Illuminated Discoveries

Message Title: Illuminated Discoveries
Theme: Flopped Inventions & New Discoveries
Season:  Epiphany
Main Text: John 1:43-51
Scripture Reading: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
RCL Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51
Focus: Nathaniel, the skeptic, becomes a disciple of Jesus.
Function: To review the changes of the church over time and recognize the dawn of change to come.
Other Notes: MLK jr birthday

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 Lord, you have examined me. You know me. 2You know when I sit down and when I stand up. Even from far away, you comprehend my plans. 3You study my traveling and resting. You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways. 4There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord, that you don’t already know completely. 5You surround me—front and back. You put your hand on me. 6That kind of knowledge is too much for me; it’s so high above me that I can’t reach it. 13You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. 14I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. 15My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my embryo, and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me, before any one of them had yet happened. 17God, your plans are incomprehensible to me! Their total number is countless! 18If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand! If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you.

INVENTION: As we are in the season of epiphany, a season of discovery and “ah-ha! moments,” it felt appropriate that the next invention we would talk about would be the light bulb.

  1. ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE: Who invented the light bulb?
    1. Technically, this is a trick question.
    2. PHOTO
    3. ANSWER:  Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb like our history teachers’ claim.
  2. Invention of the Light Bulb
    1. PHOTO: The beginning designs for gas lighting, lamps, and light bulbs started in the late 1700’s, well before Edison’s time.  
    2. In fact, 22 inventors paved the way for inventors Joseph Swan or Thomas Edison to make progress in this field.
    3. Thomas Edison actually bought a patent from a team of inventors and changed it before making his own patent. 
  3. Thomas Edison was noted for many failures along the process of inventing a more efficient light bulb. Some notes from his journal say he was stuck testing 6000+ filament materials for an extended amount of time.
  4. Thomas Edison wasn’t the first to design a light bulb. Historians note that Thomas made the most efficient bulb of his time. Manufacturers could modify his design slightly for commercial reproduction.
    1. Sources:
      1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incandescent_light_bulb
      2. https://www.livescience.com/43424-who-invented-the-light-bulb.html
      3. https://www.fi.edu/history-resources/edisons-lightbulb
      4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J66e1X_w6i0
      5. https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-light-bulb
      6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q4rQDN6Z4s

TRANSITION: In our text for today, we see an illuminating conversation that may not lead to commercial reproduction but to a changed life. As we explore this passage, I want us to consider the commitment of a disciple of Christ.

SCRIPTURE: John 1:43-51 43The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?” Philip said, “Come and see.” 47Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.” 50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these! 51I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”

EXPLAINATION: Nathaniel, the skeptic, becomes a disciple of Jesus.

  1. This morning we are in the Gospel of John. This is an important thing to note because of how different John’s gospel unfolds compared to Mark. We will spend a lot of time in Mark of over the course of 2021 and maybe you’ll be able to hear the difference between his voice and the other gospels by 2022.
    1. Does anyone remember the goal of John’s gospel?
      1. to show Jesus is God made flesh or Jesus is divine (Meriah’s answer: different from the image of Roman gods coming to earth to mess with humans.)
  2. In the gospel of John, right after Jesus’ baptism, he calls disciples.  By this point in John’s narrative, Jesus has already called Andrew and Peter. Andrew was one of John the Baptist’s disciples.
  3. Philip, from the same town as Andrew & Peter.
    1. Word gets around in a small town… I feel like those might be lyrics to a John Mellencamp song?
    2. Bethsaida was small, think Groomsville size. So small that archeologists are not confident of its location. Different sources will tell you different things.
    3. Philip knew Andrew & Peter and was willing to listen to what they had to say.
  4. Nathaniel- Philip was quickly convinced, so he grabbed Nathaniel to share the news.
    1. He was skeptical at first
    2. It swayed Nathaniel to believe when Jesus said he saw him under the fig tree.
      1. What about this changed his mind?
  5. Jesus calls Nathaniel on his easily persuade opinion
    1. Jesus pauses to teach Nathaniel in this moment. This wasn’t some simple starry-eyed or awe filled fantasy. This commitment to be Jesus’ disciple was life changing.
    2. Jesus has these same hesitations in the next chapter of John with a crowd
    3. John 2: 23-25 23While Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, many believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs that he did. 24But Jesus didn’t trust himself to them because he knew all people. 25He didn’t need anyone to tell him about human nature, for he knew what human nature was.

TRANSITION: Something illuminated in Nathaniel’s mind, and he was ready to leave everything behind and follow Jesus. His life would never be the same. But Jesus was calling him to a deeper belief.

  1. Following Christ was more than a starry-eyed belief in a magic trick or fortune teller. Following Christ was a lifelong commitment to a different way of thinking, speaking, and living.

INTERPRETATION: Churches experience change over time, but the message stays the same.

  1. LIGHT BULBS: It took at least 22 people and thousands of experiments to produce a commercially reproducible light bulb. After all of that time, we don’t use the Edison Bulb anymore.
    1. Perhaps you have purchased some stylistic light bulbs that mimic the Edison Bulb. However, the time of the Edison Bulb is long gone. It is no longer efficient, nor is it as cost effective.
    2. Lighting has changed to fit the times.
  2. State of the Church: We cannot continue to do the same thing but expect different results. Nor can we expect to ‘go back’ when we have ‘enough’ people. Ministry will continue to move forward and adapt, as the church always has. 
    1. Because of COVID numbers are low in ALL churches
    2. Because of 2020 church culture is changing
    3. Because of divide in politics churches are splintering
  3. The Church (unified) has had a history of adapting.
    1. After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples and early Christians had to worship and learn in alternative ways. Gentile Christians typically met together in houses. Some still identified as Jews who followed Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and therefore still went to the Temple, a tabernacle or synagogue. 
    2. As the first few generations of Christians aged, the political climate in the Roman empire changed. Christians worshipped in secret, using symbols and word of mouth to find the location of a gathering. 
    3. Emperor Constantinian had a religious experience and attributed it to Christ. He claimed his victories in war were because Christ was on his side. The Holy Roman Empire developed out of this. They merged church and government in this period. Christians worshipped in public but the message got mixed up in politics.
    4. As the unified church splintered over disagreements– about theology, politics, or what they considered scripture– things became more bloody. 
      1. Christians didn’t need enemies anymore, Christians killed Christians in the name of Jesus.
      2. RELIGION TREE – Flash forward centuries to today. The major branches of religion have split so many times that we have to make it look like a tree to illustrate our lineage
        1. 2nd photo – Baptists take up about 1/8 of the tree. Baptists are so bad at getting along with other Baptists that we keep making a different type of Baptist.

APPLICATION: To review the changes of the church over time and recognize the dawn of change to come.

  1. The Church needs to adapt as the times change. The message doesn’t change, but perhaps the ministry or worship setting changes.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:
    1. What are some changes we have experienced in church worship styles since your childhood? (Before 2020)
    2. What are some fresh developments you’ve seen in churches or ministry in 2020?
  3. Liberty has adapted & changed from its organization in 1854 until 2021.
    1. History of gathering:
      1. Met in houses
      2. Log cabin
      3. White building
      4. Brick Church that burned
      5. New Church
    2. I remember rumors that women and men used to sit separately during the service.
    3. Women were not part of leadership or even in attendance at business meetings.

CONCLUSION: Liberty has adapted and grown over the years. I don’t want us to go into 2021 full of fear about the possibilities of change. I want us to hold strong to the promises of Jesus with confidence that God will guide us into the next chapter.

As we look back at the changes to light bulbs or even the history of the church, I hope we find peace. Change is a constant companion of the living. As we continue to grow in our faith, we will see transformations occur in ourselves and in our communities.

Faithfulness to Jesus includes a willingness to set aside our goals and listen for the Spirit’s guidance. Perhaps these things we listed will be in our future, or perhaps other innovative ministries are coming our way, but God’s love and salvation remains the same.  

