St Paul's UMC
Sunday, June 26, 2022
  • Holy Spirit
  • Thy Word
  • Doxology
      • John 14:15–17NIV2011

      • 1 John 4:1–6NIV2011

  • John 14:15–16 ESV
    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
    Today, I’m wrapping up the sermon series we started on Pentecost on living a Spirit filled and Spirit led life. Before Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, he told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for gift that God was going to send them - they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit.
    This indeed happened on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit filling the lives of the disciples and empowering them to advance the mission of Jesus Christ on earth - to seek and save the lost.
    Luke 19:10 ESV
    For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    The last two Sundays, we read the scriptures and examined what it means to walk in the Spirit and to work in the Spirit. If we are choosing to live a faithful life and follow Jesus’ commands, then there should be evidence that the Holy Spirit is within us - we call these fruits of the Spirit.
    Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    There is a constant conflict within each of us - between our selfish desires and the desires of the Holy Spirit. Daily pray for strength, ask the Spirit to help, and apply yourself to that which is good.
    God has gifted his Church with all the tools and resources needed to breakthrough the noise of this world and reveal God’s presence. We call these gifts of the Spirit.
    As mentioned last week, John Piper explained, “a spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to express our faith effectively (in word or deed) for the strengthening of someone else’s faith.
    Baptized in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of His presence, and using the gifts He has given us, today I want us to focus on overcoming life in a fallen world. Because life can be hard - amen?
    As we journey through life, What do we set our minds on? How do we overcome?
    In 2015, Krista and I set it in our minds to hike the MD section of AT. The AT stretches from Maine to Georgia, 2,168 miles, MD section is only 41 miles – so we are not talking about some record breaking milestone. Maryland section fpr the most part follows the ridgeline of South Mountain– from Pen-Mar at the Pennsylvania border and extends down to Harper’s Ferry, WV.
    We set out to do the whole hike over the course of four days – but Krista was wearing old hiking shoes that were never the best fit and by the end of day 2, after repeatedly having her toes jammed every time she descended on very rocky pathways - she had lost two of her toenails. I know - nasty right? We were half way to our destination and had to bail. A few months later, with her nails regrown and with properly fitted footwear, we headed back out there to complete another segment on - this time on our wedding anniversary. A day hike from Greenbrier State Park to Gathland State Park. From there we planned to call Uber, ride to Harper’s Ferry where we had parked our car. Sadly, no Ubers in the area. So we hitch-hiked - which was an adventure.
    Finally, the following summer we completed our hike. The heat and humidity was extreme - temps over 100 degrees – it was painful. I knew Satan was trying to discourage us from finishing – but I didn’t expect he would show up in true form –long snake cross the path in front of us. I said “not today Satan” and walked up behind him and slapped him on the tail before he slithered off into the brush.
    But we did it! Despite the hardships and setbacks, we completed our goal. We were rewarded with beautiful vistas and a sense of accomplishment. Even a serpent couldn’t rob us of our joy!
    Walking in the woods provides a lot of time to think – and I can’t help but relate our experience to the greater journey of walking with Christ.
    1 John 4:4 ESV
    Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
    A disciple of Jesus Christ is one who journeys through this life with the Spirit of God within them, guiding and shaping them. The journey is fraught with dangers, we are mortals living in a fallen world – mutations in our DNA, environmental pollution, natural disasters and deadly viruses. A world inhabited by sin-filled, self-serving individuals whose greed, lust, and pride creates damaging consequences. A world filled with war and violence because the prince of this age, Satan, turns the hearts of men away from God and toward that which is tempts but never sustains.
    Yet this journey is beautiful one as well. Along the way we find people who love us, who speak truth into our lives, who encourage us and show us glimpses of God’s love. If we are fortunate, we are surrounded by a family that supports us and protects us as we move along our path.
    And we don’t walk aimlessly. As followers of Christ, there is a clear path set before us. As a people who have received great mercy and compassion from our God who saves, in response we in turn desire to please God and live according to His ways.
    This creates conflict with the world. There are many in the world blinded to the reality of God, who want to live on their own terms, to do what sounds good and pleasing to their own eyes, to pursue their own idols and they don’t want to hear how their thoughts and actions go against God’s will and cause harm to themselves and others. Others are caught up in religious legalism – they worship a god of judgment and they alone are the interpreters of who God finds acceptable. And still others worship a god of the other end of the spectrum – a permissive god that seems more defined by human standards than divine revelation.
