Courageous

April 17, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

Sermon Series:

“When in doubt…read the instructions”

Beware, Don’t Worry

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

Mark 13:9-11

Matthew 6:25-34

Psalm 23

Philippians 4:4-7

 

“Be Courageous…”

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

 

Philippians 4:4-7Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Worry…worry…worry…how many of you have worry in your life? It seems that so much around us can be so dangerous. All we have to do is to read a paper or listen to the news and our fear is fed once again our fears are fed. From bombings to hijackings, from abductions to war…from fill in the blank…there is a lot to fear out there. But in the face of fear, how are we to react? What are our instructions as we face those fears both named and unnamed? The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus

Let me tell you a true but tragic story: A woman was once walking along a riverbank with her child. Suddenly the child slipped into the river. The mother screamed in terror. She couldn’t swim, and besides, she was in the latter stages of pregnancy. Finally, somebody heard her screaming and rushed down to the riverbank. The utter tragedy was, when they stepped into those murky waters to retrieve that now dead child, they found that the water was only waist deep! That mother could have easily saved her child but didn’t because of a lack of knowledge.

 

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.

 

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). Last week it was touch…heal. We may touch lives by our words or actions but either way…it…we…can bring healing to others…

 

No this week’s may seem a little confusing but once we read the scriptures it will become clear… “Beware…don’t worry”. We are to beware but not worry as we are doing so…how are we to beware and not worry at the same time. Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? Shouldn’t we worry about those things out there we are to beware of? Ok…let’s look at each of these instructions one by one. Beware…let’s read Mark 13 9-11 together as we hear Jesus telling His disciples to beware of something that will happen in their lives and not to worry…read the Mark scripture together…

 

The disciples needed to be on guard because of what was going to happen to them because of what they would go through and continue to go through even today. Think of how many are persecuted today because they are Christ’s followers. But when they were persecuted they didn’t fear because they laid their faith and trust in Jesus. We, as Christ followers, are to be on guard when those who may not believe approach us. Now I am not saying that you have to take self-defense classes…. What I am saying is to be on guard and trust that when we are questioned about our faith God will give us an answer for them. You never know…in trusting God for the answer…in letting God speak through you…there may be dancing in heaven because another non-believer has become a believer.

 

The next is do not worry…do not worry…remember that I began with worry but what was the scripture I quoted after? ‘The Lord is near. 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Let’s read Matthew together and see what my bible entitles “The Cure of Anxiety” is. It is found in chapter 6 verses 25-34. Read the Matthew scripture together…

 

Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Speak from the Spirit…

Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? Speak from the Spirit…

‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the idolaters[b] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God[c] and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.  Speak from the Spirit…

 

Maybe…just maybe…if we stopped worrying about the what if’s…our rainy day…maybe we can touch the life of someone who is having a present rainy day with the hope and life that is found through and in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ…Hmmm…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 not  need that full storehouse of the earth and empty our barns with the love of Christ…

 

Go, tell…stay, wait, witness…touch, heal… be on guard, don’t worry these seem pretty simple things to do right? 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. There are going to be times when we forget these instructions but 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 “be aware” and don’t worry about the “small stuff” and by the way with God…all of our stuff as well as our big stuff small is stuff for Him … We will get back to our roots…You know the ones of the first church. They shared everything…they sold everything and shared what they had with all so that there was no one in need and if there was anyone in need, they reached out to them. We truly can be that church again if we so choose. 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 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? In fear and worry? Or in the freedom found in and through the blood of Jesus Christ? Perhaps maybe if we …fill in the blank…

Amen.

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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.

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

I Am-A-Mazed

February 14, 2016

Stetson Memorial UMC

First Sunday of Lent

“The Way”

Adapted Sermon Series

 by Marcia McPhee

“The Wandering Way”

All Scripture is from the AMP Bible

Luke 1:46-49

Luke 4:1-2

Luke 15:11-32

 “I Am A-Maze-D…”

 

Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…

 

A reading from the Gospel of Luke, chapter four, verses one and two…listen to the Word’s of Life from God to you and me, pilgrims on a journey…

 

Have you ever walk through a maze? I have done several of them and boy are they confusing. You think you have it figured out and then you wind up at a dead end. So you back track to see if you can figure out where you went wrong. It is so good to get to the end of it because all the confusion has left and all you see is the exit. Ok…spoiler alert…if you keep you left hand on the wall…and keep following it…you find your way out…

 

Life itself can feel like a maze. You twist and turn trying the best you can to find your way through life and then it happens. You hit a dead end. Speak of some of those dead ends we come up against. You may think to yourself “how am I going to get out of this maze? When am I going to find the end? Where is the exit door? Am I lost forever never to return to the land of the living”?

 

We have begun 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 our way.

