Archive | April 2017

Where is the Love…

March 1, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Ash Wednesday

Sermon Series:

“God Shaped Hole…”

“Where Is the Love”

Inspired by Marcia McPhee’s

Looking For Love…

Joel 2:12-17

Matthew 6:1-6; 16-21

 

“Where is the Love”

 

Prayer of illumination….

 

How fitting it is that we begin our Lenten journey in ashes…the thought brings us back to the reality it’s not about us…Titus tells us that it is not by what we do that we are saved but by God’s grace we are redeemed. As we enter this time of Lent, we remember that it is a time of self-reflection, a time when our hearts turn towards the journey to the cross, a time when we ponder on the gift that God so freely gives to you and to me…the gift of redemption and forgiveness wrapped in a cross on top of a hill from so long ago. As I reflect on my life and walk with God I am reminded by the reading from Joel that it is not the outside that God is concerned with, it is not my outward appearance but the appearance of my heart…how is it really with my soul. God is waiting for the day when all of His creation turns back to Him as He had planned for it to be from the very beginning.

 

It is hard at times toknow exactly what to do and what not to do during the Lenten season. Do I fast? Do I decide to give up something or do I not…? Should I tell all my friends or do I not tell them? Even though how hard it may be…I think that Matthew has something to tell us about this whole fasting thing. It is found in Matthew 6 verses 1-6 and 16 through 21 that I read tonight. During Lent we are not sure if we should add something to our “daily walk” with God…it is always a daily walk but during this season we seem to concentrate more on it… There is a danger of adding too much and we want to show how religious we are to those who are around us…all this addition and subtraction can make our heads explode…but then you have to add in the multiplying that we may feel we need to do…take on more projects, do more than our share of different new and improved things that will make us super Lenten warriors , and the like, only to wind up frustrated and overtired and not even sure what this whole Lent thing is about…It becomes all about us and what we do and less about what God did, has done and continues to do…

 

This journey of Lent is a journey of repentance…we are turning around so that we might bin in a right relationship with God. We are turning back to a love that we once had…returning to our first love. As we turn back to our first love…that God shaped hole is filled once again.

 

But at times it is hard. We get so lost that we just keep grabbing onto what feels like a good fit only to realize that we are trying to fit a square shape into a God shaped…heart shaped hole. What is it that we are really looking for? Are we looking for love in all the wrong places and failing miserably?

 

As we share this Lenten journey with one another, I would like to invite all of you on a journey to the heart of the matter…finding that perfectly, God shaped thing we are missing. I would like to invite you to a time of looking at what will fill that hole so that we can help others find their way to the place of turning around so that they too will be on the road to God’s own heart.

 

The Lenten journey is our journey of reflection and hope…it’s the road…our means of access…we travel to the destination at the end of our 40 day journey. The place where God showed His greatest compassion and mercy…the place where He gave His Son to die in our stead so that we may have life renewed and redeemed…the foot of the Cross of Calvary. It is good that we begin in ashes for it is by ashes we were made and to ashes we will return. Wednesday’s ashes…God transformed into the beauty of the cross for me and for you.

Amen.

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Shiney and New

February 26, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Transformative Praise”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 99

Exodus 24:12; 34:29-35

Matthew 17:1-5

“Who are you” by The Who

 

“Shiny and New…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 17, verses 1-5. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…

“Who are you” theme song…

Good Morning. Today is the last Sunday before we begin our Lenten journey to the cross. How appropriate that is it called Transfiguration Sunday in the church calendar. It is a celebration of when Jesus and a few of His disciples, Peter, James, and John, went up onto a mountain top. Here Jesus’ form is transfigured…transformed…right before the Disciples eyes. Now the reason why I feel that is so appropriate that we celebrate THIS Sunday just before our Lenten journey is this, In Lent we travel to the cross where our biggest transformation happens…where the biggest part of us becoming the you God wants us to be takes place…

 

We are at our last week of talking about how God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. It has been interesting and enlightening journey. We have asked who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? Who are we in Christ…? I continue to truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. What transformation has happened to you as we looked at who we are in Christ…or should I say Whose we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God…there is One who never reject us…flaws and all… We went to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we in turn will accept others and offer them the same grace we have received.

