Jacobjuncker

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Name: jacobjuncker
Date registered: April 2, 2012
URL: https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com

Latest posts

  1. Methodist in-Formation: Be One, Too: Lead Others to the Promised Land! — October 30, 2014
  2. Methodist in-Formation: Be One Too: See(k) God’s Presence — October 26, 2014
  3. Methodist in-Formation: Be one, too: Don’t give up! — October 13, 2014
  4. Methodist in-Formation: “And, I Mean to Be One, Too” — October 13, 2014
  5. Methodist in-Formation: The Rules: Grow in Love with God — September 28, 2014

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Oct 30 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Be One, Too: Lead Others to the Promised Land!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/be-one-too-lead-others-to-the-promised-land/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 26, 2014.  This message is meant to freely flow from a moment with children to a conversation with adults who are all seated in the round at tables.  It’s a new style of preaching for me in a new experimental worship experience we’re trying for the next few weeks at Lee Memorial.

 

I need all the kids to join me over here.  I need your help this morning.  I’m blindfolded.  I can’t see; and I need to get to the center table so that I can talk with all the big boys and girls.  Can you help me?

Where are we going?

We all need help from time to time getting where we’re going.  We need people to point us in the right direction when when we can’t see; when we’re lost and don’t know where to go.  We need people—in the church we call them saints—to help us on our journey so that we can be our best for God and neighbor.

Thank you for your help this morning.  I think I’m where I need to be.  You all are little saints.  And for the parents that have a hard time believing it, hang with me for the next few minutes…

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Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

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I can tell you from experience that it is hard to blindly follow someone (especially, if they have yet to be potty trained).  I can only imagine what it must have been like for God’s people.  You’ll remember that God’s people where in exile, enslaved to the Pharaoh of Egypt when God calls Moses to lead God’s people out of slavery to the Promised Land: a land which was promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a land that the people had dreamed of but never knew how to get to.

With many miracles, God lead the people out of Egypt.  For 40 years, the people of Israel blindly followed God to a place that they’d only known in their dreams.

It was hard for the people to follow when they didn’t know where they were going.  They complained.  They had what we call in our house whiney butts.  They complained a lot: and, just like in the Juncker house, complaining didn’t get them very far.

It was hard for the people to blindly follow God through the rugged terrain of the desert to a place they’d never been.  God led them through the wilderness on a path that was anything but straight: a path that on several occasions doubled back on itself; a path that was many times longer than it needed to be (no offense God, but you could have taken the expressway instead of the scenic route that didn’t end up being all that scenic—no one likes looking at that many rocks!).

It was hard for the people to follow God when they didn’t know here they were going.  It was especially difficult when the days turned into week after week after week.  They felt like giving up.

But, when the journey got hard, Moses was there to encourage them to keep moving—to keep walking to the place God had promised.  Moses didn’t know where it was, but he had faith that God would keep God’s promises.  And that’s what saints do.  They encourage us when things get difficult.  They keep us moving toward the Promised Land

In our reading for this morning, the people of God are nearing the end of their journey.  It’s been hard, but Moses has diligently led and encouraged the people to finish the journey.  They’ve nearly reached the land God promised them and their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  It’s literally right in front of them.  God leads

[Read Deuteronomy 34:1-12]

Saints lead others to the Promised Land even if they never make it there themselves.  Their reward—their deepest satisfaction–isn’t in arriving at a certain point, it’s in serving God and helping others along the journey.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, remarks in his notes on verse five that

Moses the servant of the Lord died—He is called the servant of the Lord…a man eminently useful, who had served God’s counsels in bringing Israel out of Egypt, and leading them thro’ the wilderness.  And it was more his honour, to be the servant of the Lord, than to be king in Jeshurun.  Yet he dies.  Neither his piety nor his usefulness would exempt him from the stroke of death.  God’s servants must die, that they may rest from their labours, receive their recompense, and make room for others.  But when they go hence, they go to serve [God] better, to serve [God] day and night in [God’s] temple.  The Jews say, [writes Wesley] God sucked [Moses’] soul out of his body with a kiss.  No doubt [Moses] died in the embraces of his love.[1]

Moses walked with God and he lead others, encouraged them on the journey toward the Promised Land.  That’s what saints do, even if they never fully enter into it.

