Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

One last thought before Sunday, Easter 2

And now for the last part of the passage, John 20:24-31(CEV) and Jesus' interaction with Thomas.

24Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. 25So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"

26A week later the disciples were together again. This time, Thomas was with them. Jesus came in while the doors were still locked and stood in the middle of the group. He greeted his disciples 27and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!"

28Thomas replied, "You are my Lord and my God!"

29Jesus said, "Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!"

30Jesus worked many other miracles [a] for his disciples, and not all of them are written in this book. 31But these are written so that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. If you have faith in [b] him, you will have true life.

Here we come to the appearance of Jesus to Thomas. He didn't have to do it did he, after all, Thomas just missed him the first time. Jesus could have said; " You just had to be there." " Too bad, You missed it." He could have not appeared at all and left Thomas in his loss and doubts. Instead he recognized that Thomas needed to see his wounds to touch his side. and so he made it possible for Thomas to do so.

Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Once again the doors were shut. Once again the Risen Christ miraculously appeared and stood in their presence. Once again, the Risen Christ greets the disciples with his offer of peace to them. And here they are behind locked doors, still afraid, still in hiding. And yet the locked doors does not keep Jesus out.

-Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Jesus was offering the evidences of his wounded hands and his side. He offers himself, his wounded hands, his wounded scars to us even today. He is forever scarred. Forever wounded, all for all of us.

Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Without touching Jesus’ hands and without touching the wound in his side, Thomas confesses the most profound yet simple confession of faith: “My Lord and my God.” This is what Christ is looking for from us: that we come to that time or place in our lives where we simply confess, “Jesus, you are my Lord and my God.” The confession is personal and says a whole lot about our relationship with Jesus.

-Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ That is our situation today. We have not seen the way Thomas saw and experienced the Risen Christ. Jesus’ response to Thomas is not scolding, nor is he scolding to us. What another beatitude? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. St. Augustine put it this way; " Late have I loved you, beauty so ancient and so fresh. Late have I loved you. Behold, you were within and I was outside, and I was seeking you there. I, deformed, was pursuing you in the beautifully formed things that you made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Those things held me far away from you, things that would not exist if they were not in you. You called and clamored and shattered my deafness; you flashed and gleamed and banished my blindness; you were fragrant and I drew in breath and now pant for you. I tasted and now I hunger and thirst for you; you touched me and I have been set ablaze with longing for your peace. "(St. Augustine, Confessions [10:38], translated by Scott MacDonald) Jesus knew then and knows now that some of us are going to come to this late and not right off the bat. And with Jesus it doesn't matter, he loves us!

So many of us are like Thomas we want a God with flesh on, its too hard to believe in a God in the sky kind of God. Jesus was God in the flesh. But that was many many years ago. Who is God in flesh today? Who is it that people can touch the wounds in the hands in the side? Who is it that carries the scars of the cross, the whippings, the scourging, the thorns on the brow for people to see, and say it is you? No we don't have the real live flesh in the blood Jesus. Instead the world has you and me to represent that Jesus to the world. And oh my aren't we scarred and wounded in some way? But we try to hide that and most of all we try to hide Jesus. We need to come out from behind the locked doors and show others Jesus and show others our true selves our scars our wounds.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jesus in the John 20:19-31

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Jesus Appears to Thomas 24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."
26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may[a] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31 NIV

Jesus is resurrected already, showed himself to women, and now we have two other appearances of Jesus. Was there a need for these two appearances to further verify and to have more witnesses? Was it to make sure for the disciples that he really had forgiven them?

Brian Stoffregen at Cross Marks Christian Resources says; "The purpose of this resurrection appearance is not so much to prove the resurrection as it is to send the disciples as Jesus had been sent. Easter is not just coming to a wonderful, inspiring worship service, it is being sent back into the (hostile) world, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to the identity of God as revealed in Jesus." Whatever the reason, the scripture doesn't really say. But appear, Jesus does. It does seem that important that Jesus first words to the disciples is, "Peace be with you". Yes, it is a common greeting, but is this not the peace that Jesus promised them in John 14:27. And it does seem that it is imortant that Jesus appeared to the disciples behind closed doors. The doors did not stop him, or keep him out. In their hiding, they were found by Jesus. He intended to find them, to come and be with them.

