Why did I Say…

April 30, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”

“A Season of Healing”

Adapted from Marcia McPhee’

“On the Mend” Sermon Series

Psalm 116:1-4;12-19

Mark 5:1-8;14-15; 21-23

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/intentions?s=t

 

“Why Did I Say…”

 

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 5, verses 1-8;14-15; 21-23. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…

 

(Read Scripture from the Good News Bible)

 

She sat and listened to all that was being said. She thought to herself “Why did I even ask? All I wanted was a little direction for my life and now…this. I knew I should have just kept my mouth shut.” She didn’t want to be rude and leave but it was getting to be a little too much for her. Finally, when they were done, she smiled and said, “it still doesn’t make sense. I am not sure of this really is a place…the place…for me…” got up and left…and never to returned.

 

They all thought to themselves how rude this girl was. “We were only trying to help. Besides, she asked what our opinion was. She seemed to want to know things that really should concern her. She’s just one of those “trouble makers” who want to “change the world”.” They were dumbfounded…how could this person disrespect them.  They were the ones who had the answers to all her questions. They were older and so much wiser than she was. Their opinion…their wisdom…was wasted on the younger generation. If they aren’t going to listen, why do they ask? Why do they have to make life so complicated for everyone else…

 

Earlier that evening, this girl (we will call her Hope) had gone to the group she had always gone to. It was just what she did. Hope had these questions in her mind from day one about the group but she was too afraid to ask. On this night, she decided to ask those questions that burned within her.

 

“Why do you only let just a few in? Why do think the way you do? Why is it that you do what you do? Well what if we…?” she asked as she poured out her heart to them. “You are so young, you wouldn’t understand why we do what we do. We have been this way since the beginning. We are an elite group and you need to understand…we don’t want “rabble rouser” coming in…you never know what “they” will do. We have tried before and well let’s just say that it didn’t go well for them…” as they laughed with almost a delight… “Are you one of those kinds of people or are you one of our kind of people”? This is the point that she got up and left…this rude little girl called Hope…

 

Good morning. This morning I want us to be interactive with each other as we were last week. I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is the fact that she left with her questions still not addressed. All she was given was pretty much data…

 

Beloved, we as Christ church 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. All too often, we sound a lot like this “group” of people. If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have been resurrected. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” on not want to come out first being seen naked…leaving those things behind that binds us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.

 

As I stated last week, over the next few weeks we will be talking about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We will be mending fences and healing the heart with one another. And 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…living room conversation with each other in the green room with a little coffee…a little snack and I hope a whole lot of conversation and mending. We will put ourselves in front of Jesus where we can be healed. There will be a week that 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.

 

So, to begin with one word…intentions…what are our intentions in life?

Definition: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct. In Short…why do we do what we do…why do we say what we say…why do we act as we act. Let’s try to figure out what this “group” of people from the story may be all about…

 

Were they inclusive or exclusive? Give time to answer… What do you think that their underlying factor…their motivation was? Again, time to answer…

 

Jesus was presented with the whole intentions thing a lot in his ministry and daily life. When Jesus started His ministry, He caused a lot of fear in the lives of the Pharisees. Jesus practiced “radical hospitality” when He took pity on others and loved them where they were. This shook the whole world, especially that of the Religious leaders. They we seen as wrong in their ways and they just couldn’t stand it or let it continue… So, they planned and executed their plan of getting rid of that outsider to their theology.

 

One of the instances was in the scripture I read this morning… Now the teachers of the law and Religious leaders lived and breathed their traditions. There were none better at that then they were and they enjoyed pointing that out. They wanted to show Jesus how He should act. They said that “His” disciples were not doing what was right…and of course they were what was right…right? What do you think their intentions were?

 

Well Jesus’ answer really did rock their world… As our president might say they were “wrong.” They were more concerned about what was on the outside…a showy faith…than the…real faith. They needed to get rid of this Jesus…He made them look bad…they feared that if He continued they would be seen as the frauds they really were…So they thought up and executed their plan to get rid of the thing…the one person…that caused them the most fear…Jesus… It is what is on the inside that God is concerned with…that is why we have this hope that no matter what our outward appearance shall be…race, gender, challenged, pierced, tattooed, sex, nationality, economically challenged… (fill in the blank)…God sees the inward appearance of a repentant heart…God sees the inward potential that can move mountains and bring Him glory…the kind of heart that not only brings Him glory but a smile to His face…

 

We as the body of Christ try to be inclusive…or at least I hope that we would be. Unfortunately, we can fall a little short of being that inclusive church…in other words…we are no Sandals vacation. There are many factors that make for an “exclusive group”…that needs to become inclusive:

 

  • Underlying factor – why do we do what we do. Is there something in the history of the group that would cause them…cause us not to want other to be part of the group. What is the motivation? Is it not wanting “outsiders” …” those people” or is much more than that? Is it power and prestige that is being “threatened”?
  • Trying to be help but not quite so helpful – There are times when we say the wrong thing unknowingly… We can only go from what we know.
  • How about tradition – those “we have always done it this way”. It will shatter all we know if we break that tradition. We will also have to admit we are wrong.
  • That leads into fear – sometimes it is things from our past, individually, and corporately, that causes us to fear…we don’t want (fill in the blank) to happen again. It can even be a displaced fear of… We are bombarded daily fear situations. Fear of the unknown. That whole shattering of tradition can lead to fear… The only fear is fear itself…
  • And there are times that we really do have the best intentions and somehow, it all just goes off the rails… We don’t know what others bring to the table…we don’t know what others life experiences have been…but when we begin to hear them we begin to heal…

Beloved children of the Most High God. 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 a lot of times we have good intentions, but what we need to ask ourselves why we act or say what we do. Is there some kind of underlying situation or belief that shouldn’t be there and if there is…how can we have conversation to heal ourselves and each other? Are we more like the Pharisees and their legalism or more like Jesus who loved and included all. As a side note…Jesus fulfilled the law so you and I can live under grace…grace received should be grace given. Also it is only because of His inclusiveness that we are grafted into the family of God…just sayin… I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group that the Hope would be able to ask questions and receive thoughtful God inspired answers and if we are wrong in our beliefs may we admit it and heal beyond our vision. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?

 

Amen.

