Archive for January, 2021

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 “Get up, and Go”

“Jonah and the Whale” by Pieter Lastman, 1621

“The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. ..When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them, and he did not do it. “ [NRSA: Jonah 3:1-5,10]

Context: OT Prophetic, This part of the Jonah story begins after the adventure with the big fish.

  • Living Through Being Swallowed Up
    • Three Days in the Belly
    • Three Days Walking through the City
      • Dismiss the debates about survivability inside a whale or large beast– a distraction
    • The Retreat: three days apart, followed by the message being shared.
      • The story has a miracle, but that is not its real power…
  • Call to Repentance / Sackcloth
    • God uses our trials, struggles, and times of fear, self-doubt, and rejection to model us and inspire us to ministry
    • The wearing of Sackcloth is a public witness that we are someone going through some tragic time but we ALSO know God is using this time to 1) call to repentance, 2) call to faith, 3) Call to sharing.
  • The People changed their hearts and God changes God’s mind.
  • Shocking to Jonah: Imagine our political leaders confessing their corruptions and ask for God to forgive.
    • The evidence of Jonah’s journey of faith, inspired a nation, to turn toward God.
    • What struggles, trials, suffering has tested my/your faith?
    • How will God use our fears, doubts, and failures for God’s good work and witness?
    • Our role as prophets: Call others to seek God’s truth. Not left or right, rather the heart of God.
  • God’s call to Jonah was to get up and go, reveal the darkness and evil in people’s lives, and repent/ turn toward God. The Action Plan
    • The Fruit of faithfulness.
    • The power of trusting God.
    • The transformation from evil through faith in action.

As we look around and listen to our neighbors, our friends and enemies, is there a need for people to turn away from broken, hurtful, sinful ways? YES!

  • As we see and hear the news and messages around us, what are we, the Body of Christ, called tell the world.
  • Do we jump on the world’s band wagon?
  • Are we called to take political sides?
  • Are called to be quiet and polite?
  • Are we scared of being swallowed up by

Leave a comment

Mark 1:21-28 “Proclaiming God in the Face of Evil”

Old City of Capernaum (Octagonal Church of Peter Home, 2nd Temple Below)

” They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee. [Mark 1:21-28]

Context: The Hometown of Peter, Jesus early ministry miracle of authority A New Teaching, With Authority

It is one thing to name evil, it is another to experience it being exposed, over powered, and seeing God’s good triumph.

Evil is the fruit of not trusting God. Evil is the treasure of placing oneself above God. Evil taking God message and using it to serve our own curiosity and desires. Evil might be the easiest, most convenient, and most familiar action we see.

We may not have been going to movie theaters in the past year but I suggest we have consumed more entertainment in the past year and done so in more isolation that at any point in history.

Who is there to help us make choices about what we select as entertaining? Typically we listen to reviews, a system of stars or tomato’s that give Cesars thumbs up or down to make a quick choice about a movie or tv show.

The rating industry has demarcation of what is G to MA. This contextual opinion based review is another measure that looks at various details to categorize the degree of evil in a program.

It is clear that we have so many sources to entertain us, distract us, and desensitized us, that we don’t care what evil we digest.

I have begun a journey of being much more intentional about what I eat. When you make the close connect between the fuel that goes in to the effect it has we begin to be more selective about out choices.

Or we RSUMC use ourselves and divert our own attention to “break the rules” or “bend them”.

Evil is

Early in Jesus’s ministry this event occurs to show the early church, and us, that Jesus, has power and authority over evil.

His mission and ministry is to point out evil and show us that evil is powerless before God.

We living in a time where evil is at the root of things seen and unseen throughout our society.

Leave a comment

John 1:43-51 “Answering the Call”

  • John 1:43-51     New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha
  • “Second Sunday after the Epiphany” January 17, 2021
  • Video:

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSA: John 1:43-51]    

Central to Jesus’s work is the calling and equipping of disciples. He calls Philip who is influential in reaching Nathanael and other disciples and further sharing the Good News.

The convincing thing that Jesus grab Nathanael’s interest, trust, and response concerns both Philip and a Fig Tree.

Let’s look at the fig tree first.

As a personal testimony concerning fig trees, I have shared with you that I’m not a big fan of figs unless they are inside a Newton. Then, along with a glass of whole milk, I find the combination rather enjoyable. In reflection of thirty-six years of ministry and eighteen years prior as a preacher’s kid, there have been seven parsonages that had fig trees in the yard, and typically near the driveway. I don’t believe there are such instructions in the Book of Disciples about the furnishing of parsonages that include fig-trees, but as it is a prominent story in scripture I see that it is more likely to have fig bushes than mulberry or olive trees.