And what does he do, but show them his hands, and side. He was intuitive to their need to be able to see. And he certainly was no ghost. Once again he tells them Peace to you and I am sending you, just as my father sent me. And then he breathes on them the Holy Spirit! Here is a little Pentecost or perhaps the beginning of Pentecost. In my book it does make them a new and different community of faith. And with the breath of the Holy Spirt, he empowers them to forgive and at the same time to retain the sins of any, they are retained. Can you believe it that he has left in the hands of these disciples the beginning of the church, the mission of the Kingdom of God, the spreading of the gospel around the world? Well can you believe he has left it into our hands to do this? Can you believe that he has even breathed his Holy Spirit into us to be able to do this mission? Jesus is echoing back to that creation story – giving the gift of breath, spirit, wind to his followers. “Ruach” in Hebrew and “pneuma” in Greek, the languages used in those writings, mean all three. Wow a new beginning for these disciples and for us. Isn't interesting this power they are given to forgive and at the same time they too had been forgiven. And what about us, we too have been given the power to forgive and we too have been forgiven. Eugene Patterson translates it this way in the message: "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"

Have we gone in hiding ourselves?
Are we living in fear?
Have we recieved the peace of Jesus?
How does seeing the hands and side of Jesus effect us?
How have we responded to the breath of the Holy Spirit?
And how have we dealt with the power to forgive that has been given us?

I know I have hidden behind closed doors in my life. And I have been afraid too. I hope I have not stayed behind those closed doors, and hope I haven't continued to live in fear. I believe that Jesus' peace, presence and breath of the Holy Spirit has set me free and has empowered me to forgive in ways I never knew possible.

Thomas and Jesus in John 20:19-31

I made a goof and posted my thoughts on my other blog StJohnRevAbi instead of here. Oh well. So here are my thoughts on Thomas and Jesus from the passage John 20:19-31

Just where was Thomas the first time around? Why wasn't he in the upperroom with the rest? Hiding somewhere else perhaps? Maybe he had heard through the grapevine about Jesus being risen from the dead. Perhaps he had gone back to the tomb to see if it was true and then headed to Galillee. We don't know and can only guess. But we do know it was a week later that they all were together including Thomas. He hadn't met the risen Jesus like the others, and openly expressed his feelings and his doubts. Often when someone dies, we will say "I just can't believe they are dead." We say that right after it happens, and sometimes almost a year or more later. That feeling doesn't go away quickly. So in a way Thomas is expressing normal reactions to an unbelievable situation. What is it like for those when there is no body or when the body is so disfigured or unpresentable for a viewing, what are the family members to do? How do they feel.
I heard my grandad died. He had donated his body to science, and I did not see his body after death, it immediately went to the University of Florida Medical School. I did wonder a lot what happened to him, what he looked like. I wanted to touch him to have a way of saying goodbye. I didn't get it. I had to use my imagination.
Thomas was able to see and touch Jesus. And what happened? Reality set in and he was able to profess Jesus as his Master and God.
Sometimes for people who are grieving, they are not able to move into reality, and stay in the unreality. Sometimes the grief takes over and a person is not able to move through their grief and are stuck in what is called unhealthy grief. Sometimes, the person feels guilty about something they have said or done, or didn't do and that affects the person's ability to grieve in a healthy way. Sometimes, the person is separated, not talked with or has had a negative relationship with the person who died, that also can effect the grief process. We don't know all that was behind how Thomas felt, what he did and said. But scripture leads us to believe he was able to move to a point of reality about Jesus.
How can we help those who are having trouble with their grief?
How can we help those who have not been able to see the body for some reason, grieve?
Grief can effect so many areas of one's life from simple tasks to major tasks to relationships to health, you name it. How can we minister to those in grief?
How can we help the "Thomases" in our life?
How are we like Thomas? What do we need in our lives our own grief?
The painting is the Doubting of Thomas by Caravagio

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter 2:John 20:19-31

Wow Easter Sunday is passed with all its festivities and finery. We now move to the post resurrection appearances of Jesus. The first being in John 20:19-31. You can't read this passage without thinking Thomas, "doubting Thomas." In fact if you are not careful you can get stuck on "Doubting Thomas." But try to read the passage with fresh eyes. Try to hear with fresh ears. Try to feel with fresh emotions.
From the NRSV:

