“All summer long”

Galatians 6:1-10

Why did the scarecrow win the Nobel Prize? He was outstanding in his field.

When Ben was younger, his favorite joke was:
Why do cows have bells? Their horns don’t work.

Why don’t you tell a secret on a farm? The potatoes have eyes & the corn has ears.

The seed has been planted. The rains are on their way. The warm days are here. What are we to do now that we are waiting? I don’t have to tell farmers what to do with their farms. There is always something to do. A fence will need mending. An animal will need to see the vet. The tractor will need fixing. The storage facilities will have to be maintained. All summer long there can even be hay that needs put up.

We have talked about Jesus. We know a friend or coworker heard us. They are still thinking about faith in Jesus. What are we to do now that we are waiting? I hope to remind Jesus’ disciples what we do as part of the church. There is always something to do. A fence will need mending. A loved one will need to see the doctor. The operation of the church will need fixing. The sanctuary and classrooms will need attention. All summer long there can even be Christians who mature in the faith.

That’s right. We Christians can become mature in our faith. How we talk with each other shows our maturing faith. How we listen to each other shows our maturing faith. How often we forgive each other is a mark of our Christian faith. These ways of maturing mean we are living the law of Christ. What can we do to mature in our faith as we wait for the harvest?

A. Fix any fences (6:1-2)
+++1. When the neighbor repeatedly crashes the fence, we are gentle with them
+++2. Yet, we make sure we keep from crashing their life in the process
+++3. It has been good to hear of people rallying around a family when their hay needs cut and put up – love our neighbors
+++4. Since we have received the Spirit of Christ, we restore one another when we know we have transgressions. But we do so gently so we keep ourselves from doing some other transgression. We end up loving anyone who is beat down by the world. This sounds like it only happens on occasion. How are we to mature when this sort of stuff is not happening?

B. We keep an eye on our own work (6:3-5)
+++1. Our work doesn’t make us better than anyone else
+++2. We could become full of pride – which might be our downfall
+++3. Are we doing what God wants us to do? Or are we making other people do what we want them to do? As we are waiting for the harvest to come in, we look after our own lives. For when we get so busy we are telling others how to live like Jesus, we may stray from Jesus ourselves! Yes, we do help each other. But if we don’t maintain our own fields, how could we possibly tell someone else how to maintain their fields? Yet, there are some among us who are teachers.

C. Invest in the teacher (6:6)
+++1. Teachers have taught us some things
+++2. We let the teachers know of the good we have learned
+++3. As we are growing mature in our faith, we recognize the teachers/pastors who have helped us. We make sure they are taken care of. We each figure out how to do that. Sometimes, it is how we sow that accomplishes this task.

D. Sow to the Spirit (7-8)
+++1. If we sow to satisfy religious laws, then we reap from the flesh
+++2. If we sow to satisfy God’s Spirit, then we reap from the Spirit
+++3. Making sure we satisfy our own desires is something we know how to do. Paul is encouraging us to satisfy the desires of the Holy Spirit. For when we are living the law of Christ, loving one another as he has loved us, then we reap eternal life. For our faith in Jesus is worked out as we love one another. We can receive eternal life, it might not happen right now. So, what happens if the harvest seems delayed?

E. Don’t give up (9-10)
+++1. Don’t get tired of sowing seeds – the harvest will come
+++2. If we haven’t seen a harvest in a while, then maybe we need to start sowing again
+++3. Part of sowing seeds is working for the good of all
+++4. When Christians take care of each other, then we are not giving up on the harvest
+++5. We learned last week the kingdom of God is all about the harvest. We cannot give up on the harvest. Our work, our lives together sets the table for a bountiful harvest. Our love of God is not based only on the harvest. Our obedience to the Law of Christ is lived everyday – as our faith is working through love to all.

My parents had to feed us five kids. The garden was a good way to make sure we had vegetables. Mom & Dad would mark the rows. My older brother or sister may lay out the plants in the prepared row. I or my younger brothers would cover up the plants. Then someone would water the plants. Planting the seeds for the garden took all of us. We did this work together so we would all enjoy the harvest. Along the way we would have to set each other right, but not without losing sight of our own job.

This sounds like the church. Someone will give us an idea where seeds need planted. Someone will make sure seeds are sown. Someone else will pray for the planted seeds. Someone else will water the growing garden. It takes all of us in the church to enjoy the harvest. Along the way we set each other right, but not without losing sight of our own jobs. We get to live the Law of Christ. We get to sow to the Spirit so many can enjoy eternal life.

