Luke 16:19-31 Faith vs Death

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– 28 for I have five brothers–that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” [NRSA]

Avoiding punishment vs praising God’s grace

Jesus has been talking about riches and faithfulness

Our being faithful to God with those things that God has entrusted to us

The little things

How can we expect God to entrust us with bigger things

God encourages us to make use of the world’s money for the things of the kingdom.

The Story of a Rich Man and Lazarus

Two persons, the rich man,

apparel of the king,

feasted,

sumptuously

The root of gluttony or grommet’

Radiate, shine, he faired radiantly,

Flamboyantly

Displaying wealth, posh, liberachi, flashy display, luxury

Second person, Lazarus,

lay at the gate,

open liaisons,

runny sores,

sought the crumbs of the rich man’s table.

Bread used as a napkin, the crumb used to wipe off the hands at the end of the meal.

The dogs came and licked his sore

Painting a picture, greatly contrasted

Extravagant in sinful luxury , and the other just as low as you can get, no greater contrast.

Thing common to both, they both died

Common to us all, rich or poor, wise or simple, all people will die

We might be separated by miles in life, we all face death.

The poor man was carried by the angels to Abrahams’ bosom. The poor were not buried, bodies just tossed in the valley of gahena, the city dump, burned the trash, constant fire in the valley. The bodies of the poor were cremated with the trash.

The poor man died, carried to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man was buried, with all celebration,

QUEEN

The word sheol, grave, hell, prior to Jesus, everyone went into abode of the dead, sheol. Prior to the death of Jesus, hades was divided into two areas/compartments. Lazarus carried to Abraham, the Rich man in torment, far off.

PERSPECTIVE OF SEPERATION

Contrast in their afterlife experience.

Tormented in the flame

Have mercy on me and send Lazarus, for I am tormented in this flame

Son, remember

  • The rich man, lifted up his eyes and saw
  • He cried, he had speech
  • He could see and recognize Lazarus
  • He had sensation of heat and torment
  • Desired that his tongue be touched with Water
  • He had capacity to remember his life
  • He could remember his brothers

Usually associate with our bodies,

His body was in a tomb, but he could still see, speak, understand, feel, …

The real me is Spirit.

Our bodies are the medium for this world.

Each man had a new form and spoke of his eyes, tongue, memory, feeling

A lot we don’t know about life and afterlife, God has not chosen to spell them out for us, but we do know that when our bodies are placed in the grave it is not over with God.

The end of pain, suffering are over, but a new form, a new body

For the rich man, it was the beginning of sorrows, wows, and pain

This is a story, not a parable, HMMMM?

Unusual that character is named…

There was a certain rich man and a beggar named Lazarus

Hades, divided into two regions, a gulf, a chasm, no changing of a person’s condition or position

When the rich man ask for Lazarus to come and comfort

Abraham, remember in your life…

MAKE USE OF THE UNRIGHTEOUSNESS OF MONEY TO WITNESS AND WORK THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM.

The rich man didn’t lay up treasure in heaven with his moneys

The gulf is fixed.

Not a second chance after death?

Many people speak about AFTER DEATH, theories. What’s going to happen, reincarnation, changes that will take place, in the book of Job, some discussion of the life beyond the grave. Job expresses the desire for death that is oblivion and nothingness, God chids Job for talking about that which he knew nothing.

Where were you when creation occurred?

Job didn’t know what he was talking about

Any true authority of the future, that Jesus would be that authority, no gall or stupidity to challenge Jesus.

We may not understand all, but I wouldn’t challenge it.

I think we ought trust Jesus.

Even if this were a parable… it is not a fantasy

Two compartments, a fixed gulf, one a comfort, the other a torment.

Jesus called the place of comfort paradise

Jesus tells the thief, to his side, Jesus… today you will be in paradise with me.

Jesus refers Lazarus is also in paradise

Is Lazarus aware of the rich man??


When we are in the kingdom with the Lord, the many memories of pain and suffering are no more

Not remembered or brought into mind

Many painful memories,

Some create pain and tears, bible tells us there will be no pain, sorrow, no tears

Only eternal joy

New creation, new form,

Torment to look at the suffering we cause, allowed, condoned, etc

Hades, in the center of the earth, or under the earth

Heart of the earth

4 Ephesians, Paul speaks of the ascension first descended ..

Jesus upon his death, enters into Hades,

Acts 2 as Peter is preaching on Pentecost, concerning facts of Jesus, signs and wonders, crucified and died, God raised from the death, for he could not be held by death. David, you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor your holy one in corruption… speaking of the messiah to come.

Flesh would not see corruption

Peter 3. 18 Christ made alive in the Spirit, preached to the souls in prison.

Prior to the death of Jesus, it was impossible to ascend into the presence of the Father.

Sacrifices was a covering for sin, sin of bulls and goats, only covered all foreshadow when the messiah would make the only sacrifice. OT sacrifices pointed to the future when God would provide over sin…

Atonement: the covering of sin, not making man one with God.

Atonement in OT: A covering of sin, hiding, disguising.

Atonement, in NT different word.. At-one-ment sin put away.

End of the chapter, all these died, they could not come into the completed state.

