Tuesday, July 28, 2015

8/2/15---It's Relational: Samson

Many of us probably haven't heard a sermon on Samson before. He is not one of the more popular Old Testament characters, I don't think. This may be because he has a difficult story to tell. His life is tattered with sin---lust, selfishness, and a general attitude of disobedience, along with a thirst for revenge and violence.

As we march through some of the stories of these Old Testament characters, I hope we can see the story of God working through imperfect people. Folks back then, like now, are prone to sin (and the variety of sinning is quite noteworthy). Yes, God uses us despite ourselves, but I think it goes even further than that. God wants to show us that we can be redeemed through God's action in the world. God continues to show us that God is working in the world, and that is good news, my friends. When God works, there is still hope for redemption and grace to be active in the world. 

Despite Samson's attitudes and dispositions, we have a story through him that is a story of God working through an imperfect person. We can relate so Samson. Hopefully we aren't out there killing people for revenge, but if we are honest with ourselves, we do tend to be selfish and fickle people. But we have something else in common with Samson: God uses us to show the love of God to folks that need God. God uses us despite ourselves, and God uses us to tell a story about his love and redemption. 

And when we come to the Table of Love and Grace, we remember God's story. God turned something terrible (the death of Jesus on the cross) and uses it to write a story of love and grace. 

Are you willing to be a part of God's story? 

See you Sunday. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7/26/15---It's Relational: Moses

Moses, like Abraham, is one of those characters in the Old Testament that most of us are very familiar with. We know his impact was and is great to this day, even in our own faith. One of the reasons I think that is, or could be if we look at him with a fresh perspective, is because we can relate to him. Yes, he was a great man and did incredible things for God and for God's people. He delivered them out of slavery for goodness sake. The great things that he does not does not take away the fact that he was a human being, with struggles and excuses.

Like most of us, Moses did not, at first, think he could do the things he set out before him. He made excuse after excuse, highlighting his uncertainty, fear, and limitations. When Moses met God on the mountainside of Horeb, God enlisted Moses to free the Israelites from the Egyptians. Moses...did not think he was the man for the job.

God's answer to Moses was that "I will be with you." God did not argue or bargain with Moses, rather, God assured Moses that God would be with him. Moses, then, could overcome his weaknesses with God.

None of us are perfect, but God is. When we realize this, God can work through us in incredible ways. Not because God takes are weaknesses away, but because, for God, our weaknesses do not define us. Our commitment, faith, trust, and obedience to God, does. Our love for our community defines. Our love for God and neighbor defines us.

So God can use you despite your weaknesses, and perhaps even because of them. We'll never know unless we follow God into those opportunities where God leads us.

God is good, and God works through us. Praise God! See you Sunday!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

7/19/15---It's Relational: The Life of Abraham

This past Sunday I began a series called "It's Relational." This will be an 8-week series that highlights the lives of several Old Testament characters. Last Sunday, the sermon was about Adam and Eve, whose story reminds us that God's grace adjusts to us, is creative, and steps in where our sins step out...

We are created for relationship with God, and with another ("it is not good that man is alone..."). This is the basis of this preaching series. We can be reminded of this and relate to this through the stories of these Old Testament characters.

This week I will move to Abraham, who is called the father of the faith. Galatians 3:6 cites Genesis 15:6 when it says  "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." Paul uses Abraham as an example to say that our faith is the basis of our salvation, not our works (this is not to say that what we do is not an appropriate outcome of our faith). Our faith saves us; our faith is counted as righteousness. For Abraham, his faith was so strong that he was willing (although not without struggle, I imagine) to sacrifice his firstborn son, because God commanded it. God ended up saving Isaac because Abraham was faithful. Thus, hos covenant with Abraham would stand.

Speaking of that covenant, where God promised to be Abraham's God and "make you exceedingly numerous," it is also the basis for Abraham's name. He used to be named Abram, but when he took on God's covenant, he was named Abraham. God changed his name because God made him the ancestor of a multitude of nations. God changed Abram (many, multitude) to Abraham (father of many) because he accepted God's covenant relationship with him.

The impact Abraham had on others is hard to miss; his decision to follow God and accept God's relationship with him had a deep and wide impact on a culture, on generations to come, and on our faith as well. We lift Abraham up for his faith and obedience to God. So Abraham teaches us that God wants a relationship with us that impacts others. Praise God for that reminder! See you Sunday!