Waters Changing Tides

Originally preached on 1/10/2021

Message Title: Waters Changing Tides
Theme: Flopped Inventions & New Discoveries
Season: EPIPHANY (started Jan 6th)
Main Text: Mark 1:4-11
Scripture Reading: Psalm 29
RCL Scripture: Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11
Focus: John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, and a voice claims Jesus as his son.
Function: To commit or recommit to the continual transformation of our baptism.
Other Notes: (Wisemen arrived!) (Hidden Ministries/Mission of the Month)

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 29 You, divine beings! Give to the Lord—give to the Lord glory and power! 2Give to the Lord the glory due his name! Bow down to the Lord in holy splendor! 3The Lord’s voice is over the waters; the glorious God thunders; the Lord is over the mighty waters. 4The Lord’s voice is strong; the Lord’s voice is majestic. 5The Lord’s voice breaks cedar trees—yes, the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon. 6He makes Lebanon jump around like a young bull, makes Sirion jump around like a young wild ox. 7The Lord’s voice unleashes fiery flames; 8the Lord’s voice shakes the wilderness—yes, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9The Lord’s voice convulses the oaks, strips the forests bare, but in his temple everyone shouts, “Glory!” 10The Lord sits enthroned over the floodwaters; the Lord sits enthroned—king forever! 11Let the Lord give strength to his people! Let the Lord bless his people with peace!

INTRO INTO EPIPHANY:  We entered into the season of Epiphany on January 6th. This season is a time of revelation, discovery, and proclamations. As we look at revelations about Jesus, we will also look at discoveries and inventions, some successful and some flops. Perhaps these discoveries will inspire our own revelations.

INVENTION:

  1. Did you know that Post-It Notes were a mistake?
    1. In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M in the United States, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead, he accidentally created a “low-tack”, reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive. (WIKI)
    2. There is a claim by another gentleman, Alan Amron, that he was the one who actually invented the tech, but the story gets quite confusing to follow.
  2. Sources:
    1. https://www.businessinsider.com/failed-experiment-created-post-it-notes-2014-9
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-it_Note 

TRANSITION: The legend of Post-It notes speaks of failure as the gateway to success. This failed experiment became a staple of office supplies.

Though the epiphany that leads to Post-It notes is not a glamorous one, our text for today will lead us to another epiphany on a much grander scale. What will Mark’s epiphany teach us?

SCRIPTURE: Mark 1:4-114John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Intro to Mark: Mark is the gospel for Year C in the Lectionary. Mark is the reader’s digest Gospel. He is quick and to the point. Mark is not the Gospel to search for details about Jesus.
    1. Mark did not tell a Christmas story. Instead, Mark’s Gospel starts with John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness.
  2. John The Baptist:
    1. John, in the wilderness –camel’s hair etc
      1. In the Hebrew Bible, God met people in the wilderness
        1. Hagar, Moses, The people of Israel
      2. John’s appearance & diet is to draw a parallel to
        1. Nazarite vow- a person set aside for holy work
        2. Prophets- OT writers describe other prophets looking this way-i.e. Elijah.
    2. John’s words mimic the prophets
      1. Note- in Mark’s Gospel, John does not draw the link between Jesus  & “the one coming.” In other Gospels that thought is linked.
      2. “Change your hearts & lives”
  3. Baptism:
    1. People of Judea & Jerusalem were getting baptized
    2. We’ve talked about this before, baptism for a Jew was common but different from what we Baptists do today.
    3. Ancient Jews used ceremonial washing frequently to set people or things apart for God’s use.
      1. Jesus is among them, receiving this baptism. We consider Jesus’s baptism the beginning of his ministry.
    4. This baptism was about transformation.  Some translations use the word repentance. But I think that word can have a very grand sensation without a lot of meaning.
      1. I love the CEB translating the Greek to say “Change your hearts and lives.
      2. Knowledge of God’s intentions should change us.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. A voice reveals Jesus as God’s son at his baptism. (No thanks to John -.-)
    1. Many ponder why Jesus needed baptism, if he was perfect.
      1. Some say this baptism was the first act of connecting heaven and earth.
      2. Some say Jesus’ baptism was only an example
      3. Others consider it his commissioning for his ministry.
  2. Our Baptism is about a commitment to be continually transformed by God’s Spirit. Not living by our own ideas or standards, but allowing ourselves to be changed by God’s guidance.
    1. John uses the phrase: “Change your hearts & lives”
      1. Our baptism is a commitment to Christ and the ongoing spiritual growth journey.
      2. Baptism isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.
    2. If you would like to talk about being baptized and committing to the ongoing faith journey, talk to me or a deacon after church.
      1. As Baptists, we baptize those who will say that: “Jesus is our savior”  and can commit to growing with a body of believers (Liberty, specifically).

APPLICATION: Epiphanies in our world– To commit or recommit to the continual transformation of our baptism.

  1. An epiphany has happened in our country this week on January 6th. Division has become so strong that Americans were attacking Americans.
    1. I recognize bringing up this topic is difficult. The story has become so convoluted that it is difficult to agree on what is happening and what these events mean. We don’t know who to listen to or who to trust, and politicians continue to fuel the flame.
      1. We have two separate narratives active in the news.
    2. How did we get to this place? We have stopped considering the perspective of our opponents and have labeled them our enemies.
      1. We have become so focused on being right that we have become virtually unteachable.
      2. When you are so determined to be right that you cease to show love, you are no longer right.
  2. The job of a pastor is scary during events like this. We may have our personal convictions and believe them just as passionately as you believe your convictions. But we must also tread carefully or risk repercussions from speaking of our convictions.
    1. The world encourages pastors to be spiritual guides, but to keep their political thoughts to themselves. “Stick to scripture,” leave the politics out of it.
      1. Scripture informs the rest of our lives. It is all connected. Your faith should inform your politics.
    2. We hear an opinion that we disagree with and our tendency as humans is to talk to everyone BUT the person we disagree with. Gossip spreads like wildfire. No healing happens.
      1. We rush to protecting our allies and reject any thoughts from our opponents.
      2. I’ve experienced this very thing in my own life.
    3. How is this behavior showing we are God’s people?
      1. How is our language showing we are God’s people?
  3. Defense is our natural reaction. I want to interrupt that moment right now.
    1. Liberty is a diverse group of thought. Not everyone in this room thinks the same way about what happened on January 6th. But the people you are sitting next to are not your enemies. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ.
    2. Together WITH our differences, we can listen for the Spirit of God to speak.  Together IN our differences, we can evaluate the messages we hear and listen for God’s truth. We need diversity of heritage, economic status, and voting record. We need a body of believers with critical thinking skills in order to challenge the voices attempting to sway our attention.
    3. In this space, we are not republicans or democrats, tea party or libertarians, we are followers of Christ.
      1. Unity doesn’t mean that we stop being an individual with thoughts and feelings. Unity means we are working together for a solution rather than taking our toys and playing somewhere else.
  4. Action: We are going to take some time to reflect together. There will be a song playing and I invite you to listen to the words or reflect on these questions. If you would like a copy of these questions just raise your hand.
    1. Song & Reflection prayer for our country
      1. Where is God asking me to speak? Where is God asking me to listen?
      2. Where is God calling me to let go? Where is God calling me to stand up?
      3. They Will Know We Are Christians: by Jars of Clay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugQwh-phnZY

CONCLUSION: Sticky-Notes were birthed out of failure. This failure led to a HUGE success.

The biggest failure in the church is believing we don’t need people who are different than us worshipping next to us. The church choosing to only worship next to people they agree with on every single thing leads to a church who has lost its way.

I need you. You need me. We need each other. If we want our faith to continue to grow and be stretched beyond our limits, we need to work together. Share your differences in love and work together to find a God centered solution.

Invitation to baptism & commitment to growing with this church.  

Shout it from the Roof Tops

Message Title: Shout it from the Roof Tops
Theme: God’s consistency
Season: Christmas
Main Text: John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14
RCL Scripture: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:(1-9), 10-18
Focus: Jesus was present & part of the plan from the beginning.
Function: To practice awe and wonder while considering the implications of our beliefs on our lives.
Other Notes: (Hidden Ministries/Mission of the Month)

SCRIPTURE READING: Jeremiah 31:7-14 7The Lord proclaims: Sing joyfully for the people of Jacob; shout for the leading nation. Raise your voices with praise and call out: “The Lord has saved his people, the remaining few in Israel!” 8I’m going to bring them back from the north; I will gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the disabled, expectant mothers and those in labor; a great throng will return here. 9With tears of joy they will come; while they pray, I will bring them back. I will lead them by quiet streams and on smooth paths so they don’t stumble. I will be Israel’s father, Ephraim will be my oldest child. 10Listen to the Lord’s word, you nations,  and announce it to the distant islands: The one who scattered Israel will gather them and keep them safe, as a shepherd his flock. 11The Lord will rescue the people of Jacob and deliver them from the power of those stronger than they are. 12They will come shouting for joy on the hills of Zion, jubilant over the Lord’s gifts: grain, wine, oil, flocks, and herds. Their lives will be like a lush garden; they will grieve no more. 13Then the young women will dance for joy; the young and old men will join in. I will turn their mourning into laughter and their sadness into joy; I will comfort them. 14I will lavish the priests with abundance and shower my people with my gifts, declares the Lord.

