Archive for category Disciples

Mark 4:35-41 “Do You Not Care?”

stormy blue sea in sunlight
Photo by Ben Mack on Pexels.com

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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Use the Treasure in the Pot

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—”I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. [NRSA]

A CLAY JAR

A piece of clay that has been fashioned into a bowl, a mug, or a vase is many things.

  • It is an expression of the potter.
  • It is more than the sum of it’s parts,
  • It is more than a lump of dirt and water,
  • It is both durable and delicate,
  • It is fragile, yet useful,
  • It is one of the precious images Paul uses to remind us, and the churches in Corinth, that we are precious treasure of God.

Clay can never form itself as wonderfully, purposefully, or longingly as can the potter.

This is one of the power messages of Good News you and I must share with a world that hungers for meaning and is willing to create alternate realities rather than simply trust God is that very potter of our lives.

Do you ever feel like a clay pot?

Winnie the Pooh is always appreciative of having a useful clay pot near by, in the hope that it contains honey, or that it will soon be filled with honey.

It is Paul’s pray, and one that we also share, that we remember that we are the clay pots that are

  1. Useful
  2. Filled with a treasure greater than golden honey
  3. Our time and lives are to maximize the opportunity to share God’s treasure with those we interact each day.

As Clay Pots, there are times we feel like the roughness of a clay pot. One that has been fired by trial and suffering heat or pressure, but has not been glazed. We feel ordinary, worn, or even fractured.

When we focus on the vase, bowl, mug, the body, the bills, the money, the demands, we think our usefulness is measured by the world’s use or uselessness of our lives, INSTEAD of trusting that GOD has determined our PURPOSE and USEFULNESS and fills us with God’s Power, Spirit, Truth, and Grace to transform a broken, fragile, power-hungry world.

  1. The First lesson to remind you neighbor is this. God makes us.
  2. The second is that God fills us.
  3. The third is God desires to work through us, making us the vessel of God’s presence.

The Body of Christ…

  • God is more plainly revealed in the life, body, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, showing us that God is in charge, command, and in love with us all.
  • God can transform all things to God’s heart and will.
  • God can use each of us, no matter the age, style, durability, or fragile nature we perceive.
  • God is calling us to be the container.

Our Containers may be

  • We are afflicted in every way,
    • but not crushed;
  • perplexed, but
    • not driven to despair;  
  • persecuted,
    • but not forsaken;
  • struck down,
    • but not destroyed;  

But here is the Good News: We are carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies

Always

When are we carrying the death and life of Jesus?

  • When we feed, cloth, be friends, remember the forgotten,
  • seek the lost, search for the weary,
  • knock on the table of those who are using God’s name for power, politics, and personal gain.

The old American Express slogan, “Don’t Leave Home without It” is just a good of a reminder that everywhere, in everyday, in every situation, we are the useful pots, the containers of Jesus for the world.

The Hitch in the Get Along

  • The catch is, we either don’t believe this to be true everyday,
  • We take it for granted and think it is something we can pick and choose to share , or
  • We don’t trust God’s power, word, and heart.

For weeks I have ask you to pray for someone that you can disciple, and share your faith. On one hand it is a poor attempt to suggest that there might just be one person, when there are thousands within our areas of influence that we would dare pick one. But this is just the thing:

Most of us don’t use the powers and gifts entrusted.

We are more focused on protecting our own pot, our own body, our own stuff, our own problems, and we miss the point of “God with Us”, Emmanuel, the Good News, the treasure that is entrusted us to share.

Which leaves us with the question to URGENTLY answer:

If you and I are those God is expecting the share the Good News, what do we have to report?

Why do you say URGENT, hasn’t it been thousands of years since Christ arose and might it be a thousand more? It might, but not for me and you.

We do not know the number of our days.

“ Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day”

  1. How many conversations about the weather and politics can we waste talking with one another about what is certain instead of what is perplexing?
  2. How many trips to work and town to do something necessary that we do not reach out to those who are afflicted with the blindness of what the world has to offer.
  3. How much breath do we withhold in an effort to avoid persecution, social shaming, and ridicule?
  4. How many times do we take a stand and risk being struck down for doing what is right for the kingdom of God?

