Come On God, I’m Exhausted!

11/6/2022

Message Title: Come On God, I’m Exhausted!
Theme: Strength Through Trials
Season: Ordinary time
Main Text: Haggai 1:15b-2:9
Scripture Reading: Psalm 98
RCL Scripture: Haggai 1:15b-2:9; Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21; Psalm 98; Job 19:23-27a; Psalm 17:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17; Luke 20:27-38
Focus: Haggai shares God’s words of perspective with Israel.
Function:
To grow the habit of turning to God first when we are empty.
Other Notes:
Veterans’ Day & Communion

SCRIPTURE READING: PSALM 98 

A psalm.

98 Sing to the Lord a new song
    because he has done wonderful things!
His own strong hand and his own holy arm
    have won the victory!
The Lord has made his salvation widely known;
    he has revealed his righteousness
    in the eyes of all the nations.
God has remembered his loyal love
    and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
    every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation.

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
    Be happy!
    Rejoice out loud!
    Sing your praises!
Sing your praises to the Lord with the lyre—
    with the lyre and the sound of music.
With trumpets and a horn blast,
    shout triumphantly before the Lord, the king!
Let the sea and everything in it roar;
    the world and all its inhabitants too.
Let all the rivers clap their hands;
    let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether before the Lord
    because he is coming to establish justice on the earth!
He will establish justice in the world rightly;
    he will establish justice among all people fairly.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: Each year November begins with All Saint’s Day. This month of gratitude starts out by pointing back to those who helped shape our faith. During these last few weeks before Advent starts, we will look at three passages from the prophets. We will listen to their wisdom and hope this wisdom gives us strength to endure life’s trials.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How do you recharge your proverbial batteries? What do you do when your strength is depleted?
    1. Have you ever come back from a vacation and NOT felt rested?
    1. OR Took too long of a nap and now you feel groggy?

TRANSITION: As we examine this text, we’ll consider exhaustion and turning to God for our source of rest.

MAIN TEXT: Haggai 1:15b-2:9 1:15bon the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month// in the second year of Darius the king. 2:1 On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the Lord’s word came through Haggai the prophetSay to Judah’s governor Zerubbabel, Shealtiel’s son, and to the chief priest Joshua, Jehozadak’s son, and to the rest of the people: Who among you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it appear as nothing to you? So now, be strong, Zerubbabel, says the Lord. Be strong, High Priest Joshua, Jehozadak’s son, and be strong, all you people of the land, says the Lord. Work, for I am with you, says the Lord of heavenly forces. As with our agreement when you came out of Egypt, my spirit stands in your midst. Don’t fear. This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: In just a little while, I will make the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land quake. I will make all the nations quake. The wealth of all the nations will come. I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of heavenly forces. The silver and the gold belong to me, says the Lord of heavenly forces. This house will be more glorious than its predecessor, says the Lord of heavenly forces. I will provide prosperity in this place, says the Lord of heavenly forces.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Historical & Biblical Context of Haggai
    1. People:
      1. Darius I – Darius the Great- King of Persia (more about him later)
      1. Haggai- Prophet
      1. Joshua – High Priest, Jehozedek’s son (not the same Joshua as the Battle of Jericho)
      1. Zerubbabel – Governor of Judah, from David & Solomon’s family tree but not considered king.
    1. Dates:
      1. In 587 BC, Judah was conquered by Babylon (3 sieges) and sent into exile. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, ordered the looting and destruction of the Temple.
        1. We know because of the book of Daniel that the wealthy, skilled, or knowledgeable were also taken to serve in the king’s court while some of the poor laborers were left to tend the land on behalf of the king.
      1. In 539 BC, Babylon was conquered by Persia – Cyrus the Great- became emperor.
        1. 538 BC Jews were able to return to Israel as Persian subjects.
        1. Ezra 6:3-5 says Cyrus released an edict that the Jews should be given funds to rebuild their infrastructure, including the Temple, out of the royal treasury. 
        1. In 530 BC, Cyrus dies & his son Cambyses II rules (530-522)
      1. In 522, Darius overthrows the natural succession and claims the Persian throne. (Haggai 1)
        1. Around 520 BC, the Jews start rebuilding the Temple.
  2. Historical Math:
    1. When the Jews finally get back to Judah, 70 years had passed since the first siege on Jerusalem.
    1. Now, they’ve been home 18 years… and they haven’t rebuilt the Temple yet.
      1. When the Temple is finally finished it’s been 70 years since Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. A prophet’s message: Haggai was sent to tell them to stop being self-absorbed and build God’s home too!
  2. Self-Centered: The Jews finally get back to their home town and rebuild their lives. But survival is on their mind, not gratitude. (Honestly, I don’t blame them.)
    1. When they’re finally called out to step up and build a house of worship, they’re disappointed.
    1. It would be easy to say “what a bunch of whiners.” But I can understand where they’re coming from: Things have been HARD and many who returned to Judah were born in exile. They’re FINALLY back. Can’t the just rest a little?
      1. When they finally get back to work, they don’t put their full effort in and are disappointed with the results. They whine about how things USED to be.
  3. God’s promise: God responds with compassion: you may be disappointed by the state of the Temple now BUT there is a time coming when the Temple will be fancier than you’ve ever seen before. (Ezekiel’s perfect Temple PHOTO)
    1. When Israel turns to God for their rest, hope, and plans, they find God’s intentions are even greater than they could imagine.

APPLICATION: To grow the habit of turning to God first when we are empty.

  1. Israel was sent in to Exile as a consequence for not living into God’s Word and not doing sabbath for themselves and the land. They were selfish, greedy, and exploited every resource available. You would think that being kicked out of their home for 70 years would teach them some humility.
    1. You know the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It seems like it should be “absence makes you lose perspective.”
    1. Israel needed to recenter their heart on God. – worship, prayer, studying the Word reminds us of God’s love.
  2. CALHOUN — Sabbath – rest centered on God.
    1. Sabbath is God’s gift of repetitive and regular rest. It is given for our delight and communion with God. Time for being in the midst of a life of doing particularly characterizes the sabbath.
      1. Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Transforming Resources) (p. 40). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
    1. Practice includes:
      1. setting aside time for intimacy with God and others you love resting in God one day per week practicing restful activities: walks, picnics, a Sunday afternoon nap, a phone visit with someone you love, tea or coffee with a friend, family time, games with your kids, love-making letting go of things that stress you out for twenty-four hours letting the difficult conversations happen another day not developing a to-do list for Sunday refraining from competition that moves you into a bad place
        1. Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Transforming Resources) (p. 40). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
  3. Taking time to rest IN God gives us the grounding and energy needed to carry on every other day of the week.

CONCLUSION: God’s design for our lives is flourishing. God designed work and rest balanced in one good life. When we are empty, we turn to God for rest.

COMMUNION: Lean into God for fruitfulness and rest. The solution isn’t to try harder.

A Song of Forgiveness

10/30/2022

Message Title: A Song of Forgiveness
Theme: Songs, Poetry, & Psalms
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Psalm 119:137-144 OR Psalm 32:1-7
Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-10
RCL Scripture: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; Isaiah 1:10-18; Psalm 32:1-7; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10
Focus: David seeks forgiveness because of conviction through God’s Word.
Function:
To consider apologies, forgiveness, and making things right with God and others.
Other Notes:
ALL SAINTS DAY/ FALL HARVEST

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 19:1-10 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.” So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus. Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.” Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One[a] came to seek and save the lost.”

