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BRIDGE

Posted: 13 Sep 2016 10:01 PM PDT

BRIDGE

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

Photo by Beverly Shamana

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Sight Psalms is a ministry of The Upper Room.

 

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

Waiting

Ecclesiastes 11:6New Living Translation (NLT)

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

2 Timothy 3:14New Living Translation (NLT)

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

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

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

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

 

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

  • Doubt
  • Discouragement
  • Disappointment
  • Despair

or even worse

  • Loss of Faith

 

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

 

Brand Spanking New

January 3, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

First Sunday of 2016

New Year/New Things

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG

Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG

Revelation 21:1-8NIV

 

“Brand Spanking New…!”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

Epiphany noun, plural epiphanies.

  1. (initial capital letter) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
  2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
  3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
  4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

 

Good morning to all of you and Happy New Year. I can’t believe that we are at a new year already. Have you all made your New Year’s resolution yet? I have made a couple but we’ll see how that goes… I pray this New Year brings you blessings, hope and joy and that you have a renewed vision of Jesus and who He is in your lives.

 

In the Christian calendar the first Sunday of the year is known as “Epiphany Sunday”. “Epiphany” is a very interesting word to me…so much so that I decided to look up the definition which I just read. This definition kind of reminds me of those old V8 commercials… you know what I’m talking about, the ones that the person has just discovered that what they were drinking had no real nutritional value and they could have had a V8 instead that would have given them nutritional value. That sudden realization that there was something more out there than what you are living with or doing.

 

I think we all have epiphanies in some shape or form. We are looking for our car keys and then all of the sudden a thought comes to mind of where they are. We may be reading scripture and all of the sudden we have that “ah ha” moment and it all makes perfect sense. We may see or be in a situation and all of the sudden it is like “light dawning on the horizon” we understand why it is all happening…we see it through the eyes of God instead of our own eyes.

 

The bible is full of epiphanies…people who all of the sudden understood something about God and His promises. Many men and women turned their lives around because of their encounter with Yahweh. I think my favorite one is found in Revelations…although I think that the whole book of Revelation is one big epiphany in itself… It is found in chapter 21 verses 1-8. It reads:

Revelation 21:1-8New International Version (NIV)

A New Heaven and a New Earth

21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

God is creating…recreating something new…something that He intended from the beginning and He will dwell with His people. There is no more crying…or death…or anything that is against God…He will create everything brand spanking new. As we grasp this fact…this promise…what an epiphany we have as we realize who our God is and whom belongs to Him…you and I…we belong to Him who sits on the throne. Think about that for a moment. The Creator of all that we see…all that is good…is recreating…not only is He recreating the world in which we live but He is recreating us each day as we draw closer to Him.

 

So pastor Ruth…when can we expect this new world order? Good question. Well remember that reading from Ecclesiastes I read a little while ago? It will happen in God’s time. But we have that promise that it will happen. As children of God, I believe that nothing happens that isn’t Father filtered…nothing happens that God is not aware of…nothing happens for no reason. As we look around us the world doesn’t look all that appealing. There is so much evil around us that we can hardly look at it. We may be thinking “how can God let this happen? Where is God in this?” There a right time for everything on the earth… God is working out His plan. Each day He is creating and recreating. It’s His nature. As we look at the world with the eyes of God, we can see that promise beginning to take shape. But we must believe.

 

Maybe as we begin seeing through God’s eyes we can begin to see our part in the plan. Perhaps if we begin within ourselves we can begin a chain reaction that will affect the world around us and beyond. Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us:

“Forget about what’s happened;

    don’t keep going over old history.

Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.

    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?

There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,

    rivers in the badlands.

My prayer for us as individuals and as a church is that we all will have that epiphany that will bring us ever closer to our Lord Jesus Christ this year…That we will have a revelation of who Christ is to us and who we are to Him…That we will embark on new journeys that will lead us to a new and exciting place where we will encounter our Redeemer in new ways.

