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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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An Invitation To Joy

December 17, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

3rd Sunday of Advent

Sermon Series: “The Invitation”

Psalm 126 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Isaiah 61:1-2, 8-11 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Luke 1:46-55Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/joy

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/05/21/what-is-the-biblical-definition-of-joy-how-does-the-bible-define-joy/

 

 

“An Invitation to Joy…”

 

The Lord Be with you

and also with you

Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…

 

Please stand, as you are able, for the reading from the Gospel according to Luke. We are reading chapter 1, verses 46-55. Listen to the Word of God, the Love Sonnet, for you and me, the children of God…

 

“Ok, so I am offered Hope that I can have a relationship with God because of the invitation that Jesus gives me. The Second part is that I am offered peace. Not the worlds peace, I don’t think this world really knows what that means, but God’s peace that is unshakable…right?”  She was really beginning to understand the manger. So, she thought. “Right. But, we are also offered even more than that,” Esther explained. “we are offered joy.” Now Hope had a hard time with this. With the world the way it is, how can one find joy in the midst of it?

 

“What do you mean joy?” Hope asked. “WE all go around singing Joy to the world and it seems, well kind of naive. This world is full of hate and despair. You just gotta suck it up and deal. There is no way of finding any lasting joy. We may find a little piece of it then WHAM, it’s gone.” Hope explained. “There is no way around it.” “You are right, we can’t find a way around it. But real joy has nothing to do with us…just like piece. It has nothing to do with our circumstances and everything to do with Jesus who came so that we could have hope, peace, and joy. It is only in Him we find it…” Esther tried to clarify for Hope. She could see that Hope felt joyless and wanted her to understand the truth. “I know Jesus cam to give us all this, but I really don’t see how it is possible” Hope wept as she thought of all those she knew who were in pain and suffering. Esther knew she had a hard road ahead with Hope. How was she going to help this girl find what she was missing, even though it was right in front of her face?

 

Joy:

1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight

b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety

2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss

3 : a source or cause of delight

Biblical Joy:

Joy is a permanent possession while happiness is fleeting. Joy stays, happiness comes and goes. Joy isn’t like happiness which is based upon happenings or whether things are going well or not. No, joy remains even amidst the suffering. Joy is one of the fruits or the results of having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You cannot fake joy…you either have it or you don’t.

 

Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…”  The invitation of Advent. We have begun our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ. Without “The Invitation”, there is no Resurrection Sunday morning.

 

We have pondered the questions why is this invitation important to you and I? What does this invitation consist of…do we know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? We have even asked the hard question if we “Christians”, are even aware of the joyous gift we are given and if we even accept the whole gift not just part. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”

 

Last week, I asked you…and I… to do something truly radical. Something I feel is necessary for our journey. To empty our baggage, we carry at the door of Advent and walk through the door with empty suitcases. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe at times.

 

 

We began with the first invitation of the “The Invitation” which is “an invitation to Hope.” Now I am talking about the Hope of the invitation… it is a hope of restoration with and to God. We talked about how the Israelites were leading a double life, giving God “lip service” instead of “life service”. They talked a great talk about God but behind the scenes they were bowing down to idols of the culture. Sounds familiar to us…praise God for His restoration project that began in the manger…we now have hope in ad through Jesus Christ…

 

And as we came closer the Angels tell us “do not be afraid for I bring you good news.” Fear can keep us from some of the awesome things in life because we are afraid to take the first step. Fear of the unknown… But as we approach we are offered second invitation, “An Invitation to Peace”. This peace has nothing to do with our situation but has everything to do with the Peace Maker lying in the manger. As we trust and have peace within us, we don’t tend to worry and that peace we bring into our lives and we are able to live peaceably with our neighbors…kind of like a for-taste of the Peaceable Kingdom, we can have that glimpse of the “Peaceable Kingdom” that will happen with Christ’s return.

 

“The Invitation” does not stop there. There is much more that it offers. Now how many of you have joy in their lives?  What gives you that joy…how do you sustain that joy? Give time to answer. In life, we have our difficulties. It can be hard to find joy. We look at the world round us and world around and see we may feel despair and even anger for what humanity does to each other and what it does to itself. Where is the joy?

