Sermons and Sermon Summaries

Sermon summaries

Posted 9/21/2020

Matthew 20:1-16

The Laborers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

“This is the word of the Lord.”

Please pray with me.

Patient and persistent God, we thank you for calling us here today. Keep our hearts and minds open for your words of transforming love. AMEN.

 

I may have titled this Sermon a little too early.  A better title would be “Grumbling at Grace through the ages.”

After reading this passage I cannot help but reflect on my employment over the last six months during the time of the Pandemic.

In March, suddenly out of the office working from home.  Within a  month about 40 to 50% of Signet employees were furloughed

I was kept on, but for a time I was jealous of those furloughed.  –  An extra $600,  some were getting more take home then me, and they can sleep in have time to binge watch and get things done around the house they never had time for.  I was grumbling, may be not aloud, but in my subconscious.

They could go to Lowes and home depot and fix up what needs fixed and replaced.  I’m surprised there has not been a reality show called, “America’s Covid shut down home makeover”

My heart changed when some of those furloughed came back, I was glad to see them back on the team, and they were glad to be back. Still some 20% of those furloughed were let go for which I am truly saddened by.

Context wise, and context is extremely important when studying scripture, why is Jesus giving this parable?

In the last part of  Chapter 19, Jesus had told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give the money to the poor, but he walked away sad for he could do know such thing.  His mind was bent on his own Kingdom.

Peter then mentions that he and the rest of the twelve had left all, asking, “what’s in it for us?” 

Christ tells them they will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Then he tells them that many who are first will be last and the last be first. Thus, this parable is to explain what that means.  The purpose may have been to shrink their ego, their pride, for he knows that Love of people, love of others is vastly more important than pride of position and that to truly win the kingdom, their pride needed to be broken.  I think though it may be prophetic also.

The parable begins as such.

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage,[a] he sent them into his vineyard.

The scripture starts out with the Kingdom of heaven is like.  We must keep that in mind as we go through this.  It is not the Kingdom of the United States, a corporation, a union, a sports league, a club, a charity organization, it is the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the same as the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of Heaven has a different economy, a different way of thinking, with different goals and different avenues to reach those goals. It cannot be thought of as the same as we think, measure, and live in the kingdoms of humanity, the kingdoms of our culture, or our own kingdom.

It is 6 AM, the workday at that time went from 6 AM to 6 PM.

The usual wage for a day laborer, one who is hired for a day’s work and then paid at the end of the day for that work is a denarius, which was a Roman silver coin.  It was enough to buy food and subsist for another day.  You would not get rich you would stay poor. You would come again the next day to the marketplace to work.

Workers waning to be hired mulling around the marketplace was common in those days.  It is still common in many third world countries today. At times it happens in this country.

The landowner agrees to pay the laborers a denarious and the workers go to his vineyard and begin to work. At nine, noon, three in the afternoon and finally at five the same happens. Workers without work being hired, the wage of a denarius being agreed to, and then the work being done.

Now it is the end of the day, time to pay.

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’

Now it is time to pay the laborers. They needed to be paid to get something to eat for themselves and/or provide food for their family. Paying the last first and the first last seems unorthodox. If I was running a business, I would do the opposite.  It only makes sense.  It’s the right thing to do.  I may even call them in groups and keep the later arrivals working in the fields as I paid the earlier groups first.

The Jewish work ethic at the time, and what is referred to as the “Protestant work ethic is basically, “According to one’s labor is one’s reward.” God though has a generous grace ethic, that for the believer, takes the place of any, and all work ethics.

When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.[b] 10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.[c] 11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

Wouldn’t you grumble?  If you were the first laborers of the day.  But as stated it is what was agreed to. The landowner is not being dishonest. It is the expectations of the workers that are not met is where the grumbling comes from. Statements, “It’s only fair,” or “that’s not fair” come to mind.  I can her children shouting, “that’s not fair,” when someone gets more ice cream or cookies.  Sometimes I think once we learn that  life does not work on a doctrine of fairness, the more we mature.

Don’t get me wrong here, for fairness, especially when it percolates to injustice needs to be addressed.  It is why there are protests in the streets.  It is why laws and procedures change and still need to be changed, to ensure fairness, opportunity, and  equal justice for all, not just  for those in the majority, or those pulling the purse and power strings of the powers that be.

Now you can argue and debate on how this should be done, but I think it is also a sign of maturity that we recognize that something needs to be done.

Here is the rest of the parable.

13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?[d] 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’[e] 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

After hearing the parable do you understand what Christ was trying to convey?  On the surface it seems ridiculous, people who work one hour getting paid the same as those working a twelve-hour shift.

What exactly are we to learn from this parable?  Let’s try to break it down. First, who is the audience? Jesus is talking to his disciples, but there are others, Jewish church leaders, and gentiles.  All are represented then or will be in the future.

Next, we need to look at who each character or group represents. The landowner is God.   The early workers are the religious leaders of the day, the later workers are the disciples, and the final workers are the workers who come after that, disciples of disciples, mostly gentile, generation after generation on down to us today and onward till the rapture. Thus, I look at this as a prophetic message from Christ.  The vineyard is humanity, constantly being planted, watered and harvested by the workers God sends into it.

The religious leaders will become so jealous of this new birth of their faith, that they will kill Christ the one who represents it. Anything to stop it. One must die so their faith, the way they see it, direct it and are in power of it can be continued and not be made unclean by this man who claims to be God.  These are the initial grumblers, the ones hired first. But I think all but the last workers grumble.

Throughout history as the Body of Christ grows, there is grumbling. The earlier workers grumbling at the next incarnation of God’s grace as later workers, different workers. with different ways are sent by God into the fields of the Lord.

In the first century there was grumbling between the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.

Later there was grumbling as the church split between Rome, and the Eastern orthodox church in Constantinople.

Then there was the reformation.  Some of the loudest and in my opinion, the most needed grumbling.

Since that time there has been grumbling as the church changes, splits, breaks off.  Sometimes over significant issues, sometimes over less significant issues.

This will always happen and within in the next few years it is likely to happen with in the Methodist church.

What should our reaction be? To grumble, or see the continuing grace of God?

I do not think God likes it when we split especially over minor differences, but God’s grace is so generous that he lets it continue through all denominations.

We may have differences, often differences that make some leave because the difference is too great, too grating against one’s belief that they cannot not stay and must move on.  That is okay.  We all will need to do what our conscious tells us to do. That will soon happen in the Methodist church.  Whether we stay or go, we should not disparage those who chose differently.  We should continue to love them, and where possible, work with them to take care, feed and make disciples of the lost sheep of humanity.

We also should not disparage our Baptist,  reformed, Catholic, or nondenominational, or any other Christian denominational brothers and sisters in Christ. If God has sent them into the vineyards of humanity to plant, water and harvest, we should be grateful to God that he is using them to sow seeds of grace, love and offering salvation through a relationship with Christ.

I’ve talked about watering. planting and harvesting, but I have not mention growth. The growth of the fruit is by God and God alone. We may plant, water and harvest, but these are not possible without growth.

No matter what hour, or in what way others are being sent into the field, if there is growth, we should celebrate the generosity of God. You may think that God is not being fair, that only your belief is the right belief and that if God grows elsewhere the fruit is not legitimate. But if  God who grows it, it should not matter who planted and watered. How then can it be illegitimate?

Also, in contrast, if there is no growth, no matter how well it may seem to have been planted and watered, that is evidence that God did not send those workers. They are planting seed that does not have the spiritual germination of being born again through the spirit.

Think about God’s grace, his generosity, his love, his amazing ability to continue to send out workers who plant and water and harvest, and his ability to grow the kingdom in any kind of environment. Do not let pride enter in saying, one must be a protestant, or one must be a Methodist, or our way is the only way.

Christ said in John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

There is only one way to the Father, and that is Jesus, but there are many ways to Jesus, so do not grumble if someone new comes along planting and watering seed that God grows and then is harvested, but be grateful that God makes the way straight in the wilderness so others to bring others into the kingdom.

