Archive | July 2015

“Hope…”

July 26, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
What do we hope in?
All scripture is from the NIV Bible
Psalm 9:18; Psalm 16:9; Psalm 31:24
Psalm 33:18; Psalm 33:22; Psalm 38:15
Psalm 39:7; Psalm 43:5
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hope

“Hope…”

Prayer for God’s Word to be heard through me…

Hope…have you ever hoped for something in your life? We hope that things will work out for the best in our lives. We have hopes and dreams for our lives and for the lives of the next generation. We hope that we will get that new job. We hope that we will be comfortable in our lives and be able to do whatever we want…whenever we want. We hope for…fill in the blank. Hope is something that keeps us going even when things don’t look so good. And when our hopes and dreams do manifest themselves we can be devastated. We have hope for our marriage and it winds up ending right before our eyes. We have hope for our children only to find that they are addicted and are going down a road of destruction. We have hope for our future and we get that call from the doctor’s office…

Hope – noun
: the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen : a feeling that something good will happen or be true

: the chance that something good will happen

: someone or something that may be able to provide help : someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping
Verb-
archaic : trust, reliance

a : desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment <came in hopes of seeing you>; also : expectation of fulfillment or success <no hope of a cure>
b : someone or something on which hopes are centered <our only hope for victory>
c : something hoped for

It is interesting that hope is both a noun…a thing…and a verb…a feeling. But in both definitions there is one thing that it involves…trust. Maybe it’s not so much that we hope but maybe it’s what we put our hope and trust in…

Over the past few weeks, I have truly been pondering on the word salvation and what it really means. For not just Christians but for humanity.
Salvation:
1. the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.
2. the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
3. a source, cause, or means of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
4. Theology. deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption.

There are so many facets to salvation. There is the grace that we receive from God within salvation. The grace freely given to us even though we don’t deserve it but it is through the blood of Jesus that we receive this incredible gift. We are chosen by God and are adopted by Him through the blood that was poured down a wooden cross on a hill for you and for me. We are delivered from sin and death through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. There is love and mercy, joy and there is HOPE…Not just your everyday hope that you feel but hope that is not defined by our circumstances but is defined by our great and loving God…through the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now I want you to listen to some of the hope found in the Psalms. These proclamations will give us hope too if we but believe and rejoice in what and who our God really is:
 Psalm 9:18New International Version (NIV)
18 But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
 Psalm 31:24New International Version (NIV)
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.
 Psalm 33:18New International Version (NIV)
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
 Psalm 33:22New International Version (NIV)
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
(Are you feeling it yet?)
 Psalm 39:7New International Version (NIV)
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
 Psalm 43:5New International Version (NIV)
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
 Psalm 16:9New International Version (NIV)
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
(Because of hope…)
 Psalm 38:15New International Version (NIV)
15 Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God.
(Because of the trust that God is a God of Hope…)

Hope…it is both a noun and a verb. When we put our hope in our circumstances, we are using the verb form and more times than not…we will be disappointed somehow. When we put our hope in God, we are using the noun form…trusting all of our hopes and dreams to God. But we are humans and we will at times put our hope in the things we see. And when our hopes are dashed to the ground, we have a God of all hopes who meet us where we are and whisper His hope into our hearts. Are you feeling hopelessness and despair? Is your life not turning out they way you hoped it would? Come to the God of all hope and allow Him to heal your broken heart and put a new song of hope within you…the hope that is found within the cross of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen…

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“Grace…It’s Not Just A Girls Name…”

July 19, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
We are saved by Grace alone.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace
https://answers.yahoo.com/question
(All Scripture Is From the NIV Bible)
Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9
John 1:14-17
Hebrews 4:16
1 Peter 4:10
“Grace…It’s Not Just A Girls Name…”

Prayer for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…
Grace:
:a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward
: a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving
a : approval, favor <stayed in his good graces>
b archaic : mercy, pardon
c : a special favor : privilege
d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
e : a temporary exemption : reprieve
: a short prayer at a meal asking a blessing or giving thanks

What is this grace we keep hearing about…“But by the grace of God go there I…” “Grace…It’s not Just a girl’s name…” Why is this grace so important to us?

A couple of weeks ago…I talked about salvation and one of the blessings…the gifts of salvation is grace…
Grace: Ephesians 2:4-5New International Version (NIV)
“4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
And even more verse 8-9
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

But…how do we define this grace…this wondrous gift given to us from God….?
“Definition: Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration (rebirth) or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine favor.”