 

Happy New Year…happy new you…happy new world…Amen

“A Safe Place…”

November 8, 2015

Stetson Memorial UMC

23rd Psalm NIV

1 John 5:1-5 NIV

Psalm 31:19-24

“A Safe Place…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

Read 1John 5:1-5 NIV

1 John 5:1-5New International Version (NIV)

 

Faith in the Incarnate Son of God

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

 

 

Have you ever been in a place that you felt completely unsafe? No matter where you turn it just gives you that frightened feeling. It is almost as if the evil of the world has converged in one place and your standing in it. We all want that place of safety in our lives….a place where we feel cared for and nothing can harm you.

 

Last week was All Saints Day and we talked about the saints past, present and future…we talked about how we owe so much if what we have today to those who have gone before us. They are the ones who made a path for us to follow instead of making our own. It is nice to travel that safe road at times but at other times we just want to venture out on our own to see what we can find.

 

In the 23rd Psalm that I read this morning, we hear about that place of safety. That place is right next to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. In keeping close to Jesus we may not miss all those scary, dangerous parts of life but we know that He will walk through it with us.

 

Last week I also talked about how we are the imperfect, perfect vessels God’s love. We are those cracked pots for God so to speak. Even in our brokenness we are useable and precious to God who picks us up and creates something new, something beautiful.

 

It is within our brokenness that He is able to reform us into a thing of beauty. He reclaims us for a far better purpose than what we can imagine on our own. We all have brokenness within us, it all began in a garden before we were ever born. But there something amazing about our brokenness, it is within this brokenness that Jesus’ light shines through us. If we were perfectly made…there would be no cracks in which our light can shine through.

 

 

 

Think about beach glass for a moment each of you should have received a piece when you came in this morning. It starts out as a discarded bottle or other glass. It is broken and just left where it is as if it had no use or beauty left. Through time, the discarded piece of glass is rolled over many times and has had the waves beat upon it. It loses it’s rough edges that it once had. Until one day it becomes a thing of beauty that we call “beach glass”. It is no longer a discarded broken bottle, it has now become something that people search up and down the beach for. It is something that is valued and treasured…it may be in a different form but it is still valuable. It is actually considered a mineral gem at this point.

 

Our lives can seem much like the life of beach glass. We can feel we have the perfect life and then something comes along to shatter or change that. As we give ourselves to God , He is able to create something new. When we accept Jesus our whole lives change from dirty to white as snow. 1 John 5:1-5 told us that as we become children of God we are changed and we love the children of God. We may go through much pressure and strife but we come out changed on the other side.

 

Now we may feel alone as we go through our time of change but we are never alone. Listen to Psalm 31 verses 19-24 and hear the good news…

Psalm 31:19-24New International Version (NIV)

 

19 How abundant are the good things

    that you have stored up for those who fear you,

that you bestow in the sight of all,

    on those who take refuge in you.

20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them

    from all human intrigues;

you keep them safe in your dwelling

    from accusing tongues.

21 Praise be to the Lord,

    for he showed me the wonders of his love

    when I was in a city under siege.

22 In my alarm I said,

    “I am cut off from your sight!”

Yet you heard my cry for mercy

    when I called to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!

    The Lord preserves those who are true to him,

    but the proud he pays back in full.

24 Be strong and take heart,

    all you who hope in the Lord.

 

(End as the spirit Leads)

 

Amen

“Building A Life of Comfort…?”

October 25, 2015

Stetson Memorial UMC

Inspired by Marcia McPhee’s Series:

“Moving out of Scare City”

Philippians 4:6-7

Genesis 6:1-9

 

“Building A Life of Comfort…?”

 

Philippians 4:6-7New International Version (NIV)

 

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Let us pray:

Loving and Gracious God, we come before You as Your people who want to do Your will and trust in You alone. Speak to us we pray so that we would hear the word You have for us this day. May we leave Your house today with a renewed trust in You and Your goodness. May the meditations of our heart, mind and Spirit be pleasing to You our God, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

 

I will come to you in the silence

I will lift you from all your fear

You will hear My voice

I claim you as My choice

Be still, and know I am here

 

Chorus:

Do not be afraid, I am with you

I have called you each by name

Come and follow Me

I will bring you home

I love you and you are mine

 

What are you afraid of? What makes you so afraid that you may even be unable to move? You know those things that we try to hide from but they always seem to find us any way. I think we all have some kind of fear within us. I believe that there is at least one thing that is we give into the fear our whole world could come apart.