Saints encourage people to embrace the love of God found in Jesus Christ.  They encourage people on their journey till all are, in the words of Jesus, “complete in showing love toward all.”

I wonder what it might be like if each of us committed today to encourage three people for the next month along their faith journey?  Who would you encourage?

As the Bell Choir plays, I invite you to consider that question.  Who will you encourage?  What three people will you walk along side as they journey toward God’s future?  How might you encourage them? reminding them that they are children of God; a person of sacred worth; a person with a gift and a calling that’s meant to be shared with and transform the world.  Who will you encourage?  I invite you to consider that question in the next few minutes.

[Bell Choir: “How Firm a Foundation”]

Don’t share it with anyone, but whose name did you write down?  Before we sing our last song, I’d like us to pray over those names.  Let us pray…

[1] Notes on Deuteronomy 34:5 in Wesley Notes on the Old Testament by John Wesley at Wesley Center Online <http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/john-wesleys-notes-on-the-bible/notes-on-the-fifth-book-of-moses-called-deuteronomy/#Chapter%2BXXXIV> Accessed October 23, 2014.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: children of God, Deuteronomy 34, john wesley, Moses, saints, Season of the Saints

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/be-one-too-lead-others-to-the-promised-land/

Oct 26 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Be One Too: See(k) God’s Presence

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/be-one-too-seek-gods-presence/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 19, 2014.  This message is meant to freely flow from a moment with children to a conversation with adults who are all seated in the round at tables.  It’s a new style of preaching for me in a new experimental worship experience we’re trying for the next few weeks at Lee Memorial.

 

Welcome kids to the table:

What does God look like?  In our story for today, Moses asks to see God.  Moses and God’s people were about to make the final leg of their journey to the land God had promised, when God dropped the news, “I’m not going.  I’m sending an angel with you instead.”  Moses pleads with God saying, “You’ve been with us this long; if you leave, how will people know who we are?”  He begs God, “show me your ways;” and, then he asks the unthinkable, “show me your glorious presence.”  Moses asks to see God.  And, he does.

What did Moses see?  Can you draw me a picture of God? or a picture of a time when you knew God was with you?

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Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

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Read Exodus 33:12-23.

This is a powerful story.  Thanks be to God for it.  Amen.

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I think Moses was scared.  It had been a rough journey.  You’ll recall from last week that everyone seemed to give up—the people, Aaron (Moses’ “right-hand-man”), and even God.  Moses intervenes, he refuses to give up on God and the people God so loved and came to save.  In our story for today, I think Moses was scared that things were going to get worse.

God had commanded him to take the people of God on the final leg of their journey to the land God had promised.  On the first part of the journey, God had led the people with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night; God had provided quail and manna that fell like dew when the people were hungry, and when they were, it seemed, dying of thirst God instructed to Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water sprung forth.  All of this was a reminder, a sign to the people that God had not left them.  It must have come as a surprise to Moses, then, when God refuses to go with the people on the next part of the journey.  Look, says God, these people are rebellious.  If I go, I’m just gonna get mad and pull the car over and you don’t want me to pull the car over.  So I’m going, says God, to send an angel to escort you.

Moses isn’t satisfied.  If you’re not with us, how will outsiders know who we are and that you love us?  Great question.  In that moment, God must have rubbed God’s chin and scratched the top of God’s head.

Hey, kids, I think God has a chin and head.

Good point, says God.  So God decides to go; but Moses isn’t done making his point.  “Make your presence known now. I want to see you.”

It was a bold request (literally).  The people of God believed that God was too holy to see with the naked eye.  In fact, God was so pure and holy that to even utter God’s name would be an offense to God.  That’s why your Bible’s say LORD in all capitals all over the Old Testament.  In those instances, most of the time, the Hebrew word is YHWH, the name of God; so, out of respect, it is often translated—and has been for centuries—as THE LORD.

Moses asks to see God.  You know how the story ends: God instructs Moses to stand behind a rock.  God then puts the hand of God over Moses’ eyes and walks in front of him; and, as God removes his hand walking by, Moses gets a glimpse of God’s back.

