SUNDAY SERMON for Pentecost, September 24, 2017.

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MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #6

MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017. #6

MONDAY SCHOOL – thoughts from the message from the sermon Into The Neighborhood

POST 6
And then, how Jesus gets in the boat and the wind ceases. Here’s the word from John, “And they had rowed about three or four miles.” See, they were three or four miles out into the lake when Jesus is walking on the sea, and walking toward them, and drawing near the boat. And they’re frightened, and He says to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They’re three or four miles out on a lake that’s seven miles at its widest point and three to four miles wide at many others. Remember what I said about God knows our situation? They were almost to the shore and didn’t even know it. The first time I read this first, I thought to myself – verse 21, “They were glad to take him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land to where they were going,” – I was thinking, wow, that’s great. We’re on a long trip. The minute Jesus gets in the car, we’re there. Sort of like beam me up, Scottie. But when I realized just how wide the Sea of Galilee was, maybe Jesus was ready to walk pass them because they were 100 yards offshore.
Think about this for a moment, this whole dependency thing. God expects them to get to the other shore. Jesus told them you’re going to go to the other shore. And son of a gun, there they were, almost to the other shore, but they had to row all the way. Jesus is the Son of God. He’s the all-powerful Son of God. Why can’t He teleport to where they are? Apparently, Jesus has to slog four miles through the water to get to where they are. Sometimes, God lets us go for a walk instead of just swooshing us there. But, you see, they were where they needed to go. That’s point number five. God knows our situation better than we ever will. Sometimes, something you think is a big problem, there’s a little tiny solution. Sometimes, there’s a huge misunderstanding that can be cleared up with just a couple words. You know what they usually are? I’m sorry. You know anybody who has huge problems saying those two little words? Sometimes there’s great difficulty between people and the two words that change it all are thank you. Sometimes, we make a huge problem out of something that’s not really a problem.
But with God’s wisdom, and God’s understanding, and God’s clarity, and God’s ability to see exactly what’s going on, if we listen to our Lord and Savior, perhaps we’ll be able to see what we’re going through with His perspective. How many times have we been 100 yards offshore and ready to quit because we think that what we’re trying to do is impossible? How very human. God knows our situation better than we ever will. So, therefore, we need to open our hearts because remember the bread lesson was about feelings. We need to open our minds. We need to let God speak to us about every situation we’re in. And we need to have faith rather than fear.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, it may be stormy. The waves might be a foot high or so high as to the point that we fear that our boat will capsize. But Lord, we know that you understand the storms. You understand the waters because you created this world to operate on the basis of wisdom. And unfortunately, Lord, sometimes we’re foolish. We are led astray by the wrong idea, by the wrong perception, by emotions that drive us away from a reasonable path forward. Help us, Lord. Restore us to sanity. Restore us to sobriety. Restore us to calmness so that we need not fear but simply go forward on our journey with you. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, who loved us enough to come to us sometimes even if that meant walking on water for four miles. Amen.

QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

The photo “Sunrise on Sea of Galilee” is by Ksenia Smirnova
and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ksenia-sm/6766426781/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.

This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #5

Post 5.JPGMONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017. #5  – from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.

And here’s what happens after Jesus gets into the boat. Suddenly, the winds cease. The problem went away, and they were utterly astounded. Verse 52, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

This is quite odd. What is it that we’re supposed to understand about the loaves? Why is the fact that Jesus took 5 loaves of bread, broke them and fed 5,000 people so important? What’s that got to do with a boat out in a storm and a bunch of disciples that think that they’ve seen a ghost? Well, see, here’s the third thing: If you knew what God could do, you would not be afraid. If you understood how much God loved you and the people you love, you would not be afraid because if you understood that, you could have faith. So what is the message of the loaves?

By the way, Jesus talks about this in several different times. In Mark 8, two chapters later, Jesus feeds 4000 people with seven loaves of bread – it’s very similar. After that, he has a confrontation with the Jewish leaders, and they get into the boat to head to the other side of the sea of Galilee. 13 And he left them, and getting into the boat again he departed to the other side. 14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “We have no bread.” 17 And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

The disciples don’t understand; they always get it wrong. The message of the loaves is this: God is not limited in terms of what God can do to help God’s people. God is not limited by what we think God can do. Why do they have so much difficulty?