The things I have disliked about fig trees are the birds flocking to eat the fruit just when it is ripe that startle one passing by and the mess the birds leave when the remnants have fallen to the grown and one slips on a slimy fig leftover walking around the bush. Also, it’s another item that needs pruning, trimming, and maintenance in the yard. Nevertheless, the one bush that is at the end of our current driveway and near the path to the back yard in our current home is a fig bush. But by now, I have grown accustomed and find it a fond site every day. (I still don’t care to eat a fig, thankful our bush doesn’t have many left after the birds do their job.)

Why would someone be sitting under the fig tree? Likely, the broad branches filled with leaves would provide a cool and shaded spot on a blistering hot day. Secondly, for those who enjoy eating that fruit, it would be a shaded spot filled with snacks available at arms reach. What better place to rest: cool shade and convenient easts. Together, that tells us that Nathanael is a smart cookie. (maybe not as smart as a Fig Newton? I digress)

It is actually more important to see that Jesus’s call of disciples is not by chance. It is with insight, purpose, and intention that Jesus is looking for those to start the work of the church and to see it through times of struggle as well.

Part of what makes Nathanael a candidate for disciple-hood, is resourcefulness, his smarts, and practicality. These are good skills for a disciple. Part of what Jesus saw in Philip was his ability to reach other people. And this is just how Nathanael comes to meet Jesus, that is through Philip. The story of this fig tree is only to further persuade ‘Nate’ that God is already at work in his life.

The “Fig Tree” becomes a symbol of God’s patience, grace, and judgment later in Jesus’s ministry. But today’s fig tree is a person’s moment and place of being known by God.

Too often we don’t actually live thinking about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit being with us on a daily basis. Surely they are too busy, with more important matters, than to monitor our moment by moment activities. And if so we imagine that God must at least be looking aware at times and not see, hear, and be aware of our everyday life.

If we think of God being with us we would either be emboldened to defy God’s righteousness by doing what is evil, or opposite, or contrary to God, in God’s presence. And, if we think that God is too busy to be present with us, always, then we are not always trusting God’s presence in our fears, anxieties, and worries.

I’m assuming that we all just don’t think God is with us in the minute details, rather just checking in when we are at church, or in prayer, or study, or some random chance. Part of the Philip and Nathanael ‘call’ stories teach us that God is at work intentional with us, even when we are not aware of those moments.

When we think of God being busy, looking the other way, with some more important, more needed, or more evil than ourselves, we actually are teaching ourselves God is much smaller. Know that we don’t have to fully figure out God, even though God fully knows us.

Though this passage teaches us God is concerned, Jesus is with us, the Holy Spirit is in the breeze, in the share, in the daily tasks, and no matter how ingenious, smart, clever, resourceful, or alert, God is always a step ahead, a step behind, and standing with us.

So what do fig-trees, Philip, and Nathanael have to do with us in 2021?

God is no less interested in working in our lives than God was working with that tree, the tree in the middle of the garden or the bush at the end of our driveway. God is not less interested in working through our relationships, our days and night, our work and rest, to reveal the kingdom of God throughout the world in our time.

2021 is a call for the church, our church, every church to see the ordinary elements of our work and rest and the relationships that we already have established to be open to God’s revealing the Kingdom today.

In review, what has God seen us do this week that reveals God’s presence? Are our words, thoughts, and actions reflecting God’s presence, God’s patience, God’s power, and God’s plan — or have we done a better job of reflecting our own understanding, our own expectations, and our own goals?

Both Philip and Nathanael have different talents. God uses each of us in different ways, but the core, our starting point comes in recognizing that God’s Spirit is with us, and is longing to love us and work through us to bless the whole world.

2020 the church faced the greatest threat of being not relevant than ever in our lifetimes. We have clearly been labeled as non-essential workers. I’m not trying to make a political statement, I am clearly making a spiritual statement. In our collective lifetime, we have not been instructed to close our doors. Recall our motto was once, “Open Doors..” The threat of pandemic has made it easier to not gather for Christian fellowship, to NOT share our questions and stories of faith in the study; it has made it easier to occupy our time and interest in other activities.

When the pandemic started, if you were listening, your pastor/preacher reminded that this would be a time to spend more effort in prayer, study, and spiritual preparation. For some of us, 2020 was a good excuse to be sitting under the safe shade of a fig tree and not risk the heat of the day. We have grown more comfortable expending less in being the church in the name of safety.

