What Is Most Important…?

 

September 18, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

What really matters?

Matthew 25:36-46

Psalm 150

 

 

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

I would ask you to rise, as you are able, for the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 36-46…listen to the word from God for you and me, the people of God.

 

 

Sometimes life can get so complicated. There are so many things and people who are needing our attention. It can get overwhelming because of demands…the urgency…the fill in the blank. I know there are days that I feel like I am chasing my tail…around and around in circles. It can be hard, some days, to organize my day as I try to do the things I feel need to get done first. OK…audience participation time… the question is this…What matters most to you and why?

 

How would we define the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I really define “family?” Try as we might, sometimes we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We leave out people who because they don’t fit our idea of family. But truthfully…we are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who really defines it…our God is the One who gets to define what He himself created…Do you remember the saying from the movie “Lilo and Stitch” from last week? Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind. We also came to realize that in order to become community in the world…in order to continue to be relevant we, as Christ’s followers, need to wake up. Wake from our slumber…wake from our complacency…wake from our numbness and see the world and people around us who are looking for someone to reach out in love, hope and compassion. They are in need of a savior…we can lead them to the saving grace we were and are given anew each day

 

Now there are probably a million ways to help someone…to minister to those who are in need. But I think Jesus kind of gave us a list of ways…sort of like categories…that we can lift others up from their sea of despair. In the scripture I read this morning from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about what the sheep and goats did…or didn’t do.

 

  1. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat
  2. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink
  3. I was a stranger and you invited me in
  4. I needed clothes and you clothed me,
  5. I was sick and you looked after me
  6. I was in prison and you came to visit me

(Speak from the Spirit for each piece) Now this is not a checklist for us to check off and then we are done. To me it seems as if it is a way of life…one that honors God and Jesus…

 

What is our bottom line? What really matters to us? According to Jesus, what’s the bottom line? How do we or don’t we compare with what Jesus says matters most? In the scripture I read this morning…Jesus is clear on what really matters. Serving others…helping one another…loving others remember where they are and not where we “think” they should be. Jesus is also clear on what happens if and when we care more for ourselves than others. So many things seem to demand our attention as we walk on this journey of life. I don’t think we want to miss out on what really matters in life. The world claims one way but we are called to another. We are summoned…we are beckoned to a different way of life…one in which we are in community with on another.

 

As we open our hearts and our doors to those who are on the outside we become family. As we become family we can work together as the body of Christ…as a family of believers who reach out to those who are looking for someone to grab their hand to pull them out of the vortex they are in. As we come together the word Ohana becomes our battle cry because no one is left out or left behind. As we help others our focus is changed and we begin to think “we” instead of “me”. We begin to see a change happen within our communities when we begin to define…to specify what really matters.  We become one as we do all of this in the name the One who is the heads of the coin toss of life…being the head of the church, our hearts and our minds…our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…

 

Amen

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My Bridge

BRIDGE

Posted: 13 Sep 2016 10:01 PM PDT

BRIDGE

We can be grateful to God for the ones who came before us, who built strong bridges that connect our past and our future.

Photo by Beverly Shamana

Interested in submitting an image to Sight Psalms? Click here for more information.

Sight Psalms is a ministry of The Upper Room.

 

Thank You Jesus for being that bridge of redemption and grace…

Waiting

Ecclesiastes 11:6New Living Translation (NLT)

Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

2 Timothy 3:14New Living Translation (NLT)

14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.

How do you react when waiting on God? Some of the things that may go through our minds is:

  • Thinking He has forgotten
  • Whine I want it now
  • Question if He heard us
  • Get frustrated

Sometimes, God wants to see how we will wait on Him. He already knows what His answer is. How are we going to act or hat are we going to do while we wait? Are we going to trust in His goodness and sovereignty or are we going to think that we have to do this ourselves instead of with God?

 

We need to keep preying while we wait. He will strengthen us as we wait. Our trust grows as we pray aas we are waiting. If we don’t pray we leave the door oopen for the enemy…

  • Doubt
  • Discouragement
  • Disappointment
  • Despair

or even worse

  • Loss of Faith

 

God wants to and does answer prayer. He has proved it in the past,present and future. How will you wait for God to answer today?

