How would you explain to someone both the meaning and the results of receiving Jesus?

Question Asked:

How would you explain to someone both the meaning and the results of receiving Jesus?

When you accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and redemption a change happens. As we continue our faith journey with God and Jesus, the change becomes evident in our lives. As we continue on the path with Jesus the change actually changes into something so much more. 


First, you are no longer under the death penalty of sin because Jesus paid the price for your sin with His own life. Does that mean you will never sin again…no, you are sinful by birth but you are now forgiven and the slate is wipe clean, if you ask for forgiveness and really mean it. Jesus can tell when you are not… 


Another thing that happens is that you now become children of God. At the Cross…Jesus signed your adoption papers with His own blood. Now it is up to you to receive…to accept… the papers. Being now included as God’s people, you now have all the promises of the bible, both Old and New Testaments. 


You also are given New Life and you get to be with God in heaven…in eternity, for an eternity. Now think about it for one moment…you get to be with the creator of heaven and earth, in God’s presence for all time until time ends… How awesome will that be…All I can say to that is AMEN! 


You are also given a new identity, child of God. It goes back to that whole adoption at the cross. You are now Co-Heirs with Jesus Christ. You now have the Father of all fathers as your dad. Because of that you can rest assured that you have the Biggest, Baddest Father in the world and He will never let any of His children down. 


You also get to have a G.P.S. (God Provided Spirit) that will teach you and advise you on how to live your life. And even more awesome, those times when you are praying and don’t have the words, this Spirit from God, the Holy Spirit, prays the words for you. 


When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, God Himself comes and lives within you. It is sort of a foretaste to that living in eternity with Him. Now it can be kind of scary when you think of it but it is one of the most comforting things ever. You never walk alone again. God walks with you.


These are just a few things that happen…The one thing that stands out for me…we have a heart change. No longer do we have a heart of stone but are given one of love, peace, hope and joy…

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A Day Prayer

 

“Loving,Gracious, Awesome, Compassionate, Righteous, Ever Present, Creator, Sustainer, Great God, thank You for this beautiful new day that You have created for me. Thank You for Your unending love for me. Thank You for Your Spirit within me. Speak to me, through that same Spirit, in ways You know that I will understand. Thank You for Your Word. I ask…I pray…I implore You…to speak to me in and through it so that I may walk closer to whom You would have me be. I give You my life for it is within You that I find my purpose and have my being. Thank You for Your presence with me today and always.

Thank You for the wisdom of Your Word. It is the light on my journey of faith, hope, peace, grace and love. Without Your Word of Truth I don’t know where I would be or how to live a life that is pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy in those times that I may stray from You and Your path that You have created specifically for me. No one else can walk it for me. I am so awestruck that I don’t walk it alone and that You…the Creator of the universe…walk with me and carry me when I am to weak to stand. Holy and Awesome are You and Your ways.

Lord of all, as we begin a new day, May Your will be done in and through me. I ask that if I should begin to stray, You would gently guide me back to the Way…the Truth…and the Life that is only found in and through Your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You for making away in the dessert for me. I pray that when the storms of Life blow, that You would hold my hand ever tighter…giving me the assurance that we are in this together and it is all to and for Your glory. May my life be pleasing in Your sight.

AMEN!!’

I Can Do All Things

I Can do All Things through Christ who strengthens me!

Pastor, you are going to live an incredible life!

You are going to make history. You are true to yourself and you follow your curiosity. You are open-minded, talented and will create something that will last forever. You will be able to influence people with your words, your way of life and good vibes.

Thank You God for the call You have placed upon my life.May I bring You Honor as I seek Your Face and Your will for my life!

Out Goes Y.O.U….

 

May 28, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Division”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 66:8-20

Mark 9:38-50 MSG

1Corinthians 1:10-13a (TLB)

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (NLT)

 

 

“Out Goes Y.O.U.…”

 

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)

 

Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 9, verses 38-50. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

As Hope walked away, Joy did the only thing she knew to do…she went back to the diner to talk with her friends there. “I know that they meet tonight,” she thought, “I just hope they are not too mad at me.” As she walked down the street she thought about all that Hope had said. “How dare she call me prideful,” she thought, “a girl can’t be proud of her accomplishments and her church. Really. The nerve of some people.” Nope…Joy wasn’t joyful at all.

