Posts Tagged Trust
2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—”I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. [NRSA]
A CLAY JAR
A piece of clay that has been fashioned into a bowl, a mug, or a vase is many things.
- It is an expression of the potter.
- It is more than the sum of it’s parts,
- It is more than a lump of dirt and water,
- It is both durable and delicate,
- It is fragile, yet useful,
- It is one of the precious images Paul uses to remind us, and the churches in Corinth, that we are precious treasure of God.
Clay can never form itself as wonderfully, purposefully, or longingly as can the potter.
This is one of the power messages of Good News you and I must share with a world that hungers for meaning and is willing to create alternate realities rather than simply trust God is that very potter of our lives.
Do you ever feel like a clay pot?
Winnie the Pooh is always appreciative of having a useful clay pot near by, in the hope that it contains honey, or that it will soon be filled with honey.
It is Paul’s pray, and one that we also share, that we remember that we are the clay pots that are
- Filled with a treasure greater than golden honey
- Our time and lives are to maximize the opportunity to share God’s treasure with those we interact each day.
As Clay Pots, there are times we feel like the roughness of a clay pot. One that has been fired by trial and suffering heat or pressure, but has not been glazed. We feel ordinary, worn, or even fractured.
When we focus on the vase, bowl, mug, the body, the bills, the money, the demands, we think our usefulness is measured by the world’s use or uselessness of our lives, INSTEAD of trusting that GOD has determined our PURPOSE and USEFULNESS and fills us with God’s Power, Spirit, Truth, and Grace to transform a broken, fragile, power-hungry world.
- The First lesson to remind you neighbor is this. God makes us.
- The second is that God fills us.
- The third is God desires to work through us, making us the vessel of God’s presence.
The Body of Christ…
- God is more plainly revealed in the life, body, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, showing us that God is in charge, command, and in love with us all.
- God can transform all things to God’s heart and will.
- God can use each of us, no matter the age, style, durability, or fragile nature we perceive.
- God is calling us to be the container.
Our Containers may be
- We are afflicted in every way,
- but not crushed;
- perplexed, but
- not driven to despair;
- but not forsaken;
- struck down,
- but not destroyed;
But here is the Good News: We are carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies
When are we carrying the death and life of Jesus?
- When we feed, cloth, be friends, remember the forgotten,
- seek the lost, search for the weary,
- knock on the table of those who are using God’s name for power, politics, and personal gain.
The old American Express slogan, “Don’t Leave Home without It” is just a good of a reminder that everywhere, in everyday, in every situation, we are the useful pots, the containers of Jesus for the world.
The Hitch in the Get Along
- The catch is, we either don’t believe this to be true everyday,
- We take it for granted and think it is something we can pick and choose to share , or
- We don’t trust God’s power, word, and heart.
For weeks I have ask you to pray for someone that you can disciple, and share your faith. On one hand it is a poor attempt to suggest that there might just be one person, when there are thousands within our areas of influence that we would dare pick one. But this is just the thing:
Most of us don’t use the powers and gifts entrusted.
We are more focused on protecting our own pot, our own body, our own stuff, our own problems, and we miss the point of “God with Us”, Emmanuel, the Good News, the treasure that is entrusted us to share.
Which leaves us with the question to URGENTLY answer:
If you and I are those God is expecting the share the Good News, what do we have to report?
Why do you say URGENT, hasn’t it been thousands of years since Christ arose and might it be a thousand more? It might, but not for me and you.
We do not know the number of our days.
“ Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”
- How many conversations about the weather and politics can we waste talking with one another about what is certain instead of what is perplexing?
- How many trips to work and town to do something necessary that we do not reach out to those who are afflicted with the blindness of what the world has to offer.
- How much breath do we withhold in an effort to avoid persecution, social shaming, and ridicule?
- How many times do we take a stand and risk being struck down for doing what is right for the kingdom of God?
Thank Goodness Paul is only talking to the church in Corinth and not the church in Rock Spring, Georgia! (Oh but his words touch us all, in all time, ALWAYS.
Speaking of Always, let’s compare Sunday afternoon to Eternity.
- What is the most pressing thing we have today?