Sara Groves – Love and Pride cannot occupy the same places. 

I end in prayer

God of grace and mercy, whether we are lifelong laborers,
or new arrivals in your vineyard, we know you value us just as we are.
Hear now the prayers of thanks and concern that we now speak aloud
or raise silently from our hearts.
God of the last, God of the first, God of all those in between, hear these concerns as we seek your presence in our lives and in a world in need. Amen.

Posted 3/17/2020

Eternal Joy over temporary Circumstance

Last week, in psalm 121, we looked at where our help comes from. Today, in psalm 95 we look at where our Joy comes from. Please open up your bibles to Psalm 95 and follow along.

How do you respond to the circumstances in life? The ups and downs, the turns, the unexpected not planned for blocks in the road.  How do you respond?  How do you respond to the fears of the Corona Virus that dominate the news and our conversations?

Chuck Swindoll, author and preacher says that life is 10% circumstance and 90% our response to our circumstances.

You can respond with fear, you can respond with faith.

I was watching a Christian Program the other day.

Katherine Wolf was the guest. At the age of 26 she had a massive brain stem cell stroke.  At the time, she was a mother to a 6-month-old.  After 13 years she was still affected by the stroke. Her mouth was drooping on the left side. Her speech was impaired, and she could hardly walk, but she said something that astounded me. She said, “I rebel over my circumstances with Joy.”

Psalm 95 reminds us of this joy that is internal, eternal, not temporary, not circumstantial.   It does not change as we journey on this roller coaster of life.

Let us see what David in Psalm 95 says about this.  In verses 1-7a, David will state several reasons why we should have this Joy. Verses 7b – 11 goes to the consequences of being controlled by circumstance.

Psalm 95:1-2

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

Joy, as a believer it is something we should have all the time regardless of our circumstance.  This psalm gives us a reason right in the beginning, that we have as our redeemer the rock of our salvation.  David, the writer of this psalm, may have been thinking of it as God, but we today know him as Jesus Christ.

Just knowing Christ and what he has done for us should bring us joy.

Every Sunday we are before him in worship with music and song.   When you sing reach down into that joy, let him hear our voices. Our singing should be loud. For we should be truly thankful.

Psalm 95:3-4

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

David now goes into more reasons we should have this Joy. The Covid 19 virus should not affect our Joy, for this joy is eternal and should not rely on circumstance

  • That God is above all the Gods there are. For us today, this Joy is broader and deeper than it was for the Israelites for Jesus is the King of Kings. Also, because of Christ we have direct access to God.   Upon Christ’s death we read in Mark 15:38

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

No longer did one have to have a priest intercede for them. That should bring us Joy.

  • That God is the creator of the universe. Everything is his. He made it for his glory, but also for us to see and use his creation.  Do you have Joy when you see God in nature?  Do you feel Joy when you see a sunrise, a sunset?

Psalm 95:6-7b

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the
Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

  • God takes care of his people. The Israelites then and believers now. Christ is our shepherd. Always watching out for us.  Go to that familiar Psalm 23 and read, and study how he does this.  In John 10:11, Jesus says this,

 

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Let us continue further in psalm 95.

Psalm 95:7b

Today, if only you would hear his voice,

A warning now begins. To hear his Voice.  Are you taking time to hear is voice? In prayer, scripture, reading studying and meditating.

Psalm 95:8-10


“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[
a]
as you did that day at Massah[
b] in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’

Hardening of our hearts occurs when we focus on our circumstance and forget about our joy in the Lord, who he is, what he has done, and what he continues to do.

This is what happened in Meribah

Exodus 17:2-3

The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?

The Israelites were not happy. They were focused on their current circumstance. They had forgotten their deliverance from Pharaoh. It is somewhat ironic that they had gotten away from the hardened heart of Pharaoh, and now their hearts were hardened. For forty years they complained.

Quarrelling, complaining – all you have to do is open your ears anywhere you go, and you can hear it.

Husband to wife, wife to husband, child to parent, parent to child, employee to employer, employer to employee, customer to service provider, humanity to God etc. etc.

For some of us, like myself, it is our inside voice that is complaining.

A couple of years ago the Lord convicted me to prayer about the situation rather then complain about it.  When I do it brings me peace.

Our complaining, be it external or internal, is often so loud and distracting we cannot hear his voice.

Psalm 95:11

11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

This was the consequence of the constant complaining and discontent. Only two entered that rest that David is speaking about. Caleb and Joshua who had faith, who believed in the promises of God.

In these times of crisis, when we want to complain, remember the Joy you have in the lord.

When fear grips you, remember the Joy.

So how do you do this? How do you get that joy, keep that joy, experience that joy, to the point that it can be your witness of Christ to the world?

Katherine Wolfe, the woman with the stroke that I mentioned in the beginning, when asked how she keeps that joy said. “I am Marinated with Jesus.”

This current circumstance should drive each of us to a deeper relationship to the author of that joy, the sustainer of the joy, Jesus Christ.  Become marinated with and in Jesus.

Sometimes we may have to reach down deep for that joy.

I leave you with this reminder of our joy.

I have the joy, joy, joy, joy,

Down in my heart, (where?)

Down in my heart, (where?)

Down in my heart,

I have the joy, joy, joy, joy,

Down in my heart, (where?)

Down in my heart to stay.

Sing it loud. Sing it often. Sing it when you are scared. Sing it, when fear starts to take over faith. Remember the Joy you have in the Lord.

Sermon given on 2/16/2020

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

On Divisions in the Corinthian Church

3 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.

Good morning. Pray with me.

Holy Father open the ears of the faithful, open the hearts of the hurting, let them hear your words that are given by this humble vessel this morning, to help make mature disciples that you continue to use to transform the world for your glory.

In the message today look for these 3 points

  • It is important to grow in Christ.
  • We are responsible for that growth.
  • God gets the credit for the growth.

When Moses went up to Mount Saini to talk to God and receive the two tablets of the ten commandments and much instruction from God, he came back and the people had made a Golden calf and were out of control.  The redeemed Israelites had a habit of murmuring. Murmuring for something to eat, besides mana, something to drink, something better to worship. 40 years of murmuring.

When I was in high school and my parents left for a weekend, my older brothers and sister would throw parties inviting what seemed like the whole high school.  Luckily for them my parents did not return early so the house was put back in order in time.  We did not murmur, but when the parents were away the kids decided to play.

In this third chapter of 1st Corinthians Paul has heard some bad things going on within the church.  They are not growing.  They are forgetting they are new creatures in Christ, for they are acting like babes just born. He felt they would have grown by now.

Paul writes

I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.

Still babes, not maturing, not growing. As a Christian we are to grow. We shouldn’t remain the same. Still some Christians are comfortable and refuse to grow, refuse to be sanctified.

This is what I hear, or suspect, maybe not audibly, but it is the subconscious murmuring of those who refuse to be sanctified. To do the work of a mature disciple.

This is not anyone, or any denomination specifically, but just a portion of the Christian church in general.

“I am saved and going to heaven, shouldn’t that be enough?”

“I’m a Christian on Sunday, but the rest of the week belongs to me, my work, my leisure time, my sleep.”

“I could sleep in on Sundays even, but I get up and go to church.  After all, 1/7th is more than the 10% of my income I’m giving to the church.

“10% of my income.  I should be okay, Right?  10% of my income that is.”

“What, you want 10% of my talents and my time as well?   You want more than that? Don’t be ridiculous, I don’t want to be a freak, a Jesus freak that is?

“Can’t I have Jesus and my old life?”

Frankly, no.

Going back to the sermon on the mount that we’ve been studying Christ said

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Trying to serve two masters. A spiritual no man’s land. Not maturing, not growing in Christ.

The mission of the East Ohio Methodist Church is stated right on your bulletin each week.

“Make and Mature Disciples of Jesus Christ

    for the Transformation of the World”

In order to make and mature disciples we have to be mature disciples ourselves and willing to do the work.

Mature is added by East Ohio, and I personally love that.

Maturity.

Science says female brains mature around 21, but male brains mature around 25.