SONGS, POETRY, & PSALMS:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What is your favorite version of Cher? – yes this question assumes you enjoy SOME form of Cher. Just roll with it!
    1. Singer/performer OR Actor? Specific Era?  Las Vegas Cher? Tea with Mussolini!
  2. Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time (1989) – I was 2 when this song came out
    1. Ready for some irony? Her song about forgiveness offended people. This song is about apologies and making things right—her music video for this song offended huge groups because she performed on a Navy vessel in … less than clothing…
    1. PSA – NEXT WEEK IS DAY LIGHT SAVINGS “fall back 1 hr”

TRANSITION: Perhaps we are just as clueless as Cher’s producers planning the music video for If I Could Turn Back Time OR perhaps, we will be closer to the words of David today. Forgiveness is a difficult subject to broach, yet here we are- consider the tensions in your life where you may need to apologize or consider forgiveness. May God guide us on how to handle the hurt.

MAIN TEXT:

TEXT 1: Psalm 32:1-7 A maskil[a] of David. 32 The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven, whose sin is covered over, is truly happy! The one the Lord doesn’t consider guilty—in whose spirit there is no dishonesty—that one is truly happy! When I kept quiet, my bones wore out; I was groaning all day long—every day, every night!— because your hand was heavy upon me. My energy was sapped as if in a summer drought. Selah So I admitted my sin to you; I didn’t conceal my guilt. “I’ll confess my sins to the Lord, ” is what I said. Then you removed the guilt of my sin. Selah That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times,[b] so that a great flood of water won’t reach them. You are my secret hideout! You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of rescue! Selah
TEXT 2: Psalm 119:137-144 צ tsade 137 Lord, you are righteous, and your rules are right. 138 The laws you commanded are righteous, completely trustworthy. 139 Anger consumes me because my enemies have forgotten what you’ve said. 140 Your word has been tried and tested; your servant loves your word! 141 I’m insignificant and unpopular, but I don’t forget your precepts. 142 Your righteousness lasts forever! Your Instruction is true! 143 Stress and strain have caught up with me, but your commandments are my joy! 144 Your laws are righteous forever. Help me understand so I can live!

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Psalm 32 (Offender)
    1. “maskil” – Of David, a maskil: The Sages said (Pes. 117a): Every Psalm in which “maskil” is mentioned was said through an interpreter. (Chabad.org)
    1. The Psalm does not give us any hints to the sin David is confessing-
      1. Bathsheba & Uriah? Maybe- he did confess to this after Nathan confronted him.
      1. His in action at his daughter Tamar being raped by one of his sons? No, he mourned the death of that son at the hand of another son.
  2. Psalm 119 (Offended vs 139)
    1. Another letter in Psalm 119 – continuing to praise God’s law
    1. “righteous” in Hebrew is also “justice”

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Regardless of WHAT David did wrong, God’s word convicted David. God wasn’t torturing David. Rather, he knew God’s character and God’s expectations and felt convicted.
  2. The beautiful thing? God forgave and freed David from his guilt. God didn’t abandon David even though David had been wrong. David admitted his guilt and God met him there.

APPLICATION:

  1. BACK TO INTRO: Cher’s song did not do a great job of acknowledging her ownership of actions that hurt someone else.
    1. Apologizing isn’t JUST saying “I’m sorry” and it definitely isn’t excusing away your words or actions.
    1. ALSO- Hurt people hurt people- however, this doesn’t excuse their actions.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  Can we ponder the chain reaction of pain together?
    1. What happens when we cause an offense to God or our neighbor? How are they different?
    1. What does the healing process look like? What do consequences look like?
 God (Ps 32)Others (Ps 119)
Repentance/ApologyPrayer of confession: I’m sorry God. Forgive me. Here’s what I did wrong.How to Apologize & True Apology- SLIDES *below* 
Consequences/ForgivenessBecause of Jesus, we no longer have eternal consequences for our actions. (World’s perception & Zacheus)You may be forgiven but still pay the price of your actions- i.e. speeding ticket, parking fine, repay your friend, replace the broken item.

Acknowledging the two sides to hurt: hurting & hurt-er

  • When we need to apologize
    • We don’t get to decide when our words or actions hurt another individual. If someone says we hurt them, we did. Our intention doesn’t matter as much as the outcome. (Different than a misunderstanding).

When we receive an apology (Note: not WHEN we need to forgive)

You can choose to forgive but also not put yourself in the same situation to be hurt again.

Examples:

  • Legal: if someone has embezzled money, they will not get a job handling money again.

Relationships: Abuse or Cheating or Lying

Caught in a lie- can be forgiven but not trusted with specific things until the trust has been built back up again.

CONCLUSION: learn from our wrong doings and turn back time.

A Song of Darkness

10/16/2022

Message Title:  A Song of Darkness
Theme: Songs, Poetry, & Psalms
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Psalm 119:97-104 & Psalm 121
Scripture Reading: Luke 18:1-8
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:27-34; Psalm 119:97-104; Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 121; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5; Luke 18:1-8
Focus: The psalmists turn to God for stability in uncertain times.
Function:
To embrace our moments of darkness as opportunities for growth.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 18:1-8 Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ For a while he refused but finally said to himself, I don’t fear God or respect people, but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.” The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One[a] comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”

SONGS, POETRY, PSALMS:

  1. L.M. Montgomery penned a book series known by the first book- Anne of Green Gables. The character Anne is a young red headed orphan who is adopted by brother and sister Matthew and Marilla.
    1. However, the adoption was an accident, they requested a boy to help on the farm and the orphanage sent Anne. Upon Anne’s arrival she discovers that she wasn’t what they wanted and refused to eat because she was in “the depths of despair.”
    1. Read section from pg 37-38
    1. By the way, Megan Follows is the only true Anne of my heart.

TRANSITION: My adolescent soul loved Anne and identified with her dreaming, peculiarity, and hot headedness. Eventually, Anne found her way, she still had big emotions and made mistakes but she also flourished. She transformed the home of Matthew and Marilla. All started with expressing feelings of despair.

Our Psalms today come from the cheery side of the depths of despair. We will investigate our heavy hearts today as we consider these psalms. – worries, insecurities, despair-

MAIN TEXTS:
TEXT 1:
Psalm 119:97-104 מ mem 97 I love your Instruction! I think about it constantly. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies because it is always with me. 99 I have greater insight than all my teachers because I contemplate your laws. 100 I have more understanding than the elders because I guard your precepts. 101 I haven’t set my feet on any evil path so I can make sure to keep your word. 102 I haven’t deviated from any of your rules because you are the one who has taught me. 103 Your word is so pleasing to my taste buds—it’s sweeter than honey in my mouth! 104 I’m studying your precepts—that’s why I hate every false path.