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

Not only are we God’s beloved we also carry Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… God has called us to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. As we find our niche…we become an example for those who are looking for a better way…

 

We know that when we noble…act with integrity, we honor God and embody the life we are called to live…one of trustworthiness and honesty.  As we show this character trait, we can begin living relationally with those around us…creating a three-fold cord that just can’t…no won’t be broken. We have realized we need to the methodically…purposefully…compassionate with ourselves and those around us.

 

The final piece in the becoming who we are is that when we realize who we are…when that Truth transforms us…we proclaim to others of the transformative power found in Jesus Christ. We just can’t keep it in that we are made “shiny and new” …we shine with the Shakina of God…the brilliance of God shines through us…because of the hope…the grace…the love that God pours out into and upon our lives to be poured out onto a world in need of a tidal wave of God’s presence.

 

We are kind of like Moses when he came down from the mountain… Let me share with you the story from Exodus 24”:12 and 34:25-39:

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

 

33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

 

Now…the people were afraid of the “glory of God” the Shakina of God, and so they stood afar from Moses…until it was explained to them…then they came near. In the world, we live in today, many are afraid of who we are because they don’t understand, or they have had a bad experience”, or they …fill in the blank. We need to share our testimony with our mouths and our lives as a way of explaining who God is so that those who are afraid will understand and come near…

 

My question is this, after Moses explained why he glowed and people came near, why did he have to cover his face? No one was going to be afraid of him… This is my theory…this was before the Holy Spirit was given. Moses would shine whenever he came back from talking with God. Could it be that over time the shine would kind of wear off and he wouldn’t shine again until he was with God. He didn’t want the people to know and be discouraged so he hid his face until he would shine again…be all shiny and new.

 

Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit within us and God has come to dwell within you and me. We can always have that Shakina of God about us…that is if we choose to have that shine upon our lives. We have hope and that is more than enough to make us shine for God. WE are transformed and it is that transformation that others see…the transformation is our witness to the world of God’s saving grace.

 

Now I would like to talk a little about a word that is not just a verb but a noun. The word is hope…we have hope and we hope in Hope. In proclaiming the transformation that we have in Christ, I think that one of the biggest pieces within that transformation is hope…not as the world gives it because the world is fickle…but God’s hope which endures forever. When we realize who and whose we are, we totally cling to that hope because it will not disappoint us…or will it ever fail us. It is hard to hope as Christians do…we cannot see our hope but believe…the world hopes because it hopes in what is seen…The Christian hope endures and the world’s only until the next thing…. or until they get what they see…

 

Humanity seems to be always looking for hope. As we try to find that hope we can tend not to see it right before our eyes. Hebrews 11 is called the “Faith Hall of Fame”. All of the people in this chapter have been remembered because of their great faith. But in reading this chapter, one thing keeps coming to my mind. These “hero’s of faith” had one thing in common. Their hope was not in themselves but was in God.

 

Abraham never saw the promises of descendants too numerous to count but had faith and hope in God to fulfilled His promises. Noah built an ark to be able to escape the wrath of God. Even though there had never rain before this time, Noah believed and put his hope in God to deliver him and his family from the consuming waters. He chose to trust God and through his faith in God, he found hope.

 

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

 

In the world we live in we are taught to have hope in things we see. But as Beloved of God we have a hope in things unseen. It is foolishness to the world but we hope in greater things that the world just can’t understand.

We have hope in eternal and not temporal trappings of this world. In whom shall you place your hope?

 

 

Who are you…who am I…who are we  I’ll tell you who we are. We are beloved, cherished, favored, flawless, loved, accepted, Name carrying, trustworthy, honest to goodness, relationally living, purposefully compassionate, transformed, children of God with an extraordinary purpose. That’s who we are and that’s what we exclaim in the name of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. What else could we be?

 

Amen

“The Methodically, Compassionate Life…”

February 19, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Go Beyond the Ordinary”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 119:33-40 AMP

Deuteronomy 24:19-22 NLT

Leviticus 19:9-10 NLT

Ruth 2:17-22 NLT

Matthew 5:40-46 NLT

“Who are you” by The Who

 

“The Methodically, Compassionate Life…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 5, verses 40 through 46. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…Read Matthew from the Message Bible.