Forgiveness – my findings so far

I cannot remember the first time I heard the idea. I most likely have even encouraged people to do this type of forgiving. But, is forgiving ourselves actually a task we do? It sounds good for us “to forgive yourself.” But are we actually overstepping our boundaries in the work God has for us to do?

So far I have discovered that forgiveness comes from God. When we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, then God will hear forgive their sin (2 Chronicles 7:14). We are even blessed when we are forgiven, and this comes from the Lord who forgives our iniquity (Psalm 32:1-2, 5). God even goes so far as to forgive all of our sin/iniquity (Psalm 103:3).

When Jesus taught the disciples to pray, he instructed them to pray: “forgive our debts as we have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). The scribes even questioned Jesus in their hearts by asking, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7)
Paul even admonished the Ephesians to forgive one another as God has forgiven them (4:32). He even stated the same idea to the Colossians (2:13, 3:13).

God forgives us. We forgive those who hurt us. These two actions are tied together. We cannot expect to be forgiven by God if we do not forgive others. We cannot know how to forgive others unless we know that God forgives us.

Now, I am confident of this aspect of forgiveness. I am not confident about the aspect of me forgiving me. It seems that for me to forgive myself, in a sense I am justifying myself. When I continue to justify myself, then I could get to the point that nothing I do is a sin. This need of humbly turning to God becomes evident when I realize I could possibly attempt to negate any sin I have done.

Oh, it might make me feel good. I might think better of myself. I might even start to think I need not forgive others. For when I can freely forgive myself, then every other person can also forgive themselves. It could turn my thinking into being that I need not forgive anyone, nor ask forgiveness from anyone!

As a disciple of Jesus, I realize that I need forgiveness. This forgiveness can only come from God and from those whom I have wronged. I may have to wait upon others to forgive me, but the humbleness, the truthfulness, of confessing sin will be better for me in the long view of life. I cannot live my life without others and others cannot live their lives without me. God made us for more than taking care of ourselves, even forgiving ourselves, alone by oneself.

It sounds like I need to stop telling people, including myself, to forgive yourself. I am not God. Neither is anyone else around me God. There is only one God. He can and will forgive us. As disciples of Jesus, we forgive as we have been forgiven. I cannot forgive me. You cannot forgive you. I forgive you and your forgive me. This sounds like a healthy way to live life. Thank you, Jesus, for instructing us to forgive each other. Thank you, God, for forgiving us.

“Blessing of the Sowing”

Mark 4:26-29

I’ve had this bag of pepper seeds for about ten years. Oh, they may produce some pepper plants. But I don’t know if they will. I haven’t sown these seeds. I mean I could, but I just haven’t taken it upon myself to sow these pepper seeds. I’m going to miss out on some good peppers. It will be difficult to enjoy these peppers the way they are now. But I have these pepper seeds.

That is right; there is one thing I can do to prevent seeds from producing anything. When I decide to not plant seeds, then I am preventing the seeds from growing. Yet, when I plant the seeds, I have no control over what they do. I mean the seeds could produce such a harvest that I couldn’t control it. Or the seeds I sow may do absolutely nothing.

Our farmers and gardeners know the joy of a productive season. When the seeds are sown, there is anticipation of a good harvest. We want and hope for a bountiful harvest. So, the farmers and gardeners among us will go ahead and sow seeds, looking toward the harvest.

This is how the kingdom of God is. The kingdom of God is all about the harvest. As we follow Jesus, does this mean we are to be all about the harvest? For when we look toward the harvest, we get to see God at work.

A. Jesus has been talking about sowing seeds (4:1-25)
+++1. Seeds will be scattered all around
+++2. Parables help us decide if we want to be part of the kingdom of God
+++3. When seeds are sown in people, they decide
++===+a. Hear the word
++===+b. Accept the word
++===+c. Bear fruit – 30, 60, or even 100 fold!
+++4. Once we know Jesus, then we can shine where we are
+++5. Once we know Jesus, then we obligated to sow seeds – or we lose it
+++6. Jesus is about sowing seeds. Jesus is looking toward the harvest. We too can be about sowing seeds. We too can be about looking toward the harvest.

