Archive | July 2014

“A Long and Winding Road”

July 27, 2014
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon Series on “All My Day: A Summer of Prayer”
Inspired by Marcia McFee
Sermon 5 of series-
“Faith Journey”
Luke 12:1-6 Common English Bible
Romans 10:12-15 NIV Bible
“The Long and Winding Road” The Beatles

Let us pray… (Pray for God’s illumination…)

A reading from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verses 12-15…listen for a word from God to you and me the people of God…

The Twelve sent out
“Jesus called the Twelve together and he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. He sent them out to proclaim God’s kingdom and to heal the sick. He told them, “Take nothing for the journey—no walking stick, no bag, no bread, no money, not even an extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. Wherever they don’t welcome you, as you leave that city, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them.” They departed and went through the villages proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”

The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door

Journey – an act of traveling from one place to another… to travel somewhere. Jesus sent His Disciples on a journey. He sent out to heal and to proclaim the Good News. What a journey that must have been. I am sure they must have been a little frightened…remember they followed someone who was very radical and now they were sharing the words that He had taught them to a world that was about to put Him to death because He was so radical. But He sent them out two by two…kind of reminds us about how on the Ark creation was saved two by two…and gave them power to cast out demons and heal people of their sickness and disease.

The wild and windy night that the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears crying for the day
Why leave me standing here, let me know the way

Faith Journey – Faith is often called a journey. Faith is a process of moving deeper and deeper into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Christian faith comes in an instant but it takes a lifetime to grow and develop. The moment that you accept Christ as Lord and savior, the work of salvation has only just begun…the Faith Journey has begun. Like the disciples being sent out by two’s, we are also being sent out on our Faith Journey by two…ourselves and God. We are never alone; we are always partnered by God…

This summer, we are invited to pray “All My Days” and to make a habit of prayer wherever you are. Each Sunday in worship we will focus on one of the steps of the prayer beads but you are encouraged to pray these categories all summer long. I hope that you brought your beads with you this morning. My continued hope is that our Summer Sermon Series “All My Days: A Summer of Prayer” will help us learn a way of prayer that will bring us closer to the maker of all we see.

We have had an awesome time so far as we have been going through the beads on the string. We have talked about the first bead…the Gold Bead…which reminds us to begin with adoration and the second bead….the bumpy beady….that is to remind us to “Drop it…leave it”…to let go and let God. How about the silence bead from last week? I have really worked on that one this past week and shall I say it is still a work in progress. The bead this week is one that we all may struggle with from time to time…the “Stepping Stone” the journey of faith bead.
Stepping stone…our faith journey is made up of “stepping stones.” Each step is a new stone set in place. It may be a difficult journey at times and we may wonder if we are on the right track in our journey…are we going in the right direction. It is sort of like the finger labyrinth’s you were given this morning. Our faith journey may have many curves to it but it is in the center where we find God…He is always at the center of all we do in His name…

Do you know how they make stepping stones?
• They mix the concrete and shape into a rough finish form of a stone
• Then they wait until it is firm enough to stamp into the form of a stone and they smooth out the sides.
• Next they put a light coat of stamping powder on it and proceed to stamp a texture on it so that it has depth and texture…Kind of like how I told the children in the Children’s Message last week about how God puts different textures on the canvas of our lives…
• Then the stone cures of at least 24 hours.
• Then color is added.
• The final step is they put a sealant on the stone to protect it from the elements.
Our faith journey is a lot like the making of a stepping stone. As we walk our journey of faith there may be times we feel we are in the “mix master”. As we wait patiently…or impatiently…for God to move, we can feel the pressure of the stamping of our lives. It is a difficult place to be.

Many times I’ve been alone and many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know the many ways I’ve tried
And still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here, lead me to your door

But as God gives depth and texture to our faith journeys it is being formed into a stepping stone for others. As the color is added to our faith journeys it illuminates with His mercy and grace. As we are sealed with the stamp of the Holy Spirit we are now ready to continue on our faith journey. Oh yah…remember we are never alone…we are in partnership with God who goes before us.

But there is a very important thing I want to share about our faith journey. As we walk in faith with God, our paths are illuminated. As our path is illuminated others who come behind us can find the path to God. Now they may begin following our path but God will make them a path of their own but…they need our path to begin their own journey. Think of those in your life that helped you find your path. Did you begin because of their journey that was illuminated? Then we too need to be that illuminating factor in others lives so they too can begin their life’s journey with God.

Our journey of faith…it really can be “The Long and Winding Road” but…but…isn’t the trip worth it? The journey may be filled with the joy of victory and the agony of defeat but we don’t travel it alone. We always go out in two’s, us and God. How awesome is it that as we travel our journey of faith we become those who are up stream for those who are downstream needing someone to show them how to “navigate by the star’s that God has put in their lives”. Let us hold fast and persevere to and on the journey. The Romans from this morning asks us:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!””
It is not only our lives that depend on it but the lives of those downstream looking up stream for mercy, redemption, forgiveness, healing and strength that can only be found in our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ…

But still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don’t keep me waiting here, lead me to your door
Yah, yah, yah, yah

Let us pray…pray about our journey of faith and how others will follow…

Amen

“Is silence Really Golden?”

