Archive | April 2016

Can We Just Get Along

April 24, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

Don’t Argue, Agree To Disagree

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Mark 9:33-35; Matthew 18:18-20

Romans 12:15-17; Philippians 4:1-3;

2 Timothy 2:22-25; Titus 3:8-9

Psalm 148

 

“Can We Just Get Along…”

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

1 Corinthians 1:10-16Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Divisions at Corinth

10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. 11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there is rivalry among you. 12 What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? 14 I thank God[a][b] that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say you were baptized in my name. 16 I did, in fact, baptize the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else.

It is interesting being a parent. I think many times Ray and I stand there and scratch our heads at the silliness of some of their arguments. When we try to help them with a perfect solution, it seems they don’t want to hear that. They are up for the fight and they are going to win no matter who “gets thrown under the bus” in the thick of the war. Example…arguing over who is going to make the Chrystal Light ®…

There are also times that we adults can act the same way. We think we are right and will argue until we are blue in the face even if it means hurting others in the wake of our “righteousness”.

 

We are all on a reading journey as we read the instructions that Jesus gave the first disciples and what He intended all to follow to do. We are gathering the knowledge that we need to be Christ Ambassador’s in a world in need of a Savior. Now Jesus wants us to “go and do likewise”…to take His example, His instructions and follow them. Some of the instructions may not be words but actions that Jesus showed His disciples. Now I hope you all brought your bibles this morning. If not there are some in the pews. I want us each to look up the instructions…for ourselves…instead of me reading them to you. Who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do… just sayin.

 

So…where have we been so far? The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell others I am alive… Go and tell…ministry is an action. The next were stay…wait…witness (stay where they were and to wait for the Holy Spirit, then to witness to and for Him all over the world). Another is touch…heal. We may touch lives by our words or actions but either way we can bring healing to others…and to ourselves. Now the one that seems against each other…“Beware…don’t worry”. We are to beware but not worry as we are doing so…we are to “walk in the world” with our “eyes wide open” but go into it anyway…

 

Now here’s a real hard one and we as Christians…as Christ followers…as humanity can’t seem to get right. We live in a fallen, selfish, egotistical world…there’s no way around that fact…right now anyway… Here we go… “Don’t Argue, Agree to Disagree.” Don’t shoot the messenger it really is in God’s Word. This issue has been going on for a long time…humanity thinking that they have all the right answers and if anyone thinks differently they are wrong. Let alone if we actually have the nerve to come up against someone else’s thinking…someone else’s way of life…someone else’s “tradition”…look out!

 

In the letter that Paul wrote to the Christ followers in Corinth, which we read part of this morning, they were arguing over who was baptized by who…who had the best baptism…who was baptized “right”. I can just imagine what Paul must have been thinking… I left Rome for this? I became a Christ follower for this? Why are they arguing over something this trivial? They should be out making disciples in Jesus’ name not arguing over whose name is best to be baptized under. It is all in Christ’s Name…not the Methodist name…not in the Baptist name…not in the Pentecostal name…not in the (name) that we are baptized…

 

 

Even the disciples that Jesus walked with and talked with argued. In Mark 9:33-35…they argued about who was the greatest…Read…

33 Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

No really who is the greatest…shouldn’t that be Jesus…the “Duh-Ciples” were showing how much they understood Jesus…again…

 

OK so what happens when we agree or disagree like we do so many times? Let me take you some places where we hear about just that subject in the bible…This is not all the places…it is up to you and me to look further into this difficult issue…

  • Matthew 18:18-20Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound[a] in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed[b] in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you[c] pray for, it will be done for you[d] by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

Speak from the Spirit…

  • Romans 12:15-17Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.

Speak from the Spirit…

  • 2 Timothy 2:22-25Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach,[a] and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

  • Titus 3:8-9Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

8 This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

We are to work together not argue and disagree…

  • Philippians 4:1-3Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Practical Counsel

4 So then, my brothers, you are dearly loved and longed for—my joy and crown. In this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. 2 I urge Euodia (yoo-OH-dih-uh) and I urge Syntyche (SIN-tih-kee) to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I also ask you, true partner,[a] to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life.

Speak from the Spirit…

Maybe…just maybe…if we stopped needing to have our own way and agree to disagree…we could once again be the body of Christ working together in harmony. Perhaps if we decided to leave our lives in the hands of God and leave it there with Him, trusting in His goodness and love we just might have a bigger view of what Jesus came to do and say and give example of.