Still some say it is not till the age of 30.  For the male possibly never.

Then again some say some remain in a constant state of childhood, it’s just that our toys have gotten bigger and more expensive.

The board game is replaced by the stock market.

The Tonka truck for a off road 4-wheel drive, let’s go mudding truck.

Little league and pee wee football are replaced by Fantasy baseball and football.

There are probably female versions of this also, but it seems they grow up a little faster.

That is why anyone who says a female cannot be president is completely wrong.

Today though Paul is talking about Maturing in the faith.

Paul continues

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.

Paul was with them for 18 months teaching probably many times a day. Now he hears that they have not matured.  They are still acting fleshly, worldly.  He fears he might have to go back the basics. Although born again, they have not grown.

Every year in Late August, often into October Teachers must do remedial work with students for the have forgotten what they have learned. Makes me think that we shouldn’t have those 2 plus months away from the classroom. Makes me wonder if that is one reason why we are 36th in the world as far as education goes.

I always encouraged students in my confirmation class to find something to study during the summer. Keep your mind active. Read something and apply what you have learned.

What were these Corinthians doing that gave Paul the impression that they had not matured?

Paul states

For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?

Jealousy, quarrelling, behaving fleshly, a deep dive back into the Corinthian’s human inclinations. Forgetting about their new birth.  Paul may have preached and taught them all about this new life in Christ, but they were not applying it.

Maturity in all disciplines means applying what you are taught, not just knowing it in the mind.

Applying the lessons of Christ does not happen instantly, or perfectly. Wax on, wax off, training yourself to be what God wants you to become. Hopefully also what you want to become. The image of Christ in character, heart, thought and deed.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

Professional baseball players are practicing in Florida and Arizona for two weeks even before they have a practice game. Then 5 weeks of preseason games and then the regular season.  Imagine how effective they would play if they started the season without practice and preseason games?

Maturity in the Christ follower takes practice in applying what you are taught. Yes, taught by this church, the pulpit on Sundays, the conversations you have with members of the body, but also your own study of God’s word, prayer and listening to the Holy Spirt that resides in you.

Wax on the spiritual Character of Christ, Wax off the old fleshly nature. Love over hate. Mercy over accusation, humbleness over pride, people over possessions, Treasures in heaven rather than here on earth. The gift of time and presence then just writing a check.

For the athlete, there is something called Muscle Memory

muscle memory

  1. the ability to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought, acquired as a result of frequent repetition of that movement.

Develop not muscle memory, but the memory of Christ and not only asking, “What would Jesus do? but actually doing it some much so that one does not even need to think about it.

That is a mature disciple of Christ.

Paul continues

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. 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

Here is the jealousy and quarreling. This reminds me of elementary boys saying my dad’s better than yours.   It does not matter who plants the seed of the Gospel, or who nourishes it after it is planted. God gives the growth. Paul an Apollos leave them. They were now responsible for their own growth.

Just like the Corinthians, after a while we are responsible for our own spiritual growth.  Teach ourselves, feed ourselves.  It is done with God and the Holy Spirit, but we have to take the initiative.  God does the sanctifying in many ways. Two primary ones are through the reading of the word and prayer.  We though, have to take the initiative and open the word of God and take time with him in prayer.  The athlete with the trainer moves on from the trainer but still gets up early every morning doing what the trainer taught him to do.

Paul continues

. 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.

God’s servants, working together in God’s field for his purpose, for the glory of God.  This is a church. What Paul sees for the Church of Corinth, but also what God intends for us today.

It does not matter who gets the credit.

There is a saying in business that I’ve heard that when the business succeeds it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.

Our common purpose to Make and Mature Disciples of Jesus Christ

    for the Transformation of the World”

 

It does not matter who gets the credit for this, but God should get the Glory.

Here were the three 3 points of today’s message.

  • it is important to grow in Christ.
  • We are responsible for that growth.
  • God gets the credit for the growth.

If this message has sparked something in you, and you always wanted to grow in Christ, but do not have any idea of how to do so, please mention it to me and we can get together and work on a plan together to do this.  Once our Florida members are back, I hope to start something to where we can get together and grow in Christ through Prayer and the reading of his word.

Please start a conversation with someone, me included, on how to do this, what you would like. What your heart is speaking to you about.  Over the next few months, I will be taking the initiative and talk to each of you about.

I end in prayer this morning.

Father help us grow in Christ, Mold us into mature disciples, remind us to give you all glory in the growth that will happen. In all of this, we seek your will and direction.

Amen

Sermon given 12/8/2019

Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV)

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”[a] This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This passage today is good news and bad news at the same time. Either you repent or you don’t, either you are the wheat, or you are the chaff.

After Chapter 2, that discusses the wisemen, the massacre of the infants, the flight into Egypt, and the return from Egypt, Matthew goes 30 years into the future where Zacharias boy John, is Baptizing.

The Messiah will soon arrive and start his ministry, but first his coming must be announced. Two weeks ago, we talked about Zechariah’s song where he gave glory to God for the coming Messiah and the birth Zechariah’s son, who would be called John.   Now part of that song comes to fruition as his son John, starts this amazing announcement prophesized by Isaiah.  John is the one calling out in the wilderness.

The Proclamation of John the Baptist

3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,

Since early on, John had been living in the wilderness.

Luke 1:80

80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

God has a habit of sending people into the wilderness.

Upon his own baptism God sends Christ into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Moses and Paul were both sent into the Wilderness.

From what I read in scripture and have experienced and seen others experience, I think God sends someone into the wilderness for two reasons. To prepare us for something God has for us to do and to make us rely on him.  Often sometimes both at the same time. God is always involved in both.  At the time you do not often see the reasons, and afterwards it still may not be clear, and you cry out, “God why did you put me through that?”

Looking at my journey I see three times of being sent into the wilderness. Some of which I know why I was sent there, some I do not, some I’m still unclear.  I don’t have time to go into the details and what God prepared me for and whether or not I learned to rely on him more.

Here are the three that I know at this time. My parent’s divorce when I was a senior in highs school. Losing my teaching job which I had gotten a degree for, and when Daisy went through a battle with cancer.

If you think over your life God may have sent you into the same type of wilderness. A wilderness of preparation and/or reliance. There is another type of wilderness we will discuss later in this message.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

John Wesley said this term “the kingdom of heaven,” “is not merely a future state of happiness in heaven, but a state to be enjoyed on earth”

Something though must be done in the way of preparation to our hearts to make the way straight for the lord to enter our hearts. That something is confession followed by repentance.

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Clothing of Camel’s hair, food of Locusts and Honey. Talk about relying on God. I’ve heard of the Daniel diet, Fruits and vegetables only, but I’ve never heard of the diet of John the Baptist.

Going out to him.  Was this a spectacle to go see, or were they seeking deliverance? And what did they need delivered from?

“Dad, I heard he’s moved down to the part of the Jordan, that is close to us, can we go see him?”  “Santa’s gone to be at the mall can we go see him?”  Who would you rather go see, who do you need to go see?

baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins

This is what God had prepared John for, to baptize those who heard his message. A baptism of Repentance. This, confession and repentance, is what must be done for us to as Wesley stated, “enjoy the kingdom on earth.”

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

I think the Pharisees and Sadducees were not coming to be baptized, they were coming to see this spectacle. This spectacle that had taken people away from the temple and synagogues.  They were then compelled somehow to get in line to be baptized.

John though realizes their motivations were not sincere and he rebukes them savagely.

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance.

Bear fruit worthy of repentance.  Therefore, we confess and repent to do the work of God for his glory. Growing this worthy Fruit adds meaning to this life, adds souls to eternity and brings glory to God.

 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

These Pharisees and Sadducees think they can be saved just by being ancestors of Abraham.  But John says being a child of Abraham means nothing, it does not qualify one to enter this kingdom in the afterlife or even in the earthly life.

We often do the same presuming of our worth, it’s what we have done, who we are externally, our wealth, our influence we have in those around us.  These though are worldly values and will not save us. It is only in our faith of what Christ has done for us.

