Sermon Preview: A God Sized Mission

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Have you ever learned a lesson about something small and inconsequential playing an important part in the larger picture?

I am sure many of us can tell a story like this.

When we suddenly have a realization something is potentially going to cost us, whether it is in resources, time or money. Hopefully, we find out there is a simple solution to keeping everything moving smoothly.

At St. Paul’s we have been in a larger conversation about our mission and how we choose to talk about it in terms of Living, Learning and Loving. This Sunday we are going to finish up the series and talk about Loving. We use the term to describe our mission, outreach and evangelism.

We are part of God’s work in our world.

I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

The great privilege we have been given as God’s people is participating in what he is doing. This has been going on since the beginning. We start our discussion with God’s covenant to Isaac, the son of Abraham.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Genesis 26:2-4 (NLT)

We can look at this passage and get plenty of warm fuzzies. It sounds nice-but there is another story being told.

The basic definition of “nations” in the Old Testament is a definition of distinct barrier. Nation means not us. This prophecy isn’t as appealing as read it in our current world. God is telling Isaac his blessing will be reaching out to the people he is different from, not necessarily his own people or ancestors. It will even be given to his enemies. Blessing is defined not by what Isaac and his family will have but rather by what they will do.

Let’s go forward in scripture to see how this ultimately will play out.

I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:22-27

Here we find our nations again. And even here we still see them defined as the “not us”. Funny thing, they are even seen in Revelation as more viotile as in Genesis. Just a few chapters back these kinds and nations are warring against the Lamb (Christ). But we find salvation offered to all. John isn’t talking about universalism. He is talking about the availability of God to all people.

So here we begin a conversation about mission. It’s much bigger than us and it is not done in bits and pieces. Our participation in God’s mission is a daily activity.

What we do every day matters more than what we do once in awhile.

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So come and worship this Sunday. We have some awesome things going on (3 baptisms!). Come and hear about what it looks like to live this life of mission.

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

 

Sermon Preview: Learning Together

learning togetherIn 2013, St. Paul’s began an intentional path of vision discernment. After consultations, prayer and discussion we feel this is the mission God has called us too:

Through loving, learning, and living together, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church provides care and support for its community that leads to a fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.

Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about the three strategies we have for living into this mission; Loving, Learning and Living.

Think about the last time you learned something…or perhaps didn’t learn something? Over the last year I have learned (through the help of youtube) to work on motorcycles. It was pretty frightening to tear apart my entire exhaust and air filter system and replace it. I did it. I only was able to do it because I had help.

If we look to the scripture, we see learning doesn’t happen in isolation. Here these words from the apostle Paul to his close friend Timothy.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. (2 Timothy 1:5-6)

Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Paul is reminding Timothy of the own path of his learning. He is also calling him to remember and utilize the pattern of faith he has been taught. Patterns can become useful. Just because we can see something in our head or even have seen someone else make something doesn’t mean we can necessarily pull it off on our own.

Have you ever seen the Pinterest Fail blog? Besides it being pretty funny, it has a tagline that really makes us think.

Where Good Intentions Come to Die

I don’t think any of us would willingly subject our own spiritual life and gospel mission to this. Patterns are essential for faith. They help us tell the truth as we are consistently measuring ourselves up to the truth Christ has placed in us.

Learning is done by practicing a pattern

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Romans 12:2 tells us this:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The pattern that matters to us is the pattern of Christ. It was taught to us by others and Christ himself. We have the responsibility to use it to guide and form our lives and to teach the pattern to others.

This will be an exciting time in worship. I hope to see you there.

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

Sermon Preview Playing House: Building the Worship of God

photo(37)This last Christmas I put together a play set for my niece. Let me say, it was harder than I expected. But I built the playset and Meredith and I bought Callie play food and play kitchen stuff to go along with it. We went up the weekend before Christmas and saw my family. We watched Callie play all day long with that playset-everything was perfectly her size.

When we are kids we get to play house. But there is a long transition to pretending with play food to home ownership.

The items we put in our home tell a story about what goes on inside. The tell a story about what life stage we are in. They show others what matters to us and what we are expecting out of life and the experiences that go on inside our homes.