 

Joy was so consumed with her thoughts that she almost walked right into Grace, one of her study friends. “Whoa…slow down there Joy. What’s the matter? Why are you hurrying so?” asked Grace. “Oh Grace” Joy said,” I am so glad to see you. I need some help here. You know that person I went after during the study the other day?” Joy asked. “Yah…that was real cool how you went after her even though everyone else was making fun of her. I just kept quiet. I wish I had your courage.” Grace exclaimed. “Well…hold on to your hat…she had the nerve to call me prideful! Am I prideful Grace?”

 

Grace was quiet for a moment. Then she said, “well…truthfully…you are prideful. We all are. I have been trying to work on that in my life and I have gotten better. I have decided to give God all the glory. It is because of His grace…no pun intended…that I have anything in life. All am I owe to Him.” “Awe man” Joy cried… “She was right… Hope was right…I am prideful…I thought I was just being proud of who I am but that was what I was basing my life on…not on God and what He has done for me. Oh, my gosh…I gotta find Hope. I have to apologize.” “I’ll help you find Hope. I would like to make friends with her too.” Grace said.

 

As they rounded the corner together there before their eyes…like an answer from heaven, was Hope. She was sat on the bench of the bus stop just crying. “Hope I am sorry. You were right…I am prideful and I hurt your feelings and I am sorry.” Joy said as she sat down next to Hope. “I thought you were different. You seemed to be real nice…you actually came after me but then you acted just like the rest.” Hope cried.

 

 “Well we all make mistakes but it is what we do to fix them…or not fix them…is what matters,” Grace explained, “by the way, Hi, I am Grace. I am sorry about the other night with my “bible study group.” They can be such idiot’s sometimes.” “Hi Grace, I am Hope. What you said was right. I forgive you Joy. Can we start over?” “Sure, I would like that” Joy was so happy she almost couldn’t contain herself… “You know Hope…I really needed to hear what you had to say. I never realized how prideful I was. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.” “Well you know…pride cometh before fall” Grace quoted. “Oh, you just had to say that didn’t you” Joy laughed. “Yup…sure did. Hey, can I hang with you guys. Those other nerds give me a headache” Grace asked. “Sure” Hope and Joy said simultaneously… “The three amigos” they all laughed.

 

The three went off arm in arm, laughing and getting to know each other better. No one could have known what was going to happen next. Would their new-found friendship stand the test it was in for?

 

Good morning. This morning can we continue to be interactive with each other as. I really have enjoyed the way we have conversed with one another over the past few weeks… so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is how Grace came in to help Joy and Hope give each other grace…

 

I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. We need to heal what ails us in order to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back the land of our forefathers. Without healing what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrection people so we need to rise from the grave of the world around us. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

Today I want us to continue to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. Now, there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that, but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation… On the 11th of June, my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.

 

Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…

 

There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.

 

I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. It is like a cancer that grows quicker and kills faster than any other disease that the church can catch. Why do you think division happens in the church as a whole? Now I am talking about the church in general…Christ’s body…give time to answer. Do you know that this whole breakup of the followers of The Way began back in Paul’s time? Listen to what he describes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9…I am reading from the NLT Bible:

 

1 Corinthians 3:1-9New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul and Apollos, Servants of Christ

Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

 

They were fighting over who was following the “true Way” but they got it all wrong. They were not following what Christ began in Acts. They were following what their leader was teaching. How do I know this? They were fighting. If they were all following what Jesus did there would be no fighting at all. It was when they began to follow their rules that the problem began… and still exists… Paul called them immature in the faith…how are you and I being immature in the faith…would Paul admonish you and I in the same way?

 

You know…I made a mistake about when division began. It began in Jesus’ day…with His own disciples. They were all upset and wanted to stop those people who were doing good but were not part of their “group”. We are all one body of Christ. It is the denominational things that get in the way. We are all here to fulfill our purpose as Christ has called us not as man has called us. Which is pretty much what Jesus told His disciples…

 

What causes division in the church…the different parts of Christ’s body? Give time to answer… Ok… Now the hard question…what about our church…is there division and why? I told you this is was going to be a hard question…give time to answer…

 

In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13a, Paul begins his first letter to the church in Corinth… yup, more than 1 letter…addresses the fighting within the church itself. He talks about what happens when we begin to fight amongst ourselves. Listen to what Paul has to say on the subject…

 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13a Living Bible (TLB)

“10 But, dear brothers, I beg you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so that there won’t be splits in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some of those who live at Chloe’s house have told me of your arguments and quarrels, dear brothers. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul”; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ. 13 And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces.”