 

The Giver of Joy

Do you find more pleasure in the giving or receiving of gifts? Most people are more inclined to the getting versus the giving. Why do we have such a “me, me, me” or “mine, mine, mine” attitude? It is even worse when we Christians want more. We tend to look at God as a “magic Genie” or “Santa Claus”. We ask and don’t even think about giving to anyone else.

God is the true joy giver. When we keep asking and asking we seldom find joy that lasts. It is only a short time before we want more.

We need to come as children…in awe and wonder…thankful to our heavenly Father and leave as adults…so thankful that we give to others out of the abundance we have been given. There are many ways to give. Our time, our heart, our finances are just a few ways to give.As we are generous with what we have, we find real joy.

Real joy is really found in the giving and not the receiving. What have you given back to others…to God…out of your abundance?

We Are Family…

September 4, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

Family

Matthew 25:34-46

Galatians 6:10

1 Peter 2:17

1 Peter 5:9

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

 

We Are Family…

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

Please stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Matthew… (read Matthew 25:34-46)

 

Family…Merriam Webster would have us believe that family is:

  1. a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : 
  2. a :  a group of persons of common ancestry : 

b :  a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : 

  1. a :  a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation

How would you define family…what does family look like to you? Now here is the million-dollar question…do you feel we, as Christians…as the family of God…, have forgotten what family is or have distorted what the word family is? Why do you feel that?

 

The first Sunday in September almost feels like the end of our summer school vacation…we come to worship to reconnect with friends, and with the Holy Living God. “Connection” is part of who we understand ourselves to be. But we really do need to admit that we too often are concerned with “Population: Me,” both as individuals and as a church. We may even do things to each other to hurt each other or even worse, tell others they are not worthy to be part of our family. We even leave the family unit just because we don’t get our own way or we don’t like someone in our “family tree” …

 

But how would God have us view family? What or who would God invite into the family tree where we gather together and share our lives journey? What would it mean to follow the command of the Table Host to expand our “population”–our notion of “family”–so that we might restore our relationships with each other and draw that relationship circle wider and wider?

 

Let me read a couple of Scriptures from the New Testament that talks about the family of believers…

Galatians 6:10

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 1 Peter 2:17

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

1 Peter 5:9

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

The sheep in the Matthew scripture I read is how God would have us treat others…including those within our family of faith. But all too often we wind up, as the saying goes, hurting those who should mean the most to us. Is it because we tend to take our loves ones, our family members (whatever that may look like) for granted?

 

The goats in the scripture seemed surprised that they didn’t see Jesus among them. So maybe we need to ask ourselves this question, who do I consider Jesus to be? Do I see the face of Jesus in those around me or do I just see it when I look in the mirror…or even worse…do you not even see Jesus at all in the world around you?

 

I was talking with a very wise lady a few days ago and I think she hit the nail on the head. We, as the family of Christ…the family of believers, have forgotten what family means…what family is We all too often bail when the going gets tough…we forget the old saying “when the going gets tough…the tough get going.” And that doesn’t mean we get going out the door but stick even closer together to work through and weather the storm… The sad part about this is that it is happening in many of the places where God’s family meets. It is like a cancer that is destroying, eating away the bond of family ties we have with each other.

 

As we gather this morning I would have you ponder on these questions…

Who are my family members? Who do I consider my extended family? Are there others that I should invite into my extended family? Who would God want me to become a part of the family of God? Will I extend grace and love to my family members that God has called me to be part of? What did Jesus do so that I could be invited? Will I go and do likewise…?

 

The message in the Mathew scripture is clear…we know both sides of the coin. Which will you choose? I choose heads…following the head of our church, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. How about you?

 

Amen.

Hey…Are You Asleep Yet

 

September 11, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

Wake Up!