 

We began it last Wednesday as we realized that Ash Wednesday is “the way back”…we are taking a u-turn so to speak…back towards God…back to the relationship that God intended from the very beginning. In Ash Wednesday we are called to “repentance” which means to turn around and head in a new direction.

 

But there are times that we take “the wandering way”…As Marcia McPhee would put it…we walk through that maze and search for the way out…the way to the right path instead of hitting those walls of a wrong turn. How can we turn around and leave this wandering way? How can we know the way is wrong before we even begin?

 

I think part of the answer is in what Jesus did in the desert from the Luke piece this morning. Jesus was lead by the Spirit and wandered in the desert. He became hungry…as would everyone who was wandering for days on end…when we wander we to get hungry…hungry for something that will lead us out…hungry for that which is missing that caused us to wandering the first place… The first thing He was tempted with was his hunger…the next was His ego and the last was His faith in God. But every time He was tempted He answered with the Word of God. It is in the Word of God we find our strength to keep on “the way”…it is through the Word of God that we are filled…it is in the relationship with God we find our reason for living…it is the faith in God that will bring us back from the maze into His amazing love and light…

 

So…how sure can we be that God would accept us back after we have wandered? Have we wander too far and can’t come back? Is God so mad at us that He will not even look at us and turn His back? Are all who wander lost for good? Have you ever heard the story of the prodigal son…you know the one who wandered off on his own? Let me paraphrase the story for you…paraphrase the prodigal son story

 

Is there a way home…can we make a u-turn…can we get out of the maze we are in? Yes…praise God YES! He is there watching and waiting for our figure on the horizon. He is waiting for us to come home. He is ready to put the robe of righteousness through Christ Jesus on us to warm us from the bitter cold of wandering. He wants to put the signet ring…the seal of the Holy Spirit…upon us that is sealed by the blood of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

Are you in need of making a u-turn in your life? Are you needing a way to get out of the maze and become a-maze-d by the power and love of our awesome God? Come…find your way home…come and satisfy your wanderings hunger…come to the foot of Calvary and live…

 

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 Of Time And Space

God of time and space, thank you for this New Day Dawning…this New Year given… How awesome it is to know that time is in Your hands. Thank your for the year gone by. As I look back I can see You moving in my life…I can see that in those times I thought I was alone, You were there. How wonderful it is to know that You have all the times in my life setup for me and as I trust You with my life each day comes into being. May I feel You even more present…may I see You even more often…May I know You even more fully in this coming year. Lord, God, create me a new this year. May I serve You more fully as I step out in faith into this new horizon You have created for me. May I be ever closer to Your heart as I strive to live out the life You have set out before me. May I love more passionately…May I be more compassionate with others…May I shine more brightly…May I walk more humbly all to Your glory this coming year. May You use me as Your earthen vessel, waiting to be filled and then poured out for others. I look forward to what is ahead as You use me to bring about Your Kingdom come where Your will is done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen…!

God of Hope

God of Hope and Peace, full of compassion and healing, I pray for the gates of Heaven to be open and Your hope, peace healing and grace would pour down from Heaven upon Your people and Your land. We are thirst for Your showers of mercy to rain upon us…renewing us…redeeming us…flowing upon the dry parched land of our souls. We pray for Your grace to forgive those who trespass against us so that we too will be forgiven. Forgive us, we pray, for those times when we have ignored Your nudging to forgive others and hold onto anger and bitterness. Forgive us, we pray, for those times when we should have shown mercy but have taken on “self-righteousness”. Help us to set aside our differences and our agendas and see each other as beloved children of the Most High God in order to understand and believe that everyone is of Sacred Worth to You. May we bring wholeness and healing, hope and peace, joy and healing, mercy and grace. Help us to be Your hands, feet, face, voice and grace to a world full of despair and chaos…

Amazing Grace…how sweet the sound…

Amazing God, full of compassion and love. It is mind boggling to think of the grace you so freely give me. To think that you pour out your grace on me even though I don’t deserve it is truly a one of your miracles to me. I can’t earn it…Jesus already did the work for me. I can’t pay for it…Jesus already paid the price. I can’t steal it…it is your free gift to humanity through Jesus’ sacrifice. All that I can do is accept it. Lord…I accept your gift of grace this day and forever more. May I share that gift with those whom you put in my path. May they too accept the gift of grace from you because of my actions, may words and my love. I praise you and thank you…you truly are the God above all gods.