 

In “The Invitation” of the manger, within the invitation of Advent, we are offered Joy. This morning we heard a song of Joy from Mary. She had just been told that she would bare the Holy One of Israel. She was a humble girl. She was a girl from a priestly line, so she knew about the promised savior.

 

Now in her situation, I think I may have been a little scared…maybe unhappy. Here I am, an unwed teenager, and now I am being told I am going to be pregnant, and my betrothed was not going to be the father. I would have to try to explain I was not unfaithful and that the child was going to be God’s child. Well in that day and time it would not have gone well for me. I would be told I was a liar and maybe even stoned to death. Where is the joy in that? But Mary rose above all of this and fond the Joy in her savior. She sang what I believe one of the most trusting, joyous, beautiful songs to God. Mary’s joy was found in the manger…the Savior of the world. That is where true joy comes from…everything else is just icing on the cake…

 

As Mary, we too can find true joy that has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the Anointed One who one day bring about the “Peaceable Kingdom.”  Listen to these words from Isaiah and take hold of the Joy within it…It may sound very familiar to Mary’s song…

Isaiah 61:1-2Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

61 The Spirit of Adonai Elohim is upon me,

because Adonai has anointed me

to announce good news to the poor.

He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted;

to proclaim freedom to the captives,

to let out into light those bound in the dark;

2 to proclaim the year of the favor of Adonai

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn,

Isaiah 61:8-11Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

8 “For I, Adonai, love justice;

I hate robbery for burnt offerings.

So I will be faithful to reward them

and make an eternal covenant with them.”

9 Their descendants will be known among the nations,

their offspring among the peoples;

all who see them will acknowledge

that they are the seed Adonai has blessed.

10 I am so joyful in Adonai!

My soul rejoices in my God,

for he has clothed me in salvation,

dressed me with a robe of triumph,

like a bridegroom wearing a festive turban,

like a bride adorned with her jewels.

11 For just as the earth brings forth its plants,

or a garden makes its plants spring up,

so Adonai, God, will cause victory and glory

to spring up before all nations.

This is the cause for our joy…this lies within “The Invitation.” We are clothed in Salvation, we are given the robe of triumph…of righteousness, we are beautifully adorned…we are the seed of Adonai…Joy unspeakable.

 

Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more.

Found within “The Invitation” we have “An Invitation to Peace”, the peace beyond all understanding. This peace has nothing to do with you or I and how we are feeling but it has to do exclusively with the One who offers it. He is the One who says, “Come near the manger and be set free…Come and accept the offer of the invitation to come and see…Come and have life eternally…Come without fear and trust in Me. Come and feel the Joy uncontainable joy I have to offer.”

 

 

+Maybe…just maybe…we can have joy in a world full of despair. Perhaps as we focus on the manger and all that it stands for we will be able to understand and recieve what it has to offer. I would like to leave you with some something to consider…It is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24…

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

16 Always be joyful. 17 Pray regularly. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua.

19 Don’t quench the Spirit, 20 don’t despise inspired messages. 21 But do test everything — hold onto what is good, 22 but keep away from every form of evil.

23 May the God of shalom make you completely holy — may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. 24 The one calling you is faithful, and he will do it.

 

“Joy to the World the Lord Has Come. Let Earth Receive Her King”

Shalom

Amen…

What Is This Love

 

December 24, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

4th Sunday of Advent

Christmas Eve Morning

Sermon Series: “The Invitation”

“An Invitation To Love”

https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/290

https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html

 

 

“What Is This Love…”

 

Lord may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, mind, and soul be pleasing to you. May your words be head through me or in spite of me. For you are my Rock, my Redeemer, My Anchor and Friend, my First Love…

 

Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…”  The invitation of Advent. We are almost to the end of our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ. Without “The Invitation”, there is no Resurrection Sunday morning.

 

We have emptied our bags, our life’s suitcase so to speak, at the door way of Advent and entered in with bags waiting to be filled. suitcases. We have filled it with the Hope that is found within the manger, an invitation of the Hope of a restored relationship with God. As we came closer the Angels tell us “do not be afraid for I bring you good news.” We gathered up and packed the clothing of Peace found in the manger, an invitation to the Peace that we are never alone, and we know that at life’s end we will be with the One who offers that peace. We have gathered the words of the song of Joy and packed them near the top so that we can sing them often, an invitation to sing for Joy because no matter what we face, the One in the manger is the One who gives real Joy, not our circumstances.