- What is waiting for us in this week ahead that we are responsible to do, lead, or complete?
- What can be placed on the back burner, or until we have more time, money, energy, or feel more like it?
I have an idea for social media this week:
Instead of posting the usual, or just reading others post and liking or skipping them. Let’s use this powerful tool to share a more powerful message.
- Let’s share how God is at work in our lives
- Share what songs and verses are guiding your day.
- Share what conversation are drawing others closer to God
If you are not only social media, get on the phone, in the car, our out in person and start telling story, sharing the treasure, resume feeding and clothing, visiting and making friends in Christ, start knocking on hearts and heads, ask people how you can pray for them, how God can bless them.
- Use these clay bots that we are
- And share the treasure that God has invested in us
- And transform the world and tell the good news…
Because keeping quiet is not the method that is working very well.
If we stay silent, if we keep it too ourselves, it is as if we only an empty, useless pots and that is not at all what God has blessed, saved, calls, nor expects us to be.
Are you with me? Let’s stop focusing on the pot and sharing the treasure we’ve already got.
You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. [NRSA]
- The Peace of God’s Presence
- The Protection of God’s Presence
- The Power of God’s Presence
How to find God when we are lost?
“Be Still and Know I am God.” Psalm 46:10
1. Begin the day with praise and prayer.
Then pour out your heart and tell God about all the things going on in your life and lay them at the feet of Jesus. Picture yourself physically taking one burden after another, placing them into God’s hands, and letting them lay there. The act of giving ourselves to God is a life long practice of :
- a. knowing God is able, willing and desires our burdens and fears
- b. yielding our power to God’s loving grace
- c. practicing humility with our most personal struggles.
2. Meditate on a passage.
When I have a hard time quieting my mind, I like to meditate on Psalm 46:10:
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”
Focus on one word at a time, letting your mind rest on that one word for a few seconds before moving on to the next word. Here are a few other passages to start:
- Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.
- Romans 5:8, While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- Psalm 103:13-14. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name…
3. Mental Pictures and Visions.
Imagine God seated on His throne, using passages like Revelation 4-6 to shape our minds-eye, our imagination.
“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne,”Revelation 4:2-3.
Can you picture that? Continue reading. Imagine God high and lifted up, I kneel down and bow my face to the ground, picturing myself in the heavenly throne room, joining the angels and the elders in singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” and then being still in His presence.
Imagine your self crawling into Abba Father’s lap and laying your head on God’s shoulder, much like a two-year-old does when she/he just needs a hug.
4. Write out distracting thoughts.
Sometimes, when I’m trying to quiet down my mind, I start to remember all sorts of things like birthday gift ideas, spring cleaning tasks, and meal plans. If that happens to you, grab a pen, write it down, and then return your attention to the Lord. Release those distracting thoughts, knowing you can come back to them later.
5. Recite a prayer of stillness.
Ask God to help calm your mind like Jesus calmed the storming sea. This can even be an imaginative prayer: Your thoughts are the waves that Jesus commands to be calm. Acknowledge your racing thoughts and ask the Holy Spirit to rule over them and help your mind rest in His presence.
6. Be physically still. Start small. Breathe Deeply
Begin with 30 seconds or a minute of stillness. And while 30 seconds may not seem like much, as you begin to incorporate this practice of stillness into your spiritual life, you’ll find it gets easier as the years go by. Then build up to 5 or 10 minutes. It’s in this place of communion with God that we quiet ourselves enough to hear what the Spirit wants to say to us.
7. Stillness isn’t always quiet, clean, nor neat.
Sharing Our Weeping and Wailing.
Do you know that, oftentimes, our stillness comes after the emotional dam finally breaks? I have no idea why, but it’s usually necessary to lose it before the process of healing begins. You can trust God with your deepest pain. Through it, He will lead you deeper into stillness.”
Encouraging and Allow Others the Time and Space for Peace in God.
We cannot force peace, it must be found in God.
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” [NRSV]
Jesus Agenda: Casting out evil, Curing the broken, and finishing his work on the third day.