TEXT 2: Psalm 121 I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God won’t let your foot slip. Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job. No! Israel’s protector never sleeps or rests! The Lord is your protector; the Lord is your shade right beside you. The sun won’t strike you during the day; neither will the moon at night. The Lord will protect you from all evil; God will protect your very life. The Lord will protect you on your journeys—whether going or coming—from now until forever from now.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Ps 119:97-104
    1. Context of this psalm
      1. Acrostic, 22 Hebrew letters, 8 lines each
      1. 119 in general is a TORAH psalm or a psalm celebrating God’s law/word/instructions
    1. Every line in this section of 119 starts with this HEBREW LETTER: מ mem
    1. Per the psalmist, God’s commandment, law, precepts, word leads to a better life.
      1. these verses- God’s instructions/law/word guides my way and leads me away from evil/false paths
  2. Ps 121:
    1. Pilgrimage psalm – a psalm for travelling (7 dwarves work song)
      1. Likely a psalm used on the travel home from visiting the Temple.
    1. traveling Psalm of trust in God -context: “I’m taking a risk but I know God will provide”

INTERPRETATION:

  1. If I’m honest with you, I think these psalmists both are too optimistic for my taste: “I’ve got God & God’s word so everything will be swell.” These authors don’t know what it’s like to be in “the depths of despair.”
    1. Following God’s word will lead to a personal enriching and transformation BUT that doesn’t mean it will always be cheery.
    1. Sometimes, doing the right thing is scary or awful.
    1. Sometimes doing God’s word is full of fear and trepidation “I will reluctantly step out.”
    1. Sometimes following God is terrifying.
    1. Sometimes, allowing ourselves to feel our big emotions is part of being faithful to God’s word.
  2. Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in The Dark (lion king “everywhere the light touches”)
    1. “Taylor has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well?” (Harper Collins)
    1. “In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” “ (Harper Collins)
    1. “Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.” (Harper Collins)

APPLICATION: To embrace our moments of darkness as opportunities for growth.

  1. Gospel Prayer
  2. We *know* from scripture that God is good and God’s plans are good. But what do we do when things don’t feel so great? How do we get grounded?
  3. Prayers of desperation: My honest answer? A brutally honest prayer with God-
    1. “God I’m running on empty- I’ve got nothing left. You’ve got to take over because I CANNOT go on. “
    1. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been on my last strand of hope and God shows up. Even last week trying to preach about celebration and not feeling very joyful, God showed up.
  4. God is big enough to hear your emotions. God will love you through your emotions. God does not abandon us in the dark places. Much of God’s work is done in the darkness.
  5. Depths of Despair and Marilla in Megan Follows version
  6. Reflection Song:Thy Will by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family
    1. I want to give you time to acknowledge the dark and heavy things. A song will play and you can either reflect on the words, they’ll play on the screen OR you can take that time to be in the darkness with God.

CONCLUSION:  Even in the midst of the darkness God is faithful. God’s words will be a light for us as we look for the next steps BUT even though the darkness may surround you, even though you may feel like you’re drowning- God is doing work.  Tell God the pains of your heart and God will show up. Share your emotions with God as an act of faithfulness to the Gospel.

A Song of Celebration

10/9/2022 – This recording includes our “dance party” which is mostly not on camera.

Message Title: A Song of Celebration
Theme: Songs, Poetry, & Psalms
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Psalm 66:1-12 OR Psalm 111;
Scripture Reading: Luke 17:11-19
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7; Psalm 66:1-12; 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2:8-15; Luke 17:11-19
Focus: The Psalmists HAD to celebrate God after witnessing God’s good works.
Function: To find our reasons and methods for celebration
Other Notes:

Blessed Be the Tie: “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above”

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 17:11-19 11 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him, 13 they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!” 14 When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. 16 He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” 19 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation of new parents on the internet on the topic of praising kids. Praise them for their efforts, attitude, and commitment; not for innately existing.
    1. i.e., not saying “Good grade on that test! you’re so smart” but instead saying “Good grade on that test! You studied so hard!”
    1. The discussion pushes at the idea of kids being either good or bad and stuck in whatever circumstance they were given. “I can’t help it I’m not smart!” vs. “I can put the effort into learn new things.”
    1. Either way parents are finding ways to celebrate their kids!
  2. My family would get ice cream for good grades
  3. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. What stirs you to celebrate? (Why do you celebrate)
    1. How do you celebrate?

TRANSITION: Today is the polar opposite of last week’s attitude. Today we are going to investigate celebration; and maybe even do a few silly things in the process.As with last week, I invite you to think of your victories, triumphs, or conquests – big or small—consider the emotion of celebration as we dive into our Psalms today.

TEXT 1: Psalm 66: 1-12

66 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth! 2Sing praises to the glory of God’s name! Make glorious his praise!  3Say to God: “How awesome are your works! Because of your great strength, your enemies cringe before you. 4All the earth worships you, sings praises to you, sings praises to your name!” Selah 5Come and see God’s deeds; his works for human beings are awesome: 6He turned the sea into dry land so they could cross the river on foot. Right there we rejoiced in him! 7God rules with power forever; keeps a good eye on the nations. So don’t let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah 8All you nations, bless our God! Let the sound of his praise be heard! 9God preserved us among the living; he didn’t let our feet slip a bit. 10But you, God, have tested us—you’ve refined us like silver, 11trapped us in a net, laid burdens on our backs, 12let other people run right over our heads—we’ve been through fire and water.

TEXT 2: Psalm 111

Praise the Lord! I thank the Lord with all my heart in the company of those who do right, in the congregation. 2The works of the Lord are magnificent; they are treasured by all who desire them. 3God’s deeds are majestic and glorious. God’s righteousness stands forever. 4God is famous for his wondrous works. The Lord is full of mercy and compassion. 5God gives food to those who honor him. God remembers his covenant forever. 6God proclaimed his powerful deeds to his people and gave them what had belonged to other nations. 7God’s handiwork is honesty and justice; all God’s rules are trustworthy— 8they are established always and forever: they are fulfilled with truth and right doing. 9God sent redemption for his people; God commanded that his covenant last forever. Holy and awesome is God’s name! 10Fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins; sure knowledge is for all who keep God’s laws. God’s praise lasts forever!

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Psalm 66: author unknown, date unknown
    1. Psalm of prayer & thanksgiving
    1. Vs 1-12 God’s community praises God
    1. Vs 13ff the world praises God
    1. Words to note:
      1. “tested us”- think of examine, study, improve, quality control; not tempted
  2. Psalm 111: author unknown, date unknown
    1. Acrostic psalm of wisdom
    1. Paired with Psalm 112
      1. Ps 111 praises God’s works
      1. Ps 112 God’s people mirror God’s works
    1. Words to note:
      1. In KJV “The works of the Lord are TERRIBLE” & “Fear of the Lord”– changing of meanings over centuries
        1. Terribleà awe struck, wonder, amazement
        1. Fearà awe, reverence, amazement, respect

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Knowledge of God’s character and God’s actions leads to a response of worship.
    1. Irresistible Grace
    1. Learning about God evokes a response of gratitude
    1. Seeing God act evokes a response of gratitude
    1. Gratitude is a form of worship

APPLICATION: To find our reasons and methods for celebration

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: What do you want to celebrate today?
  2. A time of celebration: We’re going to test our celebration skills together today! This will be out of your comfort zone but we’re gonna have fun together today!
    1. Pen a Psalm
      1. Praise God
      1. Things I know about God’s character:
        1. Merciful
        1. Just
        1. Loving
      1. Things I know about God’s actions in scripture:
        1. Healing
        1. Redeeming
        1. Reclaiming
      1. Things I know about God from my life:
        1.  
      1. Praise God
    1. Dance party- in place of our benediction and closing song, we will dance with joy before the Lord.
      1. https://youtu.be/ZbZSe6N_BXs Happy by Pharrell Williams
    1. Treats !!