Thank Goodness Paul is only talking to the church in Corinth and not the church in Rock Spring, Georgia! (Oh but his words touch us all, in all time, ALWAYS.

Speaking of Always, let’s compare Sunday afternoon to Eternity.

  • What is the most pressing thing we have today?
  • What is waiting for us in this week ahead that we are responsible to do, lead, or complete?
  • What can be placed on the back burner, or until we have more time, money, energy, or feel more like it?

I have an idea for social media this week:

Instead of posting the usual, or just reading others post and liking or skipping them. Let’s use this powerful tool to share a more powerful message.

  • Let’s share how God is at work in our lives
  • Share what songs and verses are guiding your day.
  • Share what conversation are drawing others closer to God

If you are not only social media, get on the phone, in the car, our out in person and start telling story, sharing the treasure, resume feeding and clothing, visiting and making friends in Christ, start knocking on hearts and heads, ask people how you can pray for them, how God can bless them.

  • Use these clay bots that we are
  • And share the treasure that God has invested in us
  • And transform the world and tell the good news…

Because keeping quiet is not the method that is working very well.

If we stay silent, if we keep it too ourselves, it is as if we only an empty, useless pots and that is not at all what God has blessed, saved, calls, nor expects us to be.

Are you with me? Let’s stop focusing on the pot and sharing the treasure we’ve already got.

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Where is Matthias?

photo of woman looking at the mirror
Look in the Mirror to find the next disciple. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Psalm 1

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law, they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. [nrsa]

The first hymn of praise, Psalm 1, is a simple message. Those who trust God with their lives are happy, blessed, and nourished. Those who do not live trusting God may be happy in the moment, but will not pass the final exam, and will perish, the righteous will live eternally with the father.

1 John 5:9-13

If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. [nrsa]

In the New Testament, 1 John 5 summarizes this simple message in the promise of Christ. To make trusting God clear, Jesus came to prepare, redeem, and save us for eternal life.

John 17:15-19

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes, I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. [nrsa]

As simple as the message is, we do not always find it easy or automatic to trust God, so we need to know Jesus is working on our behalf, as God to help up. Jesus’s pray and blessing over the believers, followers, and disciples. We come to know God’s Holy Spirit as our guide, comfort, and power to continue trusting God.

So often, evil grabs our attention, and we respond to the brokenness rather than stand firm in the assurances.

The 11 O.Clock News, our Sunday message

Imagine if everyone tuned into their favorite source for news and information of the day, and instead of pointing to crime, corruption, despair, and brokenness of the world they spent 28 minutes reading the word of God, singing the hymns and songs of God’s faithfulness, and rallied the stories of how God has been, is, and will protect, bless, guide, and save us from all the evil of this world, and in the last 30 seconds they told one story where evil appeared to have a foot hold but God stepped in and filled the chasm for those who would trust, believe, and follow. That wouldn’t be news, we know all that, it would be boring, no business would sponsor the repetition of Good News.

We want to see the explosions, the gory details, the injustice, and the pain… (in honesty the majority tune in multiple times each day, and does it ever get better for the world’s answers? What problems have governments solved and cured? What products give us eternal hope? What sponsors offer the products that have already been purchased?

We have three scriptures that come before, from, and after Jesus that say the same message: for those who trust God, seek God’s heart, and live as God guides us, God has our back and our future. Those who do not, may look good in the moment, but will perish, are empty, and are not eternal.

Our mission is to be citizen-newscasters. Citizens of heaven, living in a sinful world, reminded, preparing, encouraging, and calling the world to know what is profoundly good, loving as God loves, genuine, beneficial, and lead to our eternal happiness and what it means to be whole.

In the final passage today, Peter looks at the gap of discipleship, the missing pieces of God’s work for the church, the gap was made by Judas, [ In summary, Judas’s story is about using the opportunities of God’s calling to serve ourselves or world’s mission OVER God’s mission, vision, and purpose. With Judas gone, the church sees the need to fill the gap, fortify the line, and return to full strength, in the leadership of being the church on God’s mission]

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus — for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles. [nrsa]

Responding to the gap, casting lots, following God’s heart.