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“Leave You Death Cloths Behind!!…”

April 16, 2017

Stetson Memorial UMC

Resurrection Sunday!

Psalm 113

John 20:1-18 NLT

Acts 10:34-48 MSG

Isaiah 25:6-9 NLT

 

“Leave You Death Cloths Behind!!…”

 

The Lord be with you, and also with you…let us pray…(Prayer of illumination….)

 

Please stand as you are able from the reading of the Gospel according to John, chapter 10, verses 1-8…

 

It was a morning like no other. Mary trembled as she made her way to the tomb of her teach and friend. “How could all of this had happened” she thought. “How could they have called for Barabbas instead of Jesus?” She continued on her way to the place she never thought she would have to go…at least not this early in Jesus’ life. All of the sudden the earth shook with a violent convulsion. It knocked her to the ground. She got up wondering what could have caused such a ruckus.

 

She began to think about the events of the past 3 days and how she stood with Jesus’ mother by the cross as her world was torn apart by the last breath of her teacher. “How could have the others ran away and leave Him to be alone…let alone Peter’s actions?” Then she remembered the stone in front of the tomb. “How am I going to be able to give Jesus a proper burial? I can’t move the stone away myself. But I must try. It is the least I could to for the one who saved me from the demons inside.”

 

As she neared the tomb she couldn’t believe what she saw. The stone had rolled been rolled away. Then she thought “Oh no…His body!” She ran to the tomb and it was as she had feared. Jesus body was missing. Everything else was there…the death cloths and the cloth that wrapped His head. But the body…it was missing… What was she to do…where on earth could they have taken Him…?

 

Good morning! Happy Resurrection morning! We have come to the end of our Lenten journey and now here we stand at the empty tomb. This is the foundation of our belief. Without resurrection morning, there is no faith…without resurrection morning, there is no forgiveness of sins…without resurrection morning, there is no victory over sin and death…without resurrection morning, Jesus’ life didn’t matter. This is probably my favorite day in the Christian calendar as well as Pentecost Sunday…but don’t let me get started on that…

 

When I think about the empty tomb I just want to shout from the mountain tops…Christ has Risen…Christ has Risen indeed! I love this day because it is the day that humanity was given the chance to come out of their tomb, remove their death cloths and come into the glorious light of our God in and through the Light of the world, our RISEN, Lord Jesus Christ

 

In Isaiah 25:6-9…the prophet Isaiah talks about the day that God will remove the gloom and gloom of death and bring joy and hope. The gloom of death hung over all of humanity and there was no end in sight. But God, in His infinite love, could not leave humanity in the pit it was and is in. He alone brings salvation in and through the frailty of His Son. We now are invited to the banquet with the best of everything we can think of… Death no longer has a grip upon us and we are set free in and through the empty tomb. If we choose to come out and leave behind our death clothes…

 

When I think about the John scripture from this morning, what stood out for me are these facts:

  1. Jesus death clothes were left in the tomb…
  2. Reminded me of Lazareth being raised…
  3. It represents victory over sin and death…
  4. People are like Mary…not know where He is…
  5. Jesus calls our name as He did Mary’s (she was blinded by the world and what she saw that was temporal)
  6. We are to go and give the message to those who are waiting…as Mary did…

 

In Acts Peter…the Rock…proclaims the resurrection…read Acts 10:34-48. What can we see from Peter’s reaction that is also for us today?

  • He proclaimed Christ’s ministry of healing and peacemaking (36-39)
  • Proclaimed that God raised Christ from the dead (39-40)
  • Proclaimed that they ate and drank with the Risen Christ (41)
  • Proclaimed Christ is the judge of the living and the dead but there is forgiveness in and through His name…

 

Resurrection Sunday is not just the end of the Lenten journey but only the beginning of the story, the beginning of the new life…the beginning of a new age. Christ went to the cross not just to save you and me but to save all of humanity and there is so many who need the hope and forgiveness of the cross I just can’t imagine Jesus wanting us to keep it for ourselves. God wants all of humanity to be saved and we are here to share the good news so that it is. That’s part of mine and your mission here…part of the purpose of why we were created…to love, to share, to be Christ for the world. But how can we bring the Good News if we are still in the tomb wearing our death shroud?

 

Resurrection people. It is resurrection morn and we are now given a new life. We have come from the ashes of Wednesday and have come up from those same ashes as a phoenix into the glorious light of the Son. We are being called from our tombs to a new and redeemed life. We are given the robe of righteousness for the death cloths sin had us wrapped in. The question is…will you come out?

 

Amen…

Can We Just Get Along

April 24, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

Don’t Argue, Agree To Disagree

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Mark 9:33-35; Matthew 18:18-20

Romans 12:15-17; Philippians 4:1-3;

2 Timothy 2:22-25; Titus 3:8-9

Psalm 148

 

“Can We Just Get Along…”

Prayer for God’s Word to be heard through me or in spite of me…

1 Corinthians 1:10-16Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Divisions at Corinth

10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. 11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe’s household, that there is rivalry among you. 12 What I am saying is this: Each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas,” or “I’m with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name? 14 I thank God[a][b] that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say you were baptized in my name. 16 I did, in fact, baptize the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t know if I baptized anyone else.

It is interesting being a parent. I think many times Ray and I stand there and scratch our heads at the silliness of some of their arguments. When we try to help them with a perfect solution, it seems they don’t want to hear that. They are up for the fight and they are going to win no matter who “gets thrown under the bus” in the thick of the war. Example…arguing over who is going to make the Chrystal Light ®…

There are also times that we adults can act the same way. We think we are right and will argue until we are blue in the face even if it means hurting others in the wake of our “righteousness”.

 

We are all on a reading journey as we read the instructions that Jesus gave the first disciples and what He intended all to follow to do. We are gathering the knowledge that we need to be Christ Ambassador’s in a world in need of a Savior. Now Jesus wants us to “go and do likewise”…to take His example, His instructions and follow them. Some of the instructions may not be words but actions that Jesus showed His disciples. Now I hope you all brought your bibles this morning. If not there are some in the pews. I want us each to look up the instructions…for ourselves…instead of me reading them to you. Who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do… just sayin.