Dance before the Lord and Celebrate His wonderful Works! *QUE MUSIC*

Our psalm we wrote together

A Song of Anger

10/2/2022

Message Title: A Song of Anger
Theme: Songs, Poetry, & Psalms
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Psalm 37:1-9 & 137
Scripture Reading: Luke 17:5-10
RCL Scripture: Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26 or Psalm 137; Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 ; Psalm 37:1-9; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
Focus: The Psalms reflect anger and jealousy towards Israel’s enemies.
Function:
To know God can handle our emotions but to not let our emotions lose our footing in Christ.
Other Notes:
WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 17:5-10 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Would any of you say to your servant, who had just come in from the field after plowing or tending sheep, ‘Come! Sit down for dinner’? Wouldn’t you say instead, ‘Fix my dinner. Put on the clothes of a table servant and wait on me while I eat and drink. After that, you can eat and drink’? You won’t thank the servant because the servant did what you asked, will you? 10 In the same way, when you have done everything required of you, you should say, ‘We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.’”

SERIES INTRO:  Emotions are part of our humanity. Our very lives are filled with daily emotions. When we are uncertain about expressing our emotions, we turn to artists: the song writers, the poets, and even the psalmists. They help us to process our feelings and make sense of this world. During the month of October, we will look at 2 Psalms each Sunday and investigate their stories and the human emotions behind the text. I invite you to feel your feelings with me.  As we prepare for All Saints Day.

INTRO: Tis October. For many this is the season of spooky things. I saw an idea that would definitely scare me in a haunted house. MEME: A haunted house but the ghosts recite the poems you wrote when you were sixteen.

YIKES! Yes, I was one of those teens.

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Who wrote poetry as a teen?

Not every young author created terrible poetry. Emily Dickinson’s skills were well before her time and fortunately not anything like the poems of 16-year-old Meriah.

I’d like to read one of her poems for you:

TIME’S LESSON.

Mine enemy is growing old,—

I have at last revenge.

The palate of the hate departs;

 If any would avenge, —

Let him be quick, the viand flits,

It is a faded meat.

Anger as soon as fed is dead;

‘T is starving makes it fat.

-Emily Dickinson

TRANSITION: Dickinson uses the everyday imagery of hunger to portray the emotion of Anger. As we dive into our text today, we will look at two separate psalms that touch on anger. We won’t be knit picking each individual detail of these psalms.

Ponder your own anger through their shoes.

TEXT 1:

PSALM 37 Don’t get upset over evildoers;
    don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
    because they will fade fast, like grass;
    they will wither like green vegetables.
Trust the Lord and do good;
    live in the land, and farm faithfulness.
Enjoy the Lord,
    and he will give what your heart asks.
Commit your way to the Lord!
    Trust him! He will act
    and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    your justice like high noon.
Be still before the Lord,
    and wait[b] for him.
Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead—
    someone who invents evil schemes.

Let go of anger and leave rage behind!
    Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
Because evildoers will be eliminated,
    but those who hope in the Lord—
    they will possess the land.

  1. AUTHOR:  David
  2. CONTEXT: details are uncertain aside from the psalm being an acrostic
  3. This portion of Psalm 37 seems naively sweet.
    1. Let go of your anger and rage.
    1. Don’t be upset when someone evil succeeds
    1. Trust God & Do Good.

Well doesn’t that sound easy? JUST DO GOOD!

Then we get to the raw emotions of Psalm 137

DISCLAIMER

TEXT 2:

PSALM 137
Alongside Babylon’s streams,
    there we sat down,
    crying because we remembered Zion.
We hung our lyres up
    in the trees there
    because that’s where our captors asked us to sing;
    our tormentors requested songs of joy:
    “Sing us a song about Zion!” they said.
But how could we possibly sing
    the Lord’s song on foreign soil?

Jerusalem! If I forget you,
    let my strong hand wither!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
    if I don’t remember you,
    if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.

Lord, remember what the Edomites did
        on Jerusalem’s dark day:
    “Rip it down, rip it down!
    All the way to its foundations!” they yelled.
Daughter Babylon, you destroyer,[a]
    a blessing on the one who pays you back
    the very deed you did to us!
    A blessing on the one who seizes your children
    and smashes them against the rock!

  1. AUTHOR: ? Maybe Jeremiah?
  2. CONTEXT:
    1. “After Nebuchadnezzar II‘s successful siege of Jerusalem in 597 BC, and subsequent campaigns, inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah were deported to Babylonia, where they were held captive until some time after the Fall of Babylon (539 BC). The rivers of Babylon are the Euphrates river, its tributaries, and the Tigris river.
    1. Psalm 137 is a hymn expressing the yearnings of the Jewish people during their Babylonian exile. In its whole form of nine verses, the psalm reflects the yearning for Jerusalem as well as hatred for the Holy City’s enemies with sometimes violent imagery.
    1. Rabbinical sources attributed the poem to the prophet Jeremiah,[3] and the Septuagint version of the psalm bears the superscription: “For David. By Jeremias, in the Captivity.”[4]” (wiki)
  3. Psalm 137 feels like real human emotions.
    1. It honestly reminds me of 9/11.
      1. Toby Keith “we’ll shove a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”
      1. Darryl Worley “Have you forgotten?”
    1. But I also think about the sad things that grew out of our unchecked rage after 9/11
      1. Islamophobia & racial profiling through TSA etc
      1. American arrogance
  4. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: 137: 7-9 Is this the psalmist or God wishing destruction on Babylon and their children?
    1. Israel was sent into exile as a consequence for their actions (and lack of action). It was their disobedience but Babylon was the vessel.
  5. Emily Dickinson says to feed your anger and it will subside but I think the direct opposite is true.
    1. De-escalation is important and the hardest role in an argument is choosing not to escalate.
    1. When someone perfects that skill, teach me!

APPLICATION:

  1. The beautiful thing we can learn through both of these Psalms: God can handle our rage.
    1. BUT We are proactive not reactive
    1. Our actions are not determined by wicked people
    1. AND When we are so determined to be right that we cease to show love, we are no longer right.

CONCLUSION: Sometimes anger is called for- we cry for justice when the vulnerable are exploited. BUT our anger must be rooted in God’s truth and goodness NOT in our own agenda.

COMMUNION: WORLD COMMUNION SUNDAY- Today is world communion Sunday. It is a day that reminds us that God’s plans don’t JUST include us. John 3:16 For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have ever lasting life.

God’s got the whole world in his hands. Today as you hold the cup and the bread, you hold the hands of our siblings around the world and recognize how big our family truly is.

Influence of Contentment

9/25/2022

Message Title: Influence of Contentment
Theme: Paul’s Influence
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: 1 Timothy 6:6-19
Scripture Reading: Luke 16:19-31
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15; Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16; Amos 6:1a, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31
Focus: Paul closes his letter to Timothy with a reminder to live content and generous.
Function:
 To give generously while pursuing contentment and financial healing.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 16:19-31 19 “There was a certain rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen, and who feasted luxuriously every day. 20 At his gate lay a certain poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 Lazarus longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Instead, dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 “The poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 While being tormented in the place of the dead, he looked up and saw Abraham at a distance with Lazarus at his side. 24 He shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I’m suffering in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. 26 Moreover, a great crevasse has been fixed between us and you. Those who wish to cross over from here to you cannot. Neither can anyone cross from there to us.’ 27 “The rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my father’s house. 28 I have five brothers. He needs to warn them so that they don’t come to this place of agony.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. They must listen to them.’ 30 The rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will change their hearts and lives.’ 31 Abraham said, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, then neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: how do you determine a good piece of produce?
    1. avocado
    1. Pineapple
    1. Watermelon
  2. Determining worthiness? picking produce at the grocery store (Misfitts produce company)
    1. We have expectations with produce that lead us to buy “pretty” produce.
    1. Wasting produce because it doesn’t fit expectations.

