Luke 19:28-40 “The Lord Has Need of It”


After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” [NRSA: Lk 19:28-40]

Luke 19:28-40 “The Lord Has Need of It”
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.'” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” [NRSA: Lk 19:28-40]

The witness is not of Jesus riding in on a mighty war horse. Instead, it is a sign of humbleness and “a labor of love”… instead of a beast of a Cadillac Escalade Jesus arrives riding a base model Chevrolet Colt.

If Luke were our only Gospel, we would have no mention of palm branches, only coats being spread upon the road as ‘red carpet welcome’. So it might be known as Cloak Sunday instead of palm Sunday. It is interesting that tradition has preferred that we take palms from along lthe road over offering our coats and cloaks.

The core of the Colt along the Road and the Coats on the Road
What happens on the road? What happens at the parade?

A multitude of disciples begin telling of the deeds, signs, wonders, and accomplishments of Jesus…
• Praising God
• With Joy
• And a loud voice

17 examples in Luke’s Gospel
• “for all the mighty works which they had seen” (v. 37c). Note the abundance of Jesus’ miracles that Luke the physician records—mostly healings or exorcisms (4:31-37; 4:38-39; 5:12-16; 5:17-26; 6:6-11; 6:17-19; 7:1-10; 7:11-17; 8:22-25; 8:26-39; 8:40-56; 9:10-17; 9:37-43; 13:10-17; 14:1-6; 17:11-19; 18:35-43).
• Luke gives 17 accounts of might works and deeds done by Jesus

Those blessed by Jesus’s might works are praising
Those threatened by Jesus’s mighty works:
The Pharisees ordered Jesus to make the disciples stop the procession, stop with the branches, stop with the mockery of Jesus as {some kind of king.} If I even tried, the stones would speak the truth.

The Stones would speak the truth
• We celebrate the voices of jubilation and praise with our Palms, but it more important to deal with the voices calling for order, quiet, and silence.
• The voices of caution that tell the winds of the Holy Spirit which direction to blow are not voices of God.
• The voices of cold hard stones that have no life about them, will be given voices and become animated if needed.

Where is my voice in the celebration?
• Praising God
• Silent as a stone
• Calling God to keep quiet

Where are we in the story?
• For those who are praising God, we are on the right track
• For those who are the stone quiet already, is the greater call to be useful and purposeful for the kingdom…
• For those who are hesitant or cautious, do be hindered or wait any longer.

The World is divided between good and evil
We need to take a stand…
What good is it to take the side of good and keep quiet?
What good is it to take the side of evil and keep quiet, either?
Riding under the radar is no longer an option

The denomination is dividing whether we want it to divide or not… We can wait for the conversation to sneak up on us or we can face it head on
Elements of persons for extremes have called for action and “the majority” of silent stones in the middle have kept quiet…

Our country, likewise, has been divided into opposing camps and those who are silent hoping evils will reveal themselves and wrongs will right themselves without our taking a stand, hold the foolish thought more of the same will bring change.

When Peter steps up to tell Jesus that he cannot died and will not be killed, Jesus tells Peter that his heart and mind are being led by Satan and not the Spirit. God’s ultimate purposes will not be stopped.

What are we to do? Luke shows us two groups
If we are praising God with our whole heart and without reservation we need only continue
If we are saying things like,
• “Hold on”,
• “Wait a minute”,
• “Someone is trying something new and different”,
• “My way is being challenged.”
• We’ve never done that
• You are making me uncomfortable

On the other hand, We may be the one who needs to keep quiet and let the new thrive.
• The Lord has need of a colt, palms, branches, and disciples
• The Lord has need of the people, then and now.
• The Lord has need of the leaders, in Luke, and in 2022.
• The Lord has need of you and me

The Lord will proceed with or without any of the above.
• Lord Have Mercy on Me when I have
• Not waved the branches and raised your praise
• Not asked your will over my own
• Not spoke up and remained silent

What do we do?
We recognize that if God Needs animals and palm branches

  1. God needs and desires us
  2. We allow God to speak through us and our actions
  3. Pay attention to hearts of stone that begin to sing praises.

Isnt their some middle ground, a safety zone, where I do not have to speak out and do not have to be called out?
As Jesus makes his way into Jerusalem, through his trial and examination, and to the cross, there is no time for quiet/comfort…

The story is the ultimate labor of love on our behalf.
For God so love the whole world that he gives his only son that through his sacrificial death may we know life and know it eternally.

Imagine taking your coat and throwing on the ground on a cold day as a sign of praise and devotion… if I am reluctant to offer my coat, how much less I’m I ready to give my heart.

Philippians 3:4b-14 Pressing On


If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus
. [NRSA: Phil 3:4-14]

Philippi was a retirement community for military and government workers, as well as communities of the poor from the Greek region and from Rome. As a Roman colony, that didn’t have to pay tribute to Rome but was very Rome-like with a patriotic community of transplants in an area where Greeks visited for fertility worship. Finally, as a beautiful place of retreat and commerce, the community enjoyed a diverse group of people.

Located in the foothills of the LAKANI Mountains and mt PANGAION pan-ga-yawn, it sounds like our favorite town.

Paul’s primary theme in this passage is “Endurance in Faithfulness.”

Pressing toward the Heavenly Goal.

Pressing on – is an athletic term in Greek, as in a race.

Don’t give up when the goal is near.

We have the upcoming “run for the Son” race, and I encourage you to register today, even if you are running virtually at home. It is a worthy cause, and we need all who can help us win the prize for the most support. (Take a moment to sign up right now with your name and phone number, and we will follow up)

Pressing on also has a military use:

There would have been those in military service who had been given orders to push forward a line within a battle and the need to “Press On.”

A Time to Yield and a time to Press

There are many who press on when they should stop and yield, at the round-about, for example. There are drivers who neither slow down nor do they yield at the circle. There would be no need for the flashing speed monitors if drivers would approach all of downtown with courtesy and caution. This is not a place to press on.

Paul assures us we are on the winning team.

Know I will win the race before the race is over.

How? I belong to Jesus and Jesus is mine. Together, We are completing what Christ has already done for us, and the world.

The Catch?

If Jesus has won the race, then why bother, our team time cannot be beaten. I will coast along… Why not use the back burner, and let someone else step up.

Paul’s prescription:

Forget the past sufferings and failures and focus on the prize.

Every runner needs to be present in their current race and not think about the misery of training.

Every soldier needs to let go of what has been lost and see the need to complete the mission of today.

Do not worry or be anxious about what we have no control over, rather

Focus on the things that we can give our faithfulness.

Forgetting is a powerful work. It makes room for the possibilities of today and tomorrow.

Wendy’s mother lived with us for the majority of her battle with dementia. Alzheimer’s and Dementia are terrible thieves. The loss of memories has profound pain and anxiety. There came the point when the pain of suffering from lost memories opened the opportunity for Nancy to think she was living at the Hilton Head Island resort and woke every morning hoping that she had not missed the breakfast buffet.

What are the possibilities for trust, fellowship, witness, and service when we let go of what we have suffered through, failed, and left undone and start fresh in Christ?

When we forgive, as we have been forgiven, we are able to count on each other with fresh hearts of faith in Christ.

We can press on because the weight is gone.

In the movie “The Mission”, Robert DeNiro plays the part of a slave trader in South America who follows a tribe of native people at great suffering and cost to his own traveling party. He discovers the village is at the top of a waterfall and scales the mountain carrying his armor, weapons, and supplies in a giant net… as he reaches the top of the mountain, he is exhausted, weighed down, and defenseless as the natives surround him at the edge of the cliff.