“Who are you” theme song…

 

I have question. Should we go the extra mile when we do things or do you think just doing what is called for good enough? I mean seriously, when we are asked to do something, we have that invitation…from the Holy Spirit within us…to go one step further. Should we live a mediocre, average or runoff the mill life or an extraordinary life…a life of intension and resolve? Which do you think would be more fulfilling? What and who do you think we are called to be when we answered the call of Jesus in, on and through our life? Random acts of kindness…compassion…not only brightens someone else’s day but also our own.

The story of the bathroom…

 

We have been talking about how God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? We have begun to look at who we are in Christ… I continue to truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God…there is One who never reject us…flaws and all… We went to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we in turn will accept others ab= d offer them the same grace we have received.

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

Not only are we God’s beloved we also carry Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… God has called us to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. As we find our niche…we become an example for those who are looking for a better way…

 

We know that when we noble…act with integrity, we honor God and embody the life we are called to live…one of trustworthiness and honesty.  As we show this character trait, we can begin living relationally with those around us…creating a three-fold cord that just can’t…no won’t be broken.

 

Today I have two words for you “Methodical Compassion” …being intentional in our lives as we live with others who are just as broken as we are. We need to be deliberate with how we live out our life here in a foreign country…remember that we are not of this world, only in it to exemplify our homeland in the way we live and love one another. Now we are Methodist and we know how to live by a method…so to speak. There is truly a method to our madness…to reach the least, lost and forgotten with the Gospel of peace, love, joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and new life.

 

But what if we…you and I…decided that we were going to live how God would have me live? What if we took to heart the Psalm read this morning? Asking the Lord to teach us and give us understanding…to live life with abandon to the will of God…letting God have control and rule over everything and anything pertaining to our life journey.

 

The Matthew scripture tells us what that life would look like… we would go beyond what is called and love even those who would harm us. Pretty much what Jesus modeled for us in His life and death. What would it take for you and I to live that life of abandon to and for God?

 

OK…so let’s look at a couple more examples of methodically, intentionally, showing compassion for others that may open our mind to the possibilities that are there for us…The first is from Leviticus chapter 19 verses 9-10:

9 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.

 

Instead of grabbing everything for ourselves, instead of keeping the whole harvest that God has given us, we are to share with those who are less fortunate. We are blessed to be a blessing and when we are Methodically Compassionate, we care for others and their needs…sometimes even before our own.

The next sounds a lot like the first but there is a “little twist” to it in the end. This one comes from Deuteronomy chapter 24, verses 19-22. Listen and see if you can find that little twist I talked about…

19 “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. 20 When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 21 When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. 22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. That is why I am giving you this command.

 

Did you hear the twist I this scripture? It tells us to remember the time of our slavery…remember when we were in want…in need. Now I don’t think that this remembering has do with just our physical needs…I believe it includes us remembering when we were Spiritually in bondage. When we are engaging others, they may have a greater need than what can be seen. They may be spiritually hungry and thirst for more in their lives.

I think my favorite example about caring for others is the story of Ruth. Not only did she care for her mother-in-law after her husband’s death but she went the extra mile and left all she knew for a better way of life and followed her all the way back to her people. I want to share Ruth chapter 2 verses 17-22 of this love story with you this morning. This is just one of the many pieces of this story that you see the compassion for others:

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband. That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

21 Then Ruth said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”

 

Boaz showed caring for her by letting her glean in his fields and letting her stay with his own workers for safety. Ruth showed compassion by sharing her meal with her mother-in-law Naomi and gleaning for barley in the first place.

 

So…what are some ways we can be methodical…to be Methodist…in our lives and in the lives of those around us? Give people a chance to respond. OK…how do you think we as a church…not just as Methodist or even as the whole body but we, here…you and I…Stetson Memorial UMC…can give/go that extra mile? Remember…methodically with purpose and intention…

 

Who are you…who am I? Are you and I showing compassion to those around us or are we putting on blinders and seeing only what we want out of life? Are you and I being intentional with caring for others or are we just halfheartedly caring about the needs of others…? Are you and I acting in ways that show’s God’s love and compassion or are we living selfishly? We are called to be the mirror image of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. How are we doing with that? My prayer is that we would live lives that are Methodically Compassionate as we look for ways to feed both the physical and the Spiritual needs of others…to share the greatest gift of all…the gift of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ to a world in need of compassion and love.

 

Amen

Relational Living

February 12, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Relational/Right Relationships”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 119:1-10

Matthew 18:15-17

Ecclesiastes 5:9-12 MSG

Matthew 5:22-24 MSG

“Who are you” by The Who

 

“Relational Living…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 18, verses 15 through 17. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…Read Matthew from the Message Bible.

