Archive | March 2015

“What Do We Thirst For…?”

March 29, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
6th Sunday of Lent
Final Words Sermon Series
“I Thirst”
John 19:28-29 AMP
Adapted from Adam Hamilton’s book “Final Words From the Cross”

“What Do We Thirst For…?”

A reading from the Gospel of John, chapter 19, verses 28-29, Listen to the word of God for you and me His beloved children.
John 19:28-29Amplified Bible (AMP)
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished (ended), said in fulfillment of the Scripture, I thirst.
29 A vessel (jar) full of sour wine (vinegar) was placed there, so they put a sponge soaked in the sour wine on [a stalk, reed of] hyssop, and held it to [His] mouth.

Let us pray…Pray for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

I like camels. They are really cool. I can relate to camels at times. Did you know that when temperatures rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, camels can survive for about five days without drinking water? During the winter, camels can survive six or seven months without drinking water. During that time, they may obtain moisture from plants they consume. Camels that graze in the Sahara can go all winter without water and may refuse to drink if water is offered to them. But a large, thirsty camel can drink as much as 200 liters a day.

There are days that I feel as if I were a camel. I may drink in the morning but Ii may not drink again until dinner at night. I am just not thirsty. But like the camel, when I am thirsty I can drink on drink after another. When we thirsty our bodies need to be replenished. But what about our souls, when our soul thirst what is it looking for, what does it thirst for?

We have been journeying our way to the Cross of Calvary…stopping here and there to hear what Jesus said in His last words from the cross, His last words of ministry so to speak. These were the last words of His ministry here on earth. Even from the cross, Jesus was still doing ministry. His anguish on the cross was leading up of the climax of His ministry and the reason He was sent from above. It is to this place that we have stopped and pondered as we await the celebration of His victory.

We have talked about His words “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing…” and realized that we are part of the “them” that Jesus was praying for and about. We heard His words “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” which are words of hope for us knowing that we will one day be with Him where He is… We know there was an “adoption” at the cross when he proclaimed “Woman here is your son…here is your mother.” And then there was last week’s words…”My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”…Jesus knows our pain and our suffering for He Himself has been there…

Jesus’ next words make me stop and ponder for a while “I Thirst”. Now these two words seem out of place compared to the other words from the cross and it is only found in the Gospel of John. But these two words tell us more about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus thirsted for righteousness as He ministered to those around Him. It gives a deeper meaning to who Jesus was and why He came.

The words I thirst show us Jesus’ humanity. Almost every person who is near death all the sudden asks for a drink. They become thirsty just before they pass on to Glory. John was showing us that Jesus was fully human as we are. Before death He thirsted as we thirst and died as we die.

But what makes me think at these words is the question “what do I thirst for”, what is it that I desire, hunger, yearn for in my life? We live in a world offers many things that promises to “fill our thirst” but what is truly needed? What is the “better part” that I desire? We get caught up in things that we think will satisfy only to become thirsty for more things. Jesus death on the cross beckons us, beckons you and me, to thirst after only Him…

What is your craving in life? What is it that you are thirsting for? Is it that bigger house on the corner lot? How about that promotion that you think you deserve? Maybe, just maybe, as we seek Jesus, our thirst will be only for Him. Or perhaps as we being to thirst for those eternal things the thirst of the world would no longer be. Just think about what would happen if we thirst for righteousness. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Think of what would happen if we, as humanity, would begin to seek to quench the thirst of others…quench the thirst of suffering, quench the thirst of poverty, and quench the thirst of oppression. “I thirst for… (Fill in the blank) Perhaps maybe, just maybe…

Amen

You Are Never Alone…

March 22, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
5th Sunday of Lent
Final Words Sermon Series
“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”
Mark 15:29-36 The Message Bible
Adapted from Adam Hamilton’s book “Final Words From the Cross”

“You Are Never Alone…”

Let us pray…Pray for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

Feeling abandoned and alone…have you ever felt or even are feeling lost and alone? You feel as if no one understands your pain or suffering. You may feel as if no one could ever understand what you are going through. You may even feel that even God has abandoned you. There seems to be no end to your loneliness. Who could ever know what you are going through? Who could ever know the pain…?