 

The scripture is clear. We break Christ into pieces… How does that make you feel? I know how it makes me feel. I am just as guilty as the next…those times I may think that a denomination is wrong in how they do things. I am a firm believer of “The Way” … either you follow Christ or you don’t…that simple. But those times when I get angry about what others do and how they divide instead if work together…am I judging or lamenting that we don’t get along?

 

We need to bring our ailments…our division…into the light of Christ to be healed. Ok…visual time…you have this rock here…let’s call it humanity…and this other rock we will call God. Now humanity and God were once together but because of the sin of disobedience they were separated. We needed a bridge …(bring out the long rock)…so that the gap could be filled. That bridge is Jesus (put a rock on top of the bridge). Now there is a renewed relationship with God and humanity. The same principle works with God’s people. When we have division, we need to bring it to the light of Christ and in and through Christ the relationship can be healed and renewed…I may be making it sound simple but to me it really is that simple…if we all want to play along that is…

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But should we let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would she see a church divided or a church bonded in love? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church so that she too can receive the goodness and grace and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

Cherished, Favored and Loved

 

January 8, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Baptism of the Lord

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Isaiah 42:1-9 NOG Bible

Matthew 3:13-17 MSG Bible

Acts 10:34-43 The Living Bible

 

“Cherished, Favored, and Loved…”

 

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

 

Let us pray: Almighty God, the life you birthed in us by baptism into Jesus Christ will never die. Your justice never fails. Your mercy is everlasting.  Your healing river flows. Your Spirit blows where you will. We cannot stop you, God!

We are dry and thirsty, O God. Come, refresh us!

Come upon us, Holy Spirit!

Come upon these waters.

Let these waters be to us drops of your mercy.

Let these waters remind us of your righteousness and justice.

Let these waters renew in us the resurrection power of Jesus.

Let these waters make us long for your coming reign.

Most Holy God, Father! Full of Truth and Grace! Glory to you!

Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord! Glory to you!

 Spirit of fire, Spirit over the waters, Spirit of holiness! Glory to you!

Eternal God, One in Three and Three in One! All glory is yours, now and forever. Amen!

 

 

Have you ever just wanted to belong to something just the way you are? I mean there are so many conditions to being part of something. I like Planet Fitness’ slogan “A judgement free zone.” You can go there and not be ridiculed by what you look like, how much weight you can or can’t lift, or even how long you can walk on the treadmill. A place where you can feel comfortable as you take care of the temple God has given you.

 

Today is baptism of the Lord Sunday. Now we know that you receive the Holy Spirit at baptism and it is through the baptismal waters that we receive grace. In other words, in our baptism of water…our rebirth…we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit…the flame within us. God is the Master Creator…creating and recreating His creation. God created…the earth was birthed, out of the waters that covered the earth. Something new was created out of the water. But in our baptism there is yet another element that is added to the creation. Fire is added…the Holy Spirit…to complete the new creation… It is through this same Spirit that we are guided…it is a gift given to all who believe… We are accepted into…become part of…the family of believers at our baptism.

 

This truth, 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. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

The first fact is this…you are God’s beloved. You are cherished, favored, and loved by God. Now this may be hard to grasp. We live in a world that we have a fear of rejection. You must have the right connections, wear the right clothes, do the right things to be “part of society” and not on the out skirts thereof. Love, for many, is conditional. We are loved if we…fill in the blank. Can you imagine what the world would be like without the human fear of rejection place that you are accepted for who you are and not who others want you to be.

 

Beloved this world does exist…there is a place where you and I are accepted, flaws and all. It is at the foot of the cross of Jesus… It is within our baptismal waters of Grace. Listen to what happened when Jesus came to the Jordan River where John, the baptizer, was baptizing the people for their sins…read Matthew 3:13-17…

 

 

 

Matthew 3:13-17 The Message (MSG)

13-14 Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected, “I’m the one who needs to be baptized, not you!”

15 But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it.

16-17 The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”

This is my son…this is my daughter…chosen and marked by my love…she is the delight of my life…he is the delight of my life… We too are beloved…we too hear these words of love…we also hear these words of affirmation not only who but whose we are.

 

We are chosen…by God…to be like Peter and the other apostles to share this good news that we continue to be witness of to this very day. Listen to what Peter had to say to those who were listening…listen to the promise of acceptance…read Acts 10:34-43:

 

Acts 10:34-43Living Bible (TLB)

34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that the Jews are not God’s only favorites! 35 In every nation he has those who worship him and do good deeds and are acceptable to him. 36-37 I’m sure you have heard about the Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus, the Messiah, who is Lord of all creation. This message has spread all through Judea, beginning with John the Baptist in Galilee. 38 And you no doubt know that Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were possessed by demons, for God was with him.