 

So…where have we been so far? The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell others I am alive… Go and tell…ministry is an action. The next were stay…wait…witness (stay where they were and to wait for the Holy Spirit, then to witness to and for Him all over the world). Another is touch…heal. We may touch lives by our words or actions but either way we can bring healing to others…and to ourselves. Now the one that seems against each other…“Beware…don’t worry”. We are to beware but not worry as we are doing so…we are to “walk in the world” with our “eyes wide open” but go into it anyway…

 

Now here’s a real hard one and we as Christians…as Christ followers…as humanity can’t seem to get right. We live in a fallen, selfish, egotistical world…there’s no way around that fact…right now anyway… Here we go… “Don’t Argue, Agree to Disagree.” Don’t shoot the messenger it really is in God’s Word. This issue has been going on for a long time…humanity thinking that they have all the right answers and if anyone thinks differently they are wrong. Let alone if we actually have the nerve to come up against someone else’s thinking…someone else’s way of life…someone else’s “tradition”…look out!

 

In the letter that Paul wrote to the Christ followers in Corinth, which we read part of this morning, they were arguing over who was baptized by who…who had the best baptism…who was baptized “right”. I can just imagine what Paul must have been thinking… I left Rome for this? I became a Christ follower for this? Why are they arguing over something this trivial? They should be out making disciples in Jesus’ name not arguing over whose name is best to be baptized under. It is all in Christ’s Name…not the Methodist name…not in the Baptist name…not in the Pentecostal name…not in the (name) that we are baptized…

 

 

Even the disciples that Jesus walked with and talked with argued. In Mark 9:33-35…they argued about who was the greatest…Read…

33 Then they came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

No really who is the greatest…shouldn’t that be Jesus…the “Duh-Ciples” were showing how much they understood Jesus…again…

 

OK so what happens when we agree or disagree like we do so many times? Let me take you some places where we hear about just that subject in the bible…This is not all the places…it is up to you and me to look further into this difficult issue…

  • Matthew 18:18-20Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

18 I assure you: Whatever you bind on earth is already bound[a] in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed[b] in heaven. 19 Again, I assure you: If two of you on earth agree about any matter that you[c] pray for, it will be done for you[d] by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

Speak from the Spirit…

  • Romans 12:15-17Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.

Speak from the Spirit…

  • 2 Timothy 2:22-25Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach,[a] and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth.

  • Titus 3:8-9Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

8 This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

We are to work together not argue and disagree…

  • Philippians 4:1-3Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Practical Counsel

4 So then, my brothers, you are dearly loved and longed for—my joy and crown. In this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends. 2 I urge Euodia (yoo-OH-dih-uh) and I urge Syntyche (SIN-tih-kee) to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I also ask you, true partner,[a] to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life.

Speak from the Spirit…

Maybe…just maybe…if we stopped needing to have our own way and agree to disagree…we could once again be the body of Christ working together in harmony. Perhaps if we decided to leave our lives in the hands of God and leave it there with Him, trusting in His goodness and love we just might have a bigger view of what Jesus came to do and say and give example of.

 

Go, tell…stay, wait, witness…touch, heal… be on guard, don’t worry…don’t argue, agree to disagree…these seem pretty simple things to do right? So what are we as the body of Christ…as the hands, feet, voice and image of Christ in the world…doing? Why do we feel that our traditions and our man made rules trump God and His Word? We need to understand the instructions and follow them to the point of us truly being that image of Christ. As I have said before…there are going to be times when we forget these instructions. One way of remembering is reading God’s Word each day…read devotionals that have God’s word embedded or you need to look up in the beginning, “Our Daily Bread” and “Upper Room” are just two that are wonderful for this and we even have copies for free in the back for people to take and read…if we spend time daily with the Author of the manual, Immanuel we will have more of a chance of following the instructions for life.

 

May be if we begin to hear others and respect what they have to say…to respect others… If we set aside ourselves and put on Christ…if we evict ego out of our lives…it is over-rated anyway…maybe…just maybe we can be the “Body of Christ”…working together like a well oiled machine bringing about the Kingdom. But it is a choice…yours and mine. I don’t know…what do you think? Can we truly be what our Risen Lord Jesus wanted us to and be? I say yes with the help of the Holy Spirit which guides us in all truth…the truth of our God and king. How will you spend your life? Having to have your own way…thinking that you have it al right and everyone else is wrong? Or in the freedom found in and through the blood of Jesus Christ to just say “ OK…I agree to disagree with you…maybe your right…maybe I’m right…but the most important thing is this…what if were both wrong?” OK…let this be our litmus test…our indicator…our guide as we approach others…Is Jesus your Lord and Savior…do you follow Jesus? Are you “for us or against us?” As we converse with one another…how about following the “Holy Conferencing Principles” of John Wesley…you have a copy in your bulletin and now as you read these…you will realize that this has to do with everyone not just Christ followers…read through them… Perhaps maybe if we …fill in the blank…

Amen.

Touch…Heal

April 10, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

Acts 3:1-10 AMP

Mark 6:53-56 AMP

Psalm 30

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_touch

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/reiki?q=Reiki

 

 

“Touch…Heal…”

There is a new age…a new trend in healing called touch healing. Now you don’t actually touch the person. Wikipedia tells us that:

“Therapeutic touch (commonly shortened to “TT”), known by some as “non-contact therapeutic touch” (NCTT), is a pseudoscientific energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. “Therapeutic Touch” is a registered trademark in Canada for the “[s]tructured and standardized healing practice performed by practitioners trained to be sensitive to the receiver’s energy field that surrounds the body;…no touching is required.””

 

Also there are a lot of people who are receiving the alternative to medicine called Reiki. The Definition of Reiki is:

“A healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.”

 

I don’t think there is anything wrong with these alternatives. Our doctors seem to be giving all too many pills and not healing anyone. But what do these look like? What would happen if we were to go and have one of these treatments? Example time…I have had both treatments but I may exaggerate a little just to get my point across… show example of both…I think we as Christians are more hands on than hands off…or are we? OK…now think about Jesus. How did most of His healings happen?

 

We are all on a reading journey as we read the instructions that Jesus gave the first disciples and what He intended all to follow to do. Now Jesus wants us to “go and do likewise”…to take His example and follow it. Some of the instructions may not be words but actions that Jesus showed His disciples. Now I hope you all brought your bibles this morning. If not there are some in the pews. I want us each to look up the instructions…for ourselves…instead of me reading them to you. Who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do… just sayin.