B. Would you scatter seed on the ground? (4:26-29)
+++1. The Kingdom of God is being scattered around
+++2. Once we scatter seeds, we have no idea how they grow
+++3. God works it out so the earth produces
+===++a. Stalk
+===++b. Head
++===+c. Full grain in the head
4. When we see the harvest, we go and bring in the harvest! We may have sown the seed that we are harvesting. Someone else may have sown the grain that we are harvesting. Someone else may have watered the grain that we are harvesting. We can be part of bringing in the harvest.

The kingdom of God is about the harvest. Jesus was trying to get us to understand the work we do in the kingdom of God. We get to sow seeds. We get to speak about Jesus Christ whenever we can, wherever we are.

But will we be part of the kingdom of God? If we don’t plant our seeds, will we get to see the harvest? If we don’t plant the seeds, will we get to be in the kingdom of God?

Checking in!

Folks,

I am glad you have stopped by to check in on me!  Things are going well.  I’m back to bicycling on the road – 2 lane roads, and usually with a group!  I haven’t posted any sermons for a few weeks.  This is mainly because I didn’t preach in the church worship services the week after Easter.  Plus, it was nice to have a break from my blog!

Anyway, God is good.  The United Methodist Church is waiting to hear about a Judicial Council decision regarding questions about Jurisdictions follow the Book of Discipline, or do not follow the Book of Discipline.  Of course, the Jurisdictions follow the lead of the Bishops, the Annual Conferences, clergy, and the local churches.  So, maybe we don’t follow our Book of Discipline very well.

May you know God’s grace this day!

John

 

Who is this?

Palm Sunday   Matthew 21:1-11

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” – – Madeleine L’Engle

I hope to point out today that Jesus is the light that is so lovely that all of the people around us will want to follow Jesus. For Jesus is more than we expect him to be, even more than we have thought of him to be! By the whole city of Jerusalem asking the question, “Who is this?” when Jesus entered the city, we discover how lovely he is.

We can contend that Jesus is king, savior, a prophet and priest. We can even realize that we need Jesus to be our king, our savior, our prophet, and yes, even our priest. For there is only one person in all of human history who has fulfilled all of these roles, and Jesus is he.

A. How does Jesus become a king?
+++1. When Jesus told the two disciples to fetch the donkey and its colt, he was fulfilling prophecy (Zechariah 9:9)
+++2. Jesus is a humble king – no bragging does he do!
+++3. Even amidst the Passover celebration, Jesus is celebrated as a king
+++4. Jesus doesn’t come storming into town unannounced. Jesus is working so that we know him in our lives. He doesn’t break into our lives unannounced. Jesus has been talked about for millennia. Plus, Jesus is working to get your attention even today. He wants to be my king. He wants to be your king. Jesus even began his ministry by saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17) He was announcing himself to the world. If we haven’t known Jesus as king, then maybe we can discover he is a savior.

B. How do we know Jesus is the savior?
+++1. “Hosanna!” = “Save me/us, I/we beseech you!”
+++2. Jesus is a Son of David
++===+a. David was a shepherd
++===+b. David delivered his people
++===+c. Jesus will deliver his people (all who believe in him)
+++3. Jesus comes in the name of the Lord
+++4. Jesus came from the highest heaven
+++5. The crowds recognized something was going on
+++6. Jesus doesn’t force us to believe in himself. Jesus fulfills prophecy about God coming to earth to save us. If we choose to believe in Jesus, then we recognize Jesus as our savior. However, Jesus is a savior, whether we believe or not. The information is there. There is also information about Jesus being a prophet.

C. How is Jesus a prophet?
+++1. When the city was in turmoil about Jesus entering Jerusalem, the crowd was not in turmoil
+++2. The crowd at least acknowledged Jesus as a prophet
+++3. A prophet is someone who fore-tells what will happen if we fail to turn to God
+++4. A prophet is also someone who shows the power of God in this world
++===+a. Jesus gave sight to the blind
++===+b. Jesus taught about God’s expectations for married people
++===+c. Jesus cured the sick
+++5. Jesus fulfills the job of a prophet. Even telling his two disciples where to get the donkey and its colt was prophetic. We can see why at this point the crowd only thought of Jesus as a prophet. They hadn’t seen him die and rise from the grave. This is how our last title for Jesus becomes known.