It has always been a curiosity that Peter’s answer of deciding how to interpret who would fill this gap, and was agreed by all others, was to cast lots, throw dice, draw straws, flip a coin. On one hand, where there are two willing, capable, and blessed persons to do one job, the answer is win-win with either choice. On the other, I have always wondered if that is how to the bishops and superintendents made appointments. “Come on, Rock Spring needs a new pair of shoes…

However, we are called and sent, am I surely blessed to have come to be at Rock Spring these seven years and know God will bless Rock Spring for all who believe and trust God’s word and love.

Turn to your neighbor and say, the lot fell on Matthias. And turn to them again and say, “You are Matthias!”

This is where all these passage cross in our lives: The promises of the OT, the Gospel of the NT, the call upon the church, the Church in 2021 coming out of pandemic to face a world that is surely convinced that technology, science, politics, and ideologies of our own creation will save us, make us happy, and give us eternal life.

The Twelfth Man.

I draw more on the example from football rather than the 2017 movie of the same name, because we are not watching a movie, we are the ones involved in field. We are not just spectators, we are those called to step up, step in, and lead where we see the gaps, the loss, the sins, the division.

It is too easy to sit back and wait for the world to force us into action, thinking that that is our faithful part to be on-call. God’s promise to bless, to fill us with purpose, hope, joy, and life is open and calling us right now.

  • When we see a problem, and say: Someone should do something about this situation, vs stepping in to serve at that moment.
  • When would rather complain and blame, we are hearing our own calling to serve, lead, and follow.
  • When we experience fear, injustice, greed, pain, loss, and more, we know we have drawn the straw that calls us proclaim Jesus Christ.
  • While the world looks for the lowest common denominator we have the source, the answer, the power already in our tool box, purse, and backpack..

Yes, Lord, send Me. Yes, Lord, Send Me. Yes, I’m your person, You are my hope and strength. What’s next?

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Day 22 Servant for God Over the Hill

clear glass teacup with coffee beverage
“Do you appreciate the labor that goes in harvesting, transporting, roasting, and preparing your coffee?” Photos on Pexels.com

Read: Joshua 14.4-7 (NRSA)

Joshua and Caleb remember how God called them in their forties to do great things, even under great scrutiny from the people of God. On Joshua’s birthday, the day they entered the Promised Land, they could share in the fruits of their long labors. Faith is working toward a goal of completeness with God. Even if we seldom grasp a glimpse of those divine moments, the goal is about finding ourselves in God and not some reward that is ours to do as we please. Faith is learning to find peace, connection, trust, and connection with God and the People of God.

Most people think of themselves as being a younger age than the real number of years they have lived. Our culture links to age and usefulness in ways that seldom honor our experiences and talents. People are working longer, retiring later, and returning from retirement more frequently. Our spiritual work continues with every breath throughout our lives. We do not retire from serving and worshiping God. God has created our purpose and usefulness that we sometimes overlook in and ourselves and others because of age or maturity. Age is not the only discriminator we see dividing and demeaning people. Gender, culture, skin color, political views, and economics are some of the measures we most quickly use to define worth. Instead, we are called to see ourselves and others as God sees us. Each of us is worth the sacrifice of the cross. What are we worth to God? Everything!

Action Plan: Buy some fair-trade coffee and enjoy a taste of justice.

Prayer: Give me strength O, God to build faith and trust, and to share these with the world each day.

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Mark 9:2-9 Discipleship “Nurturing, and Being Nurtured”

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.  Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. [NRSA: Mark 9:2-9]        

  • “Transfiguration Sunday
  • February 14, 2021
  • Video: TBA

The Peacock is a symbol the church has used to help us remember the transformation of weaving past, present and future from the lumpy and clumsy first appearance that is revealed as the peacock spreads its wings. We are called to sharing THAT story with the world.

Many different passages in scripture it is important to see ourselves in the context of the disciples or crowd. This gives us the view as a participant. This verse is different.

It is the turning point in which Jesus shifts his focus from expanding the reach of his ministry and begins heading toward the cross. Each year it is a helpful time to mark this transition as we begin our journey toward Easter.

We listen to the account of Jesus’s Spiritual nature being revealed and we see through the eyes of others who have seen. And so it is for us today, we see through the witnesses of those who have gone before us. We see through the witness of the church. We see through the lives of those who have experienced the true nature and full awareness of Jesus. We come with questions, doubts, and uncertainties.