This week we are reading a complicated scripture, but one that teaches us something really important about how we worship.

In this way all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished; the Israelites had done everything just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its utensils, its hooks, its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; the covering of tanned rams’ skins and the covering of fine leather, and the curtain for the screen; the ark of the covenant with its poles and the mercy seat; the table with all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the pure lampstand with its lamps set on it and all its utensils, and the oil for the light; the golden altar, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the entrance of the tent; the bronze altar, and its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars, and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court, its cords, and its pegs; and all the utensils for the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of meeting; the finely worked vestments for ministering in the holy place, the sacred vestments for the priest Aaron, and the vestments of his sons to serve as priests. The Israelites had done all of the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. When Moses saw that they had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded, he blessed them. Exodus 39:32-43

In this passage, we instantly think about these lists and find them pretty irrelevant to our daily life. The secret is found in the words I bolded for you. The idea of work bookends this detailed list that drives over half of what Exodus is about. Most of the book is written not as a story of the people of God moving around the desert, but of the description God gave Moses about building this place of worship. But this isn’t the work you and I first think of, the is the idea of cultivation and the holy practice of being made in the image of God and what that causes us to do.

These items aren’t just useless detail, but the furnishings of a place made to remind the Israelites of Eden, the place where humans and God had a perfect relationship. Our own worship matters because the items we place in it, our songs, prayers and the way we share them with other people, should be telling the same story; the story of a God who wants to be in relationship with his people. Our worship builds God a house in our neighborhoods.  Our worship tells the best story about our God.

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So come worship with us tomorrow. Learn more about what God wants our worship to look like and the amazing privilege we have to participate in worship with him.

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

Sermon Preview: The Practice of the Presence of God

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I have a suitcase stored in a closet at the house. I have actually blogged about it before. It has taught me so much about the power of time and memories. Since I wrote that first post…there has been a pretty major change with the suitcase.

Inside the suitcase are books from my grandparents house. The suitcase is actually from there as well. For years I could open it up and smell their home, which has since been sold. I even kept the suitcase in a garbage back trying to preserve the smell. I would only open it up once or twice a year.

Remembering the past is a pretty big thing for many of us. We want to keep those experiences alive.

Our scripture this week is about experience. It is a song sung during specific moments in time.

Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
ever singing your praise.
Selah
Happy are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
the God of gods will be seen in Zion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.

This is an ascension or pilgrimage psalm. They were sung during the journey to the Temple by folks coming to worship. You can imagine what those moments must have been like. Huge crowds of people coming into Jerusalem singing songs about the presence of God and how they have experienced and how they are expecting to experience God.

This psalm is all about an on-going relationship. A relationship that doesn’t just live in the past, but has a present and a future. For anyone who is searching for the presence of God their is a truth we find in Psalm 84.

We find the presence in the present.

Many people begin the new year making resolutions and goals. For many people who follow Christ, I imagine they set a few goals around their spiritual life. The thing about goals and resolutions is they take repetition. Big goals take time to put into habit. This article shows how some can take most of a year.

As much as I wish I had magic preacher dust I could sprinkle and give everyone a huge, abiding sense of the presence of God, we have to do the work to form the relationship. To build up memories of presence to draw on when we need them. Verse 7 of Psalm 84 talks about this, going from strength to strength, markers of time of the presence of God.

Years ago, a simple monk, Brother Lawrence, wrote a great book called The Practice of the Presence of God. In it he assisted a younger monk with the Christian life. The majority of his conversations where about finding God in the smallest, most everyday things. That is where a relationship was found. It was an expectation a person could consistently be meeting with God in the present.

About that suitcase…

I opened it up a few months ago. The smell has gone away. It doesn’t change the past relationships I had with my grandparents. But I no longer hold that part of the past. I remember them now by the person who I am, the person they were part of making me to be. The things in the suitcase are now on a shelf, serving as markers for the relationship. The past is the past.

The beautiful thing is the presence of God doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t exist in one moment in time but is available in the present and future. God is truly here with us!

