Archive | August 2015

It Began With A…

August 16, 2015

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

Revive Us Again O Lord!

All scripture is from the NIV Bible

Revelation 2:1-2, 4-5

Galatians 5:22-23

 

“It Began With A…”

 

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

 

Revelation 2:1-2,4-5

To the Church in Ephesus

2 “To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

 

revival (rɪˈvaɪvəl )

noun

  • the act or an instance of reviving or the state of being revived
  • an instance of returning to life or consciousness; restoration of vigour or vitality
  • a renewed use, acceptance of, or interest in (past customs, styles, etc) a revival of learning, the Gothic revival
  • a new production of a play that has not been recently performed
  • a reawakening of faith or renewal of commitment to religion
  • an evangelistic meeting or service intended to effect such a reawakening in those present

Have you ever started to do something and then it just sort of looses its joy and so you just stop doing it? I know for myself, there have been many times that I have heard about or seen a new way to exercise and I am so excited in the beginning. Then sometimes, after a short time, it begins to just become such a chore that I just stop doing it. Or it just isn’t what I expected it to be so I think to myself, well what’s the use and stop trying. Sometimes we just get so excited about something and for some reason we just stop having that joy about it…the excitement is gone. What happens to that joy we once had?

It can be the same with our faith. We are so excited and on fire for God and then something happens to that joy…sometimes it just kind of sneaks up on us, so to speak. We stop doing our daily devotions and prayer…I am just too busy this morning…I’ll do it tomorrow, I need the extra sleep, God will understand…I’ll get back to it tomorrow…  Then we may stop reading our bible…I don’t need to read my bible anymore…I get it, why should I keep reading my bible…there are so many other things I would rather read… We may then stop going to church and before you know it…there is something missing in your life…that joy that you once knew…that excitement you had for God is gone…you are still doing good for all around you but the joy has gone and now your just going through the motions. What happened?

This is not a new spiritual deadness. It has been happening for a long time. From the scripture that I read from Acts this morning we hear about one such church. The church in Ephesus had this same issue that some of us have today. They were doing a lot of good but they were just going thorough he motions. They had lost their first love. They had lost their passion for God and the work that they were doing in His name. They were like what Jesus called the Pharisees…”White Washed Tombs”. They looked good on the outside but they were dead on the inside. They were seen as all holy from others perspective but inside they had lost that vitality and zeal for God.

John Wesley saw the same thing in the churches. He led a Christian revival in his time. Christians were experiencing a severer crisis because they were a religious minority…what do we face today that make us a religious minority? What day to day stresses effect our faith? Are we just going through the motions and not truly expressing the fruit of the spirit…love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Are we having an outward appearance of vitality but inside dead…sort of a burn out? Is there no fruit of the Spirit or a decreased amount …we do all the right things…say all the right things for God but there is no Sprit…passion…purpose…in what we do? Are we just going through the motions to just check another thing off the list that we do for God?

John Wesley saw that there needed to be more to Christianity…a Christian life than what he knew…he wanted something more. This is where the Methodist revival began…the seed was planted. He knew there had to be more. His mother, Suzanna Wesley, showed him a different way. She held family devotions for her family, she was intentional about forming her children’s faith, and it continued when they were adults. Are we intentional about and with our own faith? Are we caring about the children and their faith…the next generation?

This summer…we are embarking on a faith journey together. We are going to be intentional with our faith and our God. We are going to ask God to revive us again with that passion for Him and His word. As we look around the world we see that there is something is missing…something that has been forgotten. We are going back to a time when people met in fields and sheep barns. We are going to look at what made a difference in their lives…why their era was different than ours and what is the same. We are going to take a walk with John Wesley and see how he lived out his faith.  My prayer is that we will be challenged and changed…that our Spirit’s will be filled and energized so that when we leave our church each Sunday and go out into the world as light bearers of the King. As we become those light bearers I pray that we bring revival to our community and beyond…to the ends of the earth. But it all begins here…within ourselves…being intentional with our faith…with our Spirit…with our God. It begins here…within you and within me…recapturing that joy of our salvation…that joy that keeps us clinging to the cross of our Risen Savior Jesus Christ. Are you willing to open your heart to a reawakening of your faith and commitment to God? Are you ready for a restoration project…one of your inner most being? Will you join me on this journey…really join me on the journey back to our first love…our God…our Creator…the lover of our souls as we pray “Revive us again, O Lord”?