He has two choices. Let go of the rope and all his possessions and face the tribe with nothing, or let go of the cliff, keep his possessions, and fall to the basin below. The chief warrior draws his spear and cuts the rope; DeNiro’s belongings and weapons gone, what is most likely his death, frees him up to meet his enemies. The tribe takes him in and saves his life. (Long epic movie worth the watch)

Paul asks a similar question: Are we holding on or pressing on?

Are we pressing on?

Toward the Heavenly Goal?

Do we know the outcome of the race of our life?

Are we Heaven bound?

Paul is describing a both/and/not yet relationship

What we know by faith is proven during “the course” of our life and in the end, our sharing in the resurrection.

To bind is to fasten to, to already bind, in the past tense is bound…being bound to Christ.

My sins are bound to the cross of Christ….

The Power of Forgetting

Nancy and apple pie Paul gives his credentials and says that he trades it all for what he finds in Christ, asking Roman citizens, and veterans to trade their history for a new future.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21  Me, an Ambassador?

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [NRSA: 2Cor. 5.16-21]

A New Creation: No longer limited by our human point of view. Reconciliation: 4 times in 5 verses. Must be important.

Ambassador: on behalf of Christ, God is making an appeal, to be reconciled to God

  • God making God’s appeal through me.
    • What does it look like when I am doing my own thing
    • What does it sound like when I am singing my own praises

Singing someone else’s tune

  • What does it feel like when I am pleasing my own desires
  • God making God’s appeal through me.
    • What does it look like when I am doing the things of God
    • What does it sound like when I am singing God’s praises
    • What happens when I’m not singing the world’s praise?
    • What does it feel like when I am pleasure God’s call and heart?

When am I on-duty for the kingdom? When am I off-duty?

Some things to try as on-duty, ambassadors, chamber of commerce advocates:

First, making disciples is a task for the long game. It’s about building relationships in Christ… but sometimes we know people well but never talk about our faith in some circles:

Everywhere we travel, we are representing the Kingdom of God.

I have heard from many of you that you don’t typically find yourself around non-Christians.

Remember we may often be around folks who know Christ, but are

  • struggling to trust Christ,
  • stumbling to follow Christ,
  • searching to know Christ.

We need Christ Conversation Starters:

By Far the best is the offer to pray: May I pray for you?

“Dear God, I pray for John, help him find strength to do all that he needs to do today and help him know your saving grace, that he is of value to you and you desire to make him whole. We thank you that your son has died that we might live and know you personally. Amen.”

For those who don’t want to use the maybe over popular John 3:16, try Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace in Jesus Christ.” Do you know that freedom in Jesus Christ?

You know the Billy Graham Method has been tested:

God’s plan is for us to know peace and life through Jesus Christ

Our problem is that we are separated from God, free will we choose what does not please God and we become divided.

God’s Remedy– The cross, Jesus scarified himself to pay the penalty for our sin and separation. Jesus bridges the gap between us and God

Our Response – to Receive Christ, We trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior. John 1:12

There is not a singular method… we must find something that is genuinely ours, even if we learn it from someone else to start.

CARDS

The calling we share is to serve as AMBASSADORS for the Kingdom.

To that end I have a card, so you can be a card-carrying ambassador

I had a great visit with the Chamber of Commerce this past week, attending one of their events for those new to town or new to the chamber.

If the Chamber of Commerce can be an advocate for those living and those visiting, then certainly the church can be ready to serve

  • The regular,
  • The seekers,
  • The Visitors,
  • The strangers.
  • Whomever…

Asking Questions / Answering Questions – Honestly and directly.

Last week I invited us to being looking for someone to reach out and invite to church.

This week, I’m inviting us to begin some homework in preparation of those persons God will send to cross our paths.

For those who are not yet Christians, or even struggling Christians.

I offer a top ten list of questions we need to be ready to help people answer.

Paul reminds us: because we are made new in Christ

Because we are reconciled through Christ,

We are to be living examples of the body of Christ… Ambassadors for the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Don’t Fall

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So, if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. [NRSA:1Cor 10:1-13]

The Driest Baptism

Paul makes an interesting edit to the story of the Israelites and interprets God’s people going through the parted waters of the Red Sea as their baptism. It would settle the debate about sprinkling vs immersion in that one need only pass by the waters of baptism to be included. But this is not to the main point of today’s passage.

Baptized but Fallen

Paul’s main point is that even though we are baptized, we also can still forfeit the power and gift of our baptism. Sin continues to be our struggle.

Fallen and Can’t Get Up

  • It now immortal words of confession: “I have fallen, and I can’t get up” are not just for health monitors.
  • We fall for false news and false fact checkers
  • We fall for what is popular and easy
  • We fall in all manors of moral matters.
  • We know the same struggle of Corinth church
  • Bottom line, we fall like everyone else.
  •  
  • And the fall wall a Jericho,
  • the fall of David’s Goliath,
  • the fall of the house built upon the sand,
  • the fall of humanity in the garden.

What can we do?

What can we do when we cannot return purity

  • When we leave a trail of consequences
  • When the trust is broken,
  • The walls are crumbled,
  • When the giants fall,
  • When the foundation washes away
  • When sin, selfishness, and evil do not save us….

Before we jump and in taking a stand, remember

Standing is a dangerous place

First, taking a stand is not easy.

Most times unpopular,

Usually demanding,

And always intentional.

Why don’t we admint we fell and lay low and wait for someone else to do the standing?

Or, Where We Once Stood

We think if we can just get back to a safe place in the past…

We hunger for the pandemic to be completely over and desire to get back to the life we had before, but we have given up freedoms, we have placed our trust in corrupt authority, and we have given one another permission to be more distant and divided.

We have lost ground and the new ground on which we stand calls for us to actively become more dependent on God than we were before the pandemic.

The Truth is we are starting anew and can only take our stand in the Savior who can be our eternal foundation!

We find ourselves even more dependent on Christ because we have even more reasons to be the disciple-makers, peacemakers, and witnesses in our lifetimes.

  • Rather than looking for our hope to come in what is popular, easy, we are more like the early church than we dare.
  • Rather than trusting what opinion polls indicate for a given minute.
  • Rather than taking our stand for own self alone, or some cause, we are called to reach out to neighbors and even enemies for Jesus Christ.

Ease of Not Standing

Therefore, we are tempted to not make a stand. We stay in the categories of either falling, sitting, or laying as still. Taking a stand it too dangerous, risky, and makes us far too vulnerable to change our habits and routines.

Contained in this passage is one of the most misused verses. It is usually interpreted as God will not give us more than we can stand when tested when we read that we will “not be tested beyond our strength.”

It is used to blame God for the troubles we endure and with which we wrestle. Instead, it mean that if we are not trusting in Christ, we will fail, we will fall, it is indented to be a word of assurance… so why wait until we are falling or failing to hand the reins over to God?

God promises to come to our aid. We may not find the answers we prayed for, but we can find God working through every situation – often reshaping and making us whole.

Which begs the question for each of us: How strong is our faith?

To which we typically would answer, if pressed or pushed to answer, I don’t want to exactly know the answer. Because I don’t want to be tested.

We think about the servant who feared failure with his talent and chose to not risk it and it was taken away from him.

Would we rather point to sometime in the past where we survived some issue that tempted our tested our faith and we did NOT fall.

When in fact, we need to learn from where we have fallen and see that even in our failures, and see that God continues to love us, call us, and save us.