But you see, Mark 6 says, their hearts were hardened, a very interesting phrase. It doesn’t say their minds were clouded. It doesn’t say that they misunderstood intellectually. It seems to indicate that the heart of their misunderstanding is a lack of emotion, and unwillingness to care, a hardness of the heart. Hardened hearts is an emotional problem. The reality that God loves them this much has not sunk into the heart. They don’t feel it. And so, to them, when Jesus gets in the boat, it’s like just another person, not the son of God, not the representative of God sharing God’s word with us, not the voice, the logos that

And so, to them, when Jesus gets in the boat, it’s like just another person, not the son of God, not the representative of God sharing God’s word with us, not the voice, the logos that speaks from God. It’s just a man. And they’re astonished, “Why did the wind stop when Jesus got in the boat? We don’t understand.”

Well, the answer is you don’t understand it here in your head, you understand it here, in your heart. Thump your chest a few times to let it sink in. The truth needs to sink a little bit lower, from your head to your heart, so you can feel it. You need to understand about the loaves; your heart will explain it, if you allow your heart to speak. God cares. God’s got your back. God’s got your back. That’s what it means to understand about the loaves. That’s point number four.

QUESTIONS
Is there a time in your past when you feel that God has provided?
How did you feel before the problem resolved?
Did you worry?
How did you feel after the problem resolved?
Did the resolution of your problem seem like the miracle – that something like five loaves expanded to fill a much larger need?
How did it feel to you emotionally?
Have you taken time to feel the emotions of being cared for in the time of your need?

RESOURCES

The photo “The Time I Was Daydreaming” is by Taylan Soytürk
and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylansoyturk/9628065221/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.

This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #4

Post 4.JPGMONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017. #4 – thoughts from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.

Jesus was walking on the water and came toward the disciples, but was going to pass on by where they were. I’ll be very honest with you, I don’t think the disciples were bothered or afraid of the storm at all. Do you know why? Here’s why: immediately He spoke to them when they were terrified and said, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” And then He got into the boat with them.

What caused Him to get in the boat was not the storm, but the fact that they became afraid. There’s something about being afraid that corrodes faith. If you’ll read through the Bible from Genisis to Revelation, God appears, an angel appears, the women come to the tomb and the angels are there, Jesus has risen from the dead. What’s the first word they say? Do not be afraid. Fear not.

The storm was not so bad that Jesus came to them to help them with the storm. It was not so bad, because he had decided to go on past them. But the minute they were afraid, his response is very different. Now, now there was a reason for Jesus to change his plans to help them. He wouldn’t help them with the storm, so they didn’t need help.

But, friends, when we’re afraid, all of a sudden everything else we’re doing stops working quite as well. The disciples had plenty of faith with regard to the storm, but the minute they had fear, they no longer had the strength of their faith. They were no longer going to be able to deal with the storm, with the difficulties, with the problems that they had with the same strength of confidence that they had before. The minute they became afraid, all of a sudden Jesus saw a problem that He felt needed His direct involvement.

When Jesus sees that we are afraid, He’s closer than you think. And in fact, here’s the main reason they’re afraid: there’s someone out there. Couldn’t possibly be Jesus. Has to be a ghost. It never occurred to them that Jesus was coming toward them, so they assumed it was a ghost. Jesus is closer than you think. They were out on the sea and they were not looking for Jesus.

Friends, the next time you’re in a storm, the next time it’s difficult, the next time you’re pushing against the wind, please know God may have confidence in you, but still – Jesus may be closer than you think. The next time you feel afraid, afraid for what’s happening in the present, afraid of what might happen in the future, afraid because of wounds and hurts that have come to you from the past. Whatever the reason you might be afraid. Think for a moment – Jesus may be closer than you think. So that when you look off, friends, it’s not a ghost coming toward you – not one more reason to be afraid. Jesus is coming by. Once they were afraid, all of a sudden, it was important to Jesus to speak to their hearts to remind them, “Take heart. It is I have no fear.” To get into the boat and be with them once they were afraid because fear is a bigger problem than the storm.

