Suncook United Methodist Church
May 6, 2010
Galatians 1:11-24 Gods Word Translation
Luke 8:4-8, 11-15 New Living Translation
1 Kings 17:8-16 Gods Word Translation
Psalm 146:1-5 New Living Translation
“The Proof Is In the Pudding”
The Lord be with you…
And also with you…
Let us pray…
Our Loving God, we thank you for this day that we are able to come into your house and worship you. We pray for your Spirit to be here with us, teaching us what you would have us know for this journey of faith we are on. May we have ears that hear, hearts that are open to your instruction and mouths that will sing your praises to the ends of the earth. May your word be heard through me or in spite of me this day. May the meditations of our minds and hearts be pleasing to you O Lord, our Rock and Redeemer. Speak Lord…your children are listening.
Have you ever had a dealing with someone and think to yourself (or even say out loud) “I’ll believe it when I see it?” I know I have. There have been times in my life that someone keeps saying the same thing over and over, things like “I’m really sorry, I’ll never do it again” (I know I hear this one a lot from the girls), “this is the last time I’m going to do this, I really have changed” or even “I know your right, I’ll take your advice and do what you say, what you are saying makes sense to me.” It gets a little tiring to hear this over and over again. You want to actually see a change in things. You want them to prove to you what they are saying is really true. I know that as Christians we are to forgive “70 times 7” but it is so hard sometimes. I want to believe but I also want them to prove that when I believe it is because they really do want to make a change. (Seeing is believing, kind of like that doubting Thomas thing)Why is it so hard sometimes?
Paul must have had the same question raised about him. People knew about Paul when he was Saul. They knew what he used to do to the early Christians. They must have had their own questions about him when he started to “preach the Gospel.” Paul addresses this in Galatians 1:11-24 when he spoke to the people of Galatia. Paul knew they would have questions about his validity. Paul’s speech to them reads and (I’m reading from the Gods Word Translation):
“I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Good News I have spread is not a human message. I didn’t receive it from any person. I wasn’t taught it, but Jesus Christ revealed it to me. You heard about the way I once lived when I followed the Jewish religion. You heard how I violently persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. You also heard how I was far ahead of other Jews in my age group in following the Jewish religion. I had become that fanatical for the traditions of my ancestors. But God, who appointed me before I was born and who called me by his kindness, was pleased to show me his Son. He did this so that I would tell people who are not Jewish that his Son is the Good News. When this happened, I didn’t talk it over with any other person. I didn’t even go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went to Arabia and then came back to Damascus. Then, three years later I went to Jerusalem to become personally acquainted with Cephas. I stayed with him for fifteen days. I didn’t see any other apostle. I only saw James, the Lord’s brother. (God is my witness that what I’m writing is not a lie.) Then I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. The churches of Christ in Judea didn’t know me personally. The only thing they had heard was this: “The man who persecuted us is now spreading the faith that he once tried to destroy.” So they praised God for what had happened to me.”
Paul didn’t get his notoriety from being a person who followed tradition (God revealed to him that what he was doing in the name of tradition was not what God intended for humankind), he didn’t learn it from a book, he didn’t go to a seminar, he learned it from his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. This encounter changed his life. How do we know this? From the life he now lived. He went about teaching that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was the way, the truth and the life. It was through Christ that he became Christ-like. He was drawn into a relationship with the Risen Lord.
OK…so how can we have this encounter with Christ, if we haven’t already? How can we continue with our relationship once we have this redeeming encounter? Well…in the book “Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth” by Richard Foster, it tells us some “disciplines”, some ways to bring us closer in our relationship with Christ and grow spiritually. There are “Inward disciplines”, things like meditation, prayer, fasting and study of God’s Word. There are “Outward disciplines”, actions like living in simplicity, have time of solitude, submission to Christ and being in service for Christ. Then there is “Corporate disciplines”, things we do as a church, things like confession, worship, guidance and celebration.
It is how we act that attracts or detracts people. It is not the rules and regulations that were given by man. It is the indwelling of Christ in our lives, our encounter with Christ that guides us on our way. We hear so much these days about actions that detract people from the Way. It is the un-Christ-likeness around that has even come to the point of driving dedicated Christians away from the church. Here at Suncook UMC, I see a lot of attracting going on. When I come to Our Family’s Table, I hear stories from people about how wonderful and loving the people of this church are. It is the indwelling of Christ that enables us to open our doors to the people of AA, NA and Daisy Girl Scouts. It is the love and service that is given to people that keeps them coming back to the monthly dinners.
We are here to reach out to the least, last and forgotten. The beginning of our prophetic ministry is the way we live our lives. Like Paul who lived by example, by the Spirit of the Law and not by tradition, we too can reach the “gentiles” of the world. We become living examples of Christ as we live out our faith in the world. Christ becomes incarnate through us as we “strive for perfection” and we run the race set out before us. We need to have faithful discipleship to Christ. In it, we are bound to Christ himself in the power of the Spirit poured out on us. We must hear sound teaching that is revealed through Christ and His ministry on earth and share that teaching so that others can experience the same freedom we do in Christ.
I leave you with a few questions to ponder…
1. Who are we called to be by Christ?
2. Who and how are we to interact with?
3. How is God calling us to be involved in community?
4. Are we living authentically the life we are called or do we live by just tradition?
The choice is yours and mine to make. Will we be like the seeds in the parable of the sower of the seeds? Will we be hearers and not doers of the Word? Will we turn away from the faith as soon as trials hit us? Will we let society, with its promise of pleasure and riches; strangle out the faith we have? Or will we be like the seed that is rooted and grounded in Christ, producing good fruit in its time? The choice is ours, which will you choose?
June 7, 2010
1 Kings 17:8-16
Psalm 146:1-5 (Call to Worship)
Prayer of Dedication:
“Abundant God, we thank you for the jars of our lives
that are constantly being filled. We offer our gifts to you,
that others may know of your abundance and grace.
Fill the hungry with good things. Lift up the oppressed.
Watch over the stranger and comfort the lonely.
Through our gifts, may we do likewise.
In the name of Christ the Comforter, we pray. Amen”
Worship Theme: “How do our lives attract or detract people”
and sermon, “The Proof Is In the Pudding”
June 6, 2010
Second Sunday after Pentecost
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