Jun 10, 2018
Signs of God’s Work – ????

Signs of God's Work - ????                                Acts 19:1-7

Holy Spirit

Paul finds himself in Ephesus and meets some Christians.  Leaving behind any customary greeting, Paul abruptly asks, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit?"  The question is intriguing, but their answer borders on disturbing, "We have not even heard there is a Holy Spirit."  They must have been good Methodists, reared in an institutional, respectable, staid church.
 
I confess, there has been more than one time in my life as a United Methodist that I have asked, "Have the United Methodists even heard there is a Holy Spirit?"
 
Maybe we think the Holy Spirit is just for Charismatics.
 
Maybe we think the Holy Spirit is just for wacky Televangelists.
 
Maybe we think the Holy Spirit would turn our worship service into something too exciting and expressive.
 
Maybe we haven't heard of the person and powerful work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit that drove a fledging church to go places they would have never gone, to share Christ with people that before they would never even sit at the dinner table with, is the same Spirit "making it difficult for the staid church to limit the work of the Spirit to the care, internal maintenance and safekeeping of the status quo church." (Will Willimon, The Holy Spirit p.56)
 
God is always ready to strengthen us in our faith. We can come to Him with our weakness, and He will make us strong. He will empower us in all that we do.
 
Reflect on... Acts 19
1) What experiences have you had where the Holy Spirit has been active in your church?
2) When is the last time you talked specifically about the Holy Spirit in your committee, ministry team and / or small group?

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  • Jun 10, 2018Signs of God’s Work – ????
    Jun 10, 2018
    Signs of God’s Work – ????

    Signs of God's Work - ????                                Acts 19:1-7

    Holy Spirit

    Paul finds himself in Ephesus and meets some Christians.  Leaving behind any customary greeting, Paul abruptly asks, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit?"  The question is intriguing, but their answer borders on disturbing, "We have not even heard there is a Holy Spirit."  They must have been good Methodists, reared in an institutional, respectable, staid church.
     
    I confess, there has been more than one time in my life as a United Methodist that I have asked, "Have the United Methodists even heard there is a Holy Spirit?"
     
    Maybe we think the Holy Spirit is just for Charismatics.
     
    Maybe we think the Holy Spirit is just for wacky Televangelists.
     
    Maybe we think the Holy Spirit would turn our worship service into something too exciting and expressive.
     
    Maybe we haven't heard of the person and powerful work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit that drove a fledging church to go places they would have never gone, to share Christ with people that before they would never even sit at the dinner table with, is the same Spirit "making it difficult for the staid church to limit the work of the Spirit to the care, internal maintenance and safekeeping of the status quo church." (Will Willimon, The Holy Spirit p.56)
     
    God is always ready to strengthen us in our faith. We can come to Him with our weakness, and He will make us strong. He will empower us in all that we do.
     
    Reflect on... Acts 19
    1) What experiences have you had where the Holy Spirit has been active in your church?
    2) When is the last time you talked specifically about the Holy Spirit in your committee, ministry team and / or small group?

    If you are interested in hearing other sermons, click here.

  • Jun 3, 2018You Cannot Pass
    Jun 3, 2018
    You Cannot Pass

    You Cannot Pass                                    Acts 8:26-36

    Evangelism

    Luke interrupts the tremendous spread of the gospel with this seemingly pedestrian story of a eunuch sitting in his chariot at a rest stop. The person is not mentioned by name, who he is doesn't appear as important as what he is and how he has lived his life.

     

    Philip, prompted by the Holy Spirit, take the same road as the eunuch, meets him at the rest stop and engages in conversion. Philip, prompted by the Holy Spirit, is provided the opportunity its to share the good news of Jesus.

     

    When is the last time you were prompted by the Holy Spirit to share the good new of Jesus Christ?

     

    When is the last time you followed through on the prompting?

     

    The eunuch innocently asks, "What would keep me from being baptized?" This is not a rhetorical question, it is a critical question. The eunuch asks the question expecting answer - lots of answers.

     

    He is someone who has been prevented his whole life and expects to be prevented again. Philip does not give an answer because there is no answer to give.

    So, what is the point of this story?

    The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch teaches us one of the ways God uses us to evangelize the world. The book of Acts has a lot of evangelism that was done without an angel of the Lord having to tell the Christians to do it (e.g., 8:4). It's what one does if one loves Jesus and loves people. You tell the good news.

    Reflect On:
    These questions are from Bishop Lowry's study on Acts.
     
    1. What does it mean in your life to be offered Christ? What does it mean in the life of our church?
     
    2. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit redirecting your life and the life of your church?
     