I know all of you have heard the famous phrase, “The greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Do not be afraid.

QUESTIONS
When have you recently had a hard day? What was the problem?
Were you able to keep focused and keep moving forward?
Ever had a hard day, and suddenly became afraid that you would fail?
Were you able to keep your focus after you became afraid?

When you feel afraid, what helps? What do you do?
Would it help you to keep rowing if Jesus got into the boat with you?

RESOURCES

The photo “The Time I Was Daydreaming” is by Taylan Soytürk
and is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/taylansoyturk/9628065221/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.

This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #3

sea_of_galilee.jpgMONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #3 – thoughts from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.
And the disciples are on the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles at its longest from north to south, 7 miles from its widest. It’s less than 140 feet deep. The more shallow the water, the more susceptible it is to wind that causes storms. Remember the hurricanes? It’s the wind that makes that waves. It’s the wind that causes the storm. And the wind comes from the east across the Golan Heights. The wind comes down the Jordan River Valley. It’s confined by the sides and it can really pick up some speed and power. And a storm, quite a violent storm, even on such a small body of water, can very quickly happen. In March, 1992, in the city of Tiberius, they had a storm that sent waves 10 feet high into the downtown area. A storm surge just like with a hurricane with waves 10 feet high. Measure that against the wall nearest you for a moment.
I don’t know if the disciples are dealing waves that are 10-feet high. I just know that they’re having to go against the wind. They’re having to go into those waves. My father who was in the navy at the tail-end of World War II, 1945, told of taking a small ship, a landing ship tank, I believe, across the Pacific Ocean toward the Philippines when peace was declared. But he spoke of being in high seas, where you would stand on the deck and you would look up as high as two stories up, and that was the wave that was coming toward you. We don’t know how high the waves were for the disciples. We just know that they were going into the wind. But we do know from history, and from the weather reports that the waves can get as high as 10 feet.
But it’s the wind that makes the waves. And they’re having to row into the wind. Mark 6:48: And about the fourth watch of the night, between 3:00 AM and dawn, about the fourth watch of the night, He, Jesus, came to them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them.”
That’s an interesting phrase. He meant to pass by them.
Verse 49, “But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost.” If you’re ever up in that pre-dawn light, you know that you can see a figure at quite a distance even though it’s not very light. But you’ll find you cannot see the features clearly. Maybe the sun was just lightening the sky enough to where they could see someone coming toward them across the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps the moon, which is full during the Passover season, is providing some light. And, of course, they thought it was a ghost. They thought it was a ghost. And they cried out, for they all, all twelve, all saw him and their reaction was simply this: they were terrified.
Well, He meant to pass by them.
What could that possibly mean because they are struggling with the storm? They are struggling with a difficult moment. In fact, Max Lucado wants to paint them as being greatly frightened by the storm. I don’t think so. The scripture does not indicate that they were frightened of the storm. I think they had been on this lake before. I think they had been in a storm like this before. And I think that Jesus was willing and ready to walk right on by them because he knew they could handle it.
It might seem odd to you, but sometimes it’s okay with God for you and me to struggle because sometimes God has more confidence in us than we have in ourselves. Those of you who are parents, you’ve taught children how to tie their own shoes. You know what happens if you always tie their own shoes? They never learn. You know what happens if you swoop in whenever they have homework that’s a little too hard for them and you do their homework for them? They never learn. And you will sometimes hear within the Christian Church a principle- John Wesley called it quietism- but the principle is this: What you should do as a living, mature Christian, it sounds good until you think about it, what you should do as a living, mature Christian is to be wholly and completely dependent upon God.
Think for just a minute what that means. When I have a choice of doing something myself or completely depending on God to solve the problem, what should I do? I should let God work while I do nothing. Sometimes you’ll hear the principle expressed this way: What you should do if you really have faith is put yourself in situations where you can never help yourself but that literally God has to rescue you or complete disaster will happen. The idea is from this point of view that we should be completely dependent upon God.
There’s even a joke about this. Once upon a time, there was a man who was enduring a hurricane; the floodwaters were rising and the sheriff’s department came to his front door in a boat and said, “Sir, we’re here to help you evacuate.”
And he said, “Nope. God will take care of me. You just watch.” And he refused to get in the boat and the sheriff’s department had other people to help so they went on to the next people.
The next day the water was up halfway through his living room. And the National Guard came by in a boat and said, “Sir, you really need to leave. You really need to leave now for your safety.” And he called out from an upstairs bedroom window. He said, “I am perfectly safe because I am counting on God. I am depending on God. And God would never abandon me in my time of need because God loves all of us.” Sounds like a good sermon, doesn’t it?
The next day the water was up to the attic and the man was sitting on top of the roof. And along came a helicopter. Dangled down a rope ladder. “Sir, please climb up the rope ladder. Your life is in danger.” And the man said, “No. God will take care of me. I am willing to be completely dependent upon God.”
And the next day he died. Went up to heaven. Started complaining to God. “I trusted you. I testified to everyone how wonderful you were and how you were going to save me. How could you let this happen to me?” And God looked at him and said, “I sent two boats and a helicopter.”
The reason Jesus was going to walk right on past them is that they could handle this. Jesus is not your babysitter. Why? Because you are not a helpless baby.
There are times that you and I get angry with God because we think the minute that God shows up, all we have to do is lean back and let God do all the work. Some of you farm. Why can’t we just take the seed, throw it on the dirt, pray for it, and then let God do the rest? If we pray really hard, perhaps we could plant one week and then harvest the next week – nothing is impossible for God, right?
Well, what you would probably say to me is, is the same thing that God would probably say to you: “That’s not how it works.” There are things that we are expected to do for ourselves. I keep praying that God will clean up my garage and He keeps telling me that it’s my job.
He meant to pass by them, so I don’t think they were in trouble. And if it feels that God is passing us by, perhaps that means that God knows that we can handle it. What we think is too hard … just requires work.
Sometimes when you leave your place of prayer, your chair by the fire, and open the door to go outside, you will find that you are heading into the wind. It’s not easy sometimes to go into the wind … but people are depending on us, and so we go. There will be time to sit by the fire later, when the work of the day is done.
QUESTIONS
When you were a child, what was something that you thought was too hard to do?
How do you feel about that now? Have your feelings changed over the years?
When is a time recently when you’ve felt overwhelmed?
What would it feel like if God took over and magically made everything work out right?
What would be the good of that? What could be the harm in that?
What would you learn if God did everything that seemed too hard for you in the moment?
RESOURCES
The map of the Sea of Galilee is used by permission of Biblos.com and is from http://bibleatlas.org/sea_of_tiberias.htm. There is a lot of excellent information at this web page on the Sea of Galilee.
This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #2

