Sunday, February 22, 2015

Witness This

• 1st Sunday of Lent
with Matthew 14:1-12 and Isaiah 59:15-21
• Once again we are back to the gospel of Matthew with a cheery story of the murder of John the Baptist.
Jesus is mentioned in the first and last verse, only mentioned, and first by mistake:
Could Jesus be John the Baptist, revived? Raised from the dead? (then we get the flashback telling of John’s death).
There are worse things than to be mistaken for JtB.
JtB appeared before Jesus, and by power of his witness, his testimony, his preaching, people flocked to hear him, and religious and political leaders despised him for his following.
Know when the religious leaders in Matthew are happy? And when the political leaders are happy? When they are in control. When the people don’t resist, don’t make a stir. There are worse things than to be mistaken for JtB.
• But JtB is dead, killed senselessly as narrated in today’s reading, in part b/c a macho oath. (by the way, recall Matt 5 in the sermon on the mount when Jesus says not to make foolish oaths, but yes=yes and no=no?)
JtB came before Jesus, preached repentance and KOG before Jesus, now dies before Jesus… In JtB we get a glimpse of what is to come: that Jesus will be senselessly killed because of the fear of the religious and political leaders.
• Also by the way, JtB came before Jesus, we follow Jesus… we can expect the same treatment they received. Recall Jesus says: blessed are you when people persecute you (Mt 5:11) and You will be persecuted and hated and put to death (Mt 24:9) (and other places)
• And we do see it. Don’t have to go more than a few days to see it:
21 Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIS. Because Christian. Check out persecution dot com for all kinds of updates from around the world. Reports are that some of those men died with the name of Jesus on their lips.
And it’s not just Christians persecuted. Again you don’t have to go far or many days – dozens of anti-Semitic graffitis in Wisconsin this past week, but I want to point out two murders last week in Denmark killed when a man opened fire first on a cafeteria and then on a synagogue, did you hear that?
Did you know what happened yesterday? 1,000 Muslims gathered in nearby Olso, Norway, and formed a ring around the synagogue, a circle of peace so that the Jews could worship. They stood to reclaim the name Muslim from those who have garnered so much bad press. That’s a moving witness.

• That word witness… what’s it mean? Beholder, testifier…One who has seen, one who tells. In Greek the word is μάρτυρας (marturas). Yup. Sounds a lot like our word martyr. (that’s where our word comes from). One who is willing to die for their cause. Like those 1,000 Muslims outside a Norwegian synagogue. Like those Egyptian Christians. Like Jesus, like JtB, like countless others throughout history and across borders…
…and again, like followers of Christ can expect.

• Some will give their lives because Christian.
Others will be witnesses, will stand against unrighteousness, oppression, and violence.
Some will stand with like-minded folks – Christians standing with other Christians,
and some will stand with people who are different – Muslims standing with Jews.

Where will we stand?
And with whom?

(Read again from Isaiah 59…)

And cling to Christ. Stand with, and if necessary die with…

• Hymn 361 Rock of Ages

Matthew 14:1-12        (CEB)       
14 At that time Herod the ruler heard the news about Jesus. 2 He said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He’s been raised from the dead. This is why these miraculous powers are at work through him.” 3 Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of Herod’s brother Philip.
4 That’s because John told Herod, “It’s against the law for you to marry her.”
5 Although Herod wanted to kill him, he feared the crowd because they thought John was a prophet. 6 But at Herod’s birthday party Herodias’ daughter danced in front of the guests and thrilled Herod. 7 Then he swore to give her anything she asked.
8 At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a plate.” 9 Although the king was upset, because of his solemn pledge and his guests he commanded that they give it to her. 10 Then he had John beheaded in prison. 11 They brought his head on a plate and gave it to the young woman, and she brought it to her mother. 12 But John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.