“Who are you” theme song…

 

Who here like to be all alone? Who just can’t stand be around others so much that they would rather be on an island by themselves? Ok…there are some days that this sounds like a truly happy life…but how long would we really be able to live without social media…even if we want to be alone… It can be hard to have a relationship with others who are just as broken as we are…that whole brokenness gets in the way…

 

What was God thinking anyway? Expecting us to be all relational and stuff with each other…never mind being relational with Him outside of these four walls and time we share with Him while we are here. Shocking…! Beloved…one point to think about is this… God doesn’t need us…but wants us to be in relationship so much with Him…He gave His one and only begotten Son to die for us so that He can…13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13 NIV)

 

We have been talking about how God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? We have begun to look at who we are in Christ…we have begun a deep journey into these questions and more. I continue to truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God. Even in this world of rejection and exclusiveness, there is One who never reject us…flaws and all…no matter how far we may fall. We have gone to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we can extend that same grace to others.

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

We are the beloved of God…if we choose to accept and believe… We also are honored by bearing Jesus Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… God has called us to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. As we find our niche…we become an example for those who are looking for a better way…

 

We know that when we act with nobility…with integrity we honor God and embody the life we are called to live…one of trustworthiness and honesty. We need to be that type of Christian as we try to have relational living with those around us…living out and in the family of God. But why is it that when it comes to relating to and caring for our fellow man, we can tend to come up a little short? Why do we get lonely when we try to live our lives on our own? What does God say about living in communion…relationally…with those whom He also created? 17 Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. (Proverbs 17:17 MSG)

 

From the beginning of time…all the way back to the Garden of Eden…we were created to be in relation with one another…It is not good for man to be alone. Let us create a helper him…and with God…The God came and walked in the garden in the cool of the evening…Unfortunately because of humankinds fall from grace, selfishness, greed and jealousy…just to name a few…came into play. We were created for relational living with our fellow creatures and with God.

 

The scripture from Matthew 18 this morning, speaks about how we are to act towards one another with our community of faith. I think it works for those who are not of the faith…it just may bring them to the redemption and faith in Jesus Christ. We are to act in love…even if the other person doesn’t…even if they won’t admit they are wrong. We are to still offer God’s love and mercy. There have been many church’s…too many church’s…that have closed their doors because they reuse to show God’s love. There have been those who have just died because they choose not to show God’s love to those within their own body and others who are not of that body…who are in need of a Savior…decide that they don’t need Christ because they treat others better than those who are His ambassadors… We were created for relational living with our fellow creatures and with God.

 

It is hard to always offer God’s love to others…especially if they are not like we are…especially if they have acted in not so Christ-like ways towards us. It is hard to offer God’s love to someone who may think they don’t need it in their lives. But what will become of this world if we…if you and I…decide that we just won’t live with our brothers and sisters…decide that we have offered God’s love one too many times and now we are done? Start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

 

Matthew 5:22-24 states:

I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. (MSG Bible)

It doesn’t say to just pretend that there is no issue. It doesn’t say to hold a grudge. It doesn’t even say if you are right you don’t have to do anything. It does say to go and fix the relationship. There is nothing more difficult than worshipping with someone you are angry with. You can’t concentrate and give God your attention. All that is going through your mind is the issue between you and your brother or sister. We were created for relational living with our fellow creatures and with God.

 

The example we are to copy is that of Jesus. When Jesus knew His time was growing near, He had this conversation with His Disciples. The conversation is found in John’s Gospel in the 15th Chapter verses 11-15:

11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

Love one another as “I” have loved you…no longer servants but His friends. Beloved Jesus calls us friend. Now He died for us but still calls us friends…we have sinned and sinned again but He still calls us friends…how can we not forgive those who offend us in such minute ways? How can we not give them grace…show God’s love He has shown to us? Jesus wanted, and still wants, not a servant master relationship but a friend relationship.

 

I believe that the most visual imagery of how we should be with one another is found in Ecclesiastes 5:9-12. Speak from the Spirit about the rope… Listen to how it describes relational living. I believe that this is what God intended all along. I love how the Message Bible Translation puts it:

 

9-10 It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.

Share the work, share the wealth.

And if one falls down, the other helps,

But if there’s no one to help, tough!