39 “And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Israel and in Jerusalem, where he was murdered on a cross. 40-41 But God brought him back to life again three days later and showed him to certain witnesses God had selected beforehand—not to the general public, but to us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he sent us to preach the Good News everywhere and to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the Judge of all—living and dead. 43 And all the prophets have written about him, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”

 

“We see very clearly that the Jews are not God’s only favorites! Everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” This is the message…this is the Good News…therefore we ARE BELOVED. Nothing of our own doing. We are accepted…as we are…by grace and grace alone. I would like to propose this…I would like to challenge us. Let’s live in the abundance of grace and acceptance and just see what happens when we offer that to others.

 

Today is the Baptism of the Lord Sunday, the day when we remember not only his life changing baptism but ours as well. Through water we are saved. Through water we are redeemed. Through water we are given a new life. (Walk down the aisle with the Baptismal Bowl and sprinkle the congregation when saying remember your baptism) So when the waters of life seem as if they are about to overtake you…remember your baptism

You are my cherished child in whom I am well pleasedWhen you feel as if you have no one who really cares in your life…remember your baptism…you are the delight of my life. When you feel like an outcast in this journey of life…remember your baptism… You are chosen and marked by my love. When life has thrown you too many curves and you just can’t take one more…remember your baptism… the skies opened up and God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on you. You have been sealed with love…you have been sealed with power…you have been sealed with grace…you have been sealed by the Spirit.  Remember your baptism!

Amen

 

Let’s Do This

 

January 1, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

New Year’s Day

Sermon Series:

“Becoming You…”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“Who Are You?” Sermon Series

Psalm 8 NKJV

Revelation 21:1-6 CEB

Ephesians 3:1-12 CEB

Matthew 2:9-10 NIV

“Let’s Do This…”

 

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

 

Good morning. Have you ever been so psyched to do something that you are all pumped up? You are so excited that you can’t even sleep. It is something that you have wanted to do or so long and now you have your opportunity to do so. I love the Home Depot commercials where people are going to Home Depot and getting the stuff they need to complete a project around the home. The phrase that catches my attention is when they say “Let’s do this.” I think that this year this will be my “mantra” … Let’s Do This!

 

Happy New Year! I pray that all of you had an awe-inspired Christmas and that you would have a God breathed New Year. It is nice though, having the holiday’s behind us. I can have a chance to slow down a little and breath in…well at least for the next 9 weeks before Lent begins.

 

Back to the let’s do this statement. In the Christian calendar, today is Epiphany Sunday. The day we celebrate the Magi coming to visit Jesus… I wonder how they must have felt? They were so excited to see His star and they traveled from a faraway distant land. They finally were able see the new born king that was foretold by the prophets. Listen to what Matthew 2:9-10 says about their emotions upon finding Jesus.

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”

Their “Let’s Do This” brought them to a place of awe and wonder…they followed God’s star and discovered and unimagined joy.

 

Each time we enter into a new year I always think of Revelation 21:1-6. It reminds me of God’s promise and gives me hope of “Maybe this year.” It reads:

New heaven and new earth

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 Then he said to me, “All is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will freely give water from the life-giving spring.

 

This piece of scripture makes we want to do something in the here and now… This piece of scripture makes me say “let’s do this”…Let’s make a difference in other’s lives…Let’s help those who are mourning, in pain, crying… Let’s bring them to God’s dwelling place so that god may dwell with them too.

 

Now you may say to yourself…well that’s all fine and good for you Pastor Ruth but I am not so sure this “Let’s do this” mantra is going to work for me…I’m just not cut out to “do it.” You know what…neither was I. But the grace of God came upon me and I stand here before you now because of it. But you still may not be convinced of the whole “Let’s do this thing” … Ok…let’s hear a word from Paul that kind of tells us that we all really do need to “Do This”… now as I read this scripture I want you to insert your name when I say Paul … I am reading Ephesians 3:1-12…

Paul, apostle to the Gentiles

3 This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles.

2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? 3 God showed me his secret plan in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before (4 when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan about Christ). 5 Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. 6 This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.

 

8 God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 9 God sent me to reveal the secret plan that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. 10 God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. 11 This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him.”