Prior to the death of Jesus Christ, everyone who died

Comfort or torment

Impossible to cross over between, fixed

When Jesus died

One step further

They have Moses and the prophets, tho one is raised from the dead and they were not pursued.

A man who is determined to set his heart apart form God will not believe even when indisputable evidence

I don’t want to believe

To believe would mean I would have to change my way of life, way of thinking, way of value

Fallacy to change life style is difficult… after all what would you do for fun

To surrender to Jesus

What they do’t realize is the joy, the fullness of joy when walking in fellowship with God

I don’t need all that the world offering subtuously to be preoccupied

We have all we need

We don’t need a great miracle

We don’t need a great cure

Its in the word of God

If they could just see the truth, a miracle

If they wouldn’t believe Jesus resurrection, then they wont believe other, anyhow…

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God or Me: Whom do I serve?

Luke 16:1-13
1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13 No slave 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.[NRSA]

Again, this is another classic stewardship parable. The example is about wealth, accounting, and management of funds.

Jesus’s questions in the parable is “Can your friends made through dishonesty offer you eternal life?” You might get a good deal in the moment, but how does this the next time?

I offer that it is a fitting stewardship example, but at the core this lesson is about, confronting sin, as sin, and trusting God’s Grace in Jesus Christ to become our source for:

  • Integrity  — not my integrity but God’s righteousness
  • Honesty – not my truth, but God’s heart
  • Devotion to God  — not my faithfulness, but Christ’s

Dishonest Manager Gone Wild!

Cook the books to win favor, build a coalition of support through deceit and half-truths. This story points to our brokenness of nature. If our sin, failures and dishonesty is found out, we try to personal management, fix-it -to-say-our-job response.

The appropriate lesson we learned last week, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner.”

But instead of admitting our confronting our sin, we develop campaigns and networks that create the idea that we look good others and do not truly believe God is watching us personally.

We are not this corrupt. This parable is a great warning, but it’s not for me personally. Right?

Recall, the context of this teaching; Jesus is sitting with sinners and tax collectors, so the examples favor the audience of the moment, but the lessons are about how we sort out our relationship with God and our neighbor.

  1. The core struggle is who is love to whom we are devoted?
  2. How does out devotion to God shape our relationships?

When we are disloyal to God with our own wranglings we know that breaks God’s heart. Hear the prophet

 Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick. Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?  O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!  [NRSA]

Our devotion to God is not only how we deal with our possessions, but how we deal with other people. The deceitful accountant in the parable deals with his infidelity with God by mismanaging other people. “If other people will help cover my sin, they can profit from my deception, and all is fixed.

Both/And not either or.

The struggle of attempting to fix what ONLY God can repair breaks is God’s suffering. Jeremiah relay’s God’s frustrations when we place ourselves in God’s place. “Is her King not in her?” Jeremiah points to all the things that we place our trust, hopes, and identities into instead of God. Is there no cure? No healing balm?

As a child, hearing and not reading these words from Jeremiah, I thought the question was there a ‘bomb’ in the Holy Land? Certainly there were and continue to be bombs in Gilead! Think of the generations spent fighting, when we are called to yield our own understanding to the heart of God!

Jeremiah’s prophetic question: Is God with us? In us?

This parable is not only about how we deal with sin, trying to fix it ourselves or trust God to do what we find impossible. AND how we rely on our devotion of God in our dealing with the world.

The Parable’s witness is not only about wealth, as much as it is about who (What power/authority/means) and how we use our resources, connections, and relationships.

A Test: Is it for our gain, our acceptance, our goals OR God’s righteousness?  God both looks at each person being of value and worth and asks of us to be devoted to God’s heart and not what pleases and profits our own interests, our own understanding, our own pleasure and identities.

Vs13

Serving God or Self

The reason we know this parable concerns more than money is found in verse 13. The Parable is about who we are serving and why?

Chris Janson: The world tells us that money will buy us a boat and truck to pull it.

Jesus taught it was more difficult for a person of wealth to enter the kingdom than to thread the eye of a needle.

Does the world know I am more of a Braves fan or Jesus fan?

Does the world think of me by my work, hobbies, knowledge? Or my God’s work, interests and witness through me?

We struggle being Good vs being devoted to God because we are no good without God.

Is worship about what I enjoy or what please God?

Is my Christian living proving my faith or is my faith praising Christ?

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Sin leads to Death

1 Timothy 1:12-17

1:12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul is sharing a mature confession of faith lessons he has learned about sin and grace

Timothy, Sin is a big deal and it will kill you if you let it.

  • Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners
  • For this reason we receive mercy
  • To make us the example
  • Of those who believe in him for eternal life.

Sinners—of whom I am the foremost.

Sin is our broken nature.

We are created with the grace of God into a broken state.

All persons are in need of grace.

What about the infant? What about those who cannot speak for themselves?

Are All persons are in need of God’s grace.

Most folks will say, “Sin” is not my vice, I will let Jesus fix it for me. (Not that Jesus is not the answer, Jesus is our hope and salvation, but not a warranty relationship Jesus provides)

We keep breaking the relationship, and Jesus lifetime warranty will clean up the mess so we can get back to doing what we want.