TRANSITION:  Paul is once again making a point about the value of people and focus on the Gospel. Sort out worthiness based on the Gospel.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Timothy 6:6-19 Actually, godliness is a great source of profit when it is combined with being happy with what you already have. We didn’t bring anything into the world and so we can’t take anything out of it: we’ll be happy with food and clothing. But people who are trying to get rich fall into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful passions that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some have wandered away from the faith and have impaled themselves with a lot of pain because they made money their goal. 11 But as for you, man of God, run away from all these things. Instead, pursue righteousness, holy living, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Compete in the good fight of faith. Grab hold of eternal life—you were called to it, and you made a good confession of it in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I command you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and Christ Jesus, who made the good confession when testifying before Pontius Pilate. 14 Obey this order without fault or failure until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 The timing of this appearance is revealed by God alone, who is the blessed and only master, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 He alone has immortality and lives in light that no one can come near. No human being has ever seen or is able to see him. Honor and eternal power belong to him. Amen. 17 Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. 19 When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life.

EXPLAINATION: Paul closes his letter to Timothy with a reminder to live content and generous. (series wrap up)

  1. Last week: do not be influenced by wealth or power, they don’t determine worthiness, the gospel does (What is the Gospel?)
  2. Context:  Final Chapter of 1 Timothy
    1. Paul has been writing a letter to Timothy to help him sort out the problems in Ephesus with a few groups of stubborn people
    1. Paul is wrapping up his letter to Timothy with lifestyle instructions
  3. Now: Continues to talk about the influence of wealth and how it can lead you astray.
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  Let’s list off the what Paul tells Timothy to Avoid vs. Pursue
      1. What are the results of each?

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Positive vs Negative reinforcement:
    1. Over the course of this series, we’ve talked about changing the way we approach the Gospel with other people; that we need to stop EVANGELIZING and start LIVING the Gospel.
    1. We’re called to love people to Christ rather than scare them to heaven.
    1. It is easy to look at Paul’s letters and be filled with the “don’ts” rather than the “dos.”
  2. Gospel – “Rich man” was so focused on “his” wealth that he missed the chance to use his blessings to help Lazarus. The rich man’s obsession with his wealth blinded him and lead to ignoring the teachings of scripture.
    1. It would be easy to focus on “where is this place of torment?” and “how do I avoid it?” but we’d be focused on the Negative reinforcements of Christianity rather than the positive.
      1. If we can only think of the negative reasons to participate in our faith, then we are missing the Good News.
        1. It’s fire insurance. Paul is influencing Ephesus through Timothy to get their focus back on the Gospel.
  3. Clinging to our wealth, power, security…  and even the Negative reinforcements of faith will lead to missed opportunities to “be rich in good works.”
    1. Earthly prosperity doesn’t determine our worithiness with God.

APPLICATION: To give generously while pursuing contentment and financial healing.

  1. “Normal Giving to the Church Talk”
    1. The natural progression with this scripture is to look at you all and say “if you’re a good Christian you will tithe 10% of your income to the church.”
      1. Barna group questions/AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
        1. Are you familiar with the term “tithe”? (1/10 Abraham to Melchizadeck & Leviticus)
        1. In your life, has anyone taught you what it means to be a generous person?
        1. Studies:
          1. https://www.barna.com/research/what-is-a-tithe/
          1. https://www.barna.com/research/christians-give/
          1. https://www.barna.com/research/true-generosity/
    1. Tithing is the spiritual practice of giving
      1. It is the act of letting go of control.
      1. Tithing is supposed to be a regular practice.
  2. Sacrificial Giving
    1. While tithing is budgeted, planned, and predictable; we are also called to big sacrificial giving.
      1. We’re called to give when we can’t control the outcome
      1. Give when “the return” isn’t measurable
      1. Give not just money but time, skills, and safety.
        1. Yes, generous giving can be risky for the Gospel.
    1. Giving is not… buying God’s love.
      1. Honor God
      1. This is a positive act
  3. The Spiritual act of giving requires practice and healing.
    1. Baggage with debt, gambling, financial manipulation

CONCLUSION

The Influence of Christian Hope

9/18/2022

Message Title: The Influence of Christian Hope
Theme: Paul’s Influence
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-7;
Scripture Reading: Luke 16:1-13
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; Psalm 79:1-9; Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13
Focus: Paul instructs Timothy on how to engage with the culture at Ephesus and remain in the Gospel.
Function:
To shift our focus and loyalty from the world to the hope of Christ.
Other Notes:
HOMECOMING

HOMECOMING QUIZ: Welcome to Liberty’s homecoming. We have been a congregation since 1854, that’s 168 years!! The last 2 years we’ve had fun quizzes to test your knowledge of history. In 2020, focused on Liberty’s history. In 2021, we focused on US history the year Liberty was founded. This year we’re going to look at some local facts!

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipton_County,_Indiana#:~:text=Tipton%20County%20was%20formed%20in,county%20occurred%20in%20October%201851.
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prairie_Township,_Tipton_County,_Indiana
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groomsville,_Indiana

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 16:1-13 Jesus also said to the disciples, “A certain rich man heard that his household manager was wasting his estate. He called the manager in and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give me a report of your administration because you can no longer serve as my manager.’ “The household manager said to himself, What will I do now that my master is firing me as his manager? I’m not strong enough to dig and too proud to beg. I know what I’ll do so that, when I am removed from my management position, people will welcome me into their houses. “One by one, the manager sent for each person who owed his master money. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil.’[a] The manager said to him, ‘Take your contract, sit down quickly, and write four hundred fifty gallons.’ Then the manager said to another, ‘How much do you owe?’ He said, ‘One thousand bushels of wheat.’[b] He said, ‘Take your contract and write eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he acted cleverly. People who belong to this world are more clever in dealing with their peers than are people who belong to the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves so that when it’s gone, you will be welcomed into the eternal homes. 10 “Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much. 11 If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 If you haven’t been faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? 13 No household servant can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Thinking back to your school days, can you picture the “popular” kids?
    1. What made them popular/cool?
      1. Were they one of the best academically?
      1. Were they one of the best athletically?
      1. Were they wealthy/had cool things?
    1. I find it fascinating that popularity was not a correlation for success or happiness.
  2. The older I get, the more I value quality friendships over quantity… but perhaps that is also evidence that I never was one of the popular kids.
    1. Joke about Jesus having 12 friends in his 30’s.

TRANSITION: Popularity doesn’t always indicate the best leaders. Nor do our leaders frequently deserve the fan-fare of a “popular” kid. In our text for today, Paul is instructing Timothy on how to interact with the leaders and authority figures, the “popular” folks, if you will. How do they impact the Gospel?

MAIN TEXT:  1 Timothy 2:1-7 First of all, then, I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity. This is right and it pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. There is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the human Christ Jesuswho gave himself as a payment to set all people free. This was a testimony that was given at the right time. I was appointed to be a preacher and apostle of this testimony—I’m telling the truth and I’m not lying! I’m a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

EXPLAINATION & INTERPRETATION: Paul instructs Timothy on how to engage with the culture at Ephesus and remain in the Gospel.