 

Some of the things that we may fear are things that you can see. Things like someone breaking into your house and robbing you of the things you hold dear. How about things like flying…some of us are afraid to fly…or how about being afraid of our loved ones because they are far away and we are afraid that if we are not watching over them something may happen. We hold these fears within us and some are real fears but some are fears of what might happen.

 

Things that might happen…have you ever been afraid of something that might happen? Now these scenarios that we rehearse in our heads may or may not happen can really grab a hold of us and not let go. They are so real to us that we are even afraid of not being afraid because if we are not on our guard well it may happen…

 

What about the fear of scarcity? Have you ever been afraid of not having enough? Have you ever been afraid that though God has promised to be with us always and He will give us peace about all things that we bring to Him as the scripture I just read states? But you just can’t stop worrying about not having enough. We all the sudden realize we have moved from the town of Trusting God to a place called “Scare City”.

 

The sense that there is not enough drives greed, fear and exclusionary behavior. We begin to live in “Scare City” where it seems that death, starvation, feelings of being overwhelmed and swallowed up can lurk around every corner. The Good News is that this is an illusion. A spiritual journey into the truth of abundance of all that we need offers us an alternative vision of where to live our lives. This fall, we are going to be trying to rethink those fears we may have. This series will have us “Moving out of “Scare City” and traveling to the vast, open habitats of God’s grace.

 

So how do we react to living in Scare City? One way is found in Genesis 11 verses 1-9 which read:

Genesis 11:1-9New International Version (NIV)

 

The Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

 

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

 

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

 

8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

 

The people had a nice place that they settled in. Then perhaps out of the feeling of scarcity…of not having enough…they decided that they would build a tower…not made of the usual stuff but made of stronger material so that it would last. They allowed their fear to take over and when that happens…well let’s just say that a lot of times…bad decision are made out of fear…out of greed… as we see the consequence that occurred in this situation…

 

More, more, more! Like skyscrapers that begin to loom over us casting a shadow below, our quest for “more” power, prestige, wealth, and  domination have created a culture of oppressive “not enough-ness.” We are overwhelmed, overworked and overstressed. Our perspective of how much we actually have is skewed by the immensity of images of what we “ought to have.” In order to have  a more Godly vision we must begin to confront the myth of scarcity and focus on abundance.

 

What does having enough truly mean to us? I know the answer is different for each of us but what causes you to have comfort in what you have? What is it that forms our feeling of being content? What are the messages that are running around in our head as we begin to think about the word “enough”?

 

God wants us, His Children, to have an abundant life, a life of blessings and contentment. He will meet our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus. We need not be afraid of what will come tomorrow because God has already been there, paving the way for us. But this wanting more and fear of scarcity seems to get in the way. But God still holds out His hand, offering us a life of abundance. But we need to change our thoughts from the world’s view of abundance, which never satisfied with what it has always wanting more and afraid to lose what it has already gotten, to God’s promise of abundance. Which would you rather have?

 

I would like to end my sermon with a prayer written by John van de Laar. I would like for us take in these words of confession and hope as we move out of Scar City into the world of abundance found in and through our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ:

 

Worry and stress are not hard for us, God,

we do them without thinking.

There is always the potential of threat

to our security,

our comfort,

our health,

our relationships,

our lives,

and we foolishly think that we could silence the fear

if we just had enough money,

enough insurance,

enough toys,

enough stored away for a rainy day.

It’s never enough, though;

the voice of our fear will not be dismissed so easily.

But, in the small, silent places within us is another voice;

one that beckons us into the foolishness of faith,

that points our gaze to the birds and the flowers,

that, in unguarded moments, lets our muscles relax,

and our hearts lean into loved ones;

In unexpected whispers we hear it,

calling us to remember your promises,

your grace,

your faithfulness;

And, suddenly, we discover

that it is enough.

Amen.