumption that if no one knows, if no one else cares, if no one speaks up, then it’s just not that bad.
Living under the radar is directly about are relationship with God.
There are those in our circles of influence: Those in our family, community, in the church or other groups who know our actions and see our deeds, and know what’s going on, but we point out each other’s sin and brokenness and keep each other’s silenced by mutual leverage.
We will mind our business and stay out of yours because we want to be perceived as “good Christian folks”
We don’t want to be tested ourselves so we don’t put each other to the test.
Jesus is taken to a mountain top experience and sees the global perspective of personal choices.
We want to find the lowest price on our clothes, tools and toys but don’t tell us about the people working for pennies to make the prices so low.
We don’t want to connect our little sins with the folks who are certainly guilty of bigger sins. A sin maybe a sin, but the consequences aren’t the same.
What do we learn about Temptation
1. It is a real experience for us all, including Jesus
2. It most often comes when we are at our weakest moments.
3. It reaches every level of our experience.
4. Spiritual Retreat can be a good context for being prepared
5. Scripture is the first defence
6. We can be angels or devils to others, offering nurture and support or torment and pain.
If we pray, “Do not lead us into Temptation..” then we ought not “Lead others into temptation either.”
RETREAT ( a Lenten season of practicing being lead by God instead of ourselves, our friends and fears. )
I have a micro retreat in the next five minutes. Don’t look at your watch, allow me to be the time keeper…
Spend the next five minutes prayer for God to strengthen you in the face of your sin, weakness, struggles, fears and failures.
Spend the next five minutes reading scripture for your support
Spend the next five minutes thinking of ways you might minister to someone who has been torn by sin and separation
Then together we will pray for strength and power and trust.
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. [NRSV]
It strikes me as funny in this teaching by God through the prophet, Isaiah, to envision the people of God as restorers of the streets. You know the jokes and wise cracks about how many DOT workers does it take to dig a hole? Answer: one, but it takes a half dozen or more to watch them do it.
In a nutshell, the prophet is saying that our society as people of faith is so broken that we can’t afford to stand by and watch because there are too many pot-holes for people to fall into as it is.
In this passage we hear God’s steaming temper and over-whelming frustration. God has fired up and has Isaiah on full alert:
The Kitchen Sink Too!
God says to the prophet, Isaiah, Don’t hold back anything. Blast out the news like a trumpet.
Describe in every detail my people’s rebellion and sins.
This makes for a good story. There is a lot of drama and passion in this story. And its good to hear God all fired up at those delinquents way back then in stead of talking about us.. am I right?
The Message Bearer
The prophet has the task of telling the truth, the whole truth.
Isaiah is part of a long tradition of those who are charged with telling folks what is generally bad news. Imagine interviewing for that job! Argg. This time God is calling on Isaiah to let it all hang out! Give them the whole dose of medicine, even if it is bitter and vial.. it would only be compared to their sin.
God’s Frustration is not an absence of Love
If God didn’t care, God would not have prophets to warn and instruct.
God would just blow us away like dust in the desert and start over.
Hear are God’s lines in the sand:
1. They ask for my help in prayers; they study my ways, BUT, they think knowing ABOUT their God replaces a relationship WITH God.
2. The Role of Spiritual Disciplines
they ask of me righteous judgments, they want me close by in times of trouble,
But they ask, “Why do we fast?” Why do we have to go to church? Why do have to give? Serve? Witness?
Why do we humble ourselves?
Fasting as a Spiritual Practice
At the core it is the denial of a basic physical necessity to make time and awareness for the necessity of basic spiritual food.
It is a practice not a contract. We are not due because what we have done. Take care of me because I built your place of worship! No, instead it is the activity of giving up what I want physically for what I need spiritually.
Calling a Sin, a Sin.
Isaiah is not so much teaching about Fasting but what’s going on in the presence of religious practice.
• You talk a good game in the worship house, but you treat people with disrespect.
• You bend the rules to suit your own pleasures and justification.
• You fight with fist and tongue, while you are worshiping and serving.
What Does God Require?
• Do you think I need people to bow down before me like the grass
• Do you think I need to see ashes on your head or your Sunday best?
• Who let you decided what is acceptable to the Lord?
Here what I want to see PRONTO
• Seek what is fair; Change systems and structures that keep people down.
• Free people of to be independent, God created us as free, individuals.
• Set people free to who are addicted, entrapped, alone, afraid, oppressed.
• Break the attitudes that manipulate people.
• Feed the hungry,
• Open your home to the homeless
• Clothe the naked,
• Encourage God’s people instead of cutting them down or holding them back.
How to Get God’s Attention?