 

Go, tell…stay, wait, witness…touch, heal… be on guard, don’t worry…don’t argue, agree to disagree…these seem pretty simple things to do right? So what are we as the body of Christ…as the hands, feet, voice and image of Christ in the world…doing? Why do we feel that our traditions and our man made rules trump God and His Word? We need to understand the instructions and follow them to the point of us truly being that image of Christ. As I have said before…there are going to be times when we forget these instructions. One way of remembering is reading God’s Word each day…read devotionals that have God’s word embedded or you need to look up in the beginning, “Our Daily Bread” and “Upper Room” are just two that are wonderful for this and we even have copies for free in the back for people to take and read…if we spend time daily with the Author of the manual, Immanuel we will have more of a chance of following the instructions for life.

 

May be if we begin to hear others and respect what they have to say…to respect others… If we set aside ourselves and put on Christ…if we evict ego out of our lives…it is over-rated anyway…maybe…just maybe we can be the “Body of Christ”…working together like a well oiled machine bringing about the Kingdom. But it is a choice…yours and mine. I don’t know…what do you think? Can we truly be what our Risen Lord Jesus wanted us to and be? I say yes with the help of the Holy Spirit which guides us in all truth…the truth of our God and king. How will you spend your life? Having to have your own way…thinking that you have it al right and everyone else is wrong? Or in the freedom found in and through the blood of Jesus Christ to just say “ OK…I agree to disagree with you…maybe your right…maybe I’m right…but the most important thing is this…what if were both wrong?” OK…let this be our litmus test…our indicator…our guide as we approach others…Is Jesus your Lord and Savior…do you follow Jesus? Are you “for us or against us?” As we converse with one another…how about following the “Holy Conferencing Principles” of John Wesley…you have a copy in your bulletin and now as you read these…you will realize that this has to do with everyone not just Christ followers…read through them… Perhaps maybe if we …fill in the blank…

Amen.

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Courageous

April 17, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

Beware, Don’t Worry

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

Mark 13:9-11

Matthew 6:25-34

Psalm 23

Philippians 4:4-7

 

“Be Courageous…”

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

 

Philippians 4:4-7Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Worry…worry…worry…how many of you have worry in your life? It seems that so much around us can be so dangerous. All we have to do is to read a paper or listen to the news and our fear is fed once again our fears are fed. From bombings to hijackings, from abductions to war…from fill in the blank…there is a lot to fear out there. But in the face of fear, how are we to react? What are our instructions as we face those fears both named and unnamed? The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

Let me tell you a true but tragic story: A woman was once walking along a riverbank with her child. Suddenly the child slipped into the river. The mother screamed in terror. She couldn’t swim, and besides, she was in the latter stages of pregnancy. Finally, somebody heard her screaming and rushed down to the riverbank. The utter tragedy was, when they stepped into those murky waters to retrieve that now dead child, they found that the water was only waist deep! That mother could have easily saved her child but didn’t because of a lack of knowledge.

 

We are all on a reading journey as we read the instructions that Jesus gave the first disciples and what He intended all to follow to do. We are gathering the knowledge that we need to be Christ Ambassador’s in a world in need of a Savior. Now Jesus wants us to “go and do likewise”…to take His example, His instructions and follow them. Some of the instructions may not be words but actions that Jesus showed His disciples. Now I hope you all brought your bibles this morning. If not there are some in the pews. I want us each to look up the instructions…for ourselves…instead of me reading them to you. Who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do… just sayin.

 

Let’s back track for a moment. The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell the disciples I am alive…tell them you have seen me…tell them to Galilee and they will see me. Go and tell…ministry is an action. The next were stay…wait…witness (stay where they were and to wait for the Holy Spirit, then to witness to and for Him all over the world). Last week it was touch…heal. We may touch lives by our words or actions but either way…it…we…can bring healing to others…

 

No this week’s may seem a little confusing but once we read the scriptures it will become clear… “Beware…don’t worry”. We are to beware but not worry as we are doing so…how are we to beware and not worry at the same time. Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? Shouldn’t we worry about those things out there we are to beware of? Ok…let’s look at each of these instructions one by one. Beware…let’s read Mark 13 9-11 together as we hear Jesus telling His disciples to beware of something that will happen in their lives and not to worry…read the Mark scripture together…

 

The disciples needed to be on guard because of what was going to happen to them because of what they would go through and continue to go through even today. Think of how many are persecuted today because they are Christ’s followers. But when they were persecuted they didn’t fear because they laid their faith and trust in Jesus. We, as Christ followers, are to be on guard when those who may not believe approach us. Now I am not saying that you have to take self-defense classes…. What I am saying is to be on guard and trust that when we are questioned about our faith God will give us an answer for them. You never know…in trusting God for the answer…in letting God speak through you…there may be dancing in heaven because another non-believer has become a believer.