Finding and Extending Grace

We sing that standard old hymn, “Standing on the Promises”

The hope is that we now will take a stand for the kingdom that cannot fail, and that we will remain firm in trusting God in all things, always.

The first hurdle is to know with more than our head

We know this with our heads, but we are slow to rise, slow to take a stand – to save ourselves from falling.

“If I stay right here, even stagnate, at least I am not falling.

But the truth is like the lepers who know about Jesus and one said to the group, “why do we sit here until we die, let us go and see this Jesus.”

Taking the Stand

So, what does this mean to stand up for Jesus?

It means that if our church is to grow, each of us must take on the task of bringing people into our fellowship and growing our congregation.

The common testimony is our common stand:

There are many causes and issues we might become an advocated, but there is on task that fall to us as a church together, collectively:

  • It means reaching out to people we might not know or be ready to extend
  • It means we lead with grace and forgiveness.
  • It means we reach out to make disciples and share our faith as if we are the only one willing to share.
  • We can’t wait for people to fall into church,
  • We cant’ wait for someone else to do our part, give our gift, teach our lesson, or plant the seeds entrusted to us.

A Challenge for 2022:

  • We have lost members through the pandemic and now it is time to rekindle relationships, make new ones, repair trusts, and mend our fences.
  • We need each member/family/household to bring a new individual or family into the fellowship and life of the church this year.
  • If we do not, we will not be strong enough to weather where God leads us.

We need to be taking part in classes and small groups, it means we need to be adding to Christ’s number daily.

Being a disciple is finding someone to replicate our place so that when we are falling someone can help us stand up again.

  • Taking a stand for Christ is giving witness to the trust we have in our heavenly citizenship, even above all others.
  • Taking a stand is being the voice for those oppressed and unjustly attacked
  • Taking a stand is giving our time, talents, and treasure to the cause of Christ
  • Taking a stand is trying to not fall into the quest for power and meaning offered by society and opinions of the majority, and not lying still avoiding the risk.

Stand Firm under the Wings of Christ

Philippians 3:17-4:1
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. [NRSA]

Luke 13:31-35
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.‘” [NRSA]

  1. Jesus laments that he wished that he could protect Jerusalem like a mother hen.

Quilt:

  • Long before Yeti coolers we had great grandma Brantley’s quilt.
  • Long before people paid for weighted blanks there was great grandma Brantley’s quilt
  • Long before there were bullet proof jackets,, there was great grandma Brantley’s quilt

But a quilt won’t save us.

 so often pray for protection but it’s more helpful to ask Jesus to be with us. Jesus has not come to make life easy, he came to make eternal life accessible.

We ask for protection for Ukraine. Taiwan and the world to keep us from crossing into wars that engulf us all.

Instead of waving a wand of magic protection, Jesus promises to go with us, into the midst of war, seeking peace.

  • Jesus looks over Jerusalem and is disappointed.

Jesus stands with us even when disappointed

  • Frances with a hand gesture of disappointment instead of anger or blame.
  • Jesus is disappointed that the People of God have allowed leaders to lead them astray, where prophets are killed and those who speak truth are stoned.
  • How often I have wanted to be your mother hen, and God allows us to be unfaithful, unwilling, unavailable.

3. Disappointed but Determined and Diligent

Jesus hears those who warm and caution him to lay low, keep out of the spotlight, save yourself.

  • Jesus’s witness is to continue teaching, healing, and calling for faithfulness
  • Living into the prophetic messiah of being determined to enter Jerusalem,
  • With purpose, choice, determination, and deliberation Jesus moves closer to the cross

Following Jesus will require purposeful and intentional choices that lead us to Jesus

The charge is that the Holy City kills the prophets.

  • Means that becoming prophet is dangerous
  • Means only the faithful are prophets
  • Means It is easier to kill the messenger when we don’t like the message

4. Recognizing Jesus before its too late….

  • Those who lives as enemies of the cross, living only to satisfy hunger, seek glory and power, and set on earthly things.
  • Reminder that we have a heavenly passport…. Commercial asking will you at the end of your life wish you had bought newer technology, a bigger house, or rather where you traveled? What you experienced?

Paul invites future transformation… of our body, power, and heavenly ‘things.

4. Stand firm in Christ.

As we have discussed previously, standing firm “in” Christ, is residing in Christ’s righteousness

In what christ determines is right, just, good, and faithful

It is not standing firm in what we believe but stand firm in Christ.

Romans 10:2-17 MARCH 6, 2022  One in Christ?

I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or “Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.[ NRSA: Romans 10:2-17]

First: Hear the Good News Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, including you and me, and through resurrection, opens eternity to all who believe, for all who confess with their lips, or confirm in their mind.

The passage begins we are all musketeers, “All for One and One for All.”

I’m in Christ > You’re in Christ = We are both in Christ

Just like the Gieco insurance commercial say, “Everyone knows that.”


So, Paul speaks of the joy of sharing the Good News. “ How beautiful are the feet” of the one who brings Good News. Instead of being known as Christians, “I wonder why we are not known as the people with beautiful feet?”

We will have a foot washing service on Maunday Thursday this year and many will avoid this intimate reception of love and service because we think our feet are not beautiful.

Paul gives us a new way to look at feet… those who bring the good news are no longer worried about what the feet look like…. We bring prize of salvation when we share Christ with others and one another.


Paul has a more important than our feet

But there is more than hearing the Good News.

There is hearing and believing the Good News

But there is more than believing

There is hearing, believing, and living in the Good News of Jesus.


Jesus gives witness, instruction, teaching, and even commandments to follow.

We will hear people who proclaim Jesus’s inclusive love without also following the right-living, the righteousness, that Jesus calling us into.

Love without transformation of who we were, means that we didn’t need Jesus in the first place. I know I need to be transformed daily!

 

Paul’s is reminding us that it is beautiful to know about Jesus, to talk about Jesus, to sing and praise Jesus, but our relationship with Jesus must reflect Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus.


Paul is calling us to obey the good news.


Paul’s lesson to the church at Rome holds the two ends of this rope together.

One end is believing in Christ

The other is believing Christ desire to shape us into kingdom people through faith.

Paul cautions, and says, “We might think we are in Christ, but we might just be stuck at the start of a relationship that is not growing and maturing.


When a couple marries they pledge their faithfulness to God and one another and the words are lovely and true, but have not been tested.

The subsequent relationship has been established in a covenant, but without the following relationship there is no growth, no maturity, no fulfilment of the promised words.

So it is the profession of our faith in Christ, we activate Christ’s invitation when our mind accepts and/or our lips and words confess, but the nature of being in Christ demands our response to have been welcomed in relationship…

Our theological neighbors might lay a heavy hand of guilt to to make sure that every person has uttered the sinner’s prayers and quote, accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and Savior.” Even if they have spent the rest of their days in questionable choices pretending to be TO BE “IN” CHRIST. 

As Wesley would remind us we can forfeit our salvation. Our belief is the beginning of our journey and the growth of our relationship, is our sanctification. What Paul is referring to our hearing and obeying the word.

In the older baptism liturgy used the word, ‘Expiation.’ As a kid I had no idea, not until Mrs Smith, our 5th grade SS teacher, opened the Websters dictionary with us do we learn this word means Atonement… Our recognition that we are broken, sinful, incomplete, and without Christ who transforms us by love, through faith do we ‘become’ the believers we profess.

It means that we also believe

·      Believe Jesus is the one who makes me whole. Implies that I am incomplete without Jesus.

·      Believe Jesus is my salvation implies I acknowledge I am lost without Jesus.