  1. Last week- we saw Paul frame his letter to Timothy around the reminder that EVEN the most stubborn of people are redeemable through the example of his own conversion.  
    1. More scenarios of stubborn people needing redemption
    1. (This reminded us to stop EVANGELIZING the Gospel and start LIVING the Gospel. It’s time we act like Christ rather than speak with condemnation. )
  2. Today, we hear Paul give instructions on how to engage with the culture in Ephesus while remaining faithful to the Gospel.
    1. Context: Wealthy and powerful people were making a mess of the church.
      1. Women were using the worship service as a fashion show.
      1. Popular men were placed in leadership that used their power to stir up misinformation
  3. Gospel Passage: Paul’s words remind us of Jesus’ Parable of the Shrewd Manager
    1. In the end, Jesus makes it clear that we can’t have split loyalties by saying “You cannot serve both God and wealth.”
      1. This works with just about anything “You cannot serve both God and ______”
      1. We won’t listen to the “popular kids” but the message of Jesus

INTERPRETATION: Ironically enough, this passage is frequently taken in the opposite direction of the context of the letter.

  1. Paul’s Instruction: pray for those in leadership/authority
    1. Misconception 1: we are supposed to whole heartedly support and endorse kings & leaders
      1. Paul does not say that our Leaders are infallible and every word/action is endorsed by God.
      1. Stubborn people influenced by power and wealth. Worldly leaders will fail us (yes even pastors)
  2. Paul’s Results: live a quite & peaceful life in godliness and dignity
    1. Misconception 2: “quite and peaceful life” means maintain the status quo and don’t stir up conflict
    1. To live a Godly life is to live like Jesus. To live with dignity is to treat creation with dignity.
      1. Jesus healed the sick.
      1. Jesus hung out with the “rejects” and called out the popular kids
      1. Jesus forgave the remorseful.
      1. Jesus restored broken communities.
      1. We use our earthly blessimngs to bless others (Luke 16:9 & 11)
    1. The Gospel means working towards healing, restoration, redemption, and transformation.
      1. We do not accept the status quo.
      1. We do not leave vulnerable people at risk.
      1. We challenge people and systems that hurt creation

APPLCATION: To shift our focus and loyalty from the world to the hope of Christ.

  1. Let’s not be confused about the Gospel. The Gospel is not a list of “saved & the damned.” The Gospel isn’t a “popular kids” club. The Gospel isn’t endorsing politicians or public leaders.
    1. The Gospel isn’t about following the next big leader in our Christian Bubble. The Gospel is 100% focused on Jesus.
  2. Here’s what the Gospel is all about:
    1. We read in the Bible who Jesus is (we also learn about Jesus through the faith of others):
      1. The Son of God who showed us love by redirecting our focus to Loving God and Loving others. He was executed for his radical teachings & ministry. Three days later he resurrected. His acts reunited the divide between heaven and earth. We do not have to fear death because Jesus conquered death.
    1. Knowing Jesus leads us to develop a desire to love like him.
    1. We commit to learning to be more like Jesus.
    1. Our commitment isn’t just about thought or words but changing our actions: Love God, love others.
      1. We show love to others by caring about what they care about.
      1. God cares about creation, so we’re called to care about creation.
    1. Eternal life (heaven) is a bonus for following Jesus. We don’t follow Jesus to avoid hell. We follow Jesus because we see the results of transformation through his word. We see that his way is the best way to heal our relationship with God and with others.
  3. Not a Genie: Committing to follow Jesus is not like a Genie- you don’t pray a prayer and get a ticket to heaven.
    1. Salvation is a free gift to all who believe.
    1. Typically, belief in Jesus is punctuated by an “altar call” or an invitation to pray a prayer of dedication to Jesus. But that isn’t the only way to “become a Christian.” A conversation with a spiritual mentor or a public declaration to your church through testimony or baptism

CONCLUSION: The Gospel reminds us to live by Jesus’ standards and not any earthly leader or “popular kid.” Whether you were cool in school or more of a wallflower, you are loved by God. You are called to know more about Jesus and let your life be transformed by his word.

This may be Liberty’s homecoming but Jesus is calling us to an even greater homecoming. We’re all called to reunite with the family of God.

The Influence of a Changed Mind

9/11/2022

Message Title: The Influence of a Changed Mind
Theme: Paul’s Influence
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-10
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 51:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10
Focus: Paul was the 1 sheep that Jesus left the 99 to rescue from himself.
Function:
 To humbly open ourselves up to conversations that might inform us and change our minds for the sake of the Gospel.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 15:1-10All the tax collectors and sinners were gathering around Jesus to listen to him. The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose someone among you had one hundred sheep and lost one of them. Wouldn’t he leave the other ninety-nine in the pasture and search for the lost one until he finds it? And when he finds it, he is thrilled and places it on his shoulders. When he arrives home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who changes both heart and life than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to change their hearts and lives. “Or what woman, if she owns ten silver coins and loses one of them, won’t light a lamp and sweep the house, searching her home carefully until she finds it? When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me because I’ve found my lost coin.’ 10  In the same way, I tell you, joy breaks out in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who changes both heart and life.”

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Can you name a food you hated as a child and love as an adult? Or visa versa?
  2. “Change my mind” meme- the original photo of Steven Crowder was taken at Texas Christian University and was shared online in February 2018 alongside the caption, “Hello @TCU. Come one come all. #ChangeMyMind.”
    1. https://www.thelist.com/593835/the-origins-of-the-change-my-mind-meme/
    1. It eventually lead to millions of iterations of this photo substituted with ridiculous things, like pineapple on pizza.

TRANSITION: Are we, as American Christians, good at changing our mind? What do we miss when we stick our heels in the dirt and stake our claim?

In our text for today, Paul starts off the bulk of his letter to Timothy by talking about how Jesus changed Paul’s mind and his life was transformed.

  1. Intro to 1 Timothy:
    1. Authorship: If you recall, the NT is organized into: Gospels+ Acts, Paul’s letters, Maybe Paul, Prob not Paul, NOT Paul, and Revelation. 1 Timothy falls in the Maybe/Prob not Paul category for many scholars.
      1. Regardless of scholarly opinion, the author calls themselves Paul, we will call them Paul too.
    1. Recipient: Timothy, companion to Paul, who was sent to Ephesus to deal with some problems in the Ephesian church
    1. Context: Church leadership & order
    1. Paul started his letter with is traditional greeting and a reminder to Timothy about why he was in Ephesus. Then Paul speaks about himself.

MAIN TEXT: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength because he considered me faithful. So he appointed me to ministry 13 even though I used to speak against him, attack his people, and I was proud. But I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and without faith. 14 Our Lord’s favor poured all over me along with the faithfulness and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I’m the biggest sinner of all. 16 But this is why I was shown mercy, so that Christ Jesus could show his endless patience to me first of all. So I’m an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. 17 Now to the king of the ages, to the immortal, invisible, and only God, may honor and glory be given to him forever and always! Amen.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Paul’s Faults: “speak against him, attack his people, I was proud”
  2. Paul transformed: the mercy of Jesus transformed Paul’s heart and life.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Lost Sheep: Paul was the 1 sheep that the shepherd left the 99 to rescue.
    1. Paul was rescued from himself by the mercy of Jesus and everything changed & heaven celebrated.
  2. Big Context of the Letter: perhaps Paul starts this letter to Timothy with a reminder of Paul’s transformation because of the big task before Timothy. Paul is going to mention a few different stubborn groups of people that need changed minds within his letter. It would be easy to see these groups as hopeless if it weren’t for Paul’s own transformation.
    1. Paul’s influence to remind Timothy that No one is a hopeless case.

APPLICATION: To humbly open ourselves up to conversations that might inform us and change our minds for the sake of the Gospel.