Isaiah 59:15-21    (Common English Bible)
The LORD looked and was upset at the absence of justice.
16 Seeing that there was no one,
    and astonished that no one would intervene,
    God’s arm brought victory,
    upheld by righteousness,
17     putting on righteousness as armor
    and a helmet of salvation on his head,
    putting on garments of vengeance,
    and wrapping himself in a cloak of zeal.
18 God will repay according to their actions:
    wrath to his foes, retribution to enemies,
    retribution to the coastlands,
19     so those in the west will fear the LORD’s name,
    and those in the east will fear God’s glory.
It will come like a rushing river
    that the LORD’s wind drives on.
20 A redeemer will come to Zion
    and to those in Jacob who stop rebelling,
    says the LORD.
21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD.
    My spirit, which is upon you,
    and my words, which I have placed in your mouth
    won’t depart from your mouth,
    nor from the mouths of your descendants,
    nor from the mouths of your descendants’ children,
    says the LORD,
    forever and always.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

DTR on Revival Ch.6 "Persevering to the End"

DTR on Revival Ch.6 “Persevering to the End”
PK here: I offer the following sermon by my friend, the Rev. David Ryan, pastor at Pastor David and I are simultaneously preaching a series based on Adam Hamilton’s book Revival. Here is what Pastor David has to say:

I love that old hymn – standing on the promises!
We probably should have sung that this morning.
I love the promises of God
I have counted them
I have believed in them
I have staked my ministry and yes, even my life on them.
I hold them dear to my heart
And have always found them to be true!

But here is one, I wish He had not given:
We find it in John 16:33.
The promise is this:
“In the world, you will have trouble!”.

How true is that!
And not just every day kinds of troubles.
But troubles that come to us because of our faith.

Adam Hamilton, in his book Revival says this:
“When you have vision, some will oppose it.
When you challenge the status quo, you’ll ruffle feathers.
When you are passionate, others will be skeptical.
When you see a measure of success, some will find you threathening.
When you seek to change things, you’ll encounter resistence”.

In this world…and even in the church sometimes….”you will
Have trouble”.
Now…praise be to God..that is not the end of the promise given.
The full promise says…
“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world”.

And what that means is that if we are on the side of Christ…
Then we share in that overcoming!

That’s why we must not give up
At the first sign of trouble.
Indeed…we need to expect trouble
And be ready for it.
And if we never have trouble…well….maybe we are
Not really being bold enough in our faith.

The Wesleys – John and Charles
Knew all about trouble.
Of course, in following Christ, they brought it on
Themselves…but maybe that’s our calling too.

Wesley…was not the most diplomatic preacher!
He was a lot more bold that I usually am.

In his sermon “Scriptural Christianity”…
Wesley ended up saying this:

“You are a generation of triflers!
Triflers with God
With one another
And with your own souls!
How few of you spend, from one week to ather
A single hour in private prayer?
How few of you have any thought of God in the general tenor of your conversation?

In the name of the Lord God Almight, I ask,
What religion are you of?
Even the talk of Chrstianity you ye cannot, will not bear.

And guess what…he preached this sermon to a chapel full of

I guess he was not worried about offending folk…
Maybe we should not be so worried either…

Welsey believed that God expected more of us
Than just trying to be better than the bad people.
We are called to love, to faithfulness
To works of mercy that we talked about last week.

But his preaching of that brought him trouble!
His fellow preachers thought he meddled to much!
Oh that we might so meddle!
But you know what they did?
Those fellow preachers?
They hired thugs and rabble-rousers
To try to break up his meetings.

Through out his life,
Wesley, when he preached was booed.
More than booed – rotten vegetables were thrown at him
Sometimes manure…and worse yet, rocks.
But Wesley never let that get him down.
If it did get him down…literally, he got back up again.

And I would have to think
That the only way that was possible
Was because he was sure he was speaking not his words
Or his thoughts alone, but Gods.
And not to offend people…but to help them
To call them to a new way.

Welsey was not alone.
I’ve been trying to be faithful about reading
Through the scriptures.
Not long ago I read in the book of Numbers
About a time that Moses was having trouble.