 

“about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you” We have a responsibility to distribute God’s grace…to share our stories of faith. We are given grace to share grace…

 

“This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel” We are to share the fact that within God’s plan, through Jesus, we too have the same promises of old…

 

“God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 9 God sent me to reveal the secret plan that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything” We are to be the ambassadors of God to the world…from our homeland which is not of this world… We are to share the Good News…

 

This all can be very hard when we may not know who we are in Christ Jesus. Who are we really…how does God equip us…what are we supposed to do…? I propose this for us. Let’s look at who we are. Let’s take a deep journey into these questions and more. Let’s see what transformation happens as we become who God says we are and not who the world thinks we are.

 

In 2017 let’s do this…let’s have “More saving. More doing.” …as home depot states. This journey begins with its first steps today. Are you willing to become you? Well then “Let’s Do This” together. Let’s do this for the One who is the Messiah…the Savior…the child in a manger…our Risen Lord, Jesus Christs.

 

Amen

Birthing Room

December 11, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

3rd Sunday of Advent

“A Sacred Moment”

Sermon Series

Psalm 146

Psalm 47:2a

Luke 1:39-56

 

 “Birthing Room…”

 

A prayer of illumination so that God will speak through me or in-spite of me…

 

I would ask that you would stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Luke Chapter 1, verses 39-56. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I… (Read the gospel from the Common English Bible)

 

Have you ever been somewhere and just standing in the place just feels so holy…almost as if you reached out…you could touch the hand of God…?

  • Talk about Rolling Ridge and the sacredness of the it…

What makes a place sacred…and not so sacred? Is there some kind of formula that you can follow…like a bunch of boxes to be checked off…to know this is the genuine real deal…?

 

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about the sacred. We have talked about the sacredness of the season we are in…the season of Advent when we expectantly wait to celebrate Jesus’ birth and wait expectantly for His return. But at times we can get so busy that we lose that sense of wonder we had and everything becomes a chore…a box to be checked off…

 

We, as people, as Christians need to find a way to slow down, otherwise we are going to miss the best part of this season of giving that we call Advent. We are going to miss the best gift that we could ever receive. The gift of God’s own Son in the form of a baby on a cold and silent night. As we slow down, we will see the sacredness all around us.

 

The word sacred itself means set apart and holy. The sacredness of something should be revered and respected but the time of reverence and awe of this season seems to get lost in the lights and glamor. In order for us to see…to feel…to touch the sacred, we need to slow down our pace and just be for the moment…lest we miss the awe and wonder of the manger.

 

This Advent season, we have begun slowing down…even if for but a moment…to see what might be missed in the hustle and bustle of the season. I would challenge us…you and I…to take a spiritual journey to see all things through the kaleidoscope…the display of beauty within the sacred space of Advent…

 

Ok…so the places of Sacredness…the moments that can tend to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season are:

  • Sacred Time
  • Sacred People
  • Sacred Space
  • Sacred Knowing
  • Sacred Being
  • Sacred Doing

 

I would ask that we again would stop for a moment and just breath in the sacredness of the space we are in right now…this sanctuary where God shows up to meet us each Sunday…And as I have said…in order to really enter into the Sacredness of Advent…we need to do it more than just on Sunday’s so I would ask that each of us would continue to spend some time each day…even just five minutes and focus on…meditate upon the Sacredness we talk about each week… Let each build upon each other until we embrace genuine purpose within this sacred moment…

 

We rediscovered that Advent is a sacred time. The time of heaven intersecting the time of the then and now. The time had come for a heart and life change. We have even talked about sacred people within the Christmas Adventure…remember…sacred people…set apart by and for God. We heard Mary and Joseph’s stories and discovered they were just ordinary people who “showed up” and God did the extraordinary in and through them…and we too have the same chance of the extraordinary…but we need to show up…that is when the extraordinary things happen…

 

In today scripture we hear about two women who “showed up” for God, Mary, and Elizabeth. Their bodies became the sacred places where hope was birthed. This hope was going to move and transform the world. Both Mary and Elizabeth were filled with the Holy Spirit…in fact, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit as Mary…who made the space for the hope of the world as she was set apart to be sacred within that sacred moment in time spent with Elizabeth. Within that sacred space…within our sacred space new hope is birthed. As we go out into the world we can affect the ordinary with our extraordinary lives for God and joy is birthed, peace is birthed, hope is birthed. We should be vessels, set apart for Gods purposes and sent out to be pour out over a world without hope, without peace, without joy, without love, without a Savior. The world is one big “birthing room” but we need to choose to be midwifes of the Master Physician who heals all that is broken.