 

Let’s back track for a moment. The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell the disciples I am alive…tell them you have seen me…tell them to Galilee and they will see me. Go and tell…ministry is an action. The next were stay…wait…witness (stay where they were and to wait for the Holy Spirit, then to witness to and for Him all over the world).

Now the next instructions or actions may be kind of hard for some people, touch…heal. It can be hard to touch someone we don’t like. It can be hard to touch one of “those” people…Pastor trying to see where his congregation was at on loving their neighbor. One Sunday he entered his church…after not showing for a week, wearing dirty cloths…unshaven. He walked in and everyone just stared and avoided him. He went to sit down front and one of the ushers shouted from the end of the pew…please sit in the back. So he went to the back and sat in a pew by himself…no one would come near him. So as the service began He walked again to the front of the church and into the pulpit. Now the congregation was shocked and horrified that this dirty bum would do this and then he began to speak. “: good morning my church brothers and sisters. Today’s message is on loving your neighbor where they are and not where you want them to be. They hung their heads in shame…”

 

We are called to touch lives and in the touching bring healing. Now Jesus went around and people were healed either by His touching or theirs… Listen to one of these accounts… found in Mark 6:53-56…read scripture together… Everyone who touched was healed…all of these lives were touched and healed… Can you imagine if we decided we wanted to be the fringe…the tassel of Jesus’ robe? How much healing do you think would happen?

 

It is in Jesus’ name and by His power we are healed. The disciples knew this and Jesus had sent them out to heal…baptize…witness. I love the story of Peter and John as they were going up to the temple one day. The story is in Acts 3:1-10. Let’s read it together to hear what Jesus would have us do in His name as we follow Him…read scripture together…

 

Now people going up to the temple were all ceremonially cleaned and ready to enter. Maybe that is why no one ever stopped to help this man before but Peter knew a better way…The Way as they called it…Jesus’ way and even though Hhe was going into the temple they touched and healed this man and because of that…he walked…no he leaped praising God. How many do we pass in our “clean state” and feel that we would just get all dirty if we touched and healed…? Who is sitting waiting for a healing in their life?

 

Go, tell…stay, wait, witness…touch, heal…these seem pretty simple things to do right? So why are there so many still waiting for our healing touch…for Jesus’ healing touch through us? Why aren’t we telling of the great Physician of our soul? Why are we not witnessing to the saving Grace? We as the body of Christ…as the hands, feet, voice and image of Christ in the world…need to understand the instructions and follow them to the point of us truly being that image of Christ. Now we are not perfect and we will forget at times. But we are less apt to forget if we read the manual of Immanuel…God with us. May be if we begin to touch the lives of those around us with what we have to offer through Jesus…as did Paul and John…maybe just maybe there would be more leaping and praising God in the lives who are waiting for the Healer…our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Perhaps then we too will be touched and healed by those who we heal. I don’t know…what do you think?

 

Amen.

Stay, Wait,Witness

April 3, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

(What did Jesus instruct His disciples then and now…?)

Acts 1:1-14 NKJ

Psalm 150:1-6

 

 

“Stay…Wait…Witness”

How many of you read the instructions when you get something new? I know many times I don’t and then when there is an issue I have to go and find the instructions then read them. I think that if I had read the directions in the beginning I may not have had the issue I did. Ok…how about this…how many of you have ever tried to train a puppy or dog? You give the animal instructions on what you want them to do and you can just see in their eyes the conflict in their head. “Ok…this nice person who loves me wants me to (Fill in the blank). But I don’t want to follow that…I want to be running around and having fun…ready set go!” they are off running doing what they want… Sometimes it leads to things they had not expected like a run in with a skunk or worse. If they only followed the instructions they would be ok.

 

We sometimes go through life saying” I wish I had an instruction manual for life. It would make it a whole lot easier.” Well the first question is, would we read it if we had one…remember…we hate reading instruction manuals…the second is this, what do you mean there is no manual…there is a perfect one that we tend not to read. There is one that I like to call “everything you need to know about life and then some.” It’s the BIBLE silly… It is full of all kinds of information…

There is so much information in the bible that pertains to everything from how to raise kids to how to raise your spouse… But we just don’t pick up the book. There seems to be some kind of taboo so to speak about looking for answers in the bible. We, as humanity, go everywhere else but to the source of all wisdom.

 

We, as Christians, should know better. We know that the bible is our love letter of instruction and hope but we don’t seem to want to read it. As a matter of fact…we, as Christ followers, sometimes don’t know what Jesus wants us to do. We use the phrase “what would Jesus do” but we don’t even know the answer and don’t bother to look it up. We can be so silly at times… Jesus taught…instructed…His disciples then and now what they needed to do.

 

I would like us to take a look at some of those instructions. Now…this is what I need…ok would like….for you to do. Over the next few weeks…OK up until after Pentecost…I would like you to bring you bibles to church. Yes I am going to make you read the bible. I want us each to look up the instructions…who knows, maybe after we are done it is something we will continue to do…just sayin.

 

Let’s back track for a moment. The first instruction was on Easter Sunday to a woman called Mary Magdalene…Go, tell. Just that simple…go tell the disciples I am alive…tell them you have seen me…tell them to Galilee and they will see me. Go and tell…You see ministry is an action…sometimes we can get all caught up in our programs that we forget what ministry is all about. Go…tell.