10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

A new way of salvation, a new way of life, a new way of worship was about to arrive.  You either bear good fruit, or you do not.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

To be able to grow this fruit worthy of repentance you must have the Holy Spirit.

It is separation that John is talking about, good fruit, bad Fruit, wheat or chaff.

In Hebrews we have this.

Hebrews 4:12

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

We can use the word of God to determine whether we are wheat or chaff.

Earlier I talked about being sent into the wilderness by God, but we often send ourselves into the wilderness.  It is the wilderness of sin.

Sin draws us into the wilderness away from God.

We have given into some temptation or possible addiction such as power, lust, pity, popularity, influence, over eating, under eating, work, achievement, materialism, self-esteem, money, shopping, gossip etc. etc. etc.

They feel good, but they leave us empty and only wanting more of them and unfortunately less of God.

When we are in this wilderness, chained to our sin we cannot serve God as well as we should, we cannot hear God and his plan for us as much as we need to.

John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance. Christ and the apostles also had the same message.

The need, the call for repentance is significant in scripture.

Here are some verses on repentance.

Luke 5:32

I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Acts 2:38

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 24:47

and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Acts 11:18

When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

The first of the 95 theses’ that Martin Luther nailed to the church in Wittenberg said this

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.

I found a good biblical definition of repentance.

Repentance is turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners aren’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity.

Ask yourself, where am I? Am I in a wilderness? Maybe you are not, but if you feel you are ask yourself, “Am I in a wilderness that God has sent me into for preparation and to learn reliance on God? Or am I in a wilderness of my own doing that I need to confess and repent of?

Either way, once you are out of your wilderness God will have something for you to do.

For the wilderness that God sent them into,

Moses asked the pharaoh, “let my people Go,” Paul spread the Gospel to the gentiles.

Hebrews has this to say about the wilderness we send ourselves into.

Hebrews12:1

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,[a] and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

 

After hearing all this you may say, “not a very Joyful Christmas message Pastor.”

I beg to differ, for if you are in the wilderness that God sent you into, you should have hope, because God has something for you to do. This is a gift to you from God and by doing what God has prepared you for, it is a gift back to God.  In this wilderness you have the light of Christ and his purpose for you at the end of the tunnel.

Then there is the gift of peace the comes upon one when they have confessed and repented.  There is no longer this distance between you and God. Without that distance you now have fellowship with him. Then he will tell you what he has planned for you and that should give you hope.

If you are in one of these types of wilderness, God has something for you to do when you come out of the wilderness you are in.

Do you feel you

Or after repentance you now are able

The Potter and the Clay – sermon given 9/8/2019

Jeremiah 18:1-11

The Potter and the Clay

18 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. 11 Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

In elementary school, working with clay was my favorite activity in art class.  Starting with part of the raw earth that can be moldable. The right amount of water, the right amount of pressure, in the right areas.  Letting it dry, then painting it with shellac. Placing it in a kiln.  Then seeing the final product.

Most of the time I just made something ordinary, not special, but once I made a Ram.

I was proud of what I created.  It turned out exactly how I imagined when I began with the raw earth in my hands.

I did not have to rework the clay into something else, something ordinary as I had to many times before.

God had great plans for the nation of Israel, and he has a great plan for us as well.  Sin though compromises what he can make, but with repentance he can get back to that original plan.

In today’s passage, Israel has a choice, to continue in its destructive path, or repent. This can be used as a metaphor for the church today, and for us individually as well.  That choice is to repent, or not repent.

Without repentance destruction will follow.  This is a lesson in repentance God is offering Israel, but it is the same for the body of Christ, and us individually.

Jeremiah goes down to the Potter’s house and this is what he sees.

The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.

The potter is God, the nation of Israel is the clay in the potter’s hands.

The clay had spoiled, spoiled itself, God, the potter did not spoil it. Although spoiled, God can still use it. The potter decides what to rework it into. At this point it seems the clay, the nation of Israel has no say.  You reap what you sow, and Israel had been sowing false Gods and sinning with no repentance.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.

It is God’s power and will to do what he wants to with the nation of Israel. God wants to throw the clay out, for it is spoiled, he wants to break it down and destroy it.

Then there is this little three letter word that has incredible power here and throughout scripture. But

 but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.

If they turn from their ways of evil, he will not bring destruction. This is repentance for the nation of Israel.

Turn. Turning around, away from Sin and walking toward God.  Repentance is not only confessing your sin to God, but also agreeing with God that the sin you are committing is destructive in your life, and then making an about face, a 180 degree turn from it.

God does not bring destruction in our lives, our disobedience to God without repentance brings destruction.

And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10 but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.

God had intended good, but the people were not listening to his voice and doing evil.  This is how the clay has become spoiled.

Without repentance we sow our own destruction.

11 Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you.

This is hard to read, hard to stomach, that God would do this.

Planning evil.  Does God do this?  Sometimes he does this, so we repent and draw near to God. God causes the turn to him.  God through the Holy spirit living in us causes repentance.

If you think of the potter, he turns the wheel and adds pressure to the clay to get it shaped into a vessel, an object he can use.

The potter starts out having great plans for the clay. A beautiful object he can make and show off to the world.  A vessel set apart from the rest, because of its beauty.  But if the clay becomes spoiled, he will just make an ordinary vessel. Because of their sin the Israelites had become spoiled and thus not set apart, they had become as evil as the nations around them. They had gone after other Gods.

God though gives the Israelites this opportunity.

Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.

This is the second time he talks about turning. It is a second chance for Israel.

God is all about 2nd chances, for the world, for the body of Christ and for us individually.

That is what we should take away from it. Repentance done with a true heart can change God’s mind based on human action and response.

John Wesley notes on this passage in Jeremiah, views this as God acting as a “just judge, rendering to every man according to his works.”

God not only acts on the deeds of a nation, but on individuals as well.

God is all about the need for repentance and has been since the beginning of time.

Martin Luther opened the Reformation by nailing the “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The very first of the theses stated that “our Lord and Master Jesus Christ . . . willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

Repent, repented or repentance is found 97 times in scripture.

Here are some examples in the new testament.

First. we have John the Baptist

Matthew 3:2

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Matthew 3:8

Bear fruit worthy of repentance.

 

Now Christ continues this preaching on repentance.

Matthew 4:17

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 

Luke 5:32

I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

 

In Acts we have this from the mouth of Peter

Acts 2:38

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

And now some words from Paul

Acts 26:20

but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance

2 Corinthians 7:9

Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us.

Just as God was hoping the Israelites would realize the importance of repentance, hopefully the church and us individually can see and become convicted about the importance of repentance,

As one grows in their relationship with Jesus Christ, repentance is part of a continuing cycle of growth.  One will repent of sins today that they never thought they had to repent of in the past.   This means the Holy Spirit is convicting one of their sin, causing one to repent, drawing one to a closer more intimate spiritual relationship with God.

If we do not repent, have a boatload of unconfessed sin, we become spoiled clay and God can only do so much with us.  When that happens, we miss out on what God has planned for us.  He just makes an ordinary vessel of us.

His plan is better then any of us can imagine, but we have to be willing to let God mold us, change us, put his hand on us from the inside, by the conviction of the Holy spirit, and from the outside from our relationships and struggles in life, and also our mind and heart through prayer and the reading of the word.

This is your homework. Hopefully some of you are doing this already so you will not have to go through this exercise.

If you do not normally do so in your prayers, ask God to search your heart for sin you have not repented for.  Confess those sins and ask God to help you fully repent of those sins so he can now make you the person he intended to.

This ends today’s message.

Seperation anxiety – sermon given 8/18/2019

Luke 12:49-56

Jesus the Cause of Division

49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:

father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

What do you think of today’s reading?  Are any of you saying to yourself, where’s the loving God of the new testament? Or when you see the word peace we think, isn’t Jesus the prince of peace?

In this passage you could say Jesus means business, or Jesus is throwing down the gauntlet.

The heading in some bibles for this passage is Jesus the Cause of Division.