We have the top ten list of commandments

Or the general rules of decency

Or the acceptable goal of being good people, most of the time.

All these point to our perceptions of our behavior and thoughts

Paul is teaching and reminding that sin is the reality of our brokenness. And with out Jesus covering our gap, all the time, we would be lost. We are not patched to keep sinning.

Sin is the irresistible struggle to yield our will to God’s.

Sin is the state of our self and nature

and we can no more satisfy it by our self than one meal satisfies a lifetime of hunger, thus we seek nutrition every day.

EVERYday without God, we find our effort alone is never enough

Sin and Grace

God gives us grace, preventively… Enough grace to know good from evil, right from wrong, truth from lies.

Enough grace to cover infants and those who cannot speak or understand for themselves. Grace is enough.

Sin is the neighborhood into which we are born.

We can work hard, learn our lessons, and follow the rules

And some day get out of this neighborhood but

When we move to every neighborhood life in God take more than our efforts and intentions.

It takes Jesus making whole what we both inherited as broken and what we keep breaking along the way.

Sin is magnetic. Apart from God, we are drawn to that which is not of God.

This attraction is sometime blamed on the Devil, Satan, evil but much of the time we don’t need any encouragement to sin, we place distance and barriers between ourselves and God all on our own.

God’s Spirit has it’s own magnetism.

It is through grace, that God is drawing us to God’s heart

It is through the Holy Spirit, that our spirit is drawn toward God’s Spirit.

So, Yes we know the answer, Give Me Jesus,

Now I don’t have to worry about sin any more

We live in a spiritual battle throughout our whole lives

The history struggle of free will choosing God’s heart or our own hear rages throughout history.

We are born as God’s good creations, but we are born into a world and relationship that is broken and divided.

Away from God, we tend to love

  • ourselves,
  • our abilities,
  • our needs,
  • our goals,
  • our labor,
  • our status, our position,
  • our wealth,
  • our belonging,
  • our future, our plans more than we love God’s.

God’s simple invitation is to be our God and we be God’s People.

This means that we choose to trust, follow, believe and submit ourselves to God in all things.

  • Over time we have made Sunday into God’s day and the other days of the week are our days.
  • Over time we have made a tithe God’s part, and the 90% remaining our wealth.
  • Over time we have taken laws and commandments meant to give focus and boundaries into guidelines and suggestions to work around.
  • Over time, left to our own thinking we allow logic, science, mathematics, physics to guide our morality, rather than the God who created and ordered these gifts.
  • Over time, left to our desires, we will chose what pleases and satisfies our personal needs over the needs of God’s or others.
  • Over time, left to our own strength and defining, we choose alliances with others that allow us to keep power, control and management of life in our hands rather than in God’s hands.
  • From the beginning and even now, we are given one commandment. Love God’s choice for our lives over our own choice.

When our sin is confronted, we the light of truth shines on our darkness, we hid just as Adam and Eve attempted to hide from God.

One would think that over the millennia we would have learned a better response, but the conditions are the same.

Our defense is our culture of fellow sinners:

  • So we gather with others who likewise sin and develop coalitions of sinner so that we don’t see the separation from God as clearly.
  • See what everyone is doing.
  • I’m ok, you’re ok.
  • Look the opinion polls, 95% of people in our group think it’s no problem to do whatever we want to do because we are in the majority.
  • Because we have proof, algorithms and science to prove we are right and we have no need for God. We can handle this on our own.

If fact, we become so cleaver, gifts, talented, and schooled in defending pathways that separate us from God that we do not miss God at all… or at least until we are challenged or our temples shatter in the face of truth.

Recall how Pilate dismiss truth when talking with Jesus before the crucifixion. What difference does truth make to us when we have our own truths to defend our ways sin.

What do we do with sin?

First, we acknowledge that separation and brokenness between ourselves in God is not in our best interest.

Ref. “The wages of sin are death”

LORD HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER, a surrender/confession

MAKE ME YOUR INSTRUMENT and EXAMPLE/WITNESS

Jesus, himself, tell the disciples and us, that this is exactly the case, that Jesus, because Jesus has come to be our means of grace, our debt for sin paid, our hope of new life, that if we keep the original commandment, God will make a way through Christ for all who accept and keep the one invitation.

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Keeping Sabbath

Luke 14

1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.

2 Just then, in front of him, there was a man who had dropsy.

3 And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to cure people on the sabbath, or not?”

4 But they were silent. So Jesus took him and healed him, and sent him away.

5 Then he said to them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a sabbath day?”

6 And they could not reply to this.

7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable.

8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.

11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” [NRSA]

15 One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

They were watching him… 

The scene for this healing and subsequent parable is the home of a prestigious leader’s home. A strange gathering of political and religious folks, Jesus, and man with an extreme case of swelling, edema. No doubt the man who was likely in obvious pain and discomfort was seated next to Jesus. 

Not only was this a test, a setup, to entrap Jesus. It was not likely the man with the swelling was family or friends with any of the invited guests. 