INTRO: Though many of you have already taken down your Christmas decorations, this a still a season of awe and wonder. On Dec 29th, 2020 NASA took a poll through their twitter feed @NASAHubble to pick the Hubble photo of the year. Let’s take a look at the four options.

  1. 2020 Hubble space telescope photos
    1. Cosmic Reef
    2. Jupiter
    3. Saturn
    4. Neptune
  2. Which is your favorite?
  3. Polling Results PHOTO
  4. Did you know that most photos taken by Hubble have been digitally edited in one way or another?
    1. This doesn’t mean NASA is lying to us, but that the technology we use to capture photos doesn’t work like a typical camera.
    2. Through the data they receive they are able to make estimations about the colors in the photos.
      1. “Finished color images are actually combinations of two or more black-and-white exposures to which color has been added during image processing. The colors in Hubble images, which are assigned for various reasons, aren’t always what we’d see if we were able to visit the imaged objects in a spacecraft. We often use color as a tool, whether it is to enhance an object’s detail or to visualize what ordinarily could never be seen by the human eye.”
    3. Sources:
      1. https://www.space.com/8059-truth-photos-hubble-space-telescope-sees.html
      2. http://hubble.stsci.edu/gallery/behind_the_pictures/meaning_of_color/
      3. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-hubble-images-are-manipulted-2015-3
      4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=WSG0MnmUsEY
      5. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/01/05/hubble-revisits-an-icon-the-pillars-of-creation/#close
      6. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/05/dear-hubble-space-telescope-transformed-astronomy-and-us-all/

TRANSITION: Humanity has been curious since the very beginning about our world and the heavens above.In our text for today, John starts his Gospel focusing on the vastness of creation. Let’s zoom out with John and see the big picture of the story of Jesus.

SCRIPTURE: John 1: 1-18 In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. 2The Word was with God in the beginning. 3Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being 4through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. 6A man named John was sent from God. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light. 9The true light that shines on all people was coming into the world. 10The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. 11The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him. 12But those who did welcome him, those who believed in his name, he authorized to become God’s children, 13born not from blood nor from human desire or passion, but born from God. 14The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full  of grace and truth. 15John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’” 16From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; 17as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known.

Explanation:

  1. Intro to John’s Gospel: John’s Gospel wants everyone to know that Jesus didn’t enter the scene at Christmas. Jesus has always been on the scene. Jesus wasn’t some dude that God liked and claimed as his son. Jesus was God in the flesh. But there are other gods who have similar stories, so John’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ divinity and its uniqueness to other stories of gods-made-flesh.
  2. “in the Beginning” should bring us back to Genesis 1:1. John is saying that Jesus was present at creation as the Word.
  3. Word, Life, Light- Jesus is more than just a man that we meet at Christmas.Jesus is God, who was present with us at the beginning.

INTERPRETATION & APPLICATION: To practice awe and wonder while considering the implications of our beliefs on our lives.

  1. Awe & wonder are significant elements in our worship of God. Our God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This idea is way bigger than my brain can understand. The complexity should lead to worship.
    1. And perhaps worship starts out as questions which can lead to wonder.
  2. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT:  I want to play a philosophy game with you for a moment. I will ask a question that I want us to ponder together. I am not looking for a “right answer” but for thoughtfulness.
    1. Why did God make other “stuff” besides earth & the sun?
      1. Did God make creation FOR us?
      2. If not, then why did God make creation?
    2. When I think about these questions, and the answers I develop, it changes the way I view the world and how I interact with it.
  3. Honesty time: When I read scripture, I don’t always think of a tangible way to apply the words I read. Frequently, the words continue to inform me about who God is and the collective information adjusts my behavior.
    1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
      1. One nugget from this book: The way we think or speak about ourselves places a large impact on our habits or behavior.
    2. This passage in John makes me think, “… Ok, and now what?” I don’t hear a practical step screaming out from this passage. However, I am filled with awe about God.
  4. AUDIENCE ENAGEMENT: How would the knowledge that Jesus was present at creation and not just at Christmas change things for you?
    1. How do your beliefs create a chain reaction to other parts of your life?

CONCLUSION: Knowledge of the wonders of God *should* stir something inside of us. Much like seeing the majesty of space leads to awe and wonder. It’s exciting to talk about the discoveries NASA and Space X are making. Do we talk about our discoveries with God?

The goal is not to provide a guilt trip but a time of reflection. We have survived 2020 and know that there are no guarantees in 2021. How do we make 2021 a year that God’s kingdom comes to this world? The possibilities are in your hands.

COMMUNION: As we dwell in the awe of God, we will also take time to celebrate communion together.

Let’s dwell in the mystery of Bread & Juice, as it represents Jesus’ body and blood and the salvation we receive through him.

I wrote an article for my local paper.

A few people loved it. However, not everyone liked it. I realized quickly that when talking about controversial topics, not everyone will hear a new opinion. Especially, if that new opinion challenges their ethos.

The following week, the newspaper released two “letters to the editor” in response to my article. What fascinated me is that their critiques had nothing to do with my actual argument. They built strawman to tear down.

I did not mention We Care, Right to Life or Jan Buechler in my article. Nor was I familiar with these programs (I didn’t grow up in Kokomo). They were defending something that I wasn’t talking about.
Once again bringing up “Right to Life,” which I did not discuss. The author brings up an anecdote about Joe Biden in order to invalidate my argument. They assumed I supported Biden, which I did not explicitly say. Next the author defended Donald Trump, whom I did not mention in my article either.

If these two critiques read my article with open eyes and ears, they would have found a call to vote with intelligence, research, and conviction. My article was not simply about presidential candidates, but about every elected official. I did not tell them to vote for Joe Biden. I did not diss Donald Trump. They read between the lines and made assumptions.

We seem to look for ways for others to offend us. We don’t have the habit of listening to learn or understand. Rather, we listen to respond.

This miscommunication happens in so many forms; typically when we aren’t talking face to face.

My first goal, as a Christian, is to love everyone I come into contact with. We do not have to agree on a single thing for me to show you God’s love. I want to care for your humanity first. Part of caring for your humanity is to learn from the other’s experiences. As I hear your story, I can connect it to my journey with God.

Ultimately, I want a conversation. I want to engage in thought. Israel, the name of God’s people in the Hebrew Bible, means “to wrestle.” I want to wrestle with thoughts together rather than coming in claiming solutions. I don’t have all the answers about God or how to live perfectly as a Christian. I do claim the intention of listening for God to surprise me with a new perspective through each conversation. Admittedly, it may take me a while to absorb that lesson in order to adjust my thoughts and actions.

My summary of the whole article-writing-experience is to remain open to dialogue. Listen, consider, converse, listen some more and adjust.

May the Spirit of God continue to reach our hearts and minds. May we be susceptible to changing our minds when God gives us a chance to grow.

Risky Business

12/6/2020 at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, In

Message Title: Risky Business
Theme: Waiting on God
Season: Advent
Main Text: Isaiah 40:1-11;
Scripture Reading: Mark 1:1-8
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
Focus: God speaks of a future peace for Judah.Function: To commit to a life of peace-bringing and search out ways to bring peace.
Other Notes: Traditional themes each week: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love

SCRIPTURE READING: Mark 1:1-8 The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, 3a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.” 4John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

WAITING:

  1. Engage audience
    1. Check in: How’s your Luke read through? (should be at ch 6 by now)
    2. Travel:
      1. Longest road a person can travel (also most dangerous road)
      2. What was your longest road trip?
        1. PHOTO: Drive to Kokomo, Dec 2017- was supposed to be 12 hours became 18 hours because of ice & a moving van that topped out at 55mph. Yup, 18 hours in 24 hours.
      3. How many states have you been to?
        1. MAPS: Family has driven through all but 5 of the states together
  2. My story: so frequently the first image that comes to our mind when we think of family trips is the repetitive questions from kids: “Are We There Yet? When can we eat? How much longer? I’m bored!”
    1. PHOTO: Well, one of my strongest road trip memories, apart from traveling to Indiana four Decembers ago, was when my parents left me in the Grand Tetons. I joke that they tried to get rid of me. My parents are still mortified.
      1. I can’t remember for certain but I *think* I was 9.
    2. My family, my aunt & uncle, cousins, and my grandparents were on a camping trip together. Before we arrived at the campground, our caravan stopped at a bathroom. I left my grandparents’ car, told them I was going to ride with my parents, and went to the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, all three cars were gone. Little did I know, they were just about a mile up the road checking into the campground and hadn’t realized that I was not in any of the vehicles.