At the family dinner table, that Thanksgiving Day, when you have relatives of different faiths, or no faith at all, we too often have an understanding that we should not talk of faith, or politics.  It’s the same way in the work place for some of us. If we are talk about such things we could be called into the office and written up, separation of church and work.

If we do talk of either it is only where we find common ground that does not bring division.  We do this for the sake of peace.  We may be able to talk of God, but just bringing up the name of Jesus brings division.

Only time you here the name of Jesus.

Even if both parties believe in Jesus there can be drastic differences in what they believe about Jesus. Yes, he came to bring division.

We put off that conversation about Jesus and hope next year we will have the courage to bring his name up.  Hopefully we are though in prayer.  My experience and yours may or may not be the same, but for me the closer someone is to me the harder it is to talk about my faith.

This division is in fact a civil war. I think of two brothers, one fighting for the confederacy the other for the union. Then I imagine there is a third brother who refuses to fight at all.

49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Fire in this sense means judgement.  The phrase, I wish it were already kindled!, means he wants immediate judgment.  He sees the evil in the world, the hypocrisy, the pride, the self- centeredness of society and wants it to end.  He holds back though because his mission is not completed but it soon will be and then judgment will come.

John the Baptist said this in

Matthew 3:10

10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

This fruit is the fruit of repentance that leads to eternal life.  We need to ask ourselves am I bearing the fruit of repentance?

Later in Matthew, Jesus echoes what John is saying,

Matthew 7:19

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

 

 

50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!

Fire is judgement, the baptism mentioned here is the suffering that Christ will soon endure.  The stress of what will soon happen to him is already within his flesh.  He knows what will come, the whipping, the beating, the betrayal of Judas, the denying of Peter, the crucifixion.   Far worse though is the stress of the spirit, knowing that the Father would turn away from the him as all the sin that will ever be is brought on him.

51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!

If one knows Christ, they have an internal peace, an internal assurance of where they are going and who died for them.

This peace Christ mentions here is an external peace that is not possible if you are living right and believing in the words that Christ mentions in

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

There are those in our circles who believe there are many roads to the father, many ways to heaven, but Christ states here there is only one road.  This itself should create division. Some will say all faiths are the same, or I’ll get there if I’m a good person.  Christ says through me, not Buda, not Mohamad, not even Abraham and the profits. This if truly believed spoken about and proclaimed brings division.

Here is the division.

52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:

father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Is your house divided, or is peace kept for the sake of the family?  Is peace more important than the eternal resting place of those around you?  Those you would like to spend eternity with, those you would rather not see go to hell?

If you are living like that is the case, that peace is more important, then you are living for the earthly kingdom and not the Kingdom of heaven.

We say, “I don’t want to offend them.” I don’t want division in the family we’ve had enough division because of the divorce, the addiction, the abuse, the abandonment, the accident, the theft of an inheritance misplaced. These are all sins and there is only one cure.

We must realize that Christ is right there ready to heal these things, they will not heal themselves. Yes, we may put a bandage on them, even the tourniquet of passive aggressive in some cases.   We go for the worldly cures first, therapy, a new routine, space and time to heal without going to the eternal cure of Christ in our lives and the lives of others.

The great Physician, the wonderful counselor, the prince of peace needs to enter in.

This cure brings division, it is more radical to relationships then intense chemo and radiation is to the human body. This is spiritual warfare and there will be casualties to relationships, even close relationships.

This is very personal for me.  I wrestle with it continually. After many years there is a sense of peace in my family, but Christ is rarely present.

I don’t want to lose that sense of peace, but I do not want those I love to be separated from God for all eternity.

I pray for courage. Then an occasion passes, and I play what I call Monday morning evangelism.  What should I have done different, what should I have said? When should I have brought up the name of Christ in the midst of what are really trivial conversations about weather, sports teams, jobs, parenting, this movie and that movie?

SERMON GIVEN 7/7/2019

CHARACTER REVEALED

2 Kings 5:1-16 New International Version (NIV)
Naaman Healed of Leprosy
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.[a]
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

Today’s Scripture gives us an interesting story with many individuals in whose character is revealed and sometimes changed.
What is our character when difficulties arrive? It may be disease, as in this case with Naaman, but it could be other circumstances in life, where shadows darken our lives, where we wonder where and whom to turn. When life changing circumstances occur, it is not only our character that is revealed but also the character of those around us.
First, we see Naaman, a successful military commander for Syria who has Leprosy
We have the king, Ben Hadad of Aram. Aram is synonymous with Syria.
We have a little girl of wisdom kidnapped from her home and held in captivity.
We have the King of Israel who feels he is being baited into war. Taken advantage of.
We then have Elisha, a prophet of God who followed in the steps of Elijah who we discussed two weeks ago.
The character of these individuals surfaces through the events in this story.
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
Naaman this great revered military leader, a man of high social standing, of great wealth, honorable in the eyes if his master, because the lord had given him victory has leprosy.
How can he be leader with this disease he could not hide? How would his men respect him enough to go into to battle with him? Would there be any more victories for the king? The Lord had worked through Naaman for these victories. Was the Lord also giving him Leprosy?
FDR, the first president with a significant physical disability. Polio
FDR was diagnosed with infantile paralysis, better known as polio, in 1921, at the age of 39. Although dealing with this crippling disease was difficult, many believe that his personal struggles helped shape FDR, both as a man and as a president.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
This little girl knows of a prophet who can cure.
A lot of contrast between this girl and Naaman.
She has no power, Naaman has great power.
She is held in captivity, Naaman is free.
Most importantly she knows the God of the universe and Naaman does not. This girl’s character is one of faith and a positive attitude so much that she offers a possible cure for the one holding her in captivity.
What happens next is telling.
Naaman’s leprosy is first met with pride, not by Naaman but The King, Ben Hadad
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
Sounds like the king is suing for peace by sending silver and Gold. Or is he thinking he can purchase Naaman a cure?
I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

That the king may cure him, no mention of a prophet. The characteristic of pride is revealed for he has the belief that only those in high position, like himself, can help and they can be influenced by a gift of Silver and Gold. He has no idea of the super Natural power of God, or who can get you in touch with such power.
Now we have the reaction of the king Of Israel upon reading this letter.
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
The king of Israel thinks this is a joke, a provocation to war. He tears his clothes. He knows he has no such power to cure. Ben Hadad could have sent 10 times the silver and gold. but he still could not cure him.
“Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? This king realizes this that only God can cure him. The king of Israel realizes he is not King of the universe.
Now Elisha, a man of God steps into the scene.
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
To know there is a Prophet.
Eventually to know there is a God who is higher then the Kings of the earth, who has the power to cure, who is the same God who gave Naaman the ability to be a great warrior.
9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
Notice Naaman does not go in. He has Leprosy thought to be contagious he really was not wanted anywhere.
Naaman rejects this cure, maybe because it seems foolish.
NETTIE POT
Naaman was blessed to have servants who cared about their master’s well-being.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”
Just wash yourself seven times in the Jordan. What is the big deal?
Now have these concluding verses.
14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
Cured, made well. But more important it is made known to Naaman that there is a God who can do this. Not a King, not something you can buy with great wealth.
Naaman is humbled by this experience.
Elisha expects nothing in return. God and God’s people sent by God expect nothing in return from those who have been blessed.
How did Naaman live his life after this blessing? Did he go back and tell the King of Israel, the King of Aram, Ben Hadad, Naaman’s wife, or the little girl who mentioned the prophet? Scripture gives no indication of what happened to Naaman after this. The story does continue and there are more lessons to learn. I encourage you to read it. Continue in 2 Kings.
What does it teach us today?
1) Never be too prideful to ask for help.

2) Never be too amazed of where wisdom comes from. For Naaman it came from the girl and Elisha.

3) God has people in your life who care for you more then you think as in this little girl and Naaman Servants.

4) Realize that God works through everyone for your benefit and his glory.

5) We need to turn to God in prayer, but just like Naaman and the two kings this is not done.
Let me put forth this warning, do more than pray.
Some today pray and wait for God’s healing. You’ve probably heard of some of them in the news. They think strong faith will win the day and that miraculous healing will occur. That is entirely possible, but also can be foolish and life threatening.