Have you been to a dinner party where name tags are placed at each table. It is typically a great deal of work to prepare such an occasion. There are honored guests that are seated near the front progressing to those who are lesser known or are invited for reasons of being polite and respectful of the occasion. Jesus has a favored place with a less honorable guest. It is a great scene for a Jesus conversation.

We have a collection of parables that Jesus will share throughout the dinner party, but they are all center around the honor, respect, and approval.

For the majority of those gathered there were many preparations made for the gathering. What to wear? Who to bring as their plus one? Anticipating who would be at the gathering and what conversations might lead to possibilities in the marketplace and in the social standing of the community

This was a Sabbath power dinner. And the community leaders want to see how Jesus would react. And so also, Jesus is watching and listening. Perceiving the trap that was being set, Jesus’s first action is to heal the man who was ill and send him on his way. Jesus had been healing and teaching and God’s power had been making the establishment look bad and threatened their power in the community. Jesus was a problem. The healing on the Sabbath was the evidence needed to call for the “Levitical Bureau of Investigation” to complete their dossier on this troublemaker out of their way.

The commandment that to keep the Sabbath holy was simple and over time 39 categories of defined to help explain what keeping the Sabbath meant: 

The practice of “Keeping the Sabbath” had shifted from what we do to honor God into a prohibition of what dishonor’s God.

Jesus askes those who have prepared the setup, power lunch on the Sabbath: Is there a law against doing good on the Sabbath? Is it better to do good or do evil on the Sabbath? Is it lawful to cure someone on the Sabbath? The tennis ball is volleyed into their court. 

Jesus returns the serve first by healing the man and removing the key evidence from the table by sending the man home, made well.

Jesus also asks for the affirmation of his actions from those who have placed him on trial. How can they say it’s acceptable to do evil, much less on the Sabbath? 

Jesus shares the first parable in his question about the ox in the ditch. Who of you would leave you ox in the ditch until after sundown and return in the dark of night to retrieve you ox, donkey, or child until the Sabbath was over? “I’m sorry old Blue, we will be back in the morning because it would require us to break at least three Sabbath laws.” No, you get to work and call it a necessity.

The first lesson is using God’s laws with difference and preference based on situational ethics and personal gain or threat. Jesus is challenging the established interpretations of “Keeping the Sabbath” and restoring the original purpose of the law. 

Jesus does not throw out the law, Jesus completes the law. This is not an invitation to throw out the law, rather to recall why laws are given in the first place. Doing good for God on the Sabbath honor’s God, “watch” as he heals the suffering man’s condition. Jesus restores the original reason for the law, devoting ourselves to God and God’s work. Don’t focus on remembering the 39 ways to behave or restrain yourself, remember the one commandment to refrain from our work to share in the works of God.

Jesus heals on the Sabbath at least seven occasions. Something simple had become clouded and convoluted. Sabbath was made to rest with God, not to work on keeping rules. Think how much time and energy WORK was being investing in keeping rules that were focuses on our actions rather than on God’s.

Back to the dinner party. When we are invited to an important dinner or party.

  • Why do we attend? To celebrate those giving the party? A holiday, a wedding? Some occasion for celebration?
  • When does it become, instead a social measuring? An opportunity for networking?

Do we prepare ourselves to be seen by our neighbors or by God? If God is at the party, I think I would rather dress for God than the eyes of the group. Our society is driven by what we will wear, eat, and present ourselves to the world. 

Think of social media. What picture to use as a profile phone? The one where we have been out working in the yard, all hot and sweaty, or some older photos from a few years ago, when the camera captured our very best side with favor? 

What is our Focus? If the dinner party, work interview, or social occasion is about business in the world in which we live and work, we know the proverb from Erasmus, “Clothes Make the Man” and we best look and be our best for the world to embrace, hire, and befriend us. But when it’s an invitation for Sabbath, an invite to rest with God, who are we trying to fool or impress?

Jesus continues to say, “When you host a party” don’t invite those who you want to be invited to their homes. When it comes to God, using the opportunities to celebrate God, don’t make them about yourselves, your social standing, your place in the world, unless your true intentions are of this world!

We might want to dismiss this teaching opportunity off by saying we just don’t go to such parties and dinners and there is no nugget of application from this passage. But recall this occasion is not as much about a party or a dinner, than it is how we keep the Sabbath.

We are tempted to think about days past when less commerce was done on Sunday’s but that is emphasizing the laws and rules over the communion with God and the People of God. This passage is not justification for break the rules, it is for remembering what God wants from us.

  1. Today is a great day for fellowship with God and one another
  2. Today is a great day to talk and listen to God in prayer
  3. Today is a great day for worship of God
  4. Today is a great day to place our worry, fears, responsibilities, strengths and weakness at God’s feet and be at home with God.

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“A Day For Healing” Luke 13:10-17

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. :11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing. [NRSA]

One of the issues of this passage, that we see in the news today, is deflection. The story, the headline, should read, “Woman Set Free” but instead the headline reads, “Jesus Does Work on Sabbath”.

We live in a time that we need to pray for discernment about what is true, what is important, and what is Good vs evil. Just because it is on the web, on the news, on some official letterhead unfortunately, we are surrounded by what others want us to focus, even if it is not true, good, or the wholeness of God.