TRANSITION: Waiting for my parents to come back to get me felt like forever. In our text for today, Judah hears words of comfort as they are waiting to return from exile.

SCRIPTURE & EXPLAINATION: Isaiah 40:1-11 –God speaks of a future peace for Judah.

Vs 1-2 Comfort, comfort my people! says your God. 2Speak compassionately to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended, that her penalty has been paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins!

  1. Exile is fresh in ch 40
    1. Hoping back in time from the text of last week
    2. Ch 39 was the end of a section of judgement and harshness, now we hear a word of hope.
      1. Time of hope (you’re in exile but not forever)

Vs 3-8 3A voice is crying out: “Clear the Lord’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God! 4Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become level, and rough terrain a valley plain. 5The Lord’s glory will appear, and all humanity will see it together; the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.” 6A voice was saying: “Call out!” And another said, “What should I call out?” All flesh is grass; all its loyalty is like the flowers of the field. 7The grass dries up and the flower withers when the Lord’s breath blows on it. Surely the people are grass. 8The grass dries up; the flower withers, but our God’s word will exist forever.

  1. God doesn’t want to punish Judah. God wants to restore God’s people. Clear the way! It’s gonna happen.
    1. Think of the song I posted on our FB group: “Ain’t not mountain high enough / ain’t no valley low enough / ain’t no river wide enough/ to keep me from getting to you”
    2. Jesus said in the Gospels- “even the rocks will cry out” if God’s people don’t praise him. (Luke 19)
  2. Judah needs consequences for their actions. Judah needs to follow the covenant commitment.
    1. It has been GENERATIONS since the 10 commandments given at Sinai
    2. Each generation has struggled to maintain the covenant.

vs 9-11 9Go up on a high mountain, messenger Zion! Raise your voice and shout, messenger Jerusalem! Raise it; don’t be afraid; say  to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10Here is the Lord God, coming with strength, with a triumphant arm, bringing his reward with him and his payment before him. 11Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock; he will gather lambs in his arms and lift them onto his lap. He will gently guide the nursing ewes.

  1. Now if you were to continue reading in this chapter, the imagery of comforting Judah continues to the famous quote of “rising up on wings like eagles.” God will care for God’s people.
  2. Judah has received the consequences of their actions, and now God calls them to obedience and a future peace.

RELATABILITY/ INTERPRETATION:

  1. Judah appears much like a lost puppy during exile. A loss of identity, as they are separated from their people, their land, and their God. They are lost without their identity.
    1. Does this sound like 2020 or what? Digital church, no normal family holidays, quarantined from society.
  2. God wants our flourishing and gives us opportunities for peace. However, we frequently reject those opportunities.
  3. We are the ones needing to shift our focus from us to God.
    1. God’s life leads to flourishing.
  4. Back to the Intro: As soon as my parents realized I was gone they sent a car back to pick me up. While I was waiting a family sat with me and waited for someone to return.
    1. Road trips are frequently not

ACTION/APPLICATION: To commit to a life of peace-bringing and search out ways to bring peace.

  1. Real Peace vs. “being nice”- Not the same as being nice or avoiding problems or conflict.
    1. Real peace gets messy and risky: Loving people gets messy. Loving people is an act of vulnerability/exposure. You put yourself at risk. But God calls us to those risky places.
      1. As we talked about last week, loving people is hard.
      2. Bringing peace is unpopular. Media and entertainment thrive on disputes.
    2. Real peace leads to social faux pas and being counter cultural.
      1. Not a license to tell gay people they are going to hell
      2. Not a license for denominational wars or telling someone their denomination’s theology is bad
      3. Not a license to play the martyr when someone disagrees with you
  2. Practical reality of living 10 commandments is flourishing of relationships. Can we think of examples without getting legalistic?
    1. Whiteboard:
      1. Loving God
      2. Loving Others
  3. God says God will level the mountains & fill in the valleys to make this peace come. We are his peace-bringers. What if God hands us a shovel and a pickaxe rather than snapping a finger and making it happen? We are the ones called to fill in the valleys and level the mountains to make God’s highway wide.

CONCLUSION

COMMUNION: Fran Pratt- Litany for Eucharist

God, You’re Late

11/29/2020 at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, In

Message Title: God, You’re Late
Theme: Waiting on God
Season: Advent
Main Text: Isaiah 64:1-9;
Scripture Reading: Mark 13:24-37
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37
Focus: Isaiah asks God to provide Judah’s hope of restoration. (the People are blaming God)
Function: To pick up our Gospel responsibility and leave God’s responsibilities to God.
– To wait, trust, and hope in God’s promises
Other Notes: Traditional themes each week: Hope, Peace, Joy, Lov

Scripture reading: Mark 13: 24-27 24“In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. 25The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 26Then they will see the Human Onecoming in the clouds with great power and splendor. 27Then he will send the angels and gather together his chosen people from the four corners of the earth, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven. 28“Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 29In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. 30I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. 32“But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows. 33Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. 34It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. 36Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”

Intro to New Series: Waiting on God (an Advent Series) – This series will explore waiting for the Messiah from an Old Testament perspective. Advent is frequently misconstrued as a season of darkness. Rather, let’s picture it like dawn, the light is coming. (Photo) Dawn also coordinates with the colors of advent. Color: Blue/Purple & Pink

  1. Advent is about the building anticipation for the Birth of Jesus & getting ready for the fulfillment of God’s promises. (Standing on the promises of God *song)
    1. Decorate: get yourself a nativity- I’ve found a few printable ones with cut out figures. Set out the stable and progressively (each week) add more things. Don’t add Mary or Joseph until Christmas eve and don’t add Jesus until Christmas day.
    2. Tell the story: read the Gospel of Luke each day until Christmas. You’ll get through all of Jesus’ ministry by day 24.

TRANSITION: The broad theme for Advent is waiting with anticipation. Now, I know that as 2020 survivors, we’re sick of waiting. Perhaps, this season can be a healing salve to that wound. So, let’s focus on waiting from a joyful vantage point.

WAITING:  I want to hear your thoughts on anticipating a baby.  

  1. Engage the Audience:
    1. What do we traditionally do to prepare for a baby?
      1. Hospital bag- What did you pack? What did you wish you pack, but you didn’t?
    2. Do you feel you were fully prepared for the extent of parenthood?
  2. Expectations VS. Reality
    1. It’s common that before you became a parent, you build ideas of what you will or won’t do to be the best parent possible. How many of you broke your own rules/expectations?
    2. As a family prepares for a baby, preparations are expected to happen while waiting for the “time to come.” However, often we are surprised by the reality of life with babies. Yes, I am saying this as a woman without kids. Expectations and Reality don’t always line up.
      1. Preparation: Finances, house safety updates, supplies, medical/birth plan, etc
      2. Reality: not just about rosy cheeks, bodily fluids, pain, healing, crying, sleepless nights, nursing struggles, etc.

TRANSITION:  In our text for today, we are returning to Isaiah to hear a word on expectant waiting.