The people he was trying to lead were moaning and groaning.
They were asking..why did you bring us out here in the wilderness
To die?
We were better off when we were slaves, at least we had
Cucumbers to eat!
They would trade their freedom and their calling to follow God
For Cucumbers?

You know what Moses said?
We find this in Numbers 11.
He says..
God just kill me now!
I don’t want to do this anymore.
I want to give up.

But of course, he did not give up.
He persevered, and continued leading God’s people.

Wesley didn’t give up, despite the opposition he faced.

Adam Hamilton shares a story of Martin Luther King.
Late one night, in January of 1956
King received a threatening phone call.
It wasn't the first he had received, but that night
Feeling exhausted and drained, both physically and emotionally
That phone call hit him hard.

It discouraged him – and he seriously considered giving up.
But instead of giving up, he gave it up to God in prayers.
And King says that that night, sitting at his kitchen table
He experienced God’s presence as he never had before.
He heard God’s voice telling him to keep standing up
For truth and righteousness.
That experience strengthened him for the rest of his service to God.
Imagine..if he had given up.

Adam Hamilton, who is pastor of our largest UM Church, shares
That after a particularly discouraging time, he said to his wife
I think I am just going to give up.
He said…his wife asked him…is God calling you to quit…or are you just giving up”?  Adam did not quit. And the church under
His leadership continued to do great things.
Ministry is hard.
And I am not just talking about the work of the clergy.
The ministry we are all called to is hard.
Sometimes it might make us unpopular.

Wesley was influenced by Proverbs 31:8-9
Which says…
“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of
All the destitute, Speak out , judge righteously,
Defend the rights of the poor and needy”.

In his late 60s…when he could have been taking it easy,
Wesley began to speak out against slavery.
Many of the members of the Methodist Societies were slave owners. Slaves were crucial to their wealth.
Others were abolitionists.

One time when Wesley was preaching against slavery,
Here’s what happened in the congregation
“The people rushed upon each other
With the utmost violence, the benches were broke
In pieces, and nine-tenths of the congregation appeared
To be struck with the same panic”.

I want to stir folk up sometimes in my preaching…
But…never had any pews broken!
And….really….not sure we need to go there…
BUT….where is our passion?
Are we so afraid of offending another
That we say nothing?

Are we just willing to “live and let live”…
When we should be trying to make a difference?
I don’t know.
I think we could be doing better…maybe not pew breaking..
But not being afraid of a heated discussion!

Wesley also meddled with people’s money.
And you know…that’s another thing that sure can get
People riled up.

I was reading some reports of a couple of churches.
And one of the questions asked was…
Do you preach/encourage tithing?
And they said NO.

Maybe I don’t do that enough.
But let me tell you folks…
We are called to tithing
Starting with a 10% of our income going to the Lord’s work –
Wherever and however he is calling us to support.

Wesley was afraid that money was going to harm
People’s soullife.
And so he taught this…which I think is good….
“Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can:.

Nothing wrong with making money.
Wesley believed that we should earn all we are capable of,
Providing we don’t; hurt others, including ourselves,
In that process.

Then Wesley said, with the money we have gained
We need to save all we can….don't spend our money
In a frivolous way…avoid spending money on nonessentials
Don’t spend your money just to impress other people.

And the reason to earn and save all we can
Is so that we might give all that we can give.

Even as Welsey’s wealth increased,
He didn’t change his lifestyle
He kept it simple.
He began to earn more and more money,
Especially through the books he wrote

Wesley started his life and ministry tithing.
Giving ten percent of his income to God.
Over time he increased this giving
And by the end of his life, it is said
That he was living on 10% and giving away 90%
To the work of God.

That’s kind of staggering isn’t it?
It’s a challenge to me.
Maybe it is to you too.
And maybe you want me to leave you
And your money alone.
But guess what….
I love you too much to do that.

I want to encourage your faithfulness!

All the way to the end of your life.