- A fore telling of Jesus’ arrest, conviction and crucifixion are addressed by the disciples and Jesus.Jesus is talking back. Calling Herod by his action, a fox, cunning, callus and calculated. Skills of self preservation for the fox. Jesus’ mission, in Luke’s Gospel, requires him to be back in Jerusalem, positioned for the crucifixion.The Agenda cannot be stopped by Herod or any evil. But that will not stop evil things from happening.KEY:
God’s presence cannot be taking away, but neither are we to expect evil to disappear in the world.Prophet’s Job is Seldom Appreciated.
- Jesus points to the difficult task of being a prophet.The Prophet says nothing new. The prophet reminds us of the rails that our collective train should be running.The Prophet reminds us that God desires up to be with God.Jesus is more than any prophet. Jesus is God showing up first hand, the real deal, the actual.Jesus’s lament is how the necessary role of the prophet has never been without attack and often takes one’s life.We have at least two prophetic voices for our capital city:
I would suggest that our two leading political candidates (S&T) have tapped into the telling the people what the want to be reminded of, but their trains are running in opposing directions. Neither of them claim to be God’s prophets, but folks are desperate for a prophet and will follow until the find the prophet’s flaws or the prophet’s message becomes too personal. Mud-Slinging Campaign: (Interesting to hear from Jesus and John the Baptizer) Herod, was the secular leaders and he was a ‘fox’. The Sanhedrin were the religious leaders and they were a brood of vipers. God desires us to be together.There is a VERY powerful moment of self-disclosure and God’s heart being revealed in these words of Jesus outside of Jerusalem:The Mother Hen and her brood: How I wish my chicks would trust me. (Not just after they are in trouble, not after they are lost to evil, not just when faced with their own mortality, BUT when there was time to “walk together in the garden”) Remember the relationship with Adam and Eve, where God would walk and talk with them face-to-face, and explore the garden along side with them (Gen 3.8)The Prophets role is to remind God’s people of the relationship of Good and Evil. Helping folks remember what side of the fence they are too live.
- Are we people who put God first?Are we a people who put God 2nd or third or last?Are we people who honor our parents and their generation?Are we a people who lie, cheat, steal and murder?Are we people who choose our own agenda or God’s?Are we people who hunger and thirst to be correct or forgivenAre we people who satisfied with God or we want more?Are we people who listen to snakes and foxes?Are we people who will call out what it is evil, broken and diseased?Are we people who will turn to God or Government to define us?
These are the prophet’s questions: What are our answers?The Declaration:Blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord.
Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. [NRSV]
This Word is not my home, Albert Brumley, 1937 (11am)
This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up, Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me, From heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home In this world anymore.
Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like you, If heaven’s not my home, Then Lord what will I do.
I have a loving mother, Just up in Glory land, And I don’t expect to stop, Until I shake her hand.
She’s waiting now for me, In heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore.
Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like you, If heaven’s not my home, Then Lord what will I do.
Just over in Glory land, We’ll live eternally, The saints on every hand, Are shouting victory.
Their songs of sweetest praise, Drift back from heaven’s shore, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore.
King of kings and Lord of Lords reigns a spiritual world that is not measurable by the laws of physics and science.
We are a physically citizen of the USA
We are the spiritual citizen of the Kingdom of God
The Micro-nation (9am)
Are you not tired of politics fighting. No matter the side of the fence you choose to stand, we are over-loaded with a constant fight to destroy one another. The heart ache is based in the passions that drive our beliefs.
— The PROBLEM: If everyone would value what “I” value then there would be peace and tranquility.
There are times I’d like to make my own little nation. Tiny House phenomenon, there is a Micro Nation phenomenon.
The problem with setting up your back yard as your own country is that becomes a legal threat against the United States. It might be all in our imagination but if everyone seceded one Saturday afternoon, stopped paying taxes, stopped voting, ignored the laws, rules and regulations we disagree, the imaginary idea of our own nations would corrupt the order of our real nation.
The result would be an increase of division and a decrease of safety and peace. Most certainly, there would be more politics, WHY? Because we cannot live without each other.
Politics in Church
Sanhedrin, temple authority board/council, were threatened by Jesus, because of his popularity with the crowds.
They use the Roman politics to keep their power and support of the populace.
