Archive | October 2016

Who do you love?

 

October 9, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

“Love Them Like Jesus”

Psalm 67

Matthew 22:34-40

Luke 10:25-37

John 13:34-35

 

Who Do You Love…

 

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 22, verses 34-40…listen to the word from God for you and me, the people of God.

 

 

Who in your life do you love? Why do you love them? Do you think they love you back? Why? Now here is a tough question for you…is there anyone who just doesn’t rate on your “love meter”? You know…those people who you can find nothing within them to love. And it may not even be a person you know. It may even be a group of people…race, religion, color, body type, nationality…fill in the blank.

 

The world in which we live in has really over used the word “love.” We say we love our family, we love our friends, we love our church. But we also say things like we love our car, we love this song, we love food, we love cheesecake…you get the jest of what I am saying. Now I don’t know about you but I do not love my car the same way I love my children or husband…I do not love cheesecake as much as I love my friends…ok at times that may be true…but usually not.

Now we have said that God is the one who defines family. What about love? Do we believe that God defines love? And if so, do we go by God’s definition or our own? Now remember as you think about…ponder this statement…God loves you and I so much that He thinks we are to die for… As a matter of fact…that is exactly what He did…die for sinners like us…He who knew no sin took our sin upon Himself… Now that’s a love story…

 

We have been trying to define…trying to open our view of…the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I really define “family?” But we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who really defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.”  We have come to the realization 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. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Crist followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ. We are called to love one another. We are called to look into the eyes of those in need and help fill that need…

 

But what are we willing to do to be the hands and feet…to have those open doors. We as United Methodist claim “Open hearts, open minds and open doors”, do we really fulfill that claim or does it look much different than that? We claim we “Follow Jesus Christ, by Making Disciples, For the transformation of the world”, how are we doing with all of that? And it is not just us. It is we as Christ followers…those who claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior…

 

In the Matthew scripture I read this morning, the leaders of the synagogue got together to question Jesus. I think that His answer is something we as His followers should really ponder upon. It seems as if we have forgotten who should be at the top of our love meter…

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So if we love God and other we would be able to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets. This a truth of God’s word. If we love God and others we won’t do anything to sin against them. So very simple but we just can’t do it…thank you God that you sent Jesus to do what I couldn’t.

 

Ok…so who are our neighbors? I am glad you asked that…let’s see wat God says about that in His word. Let’s turn to Luke 10 verses 25-37:

Luke 10:25-37New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Go and do likewise…anyone…anywhere…anytime…who ever we see on the streets…on the television…etc.…is our neighbor. Ok…people of ISIS…are they our neighbor? God says yes they are but…do we have to agree with what they are doing? No…how can we help them as our neighbor? Pray…pray…and pray again… This is the hard part of loving others. Even when they do evil…we are to still love them…not what they do.

 

Ray and I were talking about this yesterday. We…as humanity…more times than not…don’t even love ourselves. We feel we are worthless or whatever other reason there may be not to love ourselves. So how are we to love others as ourselves if we don’t even love ourselves? We have no gage…no rule…to go by. We just simply don’t know how to truly love.

 

We figured this…now I think this is an important statement in order to learn to love others. In John 13:34-35, Jesus give us a new command:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We have that litmus test…we now have the rule we need. It has nothing really to do with us but everything to do with Jesus. We are to love as Jesus did and does. We no longer go by love others as yourself but to love one another as Jesus did and does. Jesus had to come and show us because we cannot do it on our own. We can’t pray for our enemies…we can’t unconditional love others…we can’t Fill in the blank…but in and through Jesus Christ we can. I can, you can,we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us…

 

 

 

So questions posed earlier:

v Who in your life do you love? Well we will each answer that differently but we usually love our family and friends…and food of course…

v Why do you love them? Usually it is because they love us back. Also because of how they treat us…take care of us…make sure nothing bad happens…

v Do you think they love you back? Why? We usually will answer yes to that because of how they show their love to us…in various ways…

v Is there anyone who just doesn’t rate on your “love meter”? Chances are…at some point in time…there will be people who may be hard to love in our lives…then again we too may be a “hard to love” person to someone else…

v What would it take for you to love like Jesus did and does? That’s a question that only you can answer but remember…we are to die for in our Fathers eyes…

 

OK…synopsis…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.  As we look into the eyes of others and come up next to them and help them in their need, we will model what Jesus did for you and me. As we open our hands and our doors we begin to create a better world not only for ourselves but in our community…our surrounding communities…and the world. We need to work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body… Then and only then, we will become one as we do all of this in the name the One who is head and shoulders above the rest…who is the head of the church, our hearts and our minds…our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…

 

What is it going to take for you…for me…for us as Christ followers to love as He did and does? Are you willing to learn to love yourself and in turn love others? If we are so unlovable, why would the Creator of the universe, the same One who created you and me, care enough to send His very best…His own Son so that we could be saved from sin and grafted into the family of God? Why?