July 20, 2014
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon Series on “All My Day: A Summer of Prayer”
Inspired by Marcia McFee
Sermon 4 of series-
“Silence”
Psalm 37:5-7 Common English Bible
1 Kings 19:9-23 NIV Bible

Let us pray… (Pray for God’s illumination…)

A reading from the book of 1 Kings chapter 19, verses 9 through 13 from the NIV Bible…listen for a word from God to you and me the people of God…

9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

This summer, we are invited to pray “All My Days” and to make a habit of prayer wherever you are. Each Sunday in worship we will focus on one of the steps of the prayer beads but you are encouraged to pray these categories all summer long. I hope that you to bring your beads with you to church as we spend the summer sitting at the feet of God spending time in prayer. My continued hope is that our Summer Sermon Series “All My Days: A Summer of Prayer” will help us learn a way of prayer that will bring us closer to the maker of all we see.

Now, we have talked about the first bead…the Gold Bead…which reminds us to begin with adoration and the second bead….the bumpy beady….that is to remind us to let go and let God (remember…drop it…leave it…?) This week’s bead is one of the hard ones…the Bead of Silence.

We live in a world that always has something going on…there is always something that can invade our scenes. We, as a society, have learned to almost hate silence. It’s too quiet. We tend to feel on edge when it is too quiet around us….almost like we are nervous because of the silence. We need to have noise to feel secure. Many people turn on the T.V. or radio because it is too quiet around the house.

I know I am guilty of that sometimes. I need the noise so I don’t feel I am all alone in the house. It can give me a sense of security. But there are times when I crave silence in my life. Sometimes there is just so much going on at once that I can’t keep up with the demands of ministry and family. There are those times when I just want to run away to a quiet space where I can meet God and just be…

I remember the song from the Four Seasons “Silence Is Golden” back in 1964. But is it really “golden”? Silence is something that can be very difficult for us to embrace but that is what God wants us to do, embrace the silence and to quiet ourselves. It is within the silence that we can hear Him more fully.

Throughout the Gospels we hear of Jesus preaching o the masses and healing them from their infirmities. There was always a “buzz” around Him. People would flock from miles around to see Him and hear His message of the Kingdom of God. There was almost a chaotic atmosphere around Him with people pushing and shoving to be near Him. Zacheus, a tax collector, even climbed a tree in order to se Jesus. After he spent time doing what he came here for, to preach God’s love and heal people, He often went away to be by Himself to commune with God. He needed these times of silence in order to reconnect with God, to refresh Himself, to hear God’s instructions for what He needed to do next. We all have that chaos in our lives clambering for attention. Just as Jesus did, we too need that time away with God to regenerate ourselves so that we too can be reenergized to do what we are called to do for the Kingdom of God.

The Psalm that I read this morning tells us that we need to be still before the Lord and to wait for Him. We need to trust enough to take that time away knowing that God will refresh our souls so that we can go on in strength that is only found in and through Him. It is within the stillness that we can refocus ourselves from the chaos around us to following God’s will for our lives. How can we move forward for the Kingdom when so much stuff is crowding out God’s voice of comfort, of strength, of peace?

Then we have the story of Elijah in the cave. Elijah had become so busy and zealous for the Lord that he was weary and couldn’t go on. He felt as if his life had come to end and maybe he couldn’t hear God’s voice because of all the chaos around him. He had just called down fire from heaven. He had just killed all the prophets of Baal. He had just heard the “death sentence” that Jezebel had pronounced over his life. Now, warn and weary, he had climbed into a cave to hide from the world and chaos around him.

Here is where he heard the voice of the Lord. He had finally come to the end of himself and was ready to hear the word of God. But when did he hear the voice of the Lord best and his instruction of what to do next. Was it in the earthquake? Was it in the blazing fire or in the wind? No, it was within the silence…the after math of the noise that he clearly heard the voice of God. And it came in a gentle whisper. How can we hear the gentle whisper of Go din or lives when we are in the midst of the chaos?

Is silence Golden? For me the answer is yes. It is within the silence that we can here God’s still, small voice. It is within the silence that we are refreshed and renewed. It is within the silence of our hearts that we can hear God’s instructions in our lives. It is within the silence we are given hope and strength. It is within the silence that we commune with God. In all the chaos and noise this world offers it can e hard to tell whether God is speaking or the sirens of the world. In all the chaos of life we too can become tired and defeated as Elijah was. It is within the uncomforting silence that we receive the comfort of God. Being silent is so counterintuitive of the chaos of the world. But we have been called to be in the world and not of the world. We need that silent time with God so that we can be His hands, feet and voice in a chaotic world. We truly do need to be still and know that God is God. Then and only then will we be able to give God the adoration and let go of what needs to be removed so that we can be that refreshed and renewed person that God has always intended us to be. Yes, silence is golden and more precious than silver and much gold. Silence is what keeps us above water in a world that is sinking in the deep. It is where we meet God…

Let us pray…pray about finding God in the silence…

Amen

“In The Letting Go We Find…!”