Hey, kids, scripture says God has a back.

Moses desired God.  He wanted to know God’s presence and consequences be damned.  Moses sought God’s presence.  He yearned, desired to see God and he did.

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I don’t think God hides from us.  I don’t think our faith journey is meant to be played like a pious game of hide and seek.  I do think God’s desire is for us to desire God’s presence; that is, God wants us to want God.  “Desires…not just decisions, really matter.”[1]

Jesus said, “Ask, and you will receive.  Search, and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Whoever seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened” (Matthew 7:7-8, Common English Bible).  Seek God and you will surely find God.

The truth—the Good News—is that God’s glory shines brightly all around.  And, like Moses, we must not be afraid to see God’s presence; in fact, we must seek it out.  For seeing and seeking God’s presence will inspire us to continue the journey and that what saints do.

Saints see God and that encounter inspires them to keep on seeking God as they grow in love with God and neighbor.

Saints seek and see God.  Saints know that God is ever present if only we’d seek God out.

Jesus knew that the disciples would get weary.  He knew that there would be times when the disciples would be tempted to give up, times when they’d feel like they were alone; so, I don’t find it at happenstance—indeed, it’s imperative—that in the gospel of Matthew Jesus’ last words (in fact, it’s the last sentence in the entire Gospel)—to his disciples is, “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:20b, Common English Bible).

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How’d your pictures turn out?  What does God look like? Can you show me—on the pictures you drew—when you knew God was with you?

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Saints see and seek God’s presence.  They’re not afraid to see God in others—even their enemies.  Saints are not afraid to seek God in even the hardest of times.  Saints seek and see God; and they inspire others to see and seek God also.  …that’s what saints do.  I mean to be one; and, I pray, you do too!

Let’s pray.

Gracious God,
We thank you for the saints who have inspired us to see and seek you.  You’re not hard to find; but, we tend to be hard-headed and hard-hearted people who try to go it alone.  Help us to see and seek your presence that we might inspire others to do the same.  May we live to your glory and it alone, we pray, in the name of Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

[1] John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), page 19 <http://cdn.desiringgod.org/website_uploads/documents/books/when-i-dont-desire-god.pdf> Accessed October 17, 2014.


Filed under: Sermons

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/be-one-too-seek-gods-presence/

Oct 13 2014

Methodist in-Formation: Be one, too: Don’t give up!

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/be-one-too-dont-give-up/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 12, 2014.  This message is meant to freely flow from a moment with children to a conversation with adults.  It’s a new style of preaching for me in a new experimental worship experience we’re trying for the next few weeks at Lee Memorial.

 

Invite kids to the table:

Have you ever felt like not doing what you’re told?  Have you ever felt that doing the right thing was just too difficult?  Have you ever felt like giving up?

In the story I’m about to read, the people of God are frustrated.  They’re leader, Moses, and God have been on a mountain having a private conversation for 40 days.  The people have grown impatient.  They don’t like being left alone.  They get angry.  They forget about Moses and God.  They give up: they stop believing in God and they turn their backs on Moses.  They give up.

Sometimes it’s easy to give up.  Sometimes being faithful to God and those we love is really hard; and, it can be tempting to give up.  We need each other to help us be our best.  We need people around us who will remind us to do what we’re told, what’s important and right: people who will encourage us when we feel like giving up.

Sometimes it’s tempting to give up; but it’s through persevering (not giving up) that we experience true joy.

Let me show you what I mean.  I have three small marshmallows here.  You can eat them now; but, if you wait, I’ll give everyone a large marshmallow (if your moms and dads approve).  It’s going to be tempting to eat it before I say it’s OK, but if you can help each other persevere—not give up—I’ll give everyone a large marshmallow.

Got it?  Ok.  Help each other out.  Don’t give up.

[Read Exodus 32:1-14]

Sometimes it’s easy to give up.  Don’t.  Because the reward is always in doing what we’re told (especially if God’s the one speaking): the reward is in doing what’s best for everybody.