Wow…God has really done that for us. Just think about it for a moment…We are given this grace because of God’s great love for His creation called humanity. It can’t be bought, borrowed or stolen by anyone. So many things are uncertain in the world in which we live but this is one thing that stands firm…it is a rock on which we can stand when the world’s chaos swirls around us.
I heard this acronym for Grace…God’s Grace:
God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense…
God paid for our salvation with the cost of His own Son so that we may obtain this grace from Him… This is affirmed in John 1 which states:
John 1:14-17New International Version (NIV)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
It is by God through Jesus that we receive this marvelous grace of God.

So…now that we have been given grace…what are we to do with it? Do we even have to do anything with it…I mean is this something that we get to hold on to for dear life…to kind of hoard as our own? The Best Answer I think there is to this question is this:
With this grace we need to… “To have grace is to have compassion towards others without judging them and without showing partiality. Grace causes us to reach beyond self to touch the life of a person in need. When someone has grace they are willing to forgive without waiting to be asked and pray for those who deliberately try to hurt or hinder them. Grace is heart thing, not a mind thing.”
Grace can be shown…be given…even if we don’t want to …grace is an action word not a feeling. Grace is something that is shared with others. Hmmmm…It seems that most of the gifts we are given have nothing to do with the heart, with feelings, and everything to do with relationship and showing what we have been shown by God…

Hebrews tells us in chapter 4 verse 16:
Hebrews 4:16New International Version (NIV)
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We can approach God in prayer with the confidence of a child because of the grace shown us through Jesus.
And 1 Peter 4:10 tells us:
“1 Peter 4:10New International Version (NIV)
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
Grace is something we are given to share…to gift others as we too are gifted with that same grace from God.

Grace…it’s not just a girl’s name. It is something to be shared with others as we too have been gifted it through our Risen Lord Jesus. Grace has nothing to do with the mind…if we think about it…contemplate over it…we may feel no one deserves our grace…but it is a heart thing…we give grace out of the joy we have because we are given grace… Maybe…just maybe…if we put aside our feelings and put grace before us…we may become that grace giver that we are called to be. Grace…it’s not just a girl’s name but a way we should live our lives…graciously that is. What do you think?
Amen…

I Have Chosen You

July 12, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
We are chosen and equipped by God
to do His work in the world.
All Scripture Is From the NIV Bible
Acts 6:1-7
2 Thessalonians 2:13
John 15:15-16
1 Peter 2:9-10
2 Timothy 3:14-17
Exodus 3-4
Acts 22:14-16

“I Have Chosen You…”

Prayer for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

You are so certain of what they want to do in life…what they feel called to do. You strive and strive but you just don’t quite get to where you think that you are called. Then you decide that maybe…just maybe…you should give it to God and see what happens. Well what may happen is you are called to a place…to a job…to a neighborhood that you feel is just a little…ok a lot…out of your comfort zone. The next thing you realize is that you would rather be doing nothing else but what you are doing now…you would rather be where you are than any other place in the world. You have been chosen to be who you are or where you are…

Last week I talked about what we receive with salvation. And we realized that with salvation we are chosen by God as it states in 2 Thess. 2:13…
“2 Thess. 2:13 But we always must thank God for you, brothers and sisters who are loved by God. This is because he chose you from the beginning to be the first crop of the harvest. This brought salvation, through your dedication to God by the Spirit and through your belief in the truth.” But what are we chosen for? What is the plan that God has for us as we are chosen by Him?

Well there are several scriptures that tell us the answer. But let’s start with the scripture that tells us about what Jesus said to His first disciples as well all who came after…
John 15:15-16New International Version (NIV)
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. Jesus tells we are chosen to do good works of God. We are given power to our prayers because whatever we ask in Jesus’ name we will be given. As long as it is in the will of God that is… We no longer are strangers to God as we were before we accepted Christ as our Savior.

1 Peter 2:9-10New International Version (NIV)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. We are chosen by God and are called to declare His praises to a world full of darkness and chaos… The church grew and still grows as Jesus Disciples share the Good News of “Choseness” with those around us. For all that God has done and is doing…for all the answered prayers…how can we not want to sing His praises to the assembly…?