 

Amen

Is This All There is…?

September 25, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

Is There A Higher Purpose?

Isaiah 1:11-17 MSG

Psalm 147:1-11

1 Corinthians 1:10-12 MSG

Luke 14:15-24 MSG

Romans 12:9-21 MSG

 

Is This All There is…?

 

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 Luke, chapter 14, verses 15-24…listen to the word from God for you and me, the people of God.

 

 

Opening something and being disappointed… Get all geared up for something and let down… Finally get that perfect job and finding it is not quite as glamorous as we thought. Giving our lives over to Christ and then being stagnant…

 

When we gave our lives to Jesus we made an oath with Him to obey Him and all of His commands and testimonies…Now a divine Oath is “The essence of a divine oath is an invocation of divine agency to be a guarantor of the oath taker’s own honesty and integrity in the matter under question. By implication, this invokes divine displeasure if the oath taker fails in their sworn duties.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath)”

How are we fulfilling that oath…that Covenant we have with Him with so many doctrine and rules of our own…? Have we chosen our own truth and not Gods truth…our own interpretation of His Word instead of the truth that is found in God’s Word…what He is really saying to us…?

 

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…remember “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. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Crist followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ.

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 tells us “10 I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”

 

We are called to love one another. We are called to think the same doctrine…the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit Leads us in all truth. It’s not what we think…it’s not what “they” think…It’s what the Holy Spirit leads us to which is the truth. But we have this contention…this divide…within our church’s. One has one set of rules, of beliefs…the other another set of rules, of beliefs. We seem to think that we are…our church is…the better Christian church. This is where the issue comes in. It’s not about us folks. It is about Jesus and the “great Commission” that was given to all who would and will believe. As I said…we are called to speak the same truth but no one is…no one seems to are.

 

Romans 12:9-21 tells us:

9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

  1. Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it
  2. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good.
  3. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
  4. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
  5. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
  6. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.

Definitely rules we really should live by. These are the things…the actions…that bring a smile to God’s face…These are God’s Truths from His Word that we pick and choose to believe…the accept as a guideline for our lives.

 

We need to wake up to the secure and perfect “doctrine” of Jesus Christ…and see what He would have us do…and it can only be found in and through the Holy Spirit. How we have missed the mark. How God must grieve. God calls us into unity and Satan…the author of division. These contentions…this division…are about different opinions…man made opinions. It’s the same type of division that is found in 1 Corinthians 1:11-12…

 

11-12 I bring this up because some from Chloe’s family brought a most disturbing report to my attention—that you’re fighting among yourselves! I’ll tell you exactly what I was told: You’re all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.”

 

Is that all there is to the Christian life or is there much more than that? Have we gone so far from the center…where the Truth is found…that we can’t find a way back? Part of our “getting on the outside of our little world” …the world within our walls…is to do just that…step out…step away…from what we have created and go back to the way Jesus created…

 

God has called all who believe to “the Dinner Party” …are we too busy with our own agenda…our own “truth” that we just don’t have time to go? We need to be lie the servant in the Luke Scripture from this morning. Going out as the Master tells us and inviting all that we see that haven’t received the invitation. We need to invite others to the “banquet” of our God and King. The King told to go and get all who look like they need a meal. He wanted the homeless and misfits invited to the feast. God wants His house full to over flowing…are we…His servants…doing what He has commanded us to do or our own thing that has no room for those who we don’t like for whatever reason that may be…

 

OK…synopsis…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.  As we work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body…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…

 

I would like to leave you with one more piece of scripture…now I want you to think hard about this scripture…does it really apply to the body of Christ…does it apply to how we act…does it apply to you and me? We need to wake up folks…time is getting short… will you be out inviting people to the feast or will you choose to look for a loop hole in the Truths of God’s word? It is found in the book of Isaiah…chapter 1, verses 11-17…I like Isaiah, he told it how it was…no beating around the bush…

Read Scripture

 

Hmm…food for thought don’t you think? We are all going around saying I am from this denomination or that but the real question is this…are you a Christ follower…do you follow what He taught…would you follow what He would do…and not some man made doctrine of the church?  Who cares what church we go to…we are all the body of Christ…different parts of the same body… We are all fighting the same battles. We need to come together because Satan is having a field day when we are apart from on another…severed body pieces… Jesus chose a greater purpose than what the Pharisees had…a purpose that set aside self and embodied others…essentially He said “here I am God…pick me”. As a Christian…as a Christ Follower…what will be yours?