D. How does Jesus become a priest?
+++1. Later in this Holy Week, we recognize Jesus’ passion for us
+++2. Jesus will be betrayed, arrested and tried
+++3. Jesus will be killed – hung on a cross
+++4. Jesus becomes the sacrifice for our sin
+++5. Jesus becomes the way to make us right before God
+++6. The whole city didn’t know about Jesus. But we can know about Jesus. We can know the truth that Jesus died to set us free from sin and prepare us to be in the kingdom of heaven. There is no other sacrifice that can be made to make us right with God. It is Jesus’ death that makes us right with God.

Yes, today we do celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. For it is by Jesus entering Jerusalem, humbly on a donkey, that we realize more about who Jesus is.

Jesus is a king. Jesus is announcing in our very lives today that his kingdom is coming.
Jesus is a prophet. Jesus tells us to repent so we can enter the coming of the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus is a savior. He is the man who died for the entire world.
Jesus is a priest. It is by the sacrifice of Jesus that we can enter the kingdom of heaven.

This is good news for you, me, and the whole world. God sent Jesus for us. God sent Jesus so we could enter the kingdom of heaven. Will you believe in Jesus today?

Will you see the glory of God?

John 11:38-45

We all need a reason to get out of bed every morning. There has to be something to motivate us to live. The reasons we get out of bed, our motivation for living, is based on hope. We hope to see God working in the world around us. We hope to see our loved ones. We hope to complete a meaningful project. We hope to enjoy the fulfillment of our faith. Yes, our hope lies in wanting to see the good that God has for us.

But there are times in life when we our hope takes a hit. When a loved one is ailing, our hope is for them to get better. When our loved one is dying, our hope changes for them. When our loved one has passed, our hope becomes focused on the promises God has for all of us.

For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, our hope is that on the day of the Resurrection, we will see and be with God. This hope is sustained by our faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot dare to see and be with God on the day of the Resurrection, unless we believe in Jesus Christ.

Hearing about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead gives us hope for our lives. It is by believing in Jesus that Martha and Mary had hope for Lazarus and themselves. Yet, Jesus was not there when Lazarus was sick. Lazarus died and was placed in the grave. What sort of hope do Martha and Mary have now? What sort of hope do we have when our loved ones are placed in the grave?

A. 11:1-16 Introduction
+++1. V. 1 Bethany & Mary
+++2. V. 2 Which Mary – the one who did the anointing (Chapter 12)
+++3. V. 3 Jesus loved Lazarus’ family
+++4. V. 4 Lazarus’ illness leads to Jesus’ death
+++5. V. 5-6 Jesus loves this family
+++6. V. 7-15 Jesus’ return to Judea figures in his own death
+++===– V. 9 A day only holds 12 hours (Jesus’ time is limited)
++===+– V. 10 Walking apart from light is a stumbling block
+++===– V. 11-12 Save/deliver from death
+++===– V. 13-14 Jesus describes Lazarus’ death – asleep
++===+– V. 15 Lazarus will arise so you may believe
+++7. V. 16 Thomas is an obedient disciple, yet doesn’t know what is going on here

B. 11:17-37 Heart of the story
+++1. V. 17 He is dead – 4 days! (Jews thought the soul leaves the body after four days when the soul sees the change of color in the face)
+++2. V. 18-19 Fellow mourners witness the miracle
+++3. V. 20 Mary continues the mourning rituals, Martha goes on
+++4. V. 21-22 Martha complains to Jesus, but she has faith
+++5. V. 23-26 Future Resurrection (Daniel 12:2)
+++===– “On the last day” – only in John’s Gospel
++===+– “I am” – Jesus fulfills eschatological expectations
++===+– Believes, dies – then lives
++===+– Lives, believes, then never dies
++===+– Future determined by faith; the present faith has power
+++6. V. 27 “I believe” – formal confession of faith
+++7. V. 28-37 Mary & Jesus, with the Jews (Public setting)
++===+i. V. 28-31 Mary is one of Jesus’ sheep (outside the town)
++===+ii. V. 32 Mary speaks like Martha, only Mary kneels
++===+iii. V. 33-35 Big Stuff here!
+======++1. Εμβρίμάομαι – anger, indignation
++======+2. Ταρασσω – agitated, troubled
++======+3. Anger over the lack of faith of the Jews
++===+iv. V. 36-37 Jews were hostile to Jesus

C. 11:38-44 Raising of Lazarus
+++1. V. 38 Jesus is angry with the Jews!
+++2. V. 39 Martha’s faith doesn’t have her ready yet for the end
+++3. V. 40 Good question – how far does faith take us?
+++4. V. 41-42 Jesus prays to the Father, openly
+++5. Thanksgiving – God the Father did this work
++===+i. Jesus is certain of God
+++6. V. 43-44 Lazarus responds to Jesus (Isaiah 48:9)

D. 11:45-46 Some Jews are upset with Jesus

If we believe, then we will see the glory of God. If we believe, then we will see the resurrection of God’s people. If we believe, then we can know the God who sent Jesus. If we believe in Jesus, then we can have hope for this life. Our future is determined by faith; the present faith has power.