Amen…

Joyful…Joyful

August 2, 2015

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Joy of the God!

All scripture is from the NIV Bible

Psalm 51:12; 98:4; 27:6

Isaiah 35:10

John 15:5-11

Jude 24-25

http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/PERSONAL/k/280/Fruit-of-Spirit-Joy.htm

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joy

 

“Joyful, Joyful…”

 

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

 

Psalm 98:4New International Version (NIV)

4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,

    burst into jubilant song with music;

 

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…down in my heart…down in my heart…

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

And I’m so happy, so very happy I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

(Every body!)

 

Joy noun \ˈjȯi\

: a feeling of great happiness

: a source or cause of great happiness : something or someone that gives joy to someone

: success in doing, finding, or getting something

Full Definition of JOY

1       a :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :  delight

b :  the expression or exhibition of such emotion :  gaiety

2       :  a state of happiness or felicity :  bliss

3       :  a source or cause of delight

I have this coffee cup that I like to start my mornings with. It says “Today is a Good Day”…but the other part of the saying is “to have a good day.” I choose to have a good day no matter what else is happening. It doesn’t always work out like that but at least I try… I want my days to be filled with joy. But I must make that choice to have a day filled with joy…regardless of what may be going on it my life. Joy is a choice we each can choose. We can choose anger and resentment or forgiveness and joy. Joy truly is a choice…as well as an action we take when we choose it…

We are continuing our journey of the many facets of salvation. We have been talking about 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. deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption.

We have talked about 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 know that 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 have rejoiced in the fact that we are delivered from sin and death through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. How awesome it is that we receive love and mercy, joy and hope… hope that is not defined by our circumstances but is defined by our great and loving God…through the blood of Jesus Christ.

This wonderful gift of salvation should fill us with joy but sometimes…well…that joy just isn’t there. We have so many things that go on in our lives that we just can’t muster up even the slightest bit of joy. How could we feel joy in the world in which we live? There is not much to be joyful about with all this crime and addiction going on in the world around us. Where is the joy in that?

Church…you can have the joy of the Lord if you choose to…we can have over abounding joy as we ponder the fact that we have a great God who has control over all…even when we don’t see it. Let’s see what scripture tells us about joy:

John 15:5-11New International Version (NIV)

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

 

We have the joy of knowing we are dearly loved by God that is seen as we remain in Jesus and trusting His word.

Psalm 27:6New International Version (NIV)

 

6 Then my head will be exalted

    above the enemies who surround me;

at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;

    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

We have joy in knowing that if God is for us…who can be against us. As we give our day…as we give our battles…as we give our lives to God, He will be faithful to keep us safe…even when we can’t see Him working…

Isaiah 35:10New International Version (NIV)

 

10     and those the Lord has rescued will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

    everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

As we trust in God, we can have joy in knowing…this too shall pass…and that God will bring us in from exile…from that desert place we may be walking a pilgrimage through.

I was reading “The Work of God” (Bible Tools.org) and what it said about joy was pretty interesting…

“Joy that is a fruit of God’s Spirit has its roots in the realization of God’s purpose and its outworking that transforms us into His image. Biblical joy begins when God calls, and we hear the gospel, understand and believe it.

Biblical joy is bound up in our relationship with God and our understanding of what is happening to our minds. We walk to the beat of a different drummer than this world because we understand God’s overall purpose. We know we have been forgiven and have a place in His purpose because we now have His Spirit. No more life-changing experience can ever happen to a human than when God calls and understanding dawns. It forever alters our perspective on life itself and on the things we formerly trusted to give us satisfaction.”

(And I love this part)

“Therefore…our joys must arise from yielding to fulfill God’s great creative purpose and seeing it accomplished. This is why we were born! Because of this, we can look forward to hearing Him say:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25:21)”

Joy is a choice…joy is about trusting in God and His goodness…true…real joy has nothing to do with our circumstances and everything to do with our relationship with God.

Joy…it is a choice. When we are feeling “joyless” are we going to go with that feeling or are we going to cry out to God as in Psalm 51:12:

Psalm 51:12New International Version (NIV)

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation

    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Restore my…restore our joy…the joy we once had…the joy that overcomes all obstacles…the joy that is only found in God through our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. How will you respond when you are feeling all is lost and there just is no more joy in your life? Will you agree with Jude when he penned?

Jude 24-25New International Version (NIV)

Doxology

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!

Will you sing:

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…down in my heart to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

And I’m so happy, so very happy I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart

Amen…