 

The next is do not worry…do not worry…remember that I began with worry but what was the scripture I quoted after? ‘The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Let’s read Matthew together and see what my bible entitles “The Cure of Anxiety” is. It is found in chapter 6 verses 25-34. Read the Matthew scripture together…

 

Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Speak from the Spirit…

Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? Speak from the Spirit…

‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters[b] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God[c] and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Speak from the Spirit…

 

Maybe…just maybe…if we stopped worrying about the what if’s…our rainy day…maybe we can touch the life of someone who is having a present rainy day with the hope and life that is found through and in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…Hmmm…Perhaps if we decided to leave our lives in the hands of God and leave it there with Him, trusting in His goodness and love we just might not  need that full storehouse of the earth and empty our barns with the love of Christ…

 

Go, tell…stay, wait, witness…touch, heal… be on guard, don’t worry these seem pretty simple things to do right? We as the body of Christ…as the hands, feet, voice and image of Christ in the world…need to understand the instructions and follow them to the point of us truly being that image of Christ. There are going to be times when we forget these instructions but if we spend time daily with the Author of the manual, Immanuel we will have more of a chance of following the instructions for life.

 

May be if we begin to “be aware” and don’t worry about the “small stuff” and by the way with God…all of our stuff as well as our big stuff small is stuff for Him … We will get back to our roots…You know the ones of the first church. They shared everything…they sold everything and shared what they had with all so that there was no one in need and if there was anyone in need, they reached out to them. We truly can be that church again if we so choose. But it is a choice…yours and mine. I don’t know…what do you think? Can we truly be what our Risen Lord Jesus wanted us to be? I say yes with the help of the Holy Spirit which guides us in all truth…the truth of our God and king. How will you spend your life? In fear and worry? Or in the freedom found in and through the blood of Jesus Christ? Perhaps maybe if we …fill in the blank…

Amen.

Touch…Heal

April 10, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

Acts 3:1-10 AMP

Mark 6:53-56 AMP

Psalm 30

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_touch

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/reiki?q=Reiki

 

 

“Touch…Heal…”

There is a new age…a new trend in healing called touch healing. Now you don’t actually touch the person. Wikipedia tells us that:

“Therapeutic touch (commonly shortened to “TT”), known by some as “non-contact therapeutic touch” (NCTT), is a pseudoscientific energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. “Therapeutic Touch” is a registered trademark in Canada for the “[s]tructured and standardized healing practice performed by practitioners trained to be sensitive to the receiver’s energy field that surrounds the body;…no touching is required.””

 

Also there are a lot of people who are receiving the alternative to medicine called Reiki. The Definition of Reiki is:

“A healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.”

 

I don’t think there is anything wrong with these alternatives. Our doctors seem to be giving all too many pills and not healing anyone. But what do these look like? What would happen if we were to go and have one of these treatments? Example time…I have had both treatments but I may exaggerate a little just to get my point across… show example of both…I think we as Christians are more hands on than hands off…or are we? OK…now think about Jesus. How did most of His healings happen?

 

We are all on a reading journey as we read the instructions that Jesus gave the first disciples and what He intended all to follow to do. Now Jesus wants us to “go and do likewise”…to take His example and follow it. Some of the instructions may not be words but actions that Jesus showed His disciples. Now I hope you all brought your bibles this morning. If not there are some in the pews. I want us each to look up the instructions…for ourselves…instead of me reading them to you. Who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do… just sayin.

 

Let’s back track for a moment. The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell the disciples I am alive…tell them you have seen me…tell them to Galilee and they will see me. Go and tell…ministry is an action. The next were stay…wait…witness (stay where they were and to wait for the Holy Spirit, then to witness to and for Him all over the world).