–Rather than talk with your neighbor you get the home owners association to act
–Rather than question if you are right or wrong, find a legal technicality to call the police or better yet sue someone.
–Find the flaw in your opponent and exploit them with the system.
–Pass the dirty job to someone other than yourself AND you get what you want.
There are valid times for legal resolutions, but not the place to start.
School board, city Council, County commissioners, Senator and representatives, presidents, emperors as well as you and me.
To the Heart of the Solution is to Define and claim: Where is my primary citizenship?
The Conversation in the text
Governor Pilate has heard of Jesus. They have a political discussion about truth.
“Ok Jesus, they are charging you with challenging the authority of Caesar,
Are you a king?”
Are you guilty of the charges
Jesus sounds a bit vague, unclear, not straightforward. “You have answered correctly in saying, “You are a king.”
Pilate races through his memory, I asked the question. I didn’t make a statement. Grrr.
Ok, Jesus, what is the truth?
We live in an age of enlighten truth, shaped by the scientific method and defined by person accent/believe and/or popular opinion and personal offense.
Is it true that someone on some college campus call a student a derogatory name? Yes.
Therefore, the entire school has a fundamental problem with racism and the leaders have to be fired.
There is a double standard
Is it true that there are more unemployed and under-employed people today compared to eight years ago? Yes it is true.
Therefore, the entire economic system has fundamental problems with economics and the leaders have to be fired.
Oh, but that not the same at all.
Jesus is saying something that was just as unpopular to Governor Deal, as it was to Governor Pilate then.
Truth is not a variable
Truth is not an opinion
Truth is not our lump of metallic ore to shape and model into our own idol.
It’s one or the other: Truth in the eyes of the beholder VS. Truth is in God!’s will.
It might the atheists right to deny God, but their disbelief doesn’t negate God’s existence and patience with them.
Using the truth, and our understanding for person or corporate political gain is the issue
If I take a standard ruler and saw off 2 inches and say that new length s a foot. Is that the truth.
The valued the dollar changes daily. Isn’t that crazy?
Pilate passes the buck on Truth, Yet Speaks the Truth.
“I find no fault, you deal with your difference.”
A good leader is not going to pass the buck.
A good leader helps lift of the truth and stands behind that standard.
Independent of offense, popularity or opinion.
So where is our Truth?
If political majority is your guiding principles, Who made the majority of the people?
If political principle is your guiding passion, Who made of the network of the mind that things of better ways for folks to work together?
If you want everyone to be completely free to choose for themselves their own destiny? Who created freedom?
If you want to be led by the heart and compassion, Who are we called to forgive first? Those who think like we do, or our enemies?
If you want science and physics as your truth, who made the heavens and the earth?, who started the bang and ordered the science?
If you and I want to find the common ground, The Truth is God.
Even for those who deny God’s reality. God is big, tough and grace-filled enough to be TRUTH with Patience for us to trust that truth.
Jesus is the truth.
This is who were are. The people who believe above all else that God has always wanted to be in love and in relationship with us
Jesus is the, in the flesh example of God’s example and the means by which bridges us to God.
God’s Spirit continues to be reached out to us, drawing, inviting and welcoming the conversation.
Remember this if nothing else. You can talk about politics with God, but your can’t talk about God without getting to the truth of politics. We are living in God’s garden and playground.
As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” [NRSV]
Everyone who came to the temple for worship, put something in the offering.
Maybe someone does want to talk about Money at church because we have question or misinformation about “Offering” is in our practice of worship and faith. What is the offering about?
- What the Offering is NOT:
- It is not about FAIRNESS
- It is not admission for the SHOW
- It is not about TAXATION
- It is not EARNING salvation or favor
- Offering IS about
- a THANK YOU note
- a Sign of TRUST of God,
- How we GIVE it.
- How we USE it.
- a RESPONSE to God’s loving, blessing, saving and claiming us in GRACE
- an ACT of CONFESSION or retribution – Zacheaus, the wee little man, made a big act of restoration.
- an Investment in the work of God’s business, kingdom, witness
- a PRACTICE of loving. [The widow is operating on love in her giving], the greatest is love.