We have tried to be innovative and creative, but the question comes to us: for a world that is starving for faith, security, peace, hope, trust, truth, love, and grace — have we been eating figs under the shade of the tree to prepare us for what is next, or simply to get by, be safe, be contented.

Nathanael’s ‘call’ story is as convicting for us as it was for him. Philip and Nathanael have a similar story to the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Both of those sisters had great talents and skillsets; Mary’s were needed more at one time, while Martha’s at a different time.

2020 was our retreat under the fig tree. 2021 is our call to reach out to those we know and those we are called to reach out to bring people to the love, truth, and heart of Christ for themselves.

Take this week to begin a list of persons that God might be calling you to reach, invite, call, and bless.

Take this week to move from the silent prayers of homes and hearts, into the conversation with share with others that they might clearly experience God’s Spirit working in their own lives.

2020 might been names Nathanael. 2021 is Philip. The year of stepping out of the shade, away from the figs, and into each other’s hearts.

Leave a comment

Acts 19:1-7 “Baptism in 2021”

January 10, 2021 – First Sunday after the Epiphany

“While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied– altogether there were about twelve of them. [NRSA: Acts 19:1-7] 

We begin the new year in a hope for something old and something new. We want to have the old way of life, our familiar habits and sense of order to return while looking forward to the innovation of change and opportunity of transition. But this is not a realistic expectation. The past is now the past and we are only left in the present to prepare for our future. And the only thing that we can influence is the present, this moment, right now… well now, no now!

Precious seconds have moved into that past of our history, memory, and shared remembering and we are still living only in the moment. Some take this living in the present and assume it comes without God’s expectation and hope.

We are blessed by the past, we are challenged by the experience it offers, but our calling is to live in this moment becoming God’s people, God’s persons. We are called to be God’s people in 2021.

With every year that the world view expands, the more discoveries, the more inventions, the more knowledge the more God’s people are challenged to live into the perspective that God has created, and blessed, and provided in the past, but has now left the rest to us to figure out.

Remember the God’s Good News: Mark Chapter 1

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ” 4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [NRSA: Mark 1:1-8]

Mark reminds us that the Good News is not about us. God’s Good News is about God. It is about God’s work in Jesus Christ. Mark is connecting the promises of the prophet Isaiah to the first century church. He recounts about John the Baptist just are Luke reminds us of Paul’s sharing the same story with yet a different time and community.

The Story of God’s goodness begins in baptism. What is the big deal about baptism?

Prior to John the Baptist, baptism was more understood as an act of purification, a spiritual bath. And just as often we might bathe to keep our physical bodies clean, to remove dirt, sweat, dead cells, we would have found the ritual of cleansing bathes to be the release of toxic spiritual thoughts, behaviors, and choices. But think about taking a bath to be clean and then going back out to the beach. No sooner does the wind blow and your skin is covered with sand and sweat again.

John is known as the baptizer because he took baptism and focused it one a way to spiritual prepare for the Messiah’s arrival. Getting our Soles/Souls ready for the Savior. [Cobblers sign at Easter]. It is the combination of spiritual cleansing as a sign that “I am ready for the Messiah to arrive and I want to be ready.” [The Promise that Jesus is Coming Soon and you better be ready, that we hear in traditions who continue to see baptism as the necessary step to assure salvation.]

But our look today helps us think about what Baptism is to us.

One bishop of the early church would immerse persons three times, holding them under the water to the near point of drowning, so that they might experience the death of Christ, and be gasping for the new life in the Spirit through baptism. By the 1500’s most who thought about Baptism, as only a physical reminder of either Jesus’s baptism, or even Jesus’s time in the tomb. It was simply a mental reminder with a ritual practice that might not even contained water at all. Martin Luther say baptism as this type of memorial and ritual. This Lutheran tradition influenced most protestant theologians and traditions.

Those who only think of Baptism as immersion, “going all the way under the water” as the only valid baptism come from a theologian named Zwingli, who required believers to not only be immersed, but also only accepted baptism when it also was accompanied one personal verbal confession/profession of faith. He did not recognize infant baptism, and objected from the practice of baptism being a mental affirmation, in his tradition it have to be full, all the way under, immersion. It is from this tradition that the Baptist, Mennonite, Amish, Church of God, Pentecostal and other find their understanding of baptism being a replication of John and Jesus’s baptism models.