 

Next…”Stay, Witness”…I like to add wait in that instruction. Let me read this account to you…it’s found in acts 1:1-14…Read the account…

Now I can see these disciples now…much like training the dog. Mark 6:7-13 tells us they had already been sent out by Jesus and given the authority to heal and drive out demons. They know what it is like to “be in ministry”. But Jesus told them to stay where they were and wait… OK wait…they knew what they were doing…they didn’t need the instructions…they already had success. Now Jesus wants them the…and here s the wait I put in…wait to receive the Holy Spirit. Luckily they followed the instructions that Jesus gave them to stay and wait otherwise it could have be disastrous for them. We too, as Christ followers can tend to rush into things in which we “think” we know only to find out we knew nothing and there is a disaster sitting in front of us…

 

If they hadn’t followed the instructions they would not have been able to complete the other part of their instruction…Witness. Without the Holy Spirit they could not have done so. Without following Christ’s instruction to us through the Holy Spirit we too cannot go forward. And what did they do when they waited? They got together in the place they met and prayed…they prayed in one accord…they prayed in one voice. We can tend to be there like the disciples did in the beginning, staring up looking for Jesus. But that really doesn’t get us anywhere. We are looking intently to the sky for His return but in the meantime we are “called to action.” Talk about the instruction I have been given to share…pray together at our church one night a week…

 

We as the “hands, feet, arms…” of Christ need to hear the instruction that God is giving us to be whom He has ordained us and yes we all have been Ordained and Anointed by God to do His work in the world. And the only place we are going to find it is in His word…not from any self-help book that is on the market. Let’s spend some time together in God’s Word and in prayer. Maybe as we do this…we will once again hear God’s voice. Perhaps…maybe…just maybe…we will again activate the power of Pentecost…the Power of the Holy Spirit…within our ministries and our church’s. Just think of the possibilities as e step out in faith and trust in our Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Just imagine…

 

Amen.

A New Way

March 20, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

 Palm Sunday

“A New Way”

Adapted Sermon Series

 by Marcia McPhee

 “The Way”

All Scripture is from the AMP Bible

Luke 19:28-38

 

“A New Way…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

How many of you are set in your own ways…you have your way of doing things and you really don’t see the need in changing things up and learning a new way? We really do get set in our ways and really don’t like it when a “new thing” comes on the horizon. There is a certain way that things are supposed to be…that’s it…end of story.

 

The people in Jesus day felt very much the same way. They were looking for someone to save them from the Roman oppression that they were under. It would be someone like David who was a mighty warrior and conquered their enemies by his might. They were looking for someone who would help them reclaim their way of living and Jesus fit the bill…or did He? We find out at the end of the week how they felt about this man they were singing loud hosannas to today…

 

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday. A day where palms were waived and they rejoiced in the messiah who would take Roman by storm. This is the day when Jesus would begin His last week of teaching and begin His assent to the top of a hill…for you and for me. Jesus was called to an”Other Way” of taking the world by storm…

 

We are continuing our Lenten pilgrimage to the cross. During this journey we will bring Marcia McPhee with us as we look at her sermon series “The Way”. We have looked at the different “ways” or paths that we take in life. My prayer is that as we journey together we will help each other and those in our lives find “the way”.

 

We began this pilgrimage on Ash Wednesday as we talked about “the way back”… taking a u-turn so to speak…back towards God…back to the relationship that God intended from the very beginning. We have talked about “the wandering way” when we walk through that maze trying to find the way to the right path instead of hitting those walls of a wrong turn. We talked about “the way around” when Erica told us that we need to follow God’s plan in our life. We also talked about “the high way” and realized we have a higher calling and that we are to think on a “higher ground”, so to speak, and not the lower ground of the world. I think one of the most important thing that we have learned is that there is always a way home to the heart of God…like the prodigal son(or daughter) we are always welcomed home… The last way…and even more important than the last…is the “Other Way” as Jesus now demonstrated when He came riding on a donkey.

 

How did Jesus show the first people who shouted hosanna and also shows us who shout hosanna today an”other way”?

  1. Kings ride on horses- Jesus…the Messiah…rode on a donkey…a lowly animal not fit for a king. Jesus was showing them and us that we are to be humble not all that showoffy stuff that so many like to do. He emptied Himself of all His deity and became a servant of all.
  2. Kings were tough and ready for the fight- Jesus showed loving kindness to all and was meek and mild in His way. He cared more for others than He did Himself…this is proven at the end of the week as He took on all the sin that you and I have…are…or will ever commit…
  3. Kings depend upon themselves and never show a sign of weakness- Jesus taught humanity to depend on Him and on God not on ourselves. He and God have our best interest at heart…This is shown by Jesus coming to earth as human even though He was divine to save us from ourselves. It was the only way for humanity at large to be saved and redeemed and that is what Jesus did…for you…for me…for all of humanity.
  4. Kings of earth…fill in the blank…you get the message…

Jesus showed a different way…the other way…the way of God not man.

 

So here is Jesus, getting ready to finish Love’s work. It must have been difficult for Jesus. Here He is, entering Jerusalem, on a donkey. It was the beginning of the end but a new way…an “other way”…was birthing. There would be no more sacrifices to appease God because at the end of His ministry Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the earth… In the end there was an “other way” to live our lives…where we come to an end of ourselves and begin the “other way” of life.

 

Beloved children of God, listen to the words of Marcia McPhee…”This moment on this road for Jesus feels both like the end and the beginning. Such are so many moments in our lives, a pilgrimage may reach its destination but the hope, the wisdom, the lessons learned along the way have offered a new starting point for us.”

Jesus offers us a new way…the other way…of living our lives.

 

Our pilgrimage that we walk…our journey of faith…may offer new starting points but my question is this…will you walk in it? Will we take what we have learned and apply it to the new way God is calling us to walk in? Are you ready for the new way or do you like the old way so much that the new way seems futile to you? What are we to do when God puts upon our hearts a new way that He wants to use us for His kingdom? What is our answer to Love’s call to our hearts?

 

Amen

A Higher Calling

February 28, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Third Sunday of Lent

“The High Way”

Adapted Sermon Series

 by Marcia McPhee

“The Way”

All Scripture is from the AMP Bible

Isaiah 55:1-9

Psalm 139: 1-18

Acts 10:9-16

 “A “Higher” Calling”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah, chapter Fifty-Five, verses one thru nine…listen to the Word’s of Life from God to you and me, pilgrims on a journey…

 

Eating for free…getting to drink without a cost…buying something for nothing…why that is completely absurd…you can’t get something for nothing. In the world we live…we tend to think that if it doesn’t cost there must be some sort of catch. There must be some sort of hidden agenda if I am being offered something that I need for free.

 

We, as humankind, seem to think we have everything all figured out. We tend to think that we know it all and at times just close our ears and eyes to a new way of thinking. Remember…we have it all figured out. Or do we? Is there another way that we do not perceive? Is there a “higher calling” on our lives as Christ followers?