Galatians 6:1-5 NLT

Acts 20:7-12 MSG

 

Hey…Are You Asleep Yet…

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

 

I remember as a child I went to many sleepovers at my friend’s houses. Now, being a mom, my daughters love to have friends over to sleep. I don’t know how much sleep happens during these sleep overs. I remember trying to go to sleep at these sleep overs and saying to my friends “Hey…are you asleep yet?” Of course they weren’t so we would start talking until the sun came up… I am not sure these should be called sleep overs…maybe “stay up all night having fun talking and having random dance parties while we constantly eat night” …but that is way too long…

 

There are times when we gather together as a church family…the body of Christ…that we may ask each other…hey are you asleep…during our church services…I know that would never happen here during a sermon right…right? OK…to be sure we are all awake here I want you to turn to your neighbor and say “Hey…are you asleep…?” But it is unfortunate that there are times…within the body of Christ…within our family…the answer is yes…yes I am asleep. Maybe that answer needs to change…maybe it’s time to wake up from our slumber and see the world around us…

 

How would we define the body of Christ? Last week we defined it as family. We asked ourselves the question “how would I define family?” We even talked about how God would view family and discovered that we sometimes don’t even come close to how God would define it. We can tend to leave out people who, for whatever reason we have, just don’t fit our idea of family. I left us with some questions to ponder and I pray we really did ponder them, because unless we do…there will be no change in the tide we are in…the scripture is clear in Matthew 25:34-46 what will happen if we don’t change… Shyanne reminded me this week of a saying from the movie “Lilo and Stitch”, Ohana means family…and family means no one is left behind or left out.

 

OK…so how are we going to change the tide? That seems like a really daunting task. I would say yes; it is an intimidating task but it is one that must be done. And yes…we can’t do this alone. We need God’s help to do this because if we try to this alone we will be overcome by the immensity of the problem. So…here’s where we begin…by simply waking up.

 

Let’s listen to a story in Acts that talk about falling asleep. It is found in chapter 20 verses 7-12…I am reading from the Message Bible Translation this morning…

Now this man Eutychus’ name means fortunate…and yes he was very fortunate that Paul was there. This story kind of symbolizes what happens when we, as the body of Christ, decide to fall asleep. We fall…we miss the mark…and die. But there is hope in this story. God can make us alive again when we decide to open our eyes again.

 

In order to begin to live outside our own little world…outside our walls…we need to wake up to the world around us. We need to see beyond what is right in front of us…what we see may not be what is truly there unless we look with the eyes of love and grace…through and with the eyes of God…those same eyes that looked upon us and showed mercy and grace even as we sat in sin. Sometimes we just go through the motions …in our lives…in our worship … in our fill in the blank. Maybe…just maybe…it is not so much about staying awake at church but staying awake as a church.

 

Look…there may be many reasons why we don’t want to wake up to the world around us, maybe there is too much pain and sorrow…maybe there is too much evil that we see…it can be overwhelming. Speak from the Spirit about the world around us…

 

But the problem is this…if we go numb and decided that it is better to sleep…we miss the blessings God has for us…even as we deal with the pain and despair around us. If we go numb what is going to happen to those on the outside reaching out to take hold of the rope that will pull them out of the spiraling vortex of pain and darkness into the light of a new day…a new beginning?

 

Here’s the Good News. God is waiting for us to wake up…He is waiting to lay across our lives…our churches…our ministries and bring them back to life…to bring us back to life…so we can truly live…! Church…as we wake up as the body of Christ…as Christ’s Church we reclaim the hope and power…we can and will make a difference.

 

Ok…so here’s the scenario…As we open our hearts and our doors to those who are on the outside we become family…as we become family we can work together as the body of Christ…as a family of believers who reach out to those who are looking for someone to grab their hand to pull them out of the vortex they are in…in doing so the word Ohana becomes our battle cry because no one is left out or left behind. And we do all of this in the name the One who is the heads of the coin toss of life…being the head of the church, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ… Got it?

 

Amen

We Are Family

September 4, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

Family

Matthew 25:34-46

Galatians 6:10

1 Peter 2:17

1 Peter 5:9

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

 

We Are Family…

 

Prayer of adoration and for God’s illumination so that His Word would be heard through me or in spite of me…

 

Please stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Matthew… (read Matthew 25:34-46)

 

Family…Merriam Webster would have us believe that family is:

  1. a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : 
  2. a :  a group of persons of common ancestry : 

b :  a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : 

  1. a :  a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation

How would you define family…what does family look like to you? Now here is the million-dollar question…do you feel we, as Christians…as the family of God…, have forgotten what family is or have distorted what the word family is? Why do you feel that?