Jesus is focused on a person being set free and made whole. And the official voice is protecting the power structure of the day.

But this is not the most powerful part of this passage:

When the community should be celebrating the healing and life restoration of this woman the whole community must have known had struggled for decades, now is made whole!

This is a story of freedom.

Notice that Jesus calls a certain woman who was known to all in the community as the old woman with a bad back. For nearly two decades she had been suffering with the same aliment.

Can you picture this person? Back pain, sleepless nights and limited strength every day. Visits to many doctors, many treatments, and remedies attempted. Twenty years of struggle that had become accepted as “her way of life.”

Jesus calls this woman to come to him.

He declares that he wants to set her free from her ailment.

This gives us occasion to examine all that needs healing. There are multiple levels of healing at work. Jesus is not just making her physically well. His message was to set her free.

  • Our bodies:
  • Our minds:
  • Our Souls.

Our Bodies

We are typically good about sharing our physical needs and physical needs of one another.  In our collective experience we each have stories of ailment and illnesses, suffering and struggles with our bodies. At first thought, we pray for each other to be made well or made physically whole, but we forget that we are more than physical bodes.

Our Minds

We are also feeling, sensing, and effected by our emotional needs. I am lonely, I am afraid, I am lost. I am confused. I am worn thin and filled with garbage, baggage, and trash. My heart is heavy and my mind is focused on the rules, the bills, the markers of our struggles.

When we are physically broken, there are also emotional factors of pain, sadness, loss, depression, grief, shame, fear, and more that ride along with our physical struggles. To be whole is to be not only physically mended, but also to address the psychological and emotional trauma we experience.

Out Stephens Ministry team is ready to walk with you in your journey is a personal and private way.

There numerous conditions that our emotional and psychological state impacts our physical reality. And the reverse is true.

The man who is blind, and the Blind man.

Often we begin to identify as that afflicted person and not as the individual human-child of God. When my identity is condition of my physical or emotional state I become captive of a condition and loose the person that I am.

We know someone who adopts the identity of being a victim rather than the person we are who has experiences some illness, events, or struggle. When we live as an objectified person we become trap or trap others by shifting the person for the condition.

Remember Jesus is about setting this woman free from her ailment, her condition, and the whole picture of her beyond her condition.

Our Souls

The most important factor in our wholeness, is addressing our spiritual wholeness and freedom. The doctor can patch us, the counselor can guide us to separating our emotions and experiences. But there are some folks who are spiritually free who never find physical or emotional wholeness, but have such a closeness to Jesus that they are able to find freedom to know joy, peace, fellowship, and meaning in life, even when the former things are unchanged.

  1. In this example Jesus speaks and invited freedom
  2. Second, Jesus touches this woman and her body, mind, and spirit are set free.

Her response is to Worship God.

Together we are seeking God’s will and purpose in our daily lives and for the sum of our lives.

We know Jesus has healed her physically, emotionally, and spiritually

We know that her condition was more than physical because Jesus connects her wholeness from the power of Satan, the power of evil.

  • The context of our physical conditions,
  • Our emotional states, and
  • Our spiritual relationships

Require all three to be addressed to be truly free.

Why settle for satisfying the body when the heart, mind, and strength can all be well in unison.

ARE WE FREE?

This story of healing, wholeness, and FREEDOM is told for our benefit.

Lord heal my body

Lord heal my heart and mind

Lord heal my spirit.

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God has a Better Way: Hebrews 11:29-12:2

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace. 32 And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented– 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. 39 Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect. 1 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, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. [NRSA]

By Faith: By faith

We think we know how the story of the saints should go:

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith,

did not receive what was promised,

The punchline is not that got their reward, even those who have gone before are waiting for New Heaven and New Earth.

Our loved ones are with Jesus, but they too are awaiting Christ’s return to give us the new Jerusalem, and be join together.

Hear the Good News: 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us,

be made perfect. 1

Preventing Grace, Justify, Sanctifying, Perfecting Grace

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,

Imagine being an Olympic racer with the world cheering you on in a race. We have all the saints, prophet, loved ones, and more cheer us.. to

  1. let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
  • and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2

BUT HOW? How do we have faith greater than beliefs. Difference in believing what Jesus can do, and in trusting what Jesus will do in, with, through, for me and you.

 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

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John 20:19-31 “Locked in Fear”

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When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. [NRSA: John 20:19-31]

The Power of Fear

  • Pandemic
  • Supply Chain
  • Cash Flow
  • Test Results
  • General Uncertainty

The Gift of Peace

  • Belonging
  • Fulfilling rest – quiet and renewed
  • Absence of Threat
  • Completeness – the final puzzle piece
  • The Freedom of Release

The Power of Faith

  • Even when a Pandemic surrounds us, We belong to God
  • Even when supplies and funds are low, we can be renewed in Christ
  • Even when threats are around the corner, we can know wholeness
  • Even when we have general uncertainty, We can find release through the Resurrection.

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I’m disappointed aren’t you

Psalm 71:1-6
In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

Q: What do we do when we 

don’t feel heard, 

delivered, 

recued, or 

saved?