We can hope in God. He will raise up his people on the day of the Resurrection. If you believe in Jesus, then you can live on the day of Resurrection. Will you see the glory of God?

Do you believe in the Son of Man?

John 9:35-41

We want more people to believe in Jesus Christ. How do more people come to believe in Jesus Christ? More people will believe in Jesus Christ the same way we came to believe in Jesus Christ.

How did we come to believe in Jesus Christ? Our believing in Jesus Christ may have happened like it did for the man born blind. Somewhere along in our live, Jesus entered our life. We may have been blind to the idea that we could be loved. We may have been blind to the truth of God’s love. However we were, Jesus didn’t leave us that way.

Before we did not believe in much of anything, now we believe in Jesus Christ. We have each responded to Jesus’ question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

A. How did the Blind Man get to the point of believing in the Son of Man? (9:1-37)
+++1. Jesus was walking along and saw the man blind from birth
+===++a. The disciples asked if the man or his parents sinned for him to be born blind
++===+b. Jesus: Neither. This man was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him!
++===+c. Jesus: This is the work of God, I and you are to be about this work
++===+d. Jesus: I am the light of the world
+++2. Jesus made mud, placed it on the man’s eyes, & told him to wash in the pool of Siloam
+++3. The Pharisees, the religious leaders, didn’t like this work on the Sabbath
++===+a. They questioned the man born blind
+======++i. The blind man said Jesus was a man
++======+ii. After the Jews questioned him, the man said Jesus a prophet
+======++iii. The man’s parents didn’t want to speak for Jesus, because they didn’t want ousted from the synagogue!
+=======++iv. After the 2nd round of questions, the man said Jesus was from God!
++=========+– “Give glory to God!”
++=========+– Tell the truth
+++4. The man born blind was healed by Jesus. He gained his sight very quickly. As he is questioned about what happened to him, the blind man gained sight to who Jesus is. The opposite seemed to happen to the religious leaders. As they questioned the blind man, it becomes evident that they lack sight to see who Jesus is. It is when Jesus meets up with the blind man again that the man recognizes Jesus for who he is. It is when Jesus meets up with the blind man again that the religious leaders fail to recognize Jesus for who he is.

B. Jesus and the Blind Man (9:35-38)
+++1. Jesus does not drive out people (6:37)
+++2. “you” (συ) the man, not the leaders, have seen him
+++3. Son of Man – the one who comes before the final judgment
++===+a. Jesus is the future judge
++===+b. The Blind Man accepts Jesus as the “Son of Man”
++===+c. The man has gained insight in faith
++======+o He has sight
+=====++o He worships Jesus (gives glory to God)
+++4. The blind man is not blind in any area of his life. He can see everything around him. He can even see that Jesus is the Son of Man! This is the judgment for which Jesus has come into the world.

C. Judgment happens (9:39-41)
+++1. Jesus came into the world for judgment
+===++a. Son of Man
++===+b. Sight/blindness – spiritual Isaiah 6:10; 42:18-25
+++2. Sin = resistance to Jesus (the leaders judge themselves)
+++3. Jesus’ incarnation/life brings salvation from sin
+++4. The religious leaders judged themselves. For they failed to see Jesus as the Son of Man. Even today, there are people who judge themselves by not believing in Jesus. Yes, by not believing in Jesus we sin. Once we see Jesus working in this world, it is good for us to believe in the Son of Man.

This is one way we come to believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus sees us. Jesus gives us sight. We recognize Jesus as being from God. We believe in Jesus as the Son of Man. There are more people in this world who need to see Jesus. They just might see Jesus in how we give God the glory for Jesus.

For when we believe in the Son of Man, we worship Jesus. Keep on worshiping Jesus. For then more people will get to see Jesus. Keep on worshiping Jesus. For then more people will get to believe in the Son of Man.