·      Actitation by words, mouth, mind…

 

This is why we come to the this holy table. For God so loves us, even when we are broken sinful and longs for use to become the people he died and rose to be.

Luke 9:28-36 “Memorial Moments”


Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” — not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.  [NRSA: Luke 9:28-36]

In my quest to climb Mt Tabor and see this holy spot there is a church at top with

four sanctuaries.. and Upper and lower devoted to the transfiguration of Jesus and two smaller ones devoted to Moss and Elijah. And a monastery, and a cemetery, and a garden, and remnants of other structures, and a small gift shop. For a location that Jesus gave specific direction for having no need for booths, markers, nor markets to celebrate we have built them nonetheless. 

Some folks have a desire we might label as spiritual jealousy. Saul had his Damascus road transformation, hundreds came to Jesus and were miraculously healed, thousands came and were miraculously fed from loaves and fish, apostles freed from their prison cells, Paul saved from shipwreck and snake bites.

Where is my miracle? Where’s our moment in the divine glory and blinding brightness to seal our faith?

Keep in mind that Peter share in this holy moment, but later will deny Jesus at a most important time.  James and John will let there experiences go to their head and they ask to sit on either side of Jesus in heaven.

Miraculous moments are important and can be transformative, these are signs of what is important. The are NOT special privileges for the favored.

It’s true that Jesus took a small group and not all the disciples. Was it the three who needed the clearest view? Were these who Jesus knew had a more difficult time trusting ? Were they more mature than the others and better able to comprehend the event? Would these who would have the greatest struggle to believe?

Peter’s response was to mark and market the occasion for others, and Jesus’s intent was for Peter to experience a holy moment of revelation of Jesus’s nature, mission, and connection.

One thing that is essential is that we take from this encounter is that the OT and NT messages are the same message: Through Moses with Law, Elijah with the Prophets, and Jesus with the Gospel: God is weaving together a tapestry of invitation to trust, grace for our rebellion, and authority for our doubts and fears.

Another part of this event is that different Memorial moments are intended for different people. Look ahead to the birth of the church at Pentecost, some think the disciples are drunk on new wine and other hear the gospel in their own native languages. 

I will tell you many times it amazing me the number of times someone will say, I hear words that so resonated with me, when you said, and the words they heard were different from what I thought I had said. I never doubt them because God has unique messages for us all.

For those who overhear and recall someone else’s holy moment, what can we take away for ourselves?

Yet another lesson is that the events from that day were not always to be a special secret for a select group, but in a most important time , they needed to be remembered and retold. Peter wants buildings and holidays and ritual to tell the story, and Jesus wants Peter to tell the story.

Some of you may have experiences of angels, messengers, experiences from travels, study of scripture, in a piece of music, and other personal moments of divine disclosures:

  1. These are for your own faith
  2. These are for you to share with others for theimountains88⁸If you cannot recall moments of revelation then it’s time to climb some mountains, its time for spiritual retreats, it’s time to gather in small group with others on the same journey and be where God’s message is being revealed.
  3. If you have these moments of revealed truth and faith this generation needs to hear, see, be encouraged and fortified more than ever in our lifetimes.
  • God wants us to have faith in Christ
  • God wants us to share life in Christ
  • God wants us to live by faith with one another 

We need to recall these moment more than ever… Our Christian neighbors to the north have dropped from 60% to 10% who consider themselves Christian and it is no wonder the church is under attack when the people have forgotten or let go of the moments that are given to anchor our faith.

We can’t force or manufacture a spiritual mountain top experience but we can follow when asked to go.

We cant make Jesus show up on demand, but I can be reading, listening, waiting… I know where to look

We can’t expect my spiritual moments to be like yours, because yours are for you, and mine for me… we might share to encourage one another, but God is calling, knocking, asking and desires in your heart and life.

Transformational markers are personal yet have collective benefits

Retreat ; set aside time and place, this lenten season to receive the word, blessing, and spiritual moments God longs to reveal to you!

Luke 6:27-38 “Returns on Investments”


But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” [NRSA: Luke 6:27-38]

 

The Sermon on the hidden hillside turns the world view upside down.

The Setting on the Sea of Tiberias, Sea of Galilee

The one place thousands could gather to hear Jesus and not be seen by watchful Roman guard.

 

This ‘sermon’ is a collection of teachings that describe God’s kingdom how God hopes followers of Jesus will live.

 

So not only do we have a set of instructions, we have view of God’s nature and the perennial story of faith and God’s grace revealed throughout scripture.

 

God Hopes are high, even though God’s expectations are low.

 

The lists that Jesus teaches reveal God’s expectation is for us to struggle and fail are likely, yet God is hopeful.

  • For example, God knows we look to do the least, to receive the most.
  • To take the road MOST traveled, choosing what is easiest.
  • God knows we are likely to follow the crowd rather than follow God.
  • God knows we probably will choose to live contractually, by laws and rules, rather than covenantal,
  • God guesses we will value earning our way, rather than trust, and
  • Seek power in our own success, good works and self understanding.

 

Hear some Good News:

The teachings reveal God lives hoping we will trust! God is Hopeful!

 

For example: There are verses that are misused about blessing and abundance. If we give to God we can expect a good return on our investments.

It is subtle, but the intent is not that we measure our devotion by what we do, give, or earn, rather… God will use all that we do for God’s good work and witness. Bottom line, If we use God’s blessing for our glory and our comfort, they no longer reflect the kingdom, they only reflect ourselves.

 

The lesson here is about generosity. Give with a gratefulness, trusting God, and generosity yields generosity.

 

God seems to have the world backwards and upside down:

  • Trust the untrustworthy
  • Love the enemy
  • Discern without judging
  • Forgive like it is you that is being forgiven
  • And do all these with hope, in generosity.

 

Live by Grace in a big way.

 

God knows we can be selfish, brutish, cruel, and controlling, and yet chooses to love and entrust the work of the kingdom on earth to be conducted through us.

“What is God thinking?’

 

This is where knows God is hopeful, yet expects sin to real and the choices to be difficult.

 

Think of the loving parent that is Hopeful the prodigal son will not squander his inheritance, and yet knowing he has, waits with Hope for his return.

 

Paul would ask, “So if God knows we are going to fail, fall short, and sin, then go for the gold medal?” “No!”

 

The sermon on the mountain teaches us what is good, right, righteous, and from the heart of God. God’s gracious invitation is to follow, trust, and try to grow in fellowship.

 

The world is expecting us to value wealth, excellence, and power. God has all these things. We need only trust that God loves and desires and hopes for us soooo much, that God is willing to risk the world.

 

God wants relationship over good works alone.

How much greater is it to know temptation and to choose what pleases God, rather than just accidentally making the correct answer…

 

I have wondered when archeologist look back to see that knowledge was measured by students bubbling in score cards and those who choose the arbitrary sequence of bubbled ovals receive the scholarships and opportunities, and those who choose fewer are scored as less knowledgeable. Can the correct answers and action replace the relationship and experiences? The lessons of the sermon on the mount say, “nope, not at all!”

 

There is more than meeting expectations. Jesus announces that he has completed the law for us, and thus calls us to follow Jesus, in relationship with God and neighbor, through Jesus, as the way of living out our faith.

Movie, “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carry and Morgan Freeman, God seems to foolishly hands the reigns over to Jim’s character who looks for short-cuts, self-interested solutions, and skips the very nature of God…. It takes looking from God’s perspective to see what God is hoping we find.

 

It is these verses in Chapters 5,6,&7, The sermon on the mount, that gives us God’s perspective of hope for ourselves and each other.