 

Amen

The Eyes Have It…

October 2, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

Eyes…Windows of the Soul

Psalm 100

John 13:1-9, 12-17

James 2:14-17

Matthew 25:34,40-41, 45

 

 

 

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 John, chapter 13, verses 1-9 and 12-17…listen to the word from God for you and me, the people of God.

 

 

When I talk with my children I want them to look me in the eye. It drives me insane when I am talking with them and they are looking everywhere else but at me…into my eyes. I was always taught that when you talk with someone you should always loo them in the eye. For me…I know they are hearing me when they do. I also can almost tell what they are thinking…as if I am looking straight into their soul. I hate it when I am in pain and Ray asks me how am I doing… Of course I say “Fine…why” and he answers…I can see it in your eyes you are in pain. I can’t hide nothing from him…

 

Sometimes it is real difficult to look into others eyes. When we do we can see the pain and anguish they may be going through. It is as if their soul is just crying out through their eyes.  It can be hard to see…I know for me it is difficult I don’t want anyone to be in pain…It breaks my heart to see loved ones hurting.

 

It seems as if humanity…including Christians…are afraid of looking into others eyes because it would mean that they should do something to help and they just don’t want to get involved. It gets too personal when we reach out to others sometimes. We don’t want to get into others “business” so to speak. But isn’t that what we are here for. Even way back in the Garden God created a help mate, someone who would look into someone else’s eyes and be able to see a need and fill that need. Why is it that we are able to see a need and just look away?

 

We have been trying to define…trying to open our view of…the body of Christ? We have defined it as family. But how we do you and I really define “family?” But we don’t even come close to how God would define it. We are not the ones who define family…the Creator of our diversely awesome family is the One who really defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.”  We have come to the realization 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. We need to decide what is most important in our lives as Crist followers. And we need to do this together…as one family…one body of Christ. We are called to love one another. We are called to look into the eyes of those in need and help fill that need…

 

Ok so why would we want to help someone else? It is their issue not ours. Why do we have to reach out to someone with love and caring when they may not even ask for it? Isn’t that crossing over the line into their personal space…that personal boundary line? Do we really have to help…do we really have to step out of our comfort zone into their space of being? Do I really have to lower myself to their level and help out?

 

And survey says…Yes…yes we do… In the John scripture from this morning we hear about one of the things that Jesus did on the night before He gave Himself up for our sins. He served His disciples…He washed the feet of His disciples…the ones that were following Him. He was their teacher…their Rabbi…the Son of God…and He lowered Himself and served them…on that night He lowered Himself from Deity too human so that…humanity could be reconciled…so we could be reconciled to God. Now if Jesus…being deity…could lower Himself in so many ways for us…How can we not “lower” ourselves in His name?

 

Jesus told Peter “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” My question is this…if you and I don’t allow Jesus to work through us to “wash” others feet…do we have part of Him? Do we truly belong to Him if we choose not to look into others eyes…see their pain and need…and not try to alleviate it in Jesus name? Peter answered Jesus “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Are we excited to have Jesus wash others through us? Are we excited about being used or do we just want to only to as little as possible for the Kingdom of God?

James 2: 14-17 tells us:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

It is our faith that spurs us to help other. It is within our faith that we look into others eyes…see their need…and fulfill that need. It is not true faith if we glance in their direction and continue on our way. It is a dead faith if we do not want to share it with others through our actions.

 

So questioned posed earlier:

v why would we want to help someone else? Has anyone ever helped you? Pay it forward. Are you blessed by God? Pay it forward. Have you been accepted as a child of God? Rejoice and share the blessing. If you were in need would you want help? If so be that help that others may need.

v Why do we have to reach out to someone with love and caring when they may not even ask for it? Did Jesus ask if humanity wanted help or did He just go to the cross even as humanity sat in darkness and sin?

v Do we really have to help…do we really have to step out of our comfort zone into their space of being? We are not called to sit in our comfort zones. We are called to go out and make disciples of all nations.

v Do I really have to lower myself to their level and help out? Chances are…at some point in time…someone has felt they had to lower themselves to help you. Look at what Jesus did…

 

OK…synopsis…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.  As we look into the eyes of others and come up next to them and help them in their need, we will model what Jesus did for you and me.  As we work together as a church…as churches…as extended families…as the body of Christ…one body…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…

 

Jesus is quite clear on what happens when we do or don’t help other…Matthew 25

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Or

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Which would you choose?

 

Amen