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Step into the eye

 

Matthew 14:22-32New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus Walks on Water

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.

Jesus went away to pray. this was not something that was out of the ordinary. The scriptures give several instances that Jesus went away in seclusion to spend time with God alone.  It was within that time that He was strengthen for the path ahead of Him. He knew that the path ahead was going to be difficult and He would need the Fathers strength to endure all that was going to happen.

and so now we have the scene of the disciples in the boat. It was be tossed too and fro and they we more than likely afraid. Who wouldn’t be. When we are at the brink of our Red Sea…when we are in the fire storm we too are in need of strength…a place of calmness…a quiet place… But Jesus walked to the disciples within the storm that was raging all around them… Within their storm…within our storm Jesus is saying do not be afraid for I am here… We may not be able to recognize Him within the chaos but He is there (I will never leave you or forsake you…I will be with you until the end of age)

Jesus walked on the water at 3 am (there is a sacredness about this time during the night watch). We read how Peter did the same. But it all occurred in the midst of the storm… It wasn’t until they got back in the boat that the storm subsided. It was quieted by Jesus’ presence…

Jesus comes to us in the midst of the storm and  invites us to step out of the boat being tossed to and fro…out of our fear…out of our chaos…out of our doubt…and walk with Him above it all. When we focus on Him, we enter the eye of the storm.,,where we find peace in the midst of the storms raging in our lives…in the midst of the fire storm…

Take that leap and fall into the arms of the One who can calm even the strongest tempest…

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!

Trust

June 4, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Pentecost Sunday!

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Trust”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 104:24-35

Mark 10:13-16 MSG

Luke 24:44-53 MSG

Acts 2:1-13; 38-42 The Message (MSG)

 

 

“Trust.…”

 

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 10, verses 13-16. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)

 

 

As Hope, Joy and Grace 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?

 

Hey guys, let’s go down by the river and see what’s going on” Joy suggested. “I don’t know about that” Hope exclaimed, “I was always told never to go there, especially at night. You never know what could be down there…or should I say who.” “/come on Hope. Where is your sense of adventure?” Joy asked. “She may be right” Grace interjected “ I have heard that strange things happen there at night.” “Well if you two stick in the muds don’t want to go, I guess I will just go myself.” Joy said as she started to walk off. “Wait up” both Hope and Grace said, “We will go with you. You should never go alone.” “Yes!”

 

When they got to the river there were several people standing around and it looked like they were up to no good. “I don’t know about this” Grace said “It looks like they are up to no good to me. I think we should get out of here before they see us.” “I know these guys” Hope said “there ok. They are friends of mine. Trust me.” “If you say so” Joy and Grace said, a little uneasy.

 

“Hi guys. What ya up to?” hope asked. “Not much Hope. Who are these people you brought with you? You know how we don’t like strangers around here.” “there cool. This is Joy and Grace” Hope told them. “Grace and Joy huh. Well they don’t look so graceful and leaping for joy to meet us “ they laughed. Joy and Grace were getting nervous and decided it was time to go. “Come on Hope. Let’s just go.” They were pulling her away from them and all of the sudden there was gun fire. “everyone get down….” Their “new found friends exclaimed. But it was too late, Grace had been hit.

 

“I knew that we shouldn’t have come here. I trusted you and look what happened. I will never trust anyone like you ever again.” Joy screamed. “Someone call 911.” But the only people there were Hope, Joy and Grace now on the ground bleeding.

 

When they finally got to the hospital they were pretty shacken up. As they sat there waiting to hear news about Grace, the head nurse came to speak to them. She wore a name tag that just said “faith” on it. “Hi girls, my name is Faith and I am the nurse in charge of your friend Grace. Can you tell me what happened?” asked Faith. “It’s al her fault, I should have never trusted someone like her.” Joy blurted out. “My fault. Why is it my fault. I didn’t know that was going to happen. I wasn’t the one who shot her and you didn’t have to go with me either” “That’s enough girls. This is not helping your friend any. I believe she will be OK. She might have to be here for a while but she is going to be ok.” Faith explained. “How do you know that?” both of the girls asked. I just know it will…this is not what God would have planned for her…”.

 

As Faith walked away, Hope tried to talk to her hurting friend, “I am so sorry. I would never have gone there if I know this was going to happen.” “Well you can just keep you apology. My friends were right. People like you should never be trusted.” Joy screamed at her friend. After saying that she stormed off to try and find out more information on her friend. Hope just sat there and cried… “It’s all my fault. I really am one of those people. How could I ever think I could be part of them.” Hearing this, nurse Faith came over and sat next to Hope. She didn’t say a word, just sat there with her… I wonder what was going to happen next…

 

Good morning. Happy Pentecost Sunday…the birthday of the church! 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 to me was the way that Joy reacted to Hope after her friend had been shot.…I really don’t know if Hope is ever going to earn Joy’s trust back. I think that I may have felt the same if I had been in that position.

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. As we work together…and not just give up and leave…the most important thing to remember is we need to take our division to the Way Maker, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. He will stand in gap for us as we work our way back to unity. As we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.

 

Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. How many of you have ever had an incident in their lives that they lost trust in something or someone? How did that make you feel? Give time to answer. Do you think you will ever trust that person or that thing again? Give time to answer. Trust is something I like to give people…that is until they prove me wrong. Then it is hard for me to totally trust that person…or thing…again. What or who do you trust the most…that you put your trust in? Give time to answer.

 

From the Scripture this morning, we hear how we are to enter into the Kingdom of God…with childlike trust. Why do you think it is so hard to have that childlike trust? Give time to answer? In the world we live in, it seems that most people live for themselves and trust no one. If they trusted then that person could do …fill in the blank… and we can’t have that happening…

 

Why do you think that it is so important for us, as Christ’s Church, to have trust? Give time to answer. The church began in faith and trust. Listen to the story of the first Pentecost Sunday and see if you can see why we as a church need to trust not only God…but one another.

 

Acts 2:1-13The Message (MSG)

A Sound Like a Strong Wind

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Acts 2:38-42The Message (MSG)

38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”

40 He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”

41-42 That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

 

Wow…what pieces of trust do you see here? Do you think without that there would have been a growth of the church? Give time to answer. But the trust thing began before this day. Luke 24:44-53 is where it began. Listen to what the scripture tells us:

Luke 24:44-53The Message (MSG)

You’re the Witnesses

44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”

45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

50-51 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

52-53 And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.

It began with the disciples trust in what Jesus told them. If they had not trusted in what Jesus had told them they never would have gone back to the city. They would not have been altogether in one place. They would not have been His witnesses all over the world. We cannot be His witnesses if we are not trusting and having divisions with one another church…

 

If we do not believe Jesus when He tells us to bring what is broken and He will fix it wat is the point of believing at all? If we don’t believe that God can heal anything, what is the point of believing? If we don’t believe the promises, what is the point of believing? If we don’t come with childlike faith, with each other, and believe Jesus can fix us then… Without childlike faith…childlike trust how can we enter the throne room and be healed? It all begins with trust… They say “time can heal the broken heart” but I believe it is trust in the One who created us that heals the broken heart…

 

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 we let cannot/will not fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively.

 

It is Pentecost Sunday, are we willing to trust and receive the Holy Spirit? Remember…it began and begins in trust. Without trust, there is no miracle or power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the life of the church. Can we be like Faith and trust in the One who is working in and through our lives and the lives of others?

 

Think about the Hope’s of this world. She needs a place of trust and if we are not trusting then why would she want to come near? 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 as we work through our faith journey together trusting in the One who knows us best.

 

Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

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

 

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!