 

There was a sacred knowing within that moment that was shared. Elizabeth shouted glory to God…she knew that the child Mary was carrying was the Holy One of Israel. As deep calls out to deep (Psalm 47:2a) sacred calls out to sacred… And Mary sang a song of praise that is probably the most beautiful awe inspiring, glory to God song I have ever heard…in fact I have kind of adopted it for my own as I sing that you to God within and with my whole being.

 

Sacred place…I said earlier…the place we are sitting right now is a sacred place. We have set apart this place as a holy place, a place that is sacred because this is where we come to meet with God each Sunday. This is a place that we have set aside for God…much like the tabernacle in the wilderness that the Israelite’s had…where they met God. But here is where there is a difference. Their place to me God…sometimes called the Tent of the Meeting…was portable. When they moved…God moved with them…God went before them and they stopped where God stopped.

 

I want you to think about this fact for a moment. God went before them as they traveled with their tabernacle. What if…and I am going out on a limb here…what if we too took our tabernacle with us…? What if we too followed where God wanted us to go and brought our sacred place with us. That would mean that where ever we went it would be a sacred place…where sacred and set apart people would invite others to enter into the journey…as we enter into a sacred time with and for God…remember God is Immanuel…God with us… If this is so…If we believe this mind blowing fact…Every place we go is sacred…we are always sacred people set apart…and our lives would be spent in the awe and reverence of God…within the veil of time.

 

As I have asked before…how are we going to spend this “holiday season”? Are you and I going for the superficial…or is there something more…is there a better way? I continue to challenge you and I to take a road far different than the highway that leads to the Bethlehem Stable. I dare us…you and I…to allow God to make something sacred out of our ordinary lives. We can live within the veil of a scared space knowing the time has come to seek what really matters.

 

Perhaps as we contemplate of the sacredness of space this week that we would walk in our own call to be sacred as we usher in the presence of peace. You were all given a safety pin this morning. The symbolism is this. While we were creating this beautiful vision, we have in the sanctuary this morning, Sara Hill was wearing a safety pin. When I asked her about it she said “it was on Facebook. There are so many people who don’t feel safe anymore in the country they live. The pin is a symbol we wear to let them know they are safe with us.” I challenge you to wear it and be that sacred place others can run to.

 

I challenge you and I to slow ourselves down and sit within the Sacredness of the manger where we can see and feel the sacredness of space not only in our sanctuary but as we take our “tent of the Meeting” out into a world that is in need of a “sacred, safe place” to be…to see the sacredness of the ordinary…and bring what we find there to the world through the sacredness of our lives, within the sacred space…the witness of what we find there…in and through the manger to the cross of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

 

Amen.

A Thankful Prayer

Eternal, Awesome, Holy, Compassionate, Righteous, Redeemer, Recreating, Lord of my life, Lover of my soul, Giver of all that is good, Jehovah Jirah my Provider, Great God, thank You for this beautiful new day that I may praise You for Your unending grace and love for me. Thank You for the way You nurture me and help me grow. Thank You for Your presence with me today and always for I will never walk alone. Thank You for Your unending grace that You pour down from heaven upon my life.

Thank You for the wisdom You give me as I walk in the calling You have placed upon my life. Forgive me for the times that I doubt my call and let man try and take away what You have gifted me with. Forgive me for the times that I fail to see Your unending grace and purposes in my life. Forgive me when I listen to the lies of the enemy as he whispers fear and condemnation in my ear. May I listen more to Your voice and less to the voice of the enemy as You whisper love, hope, purpose and joy deep within my soul.

Lord, as I step out in faith and trust, hold my hand so that I will not trip over the edge of the boat as I step out onto the waters of my life. Speak words of hope into my life as I focus on You and not the world or circumstances around me. Draw me so close to You that not only do I hear but will feel Your heartbeat. Hide me so that I may find rest beneath Your wings of Love.

On this Thanksgiving day…I am truly Thankful for the Giving You have done in and through my life. I am Thankful for the Giving of the gifts and graces that You have given me that make me uniquely qualified for Your purposes in my life. I am Thankful for the Giving of the family You have given me as we sit around Your table where every we may be. Most of all, I am Thankful for the Giving of Salvation found only in and through my Risen Lord, Jesus Christ in Who’s Name I pray.

Amen, amen and AMEN!