 

What do we do with this sermon on the mount?

Does my faith serve me or God’s pleasure? Where is my hope and trust?

What do I hope God will do through my household and friendships?

What do I hope God will do through my enemies and the strangers?

What do I hope my wealth will provide for God?

What do I hope will happen in my life for God’s kingdom?

 

If my lists are short then maybe I need to see more of God’s perspective

If my lists are long, then I start where I currently find ourselves and whittle through.

Bottom line, following Jesus is ……..

 

This is the Lord’s Year

Luke 4:14-21

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [NRSA]

Mattie did a great job last week sharing a call to remember we are gifted with gifts to share. But if she had shared, and my gift is to be the Messiah, we too would have at least mumbled and grumbled, she is so full of herself to say such

But this is the context of our passage today. Jesus is the hometown favorite getting up to read, preach, and teach and he goes off with a Messiah complex. Who is he to say what the completion of scripture and the law is to be.

The idea that Jesus completes us affirms that we are incomplete

Dating card with strengths and weaknesses.

• Anointed to bring good news to the poor,

• release to the captive

• sights to the blind

• freedom to those oppressed

• and proclaim the year of the lord

Jesus fulfills these and call us to share the same…

Begging the question what are the

poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed, and those waiting for the lord to show finding out through us today?

Straight from the news reports,

• poverty continues,

• banks hold mortgages,

• governments and society hold hearts and minds captive,

• people continue to blindly follow rather than question, and there seems to be no justice for those who are oppressed and this day seems like just another day in ordinary-villa.

Christian Rapper ‘Phanatik’ of The Cross Movement Publicly Renounces Christianity

“I began to have doubts…” I could not trust what I have been telling others, so I’m renouncing my Christian faith.

written songs, book, taught classes, and didn’t believe what he was dishing out…

Many would say, I don’t care about rap in the first place, but when we hear of someone giving up hope, we need to pay attention. It might not be just those in the spot light.

Jesus begins his ministry affirming this IS. His use of the words of the prophet Isaiah become declaration of faith:

• what I trust,

• this IS what I believe,

• this IS what I will be doing, and

• THIS IS what God longs for you to do as well.

What is good news to the poor?

There is something more valuable that wealth. One less that is taught over and again when sharing ministry with those who are rich in Christ, but poor in the things of the world, is the ability to prioritize what matters most.

We speak of someone who is blinded by conditioning, majority, coercion, and assumption:

There are something we see by faith when our eyes tell us otherwise. We are called to be people who believe not because they have seen the signs and placed our hand in the side as Thomas but those who live by trust, faith alone.

We are prisoners of our own allegiance, (Quote the Eagles, our own device) to the what the world tells us right/wrong.

There is what world says its good and true and there is the one who created the world and it’s purpose says are good and true.

What do those who are oppressed by wealthy, the majority, the systems of control, institution of power, what do they want to know?

There is a power greater than the powers of this world.

Jesus declares that in him, we find this power, this wealth, this life

In the Lord’s Day,

• is not earth day,

• it is not independence Day,

• it’s not president’s day,

• Its not Santa’s Day,

• It’s not Election Day,

it is the Day of the Lord

• The Lord’s Choice

• The Lord’s Power

• The Lord’s Purpose

• The Lord’s Revealing

Jesus has made a very strong political statement in his first sermon: God’s Day, God’s Way, depends on no other variable.

What that way of life looks and sounds like is this…

There are no more tear, no more fear

no more death, no more misuse of trust and power.

So what can you and I find in this story, sermon, verse?

Where you have placed your trust in yourself, your government, your fears, your power and power of human construction, are just as they were in the tower of Babel

Just as God confused the language,

Jesus’ reading from Isaiah sounds noble and we would expect him to highlight nothing else, but what he is saying is this

Don’t trust those who hold power, wealth, influence, etc to know right from wrong.

He is not saying to ignore the world’s power, rather see it’s limitation and flaws.

Those in the world could operate from righteousness if each day were devoted to the glory of God, but where they do not, they are not God’s instruments…

For example $$$

Money is a necessary means of transacting commerce in a society, it is neither good nor evil. Misuse of the power that controlling money is evil and despite it’s power and influence, God is greater and Jesus has come to make that right

Again it is not inappropriate for us to talk about money in relationship to the church but to tell God what we cannot do because we do not have the money in hand requires no faith in God. Listening to those who hold the money is what we have come to believe is the only way. Jesus is saying money is not love, is not peace, is not justice, is not hope, is not salvation. Money is money, who’s power do we place our trust.

What are we doing with the power, wealth, opportunities, freedom that we enjoy?

What better place to invest than to invest in reversing poverty, providing freedom, release, seeing through the lies of evil power to see the truth of God’s strength.

The final part of the Lord’s Day being declaired in their hearing, points to the urgency not to wait for another day.

What are you and I doing with the gifts we currently have?

What are we waiting to happen to be bold in witness?

When will we have enough to do what the Lord needs done?

Jesus gives us these answers:

Trust the Lord and you will see the kingdom of God in every part of your life.

WWill our response be to grumble, dismiss, or ignore or take up the Cross of Christ and make this day another Day for the Lord…

Sermons from 2020

1 Corinth 3:1-9 Work Together

Posted by myoikos in #2020#godsfigs#unitedinchrist on February 16, 2020

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. [NRSA]
• We are servants in God’s field
• We are called to work together – some planting, some watering, some fertilizing, some harvesting
• We are the instruments of God’s building.


As you know one of my priorities has been to keep our congregation as informed about the denomination status and issues. Sometimes this is helpful and at other times we only commiserate in frustration of what we don’t know and what we can’t control. Your Administrative Council is becoming more informed and studying the issues that we will be facing in the months ahead so that nothing comes as a surprise. So look forward to the fruit of their work, conference and district ‘town hall meetings’ and the ongoing prayerful challenge we share to be the body Christ at Rock Spring.
With that reminder, I offer this passage this morning for our encouragement:
The Apostle Paul writes to encourage the church at Corinth, Greece that is faced with many divisions with it this lesson that we are blessed to have in our day.
Early in his letter, he reminds the church: (1Cor2.14-16) The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1. Spiritual matters are foolish to those who not following the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, do not be worn out by those who think our faithfulness is foolish in their opinion and in their understanding.
2. Paul reminds that “We are servants in God’s field”
a. This is a two-part reminder. First, in following Christ, we are servants and followers.
b. Second, our scope of responsibility is to God and not to the world’s foolishness.

3. Third, we are called to work together with one another, IN the Holy Spirit.
a. THIS IS the point of reflection for today for us. When we are not working together, it becomes clear
b. That we are not working in the Spirit
c. We are not working in God’s field, or scope, or arena
d. Recall from (Gen 11:4) Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
i. The Tower of Babel is the landmark case of God scattering the work when people put themselves head of God’s plan, God’s scope, God’s field of work.
e. Paul calls out those who have been baptized by one Leader or the other, and the alliances that follow as one teach being right and the other being wrong.
i. Paul says earlier: “I’m glad I baptized none of you so you don’t drag me into this mess.” 
f. POINT: When we who are in the one Spirit, share the ONE mind of Christ, Working together in the same field for God, Though we may have different gifts, talents, and skills, share the same work that should be united in God and not dividing God’s people, not dividing God’s witness, not dividing God’s work.

The fact that the church is in the process of division and divorces is self-affirmation that we are out of bounds.