Now the next instructions or actions may be kind of hard for some people, touch…heal. It can be hard to touch someone we don’t like. It can be hard to touch one of “those” people…Pastor trying to see where his congregation was at on loving their neighbor. One Sunday he entered his church…after not showing for a week, wearing dirty cloths…unshaven. He walked in and everyone just stared and avoided him. He went to sit down front and one of the ushers shouted from the end of the pew…please sit in the back. So he went to the back and sat in a pew by himself…no one would come near him. So as the service began He walked again to the front of the church and into the pulpit. Now the congregation was shocked and horrified that this dirty bum would do this and then he began to speak. “: good morning my church brothers and sisters. Today’s message is on loving your neighbor where they are and not where you want them to be. They hung their heads in shame…”

 

We are called to touch lives and in the touching bring healing. Now Jesus went around and people were healed either by His touching or theirs… Listen to one of these accounts… found in Mark 6:53-56…read scripture together… Everyone who touched was healed…all of these lives were touched and healed… Can you imagine if we decided we wanted to be the fringe…the tassel of Jesus’ robe? How much healing do you think would happen?

 

It is in Jesus’ name and by His power we are healed. The disciples knew this and Jesus had sent them out to heal…baptize…witness. I love the story of Peter and John as they were going up to the temple one day. The story is in Acts 3:1-10. Let’s read it together to hear what Jesus would have us do in His name as we follow Him…read scripture together…

 

Now people going up to the temple were all ceremonially cleaned and ready to enter. Maybe that is why no one ever stopped to help this man before but Peter knew a better way…The Way as they called it…Jesus’ way and even though Hhe was going into the temple they touched and healed this man and because of that…he walked…no he leaped praising God. How many do we pass in our “clean state” and feel that we would just get all dirty if we touched and healed…? Who is sitting waiting for a healing in their life?

 

Go, tell…stay, wait, witness…touch, heal…these seem pretty simple things to do right? So why are there so many still waiting for our healing touch…for Jesus’ healing touch through us? Why aren’t we telling of the great Physician of our soul? Why are we not witnessing to the saving Grace? We as the body of Christ…as the hands, feet, voice and image of Christ in the world…need to understand the instructions and follow them to the point of us truly being that image of Christ. Now we are not perfect and we will forget at times. But we are less apt to forget if we read the manual of Immanuel…God with us. May be if we begin to touch the lives of those around us with what we have to offer through Jesus…as did Paul and John…maybe just maybe there would be more leaping and praising God in the lives who are waiting for the Healer…our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Perhaps then we too will be touched and healed by those who we heal. I don’t know…what do you think?

 

Amen.

“A Thankful Heart…”

November 22, 2015

Stetson Memorial UMC

Psalm 118:1, 19-29 NIV Bible

Ephesians 5:18b-20 NIV Bible

Colossians 3:16-18 NIV Bible

Colossians 1:11-13 NIV Bible

 

 “A Thankful Heart…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Well, here we are standing on the door step of new season of remembering when love came down for all of humanity. We are also getting ready to celebrate thanksgiving with our friends and family. We really do have a lot to be thankful for. The past few weeks kind of ushered us in to this time of thankfulness.

 

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

We all received a piece of beach glass to remind us that through all the pressure and storms in our lives the sharp edges we have are being smooth out so that we will become who God intends us to be. We have come to realize, if we hadn’t already, that we are broken and may have been discarded by the world but God sees that thing of beauty in us and it is from there our reconstruction comes and we are created new. (Spirits leading)In this we can have a thankful heart…we are made new

 

We also talked about a safe place and the fact that we all NEED to have that place where we are safe from all the negatives in life and can be who we are… broken vessels that God uses for His glory…those imperfect perfect vessels for God…and it is within this brokenness that Jesus’ light shines through us. If we were perfectly made…there would be no cracks in which our light can shine through. (Spirits leading) Even in our brokenness we can have a thankful heart for Jesus’ illuminating power.

 

We now realize that this safe place is in community and it is within the community of the church… the body of Christ…that we should feel the safest…that there is change in how we think and how we see community as we strive to live together as the body of Christ. As each of us represents a piece of beach glass, when we are put together we create a beautiful mosaic of God grace. As we think of holy vessels as we have the past few weeks, I can’t help but think…imagine how we would look as we go our into the world as God’s vessels to be poured out onto the world around us. I am sure they would all look different as we all come from a different place but always beautifully created. (Spirits leading) We can have a thankful heart as we live and grow in community.