A Thanks Giving

November 20, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Christ the King Sunday

Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Luke 1:68-79

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

 

 

“A Thanks-Giving”

 

A prayer of illumination so that God will speak through me or in-spite of me…

 

I would ask that you would stand as you are able for the reading of the Gospel according to Luke. We will be reading Luke 1 verses 68-79. Listen to the word of God for His people…you and I…(Read the gospel from the NIV  Bible translation)

 

What are you thankful for? This is a question that we usually ask this time of year as we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. So…what are you thankful for? (Give people a chance to answer) It’s seems as the business world…the secular world…kind of just jumps right over this holiday and right into the next one… Well the next one is the one that they make most of their money…Christmas. I don’t know about you but it kind of bugs me that they jump right into Christmas even before Halloween…I think they should be celebrating Thanksgiving because they should give thanks for our giving…

 

What are we thankful for? I love the fact that today is Christ the King Sunday in the Church calendar and the next Sunday is the beginning of Advent. Thanksgiving is sandwiched right in the middle. We truly have much to be thankful for. We truly can thank God for giving….

 

In ancient times, the people were looking for a messiah. Merriam Webster tells us that a messiah is:

a person who is expected to save people from a very bad situation

Many saw the king as the messiah, They wanted their king to save them from the tyranny of their oppressor. They wanted to be set free from the enemy. But God knew what they really needed to be set free. The people were looking for a small “m” messiah but God knew they needed the big “M” type of a messiah…

the Messiah Judaism : a king who will be sent by God to save the Jews

Christianity : Jesus Christ

 

From the Luke passage this morning we can see some of the attributes of God’s Messiah

  1. salvation for us, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—
  2. to show mercy, to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
  3. to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Christ truly is the King…the Messiah…of world.

 

What are we thankful for? As I read the Psalm that was chosen for this morning I could not help but feel thankful. I had many images came to mind. Images of God opening the gate for us through which we can enter in…that gate being our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…for He is the gate of the Lord through which all must enter in to be saved. The image of being a sheep and having God watch over me, ever so lovingly, as I grazed in the grass of His Word, resting by the Living water He offers us. This is just a couple of images that came to mind. There are many images in this scripture and I challenge you to read these words and contemplate the season that we will be entering next Sunday…the season of Advent.

 

We have so much to be thankful for. We can be thankful to God for all that He has done…is doing…and will do in the future in our lives. We can be thankful to the saints that have gone before us who have showed us the way to live. We can be thankful of their gift of faith that they shared in a world full of chaos and hopelessness. And we can show our thankfulness by taking their example in life and live it out in our own.

 

The prophet Jeremiah had much to say…many people didn’t like what he said but there are those times when people need to hear the truth… There is one truth that I rely on…it is about God and His Messiah…His Savior of the with world (all beginning a capital letter).Jeremiah 23:1-6 states:

The Righteous Branch

23 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2 Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. 3 “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.4 I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

5 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,

    “when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,

a King who will reign wisely

    and do what is just and right in the land.

6 In his days Judah will be saved

    and Israel will live in safety.

This is the name by which he will be called:

    The LORD Our Righteous Savior.

And His Name shall be called “The Lord Our Righteous Savior”. It is in and through God’s Savior…not mankind’s savior/messiah…that we are saved and made righteous…not by our filthy rags we try to be righteous with but His Righteousness.

 

We have a lot to be thankful for. What are you thankful for? Let us put God at the head of our “Thanks Giving” table as we give thanks for His goodness and mercy found in and through our Risen Lord, the Savoir of the world, Jesus Christ. We truly have much to be thankful for. Why are you thankful for are you more thankful for the “giving” or the “receiving” of this Holiday of thanks…

 

Amen.

Right Here…Right Now…

 

 

October 30, 2016

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

The Body of Christ…?

“Start Living Right Now”

Psalm 148

Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 1:14-20

2 Corinthians 5:11-15; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

Acts 17:24-28

 

Right Here…Right Now…

 

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 stand, as you are able, for the Gospel reading from the Gospel of Matthew, verses 21-23. Listen to the Word of God…His Love Letter…to and for you and me…His beloved children…

 

Comfort zone…what comes to mind when I use the words “comfort zone”? Why do you think we create comfort zones for ourselves? Are you willing to step out of our comfort zone? I know for me it is hard to step out of my comfort zone. I like my comfort zone. It is a place where I feel safe and don’t have to worry about failing. As we stay in our comfort zone, we know how far we can go…it’s much more sensible for us to stay there if we are going to serve God. Right?