The people, Aaron, even God—they all give up in this story.  Thank heavens, Moses was around to help everybody do the right thing.  He is surely a saint (and he didn’t even get a marshmallow): and “I mean to be one, too.”

As soon as you get the head nod from the adult that brought you here, you can now have a marshmallow.

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Let’s pray.
Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen. 

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There are only a handful of television shows that I will do my best to watch each week, especially this time of year: in late summer, it’s America’s Got Talent; in fall, it’s The Voice and Biggest Loser; in the spring and throughout most of the summer, I hope to be spending so much time outside in the garden that I don’t make plans to watch anything regularly, except for reruns when I’ve got the time on Amazon Prime.

Right now, we’re a few weeks into Biggest Loser: The Glory Days.  The show is featuring athletes—former high school athletes to retired professional athletes and Olympians—who have, for lack of a better description, given up.  The reasons each has reached the point they are—a point of extreme un-health—is varied: for some, it was an emotional trauma, for others an injury, and for others still simply a lack of focus.

Regardless of what got them to the point they are now, the truth (that is so often painful to face) is that they lack the drive to be what they used to be.  They’ve given up; and, it is, quite literally, killing them.

There is, I think, an eternal truth there: when we give up, we become less than we were, less than we could or should be.  In the words of Jay Sheets (the guy in the cowboy hat), one of the contestants from last season (season 15), “It doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are.  If you believe in something or there’s something you want to do you have got to put forth 100 percent to do it.”[1]

Don’t give up!

In our reading for today there are many Biggest-Loser-esque characters who have given up.

God’s people gave up.  It’s amazing really to think about.  Here is a group of people who were delivered out of slavery in Egypt by a series of miracles; a group of people who walked through the sea on dry land; a people who, when they were thirsty, received water from a rock; and, when they were starving, received manna and quail from the dew.  Here is a people who have just received the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:1-21), renewed their commitment to be God’s children and God to be their God, and they’re about to receive instructions (a bunch of them, see chapters 21-31).  Moses has been gone for forty days and nights (see Exodus 25:18) and the people are growing impatient.  They give up on Moses; and make Aaron their leader.  They give up on God and fashion an idol out of gold.  They violate the first two commandments (see Exodus 20:3-4) God has just given them.

Aaron gave up.  He has witnessed even more than the people.  He was recruited by Moses, his brother, to go on this incredible journey to free God’s people.  It was Aaron’s shepherd’s staff that was turned into a snake before Pharoah (see Exodus 7:8-13).  It was Aaron who slept next to the most holy place in the tabernacle near the Ark of the Covenant, God’s “throne” on earth.  Of all the people, aside from Moses, Aaron had the most direct contact with God; and even he gave up, eager to take power, leading and appeasing the people.

All of this angered God.  And, it seems to me, even God gave up.  “Your people,” God screams to Moses, people “whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything! […] I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are.  Now leave me alone!  Let my fury burn and devour them” (Exodus 32:7, 9-10b, Common English Bible, emphasis added).

God’s people, Aaron, and, I think, God all gave up.  And, like those who aspire to be the next biggest loser, they’re snapped out of their defeatist attitude by a trainer, Moses, a man who hadn’t give up on God or on God’s people, a person who intercedes and encourages everyone to not give up.

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I’m not here this morning to vilify or damn anyone who has ever given up.  We’ve all been there—you, me, the people of Israel, Aaron, even God (and even Moses, but not in this passage!).  We all struggle to live into and be the best we can be for God and one another.  But, praise be to God that there are trainers, practitioners of the faith who refuse to give up: people of tremendous faith (who aren’t afraid to standup and change even the mind of God?) who refuse to lose hope; people who encourage and inspire us when we feel like giving up.  These people are saints; and, I hope and pray that you mean to be one, too.

Don’t give up.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, don’t get tired of doing good (see Galatians 6:9), don’t get discouraged in doing what is right (see 2 Thessalonians 3:13); but as for you, people of God, don’t give up, “instead, pursue righteousness, holy living, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11b-12, Common English Bible).  Don’t give up.  “By holding fast,” says Jesus, “you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19, Common English Bible).  Don’t give up.