19When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

What did you see? What did you hear? Did you see the dark of night? Did you hear the night time noises? Did you see the fearful unsure looks on the disciple's faces? Did you hear their furtive whispers? Did you see Jesus appear in their midst? Did you see his calmness and his desires for them? Did you hear him breath on them? Did you see it? Did you feel it? Did you hear his words Peace be with you? Did you see his hands his sides? Did you experience the joy the disciples felt? Did you see the look of joy on their faces? Did you receive the power of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive or the power to retain? Was this a wonderment and amazement to you and to them? How did you feel after he left? How did you feel when Thomas entered the room? Were you excited to tell him also? What did the disciples faces look like? Their voices? How did you feel when Thomas said that he too wanted to see and touch also? What did the disciples look like?

Lets stop there with the first appearance of Jesus, mull this around in your head and heart.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Scripture: Matthew 28:1-10

Today we look at the part of the scripture that refers to the angel;
Matthew 28:1-4 After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb. Suddenly the earth reeled and rocked under their feet as God's angel came down from heaven, came right up to where they were standing. He rolled back the stone and then sat on it. Shafts of lightning blazed from him. His garments shimmered snow-white. The guards at the tomb were scared to death. They were so frightened, they couldn't move.
5-6The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.
7"Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.' That's the message."

What are we to make of the angel in the Easter story? Were angels really real then? And was that just for then and they are not real now? What in the world was the appearance of the angel for? Was the angel necessary?

It is obvious the guards are scared to death with the earthquake, the stone being rolled away, and the appearance of the angel. The women are scared, but not frozen by their fear. The angel offers an invitation; "Come and See" after telling them "There is nothing to fear here." I like that, there is nothing to fear here. And then sends them on their way to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. Wow.

Angels are seen all throughout the bible. Angels serve as messengers, but their name would also apply to a town crier or an agitator in the streets. They are not little babies resembling the Roman demigods of Bacchus (Cupids). Flying babies might amuse hardened Roman soldiers but they would hardly strike them with deadly fear. Nearly every time an angel appears, their first words have been; “Don’t be afraid.”

To the oppressor, the angel looked frightening; but to the women that loved Jesus, the angel came in peace with a message of great joy. Perhaps the question for us is then, how will the messenger come into my life? Have I been oppressor or oppressed? Will the angel cause me to tremble or to rejoice? How would we feel, or react if we saw the angel at the tomb? Would we be able to remember the angels announced the birth of Jesus as well?

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Heb 1:14)

Angel at Jesus' tomb

Friday, March 21, 2008

Matthew 28:1-10

In Matthew's account the women were the main characters.
They saw fearful things, heard words from an angel,
and finally ran into Jesus himself!

On Friday, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James (“the other Mary”) have seen Jesus’ body laid in the tomb, the stone door sealed, and a guard mounted. Now, soon after dawn on Sunday morning (“the first day of the week”) they return to “see” and probably to mourn. The angel commissions the women to tell the disciples of Jesus' resurrection and to let them know that they shall see him in Galilee. the risen Jesus appears to the two women as they are on their way to tell the disciples. This is actually a strange turn of events. The angel’s reassuring words in 28:5 presuppose that the women, like the guards, are initially afraid; but in v. 8 we find that their fear is now accompanied with “great joy” as they run to carry out their commission. The angel has just commissioned them (28:7), and now Jesus blocks their path. They recognize and worship him. The reason that they take hold of his feet might simply be a gesture to assure them that he is not a detached spirit, but the actual Jesus. These women are the first witnesses to his resurrection.

So what do we do with this emphasis on the women in the Resurrection Story? Does it take away from the resurrection of Jesus? Does it add to it? Is Matthew using some kind of code language? In the birth of Jesus, all sorts of people were included that normally would have been in the background somewhere. Women especially have their stories told. Mary, the mother of Jesus, has much told about her then and now. So what is the gospel getting across to us? What are we to make of the women's involvement?