We have been journeying our way to the Cross of Calvary…stopping here and there to hear what Jesus said in His last words from the cross, His last words of ministry so to speak. These were the last words of His ministry here on earth. Even from the cross, Jesus was still doing ministry. His anguish on the cross was leading up of the climax of His ministry and the reason He was sent from above. It is to this place that we have stopped and pondered as we await the celebration of His victory.

We have talked about His words “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing…” and realized that we are part of the “them” that Jesus was praying for and about. We heard His words “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” which are words of hope for us knowing that we will one day be with Him where He is… We know there was an “adoption” at the cross when he proclaimed “Woman here is your son…here is your mother.”

Jesus’ next words are ones that give me hope when I feel all alone…those times when I feel no one is there for me or understands what I am going through. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”… Now scholars say that Jesus was reciting the psalms as He was dying on the cross…and indeed He was. But these words give me hope in knowing that even though He was reciting the psalms, He may have still felt alone I n His darkest hours, just before He breathed His last breathe…
Jesus knows what we feel when we are at our darkest, lowest, most despair-filled moments in our life.

Jesus spent His life healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, doing nothing but good in His life. He showed those around Him a better way to live their life. He had friends that walked with Him and saw all the marvelous things He did. And now, here He is, abandoned and alone. In His darkest hour even His best friends were nowhere to be found…except for a few women who stayed by His side to the end…but where were His disciples…those who told Him they would never leave His side? You have spent your whole life trying to do good, helping all those around you and when you need your friends and family around you the most…where are they?
Jesus knows what we feel when we are at our darkest, lowest, most despair-filled moments in our life.

To top it all off, He felt a disconnection…a separation from God, His Father…He felt the pain of not feeling God with Him for the first time in his life. He truly was a man of sorrows. You have always felt that there was always someone there who had your back. But now, when you need them most, they seem to be shutting you out, turning their backs on you.
Jesus knows what we feel when we are at our darkest, lowest, most despair-filled moments in our life.

What did Jesus do when He felt this abandonment, this loneliness, as He hung on the cross alone? Jesus prayed. Even though He was questioning God in saying “My God, My Go, why have you abandoned me?” He was still praying. As I mentioned earlier He was praying the Psalms…Psalm 22 to be exact. Questioning God in prayer is an act of faith even when there is confusion about what is happening. Why is this happening to me God? I don’t understand why this is happening God. Why are you allowing this to happen? Our response to bad things happening to us often is to turn away from God and refusing to pray. But Jesus did just the opposite. He continually prayed while He was on the cross the only prayers that would come to mind. Those prayers found in the Psalms that He knew from a child growing up…
Jesus knows what we feel when we are at our darkest, lowest, most despair-filled moments in our life.

Adam Hamilton states in His book “Final Words From The Cross”, “When We feel abandoned by God, we, too, must trust that God has not really forsaken us. We must trust that God will not hide His face from us, and that God hears us when we pray. And that leads to confidence in a future unseen.”
Jesus knows what we feel when we are at our darkest, lowest, most despair-filled moments in our life.

Beloved, you and I are never alone. Even in our darkest hour, God is right there with us walking with us and sometimes carrying us through the desert of our souls. Even when we can’t feel Him, even when we feel alone because all our friends and family have “run away from us”, even when we can’t see the light of day, God is there loving us through to the other side. Even as we cry out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” we will hear Love’s resounding answer “I am here with you and we will get through this together.” We have hope because we know that the one to whom we pray in our darkest hour knows firsthand the feelings of hopelessness doubt and despair. And that One is our Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus knows what you feel when you are at your darkest, lowest, most despair-filled moments in your life.
Amen

Let The Glory Come Down

Our Worship Service from 3/15/15

March 16, 2015
Let The Glory Come Down

concert/worship service

Video – 1 – “Surely the Presence”, Greeting and Announcement/ Opening Prayer

Video – 2 – Welcome and Introduction by Chuck Loucka

Video – 3 – Opening Video – “What Is Salvation?” by Paul Washer

Songs of Hope and Praise – Praise Team

video – 4 – “We Will Dance” (with long piano introit)

video – 5 – “Blessed Assurance”,
“It Is Well With My Soul”, and
“We Will Dance”

video – 6 – “He Reigns”

video – 7 – John 14:2-3, and
“Mansion Builder”