Do the Right things and God will reward your righteousness.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Benefits of Righteousness
The LORD will guide you continually,
• satisfy your needs in parched places,
• make your bones strong;
• you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
• Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
• you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
• you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
• the restorer of streets to live in.
Matthew 5: 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way. [NRSV]
This is an intimate and paternal conversation between Jesus and the disciples.
Words of Assurance: Yes I am leaving you, but yes I am coming back for you.
These are words of comfort and mystery. Defining a certainty and reality of the separation as well as the certainty and reality of the ongoing connection and presence.
The lesson is to, above all else listen to the words of Jesus and do what he says.
Salvation is realized and experienced by those who have been listening.
Message of Grace: Yes, the opens arms of God are outstretched for all, but those who recognize and follow will know when to run toward the Savior.
We the clue of the relationship: We will come to them.. vs 23.
In the mean time, in the waiting time, in the between time,
Wait for the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
We are people of the Spirit. This is our business. This is our heart. This is our activity.
We are spiritual folks in a physical reality.. but look what comes first and list. The Holy Spirit.
We come to communion today to feed, nourish and tend to our Spirit.
Listen, Follow and Wait.
It may not be the flashy and exciting thing to do, but it is our salvation.
12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. [NRSV]
Our Congregation is teaming with talented people.
We have a surplus of gifts… Do you know the some of the favorites?
- To some we hear the gift of Complaint
- Some have the gift of Blaming
- Others have the gifts of Worry
- And to some the gift of Apathy
- Still others have the gift of Fair-weather Participation.
Each is given according to the spirit of false faith..
These are not gift of the Holy Spirit! This are not what we are called to be known and witness!
Seriously, we need to look at listen to ourselves and the tools we turn to first when solving a problem or even listening to one another.
The gifts give in the 12th chapter of first Corinthians is not an inclusive list of the ONLY gifts of the spirit. These are samples of how we experience God’s spirit at work through one another.
Various Gifts, Services, and Activities
- Utterance of Knowledge,
- Tongues of praise and Tongues of interpretation.
Each is given for the common good
..and may not be enjoyable by the bearer.
This is the test of the purpose of Spiritual Gifts. They are not for us. They are for the community. The community of faith, the extended community or even for the world.
But they are not for our personal benefit alone. This is a very good measure and guide for understanding our spiritual growth and maturity.
All are activated by the Holy Spirit.
The key difference between our talents, skills and experiences and Gifts of the Spirit, is the the power source.
If we have trained and done our best we might become more ready to serve, but the gift is the work of God’s action through us.
Where have all the Spiritual Gifts Gone?
As we look around, we don’t see many healers, we don’t have too many who teach, we don’t hear too many different languages spoken, and we are running short on current miracle stories most Sundays.
It is our tendency to think that Spiritual Gifts are for the Disciples, the Early Church or for some other denomination. United Methodist have been rich in gifts of the spirit but where are they now?
This is the So What part of the passage. Is this text relevant to us now? Are we gifted people?
I would say, We Can Be, We Might Be, and We Most likely Are.
But we would be scared to admit it or let them show if we were.
- The Gift of Hospitality
- The Gift of Insight.. seeing what others see
- The Gift of Grace.. forgiving before we are asked to
- The Gift of Get-it-done.. Starting and finishing a task without permission
- The Gift of Trust and Confidence.. Keeping a confidential information confidential
- The Gift of Giving.. Over a half million dollars in a down economy speaks loudly
- The Gift of Letting Go and Not Holding a Grudge.. because it makes you too tired to keep up the fight
- The Gift of Letting Go of Money, Food, Clothes, Time to enable someone else to live, eat, work, or grow
- The Gift of Cooking.. When others would rather eat.
- The Gift of Dish washing.. When others are leaving for home.
- The Gift of Teaching.. When others have their done-that TShirt
- The Gift of Driving.. To give a ride to someone who is stuck at home
- The Gift of Leading.. When others would sit back and wait
- The Gift of Singing.. When some would keep silent
- The Gift of Trying a New Thing.. When the old, familiar things suit you just fine.
- The Gift of Bring a friend.. When others stay at home with their friends
- The Gift of Grace.. When you are able to see with God’s heart and eyes, the world is not winning, not hopeless. The Spirit is Real and with us, still.
These are the gifts, and services and activities that I see and hear and experience…
They are activated by the Holy Spirit, because we are too lazy, selfish and tired to do them on our own.
These are the signs of God at work..
And the Good News is: There are other gifts, through other folks just like you and me. None of them have to be the same, but all together they are the Holy Spirit With us.
Praise the Lord.