We have been clinging 

to the rock of our salvation, 

we are filled with shame, 

we are emptied of hope, 

we’ve been knocking on 

the fortress of our peace, 

and longing for relief and refuge but we only find a deserted island… what next?

First we need to learn something about reading the Psalms. • They reflect our shared human condition.• They give voice to our woes, troubles and frustrations

 • They remind us of what to do next: • You are my hope, trust and Lord… praise continues……

The pattern comes from ritual re-enthronement practice. 

First the ark of the covenant was covered with the sin offering, 

here is our problem,

here is how bad it is,

Remember you are our salvation

The same practice was taken when Israel had a king. Once a year the king would be taken out in parade, ritually humiliated, given all the blame, and then redressed and returned to the throne with renewed authority. 

For us the Psalms remind us to share every fear, worry, sorrow, and care we have with God.

Just because I don’t see the answers I want and may even deserve, don’t give up, keep keeping on trusting God

God is able, God is reason, God holds the answers

Don’t give up on God.

Luke 4:21-30
4:21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.'”  And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

The hometown crowd was disappointed in Jesus:

Jesus said to his hometown, don’t expect favoritism. 

Don’t say, I knew him when….

Don’t say, i deserve..

Don’t say, I’ve been good enough…

If I heal at home then you and others will say it was only because he loves them more….

God is working in God’s way: 

God’s healing is not based on family ties

God’s answering is not based on geography

God’s work is not limited to our expectations

God’s promises are in God’s time and not our own.

This is when they began to turn on Jesus, because they felt Jesus had turned on them….

Go back to Ps 71

My home is in God even when I can’t find my way…. 

My way vs God’s way.

Sometimes our prayers are not answer because our ways are not the ways of God…

EVEN though we have been faithful

EVEN though our prayer is just

God has a purpose  —  We have the plans

We have plans and God has a purpose.

What does the answer to our prayer look like when we ask

“What is your purpose?”

Instead of 

You would help me if you loved me? 

“Don’t you love me?”

“Are you not able?” 

‘Do you even care?”

Jesus said plainly, “I am the way.” He didn’t say, you’ve got the plan lets follow what makes sense to humanity… nope. 

God’s way IS the Highway.

Let’s take the highway:

Life Changes

Thomas Rhett

Waking up in my college dorm
Yeah, my life, it was pretty normal
Looking for a date to the spring formal
Wasn’t worried ’bout nothing else, no
Majoring in undecided
Notebook full of bad songs I was writing
Never dreamed anyone else would like’em
Now they’re sitting on a Walmart shelf

Ain’t it funny how life changes
You wake up, ain’t nothing the same and life changes
You can’t stop it, just hop on the train and
You never know what’s gonna happen
You make your plans and you hear god laughing
Life changes, and I wouldn’t change it for the world, the world, oh no
And I wouldn’t change it for the world, the world, oh no

I bought a ring and she said “I do”
But everybody else said, “man, you’re twenty-two
“Whatcha trying to prove?”
“Hey why don’t you wait?”
‘Cause I’ve been waiting on her since the second grade yeah
And now she got her own set of fans
She got a blue check mark by her Instagram
And I wrote a little song about holding her hand and now everybody wanna die happy now

Ain’t it funny how life changes
You wake up ain’t nothing the same and life changes
You can’t stop it just hop on the train
You never know what’s gonna happen
You make your plans and you god laughing
Life changes (yes it does) and I wouldn’t change it for the world, the world, oh no
And I wouldn’t change it for the world, the world, oh no

I remember the day I told my Daddy and Mama you’re gonnahave a grandkid, yep
From Uganda, that’s right, we’re adopting
And she is the cutest little girl that you’ve ever seen
Well I was wrapping my head around being a dad
A bigger wrench got thrown in the plans we thought we’d had
Now Lauren’s showin’, got one on the way
Yeah that’s two under two, hey, what can I say?

Ain’t it funny how life changes
You wake up ain’t nothing the same and life changes
You can’t stop it just hop on the train and
You never know what’s gonna happen
You make your plans and you god laughing
Life changes (yes it does) and I wouldn’t change it for the world,

Disappointments:

I prayed and didn’t get something a loving God would do for someone like me…

Doesn’t God love the unlovable

Moses responds to free God’s people and meets 10 trials that cause suffering to society.

Mary and Joseph disappointment

Mary committed to marry Joseph, then tells God she is all in on the Jesus plan, and Joe is ready to get a divorce… 

None of us planned for 2020

I had not planned to move in 2021

I had not planned work for a company considering division

I had not planned to meet any of you

The Plan1) I don’t have to know the plan for my life for God to actually have a plan for my life.2) The circumstances of my life might be God’s directing me for God’s purpose, appointment.

We all live by God’s Appointments or Our own Appointment” 

We have a plan

God has  a purpose

 

Here is the Good News: You and I are the purpose, 

God became a person, \

in Jesus Christ to become our salvation.

Jesus returns as judge, looks at us as sinner, unworthy, and yet loved and saved,

 

Here is our Question: Does my plan hold God’s purpose?

It’s heavenly to find them over lapping,

It’s hard as unplowed ground to when they do not.

,

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Leave more than footprints.