    Even so, the disciple of Jesus strives to follow Jesus’ teachings, to live a godly life, while also loving people where they are, practicing compassion and mercy while inviting them into relationship with a God who saves. They balance holiness with mercy. they so identify with Jesus that they not only expect conflict with the world, they count it as proof that they are being faithful.
    The Apostles demonstrate this to us in chapter 5 of Acts. Starting with Pentecost - the church began to explode in growth. The religious leaders thought they had dealt with this Jesus problem by crucifying him. Now his followers are winning over converts left and right and the religious leaders are getting nervous. The apostles were detained once already and warned not to preach the resurrected Christ to the people, yet they continued to do so. Once again they were brought before the Sanhedrin and chastised with the leaders...
    Acts 5:28–29 ESV
    saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.
    We have conflict – apostles compelled to share the Good News, some in the world who do not want to hear it.
    The council contemplated killing them, but decided instead to have them flogged. And once again ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus.
    How did the apostles overcome?
    Acts 5:41–42 ESV
    Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
    They rejoiced in suffering disgrace. If it was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for them.
    In fact, Jesus had warned Matt 10:17
    Matthew 10:17 ESV
    Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,
    Now I don’t remember the last time I heard about a disciple of Jesus here in America being flogged for their faith – so what is our lesson in this?
    Has your walk with Jesus caused conflict in your life? Has it caused hardship? Have you lost friends over it? Have you been mocked because of your faith? Has your livelihood been impacted? Have you had to speak out against something knowing you would be ridiculed? If so, rejoice – because God has found you worthy enough to follow the path His Son walked.
    If not, you may want to check how closely you are following the Lord. Because if your faith fits so comfortably within the world in which you live – that may mean that the enemy of our faith does not find you to be a threat worth fighting.
    Love God and love your neighbor – Jesus said those were the greatest commandments - when we truly practice these commands – it will cause conflict with the world. We are not supposed to pick one over the other – but practice both.
    Loving God and Loving Neighbor conflicts with certain stances of both political parties here in America.
    Loving God and Loving Neighbor disturbs some of our church traditions and practices.
    Loving God and Loving Neighbor clashes with our wider culture and runs counter to acceptable norms.
    Loving God and Loving Neighbor engages us in a world that would prefer that we remain silent.
    Conflict will occur. And if we were walking this path of faith under our own power – none of us would be able to do so without either becoming hard-hearted & cynical or in a state of surrender. Yet as Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:7
    2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV
    But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
    We are but fragile vessels, yet in Christ, we have the Spirit of the Living God residing in us and working through us. The path of a disciple is not an easy one. At times, the challenge seems too great.
    We must remember that it is not our job to save the world, Jesus already did that. We are bear witness and to live as if the Kingdom of God is already fully realized. When we see brokenness – we are to work toward redeeming that which is broken.
    It is costly work, it cost Jesus his life. Count it as a blessing that God has called you into the work of redeeming his world! He has chosen to work through you! Do not be discouraged.
    John 16:33 ESV
    I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
    We overcome by walking with the Spirit and keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. He will see us through to the end.
    It may have taken Krista and me 3 years, 2 lost toenails, the necessity of hitch-hiking, and bearing 100+ degree heat – but we realized our goal and we were filled with joy because of it.
    It will take all of us a life time of heart aches, setbacks, suffering at times, ridicule, before we fully realize the Kingdom of God and stand face to face with our Savior. But what a beautiful journey we are on – and what a companion we have with us – and what joy we will find on that last day.
      • John 14:15–16NIV2011

      • Luke 19:10NIV2011

      • Galatians 5:22–23NIV2011

      • 1 John 4:4NIV2011

      • Acts 5:28–29NIV2011

      • Acts 5:41–42NIV2011

      • Matthew 10:17NIV2011

      • 2 Corinthians 4:7NIV2011

      • John 16:33NIV2011

  • Open My Eyes That I May See (Open My Eyes)
      • 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17NIV2011

      • Romans 15:13NIV2011

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