Let’s pray:
Gracious God, help us to not give up.  We thank you for those who have inspired us to live our faith.  We thank you for the saints—those who are still with us and those for whom we’ll be reunited in eternity.  We thank you for the saints, O God, and we want to be one, too.  Help us to be faithful in our living that all we do might be an offering to you.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

[1] “Jay Sheets: ‘I Tell My Kids Don’t Ever Give up’” by Andrea Billups, People.com, January 17, 2014  < http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20777222,00.html> Accessed October 10, 2014.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: Biggest Loser, exodus 32:1-14, Moses, saints, Season of the Saints

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/be-one-too-dont-give-up/

Oct 13 2014

Methodist in-Formation: “And, I Mean to Be One, Too”

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/and-i-mean-to-be-one-too/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 5, 2014.

Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

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Today begins a month long celebration and season of the saints.  In the Methodist tradition we recognize people whose faithfulness and devotion inspire others to grow in their love of God and neighbor.  We do not pray to saints.  We do not believe that saints have a special audience with God where they can intercede on our behalf (see 1 Timothy 2:5-6a).  They are not to be worshiped.

Saints are those people who exemplify the Christian faith: those who “have the mind of Christ” and bear the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22).  Saints—far from being prudish, holier-than-thou sticks in the mud—are real people like you and me who devote themselves, the best they can, to following Christ with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; people who seek to constantly grow in love with God and neighbor.  Saints are people—living now and into eternity—who seek to know and grow in love.

We are, all too often, mistaken when we think of saints as being people of purity, in white flowing robes.  Saints are just ordinary people who have allowed God’s grace to pick up the pieces of their lives and turn them into something extraordinary.  They are regular people who carry baggage—the burden of the past: people who make mistakes and are broken by the effects of sin.

Saints are people who are defined not by their past—no matter how good or bad it might be.  They’re not pure or perfect in a worldly sense.  They are fallible.  They make mistakes; but, those things do not define their lives.  They are defined by living the possibility of God’s future.  They seek to give themselves fully in love to God and neighbor.

Saints, in the words of Paul to the Philippians, “forget about the things behind [them] and reach out for the things ahead of [them].  The goal [they] pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 13b-14, Common English Bible).

John Wesley was fascinated by examples of living saints. As a missionary pastor in Georgia, he met one such saint and later wrote about him in his Journal. When Wesley met Henry Lascelles in 1736, he was dying. Wesley was astounded to note Mr. Lascelles’ complete serenity and peace.

Wesley writes, “After praying with him I was surprised to find one of the most controverted questions in divinity, disinterested love, decided at once by a poor, old man without education or learning, or any instructor but the Spirit of God. I asked him what he thought of paradise — to which he had said he was going. He said, ‘To be sure, it is a fine place. But I don’t mind that. I don’t care what place I am in. Let God put me where he will, or do with me what he will, so I may but set forth his honour and glory.'”

Wesley later found that pointing to examples of saints could be a useful way to help spur the Methodists on to receive God’s grace for themselves. In his famous book, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Wesley tells the story of a Methodist woman named Jane Cooper. In telling the story of her death, Wesley calls her “a living and a dying witness of Christian perfection.” He describes the way in which Ms. Cooper was buffeted by the full assurance of her salvation, even as she lay painfully dying of smallpox. Regardless of her situation, she knew Jesus’ love for her and gave her full trust to God. Wesley presents her as an example for other Christians.

People like Henry Lascelles and Jane Cooper are all around us today. While it is true that the full extent of their faith is most noticeable around the time of death, such faith is also present in life — usually in the quiet, unassuming way that living saints go about their daily discipleship.

Watching for the living saints among us can help us in our own faith journeys. They know something in their souls that we are all trying to learn. Their gift to us is that, in reflecting the light of Jesus so clearly to others, they give us a chance to receive it for ourselves.[1]

Over the course of the last month and a half, the youth of Lee Church have been thinking about and naming living saints who have impacted their faith journeys.  And over the course of the next month we will honor the living saints among us.  They’re all around: people who are doing their best to be faithful; people who are inspiring others to grow in faith and love toward God and neighbor.  There are saints all around us; and, I mean to be one, too.  And, I pray you do too.