Post 2.JPGMONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #2  – thoughts from the sermon Into The Neighborhood.
This month we are looking at what Max Lucado calls the second worst day in Jesus’ life. Four things happened on that day and we’re looking at each one. Jesus, as you remember, was very busy. John the Baptist had died. He wanted to go away, grieve and spend some time in prayer. The disciples had been very busy. So busy helping people that they did not have time to eat. They wanted to go with Jesus and have that time in prayer. They went in the boat across the Sea of Galilea to what they hoped was a deserted place, but by the time they got there the beach was full of people. They had to work. Last week we talked about how Jesus fed 5,000 people there and what that means.
And now finally that long day is over. In Matthew 14, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side. They were to head to the other side of the lake while he stayed with the people. Why? Because otherwise, the people would just run around the lake again. And after the disciples had left, he dismissed the people. He sent them home. He told them that it was time to go and then he was able to finally go up on the mountain by himself to pray. And when evening came he was there alone. Jesus finally was able to be alone in his place of prayer. It had been a long day and he had a lot to talk with God about. And in fact, Jesus talked with God long into the night.
Meanwhile, the disciples are on their home lake. And in fact, four of them – James and John, Peter and Andrew – four of them are professional fishermen. They have spent their adult life working on this lake. The Sea of Galilee. Shouldn’t really call it a Sea, to be honest. Have any of you ever been to Lake Carlisle? Lake Carlisle is longer by two miles than the Sea of Galilea. Lake Carlisle is 3.8 miles wide; the Sea of Galilee at its widest place is 7 miles wide. You can see to the other side. It’s not a huge place. Now they’re still able to get sardines out of that lake. They are still able to get fish out of that lake. By the way, did you ever wonder what kind of fish it was that the disciples fished for? Believe it or not, it’s a species of Tilapia. Red-bellied Tilapia.
They knew this lake. They had been on this lake. This lake was not a frightening place for them to be. I guess, at least for Peter, James, John, and Andrew, it was perhaps as comfortable as the mountain where Jesus was thinking and praying. Are there any of you that go fishing and find that you are praying? I guess you’re praying to catch fish but you’re out there and it’s quiet and sometimes you can feel the presence of God. But whether going fishing on a lake or up in the mountains like Jesus, they had finally had the opportunity to be with the Lord. Jesus is in his place of prayer.
Let’s switch over to Mark’s viewpoint, Mark 6:47. And when evening came the boat was out on the sea and He, Jesus, was alone on the land. Verse 48: And he saw– and he saw that they were making headway painfully for the wind was against them. Archaeologists have found boats 26 feet long and 7 feet wide that would easily transport 15 men. This boat probably had a triangular sail, or what is called a lateen sail. They could sail downwind and diagonal to the wind. Sailing downwind is the way you want to go!
But they had to go against the wind, and the way they moved forward against the wind is that they rowed. They rowed that boat across the lake. Again, this was not their first rodeo. (Row-deo?) This was not their first time to row, row, row the boat all the way across the Sea of Galilee in order to get home with their catch. But they were rowing against the wind. It wasn’t easy. John puts it this way, verse 18, the sea rose because a strong wind was blowing. And in fact, the Sea of Galilee is a place where storms happen often.
The thing to notice here, from the previous verse, is that Jesus is in a high place and he saw from his high place that they were struggling, that they were pushing against the wind. The season was near Passover, so the moon was full; there was light.
Here’s the first point to learn: God is watching. God is aware. 
Nothing that happens to you or me takes God by surprise.
Life takes us by surprise all the time, and not only that, whatever happens to us we may not understand, but God understands. Jesus sees them from a high place. And friends, for you and I, God sees us from a high place. God knows what we are going through.
QUESTIONS
When was a time recently that you were surprised? What happened?
Why were you surprised? Had you not been paying attention?
Were there signs, signals or warnings that you missed?
Did people try to warn you, or were they hiding information from you?
How did the situation resolve?
Would God, then, be surprised?
What do you think could take God by surprise?
RESOURCES
The photo “Sunrise over Sea of Galilee_0809” by James Emery is from https://www.flickr.com/photos/emeryjl/508201926/
courtesy of the Flickr.com Creative Commons license.
This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, September 17, 2017, #1