 

We are continuing our Lenten pilgrimage to the cross. During this journey we will bring Marcia McPhee with us as we look at her sermon series “The Way”. We are going to be looking at the different “ways” or paths that we take in life. My prayer is that as we journey together we will help each other and those in our lives find “the way”.

 

We began this pilgrimage on Ash Wednesday as we talked about “the way back”… taking a u-turn so to speak…back towards God…back to the relationship that God intended from the very beginning. We have talked about “the wandering way”…As Marcia McPhee would put it…when we walk through that maze trying to find the way to the right path instead of hitting those walls of a wrong turn. Last week we talked about “the way around” when Erica told us about how we need to follow God’s plan in our life and sometimes we need to make a way around those in our lives that would try to tell us different.

 

So, the question I asked was “do we as Christ followers have a higher calling in our lives? Do we understand differently than those who are not Christ followers? And if we have a higher calling in our lives what does that look like?”

 

So…how sure can we be the scripture from Isaiah I read this morning gives us food for thought. God offers us living water when we thirst, the bread of heaven when we hunger, and all of this for free. Well it is free because Jesus paid the price for us to come to the table and be fed. So technically it did cost but God offers us the result of that cost for free.

So God offers all of this for free…even if we, as creation, do not understand why the Creator would do such a thing. Now here’s the question…because we follow Jesus, should we offer to others a place at the table, as we are offered, for that same price? Does God expect us to accept the higher calling on our lives to invite others to the table for the same price that we pay? Do we follow the thought process of the world or the thought process of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

 

Peter, The Rock, thought he had it all figured out. He followed the rules and regulations of God and he did it with all that he was. But one day, he was shown a blind side so to speak. He was living a life that had exclusion in it even though he thought that he had it all figured out. Listen as I read Acts ten, nine thru sixteen. This reminds us of a high calling and thought process that we are challenged…commissioned to live…

9 The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “Not at all, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common (unholy) and [ceremonially] unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, no longer consider common (unholy).” 16 This happened three times, and then immediately the object was taken up into heaven.

 

Peter thought he had it all figured out but God had a different plan. The vision was not so much about food as it was about exclusion. Peter followed all the rules but he had this blind side that God needed to illuminate. He told God that he had never broken the “rule of man” and God showed him a better way. We too at times can be blindsided and need to have the blinders taken off to restore our vision.

 

We are taught that everything costs. But our ways are not God’s ways, praise God. It is a higher way that we are called. We are all invited to the table of Grace without price. This is our higher way in which we are to embody others. Hospitality is the way. Now here’s the thought provoking, higher way thought…even when we do not agree on everything, we are still one family at one table.

 

Is God trying to lower the sheet before your eyes to show you something new? Is God trying to spring up a new thing in your life but you are blinded by the way you think? Do you want to follow the Light of the world but the world is clouding your view? Then have I a deal for you. It costs you nothing but it will be more rewarding than all the glitter and glimmer of the world. Taste and see that the Lord is good and He will give you new eyes to see a higher way, a new heart that beats only for Him and a new song in your soul. Try it…I assure you that you will like it…

 

Amen

A Time of Trial

January 24, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Fourth Sunday of the New Year

All Scripture is from the AMP Bible

Luke 4:14-21

Psalm 19

Habakkuk 4:17-19

Matthew 19:26; James 1:2-3;

2 Corinthians 4:16-17; Hebrews 4:16

 

“A Time of Trial…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

16 Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]!

(2 Corinthians 4:16-17Amplified Bible)

 

 

“The deepest level of worship is praising God in-spite of the pain, thanking God during trials, trusting Him when you are tempted to lose Hope and Loving Him when He seems distant and far away. At my lowest, God is my hope. At my darkest, God is my light. At my weakest, God is my strength. At my saddest, God is my comforter.” Touching Lives May 13, 2014

 

A time of trial, there seems to be no way around them. We are going through life and it is pretty good until that thing happens…that monkey wrench in the works, that situation of event we didn’t sign up for. We find ourselves in the midst of a time of trial. Now they may seem senseless at the time but are they really?

 

2 Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. (James 1:2-3)

 

 

OK…let me recap this year, we have had epiphanies, those moments when we really understand and get a glimpse of who God is. We have visited the shore of the Jordan River and step into the water with Jesus as remembered our own baptism. We have at by the never ending bottomless well of God and drank deep of its life giving water. We came to realize that there is no end to what God offers. There is no end of God’s love for us. But now here is where it may get a little shaky…a time of trial.

 

As we look at the world around us we can see that not only may we be going through a time of trial but the world in which we live is certainly going through one. Joblessness is up…more homelessness…war…people dying of starvation…not to mention natural disasters…just to name a few. We can become dismayed and frightened because of these times in our faith walk but be strong and courageous…I bring you good news…

 

From the Luke Scripture this morning we see our hope and the good news that can and will make us courageous through our turn on the trial road. It is a one word answer that shook the world to its knees and changed the tide of trials. The word is “Jesus.” When He pronounced in the end of this scripture “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing and in your presence”, He changed everything! (Speak through the scripture through the Spirit…)

 

How can this be…how can things change? How am I going to fix what is going on in my life? I just can see no way out of this mess I’m in, I don’t even know how I even got to this point in my pilgrimage…

 

26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26Amplified Bible)

 

We don’t have to be discouraged because our moment of trial is producing eternal things in our lives. Sure it is hard and tough…been there, done that, I won one of the t-shirt franchises…but we have hope that in the end it won’t be the end but the beginning of something new. And even more so…we can come up next to those around us as they are in there “trial period” and help them along. We can sit by them and just be because we know what it is like to go through trials…maybe not the same as they are going through but a trial anyway. We can be like the man in the story of the starfish…Tell the story with the starfish helper…

 

We have hope…we have help…we have someone who has been there in our Risen Lord and we have our fellow journey people as well who can walk a while with us as we journey the often rocky road of trials…

17

Though the fig tree does not blossom

And there is no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive fails

And the fields produce no food,

Though the flock is cut off from the fold

And there are no cattle in the stalls,

18

Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;

I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

19

The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];

He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet

And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my high places [of challenge and responsibility]. (Habakkuk 4:17-19)

 

 

As it is written in the Scriptures:

16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. (Hebrews 4:16)

 

AMEN…Amen…and amen!

 

God’s Glorious Grace

September 6, 2015

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

Summer Sermon Series:

“Revive Us Again O Lord!”