 

[1] “The Saints Among Us” by Andrew Thompson, GBOD.org <http://www.gbod.org/resources/the-saints-among-us> Accessed October 3, 2014.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: christian perfection, Jesus the Christ, john wesley, saints, Season of the Saints

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/10/and-i-mean-to-be-one-too/

Sep 28 2014

Methodist in-Formation: The Rules: Grow in Love with God

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/the-rules-grow-in-love-with-god/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, September 28, 2014.

Reading: Psalm 105:1-6

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

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The world is a beautiful creation of God, but the reality is that the world is far from what God intended it to be: the world in which we live is broken.  But don’t worry.  Stay calm.  Follow the rules.

Conceived by John Wesley some 275 years ago, these rules were meant to provide people a Christian model for living (click here to see a facsimile copy of the rules as originally printed in 1743).  It’s important to note that faith was not a prerequisite for following the rules; rather, the only requirement necessary was a desire to (and I’m modernizing the language significantly) find peace in this life and the next.  The rules were meant to cultivate the Christian life within all people no matter where they might be on their faith journey.

The rules are really quite simple: do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.  But don’t be fooled by the simplistic elegance of these rules.  Taking the rules seriously is not for the faint of heart—they will demand self-sacrifice and restraint, initiative and creativity.  It is not easy to follow these simple rules, but doing so will—without a doubt—transform your life and the world around you.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve discussed the first two rules—do no harm and do good.  It’s easy to hurt.  Don’t.  But don’t let what you don’t do define you (or your faith).  Do good.

This week we move to the third and final rule.

It is expected of all who desire to continue in these societies [the rules declare] that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,

Thirdly: By attending upon all the ordinances of God; such are:

The public worship of God.
The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded.
The Supper of the Lord.
Family and private prayer.
Searching the Scriptures.
Fasting or abstinence.[1]

These ordinances, as Wesley describes them in the third rule are those things which Jesus instructed his disciples to do: attend, regularly, corporate worship, listen to the reading of Scripture, have Scripture explained to you and join in the discussion, participate in Holy Communion, pray in private and with your family, read and search the Scriptures on your own, and make a regular practice of abstaining from things you rely upon so that you might draw nearer to God.

It’s here that I would alter the wording used by Bishop Job.  While it is surely true that following this third rule will help us stay in love with God; it is better stated that following this third rule helps us grow in God’s love.  It doesn’t matter if we’ve discovered God’s love or not, it doesn’t matter if we’re new to faith, old to faith, or questioning faith, following this third rule is meant to be a means through which we can experience God’s love and grace.  It’s in following this third rule that we come to know, experience, and are inspired to share the great love of God found in Jesus Christ.  It’s in following this third rule that we grow in God’s love for the first time, through a lifetime and into eternity.

It’s in following this third rule that we’re given the wisdom, courage and strength to follow the first two.  If we really want to do no harm, if we really want to do good, then we have to better understand what love truly is.  Friends…

God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that [God] loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins[the salve that heals our brokenness].

19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen can’t love God, who can’t be seen. 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.[2]

Those who seek to grow in their love of God will seek to grow in their love for neighbor and that begins by doing no harm and doing good.

Therefore, using the words of the Psalmist:

Pursue the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always!
Remember the wondrous works he has done,
all his marvelous works, and the justice he declared…[3]

And follow the example of Christ: Do no harm, do good, grow in love with God—these are the three simple rules—“all of which we are taught of God to observe, even in [God’s] written Word, which is the only rule, and the sufficient rule, both of our faith and practice”[4]—that will lead to wholeness and healing.  Follow these rules and together, through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us, we’ll surely transform the world into the kingdom Christ proclaimed.

Do no harm.  Do good.  Stay in love with God; or perhaps better stated, grow in God’s love.  These three simple rules will transform our lives and the world.  These three simple rules will save surely heal—bring salvation—to the world God so loves and came to save.

Let’s pray.