11 Two in a bed warm each other.

Alone, you shiver all night.

12 By yourself you’re unprotected.

With a friend you can face the worst.

Can you round up a third?

A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.

Three-fold relationship…You, others, and God. That is something that will never be able to be broken. With God within the mi we truly can live that relational life He intended us to have…

 

Who are you? Are you and I living a relational or a “Lone Ranger” type of life? Are you and I loving other not as we love ourselves but how Jesus loved and still loves us…? Are you and I offering the hand of grace or the backhand of the word? We are called to be the mirror image of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. How are we doing with that? Are you and I acting in ways that honor God or ourselves? Who are you and I this relational way of living, worldly or godly? Are we stuck living in a me un-relationality or is there so much more than that as we model the imagery of relationally living our three-fold life?

“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 MSG)

Amen

Springs of Salt Water

February 5, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Integrity/Noble”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 84

Psalm 1:1-3 CEB

Isaiah 58:6-11 TLB

Jeremiah 17:7-8 TLB

Matthew 5:13-16 TLB

“Who are you” by The Who

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/integrity

 https://www.christianquotes.info/quotes-by-topic/quotes-about-integrity/#ixzz4XoM0x5DN

 

“Springs of Salt Water…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 5, verses 13 through 16. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…Read Matthew from the Living Bible.

“Who are you” theme song…

Integrity-noun

  1. Moral or ethical strength:

character, fiber, honesty, principle.

  1. The quality of being honest:

honesty, honor, honorableness, incorruptibility, upstandingness.

  1. The condition of being free from defects or flaws:

durability, firmness, solidity, soundness, stability, strength, wholeness.

  1. The state of being entirely whole:

completeness, entirety, oneness, totality, wholeness.

(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/integrity)

 

Who in your life embodies integrity to you? I know when I think of someone, I don’t think of the word integrity. I may think of someone’s honesty or if they are true to their word. I also know with myself when someone doesn’t act with integrity with me I just don’t trust them. We all want to be trust worthy but how do we really do on that scale. How trust worthy are you and I even in the small thigs…let alone the big things in life? Does God consider us trustworthy? Speak from the Spirit…

 

 

God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? We have begun to look at who we are in Christ…we have begun a deep journey into these questions and more. I truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God. Even in this world of rejection and exclusiveness, there is One who never reject us…flaws and all…no matter how far we may fall. We have gone to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we can extend that same grace to others.

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

We are the beloved of God…if we choose to accept and believe… We are also honored by bearing Jesus Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… God has called us to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. As we find our niche…we become an example for those who are looking for a better way…

 

But my question is how is our integrity with the things of God and man? How do we become the trustworthy person we want to be if we are lacking in that part of our Christ like character? We cannot be called trustworthy if we don’t act with integrity…to be honorable with those around us. We need to be that light of integrity on a world full of selfishness and greed. I think it is kind of ironic that this is scouting Sunday. Their organization is all about integrity and honor…and a child shall lead them.

 

The Matthew I read this morning is all about being honorable and acting with honor. You can’t be salt or light for the world if you are untrustworthy. Who would want to listen to you and I if we don’t act with integrity? Would you and I want to listen to someone talk about God and how we are to act if the person was not honorable?

 

The scripture I read this morning is one that can guide us to be honorable. As we are salt…seasoning…and light to the world we bring honor to God. I think that goes for everything we do. If we are not acting Godly…we are not giving honor to God or the name we have been given…Christian. If we lose our salt…if we are not seasoning the bland world with God…giving it a taste so they will want to see…what would happen to the world?

 

In Isaiah 58:6-11, we hear that the trouble with being honorable has been around for a long time. The people were thinking that they just had to bring their offering to the temple and fast to please God…how many people who are called Christians feel that all they need to give their offering and come to church and then they are all set. They have “fulfilled” their “obligation” to and for God? But God was and is asking for something completely different…listen to what God really wants…heard some of it in Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God…Read the Isaiah 58:

6 No, the kind of fast I want is that you stop oppressing those who work for you and treat them fairly and give them what they earn. 7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help.

8 If you do these things, God will shed his own glorious light upon you. He will heal you; your godliness will lead you forward, goodness will be a shield before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. 9 Then, when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” he will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors!

10 Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day. 11 And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy you with all good things, and keep you healthy too; and you will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.