Wesley lived to be eighty-seven years old.
That was a pretty advanced age in the 1700s.
I don’t know if you will find this gross or not.
I hope not.
But here’s a picture of Wesley’s death mask.
It was a practice in those days,
To put a plaster over a persons face
Just after they died
As a way of remembering them.
This deathmask is housed in the World Methodist Museum
Where I was this fall.

Wesley taught about perseverance in life.
He never gave up…until his body gave out.
But even then, he wanted, he said, to die a holy death.

Wesley had often taught about holy dying
He wanted us to think about how even in our dying
We could be faithful witnesses.

I’ve been with folks as they died.
Some died a holy death…some not so much.
But for those who did…it really was a precious time.
A time when children and grandchildren and friends
Had time to share.
To express love.
To offer forgivness
To be at peace.
To affirm that while this was the end of their life on this earth
It was not the end of them
That because of their faith, they would all be gathered again
At the throne of Christ.

Wesley was surrounded with friends at his death.
It is remembered that Wesley's last words were
“The best is this…God is with us”
He also tried, with his last breaths to sing.

“I’ve praise my maker while I’ve breath
And when my voice is lost in death
Praise Shall employ my nobler powers
My days of praise shall ne’er be past
While life, and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures”….

We are the church we are today, in part at least,
Because Wesley persevered.
He did not give up.
He gave his all to God and to the Church.
He tried to lead a life that was yielded.

And I pray that the same will be said of you
And of me at the time of our deaths.

That we were people who loved God, who grew in knowing God,
Who served God.

Make your life count God
Oh..I know…we don’t do it ourselves.
We have talked of that sanctifying grace.
But let that grace into your life.

Yield daily to him.
Almost every day since November,
I have been literally kneeling before God
And I have been praying the covenant prayer
It’s been changing me.
I encourage you to do likewise.
Or however else God may be leading you –
But find a way, to daily yield to him
To let all things be in his keeping.

Because, you know, when we do that,
All things are well.
No persecution matters.
No storms can truly disturb us.
No want can shock us.
We are his, and he is ours.

Keep on keeping on folks.
To the end…and beyond the end
To that which comes next!

Let’s end this series praying
That covenant prayer together again.

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt
Rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing
But me to suffering
Let me be employed for thee
Or laid aside for thee
Exalted for thee
Or brought low for thee.
Let me be full
Let me be empty
Let me have all things
Let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed god
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it,
And the covenant which I have made on earth
Let it be ratified in heaven.


Revival 6 of 6: Persevering to the End

•Transfiguration Sunday
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
With Proverbs 31:8-9 and Matthew 5:10-12
6 of 6 on Adam Hamilton’s 2014 book Revival: Faith As Wesley Lived It

• I have been doing a sermon series on this book for the history and witness and inspiration. This book does not replace scripture, neither do I worship John Wesley or Adam Hamilton. I do find both of them to be disciples and worth learning about and from.
This is the sixth and final message in the series.
A brief recap of some of the things we’ve covered in the last five weeks:
Chapter 1 – We learned about John Wesley’s parents Samuel and Susanna and how they were involved in the faith lives of their children, and about how the social and economic scene in 17th century England set the stage for John Wesley’s revival.
Chapter 2 – We looked at JW’s school years and how he intentionally sought holiness.
Chapter 3 – JW traveled to America. He weathered actual storms as well as depression.  A takeaway from chapter 3: seek God in the midst of and in spite of storms.
Chapter 4 – Participate in the means of grace… position yourself to receive God’s grace.
Chapter 5 – Be involved in works of mercy.
And today, Chapter 6: Never stop. Never give up.  Title of this sermon might be “Can You Imagine.”