Gracious God,
The rules seem so simple.  They’re easy to say; but, they require all we are to apply.  Help us to do no harm, do good, and grow in your love that we might find peace and be agents of it in the world you so love and came to save.  Draw us closer to Christ that we might walk and talk with him and know what it truly means to do no harm and to do God.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray.  Amen.

 

Some helpful additional articles:

“The General Rules of the Methodist Church” UMC.org <http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/general-rules-of-the-methodist-church> Accessed September 26, 2014.

“What does it mean to stay in love with God?” by Rev. Dr. Andrew Thompson (February 20, 2014) <http://www.andrewthompson.com/2014/02/20/what-does-it-mean-to-stay-in-love-with-god/> Accessed September 26, 2014.

“The Practical Theology of the General Rules” by Rev. Dr. Andrew Thompson (November 18, 2013) <http://www.andrewthompson.com/2013/11/18/the-practical-theology-of-the-general-rules/&gt; Accessed September 26, 2014.

 

[1] “The General Rules of the Methodist Church,” UMC.org <http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/general-rules-of-the-methodist-church> Accessed September 27, 2014.

[2] 1 John 4:8d-10, 19-21, Common English Bible.

[3] Psalm 105:4-5, Common English Bible

[4] “The General Rules of the Methodist Church” UMC.org.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: 3 Simple Rules, grace, Jesus, love God, transformation

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/the-rules-grow-in-love-with-god/

Sep 23 2014

Methodist in-Formation: The Rules: Do Good

Original post at http://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/the-rules-do-good/


This message was offered at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, September 21, 2014.

Reading: 1 Peter 3:8-17

Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in that most holy Word’s name—Jesus the Christ—we pray.  Amen.

˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚˜˚

The world is a broken place that leaves one wanting and alone; but, stay calm.  There’s hope.  Just follow the rules!

The rules are really quite simple: do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.  They were written some 275 years ago by a middle-aged Anglican priest by the name of John Wesley.  These rules—the distilled principles of the Christian faith—became a cornerstone of the Methodist movement; and, although most Methodists today don’t realize it, these rules continue to be a binding set of practices that every Methodist is called to follow.

Therefore, “It is expected of all who continue in these societies that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation…”

“First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced..”[1] We discussed this first rule last week.  It’s easy to hurt.  Don’t!

This week, we move on to the second rule:

It is expected of all who continue in these societies that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation,

Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all [persons]:

To their bodies, of the ability which God giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the naked, by visiting or helping them that are sick or in prison.

To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or exhorting all we have any intercourse with; trampling under foot that enthusiastic doctrine that “we are not to do good unless our hearts be free to it.”

By doing good, especially to them that are of the household of faith or groaning so to be; employing them preferably to others; buying one of another, helping each other in business, and so much the more because the world will love its own and them only.

By all possible diligence and frugality, that the gospel be not blamed.

By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.[2]

While the first rule calls for restraint, the second demands action.  The first calls for passivity, while the second insists upon activity.  It’s not good enough to just do nothing.  We must commit ourselves to doing good.

Don’t do nothing.

Given the first rule, it’s pretty easy for us to feel good about ourselves.  We turn on the news and see reports of Ray Rice, the Baltimore Raven’s star running back, punching his then fiance—knocking her out in a hotel elevator—and we sit back and say, I don’t do that.  We see reports of violence perpetuated by hate and say, that’s aweful, I’ll stay clear of that country, town or neighborhood.  We see reports of parents who abuse their children and say, Lord have mercy.

It is pretty easy for us to look at the brokenness of the world—the inequality, the hate, the violence, the fear, the disappointment and discouragement—and disengage from it.  Many of us can sit back in relative comfort and thank God that we have nothing to do with “that”—the hatred, the violence, the misunderstanding, the violence, the arrogance and pride (etc.).  We bear witness to the brokenness of the world and say, well, I don’t…

