Greetings in the name of Jesus! This is a continuing effort on my part to make available to family, friends, and any other poor unfortunate souls that run across this, some of the thoughts that run through my mind regarding sermon preparation, newsletter articles, random thoughts (of which there are many), and generally how God is working in my life. I hope to post at least once a week but I'm not promising that.

So welcome to it.

Post Script:
A couple of people have asked me about the address. When I was putting this together I was preparing for sermons from the 6th chapter of John where Jesus refers to himself as "The Bread of Life" and these are passages that I strongly identify with. So artos is bread and zoe is life (roughly) and to quote Forrest, "That's all I have to say about that."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

1.17.2010 Sermon Notes

Living the Promise -

Can You Spare Some Change?

Living the Promise: 1. accepting the gift of faith in Jesus (entering into a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus) 2. living our daily lives like we say we believe. It is growing to be more like Jesus in thought, word and action.

The words above imply something. In a sense it’s kind of like saying, “I’m going to accept that free lifetime pass at the gym and get this body back into shape!”

What’s implied? Change. But also something more. What else is implied? There is something that needs changing.

Why don’t we like change? I just gave part of the answer… the idea that someone thinks I need to change something about myself… but there’s more to it than that. We get comfortable with they way we are, what we do, the way we live… whether it’s the way our house looks or our body looks; what we eat or what we say; where we go and what we do when we get there… even if we know that sometimes what we do, eat, or watch along with what we don’t do, eat, or watch isn’t good for us.

It’s true for our physical life and it’s also true for our spiritual lives [“The brussel sprout story” One of my seminary professors talking about the pervasiveness of sin in our lives gave an analogy about brussel sprouts and hot fudge Sundays. Even though we know that brussel sprouts are good for us we often refuse to eat them. Hot fudge Sundays on the other hand are not good for us and we’ll eat them readily without prompting—in his words we’ll eat them all the way to hell] 

That’s one of the reasons that I can identify so strongly with the apostle Paul’s cry … who can save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord… there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… for if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation… (Romans and 2 Cor)

Paul was talking about how difficult it is for us to change… the reality that some attitudes and actions become so deeply ingrained in us that it becomes impossible for us to do it on our own. That even though we know what is right and good and healthy… what God desires for us because God knows that it’s healthier for us and can bring us closer to God… and deep down inside us we may long for it too… when push comes to shove we have a hard time following through and so… we go back to what’s familiar… what’s comfortable even though we may realize what’s going on.

Then to make ourselves feel better we start telling ourselves things to make us feel better for doing what we know isn’t healthy for us, which only tends to reinforce the need for the change.

We need a savior… someone who can do for us what we can’t do by ourselves

That’s what we have to have in mind when we read this account of Jesus changing the water into wine. We can’t understand it right away because of our American culture and the day and age in which we live; we see what’s happening and think of it in terms of what these details mean for us instead of what they meant for first century Jews… what it pointed to. Because it pointed to God keeping God’s Promise.

Symbolism of the wine-abundance of wine a sign of the inbreaking of God’s Kingdom and God’s salvation

Breaking down the miracle. Things to note:

The number of jars and their capacity (120 to 180 gallons of wine). Linking it to the the overabundance of wine at the inauguration of the Kingdom of God.

The purpose of the jars. For the rights of Jewish ritual purification. Symbolic for the practice of practice of faith of the Jewish people.

The jars were empty. Symbolic for the generalized view that many (including the religious leadership) had allowed the content of the faith to become more focused on the practices of faith (observance of the law) than who the practice brings us close to-God.

In filling the jars and transforming the water into wine Jesus created something new in the midst of Judaism—but it is not a rejection nor a replacement of the old. “I tell you the truth, I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”

So can this all mean for us?

For us to be able to live the promise of God not only do we need to accept his gift of faith… we need to submit to the transformation to the change Jesus can bring in our lives…

We are not water… water has no mind; water has no will… human beings do.

The miracle of changing water into wine shows us the possibility of what God can do in our lives through our sharing in the life of Christ and what it can mean. Changing and transforming us into the character and nature of God… so that we can be more like Jesus in thought, word, and action.

Can you spare some change?

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