Video – 8 – dance, “The Power of Your Love” – Sacred Dance Team

Video – 9 – Worship Medley by Chuck Loucka

Video – 10 – Scripture Reading – Isaiah 53:3-8

The story of Christ’s suffering, death on the cross
and resurrection as told through music. – Praise Team

video – 11 – “Via Dolorosa” (with solo by Chris Loucka) and
“He’s Alive”

video – 12 – “Upon This Rock”

video – 13 – “Blessed Be The Rock”

video – 14 – Act 2:1-4 read by Pastor Ruth and
“Let The Glory Come Down”

video – 15 – “Amen (Easter Lyrics)”

video – 16 – “This Is Amazing Grace”

video – 17 – “Every Praise”

video – 18 – “I Can Only Imagine” (fragment, working to update)

Revelations 5:11-13

“Amen” (ending lyrics)

Closing and Benediction

by Pastor Frank Randall
Patten Pentecostal Church.
&
worship led by Pastor Ruth Foss

You Are Chosen

March 8, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
3rd Sunday of Lent
Final Words Sermon Series
“Behold your son…Behold your mother”
John 19:25-27 The Message Bible
Romans 8:15 (NIV)
Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV
Adapted from Adam Hamilton’s book “Final Words From the Cross”

“You Are Chosen…”

Let us pray…Pray for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

I remember growing up when we were choosing sides when we played games. We would all pick two captains and then we would wait to see who was going to be chosen for each team. It was nail biting as I waited to hear my name called. No one wanted to be the last called because that would mean no one really wanted us but had to pick us.

We all want to belong to something and we want to know that we are wanted. It is just human nature to want to be a part of something. Whether it is being chosen to play on a team or that job we interview for. We all want to know that someone wants us. It can be hard as we wait to see what the outcome will be… Belonging is a part of life. Sometimes belonging is what identifies who and what we are. We belong to a family…we belong to a lodge…we belong to a certain group. The list goes on.

Why is it that we, as humanity, need to belong to something…to feel that we belong? I think it is because we were created to have to be in relationship. When God created humanity, He didn’t just stop with Adam. God created someone to be with Him. He created Eve. God also had a relationship with Adam and Eve. He walked in the cool of the evening with them… But that relationship was severed because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience…their sin… But God still wanted that relationship…which is why He sent Jesus…

We have begun our Lenten journey to the Cross of Calvary. As we journey, we have been looking at the Final words…the seven last words or phrases…of Jesus from the cross. These were the last words of His ministry here on earth. Even from the cross, Jesus was still doing ministry. His anguish on the cross was leading up of the climax of His ministry and the reason He was sent from above. It is to this place that we will stop and ponder as we await the celebration of His victory.

We have talked about His words “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing…” and realized that we are part of the “them” that Jesus was praying for and about. We heard His words “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” which are words of hope for us knowing that we will one day be with Him where He is…

Jesus’ next words are ones that changed the definition of family. They are the words that I read this morning from the Gospel of John “Woman here is your son…here is your mother.” Jesus wanted to make sure His mother was taken care of…even from the cross He was showing concern for those around Him. Even from the cross Jesus was redefining what family was in order to include all who believe…

But here is even more good news about that adoption that took place there. We have been chosen by God to be part of His adoptive family. You Are Chosen… How do we know we are chosen? Listen to the words of Paul in the book of Ephesians. We are not last in line but we are the first in line to be chosen…
Ephesians 1:3-14New International Version (NIV)
Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

We are chosen…you and I…before the beginning of time. We are dearly loved and adopted by the King of kings and Lord of lord. We are not only adopted but are redeemed through the blood of the One who has signed our adoption papers in His own blood. You and I are chosen… We are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. We belong…Now how is that for being first in line… Not only that but Romans 8:15 tells us that we can call God Abba Father…daddy…

There was an adoption at the cross. A new family was being formed…A family of Christ followers. We belong to a family that grows each passing day as more come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We…the church of Jesus…grows ever stronger with each child of God tat joins us in ministry to one another and the world.