I don’t steal. I don’t kill.  I don’t commit adultery.  I don’t lie.  I don’t curse.  I don’t beat my wife or my children.  I don’t “return evil for evil.”  I don’t lie about the presence of spiders nor do I shout fire in a crowded room.   I don’t talk badly about people behind their back.  I don’t gossip.  I don’t strap bombs to my chest and blow people up.  I don’t always say what I’m thinking.  I don’t park in the fire lane.  I don’t, as an able bodied person, park in handicapped parking.  I don’t watch “R” rated movies.  I don’t listen to music with explicit lyrics.  I don’t drive above the speed limit.  I don’t have sex before marriage.  I don’t disrespect parents, teachers, and especially my pastors.  I don’t use or abuse drugs.  I don’t drink in excess.  I don’t stay up late: I gotta get up early and pray.  I don’t forget to say ‘please and thank you.’  I don’t waste my food: there’s starving kids in China.  I don’t judge people except for those I don’t know.  I don’t put my hand in the tip jar.  I don’t “bite the hand that feeds me.”  I don’t play video games until all my homework is done.  I do not take the last Oreo cookie without asking if someone else wants it first.  I don’t play with fire.  I don’t text and drive.  I don’t run in church.  I don’t come to church without being in my “Sunday best.”    I don’t miss church.  I don’t .  I don’t do this and I don’t do that, I just don’t.  We “don’t do” a lot.  And, the sad thing is we Christians are known more for what we don’t do than what we do do (the little kid in me chuckles: do do).

The Irish statesman, Edmund Burke, is often attributed with saying: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”[3]  Friends, we cannot be satisfied with what we do not do, that’s why the second rule is so important.  We cannot become comfortable with what we’re not doing when the world continues to crumble around us.  Don’t do nothing.

Do good.

As Christians we are, all too often, known by what we don’t do (or what we don’t want others to do) when, in fact, it’s what we do that’s most important.  We must be, writes the apostle James, “doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.”[4]  We must be known not for not doing and more for what we do.  And, what we’re called to do is good.  What that means will vary by context; but…

There is scarce any possible way of doing good, for which here [or wherever you might be] is not daily occasion…  Here are poor families to be relieved: Here are children to be educated: Here are workhouses, wherein both young and old gladly receive the word of exhortation: Here are the prisons, and therein a complication of all human wants.[5]

The world is a broken place.  There are endless opportunities to do good—to aid in the restoration, reconciliation and salvation of the world.  So don’t neglect to do good.  “Doing good’ is always God’s will, even if it results in suffering [on the part of the doer], as Christ himself demonstrates.  [Christ’s] obedient suffering offers us relationship with God, conquers sin and evil, and achieves ultimate victory that no threatening power, of this world or any other can withstand.” Therefore, don’t do nothing.  Do good in the name of and for the sake of Christ.

And may the world know we’re more than what we don’t do.  May the world come to know us and the Good News of Jesus Christ by the good we do.  In the falsely attributed words of Wesley may you

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”[6]

Admittedly, this rule when coupled with the first will go a long way in making the world a better place; but, these two rules alone cannot finish the job.  The weight of the first two rules—do no harm and do good—can become a terrible burden—an impossible task—unless we adhere to the third rule: stay in love with God.  The third rule—stay in love with God—gives us the wisdom, courage and strength to enact the first two.  We’ll talk more about that in our final week, next week.

Let’s pray.

Gracious God,

We all too often are known by what we don’t do.  May we be more inclined to do than not that we might be known for that which we do: and may it all be good for Christ’s sake and the sake of the world you so love and came to save.  Amen.

[1] “The General Rules of the Methodist Church” UMC.org <http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/general-rules-of-the-methodist-church> Accessed September 18, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “The only thing necessary…” BrainyQuote.com <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/edmundburk377528.html> Accessed September 20, 2014.

[4] James 1:22, Common English Bible.

[5] “Journal from August 12, 1738, to November 1, 1739,” in The Works of John Wesley, vol. 1, p181.

[6] “Wesley Didn’t Say It: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can…” by Kevin Watson (April 29, 2013) at VitalPiety.com < http://vitalpiety.com/2013/04/29/wesley-didnt-say-it-do-all-the-good-you-can-by-all-the-means-you-can/> Accessed September 20, 2014.


Filed under: Sermons Tagged: 1 Peter 3:8-17, 3 Simple Rules, Christianity, Do Good, Jesus, john wesley

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/09/the-rules-do-good/

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