 

The first Sunday in September almost feels like the end of our summer school vacation…we come to worship to reconnect with friends, and with the Holy Living God. “Connection” is part of who we understand ourselves to be. But we really do need to admit that we too often are concerned with “Population: Me,” both as individuals and as a church. We may even do things to each other to hurt each other or even worse, tell others they are not worthy to be part of our family. We even leave the family unit just because we don’t get our own way or we don’t like someone in our “family tree” …

 

But how would God have us view family? What or who would God invite into the family tree where we gather together and share our lives journey? What would it mean to follow the command of the Table Host to expand our “population”–our notion of “family”–so that we might restore our relationships with each other and draw that relationship circle wider and wider?

 

Let me read a couple of Scriptures from the New Testament that talks about the family of believers…

Galatians 6:10

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 1 Peter 2:17

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

1 Peter 5:9

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

The sheep in the Matthew scripture I read is how God would have us treat others…including those within our family of faith. But all too often we wind up, as the saying goes, hurting those who should mean the most to us. Is it because we tend to take our loves ones, our family members (whatever that may look like) for granted?

 

The goats in the scripture seemed surprised that they didn’t see Jesus among them. So maybe we need to ask ourselves this question, who do I consider Jesus to be? Do I see the face of Jesus in those around me or do I just see it when I look in the mirror…or even worse…do you not even see Jesus at all in the world around you?

 

I was talking with a very wise lady a few days ago and I think she hit the nail on the head. We, as the family of Christ…the family of believers, have forgotten what family means…what family is We all too often bail when the going gets tough…we forget the old saying “when the going gets tough…the tough get going.” And that doesn’t mean we get going out the door but stick even closer together to work through and weather the storm… The sad part about this is that it is happening in many of the places where God’s family meets. It is like a cancer that is destroying, eating away the bond of family ties we have with each other.

 

As we gather this morning I would have you ponder on these questions…

Who are my family members? Who do I consider my extended family? Are there others that I should invite into my extended family? Who would God want me to become a part of the family of God? Will I extend grace and love to my family members that God has called me to be part of? What did Jesus do so that I could be invited? Will I go and do likewise…?

 

The message in the Mathew scripture is clear…we know both sides of the coin. Which will you choose? I choose heads…following the head of our church, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. How about you?

 

Amen.

What is Worship?

What is worship…

OK…so we go to church on Sunday mornings. We get all “prettied up”…put on our “Sunday best.” We got to a building and maybe greet some people. We find our favorite seat (and don’t let someone be sitting in it) sit down and wait? What are we waiting for? Why are we even here in the first place? What are we expecting to hear…to see… to feel? What is this worship thing all about?

Well we need to ask ourselves a few questions:

  1. What is our attitude about going to church? Are you going there because it is an exclusive club for you or is it a place for both “sinners” and “saints” alike? Is it a joy or a drudgery?
  2. What is our motivation for going to church? Is church a duty…a item on your checklist or is it something much more? Is it a place where you come to be entertained or a place you expect God to show up and is present amongst us?
  3. What keeps us from going to church if that is what is happening…? Is it a place where you feel safe or is it a place where you feel you have to always watch your back? Has it become that social club and not a place where you experience the life changing message of hope?
 

OK…Romans 12:3-5 tells us:
(Romans 12:3-5New Living Translation (NLT)
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

 
We gather together as the body of Christ…becoming one body with many parts. We come together to worship God…to thank God for all He has done and is doing in our lives and in the lives of the body of Christ…in the body of believers.
 
So why do we need corporate worship…why do we need to gather together in one place? Can’t we worship God in our own homes…on our own? Well yes we can and should worship God in our homes and our work place…we should live a life of constant worship. But…but…when we come together in worship it renews our faith and renews our joy…we hold each other up in prayer and come along side each other in times of crisis. 

There is value in a Godly community. It is a place where we find our role in God’s great design and our purpose for His Kingdom. Have you discovered your role or purpose? It can only be done in community. In community is where we should be able to find meaning and purpose in life. Otherwise we just go through life and not live the abundant life God has in store for everyone who believes.

I think our biggest deterrent to the issue of finding our purpose in life… We use those two favorite words “I can’t”… You are right…we can’t, I can’t…you can’t…but God CAN… In Mathew 19:26, Jesus tells us:

(Matthew 19:26New Living Translation (NLT))
26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

 
We just can’t do it on our own but God…in and through community with Him and other believers…can do far more than we can ask or hope for. As we come together in community, Ephesians 4:16 tells us”
 
Ephesians 4:16New Living Translation (NLT)

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

We grow and become whom God would have us to be…even if we have a hard time, at times, believing in ourselves…God will always help us to succeed in what He has planned for us…God keeps His promises. This truth we can “Take to the bank…we can bank on it.”

