Call to Worship: Psalm 30 July 4, 2010
O.T. Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-14
Gospel Reading: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Epistle Reading: Galatians 6:1-16
Introduction: “Sown to the Spirit” (Attention)
Have you ever noticed how much people like order? Straight lines for some reason make us happy, we build and grow and think it proper to be in straight rows. When we went to build our house in Perrysburg I can remember sighting the foundation. We had five acres and could have built just about anywhere on that 5 acres, but I sighted with the neighboring houses that had already been built and placed ours in a straight line with them…it only seemed proper. I had always wanted a house way off the road and although 150 feet was a long way I would have like to have been deeper. I can clearly remember getting angry with my neighbor who had a double lot (10 acres) because he built back about 300 feet! Now the houses were out of order!
If you go to northern Michigan or our west where huge expanses of forests have been planted you always know which forests are planted by man because they are neatly aligned in straight rows! Even when a creek or a cliff come in contact the lines may adjust but not randomly…they’ll either angle or skip to make up for natures curves!
Have you ever asked yourself, “Is that the way God builds?” The answer of course would be no! God doesn’t seem to worry about straight lines…in fact He seems to prefer randomness. God relies on birds and squirrels other creatures to carry the seeds of plants and trees wherever they go and plant them there. In fact God designed into the seeds of many trees and plants the ability to be carried on the wind to find a new home.
Although we may collect the seeds and count them and determine ahead of time if we have enough seed to plant a particular area, and line them up for proper spacing and prepare the soil…God just sows in abundance! Hundreds of thousands of seeds scattered everywhere, some on good soil and some on rocky…some of them flourish for awhile only to later die while others are immediately eaten or never take root, yet some flourish and produce more seeds, 30, 60, 100 fold of what was sown! It’s Biblical…it’s of God…it’s how He do what He do!
If you’ve ever tried to plant a new lawn and keep up with the dandelions and other weeds that plant according to God’s plan you know which one works better! Somehow those seeds blown on the wind or out the backside of squirrels and birds always grow better than the ones I plant in nice little rows even though I prepare the soil and water and fertilize! Now you farmers out there and those of you with backgrounds in agriculture are saying, “Well it’s the type of plant you’re growing and you’re not using enough herbicide, blah, blah blah.”
Yeah I know…the analogy is not perfect. My point is about how we do things and how God does things. We really seem to like lines and order and rules to follow…yet God really seems to like randomness and freedom and abundance! Let’s read today from the end of the letter to the Galatians and Paul wraps up his instructions with a few reminders. Read Galatians 6:1-16
Paul wraps up his letter to the people of Galatia by giving them guidelines by which to live with one another, reminding them of the consequences of choosing contrary to God’s way and warning about those who say they should be living another way. (Information - background) SLIDE
Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
The world’s way of doing things makes sense to us…yet it’s not God’s way! (Description of situation)
- God had already given His rules, the Law was filled with all kinds of requirements about how to eat and how to dress and how to handle disputes…
- He gave us the Law in part so that we would know His intention for us and in part so that we could atone for the times when we didn’t live up to His intentions!
- God knows that the Law makes sense to us! Rules and requirements written down and clearly delineated.
- Instructions for almost every possible problem that would arise among people.
- Punishments for those who refused to follow His instructions and blessings for those who would.
- Men and women with knowledge of this system of Laws would use it as a model for the founding of their own earthly kingdoms time and time again.
- There is absolutely no doubt that the men who laid the foundations of this country were following what they read in the pages of scripture.
- Letter after letter, public discourse after discourse centered on references to the Bible and God’s intentions for us.
- Now some would argue that some of our leading founders like Jefferson were really not Christian just deists…i.e) they just believed in the existence of one God but not specifically Jesus Christ.
- Maybe so only God knows their hearts, yet we would have to discount their own words for that to be true!
- Surely the concepts of liberty and freedom are concepts of Christ. Paul in this letter to the Galatians writes of the freedoms we have and of the responsibilities!
- Freedom to sin…even after coming to Christ! I know it may seem foreign to some yet it is written not as a surprise but as a matter of fact…
- The fact of sin is written along with the responsibilities of those fellow believers who are governed and filled with the Holy Spirit to gently restore those caught in sin.
- Guarding ourselves as to not be tempted as well…as soon as you think you are above sin, watch out!
- Paul describes a messy, uncertain, unclear process here founded in love…and led by the wind of the Spirit.
I know we don’t like that, we like well laid our clearly defined processes to go from point A to point B. (Who does the situation effect)
- We like clearly defined rules of behavior and clear and uncertain punishments for failure to obey…yet isn’t that what the Law gave us?
- We need to guard our hearts against doing what we think is right, what we think is proper especially when dealing with the sins of someone else…
- We need to see that our way is not God’s way…His seemingly random, abundant way is founded in love!
- This is part of what Paul (as led by the Holy Spirit) is trying to tell the people of Galatia!
- As He wrote just before this: SLIDE
Galatians 5:14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
- Now we may want to argue with Paul about this point as it seems to miss part of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:40 yet we must acknowledge that love is the common factor!
- Grace and Mercy abound for those who love God and truly seek to obey His commandments…even when they fail to carry them out!
- We keep trying things our way, sticking to the straight lines, following all of the rules of order that make so much sense to us yet…
- Time and time again we find ourselves not meeting what we had already established as our intentions!
- Some like to find reasons of excuse for why they failed to do as they have already established as right and proper…but excuses don’t change facts!