They have forgotten the reality that God puts people in our path gifted in medicine, healing, diagnosis and prognosis. Some of these in the medical profession may not be of our faith, but God has gifted them. I would rather have a top-notch Oncologist, Cardiologist, or whatever type of critical medicine I might need then a born again Christian with little experience who finished in the bottom half of his class.
6) Thank God for those who were there for you.

7) Once we come through the valley we should tell others of how God and God’s people were there for us.
Most of all in this story the character of God is revealed. That he is there for us. That he sends people, often unexpected people, to help us. That he can’t be bought like the Kings of the earth. That he expects nothing in returned but gratitude.

SERMON ON PENTECOST GIVEN 6/09/2019
Today’s Scripture on Pentecost in acts 2, is divided into two sections.
Verses 1-13 is the Coming of the Holy Spirit. Verses 14- 21 is Peter’s explanation of what has just happened.
This imparting of the Holy Spirit was something they were waiting for. We have this in acts right before the ascension of Christ.
Acts 1:4-8
4 While staying[a] with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now. ”6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Waiting in Jerusalem for this helper, this advocate, this spirit, this power. Waiting for this Baptism of the Holy Spirt. Power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. Have you experienced this power?
Acts 2:1-21

The Coming of the Holy Spirit
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
Pentecost is the 2nd of three feast days on the Jewish Calendar that they were commanded to celebrate. Passover 50 days earlier is the first feast. Now it is Pentecost and then 4 months later will be the festival of booths. The details of these feasts can be found in Leviticus Chapter 23. Take some time this week to investigate this yourself. Studying the Jewish Faith, seen in the Old testament, is essential for an understanding of the background of the faith Jesus and the apostles were raised in.
It is said of History we should study the past to know where we have come from, where we are now, and where we are going. It is the same for the history of our faith. Pentecost is also called feast of the Harvest because it is the time the first fruits of the harvest were gathered. It is also associated with the giving of the Law which occurred 50 days after the crossing of the red sea. For us today Pentecost means the giving of the Holy Spirit
2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Suddenly. I remember a couple sudden weather events in my life.
Tornado, Paper boy
Can you imagine this suddenness that they experienced at Pentecost happening here in this room? It is today, and we are waiting in this room, for something the Lord has promised. We are having a prayer meeting and the windows are open because the air conditioning is broken. They are open simply to create a cross wind that will hopefully cool this place. But suddenly something else comes. It is not a cold, or a warm front, nobody not even Dick Goddard saw it on the radar, but a wind blows through. A wind so strong you can hear it. A howling wind, papers and blown away, our hairs is messed up, the coffee cups and any papers are blow up and around.
If that wasn’t enough, to stun us more, and get us excited to tell of this event this happens. Suddenly appearing on above our heads are tongues of fire.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
Now with howling wind and tongues of fire, the holy spirt enters us and we speak in languages we do not know. It is instant Rosetta stone, we though, have no idea what we are saying, but those who have gathered outside for the new Springfield international day do, because we are speaking in their language. In this instance, this gift of tongues was given for the spreading of the gospel, so others could hear it in their own language.
speaking about God’s deeds of power.” What did these people on the outside hear? What are these deeds of power? The power to raise Christ from the dead? The power to change lives? The power to free one from their sins? The power for the blind to receive sight, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. What is this power?
The educated Jews had heard of the power of God in the parting of the red sea and the walls falling at Jericho, but this was different, this was new.
It is the power of the new covenant of grace. Do you realize the power grace and forgiveness has in our lives? It is the power not to be chained to our failures, not to be dragged down by them and not to be identified with. We all have received that power of grace in our lives from God, and from others. That same power gives us the ability to impart this grace to the others we meet. When they say, “you didn’t have to do that,” or “why did you do that.” Tell them it is not you it is because it has been done for you by the power of the Holy Spirit that was imparted it to you by your belief in Jesus Christ.
12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
It is not new wine. It is not any spirit of alcohol, it is the Holy spirit.
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.
Peter was never timid with Christ by his side. He was though often incorrect or not thinking before speaking. Some might say he had a form of hoof in mouth disease. Open mouth – insert foot. Now though he has the power of the Holy spirit in him and he spoke boldly and confidently.
Peter states a prophecy from the prophet Joel. Peter gives us a large portion of Joel’s prophecy, but like most prophecies it is fulfilled at different times in different ways.
The first portion
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
This is indeed what is happening, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is given to all, God does not discriminate whom he gives it to, like we as humans might want to discriminate. Here, the spirit is poured out on the old and the young, men and woman, the slave and the free man and all people no matter what language they speak.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
This is the not yet part of Joel’s prophecy. Peter though may have thought is was right then. Many of the apostles thought we were living in the last days. That Christ would come back soon. Soon in regards of the timing of man,
Remember this in Acts from the ascension that we discussed last week.
. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Many thought this return to happen in their lifetime.
But God’s timing of different.
Psalm 90:4
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
This part of Joel’s prophecy is for the end of days upon Christ’s return. Make no mistake though that it is only Great and glorious for those who are born again.
It is quite possible, God’s spirit in the apostles gave them a thought that Christ return could come at anytime and thus a spirit of urgency was in them. In a way I wish we had that spirit of urgency in us, but we, I mean myself in this, procrastinate the spreading of the gospel.
To spread the Gospel, we need to be tapped into that power of the Holy Spirit that was given first to the church at its birth during Pentecost and then to us individually when we were born again.
Power.
In the new revised standard bible, the word power occurs 153 times in the new testament. Many times. it is in regard to the power of the Holy spirit.
Here are some other verses that talk of Power.
1 Corinthians 4:20
For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power.
Matthew 22:29
Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.
Luke 9:1
[ The Mission of the Twelve ] Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,
John 1:12
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,
Acts 8:19
saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 1:4
and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
Ephesians 1:19
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,
Pentecost is about the Birth of the church. Today, it should be about not just maintaining the church, but growing it. Invite someone to church. Invite someone to that life changing relationship with Christ. Use that power that God gave you with the imparting of the Holy Spirit. Do not rely on yourself. Tap into that power. The Power of the Holy Spirit is given in love, a love drives out all fear. There is no reason to be timid anymore, for we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. I encourage you to proclaim the Gospel, invite those around you who need to hear the message of God’s love for them, who need the power of the Holy Spirit to change their lives and in the process change eternity.

Complete Easter Sermon given 4/21/2019

John 20:1-18 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Resurrection of Jesus

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her

Last week we went through some events in Holy week and the last scripture within that holy week we discussed was Jesus on the cross being accused of not being able to save himself.  At 3 o’clock on Friday Jesus blew his last breath and died.

What happens between that time and the glorious resurrection that we celebrate today?

First, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus ask Pilate for the Body.  Joseph is a member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was a pharisee. who in John 3 came a visited Jesus under the cover of night.  Both men were of the ruling council. They may have been the only dissenting voices in the council that tried Jesus. This was a risk.  Mark says they went to Pilate boldly. It was indeed a bold act.

Time is of the essence in the Jewish faith. Once the sun goes down no work can be done, for then the sabbath will start. They had about 4 hours to go to Pilate and ask for the body, prepare the body for burial and place the body in the tomb.  In Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus is simply wrapped in a clean linen.   The gospel of John adds the burial spices are added.  They may have brought the spices and realizing they did not have time just wrapped him in clean linen, or started and could not finish, and just finished wrapping him.  The gospels do not say.  No matter, time is of the essence, so they find a tomb and lay him in it.

Matthew states it was Joseph of Arimathea’s own tomb.    John mentions that the tomb was nearby which makes sense for they wouldn’t have time to take him that far. It is also so mentioned that this is a new tomb where no one had been laid.  Jesus started the week by riding on a donkey that he had never been ridden on now he is laid in a tomb that had where no one was previously placed.

Pg. – 202 Michael Card’s John – A body is wrapped and placed in a tomb. A year later the bones are washed and put in an ossuary.

Thus, a year the tomb could be reused.