  1. “Save sinners”: Paul tells us that Jesus came to save sinners. He then calls himself a sinner, the worst of them, who was saved by Jesus.
    1. Christians have “beat the dead horse” when it comes to evangelism tactics. We’ve done the same thing over and over but expected new results. We’ve told people they are sinners going to hell and NEED JESUS to escape damnation.
      1. i.e. Indian Reservations in SD have made it clear they are sick of hearing what Christians have to say. After all, for centuries, the Church’s “m.o.” was to “Kill the Indian in him, save the man.”
        1. Crazy! Kidnapping children, shaving their heads, and beating them when they spoke their native tongue did not convince the Native Americans to follow Jesus.
    1. Christians have attempted to use scare tactics like “turn or burn” or “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner” to try to convince people to follow Jesus… it’s not working. We are instead known as angry bigots. Who hate people whoa re different.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  Would you still choose to be a Christian if there wasn’t a heaven? Or a hell?
    1. Change my mind: We’re doing Christianity wrong if it’s motivated by heaven (or hell).
    1. Back to the intro: the “Change my mind” meme is great but the humor misses the bigger issue—Do Christians have a willingness to listen? Are we able to stop talking and listen? And not simply listen to respond but listen to learn & understand?
    1. Library where you “rent” people to hear their stories
  3. We are convinced that we need our opinions known BUT what if instead we took time to listen?
    1. What if we stop EVANGELIZING the Gospel AND INSTEAD started LIVING the Gospel?
      1. What if we radiated the belief: “you are a beloved child of God called to show this world love”??!! * Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:23-25*
    1. Are our hearts and lives changed by Jesus, or do we still look like everyone else?
      1. How’s our Christian marketing? Are we actually using what we’re selling.

CONCLUSION: Paul instructs Timothy to help multiple groups change their hearts and lives… they were IN the church. We, not outsiders, need to reflect on our lives and actions and what they say about Jesus.

May we have the humility needed to change our hearts and lives. May we be willing to let go of OUR WAY.

Influencing Liberation

9/4/2022

Message Title: Influencing Liberation
Theme:
Paul’s Influence
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Philemon 1:1-21
Scripture Reading: Luke 14:25-33
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; Deuteronomy 30:15-20;
Psalm 1; Philemon 1:1-21; Luke 14:25-33
Focus: Paul used his influence to help liberate an enslaved man.
Function: To embrace our role in mercy.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 14:25-33 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said, 26 “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. 30 They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’ 31 Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could go up against the twenty thousand coming against him? 32 And if he didn’t think he could win, he would send a representative to discuss terms of peace while his enemy was still a long way off. 33 In the same way, none of you who are unwilling to give up all of your possessions can be my disciple.

SERIES INTRODUCTION: The Apostle Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament. He is known as one of the biggest influences of the Early Church. A church receiving a letter from Paul was sure to read it and put his words into practice. Over the month of September, we will look at 2 different letters of Paul and consider his influence in two men’s lives.

INTRODUCTION:

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: If your house was burning down and you could only get out with what was in your hands, what would you grab to bring with you?
    1. No one said their children/loved ones?!?!
    1. I may have to start calling you all Quokkas.
  2. Quokka (kwaa-kah)- marsupial from Australia, they’re from the wallaby family
    1. Internet spread rumors that Quokka throw their babies at predators when they feel threatened so that they can run away. However, it’s more accurate to say they release their pouch muscles so their baby “falls out” while they’re running away.
    1. Self-preservation at the expense of their spawn

TRANSITION: Paul was not someone too concerned with self-preservation. He was imprisoned multiple times, beaten, shipwrecked, and eventually executed by Rome all for the sake of the Gospel. While imprisoned he wrote a letter to Philemon—would Paul use this time to help himself or provide council?

Paul is writing for Onesimus’ preservation.

MAIN TEXT: Philemon 1:1-21 From Paul, who is a prisoner for the cause of Christ Jesus, and our brother Timothy. To Philemon our dearly loved coworker, Apphia our sister, Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church that meets in your house. May the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Philemon, I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers because I’ve heard of your love and faithfulness, which you have both for the Lord Jesus and for all God’s people. I pray that your partnership in the faith might become effective by an understanding of all that is good among us in Christ. I have great joy and encouragement because of your love, since the hearts of God’s people are refreshed by your actions, my brother. 8 Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to command you to do the right thing, 9 I would rather appeal to you through love. I, Paul—an old man, and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus— 10 appeal to you for my child Onesimus. I became his father in the faith during my time in prison. 11 He was useless to you before, but now he is useful to both of us. 12 I’m sending him back to you, which is like sending you my own heart. 13 I considered keeping him with me so that he might serve me in your place during my time in prison because of the gospel. 14 However, I didn’t want to do anything without your consent so that your act of kindness would occur willingly and not under pressure. 15 Maybe this is the reason that Onesimus was separated from you for a while so that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—that is, as a dearly loved brother. He is especially a dearly loved brother to me. How much more can he become a brother to you, personally and spiritually in the Lord! 17 So, if you really consider me a partner, welcome Onesimus as if you were welcoming me. 18 If he has harmed you in any way or owes you money, charge it to my account. 19 I, Paul, will pay it back to you (I’m writing this with my own hand). Of course, I won’t mention that you owe me your life. 20 Yes, brother, I want this favor from you in the Lord! Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 I’m writing to you, confident of your obedience and knowing that you will do more than what I ask. 

EXPLAINATION: Our first letter in this series is quite short. Paul’s letter to Philemon was only 25 verses long. If you keep reading the remaining 4 verses you can say you read a whole book of the Bible today!

  1. Background details:
    1. Author: Paul
    1. Recipient: Philemon- property owner/wealthy man, Christian hosting a house church
    1. Content: Onesimus- enslaved person/indentured servant ran away
  2. Paul meets Onesimus, Onesimus becomes a Christ follower, Paul convinces Onesimus to return to Philemon with this letter in hopes that Philemon will release Onesimus of his debt and set him free because he is now a brother in Christ. “Level up your faith, Philemon”
    1. Also, Paul reminds him of the eternal debt that Paul helped Philemon with by introducing him to Jesus.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Paul takes pride in his faith in Christ. Paul was a zealous Pharisee that became zealous for Jesus and called others to do the same.
    1. He was transformed by Jesus. Originally his zealousness was going to kill Christians, now it liberates people.
    1. He wants others to model his zealousness for God.
  2. Connecting this passage to the Gospel:
    1. Jesus calls his audience to count the cost of discipleship using three examples.
    1. Nothing should hold a disciple back from faithfulness to Jesus, not even their own desires or family.
    1. Offend people by who we include vs who we exclude
  3. Philemon likely had every desire of Onesimus paying off his debt but Paul is saying “bro, you gotta let that go. Also, you owe me!” Paul wants Philemon to let go of his self-preservation and his “rights” for the sake of the Gospel.
    1. Ironic, when so many Christians used this at one point in time to defend the return of run-away slaves during the Civil War.
    1. This is a letter about liberation not enslavement. This is a letter beseeching a man to do the right thing.  This is NOT a letter endorsing slavery. Btw slaver is still legal in the US in the form of punishment (prison inmates).

APPLICATION: To embrace our role in mercy.