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When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.  Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” [NRSA: MK 5:21-34]

Throughout our spiritual journeys we have to opportunity to touch each other’s lives.

  • As sad as saying farewell and goodbye is the moment to look back at seven years where God has touched us, worked through our lives and revealed the kingdom’s work through you and me.
  • We read this passage from the perspective of the woman with the long illness and its uncomfortable and unclean reaches out to Jesus in the faith of making the connection.
  • As United Methodist, we celebrate that we are all ministers. We are all the church. My work and our staff are to inspire you to be the church and not be the church for you. Tommye McCoy said it best in her words of advice 38 years ago at the beginning of my ministry, as my grandmother she could have told me many things, but she said these words, “Your job will be to get out of 90% of the jobs the church gives you and inspire 90% of the church’s members to do the work they will be expecting you or someone else to do.”
  • I don’t know if I have been faithful with her advice, but I am thankful for the opportunities where we have shared the kingdom’s work together.
  1. One of the power ministries of Rock Spring that has touched me has been the quilt ministry. Not only in receiving the prayers and warmth of my own quilt, but through the near-weekly opportunity to live out this very verse from Mark’s gospel account the power of Jesus working through the tassels, threads, and hands shared in sewing and prayer. Thank you for bringing healing and comfort.
  2. It is has been a highlight of my ministry to take previous experiences with missions outside our own communities and be the presence of Christ with neighbors who don’t benefit from living in our community. The trips and work of the teams building relationship, roofs, porches, and resetting foundations in Culebra, PR have been a series of spiritual ‘touches’ of the kingdom of God at work in that church, community, and the teams who have shared that leg of the journey. Thank you for using us to bring hope and love.
  3. The devotion of those who have packed lunches, flood buckets, health kits, and have driven and labored at Sager Brown, have taken ordinary items that have nourished, cleansed, and fed, clothed, and visited hands and hearts of the kingdom through those who know the powerful place such small items of food, clothe, and supplies bring life. Thank you for feeding, clothing, and visiting those in need of the kingdom of God.

On the other side:

I have tried to blot out the womanless weddings and hope that we will leave these in the past, not in the name of political correctness, rather because it just wasn’t right. Just say no, but yes to the fellowship. It was fun to prepare meals for a season and know this is something the church need not take for granted. But when we resume dinners, we can no longer do them for under $10 a person. The fellowship is too important not to break bread and gather around the table as a variety of ages and experiences. Thank you for eating my cooking and allowing me the opportunity to feed you for time. Now it time for you to feed others.

  • It has been a joy to get to know your children through confirmation class, youth events, children’s sermons, VBS and GROW camps.
  • It has been a blessing to me to meet you when you were in the hospital, you didn’t look your best, you didn’t feel your best, you maybe didn’t even want company, but you welcomed the prayers, love, presence, and thoughts of the congregation that I might convey.
  • It has been a blessing to share grief with some of you and journey through the loss of loved ones, friends, and neighbors.
  • I know I have never done all that I could do, but I have always tried to bring Christ wherever I can.
  • I thank those who have taught Sunday school, sung in the choir, the praise team, solos, duets, trios, quartets, quintets, and ensemble recording as a digital choir. 

We struggled through 2020 together. I used to enjoy streaming worship until we had to make that our primary voice. I thank you all for stick through the learning curve, bumps, and curveballs, of technology for worship. I thank God every Sunday that we don’t have that as our only way of connecting, but I give thanks that RS was already streaming before it became cool. Thank you for being faithful trendsetters.

  • You have prayed for me and I you,
  • You have shared your hope, fears, worries, tears, and joys. I have been genuine in sharing myself with you.
  • If ever the church needs to claim the power to touch lives, it will be more critical in the next five, than in the past fifty.
  • Can I share my faith? Yes, you have and you and I must do it more.
  • The most the world leans toward evil, the more we need to never let go of God and what God has called Good.

Mark 5 is about Jesus touch being healing, restorative, and life-renewing.

For some we make physical touch

Others we touch from the distance through faith and prayer,

Others we touch in the review mirror.

As we begin to look at the past seven years from the next seven and beyond. I will cherish you and our attempts of making plain the presence, the message, and the call of Christ.

If I leave a final word it would, ‘homework.’

The gift is that we continue to have work that 1) is kingdom work, 2)_continuing work, and 3) work we continue to practice until all the world knows the touch of Jesus Christ. (that means we have lots to do!

God bless, God Speed, God can.

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Mark 4:35-41 “Do You Not Care?”

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On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” [NRSA: Mark 4:35-41]

The lesson in today’s reading from Mark is that God cares so very much for us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. It is the heart of what Paul shares with the church at Rome.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NRSA: Romans 8:31-39]

Mark recalls Jesus’ instruction to disciples when they are thinking about themselves more than God.

Here poses our first question: if it comes to the moment of our own death, would you rather be in the boat with Jesus or somewhere else, with someone else? Therefore we hear Jesus using this moment in the storm, a moment of fear and uncertainty, so ask: Are you worried about yourself or God?