• When I was in my first solo pastorate I met a church member, 90-something Catherine Walters, who told me: “You’re the pastor. Stick to your guns.”
The opening paragraph of chapter 6:
Jesus promised his disciples there would be opposition to their ministry: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).  When you have a vision, some will oppose it. When you challenge the status quo, you’ll ruffle feathers… (AH/R, p. 123).
JW’s preaching challenged the status quo with his zeal and passion, with his condemning and convicting words, with his attitude that said gospel over tradition.
Not only was he not received as a church speaker (leading him to preach outdoors), but churches and church leaders HIRED rabble-rousers to heckle him and oppose him... JW recorded hundreds of instances in his journals:
…I went to the [town square] in Bolton. There was a vast number of people, but many of them [were] utterly wild. As soon as I began speaking, they began thrusting to and fro, endeavoring to throw me down from the steps on which I stood. They did so once or twice, but I went up again and continued my discourse. They then began to throw stones; at the same time some got upon the cross behind me to push me down. – 8/28/1748 journal entry
During 19 years of sermons, JW was pelted with rotten tomatoes, manure, and stones, but he refused to give up… For 19 years this was Wesley’s weekly, even daily experience. He was dragged before magistrates, beaten with fists, pummeled with rocks. Homes where he stayed were set afire. How discouraging it must have been. But he refused to give up, and his perseverance in the face of opposition made all the difference. (AH/R p. 126)
Can you imagine.
•JW never retired, and never eased up.
In his late sixties, and through the final two decades of his life, JW preached and published against the slave trade. (re-read today’s scripture reading Speak out on behalf of the voiceless… Prov 31:8-9).
It was the 1770s, 80s. Nearly a century before American Civil War, and 30 years before any European nation banned slave trade (Denmark 1803, Britain 1807).
In 1788, at the age of 85, he preached a sermon against slavery in The New Room at Bristol.
Many members of the Methodist society made their living off the slave trade in one way or another, so his sermon wasn’t welcomed by all. He described in his journal what happened:
The people rushed upon each other with the utmost violence, the benches were broke in pieces, and nine tenths of the congregation appeared to be struck with the same panic.
Wesley’s sermon actually provoked a fight in the congregation between those for and against slavery. They didn’t just exchange angry words; they were breaking up the pews! Wesley, even as an elderly man, was not afraid of offending others in proclaiming the gospel. (AH/R p. 132-133)
Can you imagine.
• One key teaching of JW’s had to do with stewardship, the use of your resources. JW warned against the temptations of wealth, complacency, disregard for the needy… He preached a sermon called “The Use of Money” in which he urged hearers:
Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.
One year his salary was 30 pounds. He lived on 28, gave 2 away.
The next year he earned 60. He lived on 28… gave 32 away.
In his lifetime he gave away 90% of his income.
Can you imagine.
He might wonder today… What does your bank statement say about your spiritual life, priorities?
He might also point out that giving money, while important, is not the primary aim of the Christian life; it is merely a reflection of our faith. The aim of the Christian life is being wholly devoted to God, and loving God and neighbor, which in turn leads to financial generosity.
To Wesley, tithing might be a good initial goal, but giving all you can – money, time, and heart – was the real measure. (AH/R p. 135-136)
• JW never retired. He died at home, old age (87). He faced death without fear but peace, at home, with loved ones, with a hymn on his lips. “Best of all, God is with us.” May we aspire to such a death. To such a life.
• I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath, Isaac Watts.
At my funeral I would like to have this hymn: Beams of Heaven As I Go. Charles Albert Tindley. Philadelphia, 100 years after JW. Son of slave. Self educated, learned Hebrew and Greek, passed Methodist ordination board, ordained 1889. Like JW, beaten and opposed for his preaching. Regard for poor and opposed.
Built legacy. 10,000 members 100 years ago. Persevered.
How will you spend your life?
• Hymn 524: Beams of Heaven As I Go

Proverbs 31:8-9        (Common English Bible)
8 Speak out on behalf of the voiceless,
and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
9 Speak out in order to judge with righteousness
and to defend the needy and the poor.

Matthew 5:10-12        (Common English Bible)
10 “Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
11 “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. 12 Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.

Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It, by Adam Hamilton
Chapter Six: Persevering to the End
Do you remember seeing cartoons of stage performers getting booed off the stage with the throwing of rotten tomatoes? During 19 years of sermons, John Wesley was pelted with rotten tomatoes, manure, and stones, but he refused to give up. He was dragged before magistrates, beaten with fists, pummeled with rocks. Homes where he stayed were set afire. But he refused to give up. (from p. 126) (re-read verses 10-12 above)
Wesley did not “play it safe” in his ministry, even into his eighties. In 1788, at the age of 85, he preached a sermon against slavery… that wasn’t welcomed by all. His sermon actually provoked a fight (a FIGHT!!) in the congregation between those for and against slavery. They didn’t just exchange angry words; they were breaking up the pews! Wesley, even as an elderly man, was not afraid of offending others in proclaiming the gospel.
Some of you reading this book are in your sixties, seventies, and eighties. Are you speaking out for those who can’t speak? Are you standing against injustice, for the rights of the poor and needy, for the dignity of those who have been pushed down or made to feel small? … (from p. 132-133)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

DTR on Revival Ch.5 "Works of Mercy"

DTR on Revival Ch.5 “Works of Mercy”
PK here: I offer the following sermon by my friend, the Rev. David Ryan, pastor at Pastor David and I are simultaneously preaching a series based on Adam Hamilton’s book Revival. Here is what Pastor David has to say:

We are nearing the end of this sermon series
Based on the Word of God and a resource
From Adam Hamilton, “Revival”.

I hope you have been learning
Along with me,
Some important lessons
From The Rev. John Wesley.

We’ve learned about the impact a parents Prayer can have
Over the life of their child,
We’ve been encouraged to humble, listening spirits,
          Who see the value in a number of expressions of faith
          And been encouraged to look for, when we can, the via media –
                   The middle way.
          And how, in all things, we need to persevere, with the Lord to strengthen and guide us.

We talked about a longing for holiness.
The dangers of being an “almost Christian” –
And encouragement to be an “all together Christian” –
One who knows God with both the head and the heart.
He’s also encouraged us to take seriously the call to holiness –
          And how to practice some spiritual disciplines to make that happen.

And , along those lines, we have considered the balance between
Our quest for holiness and our trust in the work of God’s grace.
We talked of the storms in our lives, and how God used a storm –
A literal storm, and an emotional and spiritual storm in Wesley’s
Life to draw him closer to God.

Just last week we dug a little deeper into Grace.
We talked of Prevenient grace – that grace of God that draws us to Him
Justifying grace – the grace of God that we yield to , when we give our lives to Christ, and recognize and claim him as Lord.
And then Sanctifying Grace – That ongoing gift of grace that enables us
To be “moving on towards perfection”…becoming more and more like Christ.

We again talked about the means of grace – how we put ourselves
In the flow of Grace – prayer, scripture reading and study, communion, worship, meditation, and so on….

And how this grace is free to all – which should lead us to a passion for the Lost – wanting to devote ourselves to sharing God’s redemptive love.

This morning, we are going to be challenged once again
By John Wesley and the scriptures, as well as by Adam Hamilton,
And a few ideas of my own on what Wesley called
“Works of mercy”.

Way too often,  we’ve forgotten something important.
When we ask ourselves “What does it mean to be a Christian”
Our response is usually – to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
That’s the Goal of faith.
To make sure we are right with God,
That we have secured our eternity in heaven
That we get to enjoy the blessings God brings to us
In this life, and anticipate the even greater blessings
To await us.

Now, all of that is true.
That is an essential part of our life in Christ.
But  it’s only a part.

Adam Hamilton, in referencing the preaching of Wesley
Writes –
Focusing solely on one’s personal relationship with Jesus
Makes for an incomplete faith – narcissism masquerading as
Christian Spirituality.

When I read that I thought…
Never thought of it that way.

Narcissism masquerading as Spirituality.