Virally Going Global

September 7, 2014

Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church

Sermon Series on “All My Day: A Summer of Prayer”

Inspired by Marcia McFee

Sermon 10 of series-

Global”

Psalm 67 NIV Bible

Isaiah 56:4-8 NIV Bible

Virally Going Global”

Let us pray… (Pray for God’s illumination…)

Have you ever seen the stuff they have on YouTube these days? Some of it is pretty funny but some of it is really not very nice. Some of those videos make fun of others where as some of them are pretty cute. You can actually put something on YouTube and it just goes crazy…some of those videos are like a virus and just spreads all over the world with “likes” and such. There’s one that come to mind and it is of this cat. The owner asks if it wants a bath and the cat sounds as if it is saying “no”…No, no, no, no, no… It is pretty cute. But why does so much well…stupid or mean stuff go so viral? There are some videos that have such meaning to it but humanity doesn’t think it is important enough to have it go “viral”…so to speak. Where is humanity’s priorities?

Last week…I was saying all we have to do is just pick up a paper or watch the news and we hear about bombings, war, famine, hunger, disasters, killings…the list just goes on. And how it is a little overwhelming to me. I talked about how God does have a plan and it begins with His people…it begins with Christians…it begins with you and me…praying for others. We need to remember those around the world and pray for them and what they may be going through.

This summer, we have been working though the prayer beads that were made and learning a different way to pray…a way that helps remind us what we should be praying for. I hope we have learned a few things as we have been going through the beads on the string. Let’s see…the Gold Bead…which reminds us to begin with adoration ….the bumpy beady….that is to remind us to let go and let God….the embrace of silence with the “holey Bead” …the steeping stone bead…our journey of faith…the black…the black and white…the gray bead…we are to bring our spiritual struggles to God….and the green bead, represents concern…not worries but concerns. Remember the red bead from last week? We are to pray for the lovable and not so lovable people in our lives…even those who do us harm. And last week we talked about the three purple beads on the string…the ones that remind us to pray for those “who are standing in the need of prayer.” And we are not just limited to the three beads..they are there to remind us that there are those who are needing…waiting…for our prayers for and about them.

The next bead is the Blue Green/ Blue/ Green Bead. It is there to remind us to pray for the world. God gives us a glimpse of what is going on in the world and what we need to pray for by us watching the news and reading the paper. Now I myself have trouble with this at times. I see all the evil in the world and I just don’t want to hear about it. I just want to block it out. But…but…how can you and I know what is needed in the world if we hide from it. We as Christians need to be “on top” of what is going on in the world around us because we are not of the world but we are in the world and need to be part of it only in the fact that it is in the need of our prayers.

The scripture I read this morning is all about praying for the world. It is about Christians…about you and me, praying for God’s Kingdom come…here on earth. This is a call to intercessory prayer for the world, not just those in our circle of friends and family. We are praying for the nations and all people and that they would come to know God as their God and Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We are calling for the nations to praise God for who He is and the blessings He bestows. We are calling down the blessings of God on all of His creation…We need to be virally going Global in our prayers.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 56 verses 4-8, we hear about what can and will happen as we pray of others and pray for the world.

Isaiah 56:4-8 New International Version (NIV)

4 For this is what the Lord says:

To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

who choose what pleases me

and hold fast to my covenant—

5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls

a memorial and a name

better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

that will endure forever.

6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord

to minister to him,

to love the name of the Lord,

and to be his servants,

all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it

and who hold fast to my covenant—

7 these I will bring to my holy mountain

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices

will be accepted on my altar;

for my house will be called

a house of prayer for all nations.”

8 The Sovereign Lord declares—

he who gathers the exiles of Israel:

I will gather still others to them

besides those already gathered.”

As we virally go Global in our prayers, people and situations in the world around us are changed. But there is a catch…it may not happen in our time…in our vision…but it will happen in God’s time and in His vision. We just need to trust in His word… As I said last week…maybe God will use our prayer to show His glory. As we persevere in prayer God will hear and changes will begin. If we give up on the world…if we stop praying because of what is seen in the temporal world, how can the eternal things come to pass? If we concentrate only on the brokenness around us…how can there be healing?

Maybe…just maybe…as we pray for world, it will change. Perhaps if we persevere in prayer the glory of God will be seen. My prayer partners in Christ, can we agree here? Can we step out with one another and pray for the world around us…not just our own backyard? Maybe if you and I begin this journey others will join. Maybe just maybe it will be like that old Faberge commercial “And they tell two friends and so on and so on and so on.” Maybe we can cause our own virus as we virally go Global with our prayers. But…but…it begins with you and me as we agree that the prayers of God’s people will be heard and God will act on His promises. Let’s start a virus for our God and our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ and see how infectious we can truly be. Maybe just maybe, we too can hit over a million likes as we virally go Global in our prayers. Perhaps others are waiting to share our “Prayer Tube” on their “FW”…their faith walk with Christ… Perhaps maybe if we just…

Let us pray…pray about the world and it’s people…

Amen