United Methodist are a combination of the traditions. We see that baptism is not about the amount of water, but that through the water, we experience awakening as a spiritual person. We may allow a time between the act of baptism and the believers confession or profession of faith, to allow for infant baptism, that is later confirmed when we are older. We typically call baptisms a “Means of Grace”. That is to say that it is one of the times that we trust that God is both physically and spiritually connected with us. Just as in receiving Holy Communion, it is not simply a meal, but it is through that meal that receive the spiritual food, to claim, re-claim, forgive, bless, heal, and empower both our physical and spiritual journey.

So much for the History and Theology Lessons. What is Baptism to us in 2021?

Baptism continues to be a means of grace, but it is not repeated as with communion. Just as we much eat, and wash, and rest, and work communion is that which we might trust daily. Baptism, as a “Means of Grace” is our spiritual adoption into the Family of God. Once we are a claimed as heirs with Christ, God does not let us go, unless we reject or forsake that relationship. God does not force us, but once Baptized, God continues to make one of God’s Dwelling places in the world.

Baptism is the formal connection of God with Us.

Think the Lord’s prayer: We pray together, with all those in Christ, as we repeat and remind each other, to ask for both our daily bread, AND we ask for God’s Kingdom to be revealed, completed, available, and experienced in our lives, wherever we go, for everyone around us. “wherever you are, there I am also.” The more God’s baptized people are “In the world” the more of the world can experience the Salvation of God, the power of God, the love of God.

Baptism is our confirmation as Citizens of Heaven.

Baptism can also be thought of as the occasion that we are ‘naturalized’ as citizens of the Kingdom of God. Our citizenship is not just something we find when we show the passport to St Pete and the angels at the Pearly Gates, it is what we are called to do, how to live, and how to interact with the crazy, sinful, every changing, ever wooing world of 2021 and beyond.

Baptism is our Spiritual Birthday and birthright through Christ.

As heirs and joint-heirs with Christ, we are as the church, God’s living witness of life in a world focused on death and destruction.

Baptism is our receiving authority and purpose for our spiritual journey.

Baptism is being granted power of the Holy Spirit and the expectation to do even greater deeds than the first disciples.

Baptism is our gift of God’s promise that we unwrap and use every day for eternity.

We begin each day on God’s terms, in God’s time, for God’s purpose and we have God’s Counsel, Guide, Power, and Wisdom as our account, as our resources, and as our tool box.

Baptism is not just a ritual, it is not just words that we say, it is not just

If you have been baptized, I invite you to type in the chat or in the comments as an affirmation. “I have been baptized. I am a child of God.”

If you have not been baptized, please share your questions or hesitations. Not for judgement sake, but in the community of faith we would like to share what it means to be a child of God to help you know why our life, while it doesn’t take away the struggle, we live knowing we are on the winning team. We know God has won the championship. We know God has paid our way, and our part is to celebrate and share God’s blessing and guidance in our journey  with one another.

Today we either remember and reaffirm our Baptism, our citizenship, our adoption, of God’s claim on our life

Or we encourage those who have not found God’s heart as your hope, strength, and salvation, then we help each other open the doors and make straight the paths to God’s heart.

Now hear this about BAPTISM in Jan of 2021:

At the moment, the world is in crisis and what we have hoped will be an end to the pandemic, and end to political distress, and a return to some place of comfort in the past.

  • Baptism is our Life Vest, in the storm of chaos.
  • Baptism is our Anchor when we are torn apart.
  • Baptism is our connection to the God’s current work in the world.
  • Baptism is our affirmation that God desires to be present with us more than anything else, and makes a way for all that is lost, hopeless, in despair, and torn asunder…
  • Baptism is our lifeline to God and God’s placing us, equipped to win over all that evil can throw our way.
  • Baptism is the certification of adoptions, the class ring, the wedding ring, the written covenant, and the passport for bringing the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Ephesians 1:3-14 “Spending the Inheritance”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ, we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. [NRSA: Ephesians 1:3-14]

Spend the Inheritance?

If your financial planner tells you its time to spend all your live savings, you either have a terrible advisor or he or she has some serious insider trading information that you need to listen to quickly.