What do we hear from accounts of Disciples, who shared what they heard from God, about Jesus, for our behalf. But it is an account that only a few who are hopely more mature in the faith to know Jesus so plainly.

The remarkable and unbelievable parts of the encounter on the mountain top of Mt Tabor were the witnessing of Moses and Elijah, talking with God, and the even more impressive booming declaration of God’s voice, and then silence.

Peter

Peter sees the miraculous events of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, and thinks he has the best response: Let’s make three alters so crowds of people can come to this spot and worship. God’s response is to listen now, and not get ahead of God’s revealing in the past, present, and future of this holy moment.

But what do we make of this account?

This is where the story is also ours to hear and join. God work in Christ is to reveal the connections for our past, present, and futures, and our response is to see, experience, understand, be blessed, and trust, not to get ahead of God’s plan.

In summary of the day on Mt Tabor:

  1. Jesus comes to reveal God’s glory
  2. Jesus fulfills the work of the Law and the Prophets
  3. Jesus is the Son of God
  4. Jesus is to be trusted, believed, and followed.

I have ascended this mountain. I have been to this church. I have seen the multiple alters. I have been to the gift shop.

Geographically it sits in the middle of a plane that is surrounded by mountain, but it a singular light set on a lamp stand in the region.

What makes this moment special is not what happened on Mt Tabor, but to weave together all the roads and mountain top experiences that lead to Mt Calvary.

The take away for this passage calls for a time apart for us to rewind the moments of our own faith journey and single out the people who have taught us the word, the law, the rules, the guidelines and commandments. To list those who have revealed the living presence of God and those who have helped us piece together our own faith journey and see that the one event that holds us together is united in the cross and the empty tomb.

Mark recalls Jesus using a series of “don’t tell anyone” to contrast the news of the empty tomb, which the disciples are instructed to “tell everyone”!

  • We live as those who have heard God’s call to trust, be not afraid, to proclaim the Good News!
  • We live has those who have the story of the cross etched in our view of our human experience.
  • We are the ones who have see Christ transform lives and make our lives filled with joy, hope, and love.
  • We are NOT instructed to keep quiet
  • We are NOT told to wait
  • We ARE called to lives as those TRANSFORMED by Christ

That our living reflects God’s Grace and Love.

It only take 5 minutes to see where we have blurred the lines of Christ in our lives with the world around us in a quest to be right or wrong, left or right, in our out, where we are called to belong to Christ, in the world but not of the world.

The world debates whether people are self identifying themselves by their own choice, and the Church is actually called to recognize and share that we are all nothing with Christ.

  • We live in a world that some value when we are ‘self-made’ men and women.
  • Others long for the government to define who we are and what we are supposed to be and do.
  • God tells Jesus and Disciples to be transformed by God’s power, sacrifice, and resurrection.

What are we to do with this passage: Remember our journey is not over. We have time to allow Christ to more fully transform our hearts, minds, our work and rest, our families and enemies, the church, community, and world. The call to follow Christ as our hope and salvation is clear. Q: Are we clear in that purpose with our lives?

If not, today is a day of confession and a prayer for strength

If so, today is a day to invite others to join in God’s ongoing work thorugh us.

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1 Corinthians 9:16-23 “Let’s Go to the Neighbors

Do Your Neighbors Know Joy and Grace in Christ like you?

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “”Everyone is searching for you.”” He answered, “”Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. [NRSA: 1 COR 9:16-23]

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 7, 2021 Video:

  • 5th Sunday after the Epiphany
  • February 7, 2021
  • Video Link:

Jesus did an unexpectedly good job at the synagogue teaching and casting out demons, but his mission and ministry is not to be spent just in one town.

His healing of Simon Peter’s mother opened the can of worms! Everyone who had not come to the synagogue the day before was now showing up at the house to be healed and set free.

Again we think of Jesus being the Great Physician and healer, as he gives witness to the power of God, but his primary mission was not to heal family and friends.

Jesus model’s teach, healing, setting people free from all sorts of evil, obsession and addiction. He reaches out to his disciples, their families and those who they shared about what Jesus might do for them.