This morning, that is what is going to happen. Our church family is adopting…choosing first…being joined in ministry…by seven new children of God. I would like them to come forward as we ask them to join our family of believers…
(New Members come forward and are grafted in to our church family)
Amen…

So This Is Paradise…

March 1, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
2nd Sunday of Lent
Final Words Sermon Series
“Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise”
Luke 23:32, 39-43 NIV
John 14:1-3New International Version (NIV)
Adapted from Adam Hamilton’s book “Final Words From the Cross”

“So This Is Paradise…”

Let us pray…Pray for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

Paradise:
: a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
: a place that is perfect for a particular activity or for a person who enjoys that activity
: a state of complete happiness

When I was growing up I used to watch a T.V. show called Fantasy Island. These people would go to the island and they would have their dreams come true…they would have a piece of paradise in their lives. But… a lot of the time they would find out that their piece of heaven…their paradise moment…would not stack up to what they expected. There were consequences to their moment that they hadn’t expected…

Why do we humans long for that “paradise moment” in our lives? Why is it that when we think we are getting our piece of heaven on earth it really isn’t heaven at all? When we get it we think to ourselves “is this all there is?” We yearn for a true paradise but it is not found in our earthly journey…

We have begun our Lenten journey to the Cross of Calvary. As we journey, we are going to be taking a look at the Final words…the seven last words or phrases…of Jesus from the cross. These were the last words of His ministry here on earth. You see…even from the cross, Jesus was still doing ministry. It was the leading up of the climax of His ministry and the reason He was sent from above. It is to this place that we will stop and ponder as we await the celebration of His victory.

Last week we heard the words from the cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing…” We realized that we are part of the “them” that Jesus was praying for and about. We are also to be like Jesus and forgive others even when it is hard to do so.

The next words that Jesus spoke are ones of hope for those who believe. It is found in Luke 23:32 and 39-43. Listen to these words of hope that Jesus gave to the one criminal who was crucified with Him. These words also ring through all time and space for you and for me:
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.

You see…Jesus forgave both of the criminals that were hung with Him but it was the one with the repentant heart…the one who stuck up for Jesus…the one who asked for forgiveness…was promised a place with Him in paradise… Jesus forgives us even when we don’t have that “repentant heart”… It is when we come to Him…when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior…with a repentant heart and ask for forgiveness we are promised a place in paradise.

Jesus showed great mercy and love to both criminals but only one took it to heart…only one had a change of change of heart. Jesus didn’t ask a whole bunch of questions about this man’s faith journey…He didn’t need to know His theology…He didn’t ask if he would serve on a committee…all that mattered is the state of this man’s heart. The criminal knew that He was wrong and just asked for forgiveness…
Truly I tell you, today…today…you will be with me in paradise.

OK…can you imagine with me what this paradise looks like. We can see glimpses of paradise while we are here on earth. Just take a look at Mt. Katahdin on a sunny day…look at the beauty in nature around us…hear the sound of a new born babies cry…look at the way that God has spun the colors and beauty of a field in bloom. Now that is paradise. Now imagine it and infinite amount more beautiful. I know the feeling I get when I survey God’s masterpiece. I think that God only gives me glimpses because I couldn’t handle seeing the whole paradise in my fleshly state. I would be overwhelmed to the point of being consumed by it.

So…how do we know that we are promised the same paradise…that we will be with Jesus when our life’s journey is over? Well…John 14 verses 1 through 3 tell me that it is true. Jesus was comforting His disciples because He knew His journey was almost over and that after He accomplished all that He came to do He would be returning to the Father. Listen to the words of comfort that Jesus gave His first Disciples and what is still promised today…
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

We will be in paradise! We will be where Jesus is! We have a home in the sky not made by earthly hands but by the hands of God! We will be in His presence day in and day out…worshiping Him who sits on the throne! Think about that for a moment. We are promised a home in paradise where there will be no more pain…no more war…no more living in our sinful bodies but in the bodies that are recreated. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!
Truly I tell you, today…today…you will be with me in paradise.
I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Beloved child of God, how can we not live a joy filled and joyful life? What we have here is not the end. What we have here in our lives is only a shadow. What we have here on earth is not what we will have in eternity. You and I have a promise from the One who never breaks a promise as humanity may do. Jesus wants us to be with Him in paradise but it is up to us to accept the gift. The only way to have this life is to have the repentant heart of the thief on the cross and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That’s it…that’s all that is needed.

Are you ready to go to paradise? Do you want to have the promise of that life of promise? Our Savior is calling. Can you hear Him? Calling you and me home to the place where He will be with us forever. Come to the fount of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.

Truly I tell you, today…today…you will be with me in paradise.

Amen…