Acts 6:1-7New International Version (NIV)
The Choosing of the Seven
6 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. We are called…we are chosen…to do both…spread God’s word and take care of those who are less fortunate…to be their voice of justice when they have no voice…

OK Pastor Ruth…how are we equipped to do these things for God…these good works? Well 2Timothy 3 tells us exactly what we need…where we get our training…
2 Timothy 3:14-17New International Version (NIV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. We are equipped by and for the spread of God’s Word. It is within that same word we share that we find our training. We are equipped to equip others to do the same we are chosen and called to do…

But Pastor Ruth…I don’t think God can use me. I am too old…I am to ill…I am to scared…I don’t like to speak in public…I don’t…(Fill in the blank)… Well…God uses even the unusable by our standards. As a matter of fact…that is what He does best…maybe it’s because these are the ones that would give Him the glory instead of the ones who feel they are already there…
Exodus 3-4 Moses called…Chosen…Lead the Israelites out of bondage…
Now God called and used Moses…a murderer…a person with a speech impediment…a Hebrew slave by birth…fought with God about being called… was arrogant…had a temper on him…disobeyed God…
Acts 22:14-16New International Version (NIV)
14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ Even Paul was called… who hunted down and killed many Christians…I think I have gotten my message across…God uses all who will allow themselves to be used.

We are chosen to do God’s work. Even if we feel we are incapable of doing His work…He has the final say. He calls us…chooses us…uses us right where we are at. We are given our instructions through His word and are equipped not only with that but we are also given His Holy Spirit and the Armor of His making. What more would we need? Let us go forth in the strength of the Spirit following in the steps of our Risen Lord Jesus into our calling that we are chosen to do. It really isn’t that hard when we remember we are not doing this on our own but with the strength of God, the Guidance of the Spirit and the presence of our Lord Jesus who said to His first disciple as well as to us…I will be with you until the end of days. What do you think?
Amen…

Just Say Jesus

https://www.youtube.com/embed/YLjlLA5bia0“>

July 5, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
“Wesleyan Core Term”
What is Salvation?
John3:16 King James
Ephesians 2:4-5Common English Bible (CEB)
Romans 5:8Common English Bible (CEB)
Titus 3:5Common English Bible (CEB)
Acts 4:12Common English Bible (CEB)
1 Corinthians 1:18Common English Bible (CEB)
Mathew 1:21 Common English Bible
Hebrews 2:14-15 14Common English Bible
Romans 5:9Common English Bible
2 Thess. 2:13Common English Bible
“Just Say Jesus…”

Prayer for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

Salvation:
1. the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.
2. the state of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
3. a source, cause, or means of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
4. Theology. deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption.

Last week I talked about John Wesley and what he thought about faith. To John Wesley, faith was one of the most important theological concepts. Faith involved trust and confidence and that faith was the evidence of God’s love. He believed that as you grew in faith and assurance of God’s love it would show more and more until a person is completely filled with love in return.
The other part of the equation is salvation. It wasn’t just about going to heaven and being happy. John believed that it is “God’s justification for us through Jesus Christ and God’s sanctification in us through the Holy Spirit. God redeems us from the consequence of sin and, through the Holy Spirit, renews the image of God in us.” (Now this is the good part) “Salvation cannot be limited to a distant paradise on the other side of death but includes a present, tangible, reality of peace and joy in relationship with God now.” Our salvation affords us a present tangible reality of peace with God now…
The Bible tells us that there are several sources of salvation:
1. Grace: Ephesians 2:4-5Common English Bible (CEB)
4-5 However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace!
2. Love: Romans 5:8Common English Bible (CEB)
8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
3. Mercy: Titus 3:5Common English Bible (CEB)
5 he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit,
4. Christ Alone: Acts 4:12Common English Bible (CEB)
12 Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.”
5. The Cross: 1 Corinthians 1:18Common English Bible (CEB)
18 The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.

Through salvation we receive the deliverance from/of:
1. Sin: Mathew 1:21She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
2. Satan’s power: Hebrews 2:14-15 14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he also shared the same things in the same way. He did this to destroy the one who holds the power over death—the devil—by dying. 15 He set free those who were held in slavery their entire lives by their fear of death.
3. Wrath: Romans 5:9 So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him.
And there are blessings that we receive through Salvation:
1. Chosen to: 2 Thess. 2:13 But we always must thank God for you, brothers and sisters who are loved by God. This is because he chose you from the beginning to be the first crop of the harvest. This brought salvation, through your dedication to God by the Spirit and through your belief in the truth.

The world is I need of a Savior. Not just your everyday type of savior but one that can save them even from themselves. The world looks at itself thinking it will be able to save itself. But we know, as Christ followers, that there is no other Savior than our Risen Lord, Jesus, and it is only by and in His name we are saved. This is the heart of the Bible…this is the Good News of the Gospel of Grace…we need a Savior and “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now that’s what a call Saving Grace… Salvation…you can live with it…and you don’t want to live without it…

Amen…