Adapted from “Revival” by Adam Hamilton

Theme: The Necessity of Grace…

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

“God’s Glorious Grace…”

 

Ephesians 2:8-10Amplified Bible (AMP)

8 For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;

9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

10 For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

Prayer for God’s Word to be heard through me…

 

I love the fact that we are given grace periods when we are making payments for something. There have been times when I have forgotten about a bill that I have had and paid the bill a little late. If it wasn’t for the grace period I am given I would have had to pay a late fee and we all know how large of an amount that may be. It is nice that I am given that grace by the company. I think we have a lot to learn from that practice of giving grace. We are given an amount of time that we have and the company will not penalize us for it.

Or how about when people show us grace when we have done something wrong? They forgive us even though we have wronged them. Grace is a wonderful thing that others give us even though we may not deserve it…I am glad that God shows me grace each day. He understands that I am a flawed human but forgives me anyway… This amazing grace that is showered down upon humanity is something I can’t do without…

This summer we have decided that we are going to be intentional with our faith and our God…that we want God to revive us again with that passion for Him and His word. As we do this, we are going to take a walk with John Wesley and see how he lived out his faith at times.  I pray that we will be challenged and changed…that our Spirit’s will be filled and energized so that when we leave our church each Sunday, we will go out into the world as light bearers of the King. As we become those light bearers I pray that we bring revival to our community and beyond…to the ends of the earth. But it all begins here…within ourselves…being intentional with our faith…with our Spirit…with our God. We want a revival within our souls…

Revival is a reawakening of faith or renewal of commitment to religion… we have talked about being intentional…wanting to awaken what may have fallen asleep within us… As we long for Holiness. WE talked about having a Crisis of Faith and we may be thinking that if we just do a little more God will do more in our lives. But the problem may be that we have forgotten one important factor in this thing we call faith, we are justified by faith-only through having faith in Jesus Christ we are made righteous. This is God’s grace that we are accepted by grace alone.  There is a necessity of and for grace.

From the Ephesians scripture I just read we can understand one thing. We are saved by grace. No matter how much faith we have, without God’s grace we cannot call ourselves saved. We are made for the good works in Christ Jesus…the good works is not what gets us there. It is only by grace we do the good works God has planned for each of us to do for His glory. Grace is offered to “ALL” of God’s children, even though they “don’t deserve it”. This is an act of kindness, an expression of selfless love, undeserved and given without expectation (something in return). God’s Glorious Grace! Many Christians grow up not knowing about this grace from God. They are taught that God is an angry being just waiting for humanity to mess up so that He can punish them. But our Risen Lord, Jesus exampled something completely different. He exampled a God of love and grace.

So this grace…two things I want to share…

  1. It is a quality of God’s character whereby God loves, blesses and forgives humanity despite our sin.
  • He is a shepherd who searches for lost sheep
  • Runs to me the prodigal son…or daughter
  • Friend of drunkards, prostitutes and sinners
  • Gracious and merciful
  • Compassionate and full of great love

It is…

  • Grace that led God to create all things
  • Grace that leads God to show mercy to humanity
  • An act of God’s generosity and love…the gift of life…
  • Grace is every good thing in our lives
  • And out of this grace we respond with :
  1. Worship
  2. Praise
  3. A Heart and life full of gratitude…
  1. It is God’s active work by the Spirit to draw us near and to restore us to what He created us to be.

Through this grace God draws us nearer to Him when we accept it, God forgives and justifies our faith. It is by this grace that we are sanctified by God, to form and shape us, and restore us to be the people of God.

Let’s talk for a minute about sin. Sin is the act of walking away from God’s way and it is the force within us that leads us to walk away from God’s way. John Wesley called it “missing the mark”…not quite hitting the target of who God would have us be…

John Wesley states there are 3 types of grace:

  1. Previenient Grace → God is at work even before we know to reach out to God. It is God’s way of “wooing” us back to Him. It is not irresistible so we have a choice. It may even be only in hindsight that we recognize it. (example)
  2. Justifying Grace → when we finally say yes to God’s invitation, we learn to trust Christ who died for us, saved us, delivered us from sin, and redeemed us. God declares we are delivered from sin and death at the same time He is working in our hearts to free us from guilt and death in order to make us new.
  3. Sanctifying Grace → gives us the ability to hear, understand and respond to God’s gift of salvation (when we experience the justifying grace…when we accept God’s offer…this is when this grace sort of “kicks in” so to speak). This is the grace that is an ongoing thing until we reach holiness. This is God’s work that helps us mature and grow and become what and who we are meant to be and is achieved through the Holy Spirit.

Now we can resist this sanctifying grace as we can the other two forms. The ultimate goal us that we become fully and completely sanctified…and are made holy. We will finally fully love God with all our heart, mind and strength and love others as ourselves.

So…how do we come by this glorious grace from God? How do these forms of grace come to us? Wesley talks about several practices through which God’s grace is communicated and conveyed. Through prayer, Scripture reading, and the Lord’s Supper (today we are experiencing all 3). He later added public worship, preaching, fasting and abstinence. There are also several other ways that God pours out His grace upon humanity:

  • Serving in mission and ministry with others
  • Reading books on Christian values and Christian lives
  • Walking in silence through the woods…being in God’s creation.
  • Within small groups of Christians talking about faith

Whatever or where ever we pay attention, listening for God’s Spirit with our ears and hearts.

Sharing this wondrous grace with others is vital. As we strive to make disciples of all humanity, we hear of some churches are no longer growing because they have lost their passion for those who don’t know Christ yet. How can we not want to share this good news of the free gift that God gives all who would accept Christ as their Savior? How can they come to this saving grace if we are unwilling to be gracious with them and show them…share with them…teach them about…God’s glorious gift of grace? In the song “Amazing Grace” there is a verse that says “I once was lost, but now am found”. How can the lost be found if we are not looking for them?

 

Without grace we are nowhere. But we need to accept it. Example…see this gift box…it represents the gift of God through Christ. This is God’s grace waiting for us (previenient grace). As we open…accept this gift we are given God’s grace and are saved (justifying grace). As we grateful for this gift we draw closer to God and begin to want others to know this grace…we love others into this grace (sanctifying grace). But as I have always said…it begins with you and with me. It is a heart thing. It is from within that we begin this wondrous journey of grace. As we begin that journey back we too shall cry out…”Revive us again O Lord”. This we pray in the strong and precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ…

 

Amen…

Uncertainty Is A Killer

August 30, 2015

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

Summer Sermon Series:

“Revive Us Again O Lord!”