But that’s what it is, when all we think about is ourselves.
There surely is more to our faith than that.

Remember one of our Scriptures from last week.
Ephesians 2:8-10 – that passage that Wesley preached from
More than 48 times?

In case you have forgotten it, and just to refresh ourselves
Let’s read it out loud together:
“For by Grace you have been saved through faith
And this is not your own doing it is the gift of God –
Not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are what he has made us,
Created in Christ Jesus – for good works
Which God prepared  beforehand to be our way of life”.

Our salvation is NOT based on our works.
We are saved by Grace through faith.
BUT we are what he has made us –
We are created in Christ --- FOR good works.
Which God has prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Do you get that?
We are not saved by what we do…that is God’s business.
But because we are saved, there are things we are called to do.
In fact, it’s how we were created to be.

If we find ourselves out of sorts…
Perhaps it is because we are not living in the way
We were made to live…
That happens – we get out of sorts and all messed up –
When we are living only unto ourselves, and not for others.

It’s how we were made to be.

Wesley taught that there were two sides to our Sanctification.
Loving God with our whole heart, soul mind and strength…
And loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Wesley didn’t come up with that though –
Jesus did!
I just read that this week in my reading through the scriptures.
One place we find this is in Matthew 22:36-39.

Jesus was asked…what is the greatest commandment…
His reply – love the Lord you God with all your heart,
And with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it – Love your neighbor as yourself”.

Let me share with you again our scripture from James 2:14-18
“What good is it , my brothers and sister, if you say you have
But do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked
And lacks daily food, and one of you says to them – “Go in peace
Keep warm and eat your fill – and yet you do not supply their bodily needs..
What is the good of that?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But someone will say – you have faith I have works.
Show me your faith apart from your words, and I by my works will show
You my faith.

We need both faith and works for each
To be the real deal.

We need the fruit of the spirit
To be just that – fruit in our lives.
As we grow in our sanctification,
That fruit should be more and more evident.

Who can tell me where scripture tells
Us about the fruit of the spirit?
Galatians 5:22 –
Great verse to memorize if you have not already.
“The fruit of the spirit is – love, joy, peace,
Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness
And self- control.

This fruit…and remember…it's all one fruit..we don’t pick and choose and only have some and not the others…
Needs to be more and more evident in our lives.
As we grown in sanctification.

If you don’t know how to pray for yourself
Or pray for someone else, this is a great guide!
Pray that the fruit of the Spirit would be more and more

Pray for me!
I saw a church sign this week that said…
“Want a better pastor for your church? Pray for the one you have!”
You be praying for me, as I am praying for you!

John Wesley also looked to Roman Catholic thought.
Roman Catholics divide works of mercy into two categories.
What they call corporal works of mercy
And spiritual Works of mercy.
Roman Catholic theology identifies 7 practices in each
Of those two categories.

I didn’t really know what corporal meant – had to look it up..
It means- things having to do with the body.

These works are mostly draw from Jesus’ parable
About the Sheep and the goats.

Those seven works of mercy are:
Feeding the Hungry
Providing drink for the thirsty
Clothing the naked
Caring for the homeless
Visiting the sick
Ministering to the prisoner
And the last…caring for the dead.

Spiritual works of mercy include –
Instructing the ignorant
Counseling those who doubted
Admonishing sinners
Bearing wrongs patiently
Forgiving others willingly
Comforting the afflicted
And praying for others.

Now…these are by no means exhaustive lists
But they give a pretty good starting place
To evaluate how we are doing…
Both as a church , and as individuals

I’d love for us to be able to check off of those
In our ministry list.
We do some of it, some to a lesser degree
Some to a larger degree,
Some not at all.

Some we do through direct service outreach
Others we do through supporting missions
Who do those things here and around the world.

We can’t all do all things…
But we need, if indeed we are to be living
As God created us to live,
To be doing something.

Yes, we need to give financial support –
Some of these things take financial support and could not
Do what is done without it
But I think we also have to get personally involved.