We are guided, in all things good, by God’s Spirit and we will also be well watered…our lives will be well watered…from and by the river of grace. This is what happens when we walk in integrity to and with the world around us that is depraved and oh so very dark. As we trust in God and walk humbly with integrity we will be that tree that has those long, strong, roots that are buried deep in the river of God that doesn’t worry. We will produce the fruit of a life of integrity. (Jeremiah 17:1-8)

 

Need more proof of that life of integrity and it’s fruit?

God’s Promise:

Proverbs 2:6-8New International Version (NIV)

6 For the Lord gives wisdom;

    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

7 He holds success in store for the upright,

    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,

8 for he guards the course of the just

    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Man’s Plea and God’s defense because of having integrity:

Job 2:3New International Version (NIV)

3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

 

 

 

 

Walking with integrity:

Titus 2:7-8Common English Bible (CEB)

7 in every way. Offer yourself as a role model of good actions. Show integrity, seriousness, 8 and a sound message that is above criticism when you teach, so that any opponent will be ashamed because they won’t find anything bad to say about us.

Chuck Swindoll once said about integrity…and I love this quote…“Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.”

We can live this life if we so choose. As we ground ourselves deep by the streams of living waters we will bear the fruit of integrity. How can we not? Beloved, we need more people of integrity in this world and you and I need to model it to a world that is so needing a role model…we need to be Springs of Salt water…speak from the Spirit…

 

Who are you? Are we living a life of integrity or one of worldly pleasures? Are we considered honorable or…not so much…? Are you and I being watered by the living, clear water of God or the cesspool of the world? We are called to be the mirror image of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. How are we doing with that? Are we acting in honorable ways showing our integrity even in the little things or have we let the world’s dishonesty, wickedness and immorality invade our space? It is hard to hold on to our integrity in a world that has gone numb from its acceptance and approval of the “shadiness” of the culture. But what will become of this world if we…if you and I…embrace its way of immorality?

 

I would like to thank the scouts who came today. I would like a show of hands of those who were scout at one time in their lives…oh by the way…I believe once a scout, always a scout. These kids are our future. How are we going to be examples for them and they are for us? On our honor…we must do our duty…to be honorable not only for our sake but for the future of mankind. What is the Lord requiring from you and I…what is He asking us to do…how will you and I answer the call? How salty are you?

 

I would like to end my sermon with Psalm 2 verses 1-3. Are you and I living up to who we truly are?

Psalm 1:1-3Common English Bible (CEB)

1 The truly happy person

    doesn’t follow wicked advice,

    doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,

    and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.

2 Instead of doing those things,

    these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,

    and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!

3 They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,

    which bears fruit at just the right time

    and whose leaves don’t fade.

        Whatever they do succeeds.

 

Amen

Monkey See…Monkey Do

January 29, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Example”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 15 NIV

Micah 6:6-8 NIV

Matthew 5:1-12 NIV

 

“Monkey See…Monkey Do…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 5, verses 1 through 12. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…Read Matthew from the NIV Bible.

 

How many of you learn by seeing? I know that if I want to learn something…if someone wants to teach me something…I learn better if they show me how to do it so that I can follow their example. For me, it is difficult sometimes to visualize what someone is talking about. The way I envision it may be completely different then their intention. So, the best way is for someone to show me how to do something…

 

The monkeys in the zoo show us that visual effect on others. When someone is standing in front of their enclosure they can make gestures…do things so to speak…and the monkey copies them. They don’t care what the gesture is…they see it and they mimic it…that whole monkey see, monkey do thing.

 

We as Christians have the esteemed job description as Christ’s Ambassadors to the world. We are called to be the image of Jesus in the world. There are many out there that are watching us…looking for that good example. But at times, we fall short of that example and instead of leading people to Jesus…we chase them away. What does God want us to be…to show the world? Are we really supposed to be that visual for the world around us? If so, what does is that visual supposed to be…what would that look like…?

 

God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? We have begun to look at who we are in Christ…we have begun a deep journey into these questions and more. I truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God. Even in this world of rejection and exclusiveness, there is One who never reject us…flaws and all…no matter how far we may fall. We have gone to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. We are striving to live that life of acceptance and grace so that we can extend that same grace to others.