 

Today we light the candle of Love. What is this love? Love is more of an action than a feeling, true Love that is. True love, offers grace when someone has offended us, even though the offender may never ask for it. True love gives of one’s self, even when they don’t feel like it. True love doesn’t hold grudges or plans its revenge, but offers mercy in spite of the situation. True love looks for the good, even when there is no good in sight. True love always believes that good will triumph over evil. True love is patient and kind, even when others are acting unkindly. True love believes, even when all hope seems to be lost. True love conquers, even in the fiercest fight. True love always wins…

 

What is this love? What is “The Invitation” to “An Invitation” to?

  • It is an invitation to unconditional love.
  • It is an invitation to acceptance, right where we stand.
  • It is an invitation to learn to love…truly love.
  • It is an invitation to the most excellent way of living.
  • It is an invitation to a family of love.
  • It is an invitation to what is called “Agape Love”. The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. This love is far more than the romantic type of love we feel for our husband or wife. It is a love even far deeper than the love for a child. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is the love God offers from the manger. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely, not because we deserve to be loved or because of any excellence we possess, but because it is His nature to love and He must be true to His nature. “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” 
  • This is the love of the manger. This is “The Invitation” of the Manger.

 

What is this love? It is the bring you to your knees in adoration because you are loved unconditionally. It is the make you weep every time you begin to realize that YOU ARE LOVED, and there is nothing you can do about it. It is what draws you near the stable. It is what brings you back to the manger… It is what God offered humanity over 2000 years ago. It what He still offers today.

 

“How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!”

 

“Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love to and for the World the Lord Has Come. Let Earth Receive Her King”

 

Amen…

 

A Christmas Letter

 

December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve

Sermon Series:

“The Invitation”

An Invitation to the Christ Child

 

A Christmas Letter…

 

Thank you for reading my letter.  Many now a day would not even bother. They are too busy with their own little worlds…Instagram, Facebook, and the like. Writing letters is a lost art. Maybe we should go back in time.

 

I am writing you this letter because I want you to know what it feels like from the outside looking in. I have sent a invitation to many of you and it seems as if it is being ignore. It breaks my heart. I want you to have a happy healthy life and I see you settling for so much less. It has been this way for centuries and I still tear up when I see the hurt and suffering in your face.

 

The world seems hopeless and in despair. There is addition and abuse everywhere. It seems as if you can’t turn on the television or pick up the paper where there is not some mention of it. It is not the way it should be. The world wasn’t created for that. But somewhere, it all went wrong. I had hoped for so much more and so you were given a choice and not forced into something you didn’t want. That’s not any way to live.

 

And then it all went wrong. Bad choices were made and because of that you suffer. I couldn’t stand to see it so I tried many ways to alleviate your suffering, but nothing seemed to work. Oh, sure things got better then it went right back to the way it was before. I wanted so much more than that. So, I thought up a plan.

 

What if I found someone or something that could substitute for you. Someone or something that would suffer for you and you could once again have a good relationship with me. It sounded good to me, so I put the plan in action. Instead of just throwing someone into the position, I decided to start small, with an infant. Now this infant would listen to me and as it grew it would talk about all that I have told them. They would even show all of you how I would like things done…since you would listen I figured I would show you instead. Then when the time was right, my image among you would take on all your hurt…all your pain…all your suffering…even all your sin.

 

Now this was really hard for me because the only way for this to work was for me to have an ultimate sacrifice. Just like Abraham, I had to give up my son as an offering. But unlike Abraham, there was no substitute. But I felt you were worth it, so my plan went off without a hitch. Now we can have a real relationship again.

 

So why am I telling you this? I want you to know that when I set my plan in motion I wanted you to accept the gift I was offering within. I invited and still invite you to have a life of hope, peace, joy and love. I want you to know that it is never too late, you are never too far, you have never been to bad to be part of my plan. It is for those like you that I thought this plan up for anyway.