This Sunday we will talk about finding the presence in the present. It will be a great time of worship. See you at church!

Chad Brooks - March 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

Practicing Prayer

Have you ever felt like you bumble through prayer or are dissatisfied with your prayer life? One of the keys to the Christian life is understanding how prayer builds a big vision of who God is. This week we look at the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and find out how it helps us build a great prayer life.

From Series: "Celebration of Discipline"

For Lent we are taking a journey into the disciplines. The disciplines are the garden in which we are planted and grown into mature followers of Christ.

Scripture and Discussion

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

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What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

 

Sermon Preview: Coming to Peace

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Many people know I am a big fan of classic country music. If I had to name my favorite artist, I would say Johnny Cash. Hands down. I don’t think anyone has a better handle on the human condition than Cash.

When I was younger I played music. Traveled around the world leading worship and played my share of rock and roll around North Louisiana. Once I was part of an event at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. For years this stage was the home of the Louisiana Hayride. The coolest thing about this…Cash played the hayride plenty of times.

You could stand in the middle of the stage and imagine all of the stars standing right there. Elvis was on the list…but he doesn’t matter to me that much. Cash matters. I stood there. He stood there.

Any connection I have to Johnny Cash is sketchy at best and only exists in my own mind.

I think many times we act about God like I think about Cash. We have a mild connection with no real relationship. We know there is an exchange of facts, but no real relationship.

It isn’t supposed to be like this.

Our scripture this week is from Matthew 1. Joseph is visited by an angel and told the real story behind this baby his knocked up future wife is carrying.

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

The angel reminds Joseph of the prophecy about the future Messiah. The basic identity of this person will be the incarnated presence of God. God bends down to humanity and offers himself up, in incarnation for the sins of all and as the man named Jesus for the sins of the individual.

God came to save us. Plain and simple. What he desires out of us is a personal recognition of this. It isn’t an intellectual recognition, but an experiential one. He wants to really know us.

Chad Brooks - March 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

Practicing Prayer

Have you ever felt like you bumble through prayer or are dissatisfied with your prayer life? One of the keys to the Christian life is understanding how prayer builds a big vision of who God is. This week we look at the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and find out how it helps us build a great prayer life.

From Series: "Celebration of Discipline"

For Lent we are taking a journey into the disciplines. The disciplines are the garden in which we are planted and grown into mature followers of Christ.

Scripture and Discussion

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

Powered by Series Engine

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

Sermon Preview: Magnificent Joy

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Christmas starts for each of us in different places. This last week we had the Tableaux and Living Nativity. I heard from several people no matter when Advent begins, Christmas starts with the Tableaux and Living Nativity. When I was a kid, I knew Christmas was coming when it was time for the singing Christmas Tree. I grew up with this monstrosity, part of the Christmas celebration when you grow up at a large church. We had this 80 foot tall metal structure that once decorated could hold a 130 person choir and it looked like a Christmas tree. It got to the point we had three of these trees going. The singing Christmas tree consumed our Christmas. When the tree started, Christmas has begun.

So finally, we get to the point in our worship were we get to the Holy family, Mary and Joseph. We always take our time to get here…but then again, Advent is about waiting. Our worship this weekend focuses on Mary and her song of Joy. We find it in Luke 1:46-55. Mary’s song is a treasured passage of scripture and familiar part of any Advent celebration. It gives us a glimpse into the timeline of God coming into our world.

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

We will talk about Mary, what makes her important and how her song causes us to realize the real center of our Joy.

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We are who we are because of who God is.

See you tomorrow in worship!

Chad Brooks - March 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

Practicing Prayer

Have you ever felt like you bumble through prayer or are dissatisfied with your prayer life? One of the keys to the Christian life is understanding how prayer builds a big vision of who God is. This week we look at the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and find out how it helps us build a great prayer life.

From Series: "Celebration of Discipline"

For Lent we are taking a journey into the disciplines. The disciplines are the garden in which we are planted and grown into mature followers of Christ.

Scripture and Discussion

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

Powered by Series Engine

*What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.