4. Notice: Unity is not that we all agree on the same word, it is we are all doing what is in God’s best interest and not our own.
a. Said another way, the goal is not a unity of what’s in our Book of Disciplines, rather UNIFIED in serving God.

The Course Correction
So what difference is this all to us. Are we not just the victims of the politics of others? No, we are all parts of the same body. Different parts and members but with the same mind of Christ.
When we are divided into Christ’s name, it becomes clear that we are NOT operating with the same mind of Christ.
Just as with the fig tree
(Luke 13: 6-9) Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”
The purpose of a fig tree: to bear leaves or figs?
The purpose of the church is to bear fruit for the kingdom:
• When we say, well it would be better if this fig tree could bear blackberries AND figs. Foolishness
• When we say, let’ just find something else to eat if the figs aren’t in our season. Foolishness
• When we say, I don’t like figs anyway, who cares.
• We have the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ, not agreeing in politics.
• We have the calling of showing the world how to work together as SERVANTS, not as those being served or pleased or approved. We have that covered in the grace of Jesus Christ.
Paul writes for us and the church in Corinth:
• Serve God not ourselves
• God’s field not our own
• Our unity of trust in God is our witness to a world who calls us foolish
• God is bearing figs not politics, not agendas, not policies, not opinion polls, not ideologies.
Our Prayer:
Lord, I am your fig, the fruit of your blessing and grace.
If am I posing as a fig but am actually something else, have mercy on me a sinner, nurture and fertilized me another season of your grace.
May I do the part for your church that You have called and created, that you have died and been raised, that you have loved and infused me with your blessings, become your fig for a world of fools who are hungry for you. Amen.

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Hebrews 2.14-18 Therefore

Posted by myoikos in #2017 on February 9, 2020

Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. [NRSA]

Jesus Moves Toward Us
In the 21st century world things progress more rapidly that we can comprehend. In the field of technology there is the suggested Mohr’s law that progress changes exponentially every two years. But we are quickly approaching a subatomic limitation for our devices and machines to get any faster or any smaller. With switches in microprocessors approaching single digit nanometer we assume that there is a finite limitation that will halt progress. But as with every unimaginable breakthrough comes the new medium and new energy source that turns the old technology on its head and we are seeing a near endless progression in the advancement of things.
The new Apple Mac Computer, fully loaded from the factory comes in at $54K if you add the keyboard and mouse that are not included. And on the day of its delivery to customers there are much faster and much cheaper machines being sold. All this chaotic pace of change is to ask an old fashioned question.
Is it necessary or even helpful to apply the model of progress, change, advancement and efficiency to the words, concepts and power of our faith?
People have been finding their way to the very heart of God through Jesus Christ for over 2000 years. Did it take the followers back then any longer to give their hearts to Christ?
Did it require any special technology to have find access to the teaching of Jesus?
Did it call for specialized agents, teachers, and tools to feed the sick, give drink to the thirst, befriend the forgotten, care for the widow, orphan, and stranger?
Did the words of Jesus hold less power then than they do know for all our advancement in biblical study and theological reflections?


Does Context Matter?
I would say in the past 35 years of my theological study, 8 years spent in direct research and study at seminaries, hundreds bible studies, over 3,600 sermons prepared and delivered, I would say a great deal of influence from the academic world has pressed hard for preachers to understand, appreciate and value the fluid contexts in which we serve and work. But I have begun to question part of this teaching.
What does it mean for Jesus, the son of God, Jesus the Christ, God who empties himself of his immortality, his omniscience, his omnipotence, his multidimensional comfort in the realms of heaven and be born, go through puberty, deal with family and community, be confronted with institutions, religions, authorities and powers physical and spiritual so that we could see and know God more clearly?
It means that God values us, you and me, and everyone out ‘there’ enough to enter our context, so that we could know God’s context in our lives.
I believe we have had a great deal backwards. We are not called to soften, entertain, or make God’s call, expectations and invitation any less or any different now than when, he first revealed himself.
But we live in a world of Thomas-es who want to touch, see, feel, experience for ourselves. We don’t want to take someone else’s word, especially if it is old, outdated, and not in our own context.
That is somewhat like saying if only Jesus were Chocolate-chip-mint Ice cream. That is my favorite flavor and if God would see fit ‘himself’ into my container, context, understanding, limitations, then I would be more likely to believe or trust.
So while it is vital for Jesus to come to our Context, God has no need to be as fickle and flexible as our attention deficiencies.


We are comfortable in our Slavery
Slavery: There are people who are treated as slaves in this world.. not because of the color of their skin, but for a lack of education, power, influence, and a disbelief that slavery exists in our context.
Workers who make pennies a day, make it possible for so many of our products to be inexpensive deals. The next time we purchase something think about the salary, working conditions and benefits you would want to receive for making those items and remember the bulk of the profits are in transportation, stockholders, taxes and tariffs.
China workers, Africans working in African for Chinese government funded projects. Labor given to build infrastructure in lands that are not part of China, but are taken advantage.
We are being made slaves of political division.
Women and girls in human trafficking.
We are called to be free from slavery. We are called to set the captive free. We are called to celebrate liberty in every nation.
Our question for Context and many forms of Slavery, are no Match for..


The Power of Fear
God come to show us his heart and word. He gives us the power of the Spirit and the gift of Salvation through his sacrifice so that none of us live in fear.
And yet.. we all know some fear.
Fear of death and dying.. Even though we know that God has made a way to him and fear is no longer and end, but rather a doorway closer.
Fear of a new place, a new school, a new job or home.
Or fear of no place, no job or no home.
Fear that what we have known to be safe and dependable is being shaken and changed,
Or a fear of having to replace comfort with confirmation of our faith and trust in Christ.
I know that my grandmother feared the day they would close her church, Wesley Chapel, the fourth church on a charge of churches in the South Georgia conference of the UMC. She saw the number drop from over a hundred, to the twenties, to 12, to 9, and at the point it was three, despite paying the apportionments and salary portion herself, she felt like it was her responsibility to keep the doors open. But that is just the thing. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to keep the doors unlocked, he lives in us so that we will walk through those doors and make disciples of the world who find their home in Christ just as we have done.
The Fear we face this year: Are we upholding memories or upholding the folks who don’t know they are sinners like us, who want church to be their convenient favorite flavor and song and style,

So What Are We To Do?
The heart of this passage asking us to show by our trust and faithfulness. Are we fans of evil that is comfortable, easy and popular or are we committed to a more difficult path?
Are we here to be served, taken care of and made to feel safe from a world that has little respect of hope for us?
Are we here to be witness of fear, timid-ness, and doubt or
Are we the those whom Christ has called, challenged, empowered and standing strong as we go into the world for the sake of Jesus Christ?
I say any other choice is our defeat.
Hold up this measuring rod for one another: Am I being tested in my faith? In my witness? In my service? If so, we have to encourage one another and not divide one another
If not, we are call to receive Christ anew, to hear his call, to claim and reclaim the challenge, and to be steadfast in God’s work through us.
Alone I will fail, Together in Christ we can endure all things. Be strong in prayer, strong in worship, strong in loving and forgiving, strong with encouragement, strong in listening and studying God’s word. Strong in singing and being the presence of Christ right now.

_____

Matthew 5:1-12 ‘The’ Sermon

Posted by myoikos in #2020#disciples#heartofgod#sermons on February 1, 2020

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]

• Jesus calls disciples
• Jesus calls followers
• Jesus calls for everyone who follows to become a disciple.
• Jesus calls everyone who follows a higher standard of actions and attitudes.