The honest answer is, “Me”! [Spiritual ] It’s me, It’s me oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer, not my brother or my sister but it’s me O’ Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Mark paints a scene that we can all identify, a boat on the sea, in a storm, wind and waves, and the impending doom and death of everyone, (reminds me of the movie 2012 where the cruise ship is facing a tidal wave of exponential proportions, and everyone is in absolute panic mode, except for Jesus who is sleeping on a big pillow, on a fat mattress, a cushion of peaceful rest and sleep.

Unbelievable scene of Jesus and the disciples. From their point of view Jesus has checked out, nodding off on the job, and unaware of the danger, terror, fear, and threat of death that faces the whole boat.

The familiar question we would ask our tour guide:

  • Why are you asleep now?
  • Don’t you see we are in trouble?
  • We are scared; we are afraid, and
  • we believe we are going to die in this storm.  

But the twist in the story is not that Jesus was pretending to sleep, peeking out of one eye to test the disciples. The twist is that core of the believers we do not believe that God was with them.

The Storm looked bigger than God.

  1. I know I’ve let the uncertainty about the church look bigger than God.
  2. I have seen the depth of corruption in government and given up hope of real change.
  3. I have look at the bank account balance and wondered how we would figure out all the spinning plates and responsibilities.
  4. I have looked at a bump in the road and considered giving up on the journey.
  5. I have questions and fears at every appointment and with every new pastor!

We’ve been in storms, jams, crisis, problem, court, debt, sickness, times of under certainty, confusion, and chaos and felt that sinking absence of God.

  • Where are you?
  • Have you forgotten me? Forgotten your promises?
  • Don’t you see where I am?
  • Don’t you know how bad my situation is and has been?
  • How can you have the luxury of peace, sleep, and rest, when my life is filled with fear, doubt, and hopelessness?

Yes, we have lived this moment on the sea with the disciples!

Stop for a moment think of those who find themselves in this boat and they have NO idea or perception that Jesus is on the boat, much less asleep on a cushion?

Point Two: The Disciples finally remembered to turn to Jesus.

Yes, there were still afraid, doubting, questioning, and out of their senses, but they had enough good sense IN the crisis to turn to Jesus.

Point One: Disciples don’t always believe and trust and Point Two: When we come to our senses, we start looking for Jesus.

The Final point, #3, is that Jesus connects our fear, worry, anxiety, pain, loss, emptiness, chaos to our faith, to our belief, to our trust.

There is where we run ahead and turn back to Paul’s offering to the church at Rome:

  • Can political chaos stop God’s love for us? No! So Turn to God instead of the government.
  • Can the money love us? {It can buy use a boat, and truck to pull it, but when the boat is in a storm and payments for the truck are due and the transmission falls out just when the warranty expires, there is no love}
  • Are our family and friends always understanding and strong enough?
  • Will our homes protect us from a category 5 tornado’s full wrath?
  • Will our acts of kindness be enough to curb evil hearts when we are in trouble?
  • Can we simply do our best and count on justice in the world?
  • Are we guaranteed an exact number of days in our life?

Jesus wakes up from his nap, sees the fear, the storm, and begins talking theology when there is a need for physical salvation. Jesus uses this moment of our being our line, out of control, out of sorts, out of our minds, to remind disciples, like us, our number one task is to believe, to trust, to leave the storms of our lives to God.

This story in the boat, reminds me to first give thanks that I’m in Jesus’s boat.

Those who have taken Disciple Bible study will recall that in Rembrandt’s famous painting of Jesus and the disciples on the sea in the storm there are 14 figures in the boat. Jesus, the 12, and Rembrandt himself.

This passage calls me to surrender myself to God’s strength, God’s love, God’s word, God’s power, God’s grace, God’s timing, God’s purpose.

In Wesley’s Covenant Prayer: we find the Nestea-Plunge into the arms of our creator, savior and sustainer.

“I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.” [John Wesley]

This is a challenging prayer to pray. We want to say it with conviction, purpose, and commitment, but we are hesitant to actually carry through with it, and yet it is the safest, strongest, and most affirming prayer to enter in the storm.

  • Lord, have mercy on me,
  • Help my unbelief.
  • Thou art mine, I am thine.

And with the confidence of Jaun-Luc Picard, we add, “Make it so.”

  • So will the church split?
  • Will that world heal?
  • Will our nation be united?
  • Will the change in pastors be a blessing?
  • Will the new churches be a blessing?
  • Will there be enough?
  • Will we be healed, saved, blessed, remade, renewed?
  • Jesus knows our every weakness
  • Jesus sees the waves, knows our pain, experiences our fears, is torn by our lack of belief and faith,

And still calls our to the source of our doubt, fear, chaos, pain, and unbelief and speaks words of salvation, comfort, and life:

“Peace, be still”

  • Pray with me: Lord Jesus we offer our brokenness, fears, and shame, it is worth nothing good to us, but we have come to our senses and come running to you for our hope and salvation.
  • Give power, depth, height, breadth, to our faith that we may go, do, know, ask, speak, listen, stand, kneel, live, die, and be joined with your forever.
  • Send us to reach those who don’t know you are on the boat
  • Help us to see your hand in our hands,
  • Carry your word and kingdom through our feet and words
  • Let nothing stop us from the belief and love you have hoped and dreamed for us all. Amen!

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