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  • May 27, 2018Signs of God’s Work – Upside Down
    May 27, 2018
    Signs of God’s Work – Upside Down

    Upside Down                            Acts 3:1-11

     Healing the Lame

    [caption id="attachment_9989" align="alignleft" width="177"] Upside Down[/caption] A person who is lame asks Peter and John for money.  For the lame person it is a matter of survival.  There were no social service programs to help him.  He relied solely on the generosity of others to care for him.  Peter and John are on their way to church.
     
    What would you do?
     
    The people, filled with compassion, would carry him to the temple gate so he could ask for money.  And obviously, people were moved to help him financially.  The people cared and cared deeply, yet he was still lame.
     
    Peter and John don't offer money.  They offer what they have - they offer something better, more powerful than money and survival - they offer a cure that only comes through Jesus Christ.  They told him to rise up and walk.  They help him up.  The man is able to run and jump and praise Christ's name.
     
    In our deep compassionate caring for people, do we also offer the cure, or do we leave them lame?
     

    Just as John and Peter, you also have the opportunity to offer the risen Christ.

     
     
     
     
     
  • May 13, 2018The Ascension – A Holiday Wanna-Be
    May 13, 2018
    The Ascension – A Holiday Wanna-Be
    Series: Risen

    The Ascension                                                                      Acts 1:6-11

    A Holiday Wanna-Be

    Have you ever awoke on a Monday and said, “Praise God for the Ascension?” The Ascension seems to be an obscure holiday sandwiched in between Easter and Pentecost. The Ascension didn’t make the big three; Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Yet, the Ascension is the day we celebrate Jesus ultimately transcending the earth and affirming that Jesus is lord.
    In the midst of mess, chaos, division, mass shooting, threats of war, racial injustice, human trafficking, we as Christians boldly proclaim Jesus is still lord!  Thank God for the Ascension!
     
    *The Ascension refers to the day celebrated 40 days after Easter when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus returns to God after being with his disciples after the resurrection.
     
    Reflect on... 1) How does knowing “Jesus is Lord” ease your anxiety / fear? 2) What difference does “Jesus is Lord” make on Monday?
  • May 8, 2018Risen: To Tell the Truth
    May 8, 2018
    Risen: To Tell the Truth
    Series: Risen

    Risen: To Tell the Truth                                                 Acts 1:1-8

     Be a Witness

    It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

    Francis of Assisi

     
    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="197"] Risen - To Tell the Truth[/caption] Some of Jesus' last words are a charge for disciples to be witnesses.  As Methodist, we are great practical witnesses.  By that I mean we do great works, social programs, mission projects, etc.  As Methodist, we are great verbal atheists.  By that I mean we are very willing to give the cup of water but not so willing to name the name of Jesus.
     
    I know it is critically important to put our faith in action, faith without works is dead.
     
    I know it is critically important that our actions are in line with what we profess.
     
    At the same time, I have yet to hear a testimony that someone became a Christian because you have an Icthus (the fish symbol) on the back of your car and they were overwhelmed by your tremendous Christian driving.  🙂
     
    Jesus charged His disciples to proclaim the truth they beheld.
     
    Christianity is always only one generation away from extinction.
     
    INCARNATION - God becoming human in Jesus Christ.
     
    CRUCIFIXION - Jesus dying on the cross so we can be forgiven of all sins.

    RESURRECTION - Jesus raised from the dead so we have eternal life and can live today as God’s people.

    Faith is personal.  Faith is not private.

    Reflect on... (These are from Bishop Lowry’s Study on Acts - “Acting Boldly”)
    1) With whom have you shared your faith (recently or ever)?
    2) Where is your Jerusalem (immediate community), your Judea (neighbors), your Samaria (those with whom you disagree)?
     
     

    While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.

    Francis of Assisi

  • Apr 29, 2018Risen – When It Gets Personal
    Apr 29, 2018
    Risen – When It Gets Personal
    Series: Risen

    Risen: When It Gets Personal                                    John 21:15-17

    Peter, feed my sheep

    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="190"]Peter, feed my sheep. Risen: When It Gets Personal[/caption]

    Jesus and the disciples enjoy a breakfast of fish.  Then Jesus gets personal with Peter and presses him, "Do you love Me?"  Jesus asks this question three times.  Perhaps it is an opportunity for Peter to redeem himself after denying Jesus three times - or maybe it is more.

     
    Peter does not answer Jesus' question the way we think and the way the English translation puts it.  He is struggling to confess that he loves Jesus unconditionally.  Peter is honest in his response.
     
    And Jesus willing to meet Peter where he is.
     