  1. Reminder of the story of Isaiah: If you remember, we were just in Isaiah in October. We looked at Isaiah 5, 25, & 45. We will get a few more glimpses into Isaiah during this series, along with another Old Testament text. (Ch 64, 40, 61).
    1. Here’s a refresher on what we know about the book of Isaiah:
      1. 2 kingdoms: Isaiah is speaking to Judah. Israel is going to get wiped out before the end of this book. Babylon will take Judah into exile.
      2. 66 chapters in this book, 150ish years covered.
      3. Scholars consider Isaiah split into 3 sections (and three authors): Pre-exile (announced coming judgement), Exile, Post Exile/Hope of return.
    2. CHART- where we are in the timeline

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 64: 1-9 If only you would tear open the heavens and come down! Mountains would quake before you 2like fire igniting brushwood or making water boil.  If you would make your name known to your enemies, the nations would tremble in your presence. 3When you accomplished wonders beyond all our expectations; when you came down, mountains quaked before you. 4From ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any god but you who acts on behalf of those who wait for him! 5You look after those who gladly do right; they will praise you for your ways. But you were angry when we sinned; you hid yourself when we did wrong. 6We have all become like the unclean; all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag. All of us wither like a leaf; our sins, like the wind, carry us away. 7No one calls on your name; no one bothers to hold on to you, for you have hidden yourself from us, and have handed us overto our sin. 8But now, Lord, you are our father. We are the clay, and you are our potter. All of us are the work of your hand. 9Don’t rage so fiercely, Lord; don’t hold our sins against us forever, but gaze now on your people, all of us:

EXPLAINATION: Isaiah asks God to provide Judah’s hope of restoration. (the People are blaming God)

  1. The Text: Isaiah offers a prayer to God that sounds like an accusation, depending on the translation you read. The Jewish translation accuses God for humans’ sin by making a system impossible to follow.
    1. “if only you would….”
    2. “If you would…”
    3. “When you accomplished…”
    4. “for you have hidden yourself… handed us over”
    5. “Don’t hold our sins against us forever…”
  2. Break down: Judah is returning from an exile in a foreign land. They were away from God’s holy land as a consequence for their actions.
    1. Their sins: Basically, ignoring the 10 commandments entirely.
      1. disloyalty to others: Judah was ignoring the poor, widow, foreigner, oppressed, etc.
      2. disloyalty to God: Befriending other nations and worshipping their gods
      3. Their actions made their borders become vulnerable & Babylon oppressed them
    2. Isaiah’s words in response to God’s actions
      1. Acknowledged their sins
      2. Called out for deliverance
      3. Waiting on God to show up

INTERPRETATION: Isaiah asks God to provide Judah’s hope of restoration. (the People are blaming God)

  1. Consequences: Not following God’s commands has consequences. No, not God giving us a spanking. The consequences break up relationships between us, God, and others. We sabotage ourselves.
  2. Ownership for not living God’s Word
    1. (inspired by EBC) Are we in the cycle of sin because of our own actions or because God won’t save us?
      1. Jewish translation of Isaiah’s words: It’s all God’s fault. I’ll continue to do my thing until God rescues me. God’s people are skilled at wanting praise or rewards, not so great at ownership of actions or receiving of consequences. “Lord, have mercy! They made me do it!” or “you made me this way!”
  3. Orthodoxy vs orthopraxis: Time to stop blaming God and take ownership for our actions.
    1. Time to act the way we speak. God’s people were good at knowing the words to say but bad at living them.

APPLICATION: Act on This– To pick up our Gospel-responsibility and leave God’s responsibilities to God.

  1. We love to play God. But it’s God’s job to be God. It’s our job to be God’s people. We have joint responsibility in the Gospel story. God’s job is Gods. Our job is ours. We need to stop waiting on God to solve immediate problems.
  2. As we expectantly wait for the celebration of Christmas, we remember we are expecting Christ to return again.
  3. Our job is not to sit idly by. Our job is to tell people of the love of God.
  4. Call to action:
    1. Take ownership: Stop language that blames God for the consequences of your actions
    2. Take Action: Love God, Love People
      1. Matt 28:18-20 18Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
        1. Acts 1:9-11 9After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. 11They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”
      2. 1Cor 11: 26 26Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.
      3. 2 Peter 3: 8-10 8Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. 9The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a dreadful noise, the elements will be consumed by fire, and the earth and all the works done on it will be exposed.
    3. How will your Christmas season and the end of 2020 be impacted by your commitment to God?
      1. Ways to help people in poverty:
        1. Kokomo Rescue Mission is serving & delivering meals for Christmas
        2. Jubilee with Liberty
        3. United Way buddy bags
        4. Tipton School buddy bags
        5. Jackson St Commons
        6. CAM
        7. Howard Haven
      2. Ways to help people know about Jesus
        1. Invite people to enjoy this stream.
        2. Video Chat with friends and talk about your lives—don’t just get interested in them to rack up “Saved Points” but invest in their lives.
        3. Enter a mentoring or accountability relationship with another believer. Share your lives together. Listen for God together.

CONCLUSION: Loving people gets messy. Doing our Gospel-job is not always easy, much like the expectations of having a baby don’t exactly match reality.  

BENNEDICTION

Farm Animals & Kings

11/22/2020 at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, In

Message Title: Farm Animals & Kings
Theme: Christ the King Sunday
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Matthew 25:31-46
Scripture Reading: Psalm 100
RCL Scripture: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Psalm 95:1-7a; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46
Focus: Jesus’ parable calls for action, not just pretty words.
Function: To get involved in the messiness of the Gospel by loving people that are hard to love. 
Other Notes: thanksgiving//CHRIST THE KING Sunday

SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 100 Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! 2Serve the Lord with celebration! Come before him with shouts of joy! 3Know that the Lord is God—he made us; we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture. 4Enter his gates with thanks; enter his courtyards with praise! Thank him! Bless his name! 5Because the Lord is good, his loyal love lasts forever; his faithfulness lasts generation after generation.

Audience Engagement: Holiday traditions

  1. Questions:
    1. What holiday season comes directly after Halloween?
    2. Do you decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving comes?
    3. What about Christmas music or movies?
    4. What are your favorite Christmas Hymns?
  2. Me:
    1. It wasn’t until I was in seminary that I even knew that there was a difference between Christmas hymns and Advent hymns.
    2. Honestly, until about 4 years ago, I had a poor attitude towards Christmas. Not Christmas, celebrating Jesus’ birth but Retail Christmas. I had worked retail. Retail can definitely suck the joy out of the holiday season.
    3. I haven’t decorated yet, but do intend to this week! Yes, Christmas décor before thanksgiving!

Intro: Today is a unique holiday that you won’t see marketed by Hallmark or Amazon. Today is Christ the King Sunday also called Reign of Christ Sunday.

Today is the last Sunday in the church calendar. This holy day was instituted by Pope Pius the XI(11th) in 1925. Though it wasn’t celebrated on the last Sunday in the year until 1970.

War can leave us full of fear and searching for stability or comfort. The Pope believed that after WWI ended, the world needed to be reminded of the One True King and the hope our King brings.

So, Today we celebrate Christ as our King who reigns forever!

TRANSITION: In our text for today we are going to focus on Jesus’ words. He shares a parable of a king with unique expectations for his subjects that includes scary consequences for those that don’t comply. Should we be filled with fear? Let’s see what the Reign of Christ brings.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:31-46

31“Now when the Human Onecomes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. 32All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left. 34“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ 46And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Titles used:
    1. Human One- a title used in Daniel
      1. Read Daniel 7:9-14
      2. Some of your translations may say Son of Man.
    2. King
      1. Merging of the Jewish messiah with the Davidic king.
  2. Action of the King
    1. Separates sheep from goats
      1. Sheep/ the ones on the right/ the righteous
        1. fed, clothed, cared for, & visited those in need
      2. Goats/the ones on the left/ receivers of terrible things
        1. Did not feed, cloth, care for, or visit those in need

INTERPRETATION: Jesus’ parable calls for action, not just pretty words.

  1. Background
    1. Gospel Writer: Matthew (Jewish writer to a Jewish audience)
    2. Scripture’s Audience: Disciples (Matt 24:3)
  2. Context:
    1. Up until entering Jerusalem, Jesus used calculated language. With a few exceptions in other gospels, Jesus doesn’t directly call himself the messiah. As you continue to read the Gospel of Matthew, the closer Jesus gets to Jerusalem, the more bold his words become.
    2. This passage is during Holy Week. Jesus had already entered the city triumphantly.  And now Jesus turns his language up to 11 on the controversial scale. At the time of this passage, Jesus is in Jerusalem and days away from being crucified. So he starts to make the statements that he knows will lead to his arrest and crucifixion.
    3. Jesus had been preaching to crowds in the Temple. Then Jesus walked to the Mount of Olives and the disciples pulled him aside to ask more questions.
      1. Jesus will be crucified as a treasonous blasphemer by the church and state. His statements became more overtly political. More overtly about the system being broken and pointing to the One True Kingdom.
  3. It would be easy to get hyper focused on the questions about sheep & goats (Picture) Is Jesus saying literally that sheep are better than goats? Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the literal animals today.  
    1. If you listen, we qualify as both sheep and goats.
      1. “done it for one of the least of these, you have done it for me”
      2. “haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me”
      3. Ignoring 1 opportunity means you’re a goat.
  4. But is this passage supposed to make us scared? No. We’re called to action.