But the mission is more than one lesson, one town, one family, or even one community…

For all the out-pouring of power and healing, Jesus is intentional about claiming time away from the work. It is not simple taking his vacation days, rather making time and making and a way, and making a space that is AWAY from everyone else, for his renewal.

As an itinerant ministry i am claiming a personal place that is apart and away. , I have been on I’ve been using some of my personal time to build a place to pray ; It’s made from pallets, used doors and leftover parts from previous projects. But it is a place that I have dreamed about for many years. It is a 32 square feet set apart from all other responsibilities this is a place of prayer and renewal. I’m calling it a chapel. If it is ever empty you are welcome to visit, but if I’m there you will have to wait for me to leave. It’s not finished and it’s not heated but it is a work in progress… just as i am.

But Jesus’s ministry was not to stay sequestered alone as monk in a monastery, he ministry was to share God’s power and presence with the next neighborhood.

It is time to go to the neighbors.

We have made several attempts to start a ministry to the neighbors who live in close proximity to our church building as a response to Jesus’s own call to do the very same ministry.

When we have been moved out of our own building, we have been given the chance to see what it is like for our neighbors who have no church family, no relationship with Christ. We now have felt what it is to look from the outside in and wonder, grieve, and be tempted by so many distractions from being the body of Christ.

We have not been to our neighbors in Culebra and Costa Rica, We have not been to our neighbors in the name of safety and we find ourselves on the edge of wondering when we will be the body, united again…

Jesus’s discovery from his time in prayer and renewal was this: It’s good to be with family and friends, but there are other neighbors that are our primary work.

If anything, this past year has awakened the call to

1. Lift the hand of those who are sick

2. Lift the heart of those who grieve

3. Lift the hope of those who have given up or given in

4. Lift the Spirit of those who are feel forgotten

5. Lift the Spirit of those who have forgotten the joy of fellowship

6. Lift the foot of those who have stumbled and lost their way

7. We too have been in that wilderness and place of separations and yet we know Christ is with us. —- we have neighbors who we don’t even know.

THE ministry of Disciples is to disciple others

We have less than two weeks before Ash Wednesday. We will have some variation of a worship service on the 17th to make the beginning of our journey to the neighbors.

What is needed? Jesus was calling, training, teaching, and sending disciples to make beyond the walls to reach the neighbors.

Here is the measure of what it means to be RSUMC, or every church… To be the church of Jesus’s Christ in 2021 is to be making disciples

? What, that’s not new and creative? The mission has not changed by our method need to be fresh and meaningful, but the message has not changed. Our call has not changed…

Every person in our church family can disciple someone their know or someone God leads us to…. in every age and faith experience… there are people God needs us to reach. (Others may have tried, we are called to go next.)

What does this look like?

1. Standup to follow.

2. Spending time in prayer

3. Looking for Jesus

4. Be ready to follow where the Holy Spirit is leading us…

If you feel even the nudge of this calling make some sign to God, raise you hand, stand where you are, put in writing, type it in the comments, shout it out. Claim this as the moment that we activate our mission for Christ in 2021. Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Here I am, I am yours. Make is so, amen.

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John 1:43-51 “Answering the Call”

Photo: https://www.ginfoundry.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fig-tree.jpg
  • John 1:43-51     New Revised Standard Version with Apocrypha
  • “Second Sunday after the Epiphany” January 17, 2021
  • Video: https://youtu.be/j3KH3CnKq2w

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.

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Advent2 Mark 1:1-8 “Tying Laces”

closeup photo of brown lace up boot
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 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. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 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. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [NRSA: Mark 1:1-8]

  • It is interesting that Mark’s gospel begins with Jesus and John the Baptist.
  • The starting point is baptism. John’s invitation was a call for people to repent.

REPENTANCE

Moving spiritually closer toward God requires that we acknowledge our separation from God.