 

So, as I am having this letter read to you I want you to know, you are loved with an unfathomable love, there is nothing I want more than to have you be part of my plan, you are of sacred worth to me…remember, I created you and I don’t create anything that is worthless. What would be the sense in that? There is only one thing you have to do, and I will do the rest. That one thing is to accept the gift…accept my invitation… It’s that simple. I want you to know I will wait for you. But tally too long, I really think you are to die for and can’t wait for us to be together again.

 

I love you my beloved daughter and my beloved son,

Madly, deeply, truly, with an unending love.

 

God…

An Invitation to Hope

December 3, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

1st Sunday of Advent

Sermon Series: “The Invitation”

The Lord Be Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

Isaiah 57:7-12, 17-19 (The Voice)

Isaiah 9:1-3 (The Voice)

Romans 5:1-5 (The Voice)

 

“An Invitation to Hope…”

 

The Lord Be with you

and also with you

Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…

 

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah from chapter 57, verses 7-12 and 17-19. Listen and take heed the words spoken by the prophet, through the Spirit of God, to the children of Israel and to the children of God throughout the centuries…

 

“I can see no one has ever helped you understand what this whole invitation to Jesus is all about. Let’s get some more coffee. I will try to explain it to you,” Esther said over her shoulder as she went to the coffee station. “Cream and sugar Hun?”, she asked. “Yes please,” Hope answered… “Ok…let’s get started…”

 

Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…”  The invitation you might ask? What invitation? Well the invitation of Advent of course. Today is the we celebrate the invitation of the manger. We begin our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation, you and I would not be here today. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ.

 

Why is this invitation important to you…or is it even of any significance to you? Give time to answer. What do you think this invitation consist of…do you what know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? Give time to answer. Do you think that we “Christians”, in general, are more like Hope in the story than her friend Esther? Giver time to answer. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”

 

But to do this, I am going to ask you to do something truly radical. This is going to be hard, but I believe it is necessary for our journey. Most of humanity has things we carry…baggage as some call it. Most of us have stresses that we hold on to. I am asking that we empty our baggage right here, right now, pick up our empty suitcases and begin the journey. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Let’s do this now…in this place…leaving on the altar…(Visualization)

 

So…let’s begin…the first invitation of the “The Invitation” is “an invitation to Hope.” OK…don’t be rolling your eyes at me…we have been talking about Hope for a while now and you are probably thinking…here we go again with hope…we get it already. Well I am talking about a different Hope…the Hope of the invitation…

 

Now in the Isaiah from the Isaiah we just read, we hear about a hopeless situation. They had made their bed and now they had to lay in it…so to speak. They had turned away from God, again, and now they were reaping the rewards. They were doing the whole “lip service” to God but behind the scenes they were completely the opposite. Where is the hope of restoration? They walked away from God and turned to the god’s, the deities, of the culture around them… Even today we do the same thing. We, the children of Go, still tend to lead a double life.”  Where do we find hope?

 

Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe. But there is hope found in the manger. Even when there was no light at the end of the tunnel God was work on a “restoration project” for all who believed then and now. Listen for the hope in Isaiah 9:1-3…

When God’s people haven’t seen a hint of light or hope of day, God will do something new.

But there will be no more gloom for those who knew such hardship. In times past, God humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali; later, He will restore the honor and glory to the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee, home of the nations.

The people who had been living in darkness
have seen a great light.
The light of life has shined on those who dwelt
in the shadowy darkness of death.
And You, God, will make it happen. You bolstered the nation,
making it great again. You have saturated it with joy.
Everyone in it is full of delight in Your presence,
like the joy they experience at the harvest,
like the thrill of dividing up the spoils of war.

The people would suffer for what they had done…we had suffered for what we ad done in the past…but God was working on a “restoration project” on the other side… An Invitation to Hope…real hope…

 

Hear the Good News in Romans 5:1-5:

In God’s plan to restore a fallen and disfigured world, Abraham became the father of all of us, the agent of blessing to everyone. Jesus completes what God started centuries before when He established Abraham’s covenant family. Those who put faith in Jesus and call Him “Lord” become part of Abraham’s faith family. Because God is gracious, loving, and merciful, men and women from every corner of the earth are not only declared right, but ultimately are made right as well. It happens through God’s actions—not our efforts—in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus who was crucified for our misdeeds and raised to repair what has been wrong all along. So the promises of God made long years ago are being realized in men and women who hear the call of faith and answer “yes” to it.

Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.

 

Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more.

 

Have you accepted “The Invitation” to “An Invitation of Hope”? If you have accepted it, are you living it out in your daily life or is it just for show and you have your own deities you hope in? The plea of the Psalmist is clear and it was answered in the form of a babe in a manger…

Restore us, God Almighty;

    make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.

Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,

    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.

 

Then we will not turn away from you;

    revive us, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, Lord God Almighty;

    make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.

Amen!

An Invitation to Peace

December 10, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

2nd Sunday of Advent

Sermon Series: “The Invitation”

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (The Voice)

Isaiah 9:6-7 (The Voice)

Isaiah 11:1-9 (The Voice)

Romans 14:17-19 (The Voice)

 

“An Invitation to Peace…”

 

The Lord Be with you

and also with you

Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…

 

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah from chapter 9, verses 6-7. Listen and take heed the words spoken by the prophet, through the Spirit of God, to the children of Israel and to the children of God throughout the centuries…

 

“I think I understand the first part of what the manger offers. I am offered Hope that I can have a relationship with God because of the invitation that Jesus gives me…right?” Hope explained to her new friend Esther. “Right. But, we are also offered even more than that,” Esther explained. “we are offered peace.” Now Hope couldn’t remember having true peace in her life so this intrigued. I know all about not having peace. I don’t think I ever had it in my life. So, this peace. What do I need to do to get it? I really could use some in my life. I am tired of stressing everything.” Hope asked.

 

“Well first, you need to ask for it. Second, you need to trust Jesus for your peace. Third, give your worries to Jesus and He will take care of the rest. You see, this peace has nothing to do with your situation and everything to do with the One who is offering it.” Esther excitedly explained.  “Oh boy this is going to be hard” Hope lamented. “Well it really is very simple and once you decide you are going to accept the invitation to an invitation of peace, it gets much easier.” Esther explained. “I really wish someone had explained all this to me before. My life may have been different” Hope said. “But it can now be different beginning today” Ester said as she put her had on Hope’s shoulder.

Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…”  The invitation of Advent. We have begun our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ. Without “The Invitation”, there is no Resurrection Sunday morning.

 

We have pondered the questions why is this invitation important to you and I? What does this invitation consist of…do we know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? We have even asked the hard question if we “Christians”, are even aware of the joyous gift we are given and if we even accept the whole gift not just part. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”

 

Last week, I asked you…and I… to do something truly radical. Something I feel is necessary for our journey. To empty our baggage, we carry at the door of Advent and walk through the door with empty suitcases. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe at times.

 

Last week we began with the first invitation of the “The Invitation” which is “an invitation to Hope.” Now I am talking about the Hope of the invitation… it is a hope of restoration with and to God. We talked about how the Israelites were leading a double life, giving God “lip service” instead of “life service”. They talked a great talk about God but behind the scenes they were bowing down to idols of the culture. Sounds familiar to us…praise God for His restoration project that began in the manger…we now have hope in ad through Jesus Christ…

 

So here we are a little closer to the manger, yet it can be unsettling. We know who Jesus is, but, we may be a little afraid because of who Jesus is. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. And as we come closer the Angels tell us “do not be afraid for I bring you good news.” Fear can keep us from some of the awesome things in life because we are afraid to take the first step. Fear of the unknown… But as we approach we are offered “An Invitation to Peace”.

 

Now some of us say we love a good piece of pie but I am talking about an0ther kind of piece…a piece of peace. The invitation is “An Invitation to Peace.”   The Isaiah scripture from this morning talks about who Jesus is… God’s promised child from the lineage of David. He will bring peace and it will not be shaken. This ‘living gift” is given to and for all who believe in Mary’s boy child.  My favorite piece of scripture about the “peace” f this boy child is found in Isaiah 11:1-9…The Peaceable Kingdom…

Isaiah 11:1-9The Voice (VOICE)

11 But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
will sprout from Jesse’s stump;
A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.
By the Spirit of wisdom and discernment
He will shine like the dew.
By the Spirit of counsel and strength
He will judge fairly and act courageously.
By the Spirit of knowledge and reverence of the Eternal One,
    He will take pleasure in honoring the Eternal.
He will determine fairness and equity;
He will consider more than what meets the eye,
And weigh in more than what he’s told.