- Offering was being watched, monitored, studies by Jesus and the Disciples
- It is important to learn about giving patterns and styles
- Strings or No Strings
- In times of plenty and times of lean
- Faith in Maturity not Quantity.
- The witness of the POOR widow. (A widow living on the generosity of temple)
- Poverty is closer to us every day. (If we set aside politics and look at the reality of what actually IS currently)
- Gross National Product($18.1T) Fascination Debt Clock and other fiscal measurements
- National Debt is increasing 4154,583 per minute. ($18.6T is meaningless)
- Our Product to Debt ratio is $1.03. That means if we spent everything we made we would be three cents short paying everything we owe.
- the BEGGING QUESTION: How much in debt do you have to be to be poor?
- Rather than figure how what the fair level of poverty. Poverty is not having a certain level of possessions, credit or money.
- Rather than find a fair level of persons to blame or label as the rich or the poor. Jesus’s FOCUS is on the GIFT.
- The GIFT THAT IS GREATEST is the one who was able to give the LOVE
- If you only have two half-pennies and you give them to God: What statement are you making?
- God has more to give than I have to give, I will give all I have.
- If you and I give out of our abundance, extra, or wealth: But not out of love, What statement are we making?
- God demands, we must obey
- God is jealous and bad stuff will happen if we don’t
- God will bless me if I give
- God will make me rich if I give it all to him.
- The women who gives to two coins does not
- does not become the most wealthy members
- does not stop living at the poverty level
- does not become the high priestess or head scribe or rabbi
- does not get rich off of God’s investment plan.
- The woman gives as an loving act of TRUST that God will provide what she needs.
- What does my offering say to me and what does it say to God.
- Does my gift say: I trust you? I love you? I need you most of all? I can’t make it with out you?
- Does my gift say: I have this to spare? I can get by with this? After I manage all the choices of wealth or poverty, then I will trust, give, love.
Homework: Last week we talked about Jesus answer to the greatest commandment, the FIRST is to Love God and Love your neighbor,
We show this love in how we give to God. This what the offering is about.
Teach a child about why you give. Your child/grand-child or a friends, or even a stranger. : Explain to a child (3-63)
- I give because I love God.
- I give because God knows what I need.
- I give because I am faithful will all that I have.
- I give because I trust God with my life AND livelihood AND future..
For those who like math?
Do I spend more resource of time/money/energy on God than being a team fan?
Pull out the check book, (exclude housing, utilities, food, car, insurance) How much do I spend in the other categories compared to God?
For those who don’t like homework. (Give because you know its good in your heart and watch for the Kingdom of God to show up where you give)
For those who are legalistic, “Give until it changes your heart.” – Rich Young Ruler.
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.
So Paul’s words to the church, In Rome and in Rock Spring and everywhere, is a great leap of history, covenant and faith. He takes God’s covenant with Father Abraham and looks back at how God comes to bless and covenant with him to explain how God also related with us.
Imagine Paul is making a grand movie, right up their with the 10 Commandment, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia… He’s telling the great faith story of Abraham. Father of Nations and Founder of Faith for generations and generations. The Covenant of Covenants. Opening in a theater this Spring!
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [NRSV]
- Shine Jesus
- Shine your shoes
- Shine as in moonshine
- Shiner as in a black eye
- Shiny as in a new car, red Corvette or a white Tahoe
- Shiny as in a proof coin
But today we talk about the Flashlight.
- in 1886 the first dry-cell batteries were made which powers a variety of emerging ideas
- In 1898, Russian immigrant inventor, Conrad Hubert made the first flashlight. And later founded the Ever-Ready Battery Company.
- In 1899, English inventor David Misell invented the first flashlight. He was the first to use the “D” battery which had a stronger light.
But those early models had a weak and inconsistent power source and bulbs that were more fragile and temperamental than modern LED and HID flashlights. The name flashlight came from the intermittent light that burn for a short while and had to rest before it was read to be used again. Thus the short flash of light gave the battery with bulb stick the nickname: a flashlight.
I suggest that we have much to learn from the early flashlight as an example of our spiritual development.