 

 

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

We are the beloved of God…if we choose to accept and believe… We also are honored by bearing Jesus Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… We are called by God to an extraordinary purpose that only you or I can fulfill. We need to find that purpose…that niche…as we pray God’s kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

 

And so…as we find our niche, our purpose, and fulfill it, we are setting an example for others… Yes, you and I are an important “visual” example of the love we have for God on the inside. We matter in the lives of others…whether we choose to believe it or not. When we say yes to God…we also say yes to His calling us to live in a more excellent way to show others the love and mercy of God.

 

The scriptures that I have read this morning are all about how to be a shining example…those Monkey’s others see and go and do likewise. Let’s look at the Psalm from this morning…Psalm 15.

  1. who may dwell in your sacred tent?

  Who may live on your holy mountain?

When we “walk blameless” we and do what is right we become those people that set a good example. When we speak the truth in love and “watch our words” to and about others, we become a shining example of God’s love. When we act justly to and for others…the monkeys that are watching will want to be like the monkeys that are doing. They now know what it looks like so now they too can be the same way…they have had their example and now it is a choice to do or not to do on their part.

In the Matthew I read this morning, we hear all about what it looks like to be whom God wants us to be. Other than just plain coping…being that monkey for Jesus, this is the piece of scripture that I try to let direct my actions. It is who we are supposed to be all in one place. This is like a job description of what it would look like if we were “totally sold out for Jesus” in our lives…

We are setting a good example when:

(Speak from the Spirit)

  1. We are poor in Spirit: What does it mean when we are poor in spirit? We are not haughty. We don’t think too highly of ourselves…
  2. When we mourn: What is it to mourn? When we trust God with our life and the lives of those near and dear to us…
  3. We are meek: Revisit 1.
  4. We thirst and hunger for righteousness: We look after others. We decide that others are above us and not below us. We fight for others freedoms.
  5. We are merciful: We show others the mercy we have been given.
  6. We are pure in heart: What is it like in your heart? Is it pure or defiled with anger and conceit…is it…fill in the blank)?
  7. WE are persecuted: How do we react when persecuted?
  8. We are peacemakers: This is pretty self-explanatory…
  9. We are insulted: This is a hard one?

Micah 6 asks us this question… what does the Lord require of you? Read Micah 6:6-8…Speak from the Spirit

 

 

 

Who are you? What kind of example are you giving those who are looking to see what you do so they can do it too? A shining example or one clouded by the world around you? What is the Lord requiring you to do? Are you willing to become the you that God wants you to be? We are called to be the mirror image of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. How are we doing with that? How are you and I showing by example and what example are we showing a world that loves to copy the latest and greatest trend? Are we being a new trend or are we showing them and ancient way…a more excellent way…to help ourselves and others find the way to Abba’s heart? What is the Lord requiring of you and I?.

 

Amen

Job Search

January 22, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

“Called”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 27:1,4-8 NIV

Isaiah 6:8 TLB

Matthew 4:18-22 TLB

1 Cor. 1:1-2 NIV Bible

 

“Job Search…”

 

Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me…

 

Please stand for the reading of the Gospel St. Matthew, chapter 4, verses 18-22. Listen to the Word of God, His Love Letter to His beloved, you and I…

Matthew 4:18-22Living Bible (TLB)

18 One day as he (Jesus) was walking along the beach beside the Lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—out in a boat fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen.

19 Jesus called out, “Come along with me and I will show you how to fish for the souls of men!” 20 And they left their nets at once and went with him.

21 A little farther up the beach he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their nets; and he called to them to come too. 22 At once they stopped their work and, leaving their father behind, went with him.

 

When we begin a conversation with someone we don’t know, it usually begins as this:

“Hi, I’m Ruth. I don’t think I have met you before”

“Good to meet you, I’m John”

“Good to meet you too John. What do you do?”

“I’m a…”

It seems in our culture we really are what we do. But our vocation doesn’t define who we are…it’s not equivalent to who we are. For instance, how would you introduce yourself in relationship to the church? What are you in relationship to God and his call He has fashioned just for you…one on one else can fill? Who are you within God’s grand design for the world?

 

God’s promises and truths, can be very hard to understand if we don’t realize who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? We have begun to look at who we are in Christ…we have begun a deep journey into these questions and more. I truly believe that we all want to become the “you” God wants us to be. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

On our journey, we have discovered one fact…you and I are God’s beloved. You and I are cherished, favored, and loved by God. Even in this world of rejection and exclusiveness, there is One who never reject us…flaws and all…no matter how far we may fall. We have gone to the river with Jesus and remembered our baptism and the promise found there. How are you and I doing living the life of abundance of grace and acceptance?