So that even those who can’t afford a good defense
will nevertheless get a fair and equitable judgment.
With just a word, He will end wickedness and abolish oppression.
With nothing more than the breath of His mouth, He will destroy evil.
He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth;
the impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.

With unwavering steps and integrity uncompromised, He will establish peace.

A day will come when the wolf will live peacefully beside the wobbly-kneed lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
The calf and yearling, newborn and slow, will rest secure with the lion;
and a little child will tend them all.
Bears will graze with the cows they used to attack;
even their young will rest together,
and the lion will eat hay, like gentle oxen.
8-9 Neither will a baby who plays next to a cobra’s hole
nor a toddler who sticks his hand into a nest of vipers suffer harm.
All my holy mountain will be free of anything hurtful or destructive,
for as the waters fill the sea,
The entire earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Eternal.

Now that’s real Peace that He will bring. That is an invitation from the invitation…to have real peace…not based on the world and our feelings but based on God’s unfailing love and the ability of the Prince of Peace to bring order out of chaos.

 

We are told not to worry in life and to have peace because of the Prince of Peace. God’s kingdom has nothing to do with our worry and everything to do with our trust and faith. Let me read what it tells us in Romans chapter 14, verses 17-19…

Romans 14:17-19The Voice (VOICE)

17 because the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking. When God reigns, the order of the day is redeeming justice, true peace, and joy made possible by the Holy Spirit. 18 You see, those who serve the Anointed in this way will be welcomed into the whole acceptance of God and valued by all men. 19 Join us, and pursue a life that creates peace and builds up our brothers and sisters.

As we trust and have peace within us, we don’t tend to worry and that peace we bring into our lives and we are able to live peaceably with our neighbors…kind of like a for-taste of the Peaceable Kingdom.

 

Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more. Found within “The Invitation” we have “An Invitation to Peace”, the peace beyond all understanding. This peace has nothing to do with you or I and how we are feeling but it has to do exclusively with the One who offers it who says, “Come near the manger and be set free…Come and accept the offer of the invitation to come and see…Come and have life eternally…Come without fear and trust in Me.” Maybe…just maybe…as we cast the cares of or lives aside we truly can have the peace that goes beyond understanding… Maybe…just maybe we can give peace a chance and watch what happens… You never know…perhaps we may start a new trend that ushers God’s peace to the world in which we live.

You never know…

Amen…

Healing Rain

 

 

 

July 2, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“Healing Rain”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 89:1-4; 15-18

Matthew 28:18-20

Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23

 John 14:12-14

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

 

“The Voice of Truth’s Healing Rain…!”

 

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 Mathew, chapter 28, verses 18-20 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you, and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)

 

As the girls walked together to visit Grace, neither of them knew what was in store for them and their friendship. They had more to learn as the journeyed together to a place much bigger than themselves.

 

“I don’t know Joy; do you really think that it really is all that easy. You that forgiving thing,” Hope asked as they talked on the way to visit Grace. “Well…no it’s not quite that easy. It takes work but if we think about all that God forgives us for, we surely can forgive what others do to us.” Joy said as she pondered Hope’s question. “Um about that God thing. I am not really all that sure if I truly believe. With all the things that have happened in my life, I have a hard time believing in a God that would allow that.” Hope said as she looked at the floor. “Well…look at Grace. She should have died but she didn’t. There is no way that she could have if God hadn’t stepped in and intervened in her life. And now she is coming home in a couple of days…now that’s a miracle.” Joy said through tears of joy.

 

“Ok but why did it have to happen in the first place. Grace didn’t deserve that happening to her but it did. She is a good person and if there is a God and He allowed it, I just don’t know Joy…” Hope said through her own tears of doubt. “I don’t have all the answers Hope but the one thing I do have is faith…faith that I serve a God of love and hope, faith that God will work all things out, even faith that you and I have met for a reason much higher than either of us can imagine…” “Do you really think so Joy? I have not figured out yet why either of you would want me around but I am glad you do” “Hope…you have no idea of what you do to those around you. You see…you give hope. When I finally got to know you I had hope for the future…you gave me hope as I had my own questions. Hope…if there was no Hope…there would be no hope.” “Ok…now you made me cry…” as both Joy and hope kind of laughed together.