I was reading about one annual conference this week
Whose theme was “Praying Hands and dirty fingernails”.
I like that!

How are we feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty?
          One way to serve is by volunteering at Peter’s Porch –
          Russ can hook you up with how to do that.

          Another way is to support the mission work of our Congo Partnership who, through two different ministries Mpasa Nutrition Center and Miriam’s Table, are feeding folks regularly.
Better yet, go there yourself, and serve a bowl to a child. I’ll tell you how!

How are we clothing the naked?
          One way we provide clothing is through our clothing bank.
          You can donate clothes you no longer need and better yet
          You can come help on one of our Distribution Nights –
          Christy Anderson and Linda Pepley can fill you in on how to do that.

How are we caring for the Homeless?
          One way is to bring in a donation for the Good Samaritan
          Shelter here in Ephrata. We are collecting items this month.
          Some of the quilts our Snappy Snipers are making are
          Going to be given as an act of love for those who have no place right now to call home, other than the shelter.
          Another way is to help with Water Street Mission in Lancaster – several of our confirmation students served there last year. Yvonne Aughinbach or Todd Wilkerson can tell you how to do that.

How are we visiting the sick?
          Russ and I do this regularly, and our Home Visitors
          Minister to our shut ins who have health issues keeping
                   Them home bound. Maryanne Weit can get you
                   Started in that Ministry.
          Again, our Snappy Snippers give blankets to the sick
            As a way of sharing our love and prayers.
          We also have our membership care team who visit the sick
          And arrange for meals and other expressions of our love.
          Melissa Roos and Brenda McGivern can get you into that

How are we ministering to the Prisoner?
          This is something we are not doing very well in.
          I’ve visited members in prison, and make sure I have
          My clearances for that…but we could and should be
          Doing something better…perhaps this is an area
          Where the spirit will prompt you to lead us.

How are we caring for the Dead?
          Our trustees care for our cemetery, and help as needed.
          Our Kitchen Committee cares for the families who are grieving by seeing to it that a meal is offered following services.
          One of our VIM teams learned of a congregation who provides small coffins for stillborn babies to be transported from
The hospital to the funeral home. I’d still like us to get involved in that ministry.

The spiritual works of mercy are also a challenge for us.

How do we Instruct the ignorant –
          We supply scholarship money – very little, but some,
To students in need at Lancaster Bible College.
          We support ministries of the Congo Partnership in
          Teaching the children about the bible.
          Personally, Jeanette and I support children in Congo
          To go to school. We can tell you how to be a part of that.
          Some in the congregation also support a child through
          Compassion, and some of that support goes to education.
          Is there more we can do? I am sure there is.

Counseling those who doubted
Admonishing sinners
Bearing wrongs patiently
Forgiving others willingly
Comforting the afflicted – these are things that all of us can do.
          Simply by sharing our lives with others, offering them encouraging words, being patient, being forgiving, being loving.

And praying for others.
          This we do too. If you want to be a part of the prayer ministry
          Of the church, be in touch with Salinda Eberly….but
          Even if not specifically engaged in that, we all can take the
                   To be in prayer for others.

As I said, we can’t all be doing all these things…but we need
Be doing SOME of these things.

It will not only be a blessing to others,
But it will be a blessing to ourselves –
For engaging in works of mercy is also a means of grace.

When we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray
“Thy kingdom Come, Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

How does God’s kingdom come
How is his will done…here on earth as it is in heaven?

By us.
We are his hands, his feet, his eyes, his ears, his lips.
His heart.
He has created us in Christ Jesus to do good works
That is to be our way of life.

I pray that you put your hands to good use for the Lord.
May your feet take you to places perhaps you have never dreamed you would go.
May your eyes be open to the needs around you.
May your ears hear the cry of the hurting.
May your lips speak words of grace, love , encouragement.
May your heart be lead by the heart of Christ
To do something…to be Christ’s presence in our world.

May it be so.