July 13, 2014
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon Series on “All My Day: A Summer of Prayer”
Inspired by Marcia McFee
Sermon 3 of series-
“Letting Go”
Psalm 33:20-22 Common English Bible
Psalm 25:1-3 Common English Bible
Romans 8:30-32 Common English Bible
Matthew 11:28-30 Common English Bible

Let us pray… (Pray for God’s illumination…)

A reading from the book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 30-32 from the Common English Bible…listen for a word from God to you and me the people of God…

30 Those who God decided in advance would be conformed to his Son, he also called. Those whom he called, he also made righteous. Those whom he made righteous, he also glorified.
31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?

I have a friend who is just awesome with dogs. She is very patient in their training as she teaches them how to be social animals but also to be obedient to her. She has this one thing she does when she teaches them that really amazes me. I can’t believe how obedient they are. She would have them bring one of their favorite toys to her and she would tell them “Drop it…leave it…” and they would do just that. She can walk away from them, even with her back turned, and they would just sit there and not touch the toy until she told them it was OK. They may sit there staring at their toy…really wanting to pick it up and play with it…but they have been told to leave it and they do.

Now I think it is very cool so I have even tried it with the girls. You know when they touch something or pick up something that belongs to one of their sisters. Well…I haven’t gotten it to work yet. Every time I turn my back they pick it back up. They just can’t let it go and leave it. But then again, we as humanity have a hard time with letting go. We can tend to hold on to things that we really don’t need to hold on to and we wind up carrying all this baggage…like David Broadbent talked about last week when he came to preach for us. I can just see God in heaven going, “Drop it…leave it…no I said leave it not pick it back up…” Why can’t we just leave it alone and not keep picking things back up after we give it to God? Or even give it to God in the first place instead of carrying it around with us like an old worn out, heavy suit case…?

This summer, we are invited to pray “All My Days” and to make a habit of prayer wherever you are. Each Sunday in worship we will focus on one of the steps of the prayer beads but you are encouraged to pray these categories all summer long. I hope that you to bring your beads with you to church as we spend the summer sitting at the feet of God spending time in prayer. My continued hope is that our Summer Sermon Series “All My Days: A Summer of Prayer” will help us learn a way of prayer that will bring us closer to the maker of all we see.

Now, last time we talked about the first bead on our string of beads, the “Adoration Bead”, the one that reminds us to begin our prayer time in adoration of God. This week we are going to the second bead…the bumpy bead. This bead reminds us to tell God our worries and leave then there with God.

Now Marcia McFee states that, “As we move into times of prayer and devotion, we are often faced with the distraction of those things that are worrying us, that are demanding our attention and focus. Letting go of these worries, even if for a while, is a practice of trust in God. This Sunday we wrestle with the difficulties (and the joys) of “letting go and letting God.”

Letting go…how hard is that at times? At times we have stresses and worries and it is so hard to stop thinking about them and redirecting our thoughts and hearts towards God. But how can we give our whole selves to God without letting go of those things that take up so much of our thoughts and hearts?

Now I don’t know about you but for me it can be really hard. I start with prayer and adoration of God and then all of the sudden thoughts and worries start creeping in…thoughts about what I have to do that day…thoughts of someone who may have wronged me…worries about how Shyanne is doing with her diabetes…worries about family and friends. These thoughts can take over my whole prayer time with God. But…but…there are those times that as soon as they come to mind I let them go to God and give them back to God. In the letting go we can find peace. In the letting go we can find healing. In the letting go we can have peace that passes all understanding.

In the Psalms from this morning we heard how our God is faithful. We heard that our hearts can rejoice in the God who is our shield. We heard how putting our hope in the God that created the universe is a source of joy and blessings. We shall not be put to shame. We can trust God with our deepest, darkest fears that we hold inside and He will give us peace in knowing He is in control…as Romans 8 tells us…if God is for us, who can be against us.

God wants us to have peace and hope in our lives. Mathew 11:28-30 Jesus tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” As we let go and let God we are blessed beyond measure. Our burdens in life are so much easier to carry…our worries disappear…when we give it to God and let God be God.

Letting go of what troubles and concerns us is never easy, and sometimes the act of placing these worries in the care of God and the care of others can help us to release them. So this is what I want you to do. As we sing our last song I would like for each of us, as the Spirit leads, to come forward with the note card that was given you this morning with your worries written on them and place them in the basket here up front and I will put them on the altar as we given them to God. But we all must remember to “drop it and leave it” there with God. Now during prayer time if you start thinking about these things I want you to say to yourself “I have given it to God and I know that He is moving in my life and will take care of this worry for me. He is for me and not against me. I will trust and not be afraid.” They are on His altar and that is where they need to stay.

Letting go is never easy but in the letting go we are blessed beyond measure because we receive peace, joy and hope. In the letting go we enter the heart of God. What can be more precious than that?

Let us pray…pray about letting go…

Amen