 

“What’s so funny” Grace asked as the girls entered her room, “did I miss something?” “If you only knew…” Hope laughed. “Yah if you only knew” Joy said still laughing. “Well…I have plenty of time. Come on…spill it” Grace said with a smile. Both Hope and Joy sat in a chair beside the bed and began to tell her the story of all that had happened in the past few days.

 

But that part of the story is for another day…

 

Good morning. Well here we are together again. We have been walking this road of healing with each other for 10 weeks now and we now have reached a place of decision. We have heard Hope’s story…as I have said, this is not all of hopes story…I have more for her. I am not finished writing her story, much more about her journey and the people she encounters on it…

 

For weeks now we have been talking about what ails us. We have had a lot of good conversation over our ailments as we have been interactive with one another during our sermon time…so, please participate as the Spirit leads you. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Hope wasn’t sure she believed. She was lost and was searching for answers. I thought that she was more set in her faith. She had been trying to find a place to be accepted but I think she was also trying to find a place to encounter God…

 

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 to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back our streets…the places where we are called to share the Gospel of Grace, Hope, Joy, and Faith. 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 Resurrected people. 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 the what next as we have discovered and understood our ailments we, as humanity, are plagued with…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We need mending…we are all broken. If we say we are not we lie. We live in a fallen world…we live in a world of chaos…we live in a place where everything is turned upside down. But praise Jesus, He can turn it all right-side up for us again as we travel the road of healing and are mended from the inside out. What in us needs mending? My hope is that as we continue to have that conversation it will lead to healing. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.

 

So, some of the ailments we have talked about are…

  1. Our intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful.
  2. 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.
  3. Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear immobilizes us and keeps us stuck in the mud…unable to move forward for Christ and the Good News. Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…
  4. There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride is not a bad thing unless it gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.
  5. 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 and as we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.
  6. Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. Lady Ms. Trust loves to come in and stir up a whole lot of nothing and sit back as we begin to come unglued together because we are suspicious and untrusting each other.
  7. “holdouts” … holding on to things that should be released to God. They keep pushing the bolder up the hill and not letting the Creator of all make rubble out of it…
  8. Power struggles-the ones who have a need to control. This one began with the first twelve disciples and continues today.
  9. Blindness- we are blind to what is around us. We are needing to have our eyes opened and receive new sight… It is all about faith…

 

So here we are at the “what next” part of our journey together. After all that we have heard and contemplated, what do you think the next step should be and why? Give time to answer. Do we walk alone…are we doing this within our own power? Give time to answer. The Matthew I read this morning tells us the answer to that. As a matter of fact, Jesus even prayed for us…but we will talk more on that next week as we prepare to walk in our calling to make disciples.

 

John 14:12-14, Jesus tells His Disciples and us: 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus is with us always and whatever we ask in His name will happen. That includes healing our ailments so that we can go out and make disciples of all nations.

 

Isaiah 40:3 states, “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.”
As well John 1:23, “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” We are that voice calling in the desert.

We are the “John’s” of this world. We are God’s prophet declaring His word.

 

Beloved children of the Most High God. Are we going to listen to Jesus as He calls us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed? What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can webe 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 cannot/will not let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively. This is a process. It would be awesome if we were all done with the healing like we are with this sermon series. But just like with Hope, it is a process that takes time and courage.

 

But, but, we cannot and will not fail. We are the only safe harbor for our community and beyond. We have been told that we will remain…we are relevant in this community. In fact, Jesus is counting on us to be His image in our little part of the world and beyond. Think about the Hope’s of this world.

 

We are ready to reach out to Hope and hold to her for dear life. Hope is ready to come in now…Maybe…just maybe…we too will find hope in Hope, we to will be joyful as we find our Joy in the world…and be changed forever by Grace…because we have Faith and an enhanced view of the world around us because we have chosen to understand…through the Eyes of Love… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. …

 

Amen.