1. When we find ourselves connected to the power God gives us, that is within each of us, we tap into a the source of awareness, knowledge, guidance, counsel and spiritual strength. We seem to quickly do one of two things: a) doubt it is a way of life that God has intended for us and/or b) confuse our personal power, talents and strength with God’s.
Like the flashlight, God’s presence is revealed in the darkness of a broken and sinful world and when we turn it on in the dark, the darkness is no more. But for some reason we turn off the lights.
Life in the Dark, holding a flashlight.
It sounds unbelievable, buy there a just a few times (denote the sarcasm) that while we are holding on the the switch that connects us to scriptures, worship, Christian fellowship, prayer, opportunities to serve, witness and give, we allow the darkness to take us over.
The Reality of Darkness
- When human beings behead, cage and burn, degrade and devalue women and children. Here we see the darkness of evil.
- When other the teachings of other faith’s say Jesus is but another prophet and deny Jesus is God’s present in our history and at the thrown as the begotten of God. When Jesus is left behind, or left out all together, darkness grows stronger.
- When human beings long for governments to provide what God gives or what God equips us to provide for ourselves, evil has made dark the world.
- The less we proclaim the light of Christ, the more expanse of darkness increases along with the grip of evil and brokenness.
The starting point is to affirm that some things are good and some bad, some light and some dark:
- Shine the light, the light erases the darkness. The darkness is not present where the light shine
- Darkness, where is the darkness? In your check book or cupboard? In your plans and dreams? In you behavior and attitude?
- The Gravitational darkness of the back hole of evil.
- Stumbling in the dark.
- The futile task of traveling in the dark… without night vision.
- Thermal signature from the energy emitted from a beating heart.
AFRAID OF THE DARK:
- As a boy I had a teddy bear that would allow me to hide under the covers and was brave enough to keep his head out in the dark room to keep watch over shadows and strange noises. He would occasionally be willing to be held by his feet and look under the bed or even fly across the room to check the closet door.
- We have more than a teddy bear to watch over our fears. We never out grow fear. We manage and mature over different fearful situations, but fear is a life long struggle. Jesus is our stand in. Jesus hold us and grounds us while we explore a fear-filled world.
- Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t be Afraid to take Jesus with You when it IS dark.
Let Christ’s light shine:
- Sometimes that darkness is people’s behaviors and attitudes and we need not face the conflict alone.
- We face conflict knowing the Jesus never promised to have a life free of fear, but to be our counsel when the darkness surrounds, threatens and tempts us.
JESUS COME QUICK
- Sometime Shining the light is calling on Jesus out-loud and directly.
- Sometime Shining the light is deliberate words and actions that unfold over time.
- Sometime Shining the light is charging our spiritual batteries when we are strong for times we are weak.
- Bottom line: Shine the light of Christ is allowing CHRIST to shine through me and through you.
PAUL the PHYSICS AUTHORITY
I doubt Paul knew the speed of light. But lighting a lamp in a darken room; carrying a torch into a dark street; proclaiming and trusting God to show up in a cell in prison, or in conflict in the church, or the pull of governments and other types of worship.. Paul calls on the Spirit that cause him to become blind, so that he could see, to guide his steps in all things.
Turn on the flashlight. Not with the weak beam of light that you and I have to add. Rather allow Christ to light through us.
Let the world hear the Good News in our words, songs and witness
Let the world hear that evil is present but not in charge.
Pray, Speak up, be pro-active, Don’t wait for darkness to leave, Shine Christ in it.
Where is the darkness around you?
At work: Pray for the trouble makers, and difficult cases, and stumbling blocks to see Christ in you.
At home: Make time for study, worship, fellowship and communication.
In community: Small groups, worship, service, witness and fellowship.. bring the dark to the light
Online: For all the good that comes with information overload technologies, comes the easy access of evil and darkness to be at our fingertips 24/7. Set limits, support accountability and confess our sins.
Around the World: God didn’t wait for God’s people to get their act together, but went to the Shepherd and Magi to and revealed where they looked into the darkness and show them THE GREAT LIGHT at Jesus’ birth.
Carry your a flashlight with you. When you see evil and darkness, shine the light of Christ.. your flashlight might be scripture, songs of faith, words of hope, and lessons of accountability. Don’t sit in the dark and don’t let others either.