 

 

 

We talked about the different names that we go by, how we are identified.

We are the beloved of God…if we choose to accept and believe… We also are honored by bearing Jesus Christ’s name when we call ourselves “Christ”ians…what a thought that is… But as I asked before, “who are you…who am I” in the grand scheme of things within God’s plan? Do we really want to know what it is or would we rather not have to step out of the boat onto the waves of darkness and despair around us outside our sanctuary’s door…?

 

Did you know that 80% of the ministry of the church is done by 205 of its people? The reason may be that many of that 80% don’t realize who they are as disciples of Jesus Christ. They don’t know what they are called to do. They know their “vocation” but do not know their “ministry” in Christ Jesus.

 

How many of you have seen this scenario before?

  1. Someone discovers a spiritual gifts inventory and everyone gets excited.
  2. People take the gifts test and discover their gifts from God.
  3. There is great excitement and celebration.
  4. No one translates it to them in real-world applications.
  5. Nothing happens.
  6. Time passes and the gifts inventory is a memory…a thing of the past.
  7. Repeat step 1…

Just knowing your gifts doesn’t help you discover who you are. It largely doesn’t answer “what do I do?” Don’t get me wrong…it is a valuable tool…but it needs to be followed through of sorts…it needs to be explained in a way that helps the person put it into context of their life.

 

 

Who Are You? God has called you and I not just by name but for a purpose. When we find, and claim our own vocation…find, claim and walk in our purpose…it fulfills us and makes a difference in the world around us…we are freed from the bonds of what others expect of us or claims “for” us. It will no longer matter what others think or say because you are on target with the calling you have in your life…and when you find it…beloved don’t let anyone else talk you out of it…don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong…don’t let anyone else make you question if you heard God right…don’t let them steal your joy…you are in the will of God and He is ever so proud of His beloved child…

 

In the Matthew I read this morning, Jesus called these fishermen into a new vocation. Instead of fishing for fish He called them to fish for men…to learn from Him so that they would be able to continue Jesus’ ministry…yet, at this point, they didn’t realize just what they are being called to do… When they heard what, their purpose was…when it was explained to them in simple form…I will make you fishers of men…they immediately followed. It is hard sometimes to immediately follow…you have had a life and now you are being asked to change it…share one of my hard times…

 

Within that call…there also may be other callings…dual call…or many sub-calls so to speak… But the main focus is this…God calls us… Discipleship comes in many forms…some of them are pretty surprising. WE are called in many ways…let me share a few from scripture with you…

 

A Holy People

1 Corinthians 1:1-2New International Version (NIV)

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

Called by God

Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Called of Jesus Christ to separation, obedience and ministry

Jude 1-2

“To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”

1 Corinthians 1:1-2

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God…  to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord….”

Called to walk a narrow way with Him and obey Him

Matthew 7:13-15

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” 

Called to see Jesus as the source of our wisdom and power

1 Corinthians 1:23-24

“…we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

But few respond to His call with true faith

Matthew 20:12, 22:14

“… many are called, but few chosen.”

 Luke 8:11-15

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

Only by His grace can anyone win the prize

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

 

This is only a few…I challenge you to look in God’s word and find the many ways we are called by God and when we are called we are equipped by Him. It is not of our own power but in the power and calling of the Spirit and against that no one can fight against. God has a plan and a purpose for everyone and everything that is created. We need to encourage others and not bring them down. We need to step out in faith…into the calling God has placed on our lives…no matter what season we are in…and yes…God even call’s us in our “twilight” season of life.

 

Who are you? Where has your “Job Search” …your seeking God’s purpose for your life brought you? To a Red Sea event, desert experience or are you following the Master builder of your life? Are you going by the worlds standards of what is important or are you working on Kingdom time, in the Kingdom place you were created for? Are you will to become the you that God wants you to be? Are you ready to walk in your calling from God? Growing is hard but there is great reward in the kingdom as we become us…become you…become me…become the church…become … Perhaps as we release ourselves from the bondage of recognition of the world and lived for the approval of God, maybe…just maybe there would be more saving and more doing in and for the Kingdom of God…what do you think?

 

Amen