APPLICATION: To get involved in the messiness of the Gospel by loving people that are hard to love.

  1. What is interesting about this passage is Jesus seems to contradict himself (from the other gospels). In John 3:17, Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Son came not to condemn the world but to save the world through himself. Now, Jesus is painting himself in to the judgement seat.
    1. Jesus is simultaneously our judge and our savior. He is the one setting the standard, and he is the one fulfilling the standard.
    2. Our actions do not save us. No one can meet these standards laid out by the king, Jesus meets them for us.
    3. But does that mean we don’t even need to try?
  2. Ownership of our faith: I want to take a moment to get our brains active. Everyone should have a note card and a writing utensil. Raise your hand if you don’t, we’ll get some for you.
    1. Notes cards: write down your answers rather than shouting them out.
      1. Who are the people that seem to have “lost their way” to you?
      2. Whose salvation do you worry about?
    2. Congratulations, You’ve just made a starter list of “the least of these.”
      1. How will you love them this holiday season?
      2. *Notice* the King didn’t say
        1. Tell these people they are horrible sinners and unworthy of love.
        2. Tell these people they’re so lucky to receive your kindness.
      3. The king says, those “least of these” – they’re me. Treat them like you would treat me.
  3. Tangible option:
    1. Donate for Jubilee Christmas
    2. Deliver Thanksgiving Meals with the Rescue Mission https://kokomorescuemission.org/event/thanksgiving-day-banquet/
    3. Sponsor a Buddy Bag https://unitedwayhoco.org/sign-up-here-to-be-a-buddy-bag-packing-partner/
    4. Care for a Convict-

CONCLUSION:

  1. Confession: “Things we’ve done and things we’ve left undone.”
    1. People: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by choice sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your judgement. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of your Holy Name. Amen.
    2. Pastor (Declaration of Grace): “In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ gave himself to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ, He gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  2. Crazy idea: for 5-10 minutes after church we’ll have discussion time for those wanting to iron out parts of the service that left them puzzled. We will have our benediction and then if people have questions, they can stay and ask questions and I’ll respond as best I can. I won’t guarantee solving the world’s problems but I can offer more clarity.

Forest Roots: A Bonus Episode

Originally preached on 11/15/2020 at Liberty Baptist Church in Tipton, In

Title: Forest Roots: A Bonus Episode
Theme: KNOW YOUR ROOTS
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Judges 4:1-7
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:14-30
RCL Scripture: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18; Psalm 90:1-8, (9-11), 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30
Focus:  Israel forgets the dependable character of God.
Function:  To be a Christian requires us to know the history of our faith and our community.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 25:14-30 14“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey. 16“After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. 19“Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’ 21“His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’ 22“The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’ 23“His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’ 24“Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’ 26“His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. 28Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. 29Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them. 30Now take the worthless servant and throw him out into the farthest darkness.’ “People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.
LORD’S PRAYER

Intro: I have good news and bad news—The bad news, you may have noticed already, our guest speaker had to return to Miami, Fl and won’t be with us today.  Good news? You get a bonus ROOTS! Who’s excited?

OUR ROOTS:  Apostles’ Creed We have explored our covenant for three weeks, now I want to introduce another document that is foundational to Christian belief.

  1. The Apostles’ Creed:
    1. Sources say this popped up around 390 AD (Wiki)
      1. Church tradition says that each of the 12 disciples helped form part of this creed, though history/anthropology doesn’t back up that claim. (wiki)
    2. Most basic summary of Christian tenants
      1. Historically used to teach early converts about Christianity
      2. A source of unity for believers
  2. Read the Creed: I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.  Amen.
  3. Baptists & The Creed: What is fascinating is thatBaptists haven’t always been big on the Apostles’ Creed because of the phrase “the holy Catholic Church” and assuming we’re talking about Roman Catholics. The reformation era really made Baptists skeptical of anything Catholic. If only we were able to acknowledge that “catholic” little “c” means unified or whole.
    1. Baptists have actually had a tradition of rejecting “tradition”… Well, as long as “tradition” points to Catholicism…We love the tradition of hymns or pews or our specific order of service or celebrations.
    2. But our tradition of rejecting tradition has become the greatest weakness for Baptists. Our habit to disassociate with the bigger picture of the church leads us to forget where we came from or where we’re going.
  4. TRANSITION: In our text for today we will see that the Israelites have lost sight of their roots and have become vulnerable to other kingdoms.What could they have learned from their own history? How could that have prevented these atrocities from happening?

SCRIPTURE: Judges 4:1-7

  1. Context: Era of Judges PHOTO
    1. After Joshua is Othniel (40 years) à Ehud (80 years)à Deborah (40 years)
    2. Sprinkled in with outside influences between each judge.
    3. Judges = Balance of law enforcer and pastor

After Ehud had died, the Israelites again did things that the Lord saw as evil. 2So the Lord gave them over to King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, and he was stationed in Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3The Israelites cried out to the Lord because Sisera had nine hundred iron chariots and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly for twenty years. 4Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was a leader of Israel at that time. 5She would sit under Deborah’s palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the Ephraim highlands, and the Israelites would come to her to settle disputes. 6She sent word to Barak, Abinoam’s son, from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “Hasn’t the Lord, Israel’s God, issued you a command? ‘Go and assemble at Mount Tabor, taking ten thousand men from the people of Naphtali and Zebulun with you. 7I’ll lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, to assemble with his chariots and troops against you at the Kishon River, and then I’ll help you overpower him.’”

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Israel’s cycle of unfaithfulness: Remember how I said that the people would be faithful during the lifetime of Joshua & the leaders just after Joshua? Yeah that’s over now. Israel is now in a cycle of:
    1. Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord
    2. The Lord gave them over to their desires
    3. Consequences of their desires (usually being oppressed by another nation)
    4. They call out to God for help
    5. God rescues them
    6. They are faithful… for a while
    7. Rinse, repeat
  2. The Judge: Deborah, a married woman and judge over Israel
    1. Prophet and wise council
  3. Her Message: God will team up with you to overthrow Israel’s enemy.
  4. Post-Script:
    1. Barak is scared to go on his own, so he asks Deobrah to go with him.
    2. She agrees but says the defeat of Sisera will be by the hands of a woman
    3. Cue Metal Bible story: Jael and her tent peg. She defeats the enemy with hospitality and household objects.
    4. For this brief moment in time, Israel was faithful to God after being rescued, yet again, but they did not learn from their past. It wouldn’t be long before their ears would clog again and they would need rescuing.

INTERPRETATION: Knowing our history impacts our future

  1. Israel was stuck in a cycle of unfaithfulness. We’re only a few Judges into the Post-Joshua era but Israel has already forgotten that God is dependable. They became cowards and bent to the instructions of threatening outside nations.
    1. Imagine how their behavior would have changed if they remembered the God of their ancestors.
      1. We need to listen & learn from their story
  2. The importance of knowing our church covenant but also the heritage of Christianity, like the Apostles’ Creed, is the root system of support we have to move be faithful to the life God calls us to live. We have bravery to get up and serve God each day, knowing God is faithful. We can see it through the centuries of church history. God’s people may continue the cycle of Israel from Judges 4, but God keeps showing up.
  3. Part of being a follower of Christ is being connected to a church community. Community enables us to be faithful.
    1. Think about it, if Barak had KNOWN the stories of the God of Israel, he would have gone into battle with confidence: “I know the God who provides for God’s people! This God says he’s with me, I don’t need to fear!”
  4. Being faithful and holding onto belief isn’t easy. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has had days where I think “ Is this really true? Is it really worth the struggle? Is there an easier way?”
    1. There is nothing wrong with questions, especially when you have a community to support you through the questions.
  5. Nadia & The Creed: Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ELCA pastor and rather untraditional in her appearance & expression as a Christian but her words are rooted in scripture and tradition:
    1. She was interviewed by Krista Tippet for the On Being special for NPR. Nearing the end of their interview she talked about faith and the significance of a church working together to remain faithful.
      1. Let me paraphrase:
        1. “Faith is not given in sufficient quantity to individuals, faith is given in sufficient quantity to communities. God will not give you more than a COMMUNITY can bear.
        2. Nadia Plays out a conversation:
          1. I can’t say the Apostles’ Creed because I don’t believe every line of it…
          2. Oh My God, nobody believes every line of the creed. But in a room of people, each line of the creed, somebody believes it, so we’re covered, Right?
        3. Nadia believes that the Apostles’ Creed is not your individual creed that you believe 100% of the time all on your own. She believe the creed is given to a community to believe together.
    2. For Nadia, church is about continuing the actions of faithful living, even when we don’t mean it because God can transform our hearts. We support each other through the questions, doubts, or dry spells, and lean on the history that God is faithful and will show up. We help each other remember that.
  6. Tree System: Nadia’s image of church reminds me of an amazing natural phenomenon.There is a “forest” that is considered one of the oldest “TREEs” on earth. Yes, a forest = 1 tree.
    1. The Pando tree system is Aspen tree “forest” that is actually one whole tree & root system. It is not separate trees but a single root system that has continued to sprout fresh shoots in different places.
    2. The trees look separate but are connected.