One must wonder if the tomb was reused. Or if Joseph of Arimathea was placed there upon his dearth

One must wonder if Joseph is the first to realize that Christ took his place on the cross since he took his place in his own tomb.

There are also were woman there watching.

Mary Magdalene, a woman who was delivered by Christ of seven demons. Then scripture mentions the other Mary who was the mother of James the less, one of the apostles.  Also, possibly Salome, the mother of James and John was there.

It is interesting that the Woman were there because it is the day of preparation which means preparing for the sabbath.  On the sabbath no work could be done. All the food preparation, cleaning or anything else that was needed for the sabbath had to be done before the sun went down on Friday. It’s quite possible they realized that something momentous had occurred and the sabbath had lost all importance to them.  A super natural woman’s intuition.  They did not have any clue to the resurrection that would occur, for in Luke it says after seeing this the women went and prepared spices and ointments.  At that point they were already planning to return to wrap prepare the body on Sunday morning.  They had no idea what would happen upon their return.

One might ask where were the apostles?   Scared, fearful of arrest and like punishment. Hidden away secretly somewhere.  John was there during the crucifixion, but scripture makes no mention of him at the burial.  In John 19:27 we read this.

John 19:27

27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Not much is said of what happens after the burial.

Luke merely mentions –

“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56, ESV)

Scripture does not say where they went, but it is still may have been Passover week and the sabbath had started so they were more than likely still in Jerusalem.  It had to be close enough for the woman to carry up to 100 lbs. of ointments and spices and for some running to occur the next morning.

Knowing the Jewish tradition, I’m going to surmise they were also sitting Shiva. Shiva means 7 in this case, it means mourning for 7 days. parents, spouses, children, and/or siblings of the deceased sit for seven days as they are visited by Friends and Family. There are examples of sitting Shiva in the old testament by Job and in Genesis where Joseph mourns his father Jacob.

This still happens today, but usually for about 4 days instead of 7.  At the end of a Jewish funeral it is announced when and where the Shiva will take place. It might be described as a Jewish wake, but it is more then that.

It is a time of remembrance which makes me wonder of they had communion in remembrance of Christ.  Twice a day a Rabbi gives a prayer.

Where was this Shiva?  In most cases a Shiva occurs at the home of the closest relative of the deceased. That would be Mary, but that would not be possible since her home was still in Nazareth.

The house where the upper room is a possibility. That was John Mark’s Father’s residence.   John Mark is the one who wrote the gospel of Mark.   He is not one of the 12, but he was a disciple and was in the Garden when Jesus was arrested. Other than that, we have no idea. Probably a secret location.  Secret because of the fear of what would happen to them.

Where ever they were there were going through a tumult of emotion.

Fear – that what happened to Jesus, would happen to them.

Grief – for the friend who they had spent 3 years with had passed.

Guilt – primarily from Peter but also the rest for their abandonment.

Doubt- the dream was over. Was he really the Messiah, or should they search for the real one yet to come?

Then Sunday morning arrives, and everything changes.

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

The sabbath concluded when the sun went down on Saturday.  The Shiva though continues. It is now Sunday morning and Mary Magdalene visits the tomb. The stone is removed from the tomb. Luke says it was Rolled away. No one is expecting a resurrection. Now the running of this day would begin.  She runs to Peter and John and says.

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Since she uses the plural we, there must have been other women with her.  Possibly again those who saw him placed in the tomb, Mary, the other of James the less and Salome the mother of James and John. It is early in the morning and they were not part of the general family and could leave the Shiva, Mary the mother of Jesus could not for the Shiva would continue. These women did not yet know the whole story, but they are the first evangelists.

It is not merely a grave side visit, they have come to anoint the body. They have no idea that he has been resurrected. They think that someone has move the body.

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

More running. Wouldn’t you run?  John was younger and thus out ran Peter, but he did not go in, possibly because it would make him unclean. Peter the anxious goes in and sees the linens lying there but no body.

Peter probably says, “John you’ve got to see this.” So John enters.  John saw and believed. If the Body had been removed they would have taken the body still wrapped in linen.  The linen is still there.

This is John’s Gospel so when it says he saw and believed, it is not heresy it is John himself.  Do you remember when you first believed in the Risen Christ?

What scripture is John referring to here when he says they did not understand the scripture?

One possibility is psalm Psalm 16:10

10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful[a] one see decay.

You may say, Jesus mentioned he was going to be raised again after three days, like when he said he would build the temple, referring to his body in three days. But John says scripture, and this was not yet scripture.   If he was referring to what Jesus said he would say recalled or remembered when.

Verse 10 says they went home?  It is said better in other translations that they went back to where they were staying.

What? I couldn’t go home, or where I was staying.   I would sit there scratching my head in wonder. By the leaving they missed a great opportunity.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary sticks around and does not leave. John and Peter miss is the Risen Christ.

John and Peter saw the linen, Mary sees two angels.  Both angels and Christ ask her why is she crying? But only Christ turns those tears of mourning to tears of joy.

Often when we cry tears of grieve for someone who has passed who is a believer we should intermix those tears of grief with the tears of joy.

Christ says it is not only his Father and His God it is also Mary’s father and Mary’s God.  She is a sister of Christ.  Christ says Go to my Brothers.  This is a true communion that is God’s Family. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ if we believe. We all have the same Father, God.

18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her

I think since Peter and John had gone ahead and told those who were sitting Shiva when Mary came and announced she had seen the risen Christ it became more believable.

The Shiva is now over, it had been interrupted by the glorious resurrection.

They had gone from fear to nothing can stop us not even death.

Their grief had turned to Joy.

Their guilt to an understanding that it had to happen this way.

Their doubt to what the questions of what happens now?

What about you? this morning where are your emotions. If you have belief in the Risen Christ, you shall also be resurrected. You may have periods of fear but the resurrection and that one day you will be resurrected should lessen them.  It gives one a vison beyond the current circumstance.

You may still grieve for those who have passed but realize that they are in Heaven with their Father, your Father and the Father of Christ. They are with their God, Your God and the God of Christ.

There should be no Guilt for have been forgiven and reconciled to God because Christ paid it all on the cross.

Doubt. We will deal with that more next week but look at those around us who live with Christ, who have been able to g through the darkest valley because of this relationship with Christ.  You should not doubt but strengthen your faith, because you have heard the story of resurrected lives.

If you are here this morning and do not have this relationship. Christ offers it to you. He is waiting for his death on the cross to mean something to you and his resurrected to point to a resurrected life.

Christ wants to interrupt the Shiva that you have been sitting in.  He wants to interrupt and resurrect the mourning over your life which has not turned out like you expected it.  He wants to interrupt the fear of punishment now and eternally of your actions and words with a resurrected life that begins with confession that leads to repentance.

Christs wants to turn the doubt into love and acceptance. The doubt you may have saying he does not want me, or he cannot use me. This morning crucify that doubt for he is waiting to resurrect your life to a belief that God loves you wants you and has a plan for you.

SUMMARY  3/10/2019 -Joel 2:1-2, 12 -17 – Begin the Journey with Repentance

Please follow along with the scripture verses that are in bold.

During lent we prepare ourselves for Holy week, psalm Sunday when Christ enters Jerusalem, through his eventual resurrection a week later

We slow our pace, so we can refocus our lives on God. It is 40 days where we become more acutely aware of our own wilderness that we are in, sometimes by our own doing, sometimes by others doing, sometimes by circumstance, sometimes just by the existence of sin in the world.  This season starts with a call to repentance.

Joel was a minor prophet and from the context of this book there are clues that he is a Judean from the Jerusalem area.  The devastation that locust cause in the bible is used as a judgement of sin by God.

Joel 2:1-2 This is a warning to the complacent un repentant people of Israel. God is coming but not in the way that is comfortable.  This is an army of locusts coming.

Sometimes we are so deep in sin that the darkness of such blocks out the light of Christ.  No matter how deep in that valley of sin we at times find ourselves or may be in this moment remember what John said.

John 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

We are never lost completely for the light of Christ is the most powerful force in the universe.