  • Some of the spiritual distance comes from our moving away from God by wilfully choosing what we know to be harmful to others, ourselves, and/or the opposite of God’s best for us.
  • Some come as we allow other relationships and responsibilities to come before God. It is not that the relationship and responsibilities are bad, it is that we look for strength, judgment, discernment from ourselves, or others ahead of God.
  • In this year we have particularly been asked to trust the science, trust the scientists. We appreciate those who devote themselves to using the mind, research, calculations, measurements, and follow the methods and practice of science. But even science is the discovering, understanding, and use of God’s creation. There are those who want science to be void of God and stand as an authority that needs no idea of God, this is not why God has given us the ability to reason, to be self-aware, and to imagine new solutions. If we study at the marvel of God’s creation and not honor that God is greater than our greatest minds, then we create our own God. (commandment #2)
  • Some the gap is created when we choose little, by little, our will over God’s: The fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden was just one piece of fruit. What difference does one tangerine, one apple, one pomegranate make in a garden of plenty?
  • God is gracious to forgive, but our failures to follow God’s direction and call in our daily lives in whatever form reveals the chasm we are from God. (Lazarus and the Rich Man)

John drew crowds of people from all around who came to hear him help them see their weakness and make changes. The sign of this fresh start was given through baptism in the Jordon.

  • Think about a good athletics coach, their job is not to only talk about the good things that the team accomplished, but they spend more time pointing out the problem, potential problems, studying tapes of past problems, assistant coaches to look out for offense and defense, all to make changes to improve each player and the team.
  • Even the very best teams, in every sport and league, are made of players that have mistakes, misjudgments, poor choices, grow weary, break the rules, miss opportunities, don’t score, and lose games and seasons.
  • Repentance is looking at the tapes and seeing where we failed and grace is knowing there are another game and other opponents the next day or week.

SANDALS and SERVANTS

John’s illustration is about a simple task that most everyone in this room and stream has done throughout their lives… tying shoes and sandals.

Do you remember learning to tie shoes? We have a different experience with our footwear. The task of washing feet was the task of the least person of status to prepare people for leaving the dirt of the world in the street and washing the feet to be clean in the house.

There are strong images of baptism in foot washing. Recall how Jesus surprised everyone when he washes the disciple’s feet.

There are several example of sandals, feet, and laces in the old testament:

  1. Gn 14 Abram tells the King of Sodom that he would take even a thread from his sandals so he would be faithful that the Lord’s work provides and not the wealth of other nations.
  2. Dt 25. If a woman’s husband died, her husband’s brother was to take her in and provide a family for her. If he would not, the woman would take offer her sandal and spit in his face.
  3. Ruth 4. If someone took off their shoe and give it to his neighbor, he was disowning their friendship and not welcome them as part of the community.

These three examples cover, tithing, marriage, and care of one’s neighbor, and now baptism. Key themes we weave together through laces.

John’s connection is that the Messiah was so much more qualified, able, AND worthy to look for, follow and trust, that John, himself, was not even worthy to carry his shoes or untie his laces.

The baptism John is offering is a helpful sign of washing away the past to start fresh, but it was only symbolic, and all the ‘work’ and the need to ‘wash’ happens as often in daily life. BUT, Jesus is coming to wash our spirit!

LACES and BETTER FIT

  • When we tie our laces we are drawing together the wide open gaps to a snug fit.
  • When we untie our laces we are making room and setting free our feet for rest and welcome.
  • What can set our spirit free to be fulling God’s People?

John the Baptist:

  • I’m famous, but I am not worthy to set you free,
  • I’m a good coach, but I am not worthy to hold your faith together;
  • I can draw a crowd, but I am not worthy to keep your family safe;
  • I can offer you a valuable message, but I am not worth enough to make you wealthy,
  • I am not able to hold the community together, BUT the Messiah can do all that and more…

Here John Proclaims the coming Good News: Jesus both holds’s us snug in this world and free’s our spirit and makes us both physically and spiritually whole.

  • You and I help each other see our sins and Jesus is the one who saves us
  • You and I care for those who hunger, and Jesus makes our spirit new and full.
  • You and I can do great things, but if we think they are possible without God, we steal the glory
  • You and I cannot do all things, but Christ can.
    • This is who we seek,
    • this is who we trust,
    • this is who we praise.

In this second week we review the tapes from this year’s season and see what we need to repair, renew, and restore… Through this we repent and make ourselves ready to meet Jesus who is our salvation, hope and joy.

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Matthew 5:1-12 ‘The’ Sermon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Matthew 4:12-23

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

The call to follow is an invitation to

  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Follow
  • Transform
  • Call others

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

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

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

What can I do? To disciple others.

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

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

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

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