Again, I think that the good news is radical. Jesus is radical. The resurrection is radical. And to show the radical nature of the good news, the women are emphasized here. But you know it could be a simple as the men ran away and hid, the women came to do what women are to do and were in the right place at the right time. It would be like God to do that. And finally what if the point is the resurrection was for everybody, who believe, not just a select few?

Picture from Orthodox online

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Easter Sunday

WE come to Easter Sunday having gone through Holy Week anticipating the celebration and joy of the resurrection.

In the Matthew Passage; the connection between resurrection, worship, and mission.In the denomination I grew up in, the presence of the women in the resurrection story was minimized. I wonder inside my own self, what does it mean that women are the first to the tomb, not ignored but instead told to go and tell and then they do so.

For Matthew it is a very cosmic event with earthquake and an Angel.

And just as with Jesus' birth we read those words "Do not be Afraid."

George Mason titled his 2005 Easter sermon, Christ on the Loose.
I think that is an apt title, because Christ is on the loose. I think you can't pin God down and keep him down. i don't think you could keep Jesus in the grave. I think that is why you have in Matthew's gospel a Resurrection of epic proportions.

Picture is by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311. CGFA The Holy Women at the sepulechre

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easter Message

Icon from the 12th century at Christian Art website

The upcoming Sunday message is on Matthew 28:1-10;

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

What strikes you about this passage?
What do you hear?
What do you feel?
What do you make of the women being the first witnesses to the resurrection? What do you think is going on that not only are they told by the Angel, "don't be afraid to go quickly and tell his disciples," but they are told by Jesus the same thing?
How would you have handled all the drama surrounding the resurrection; the violent earthquake, the angel, the rolling away of the stone, and then meeting Jesus?

I came across this at; "Nine Ways to Live the Resurrection" by Theresa Borchard.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Icon from Christian Art

This morning the kids waved their palm branches as we sang hymns. We heard the scriptures about Jesus entry into Jerusalem. We heard the sermon on this passage, where we talked about Jesus coming as the humble King on a donkey. And how would we respond to Jesus coming to our city today?

So how would we welcome Jesus today if he came into our city today? Into our church? Into our lives today?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Hymn and a scripture for Sunday

Words to Ride on Ride on in Majesty the song being sung;

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes Hosanna cry;
O Savior meek, pursue Thy road
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die!
O Christ! Thy triumph now begin
Over captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
The wingèd squadrons of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see the approaching sacrifice.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father, on His sapphire throne,
Expects His own anointed Son.

Ride on, ride on, in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy power, and reign.

written by Henry H. Milman and music by Lowell Mason at Cyber Hymnal.

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king [a] comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Palm Sunday

Have you been thinking about what this Sunday means to you?
I don't have memories of Palm Sunday from child hood, we didn't celebrate it. I remember Easter Egg hunts and Easter Sunday. How about you? Did you grow up in a church that celebrated Palm Sunday? What do you remember?

This Sunday we celebrate Jesus entry into Jerusalem. We read the scriptures of this event, of him riding in on a donkey, of the crowds laying their cloaks and palm branches down before him as he rides in. It was a high time. I wonder what Jesus thought as he rode in that day? I wonder what he was saying to Jesus? A donkey? Come on Jesus at least give me a fine stallion or horse. If I got to do this thing can't I go in a rolls royce or something bigger. Can't I be surrounded by some beautiful women? You know where this leads God. These very crowds are going to turn on me and want me crucified, they'll forget they welcomed me and say hosannas to me. This is not going to be fun. Please God I don't want to go.

I include here for your viewing and hearing pleasure, the song "All Glory, Laud and Honor.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Discussion for Palm/Passion Sunday

The passage I will be preaching on is Matthew 21:1-11.

1 As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
5 “Tell the people of Israel,[a]

‘Look, your King is coming to you.

He is humble, riding on a donkey—

riding on a donkey’s colt.’”[b]
6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.[c]
8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
“Praise God[d] for the Son of David!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Praise God in highest heaven!”[e]
10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Read the passage several times. Let it soak into you. What do you see? What do you hear? What gets down into your mind? Your heart? Your soul?