APPLICATION: To be a Christian requires us to know the history of our faith and our community.

  1. Consider your place in the church:
    1. Who did you inherit your faith from? Who taught you about Jesus?
    2. What is the history or heritage of this church?
    3. Is this a community you can walk with?
  2. Ways of making commitment:
    1. A traditional church way: Baptism – a public declaration that you believe in Jesus and a commitment to continue to grow in your faith with a community.
    2. Some traditional Liberty ways: Getting involved and contributing time or resources to the missions of the church.
      1. Liberty people can correct me if they disagree. The way I’ve seen commitment recognized the most in this community is rolling up your sleeves to volunteer.
      2. Actions where your beliefs are.

CONCLUSION: I cannot guarantee tomorrow will come but I can guarantee that God will be faithful tomorrow. I cannot guarantee how long we will be fighting COVID and adapting our services but I can say that God hasn’t given up. God’s still here with us. Scripture, history, tradition tells me so.

In this midst of uncertainty, let’s remember the God we follow.

Recite the Apostles’ creed together.

I believe in God the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen

PRAY & Blessed be the tie & Benediction

Resources:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m09UpBIzD7c
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostles%27_Creed
  3. https://vimeo.com/73913123 Interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber (Great interview! 1:08:50-1:11:55 for the relevant part to our passage today)
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree)
  5. https://apsari.com/the-pando-tree-system-is-the-oldest-living-organism-in-the-world

Commitment to My Roots

11/1/2020 Sermon

Message Title: Commitment to My Roots
Theme: KNOW YOUR ROOTS
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Joshua 3:7-17
Scripture Reading: Matthew 23:1-12;
RCL Scripture: Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37; Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Focus: God commits to Joshua and makes it known to Israel through big actions.
Function:  To acknowledge God’s commitment to us and examine our commitment to God amid anxiety and division.
Other Notes: COMMUNION

ALL SAINT’S DAY:

  1. Items: Candles, lighters
  2. In place of our normal prayer request space, we’re going to do a different prayer exercise.
    1. We’ve done this the past few years for All Saints’ Day in slightly different ways.
    2. Form I: Deacon or other leader With all our heart and with all our mind, let us pray to the Lord, saying “Lord, have mercy.” As we read each one we will light a candle for that group of people.
  3. Invite Chris Kelley up

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 23:1-12 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’ “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.

LORD’S PRAYER

OUR ROOTS:

  1. Liberty Full Covenant slide
    1. “As we trust we have been brought by Divine Grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of His Spirit to give ourselves up to Him, so we do now solemnly covenant with each other that, God enabling us, we will walk together in brotherly love; that we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully warn, rebuke and admonish one another as the case shall require; “
    2. “that we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together nor omit the great duty of prayer both for ourselves and for others; that we will participate in each others joys and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each others burdens and sorrows; that we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as may be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;”
  2. Focus
    1. Covenant = Commitment
      1. Commitment to God
      2. Commitment to Community
    2. Our place in God’s family is not on autopilot.

TRANSITION: As the Liberty Covenant unfolds, it exposes the necessity for a commitment to community to JOURNEY/CORRESPOND/COORDINATE with our commitment to God. 

The road map of faith isn’t on autopilot but requires us to participate in the navigation.

As we turn to the story of Joshua this morning, we will hear how God commits to Joshua and that correlates with Joshua’s commitment to God.

SCRIPTURE: Joshua 3:7-17

7The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you great in the opinion of all Israel. Then they will know that I will be with you in the same way that I was with Moses. 8You are to command the priests who carry the covenant chest, ‘As soon as you come to the bank of the Jordan, stand still in the Jordan.’” 9Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come close. Listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10Then Joshua said, “This is how you will know that the living God is among you and will completely remove the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites before you. 11Look! The covenant chest of the ruler of the entire earth is going to cross over in front of you in the Jordan. 12Now pick twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13The soles of the priests’ feet, who are carrying the chest of the Lord, ruler of the whole earth, will come to rest in the water of the Jordan. At that moment, the water of the Jordan will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand still in a single heap.” 14The people marched out from their tents to cross over the Jordan. The priests carrying the covenant chest were in front of the people. 15When the priests who were carrying the chest came to the Jordan, their feet touched the edge of the water. The Jordan had overflowed its banks completely, the way it does during the entire harvest season. 16But at that moment the water of the Jordan coming downstream stood still. It rose up as a single heap very far off, just below Adam, which is the city next to Zarethan. The water going down to the desert sea (that is, the Dead Sea) was cut off completely. The people crossed opposite Jericho. 17So the priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest stood firmly on dry land in the middle of the Jordan. Meanwhile, all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Last week we read about Moses dying and Joshua taking over as leader of Israel.
    1. They were in Moab and preparing to enter the Promise Land.
  2. This week we see God commits to Joshua and God makes that commitment known to Israel.
  3. They finally get to enter the Promise Land!!!
    1. Through Joshua’s leadership the Jordan River is parted and Israel gets to cross on dryland much like the previous generation did with the Red Sea.
  4. Whoooo HOoo! God is with us! We can do no wrong! God is on OUR side! Or is God?

INTERPRETATION:

  1. What’s interesting about the story of Joshua is that people frequently leave behind the big picture and focus on a few verses. They take them out of context and put them on a coffee mug as a source of encouragement. Do you know what verse I’m talking about?
    1. Joshua 1:9 NIV “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
      1. This verse is a beautiful verse and should be source of comfort for us but it should also be taken in the bigger picture of Joshua & Israel’s story.
      2. The Israelites grow arrogant. They believe they can do no wrong because they are God’s people. (This problem doesn’t subside even with exile and the return to the promise land hundreds of years later).
    2. In Joshua 5: 13-15 Joshua interacts with the Commander of God’s Heavenly Army. This commander makes it clear to Joshua that God isn’t on their side or the side of their enemies, God is on God’s side.
      1. God calls us to God’s side. We don’t convince God to join us.
  2. Having Roots isn’t all we need.
    1. Being part of the family doesn’t mean you by default believe in God.
    2. Israel saw all of these wonders and still struggled to believe.
    3. From Scripture reading: The family tree doesn’t save you
      1. Matthew 3: 7-9  Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 
  3. Redwood roots
    1. Picture: I had heard a rumor that most trees have as much above ground as they do below ground. I had never questioned it until this point.
      1. The more I researched and looked for facts, the less I realized this was right.
      2. Trees don’t have to have deep roots to be strong.
    2. Picture: In fact, two of the tallest trees in the US: Coastal Redwood and Giant Sequioa, don’t have deep roots at all.
    3. Redwood forest roots are connected. They support each other with their roots.
      1. “You would think that a 350-foot-tall tree would need deep roots, but that’s not the case at all with the Sequoia sempervirens. Redwood tree roots are very shallow, often only five or six feet deep. But they make up for it in width, sometimes extending up to 100 feet from the trunk. They thrive in thick groves, where the roots can intertwine and even fuse together. This gives them tremendous strength against the forces of nature. This way they can withstand high winds and raging floods.” https://sunnyfortuna.com/explore/redwoods_and_water.htm
  4. The Redwood gets its strength to grow tall by connecting with other trees. These trees can withstand greater weather together than alone.