    Though we are new creatures because of the power of the resurrections - we still have our doubts, our struggles and thankfully Jesus meets us wherever we are on the journey.
     
    Peter denied Jesus 3 times and the rooster crowed.  Do you have roosters, in your mind, that need to be silenced.
     
    When are times you have been “fond” of Jesus?
     
    How might be/is Jesus calling you beyond fondness to agape (unconditional love)?
     
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  • Apr 22, 2018Risen – I Doubt It!
    Apr 22, 2018
    Risen – I Doubt It!
    Series: Risen

    Risen - I Doubt It!                             John 20:24-29

    Jesus appears to Thomas and the disciples

    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="184"] Risen - I Doubt It[/caption] Jesus previously had appeared to the disciples but Thomas was missing. Thomas does not doubts their claim that Jesus is alive and appeared to them.  He wants to see it for himself.  This one little doubt earned him the nickname "Doubting Thomas."  Was it undeserved?  He simply wanted the same experience of seeing Jesus for himself that the others had instead of merely relying on their testimony.  After all, they were fishermen and a tax collector - not the most credible group.  Fishermen do like to tell their tall tales!
    Unlike the others, once Thomas sees Jesus, he makes a great confession of faith. Verse 28 reads, Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
    Could it be that doubt is not the anti-thesis of faith but can lead to a deeper faith?  To be called a doubting Thomas may not necessarily be a criticism, it may indeed be a compliment.
    Church tradition and history tells us that Thomas traveled outside of the Roman Empire as a missionary, possibly as far away as India to preach the gospel, which is yet another indication of Thomas’ boldness. He may have reached Muziris, India where he baptized several believers and was possibly the first to bring the gospel to the Far East. This might explain why he is considered the Patron Saint of India. His name in the Indian language, “Thoma,” remains quite popular to this day in India.

    Doubt + Belief = FAITH

    Reflect on...
    1)  Think about a time you experienced a period of doubting or a faith crisis.
    2)  How can/will you use this period of doubting to lead you to a deeper faith?
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  • Apr 1, 2018Risen – Easter
    Apr 1, 2018
    Risen – Easter
    Series: Risen

    RISEN - Easter Luke 24:1-11

    [caption id="attachment_9516" align="alignleft" width="148"] Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter. The great news of the resurrection is boldly proclaimed by the women to the male apostles.  The men do not believe this incredible news. He is RISEN![/caption]

    Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter.

    The great news of the resurrection is boldly proclaimed by the women to the male apostles. The men do not believe this incredible news.
     
     
    "Their news struck the apostles as nonsense..." (v. 11)
     
     
    Perhaps they were waiting for the women to say, "April Fool!"
     
    Of course, the resurrection is no April fool - well accept to those who conspired against Jesus; to those who condemned Jesus; and to those who crucified Jesus; and thought that was the end of Jesus.
     
    On this side of the empty tomb it seems obvious that the news of the resurrection is not nonsense.
     
    Yet, Easter is still hard to believe.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe that we can overcome our past.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe we can break free.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe things can change.
     
     
    Sometimes it is hard to believe in Easter.
     

    When has it been hard for you to believe in Easter?

    How has meeting the risen Christ changed your life?

     
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  • Mar 25, 2018Rituals – Forgiveness
    Mar 25, 2018
    Rituals – Forgiveness
    Series: Rituals

     Forgiveness                                        Luke 17:11-19

    Forgiveness is tough.  It just may be one of the most challenging things we Christians have to deal with.  There are two tough aspects to forgiveness; people and sin.
     
    We cannot be forgiven, we cannot forgive ourselves, and we cannot forgive others if we first don't face the sin.
     
    There are times that we avoid the sins and we say, "It's no big deal."  There are other times we exaggerate the sin and say, "It is too big of a deal for God to forgive."  In both of these instances there is no forgiveness.
     
    In the former, Christ can't forgive because they don't think forgiveness is needed.  The latter instance,  they think Christ won't forgive.
     
    As we approach the cross, we need to boldly proclaim and hear that there is nothing Christ won't or can't forgive.
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  • Mar 18, 2018Rituals – Prayer
    Mar 18, 2018
    Rituals – Prayer
    Series: Rituals

     Prayer                                                 Matthew 6:5-8, 7:7-11

                                                                      Psalm 137

    How honest are you with God in your prayers? Are you too ashamed to tell God about your desires? Your emotions? Your anger? Most of us do not share the depths of our souls with someone who just happens to be purchasing the same brand of shampoo as us. We only share the depths of our souls with people we have a deep relationship with and that we deeply trust. Prayer is simply honest communication with God. What we are willing to share with God in our prayers reflects our relationship with God.
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