If you were there that day, where were you? Were you one of his disciples? One of the crowd? The owner of the Donkey? Were you cutting down branches for others to wave? Were you waving them and shouting to the Lord? Were you someone in the city, asking who is this? Were you one of the religious leaders? the busy housewife trying to make sure all is prepared for Passover? The shopkeeper who is facing harassed & demanding customers? The vendor at the souvenir kiosk? The Roman soldier trying to discern who may be an actual threat? The country-come-to-town tourist who is in town for the occasion? Who would you want to be? What would it feel like to you to be there that day? How would your heart be touched? Your soul?

A friend of mine asks these questions for us to consider; There were other processions of all sorts probably going on. What made Jesus' entry so different? What got the attention of the crowds? Was the whole event merely an episode of "crowd mentality?" What does Jesus' entry into the turmoil of my life mean?

Good things to ponder as we prepare not just for Palm Sunday, but the beginning of Holy Week that is a turn of events from this excitement.

Picture from Church Powerpoint by Rev Dorothy Okray

Thursday, March 06, 2008

continued thoughts on Deut 4:1-9

So Sunday we will hear the text with a sermon on Deuteronomy 4:1-9 with a focus on verse 9.

Deuteronomy 4:9 "Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children's children --"

I found at Ginghamsburg a sermon, a Bible Study, and Devotions on this scripture.

The Monday Devotion makes reference to James 1:23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. How does this passage fit with the Deuteronomy passage and what does it say to you?

They also ask these questions on this day: Who are we really? Do we look at ourselves by faith, or do we look at ourselves just in the natural? Do we believe God and what he says about us? How would you answer these questions?

I preached a sermon once on Baptism about who tells you who you are? I may have to go through the old sermon to see what's in it.

My one daughter worries about what people think of her, and tries very hard to fit in. My other daughter is popular and makes friends very easily, doesn't always worry about what people think. My son well he just is himself and actually is the boss. I have spent my whole life worrying about what other people think. I had no idea what God thought of me, except I thought he thought I was the worm of the earth, because of what I was told. I believed that all my life. But it isn't true and isn't true for any of us really. I am a child of God and so are my children. I try to get that across to them. When I listened to what everybody else thought about me or I tried to figure it out and live by that and saw myself that way, I did what James says, I forgot who I was.

There are a lot of people walking around not knowing who they are really, trying to figure it out, trying on the latest affirmations, or doing what self help books tell them to do. That's all well and good, but the answer is not in those. The answer is in who God made us to be and tells us to be.

Read the devotion and let me know what you think.
Take a moment and listen to who God says you are.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

For Sunday, March 9, Deut. 4:1-9

Deuteronomy 4:1-9 New International Version

Obedience Commanded
1 Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you.
3 You saw with your own eyes what the LORD did at Baal Peor. The LORD your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, 4 but all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today.
5 See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? 8 And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

The focus for my sermon is on verse 9. "Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;"

I like how it starts out with "Only be careful". It reminds me of the NYPD Blues tv show many years ago, where after their morning briefing and before they headed out, the Sargent would tell everybody: "Let's be careful out there." How can we be careful?

The Israelites were instructed to keep their souls diligently. The word "keep" means, "to guard, keep watch over, and observe." The soul is the inner self - the emotions of the heart and the thoughts of the mind.
They are the same two words used when Joshua told them, Josh. 23:11 “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God."
How could they stand guard over their inner selves? The proverb says, Prov. 19:16 "He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die."

What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sermon questions for Sunday, March 9

Hi all,
Sunday sermon went pretty good. I am glad I had already written some qestions from last week. Even though there were no responses, it helped me prepare for this Sunday.

This coming Sunday, I am preaching on Deuteronomy 4:1-9 with a focus on verse 9.

Here are the verses: Deuteronomy 4:1-9 NRSV
4So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you. 3You have seen for yourselves what the Lord did with regard to the Baal of Peor—how the Lord your God destroyed from among you everyone who followed the Baal of Peor, 4while those of you who held fast to the Lord your God are all alive today. 5See, just as the Lord my God has charged me, I now teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. 6You must observe them diligently, for this will show your wisdom and discernment to the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!” 7For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? 8And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today? 9But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children—

As you read this passage, what is it you hear God saying to you?
How do you keep from forgetting?
How have you made known to your children and your grandchildren and great grandchildren; the Lord your God?