 

When God called me to ministry I had this fear of public speaking. Every time I had to do it I would stumble and stutter through whatever it was I had to read. There was no way I was going to be able to speak in front of a congregation every week let alone shepherd one. Now here is God calling me out of my comfort zone. What was I to do? I had said that I would do whatever God called me to do when I rededicated my life to God. I never realized how much I would have to step out in faith…

 

Now remember, as I said last week, as we think about…as we ponder this question or these questions…we remember that 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… are we willing to begin living in the right here and now? Are we going to trust God…like we proclaim…with our lives? Is it time to get out of the boat and get rid of our safety water wings and walk upon the waters of this world?

 

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 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 defines it…remember “Ohana means family and family means no one is left out or left behind.”  We have come to the realization that to become community in the world…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 Christ 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. We are called to be the hands, feet and voice in the world. Our hearts must be broken not so much for us and our agenda but for what breaks His heart…for His agenda…

 

So here we are at the end of ourselves. We have been talking about many things and have pondered much. But one thing has remained the same through it all…there was one question that was asked and only we can answer that question. What are you going to do?

 

In the Mark scripture this morning the men that Jesus spoke to all had the same question posed to them. They were asked by Jesus to follow Him…to become fishers of men. And in every invitation, the answer was the same…YES. Yes, I will change my life. Yes, I will leave everything and follow you. Yes, I will trust You with all that I have and am. Yes, I know that You will supply all since You are asking me to leave my profession. Jesus is still asking you and me the same question…will you follow me? Are you willing to follow me right here…right now…?

 

God is calling us right here…right now… “6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation”. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) When we gave our lives to Christ it no longer was and is our own. We were bought at a very High price…God’s own Son. So, we who believe are not our own.  11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:11-15)

 

We are called to be light for the world that lives in darkness…we are called to be the body of Christ…we are called to be fishers of men. Now I don’t do much fishing…OK I don’t fish…but when you go fishing do you go to places where everyone else goes or do you go to your “favorite fishing hole”? And what would you do if your fishing hole all the sudden had no fish? Would you go somewhere else if someone told you that there were more fish elsewhere? We need stop fishing the same fishing holes and go to where the One who created the fish tells us to go. We need to trust our guide that He knows where our special fishing hole is…each of us has a different place but we are all fishing the same type of fish.

 

We are fishing for soul…  not sole but soul fish. We may feel we have the perfect fishing spot but God may have other ponds for you and I to fish. We tend to keep using our own sonar to find the fish instead if God’s sonar to find them…funny thing is…our sonar may read there is no fish but we insist there is…we don’t want to leave the comfort of our surroundings…we know this private fishing spot and we gladly bring in this type of fish…we don’t want to risk reeling in a shark or something like that…

 

Acts 17:24-28 tells us;

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

OK…so we are fishing in the same spots…we are staying in our comfort zone…we are living in our buildings…and we are missing something vital to our Christian walk… God… He doesn’t live in our buildings…but within all of His creation. That also means that He also lives in the “un-comfort zone” places. It means that as we seek God and His will we have to reach out to those who are part of the body in which we profess…the body of Christ…out of our comfort zones and into theirs… We are all His offspring…some of us are the prodigals hoping someone from home will see their figure on the horizon and welcome them home.

 

So…questions posed earlier:

  • Are you and I willing to live right here…right now? Speak from the Spirit
  • Are we going to trust God with our lives? Speak from the Spirit
  • Do we need to get rid of the water wings and walk on the waters of this world? Speak from the Spirit
  • Are you will to use your gifts, your graces, your finances for the redemption of souls…bringing about change in the community around us and the world? Nothing belongs to us anyway. It is God who gave us the talents and the means. It is because of His great love that we have all that we have. We may be saving for a rainy day but there are people out there who are having a rainy day right now who could use our help.
  • Are you willing to answer the call of Jesus as He uses you for His agenda? That’s a question that only you can answer. There is no doubt about it. God is calling us to a new thing…and it involves you and me…do you not perceive it…

 

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 matters most.  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… As we love a Jesus did our hearts and hands will be open to and for others. But we need to have our hearts broken from this world and all that it holds to be open to God’s vision and love of others.  We can start living right here…right now…out of our own little world into the vast possibilities of the Reign of God. We need to pledge our support…our presence, our energy and resources as we live for the right here right now in the world. 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…

 

We are the body of Christ…good bad or indifferent we need to get along. We need to be stepping out of our comfort zone and meet the other parts of the body where they are…by the way…we can’t be the true body of Christ without them. We all get to have choices in life? Are you going fishing or not…? By the way…before you answer that question…and yes, it is between you and God…I want to leave you with 1 more piece of Scripture that is found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7 verses 21-23:

True and False Disciples

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Food for thought…

 

AMEN