roz_savage.jpgMORNING PRAYERS … the story of Roz Savage, the daughter of two Methodist pastors, and her goal to row across the Atlantic Ocean, 3000 miles all by herself. It helps put the disciples – 12 men – rowing 4 miles across the Sea of Galilee – into perspective.

Her video of the voyage starts at 4:35 of the presentation.

Wikipedia: “On 14 March 2006 she completed the first leg by finishing the Atlantic Rowing Race as the only solo female competitor, taking 103 days to complete the crossing. This she did unsupported, despite breaking all four of her oars and having to row with patched-up oars for more than half the race. Her cooking stove failed after only 20 days, then her navigation equipment and music player. She managed to maintain her daily weblog right up until day 80 when her satellite phone failed, leaving only the movement detected by her positional transponder. Despite all this, and the danger of having to cut off the rope to her failed sea anchor in 12-foot (3.7 m) waves, she arrived safely at the finish in Antigua. She is only the 5th woman to row solo across the Atlantic from East to West.”

QUESTIONS

What’s the farthest you’ve ever rowed a boat?

What’s the farthest you’ve walked?

SOURCES

The photo is from here: http://jonbowermaster.com/blog/2010/04/30-days-of-oceans-roz-savage/  .The article at this link is by Jon Bowermaster, was published April 13, 2010 and is entitled “30 Days of OCEANS: Roz Savage.”

Watch Roz’ TED talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh5F-0fICAk

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