Adapted from “Revival” by Adam Hamilton

Theme: A Crisis of Faith…

Romans 4:3-5; 5:1-2

Acts 8:1-3

Romans 1:16-17

Galatians 2:16, 19-21

 

“Uncertainty Is a Killer”

 

Prayer for God’s Word to be heard through me…

 

Galatians 2:16New International Version (NIV)

16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

 

There are so many things in life that are uncertain. We never know one day to the next what the weather will be. We don’t know if our car will start. We may or may not have a job when we go into work. We may not know if what we want that is on sale in a store is still there or not. We don’t know if…fill in the blank… In a life full of uncertainty we only hope that a least our faith is certain…right? What about those times when we are praying and asking for something from God…a healing… a relationship restored…a child to come home who has been wayward…whatever it may be may cause us to question God at times or even ourselves. You may feel you have faith that could move mountains and then something happens that causes you to doubt your faith and acceptance from God. We are not sure if all this God stuff is really worth it…God doesn’t listen to what I am asking, maybe if I work a little harder He might think I am worthy of an answer… We have a crisis of faith.

 

And so we work a little harder thinking that if we do enough for God He will listen. Maybe if we do more devotionals…work more hours at the food pantry…take on that new project at the church even though I don’t know how I am going to fit into my schedule… The only thing that seems to happen is that we get even more tired and we don’t have time to even stop and listen to see if God is even answering our prayers…

This summer we are on a faith journey together. We are going to be intentional with our faith and our God…asking God to revive us again with that passion for Him and His word. We are going to take a walk with John Wesley and see how he lived out his faith.  My prayer is that we will be challenged and changed…that our Spirit’s will be filled and energized so that when we leave our church each Sunday and go out into the world as light bearers of the King. As we become those light bearers I pray that we bring revival to our community and beyond…to the ends of the earth. But as I have stated …it all begins here…within ourselves…being intentional with our faith…with our Spirit…with our God. We want a revival within our souls…

Now remember…Revival is a reawakening of faith or renewal of commitment to religion… we have talked about being intentional…wanting to awaken what may have fallen asleep within us… As we long for Holiness.

So…we are here having a Crisis of Faith. We may be thinking that if we just do a little more God will do more in our lives. The problem may be that we have forgotten one important factor in this thing we call faith. Justification by faith-only through having faith in Jesus Christ we are made righteous. This is God’s grace that we are accepted by grace alone.  Bitterness and anger can result from lifes set backs. At this time in our faith walks faith needs to move from our heads…move from thinking if we do more we will be righteous …to our hearts.

OK…I have a few questions for you and I want to see a show of hands if you have thought this before:

  • During the sermon I have sometimes make a meeting agenda or tasks for a church activity
  • I have secretly thought how could the church get along without me
  • Sometimes it is easier to do a church job myself than to delegate. That way I can be sure it gets done right.
  • I sometimes think about who I have to talk to about a church thing during my worship time.
  • During worship I sometimes do…(fill in the blank)…instead of being present in worship.

Ok…ok…now that I have tortured you with these questions this morning you can put your hands down. We all want to please God and be holy as He asks us to be. But we also need to experience and understand grace.

Adam Hamilton in his book Revival explains it like this:

God has met the sin of humankind with the gracious gift of God in Christ, worked out in a plan for history inclusive of both Jews and Gentiles. This plan is the bases for life in Christ. Inclusiveness… Are we? How are we not?

It’s not a matter of trying harder but a matter of grace from God.

Paul from the New Testament knew well about works. Acts 8:1-3 tells us that:

1 Saul was in full agreement with Stephen’s murder.

The church scatters

At that time, the church in Jerusalem began to be subjected to vicious harassment. Everyone except the apostles was scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 Some pious men buried Stephen and deeply grieved over him. 3 Saul began to wreak havoc against the church. Entering one house after another, he would drag off both men and women and throw them into prison.

Saul…before he became Paul…was zealous for the law. He had experienced God’s acceptance but not quite enough. He had a crisis of faith thinking that being zealous was all that was needed…Until he had an encounter with Jesus that changed His whole life. He learned the truth of salvation…grace through faith. He was set free from trying, by works, to win God’s favor. He finally learned what the Galatians Scripture was saying… a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. You can work and work and never earn that justification because it is a free gift.

Martin Luther had the same issue. But the harder he tried, the more elusive, distant God’s acceptance and favor became. He did all the right things but felt there was more to do…

John Wesley…the founder of our denomination… Did early morning prayer, Fasted 2 days a week, studied the bible, communion weekly if not daily, visited those in prison and sick, visited the elderly, now that’s a list and a half, to be righteous but still felt unworthy. It wasn’t until Aldersgate that he got it right. His heart and his head began to work together.

In scripture…and in our lives…storms often lead to great revivals of faith. What do you remember that caused a revival in faith? Failures = success. Pain = moments of grace. We receive healing, grace, and new beginnings as we let go of anger (give to God) because of failure (difficult times in life). Give to God=great success. Pain = defining moments of grace.

We need to learn from our setbacks and failures. As we do Spiritual reading of the scriptures we can find comfort and hear God’s voice. Ok…Spiritual reading.

  1. As you read scripture look for a word or phrase that jumps out at you.
  2. Read it again
  3. Say it over and over again
  4. Memorize it
  5. Invite and inner dialog with the scripture
  6. Rest in Gods embrace

But as I have always said…it begins with you and with me. As we begin that journey back we too shall cry out…”Revive us again O Lord”. This we pray in the strong and precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Let us pray:

Lord, I believe that you love me. I love You too. I offer all that I am and all that I have to you. Help me to trust, like a little child, that you are always by my side. And help me to live for you and honor you in all that I do. Speak words of love and hope as I read your word, especially in those crisis times so that I may know and feel your grace. Revive me again O Lord.

(adapted from Adam Hamilton’s “Revival” prayer on page 52 of Leaders Guide)

Amen…