- Some like to excuse others who think and act like they do…tolerance is the word these days…
- Yet that tolerance only seems to go one way!
- Allow Mohammed to be proclaimed in schools and public forums…yes it is tolerant.
- But allow Jesus to be proclaimed in schools and public settings, “No! Separation of church and state!”
- We should guard our hearts from such things…live by those three simple rules that Wesley established from scripture…Do good, Do no Harm and stay in love with God.
The Spirit leads us to Love…remember the fruit? Against such things there is no Law! Sow to the Spirit and allow God to deal with the rest! (Movement or Moment) SLIDE
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
The Spirit of God sows not in rigid lines or only on well prepared soil…but abundantly in love! Carried by the wind, by water even critters we may consider pests! (What does the movement/moment mean?)
We are commanded to love one another; Jesus’ own word command this! SLIDE
John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
- That’s what Paul is writing about to this church in Galatia!
- That’s what I’m stumbling around trying to talk to you about every week from as many different directions as I can!
- Yes God desires more from us than stumbling and bumbling…but above all else He desires love!
- That’s what His Spirit leads us to sow, not just where the soil looks good, and not only in well defined lines…but abundantly, on the wind, in the water…and yes even in pooh!
Are you with me? Start talking about pooh and even the guys wake up!
- You know for some reason get the newsletter in my e-mail from what was the Findlay District of the UMC, now called Northwest Plains.
- In it was a little clip from Bo Chrisman of Mount Blanchard UMC.
I thought this story might brighten your day. Shari N. and myself are raising money so that we can go to Haiti in August. We contacted our local pub and they agreed to let us waitress for tips last Saturday night. They also allowed our praise band from church to play and it was a wild time.
We advertised all around town and the place ended up being packed to where people where standing around waiting for a table. We worked our tails off, but at the end of the night we sat down to count the money and we were so blessed. We raised $753.64. We never expected that much, but people were very generous. At one point Shari heard a man making a phone call to his wife, he said, "honey, you've got to get down here, the Methodists have taken over the bar". We had a great time, a great turnout, and a great response.
Just wanted to share where God showed up here in our little town.
- Seeds sown to the Spirit are sown everywhere and abundantly!
- God shows up everywhere…even where you might least expect Him!
I know last week the message might have seemed a little harsh, the demanding side of God might have seemed most prevalent…God demands many things…and most of all it is love! (How does it impact my life?) SLIDE
Luke 10:2 He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
- His harvest field is everywhere! God created all that we see and that we do not see…it is all His!
- That includes you and it includes me and it includes Clouse’s Bar and Meadow Brook Park…everywhere is the harvest field!
- God is calling all of Creation back to Himself…it’s what the whole of the Bible is about, reconciliation!
- That means no matter what sin you find yourself lost in God is there…in the midst of it…yes He is even where there is sin!
- Nothing can hurt Him…He created it all!
- Jesus Christ came to pay the price to bring it all back to Him!
- That is the Gospel, which is the Good News! Despite what you’ve done, despite where you’ve been God is already there, calling you back to Him!
- Loving you and giving you a hand up from the muck and the mire!
- And that is exactly what Jesus says people will know His true Disciples for…Love!
Can you see it? Jesus Christ calls us to be a new creation, one shaped and led by His Spirit…that’s what being a Christian is all about! (Visualize) SLIDE
Galatians 6:15b-16a what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule
Yes God desires righteousness from us; yes God demands great things from us…but not in our strength…in His! (Show example of the movement/moment in action)
- When you call on the name of Jesus to save you and forgive you of your sins He says you are made a new creation…live as a new creation!
- Not one defined by rules and requirements of what you do and how you act.
- But defined by how you love!
- Defined by how you sow…abundantly and everywhere the wind carries you!
- Yes we do have to guard ourselves from temptation…that’s why I don’t sow God’s Word at Fantasy Land!
- Hey the guys are awake again! Pooh, beer and something naked…I think there is a joke in there somewhere!
- I hope you get the point! Peace and Mercy come from the Spirit…and they are sown in abundance, everywhere and to everyone!
But not everyone receives what is sown…you know the parable, some on the path and some on rocky soil…If you think this message isn’t for you watch out! (Show the antithesis of the movement/moment) SLIDE
- Because the someone is probably you!
- I always receive more in return than I give, when I give of myself to help someone else.
- We all fall short and we all need a hand up from the messes we find ourselves in…yes that includes your Pastor as well!
- No one is exempt from temptation and only one was ever victorious over sin…the world crucified Him!
- We in the Church are probably most guilty of the sins of judgment, the sins of omission if not outright commission.
- God clearly commands us to do many things right along with the things He commands us not to do!
- Do you think you are any less guilty for not doing what He commands us to do, just because you obey (physically) the list of things not to do?
- You know from that little book “Three Simple Rules” I thought doing good was the easy part…until you mix in the do no harm part…
- Quite often in our attempt to do good and be good people we condemn and injury others…doing harm…it’s a struggle especially when we try to do it in our own strength!
Conclusion: “Sown to the Spirit” (Call to Action)
This weekend has already been filled with parties and celebrations and times spent in the sun enjoying God’s wonderful creation and the freedoms we have to enjoy it. Today is one such freedom…don’t take it for granted! I fear that someday soon it may be taken from us…not overtly in a war but sub-vertly one little piece at a time.
Don’t worry God is still in control not matter what happens, yet we should take advantage of liberty while we have it…Sow to the Spirit, with all that you are and all that you have…let God deal with the rest!
Prayer for Salvation and Leading AMEN