So what is worship? To me it is a way of life. You don’t really “do” worship but you “be” worship in what you say and do. It is saying “Thank You” to God not with just lip service but with action. It is gathering with a rag tag group of people…as Jesus did…and hear the Good News. It is during worship I can expect God to show up and I will be changed forever. It is in and through worship I am free to love all…to see the sacred worth in all…to invite others into my “worship space” and feel the movement of the Spirit with in them.

So…what is worship to you and what will you do with your worship of God. I would like to leave you with a piece of scripture found in the Gospel of Matthew… it kind of says it all…

The Workers Are Few

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Are you ready to be counted amongst the workers?

God Is A Rock

August 14, 2016
Patten Pioneer Days
Worship in the Park
I have noticed that when people come together they are no longer just a person; they become something much larger than themselves. They become a community…they are no longer all alone. I have seen it happen in so many different ways. When teens get together they become extended family with one another. Even the parents get to become part of their community at times. I don’t know how many adopted children I have had that are my daughter’s friends.

We as adults seem to do the same thing. When we have friends that are close they become family members to us. When things go the way God plans them to go, we become members of Christ’s body…we become brothers and sisters in Christ. We were born into a community, our families, and we need community to thrive and become who we were created to be and to fulfill the purpose that only we can fulfill.

I love how Patten gets together and celebrates Patten Pioneer Days. I grew up in a town that celebrates a homecoming week just as Patten does. It has been like turning back the clock to when I was young. A time when community came together to celebrate a time in its history…a time when community set aside it’s differences…it’s pain…it’s sorry…and finds one common bond to celebrate. There truly strength in community. In community we find hope.

You hear about communities coming together after a tragedy on the News. These communities have suffered some sort of disaster but they make the choice to bond together and help one another out. It is within this choice that they find hope for each new day…it is within this choice that you see God working…it is within this choice that you hear of people’s strength and resolve that can only be attributed to God who gives strength and courage in the face of diversity.

But being in community can be risky business. The world in which we live give us a lot to fear. What if that person hurts me when I try to reach out to them? What if they are trying to scam me? I know what is going to happen if I help…They are going to rob my house while I am away. That person deserves where they are…they did it to them self…why should I help? They are only going to it again… We have to actually reach out to those who are on the outskirts of our society…the outskirts of our towns…the outskirts of our community to be a real community. In order to be in community we have to act a way that is totally against our culture…that alone can be risky business. We have to change from doing to being…through which the Spirit within us does the work. Not so much doing God’s work as being God’s work in community.

But we can’t do this alone…we need God’s help…and we need each other’s help. When we come together in community we will see the “risk factor” go down because we are not alone but united as one. There may still be issues within our community but as we band together …the issues don’t seem so hard because we are doing it together and not trying to take the task on by ourselves.

Strength is found in community. There are many cultures throughout the world that their strength is found in community. Without community their whole way of life would be destroyed. We find peace and we find hope in community.

When we reach out with love and hope to someone in need we give them strength for the journey. When we help our neighbor rebuild their life again we give them hope for the future. We find peace and we find hope in community.

When we come together as a community and set aside our differences and concentrate on our similarities we are a force to be reckoned with. We can conquer our trials and difficulties because we are strong when we bond together. We find peace and we find hope in community.

But it all begins within you and within me. How are you…how am I going to answer the call to community? What is going to be our answer to those on the outskirts wanting…no not wanting…needing to become part of community…our community? Those who are outsiders…so to speak…are in need of our help…in and as community. How are we going to answer the call to love, hope and a future?

The Book of Habakkuk bible has a beautiful passage that are words of hope even when all around seems to be falling apart. It reads:
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
And there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Try as we might…we can’t do any of this alone. It is through and in God that we are strengthen…it is in and through God we have a new vison of who and what others are…it is through and in God that we become community. No we can’t do it all alone…but as we partner with God…that is when the impossible happens…when the miracles are seen.

Community may be risky business but I wouldn’t have it any other way…to be a community or not to be a community…that is the question…what is your answer going to be?