 

We have so much to be thankful for. As I read the Psalm this morning so many images came to mind. Images of God opening the gate for us through which we can enter in…that gate being our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…for He is the gate of the Lord through which all must enter in to be saved. The image of Jesus in the manger as God answered our plea for salvation…the very person that was rejected has become the way to freedom. The image of God shining His light on humanity as we comfort in song because of what He has done…He is our God whom I shall praise and exalt on High. There are many images in this scripture and I invite you to read these words and contemplate the season that we will be entering next Sunday…the season of Advent.

 

11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever…

Amen

“I Will Choose Joy…”

December 13, 2015

Stetson Memorial UMC

Third Sunday of Advent

Inspired by Marcia McPhee

Sermon Series “Awed and Odd”

Joy in the Midst of Despair

Luke 1:46-55

Isaiah 61:1-3

(All Scripture is taken from the NIV Bible)

 

“I Will Choose Joy…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

Read “Mary’s Song” found in Luke 1 verse 46-55…

 

In the world in which we live it is kind of hard finding joy in any off it. How many of you feel the same way? It seems where ever you look there is despair and suffering of some sort. We may even be here in the midst of Advent, when we should be joyful, wondering “why can’t I feel that feeling…you know that feeling that we get each and every other Advent? I know it’s there, I just can’t seem to find it…” It is hard to have joy in the midst of despair whether it be in our lives or in the lives of others.

 

This advent, we are journeying to the cross by another road than what we may usually travel. We have been traveling a road that at times may have made us squirm a little. We have been inspired by Marcia McPhee’s “Awed & Odd” Sermon series where she states:

“We Christians believe in “folly”–that there is peace, love, joy and hope in the midst of the good and difficult times. This makes us “odd”–according to those who proclaim the victory of decline and death all around. It is especially in this season of expectant hope that we can instead proclaim the awe-inspiring presence of God’s reign that continually makes all things new. This is a season of odd “union”–swords into plowshares, wolves and lambs resting peacefully together, and the “speechless” singing for joy!”

 

So here we are at the third Sunday of Advent…I don’t know about you but the past couple of weeks has inspired me to open my eyes, take off the blinders and see God in world still working even though broken. We have We talked about seeing peace in the midst of conflict and have decided that even though the world around us may be that God is always working out His plan even if I don’t perceive it. We know because we have seen the light of God working within situations that others might deem hopeless.

 

We also decided that we are a little “odd” because we are “awed” by God who even in the darkness is there creating order out of chaos. And we decided that we would rather be awed for God even though the world calls us odd.

 

Last week we talked about…were stretched a little further as we talked about “Love In the Midst Of Hate”. We decided that Jesus, our Risen Lord, is the One to show us the way by the example that He set. With all the despair He saw, He answered with love and healing giving hope to those around Him. We also decided that as Jesus judges and reigns there will be peace in the midst of conflict and no more hate because all there will be love.

 

 

So let’s stretch a little further…how about “Joy in the Midst of Despair?” Now I don’t know about you but I find it hard…extremely hard to find anything close to joy in the midst of despair. Now raise your hand if you like being in the midst of despair, either your own or someone else’s? Ok…not so much… This is the odd and awed thing about having joy. It is a choice. That’s right…joy is more of a choice than a feeling that we get. Don’t get me wrong, we do feel but we choose to feel it. Example… we have been waiting for that new job opening to happen and it does. Not only does it open but you are offered the job which means more money, more benefits and more time off…Pretty awesome huh? Now here’s the fun part…how do you react? Audience participation time…

 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a choice to make. She was now pregnant and unwed. Joseph didn’t even know at this point in time. This was not the thing a proper young woman would want. As a matter of fact…who the heck was going to believe that she was “divinely pregnant”? But let’s look at her song…break apart the song stanza by stanza…

 

We too have our own song for we are the children of God through the grafting that took place on the cross…you know, the cross that the baby we celebrate will climb 33 years later… It is found in Isaiah 61 verses 1-3. Listen to the joy we have because of the love came down from heaven.

Read the scripture…let the Spirit lead in words after.