The most famous part of the sermon is the “Blessed” section.
What is the designation of being blessed?
In the context of the teaching, Jesus is making self declarative statements.

That is, the seal of approval is given through the attitude behind the action of goodness.
1. The poor in spirit, receive the kingdom of heaven.
2. Those who mourn will receive comfort.
3. The meek will be given the world.
4. Those who long for what is right will be fulfilled.
5. Those who show mercy will receive mercy.
6. The pure of heart see the heart of God.
7. Those who make peace, are God’s children.
8. Those who are persecuted for the work of Christ find heaven.
9. The summary blessing is for those to remain true to God when the world calls them evil.
10. The summary is that followers and disciples of Jesus need to count on being persecuted for their faithfulness.
If we are not confronting evil we are complacent. LORD HAVE MERCY ON OUR WEAKNESS!

If we are keeping quiet about our faith, then we are missing out on the blessing of our faith.

Every Religion
• In every world religion, there is some challenge for people to be kind, compassionate, good-hearted, caring people, to at least those who belong to that group.
• In every world religion, there are affirmations of caring for the widow, the orphan and the poor.
• In every world religion, there are teachings to live with devotion to the god of their worship.
• What is different in Jesus’s teaching?
If we look at this list as more than general suggestions, but not just a checklist, we hear Jesus teaching a way of thinking, a perspective of living and behaving that draws us TOWARD GOD, THROUGH our RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS.

ATTITUDES as BEHAVIORS as a WAY OF LIFE
Every blessing comes when we live out the ideas in our heads and hearts through the lives of other people.
• The poor in spirit: Those who know they don’t know it all, might have room to grow, mature and journey more.
• Those who mourn: Those who open their eyes to the things that are broken and can weep with those who hurt.
• The meek: Those who don’t seek the things of this world as their salvation, know salvation comes through Jesus.
• Those who long for righteousness: Those who seek God’s way over their own way.
• Those who show mercy: Those who can live their faith AND be kind, compassionate in the process.
• The pure of heart: Know their best self by trusting God’s vision of their life and motives.
• Those who make peace: We are God’s children when we trust our heavenly father’s justice, judgment & grace.
• Those persecuted for Christ: We cannot withstand persecution unless God stands with us, that is heaven/garden
• Those who are steadfast: When the world calls our actions and thoughts evil, are a good measure of doing good.
• Those being persecuted for their faithfulness to God is living out our heaven citizenship over our earthly one.

The Hard Part
Here is the worst part of the list: It’s not a cafeteria, pick-and-choose, list to select from at our pleasure.
It is an all-inclusive list. The blessing of the buffet is ours, but we are to work on the whole menu.
Blessing as a measure of being on the right track is seen in each lane.
Blessing of our work is completed comes when we wear every hat in the officer’s handbook. (Not just church leadership roles)

The Catch
The picture Jesus gives is not for us to focus on one area and stay in that lane, rather drive on the interstate on the highway to heaven. The goodness is that the same attitude behind our motives is the same attitude:
Philippians 2:2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
One love, one spirit, one mind
Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
• If we can comfort those who mourn, we can all so feed those who know their hunger for more of Christ.
• If we can endure showing grace and compassion, we can endure being ridiculed and judged by the world.
• If we can long for truth and righteousness, we can also be pure in our motives and grace-filled in our service.

THE BOTTOM LINE
• You and I are followers and disciples of Jesus today.
• We are blessed with many things in this world, but God has a greater blessing than all the stuff, money and power.
• We are blessed with relationships, but these relations are empty if they are lacking the sharing of our faith.

We are blessed with opportunities that only a few have in the world, and to not use what we have for God is to waist our heavenly inheritance, in the present.
• TRUE BLESSING comes from God, for bringing to life the ideas and teachings that come from God.
• TRUE BLESSING comes not from the world’s list of value, but in the value of being God’s hands and feet.
• TRUE BLESSING comes when we move from HEARING the Word and BECOME the Word for the World.

The SO WHAT?
We know this, why are telling us what we already know?
Because part of our job is to hold the mirror of accountability that reflects God and ask:
1. Are people being spiritually fed through my actions and words? What can I do then?
2. Do people turn to me when there are hurting, sad, disappointed or grieving? What should I do?
3. Do people around me know God’s kingdom is my priority or the world’s priority?
4. Do people see and hear God’s word through my daily life?
5. Do people see that I am kind/compassionate or do present a grumpy, judgmental, too busy advertisement?
6. What do people see about God’s heart through me?
7. Do people trust me to bring people together or do they trust me to take sides and defend?
8. When was the last time I was persecuted, judged or penalized for expressing my faith? Am I overdue?
9. When it is easier to going along with the crowd even though I know it’s not right or not best, I roll with the tide?
10. People know I will put God first, over all else. Except for game day, family, money, career, or something else?

WHEN OUR ALL OUR ACTIONS AND THOUGHTS REFLECT GOD, JESUS, HOLY SPIRIT
Our work is done, in the meantime, we have much to work on, and MUCH to work with because in Jesus’s teachings we are promised the world, mercy, heart, family, heaven, goodness, faithfulness, comfort, Jesus, Spirit, and God himself.
This familiar list of attitudes is a reminder, a measure and a wake-up call to look at our head, our heart and our actions and ask: Can I see God? Can others see God? If so, I have great news to praise and share. If not, Lord let’s get work today.

_____

Matthew 4:12-23

Posted by myoikos in #2020#disciples#faithsharing on January 25, 2020

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. [NRSA]

The call to follow is an invitation to

  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Follow
  • Transform
  • Call others

We talking about the need to listen last week
We hear the week before what it means to follow
The most important part of this challenge is the call to impact the lives of others

Q: What am I doing that others see, hear and know that Jesus is healing, calling, working through me?

Step back to the do no harm rule:
What am I doing that is harming my witness and getting in the way of others experiencing Jesus in me?

What can I do? To disciple others.

Discern one person before the end of the month that God is calling you to reach out to disciple.
Pray for them every day
Find multiple ways to reach out to them and show the love and power of Jesus Christ
Persistence and variety. Many gifts and avenues
Call theirs friends and co-workers
She scriptures that invite learning and following
Take them to follow with you in your faith journey
Make it easy, no pressures salesmen.
Some will follow others will be reached by someone else.
Repeat each month.

Goal of your own 12 disciples..
A year of reaching our own dozen for Christ.

Now go and make Disciples of Jesus Christ
( next week food for the journey)

_____

John 1:29-42

Posted by myoikos in #2020#accountability#listeningfollowingtelling on January 18, 2020

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoonAndrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter ). [NRSA]

The beginning of becoming disciples

From the Text: we see the prophetic promises

• fulfilled from Isaiah through a John the Baptist

• Jesus is baptized and calls us join him in that adoption

He invites followers to listen to him

Jesus calls followers to follow

Followers listen to Jesus

Followers follow

Even as leaders we follow Jesus

… Last week we all heard a good example of what it means to radically listen and radically follow Jesus invitation. Todd reminded us that to follow Jesus might take us away from our family, away from our comforts, away from our plans. We appreciate and admire someone’s journey when they follow so radically. But as passionate was their story.. I ask you today to where and to what is God invite you to go and to do today?

We don’t all have a calling to the Bush of Africa

A. But one thing that Todd shared is that he and his wife we listening to God

B. And they heard go, and then go back, and then stay and keep listening.

The question for us today is

1. Are we listening? Are we asking for God’s leading and direction or are we relying on what God told us two years or two decades ago and have not genuinely stopped to listen, in light of where we current are.