  1. Philemon was asked to set aside his rights for the Gospel.
  2. AMERICAN SACRIFICE: I’d love us to ask ‘Could we do the same? Could we give up our rights for the Gospel?’ but I don’t think American Christians could even if they thought they wanted to.
    1. American Christians have not counted the cost. We don’t want to give up our rights, beliefs, or opinions for the Gospel.
    1. “The great debates around COVID precautions” is a perfect example of “my body my choice.” Christians chose autonomy over caring for their neighbor. I remember actually hearing Christians say that elderly can be sacrificed for the greater good. They’ve lived long enough. … LITERALLY. Or that if your family is vulnerable STAY HOME?!?! 2 years later… did we hear ourselves? We literally told the disabled, needy, vulnerable to stay home so that we could have our freedom.
      1. How is that caring for the least of these?
    1. I won’t even get into the discussion of guns or abortion because even mentioning those two topics would lead to people not listening to the message. We cling to our autonomy and safety like they are God. We want freedom to chose OUR way when it fits our personal preferences but don’t want others to have the same freedom.
  3. REFLECTION:
    1. If you are Philemon, who is your Onesimus? Who are you holding back the Gospel for your own benefit or preferences? … or even beliefs…?
    1. How are your rights/actions infringing on the Gospel being received by others?

CONCLUSION & COMMUNION: This table is a reminder that Jesus sacrificed his rights for us. Jesus died on a cross so that we could have eternal life. This table is a reminder of the promises we receive through Jesus’ actions. It also reminds us that we are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, by his cross we are liberated. We are called to sacrifice our will for God’s design.

Sacrifice our plans.

Sacrifice our safety.

Sacrifice our rights.

Sacrifice our concept of the Gospel.

Because we worship a God who liberates the captives. We worship a God who restores the broken. We worship a God who invites the lonely. We worship a God who levels the playing field.

The act of communion reminds us that we sacrifice our plans because God’s plan is even more joyful, beautiful, and fulfilling that our wildest dreams.

PRAY BLESSING FOR ELEMENTS

INVITATION

DEACONS SERVE COMMUNION

BENEDICTION & BLESSING

Faith in Surplus

8/28/2022

Message Title: Faith in Surplus
Theme: Faith
Season: Ordinary Time
Main Text: Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Scripture Reading: Luke 14:1, 7-14
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Sirach 10:12-18 or Proverbs 25:6-7; Psalm 112; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Focus: Faith requires hospitality with genuine motivations.
Function:
To celebrate our blessings and surplus without holding onto them like a security blanket. Rather use our blessings to bless others. 

Other Notes: faith practiced in life- chairs, traffic, supply chains, utilities, politicians, fencing, Banks

SCRIPTURE READING: Luke 14:1, 7-14 14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to share a meal in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, they were watching him closely….When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. 10 Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.” 12 Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.”

FAITH IN LIFE: Faith in banks

  1. TRUST IN BANKS
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGMENT: Who has distinct memories of a Great Depression parent or grandparent? AKA “The Greatest Generation” (at the time Adults) or Silent Generation (at the time kids)
    1. I have two distinct memories. First, I’ll share about my dad’s maternal grandparents- My Great Grandparents Ora & Miller had a major distrust for banks. They stored up all their money in places in their home. When we would come to visit, Grandpa Miller would whip out $20 bills from no where and send us to the store to pick up cokes. When they passed away, my grandparents discovered nearly $250k in $20 bills stashed places; all because of their lack of trust in banks.
  3. The Greatest Generation experienced horrors that no human should have to suffer. World War II and The Great Depression were big burdens to carry. I think my generation is still impacted by the ripple effects of our great grandparents. Some individuals have a lack of trust in establishments while others want to reform the establishments.

TRANSITION:  People may not like to admit it but money can change you. Going hungry can change you. Having an excess of money can change you. Last week we talked about releasing control of the Gospel to be hospitable; this week we continue the hospitality conversation with a discussion of famine and surplus.

MAIN TEXT: Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 Keep loving each other like family. Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing itRemember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place. Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. Your way of life should be free from the love of money, and you should be content with what you have. After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon youThis is why we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, and I won’t be afraid. What can people do to me? Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!… 15 So let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise through him, which is the fruit from our lips that confess his name. 16 Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Gospel: In Ch 13, Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath. Time has passed and we’re on another Sabbath. It’s been a week since then and Jesus is once again healing on the Sabbath. Scandalous! He then emphasized the motivations of the people listening by discussing a wedding.
    1. Wedding feast, guests, & important seats.
    1. Instructions to not invite people over that can repay you.
    1. Invite the people who will never be able to repay you the kindness. (discussion of reward)
  2. Hebrews: The author of Hebrews wraps up their letter by talking about worship through hospitality and sacrifice. … but not animal sacrifice.
    1. Love like family
    1. Open your home (comments on marriage and leaders)
    1. Your way of life should be free from the love of money
    1. Do good and share what you have

INTERPRETATION:  Faith requires hospitality with genuine motivations.

  1. How to interact with the world
  2. NO STRINGS ATTACHED: Don’t cater to people because you think you’ll receive a return invitation or clout.
    1. ENTERTAINMENT: The good place show (disclaimer)– doing good for others tainted by desire to get into the good place. Their motivation isn’t good after all.
  3. ACT OF WORSHIP: Hospitality is worship and holy sacrifice.
    1. One of the most catastrophic events for a church is receiving a large gift of money. People will fight over how to use it, motivations and pride will get entangled. It is a surefire mess.
    1. My childhood church got out of debt through the sale of some land, over time the church split over how to use the equity. Some wanted to use it on themselves while others wanted to use it on their community. Their motivations were on two completely different fields and couldn’t play together.
    1. Blessing to bless others

APPLICATION: To celebrate our blessings and surplus without holding onto them like a security blanket. Rather use our blessings to bless others. 

  1. WEIGHT OF WEALTH: Both Jesus and the author of Hebrews wants us to be hospitable and not crippled by wealth, possessions, power, or pride.
    1. It’s easy for us to talk about the virtue of being poor. You learn the value of a dollar when you struggle. You cherish the little things when you go without. You appreciate every morsel when you’re hungry.
    1. We use poverty as a virtue that we don’t want to deprive someone from as if it is the only pathway to character development. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, like I did, and you’ll be more grateful than if I were to simply help you.
      1. Problem of “handout = no grit”
  2. OUR SECURITY BLANKET: rarely do we talk about the burden of having excess. The risk of sitting in surplus is we get greedy and choosy about when to let go of our excess. We want to see evidence that we should buy in—like investors on Shark Tank. Or bless others
    1. Churches hesitate to justify the budget for outreach ministry if it doesn’t lead to people coming to church or donations received.
      1. Hear me, Churches, don’t do VBS or missional outreach if all you want is butts in pews. Just actually love your neighbor, without any hope of filling the church on a Sunday morning.
  3. Last week we let go of control & let go of results in order to allow the Gospel to do it’s work
    1. Love until our death
    1. Bleed dry serving others
  4. “Happy Dollar” is the perfect example of letting our blessings bless others. We let go of our excess in an act of worship and gratitude to God with the intention of blessing others.
    1. Township in South Africa- joy with dirt floors and cardboard walls
    1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: How could we utilize the concept of Happy Dollars in our daily lives?
      1. Your home, time, talents
      1. Bless our home to bless others

CONCLUSION: The Greatest Generation was not perfect. Their beliefs that children should be seen and not heard led to the Silent Generation’s struggles. HOWEVER, the Greatest Generation was resourceful in getting by with very little. Surviving on little and hospitality demonstrated without excess. They survived The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, and World War II.  

What if we started a trend of living off the minimum and blessing others with our excess?

What if we trained ourselves to give joyfully without worrying about return?

Last week, we let go of our legalism to open doors of hospitality. Now, we can release our security blankets, our self-preservation kit, and bless others. Whether you have surplus or are barely scraping by, God can use you. Our faith isn’t in what we have stored up in our bank accounts. Our faith is stored up in the One Who Gives Life to All.