Joel 2:12-13 The condition of repentance mentioned is fasting, weeping mourning, rendering our hearts not are clothes. To search our hearts before God, better yet give permission to god to search them and then have him wring out the sin that darkens our relationship.

Return to God. Turn away from sin and walk toward him.  We must do this with all our heart.  We must go beyond confession to repentance there is a difference.  Repentance means agreeing with God that it is sin and then turning around and walking away from sin in the hope that you will not return to it.

This is the beginning of a true Lenten Journey.  A journey to the cross.  A journey to resurrection of our relationship with God.

These are the reasons we should repent for God is there ready.  Thankfully he is slow to anger abounds in steadfast love and relents from punishing.

Joel 2:14 We do not know the sovereign will of God, but if our hearts are sincere he can leave a blessing behind.  This is genuine offering, but it requires true repentance more than a grain or drink offering.

Joel 2:15 -16 This is asking for all of Israel to repent. The entire assembly of God.  The bride and bridegroom are also called to repentance.  They cannot have the joy of the wedding or the wedding night until repentance has occurred. Likewise, he is asking each of us to repent of all sin. Again, we may have to have God search and rend our hearts.

Joel 2:17 This is a call for Priests and ministers at the time to intercede for the people. If Israel is supposed to have a God and does not heed his direction, the commandments, the spirit of the law, they will be mocked, and others will say where is their God?

As followers of Christ we are to look different then the world around us.  Sometimes though we are distracted, and our focus is on today, ourselves rather than tomorrow, God and our neighbor.

Summary 3/03/2019 Luke 9:28-36 – Proof -Transfiguration Sunday

Please read the scripture passage and let God’s word and the Holy Spirit be your guide as you read the summary below.

Luke 9:20-25 The disciples have been told by Christ that he is the Messiah, that he would suffer, be killed, be raised again and that if you want to follow him you must take up your cross and lose your life, but in doing so you will save your life.

It is now eight days later, and Christ gives Peter, John and James a proof.

How have you answered the question of who Jesus is?  Have you come to the realization that he suffered, died and was resurrected for you? so you could have life abundantly here and then go live with him for eternity?  Have you carried your cross? Have you lost your life, so you could save it? Your ambitions, your fleshly desires, your possessions to be unburdened to follow Christ more closely?

Do you need more proof to give your answers?

Luke 9:28 In the transfiguration, Christ gives these Jewish men, Peter, James and John more proof of who he is.

Moses and Elijah appear to Peter, John and James. Moses and Elijah, two figures who would be on the Mt. Rushmore of the Jewish faith.  This provides them even more proof than the teaching, healing and casting out demons that they have already seen.

Christ, Elijah and Mosses talking of the trial, crucifixion, entrance after 30 years back into heaven and then his resurrection.  Luke 9:29

Imagine the emotions – excitement that it will be finished and that this Son of God would soon be home having a feast with Mosses, Elijah, Joshua, the prophets, Isiah, Jeremiah, Daniel just to name a few. Can you imagine those who have gone before you, Saints of the Faith be they family or friends anticipating your arrival in heaven?

What is the response of Peter, James and John upon seeing this, hearing this conversation between their current teacher and two revered saints of their faith?

Luke 9:32-33

I don’t think Peter knew what to do.  I think he just wants this amazing experience to last, to hear more of this conversation. We are so amazed we must rest in the moment and simply want it to last. Sometime when we experience God and have another equation of life answered with proof of his existence we do not know what to do and want it to last.

Luke 9:34-36

God is singling out his Son, giving Peter, John and James proof that this teacher of theirs, this rabbi who questions the pharisees, heals lepers and cast out demons is above Mosses and Elijah.

In those days they told no one and kept silent.  But in future days after the resurrection they would tell.  They would tell Luke the writer of this Gospel.  They would tell the whole world and the world would be transformed.

Today is a new day and we are not to be keep silent.  Go tell. Go tell them your story where you experience God, Christ, the Holy Spirit. Where have you seen proof of his existence, his glory, his sacrifice in your life. Was it through answered prayer? Reading and understanding scripture, a miracle that can only be explained by the existence of God?   Tell of why you believe, where Christ was transfigured to you and became real, more than a person mentioned in an ancient book and how that experience has transformed your life.

It is the story of our lives. Not just the story of our life here on earth, but of our eternal story from the time he thought of each of us and what we would do for him before the world was created on to the never-ending horizon of forever.

Summary from 2/24/2019  Luke 6:27-38 A Higher Love

In this passage, the 2nd portion of the Sermon on the Plain, Christ calls us to a higher love by loving our enemies, do good, to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  Enemies as a nation and enemies as an individual.  The world tells us to return in like manner as we were treated, to retaliate in full. To seek revenge. To do it to your brother before he doe sit to you.

God has given us love, grace and mercy are we not to do the same to those who hurt, neglect, abuse and take advantage of us?    A higher love.

In this higher lover that Christ calls us to, our rewards are not here, so do not expect them, do not even go looking for them. Take the long eternal view. Stretch the eyes of your heart to heaven.  Do not wear the temporal glasses of the world. Wear the eternal glasses of God and the spirit.

The last portion of scripture tell us we are not to judge for only God can fully and rightly judge. There are times when we must judge, like a judge, a parent, a teacher or an employer.

In all relationships that have judgement we are not to not judge hypocritically. That is what Christ us referring to in this passage. The passage is also saying that if we are to judge, be willing to forgive rather than condemn.

Christ teaches us that people and relationships are far more important than our comfort and our possessions.  We show that by giving, forgiving not hoarding or condemning.  This higher love that Christ calls us to cannot be done without being in relationship with the trinity through prayer and the reading of the word.

Sermon summary from 2/17/2019 LUKE 6:17 -26 The Sermon on the plain Pt. 1

After a night of prayer on the mountainside, Christ comes down from the mountain side.  The crowds have come to him to be healed, to have demons cast out and to hear his words.  It is his words that he offers to the crowd, but they are words directed to his twelve disciples.  It is the first time he is addressing the twelve as a group. What do you say to set a base line of proper attitude, belief and even mission?

Christ teaches them that the values of the kingdom of God are upside down when compared to the values of the world.  Christ goes through 4 blessings and 4 woes. One is blessed if they are poor, hungry, weeping and mourning and when people hate you.  One is in a woeful state if they are rich, full, laughing and well spoken of.  This gives us pause when we use the phrase, “woe is me,” when we are poor, hungry or in mourning.   Or when we say, “I am blessed,” when we are well off, or after a good meal. Christ definitions are heavenward and eternal, the worlds definitions are now and temporal.

So where are you on this continuum of blessing and woe?  Who definitions to you live by?   The answers to these three questions may reveal where you are.

Do I realize that I am spiritually poor and in need of a relationship with God more then I need money in the bank, a nice home, a yearly luxurious vacation? 

Do I strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness before fleshly desires?

Do I take time to honor and thank God when I’m weeping because of loss of something, be it a loved one, a job, an ability?

One more question with an answer this time. How am I supposed to act toward others in need; Those who are poor, those who weep, those who are hungry and those who mourn?  We should be Jesus and point them to Jesus.

Sermon summary from 2/10/2019  –  Luke 5:1-11

Jesus catches three fishermen by using a miracle that confirms his divinity. The hook, a miraculous catch, is now set into the jaw of the opened mouthed fishermen. Peter recognizes his unworthiness next to the worthiness of Christ which makes him the ideal disciple since he is now mold-able in the hands of his creator, his Messiah, his God. The lives of Peter, James and John will never be the same.

Where in our lives has God shown the miracle of His love and grace?  Where in our lives are we so amazed that it eclipses our routine into action for the Kingdom of God?  In this scripture Christ reminds us, “do not be afraid.”  In the great commission He tell us, “I will always be with you.”

Spend some alone time with God in his word and in prayer. Get caught in the net of Christ’s grace, love, forgiveness. Do not fight it.  Let Him pull you up from the depths  so that you can experience the comfort of His light.  Once there become a fisher of people.