2. Do we not listen because we don’t want to hear something that might lead away from our comforts of what is familiar or easy…

3. John heats and tell Andrew, Andrew listens and follows, Andrew reaches out to his brother with what he had heard.

4. He bring Simon, Simon listens and is transformed. Simon now becomes Peter, the Rock Man, we people of the Rock, Rock Spring….

There are two profound part to give our attention tot his morning:

A. Jesus continue to call us now, through others

B. Jesus continues to call other, through you.

What are we hearing Jesus needs us to be, do or go?

What are others hearing and seeing from Jesus through us?

Both demand our attention if we are follow Jesus

I said two weeks ago and will say again,

Now more than any time in our lifetime, Jesus Long’s for us to

• listen,

• follow, and

• share.

Discipleship

The shift from living in anticipation of faith

theological we shift from anticipation of Jesus to a season of living with Christ, listening, following and sharing with others.

All of us don’t need to go to the Bush, but all of us need to be following Christ’s call.

Where ARE you in this journey?

I think everyone here has heard of Jesus

We come together to sing, study and hear the words of Jesus’s teaching

Where do we see Jesus day? Or do we?

What is Jesus saying to you this week or today?

Are willing to take the day for Jesus or simple a few minutes now and then

How am I responding to Jesus’s call to follow

How am I bringing others

How am I being transformed

How is Jesus using me, you, RS in this day?

This is where we benefit from fellowship… small group, prayer partners, faith friends

Someone or group that is small enough to listen to one another

Strong enough to to provide accountability

Loving enough to challenge us to allow Christ to continue transforming us together?

• If I know what Jesus asks me to do and I’m doing it, you have good news we all need to hear

• If you know but are not doing anything about it then get to it now

• If you don’t know it’s time to pray study ask, seek Jesus from those who have heard

• If you have tried and failed, learn why and try again

• If you are scare to start because you know things will be different in your life hear the stories and witness of those who have heard

• If you don’t know where to begin, here John’S question of Jesus: where are you,that I can come listen and get to know you and learn your call for my life.

Today is the day for doing, acting, responding and not just thinking

_____

Isaiah 60:1-9 Arise the Light is Shining

Posted by myoikos in #2019#2mileneighbors#epiphanyChristmas on January 4, 2020

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall be acceptable on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house. Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows? For the coastlands shall wait for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from far away, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified you. [NRSV]

A prophetic word from Isaiah reminding and foretelling of God’s Light and Hope is coming.

  • The image of nursing mothers
  • A radiant light in the darkness
  • Camels, Doves, and Flocks
  • some come bringing God and Frankincense
  • they will come from far away lands, from the ends of the earth
  • all because of the Glory of God’s works, the Holy One of Israel.

This is a prophecy calling that we see fulfilled

  • in the night sky as shepherds watch their flocks by night,
  • The Glory of the Lord is shone in the darkness to the least, the last and the lost.
  • The Nations shall bring gifts of Gold and incense, Frankincense to Glorify my Host, My House

700 Years priory to the Birth of Jesus, Isaiah is preparing the people in darkness to look for a great and glorious light.

  • You and I are those who know the whole story.
  • We know what the Light of the World is all about
  • We look at the darkness of sin, lies, deceptions, divisions, and corruption and we see the power of REVERSAL

Matthew 2: 6-16

“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.  On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.  Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,  and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”  When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. [NRSA]

  • Where we see DARKNESS, DEATH, SIN, and BROKENESS
    • We have the Glory of the Heavenly HOST singing and working with us.
  • Where we see 1 Night/day, 1 child/person, 1 church, our witness is intended for a world of folks struggling in darkness.
    • We have the GIFTS of the WORLD’s wealth to be used for GOOD
  • Where the are those working against us, God has another plan, another way
    • Our paths may differ from our expectations, but God has GOOD, HOPE, Light, LIfe for us

Arise, God’s Light is Shining through US!

  • We were not in the fields
  • We didn’t travel from far countries
  • We didn’t look into the manger that night
    • BUT
  • We can see the power the darkness in our world
  • We can see the ends of the earth on our screens
  • We can see the fulfilling of God’s continuing Story, shining and giving light in a world filled with politics, corruption, and division.
  • We have all the pieces and see how God fits them together throughout time for times like the days and nights we living through now.

This the day of Hope!

  • What the world intends for evil, God brings new life.
  • This is our mission, this is our calling, this is our charge, this is our responsibility
  • Where there is darkness, we shine the light of christ
  • Where there is not enough, we bring the wealth to the feet of Jesus
  • Where there are reasons to fight among ourselves God way will not be stopped, the question is will we be looking for worship with sheep,
  • Will we be those who following the political voice, or follow the songs of angels and the prayers of wisemen.

_____

Lk 2:1-20 Great Joy

Posted by myoikos in #2019#christmaseve#greatjoy on December 24, 2019

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. [NRSV]

The angels pronounce Jesus as:
A savior,
the Messiah,
the Lord

1. Numerous people have saved us and maybe we too have saved others from hunger, fear, grief and loss.
2. Many have been our political Lords and leaders, most all of us have been entrusted with leading others.
3. But none of us is the Messiah.

The angels proclaim that not only has God’s leader come to the world, not only do we find a savior for our sins, we also find God with us, Christ-mas. Emanuel, The power love and joy of God is revealed in Jesus the Christ.

And not only has the Long awaited Messiah come to live amount us, we have in him the greatest Joy!

What is the the great joy?

There are many joys we experience in our lives:
Family, Children and grands
Home, Vocations, Careers and the fruit of our labors
The beauty of each season
The treasures of traditions and memories
But what is the greatest joy?

I believe we don’t often live as if we have found the greatest joy
Recall in Jesus’s parable of the Great Pearl, once found the person traded all they had to purchase the Great Pearl.

So often we continue looking for more than what we have found by faith in Christ.

Just as the disciples of John the Baptizer who had heard and seen the words and deeds of Jesus but when he did not fulfill the idea they held, the questioned and doubted the news concerning Jesus.

We live knowing the joy of Christ, yet with live without the “mas” part of Christmas throughout the years.

“Mas” being the dwelling presence of Christ in our daily life and nightly rest. Christ-mas, Christ-with-us.

Tonight is a family occasion as a church community, but it is also I personal time of affirmation and reaffirmation. I come to the place where my strength ends and Gods joy begins, you and I kneel as those who gathered in the fields around Bethlehem, like those around the manger , we kneel before our Lord and,
Worship
Rejoice
Give Thanks
And find ourselves filled with the Love and Power of God.

Come to the Throne of God, come to the heart of God, come to source of life and love and be made new, set your spirit aflame by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Tonight we have come to our journey’s purposeful end:
To find Jesus Christ alive, renewed and coursing in our breath and bodies.

You and I are the witness of God’s savior, Lord and Messiah.
You and I are entrusted to live out the work and joy of the Lord
If you have never proclaimed Jesus Christ as your savior then claim him now
If you have said the words but lost the power and drive of the Holy Spirit give yourself again, our king awaits us
If you have that spirit passion then reach out to those who are lost, searching, wandering, squandering and afraid and offer them his great Joy

God wants to move in with us, today and every day and for eternity
The world is filled with broken, angry, selfish and hardened hearts
Join the angels, shepherd, magi and family of God until the world know the great joy by
heart and faith,
in song and deed,
in day and night

Join me as we come to his table set for us all
Join in the bread and cup of forgiveness and eternal joy.
Death is no more our fear
God is our life, our light, our power and our love.

This is the great joy!
And God has blessed us with this gift to have and to share.

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