 

We really do need eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart that is open to what God is doing in the world around us. Then we will be able to see the peace and love that is evident to all who seek love. We will have joy even though there is despair around us. But it begins here (touch chest) and here (touch eyes). As we have an open Heart and lead by the Spirit of God we will use eyes of love and grace as we seek the love of God in the world around us. We will know the joy of our salvation and share that joy with others so that they too will see the light of day at the end of the tunnel that is created by the world. We will help them…and ourselves…take off those blinders that keep us only looking forward and be open to the surprise of God around us. We will have that unspeakable joy in the midst of despair…

 

Let us pray…pray for us to awaken and experience and see the joy of the Lord in the midst of despair…

 

Amen

Stay, Wait,Witness

April 3, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

Acts 1:1-14 NKJ

Psalm 150:1-6

 

 

“Stay…Wait…Witness”

How many of you read the instructions when you get something new? I know many times I don’t and then when there is an issue I have to go and find the instructions then read them. I think that if I had read the directions in the beginning I may not have had the issue I did. Ok…how about this…how many of you have ever tried to train a puppy or dog? You give the animal instructions on what you want them to do and you can just see in their eyes the conflict in their head. “Ok…this nice person who loves me wants me to (Fill in the blank). But I don’t want to follow that…I want to be running around and having fun…ready set go!” they are off running doing what they want… Sometimes it leads to things they had not expected like a run in with a skunk or worse. If they only followed the instructions they would be ok.

 

We sometimes go through life saying” I wish I had an instruction manual for life. It would make it a whole lot easier.” Well the first question is, would we read it if we had one…remember…we hate reading instruction manuals…the second is this, what do you mean there is no manual…there is a perfect one that we tend not to read. There is one that I like to call “everything you need to know about life and then some.” It’s the BIBLE silly… It is full of all kinds of information…

There is so much information in the bible that pertains to everything from how to raise kids to how to raise your spouse… But we just don’t pick up the book. There seems to be some kind of taboo so to speak about looking for answers in the bible. We, as humanity, go everywhere else but to the source of all wisdom.

 

We, as Christians, should know better. We know that the bible is our love letter of instruction and hope but we don’t seem to want to read it. As a matter of fact…we, as Christ followers, sometimes don’t know what Jesus wants us to do. We use the phrase “what would Jesus do” but we don’t even know the answer and don’t bother to look it up. We can be so silly at times… Jesus taught…instructed…His disciples then and now what they needed to do.

 

I would like us to take a look at some of those instructions. Now…this is what I need…ok would like….for you to do. Over the next few weeks…OK up until after Pentecost…I would like you to bring you bibles to church. Yes I am going to make you read the bible. I want us each to look up the instructions…who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do…just sayin.

 

Let’s back track for a moment. The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell the disciples I am alive…tell them you have seen me…tell them to Galilee and they will see me. Go and tell…You see ministry is an action…sometimes we can get all caught up in our programs that we forget what ministry is all about. Go…tell.

 

Next…”Stay, Witness”…I like to add wait in that instruction. Let me read this account to you…it’s found in acts 1:1-14…Read the account…

Now I can see these disciples now…much like training the dog. Mark 6:7-13 tells us they had already been sent out by Jesus and given the authority to heal and drive out demons. They know what it is like to “be in ministry”. But Jesus told them to stay where they were and wait… OK wait…they knew what they were doing…they didn’t need the instructions…they already had success. Now Jesus wants them the…and here s the wait I put in…wait to receive the Holy Spirit. Luckily they followed the instructions that Jesus gave them to stay and wait otherwise it could have be disastrous for them. We too, as Christ followers can tend to rush into things in which we “think” we know only to find out we knew nothing and there is a disaster sitting in front of us…

 

If they hadn’t followed the instructions they would not have been able to complete the other part of their instruction…Witness. Without the Holy Spirit they could not have done so. Without following Christ’s instruction to us through the Holy Spirit we too cannot go forward. And what did they do when they waited? They got together in the place they met and prayed…they prayed in one accord…they prayed in one voice. We can tend to be there like the disciples did in the beginning, staring up looking for Jesus. But that really doesn’t get us anywhere. We are looking intently to the sky for His return but in the meantime we are “called to action.” Talk about the instruction I have been given to share…pray together at our church one night a week…

 

We as the “hands, feet, arms…” of Christ need to hear the instruction that God is giving us to be whom He has ordained us and yes we all have been Ordained and Anointed by God to do His work in the world. And the only place we are going to find it is in His word…not from any self-help book that is on the market. Let’s spend some time together in God’s Word and in prayer. Maybe as we do this…we will once again hear God’s voice. Perhaps…maybe…just maybe…we will again activate the power of Pentecost…the Power of the Holy Spirit…within our ministries and our church’s. Just think of the possibilities as e step out in faith and trust in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Just imagine…

 

Amen.