APPLICATION:

  1. Homecoming 2018 Photo: This photo is from 2 years ago and much has changed for our church in those 2 years, pandemic aside.
    1. Are your roots connected? Are they receiving nourishment and support from other roots?
      1. Do you only come for the roots? Or do you come for the growth too?
  2. Recap questions from last week: Signs in the back?
    1. Consider our covenant: How is your commitment to God and to the church?
    2. Roots: What do you love about Liberty?
    3. Growth: What do you hope for Liberty’s future

CONCLUSION:

COMMUNION:

BENNEDICTION

Back to Our Roots

Message Title: Back to Our Roots
Theme: KNOW YOUR ROOTS
Season: ORDINARY
Main Text: Deuteronomy 34:1-12;
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:34-46
RCL Scripture: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 1; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
Focus:  Moses dies and transfers leadership to Joshua as Israel enters the Promise Land.
Function: To think about our roots as we plan our future but not feel restricted or bound to repeat the past.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 22:34-46 34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being,[a] and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”  41 Now as the Pharisees were gathering, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “David’s son,” they replied. 43 He said, “Then how is it that David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, called him Lord when he said, 44 The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right side until I turn your enemies into your footstool’?[c] 45 If David calls him Lord, how can he be David’s son?” 46 Nobody was able to answer him. And from that day forward nobody dared to ask him anything.
LORD’S PRAYER

Series intro: “Know Your Roots”: October ends with a very special holiday and no, I’m not talking about Halloween. I mean Reformation Day. October 31st marks the annual celebration of the Protestant Reformation. Then November starts with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. This is a perfect season to consider our heritage as we look to the future.

OUR ROOTS:

  1. History of Covenants:
    1. In the Old Testament, they used covenants as a legal agreement between two parties, much like marriage vows but less romantic. Typically, the covenant would include a sacrificed animal and the two parties walking through the blood of the sacrificed animal saying “let this be done to me if I break our promise.”
      1. Good news! Churches don’t sacrifice animals as a sign of our commitment to the church! Whew!
    2. Frequently churches tied covenants to the act of baptism. You gained “membership” as you committed to Jesus and to a church in the waters of baptism. Covenants showed your level of commitment to a congregation. This was especially important when persecution was high for Christians and is still important in places where being a Christian is illegal.

TRANSITION: In our text for today, we will hear about the transition of power from Moses to Joshua. Will Israel survive the transition of power? Can someone else fill Moses’ shoes?

SCRIPTURE & EXPLAINATION: Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Background on Deut

VS 1-3 Then Moses hiked up from the Moabite plains to Mount Nebo, the peak of the Pisgah slope, which faces Jericho. The Lord showed him the whole land: the Gilead region as far as Dan’s territory; all the parts belonging to Naphtali along with the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, as well as the entirety of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea; also the arid southern plain, and the plain—including the Jericho Valley, Palm City—as far as Zoar.

  1. Location: Mt. Nebo in Moab
    1. From this location Moses could see a wide stretch of the Promise Land
      1. Map of planned 12 tribes’ inheritance
      2. Israel square miles: 8550
      3. Indiana square miles: 36000
  2. Significance: Ruth’s country, enemies of the Israelites
  3. God says “here’s the promise land”….and then the next words are a kicker…

VS 4-7 Then the Lord said to Moses: “This is the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I promised: ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have shown it to you with your own eyes; however, you will not cross over into it.” Then Moses, the Lord’s servant, died—right there in the land of Moab, according to the Lord’s command. The Lord buried him in a valley in Moabite country across from Beth-peor. Even now, no one knows where Moses’ grave is. Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyesight wasn’t impaired, and his vigor hadn’t diminished a bit.

  1. You don’t get to go in.
    1. Map of Exodus & wandering for 40 years
    2. Moses already knew this; it wasn’t like God just delivered that information in that moment. He lost his privilege to go into the promise land with the rest of his generation and God declared this when Moses was deliberately disobedient.
    3. This is the end of Moses’ story. He leads the Israelites out of Egypt, that generation loses the opportunity to enter the promise land because of their lack of faith. They wander in the desert for 40 years until the next generation is ready to enter the promise land.
    4. So now, Moses is 120 years old but don’t worry, he’s got his vigor and eyesight. And it’s time to die.
  2. But what happens next? Who will take over after Moses? Aaron and Miriam are already dead. What leader get’s to take over?

Vs 8-12 Back down in the Moabite plains, the Israelites mourned Moses’ death for thirty days. At that point, the time for weeping and for mourning Moses was over. Joshua, Nun’s son, was filled with wisdom because Moses had placed his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to Joshua, and they did exactly what the Lord commanded Moses. 10 No prophet like Moses has yet emerged in Israel; Moses knew the Lord face-to-face! 11 That’s not even to mention all those signs and wonders that the Lord sent Moses to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to his entire land— 12 as well as all the extraordinary power that Moses displayed before Israel’s own eyes!

  1. Israel grieved for Moses, and then Joshua stepped into his role as the next leader of Israel. Moses had already blessed Joshua with wisdom to fulfill this role.
  2. Moses was special, no one was going to be exactly like Moses.
    1. Moses knew God face to face.
    2. God used Moses to show miraculous signs.
    3. Moses was special.

INTERPRETATION:

  1. We will hear more about Joshua’s story in the next couple weeks.
  2. As we see the closing of Moses’ story, it reminds me a little of funerals.
    1. It’s customary that we don’t air our family’s dirty laundry at a funeral. Though, that’s not always the practice. When saying goodbye to a loved one, you focus on the positive and try to let go of the rest.
    2. Moses was a flawed human being. He made all kinds of mistakes, yet in these final verses he is celebrated.
  3. And then we turn our eyes to Joshua to step into Moses’ roll but not shoes. But the author seems to make it quite clear that Joshua won’t fill Moses’ shoes. Moses had a special relationship with God.
    1. Joshua was to lead Israel but not be Moses.
  4. Joshua has his own story.
    1. Joshua was one of the 12 spies that investigated the Promise Land 40 years ago. He was one of two (along with his buddy Caleb) to say the Promise Land was wonderful and God would provide. He suggested they move forward. Unfortunately, he was outvoted by the other spies.
    2. 40 years later, he’s back at the edge of the Promise Land, ready to step in and let God take the lead. But will he do it perfectly? Join us next week for more of his story.

APPLICATION: To think about our roots as we plan our future, but not feel restricted or bound to repeat the past.

  1. As a lover of history, I love to hear old stories of communities. I love hearing how Prairie Township has changed or the history of the different buildings Liberty has worshiped in. I love hearing the stories of the confederate soldier John McKay enlisting in the Confederate Army because the Union stole his horses. I think those stories shape a community.
    1. I find it important to know our roots from to know where we are growing next.
  2. The past informs the future
    1. Knowing our roots helps us understand the meaning behind our traditions.
    2. Knowing our roots provides us wisdom for the future
  3. Plant – Pot – Roots – Growth
    1. not a green thumb
      1. watering
      2. replanting
    2. rotating crops
  4. God doesn’t only play the greatest hits. (annuals vs. perennials)
    1. God can do new and beautiful things in God’s church.
    2. We need to be attentive to God’s Spirit guiding us.

CONCLUSION: As I think about our church covenant, I think of the importance for us to know why we gather in order to plan for our future.

  1. As we trust we have been brought by Divine Grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of His Spirit to give ourselves up to Him, so we do now solemnly covenant with each other that, God enabling us, we will walk together in brotherly love; that we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully warn, rebuke and admonish one another as the case shall require;
  2. that we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together nor omit the great duty of prayer both for ourselves and for others; that we will participate in each others joys and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each others burdens and sorrows; that we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as may be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;
  3. that we will seek Divine aid to enable us to walk circumspectly and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust; that we will strive together for the support of a faithful evangelical ministry among us; that we will endeavor by example and effort to win souls to Christ; and through life amidst evil report and good report seek to live to the glory of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
  4. Reflection
    1. Consider our covenant: How is your commitment to God and to the church?
    2. Roots: What do you love about Liberty?
    3. Growth: What do you hope for Liberty’s future
  5. Benediction:
    1. Our Roots nourish our Growth.
    2. it’s important to know our Roots in order to Grow.