But our spiritual inheritance is different because of the power to love in the face of our enemies, the grace to look beyond the past that has separated us. Paul writes to the churches of Ephesus calling them to step up their faith and witness. He knows they are able because of God’s plan, Christ’s death, and resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

A New Year, A Renewed Charge and renewed Strength

I have been fascinated with the unfolding of ancient cultures and people’s structural remains of architecture reveal an obsession with connecting the order of civil life to the sun, moon, and stars. The use of lasers and LIDAR has been scanning the globe revealing lost cities around the world that have been lost in time but reveal very organized people who had advanced knowledge of the order of the creation. The orientation of roads, buildings, mounds, entrances to caves, and the placement of stones and markers are used to measure time, season, and the general order of the earth in the universe. In Turkey, structures are found to orient people long before our accepted understanding, people have celebrated the markers of each new year. In Chine, in the Pacific Islands, in the Amazon, in the Southwestern US, in Europe and Africa, we are finding evidence that we have been looking for order, purpose, and direction for more generations than we can imagine.

As we begin a near year, let us hear these words Paul’s shares with the church then, to allow them to be heard a new, and inspire us into faithful action:

In our reading we learn:

  • God has a plan. The plan includes us as children, in God’s family.
  • God’s plan includes the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, for us, for God’s purpose.
  • God’s plan is lavishly spent on us, therefore we can lavishly praise and bring glory to God.
  • God’s Spirit is giving us wisdom, insight, and revealing what once was a mystery.

To what end? For what Purpose?

God’s plan includes a desire for all of us to be united through grace into faithful trust, obedience, and relationship.

What is the measure of a successful parent?

Look to the scriptures:

  • Colossians 3:21 do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
  • Ephesians 6:4 do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
  • Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  • Hebrews 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
  • Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
  • Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Proverbs 1:8-9 Listen, my child, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.
  • 1 Peter 5:2-3 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
  • Psalm 127:3-5 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
  • Deuteronomy 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
  • Joshua 4:20-24 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”
  • Proverbs 3:1-12 My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, 2 for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. 3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. 11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Psalm 78:1-7 My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— 3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they, in turn, would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Paul gives the fulfillment of Psalm 78: Christ is revealed. The Holy Spirit is poured out! Salvation is made possible through life, death, and resurrection.

so that: vs 7 of Ps.78, “Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

There it is!

God has made spent our inheritance that we might trust God, remember God’s works of love and grace so that we would keep God’s righteousness, commandments, and be a living witness of that trust.

So as we begin this new year, let us do more than resolve to trust God’s righteousness, let us begin now. It is not our goal, it is the mission.

Our key response to the Resurrection and Salvation that God has given us in Christ is to be the inspiration of what John Wesley identified as SANCTIFICATION.

  • It is the sum of the activities that we do to grow in faith, share our faith, and praise God.
  • If it helps to think in terms of New Year Resolutions, choose a new spiritual practice and set a course to be devoted to it for God’s purpose.

Most of the New Year Resolutions are for our own benefit. We want to lose weight, start exercising for our physical activity for health, We create budgets to save and spend more responsibility.

This invitation is, again, more than a resolution, more than a goal or suggestion. Take the steps of faith to make 2021 the memorable year of our spiritual growth.

  • Some Ideas:
  • Read through the Bible in 364 days. Start today, there are several good suggestions, simply Google them.
  • If your health allows, begin one day a week that becomes your fast each week. Drinking water, coffee, or tea but no food and spend that time on food procurement, preparation, consumption, and cleaning in prayer, study, singing, or service.
  • Begin a personal ministry of faith sharing. Write out your faith journey, nuggets of what and why your faith gives you strength, and find ways to bring Christ into your weekly conversations with others.
  • Start a prayer group, find a group of people that you share on the phone or texting, or social media, and share prayer concerns and pray to encourage one another and lift others up.
  • Start a new devotion reading. There are resources on the Upper Room website and dozens at Christain bookstores. Start the day, end the day, or find a time during the day to start a new spiritual habit.
  • Start a new saving plan that is specifically for God to use for others in need. This past year has devastated many and 2021 may hold new challenges that are yet to be experienced that your gifts will be a blessing.
  • While worship online has been a challenge for most everyone, it is something that we need to cherish every opportunity to sing, share, and experience the Christain community in every way we can. Be devoted to not miss weekly worship and share the experience with others by sharing links and experiences that encourage others.
  • Bottom line, don’t stop what you are currently doing… add a spiritual discipline to what you are already doing. If none of these have been your practice, then start one or some similar spiritual exercise program.

The Goal, the Mission is to praise and grow in our relationship with God and one another.

These are the things that open the door to God’s heart.

These are ways that we show our praise.

In Christ, we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

You are called, you are blessed, you are equipped, you are strengthened, you are saved, you are the investment. Make 2021 the year you begin to mature God’s trust.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: