God's Promise of Guidance
Let us pray. Almighty God as we reflect on your word. That may you enter our hearts and our minds to be more like you in Christ's name. We pray. Amen.
God's promise of guidance this morning And one of my prayers has always been God may you guide my steps especially in life when difficult situations come about when I don't know what tomorrow holds but none of us do I ask for God to guide my steps? Am I kind of geishas? I've always served as always prayed to me God may you guide our pastor steps and and I really do appreciate that because it's God who sent me here. It's God who guides us all this morning? This morning. We'll talk a little bit. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So raise your hand if you know who Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the few of you this morning. Okay, so we got a basis so Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a fan of Theologian with a Lutheran and he was murdered by the Nazis at 39 years old. murdered hung Hitler believe inside of himself that he was promoting Christianity by killing the Jewish people now few years ago when I went to Israel, we went to the Holocaust Museum And we got to see how Christians got behind Hitler. That they chose not to speak up. Hitler killed Christian pastors. He removed them from their pulpits. And he replaced them with Nazi pastors. He rewrote the Ten Commandments replace the cross with the swastika. He rewrote the Bible. And again installed his own Aryan people. But Bonhoeffer a young pastor and theologian opposed Hitler. For what was right and what Jesus was telling him and put on his heart. Again, 39 years old, you know Bonhoeffer is used in all of our seminaries in the United Methodist Church as the founder of Christian ethics and we are required to study Bonhoeffer and what it means for us today as Christians. So like every other job feel there's ethics that take place and as pastors as churches we to have Devon Hopper wrote this Cheap Grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring requiring repentance baptism without church discipline communion without confession Absolution without personal confession. Cheap. Grace is Grace without discipleship. Grace without the cross and Grace without Jesus Christ Bonhoeffer this was being hung by the hands of Nazis for confronting the evil in his time when almost no one would take a stand. You said?
What a my sizes are there for said silence in the face of evil is evil itself. God will not hold us Guiltless not to speak is to speak not to act is to act.
In the scripture this morning Matthew 16 2426 and it says then Jesus said to his disciples all who want to come after me must say no to themselves take up their cross and follow me and all their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them and why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives and what will people give in exchange for their lives? Aritus silence in the face of evil is evil itself. Evil. God will not hold us Guiltless not to speak is to speak not to act is to act. The church family. What is God telling you to speak and say in the midst of evil? We Face the day where there is so much we could stand together against Is God telling you to sit back and take it easy? Are the fight against the evil and oppression that we have today? You're not all of us can be Bond Hopper.
But we must carry our cross it says here. We must take up our cross. You know how many times I have struggled why God me is anybody I ever asked God why? I'm glad I'm not the only one maybe I'm just disobedient sometimes and I say God why? Why can't we just have an easy Road Easy Pass? And every time I seek for help and and I speak spiritual guidance from people much wiser than me. And they always say that's your cross and it can come across as one of those cliches and it and irritations to me. Take up your cross. What is the truth of the Gospel Jesus says we must take up our cross this morning? Even when it's not it's not going to be easy. Right and sometimes we need help. Just like Jesus needed help to carry his cross. We must be there as Christ's body together.
We must ask ourselves. Are we living in the cheap Grace that Bonhoeffer was speaking about? Are we living and costly Grace? Are we living radically for Christ and following God's word are we being disciples that Jesus is called each of us to be. Phoenix beginning passages verses 13 through 16. He says we are the salt of the earth. We are the salt of the earth. I don't know about you guys, but when I don't want we don't put salt in our food. It doesn't taste very good. Now maybe that's just because where we're from we had to put salt on everything but it doesn't taste good. So here we are Matthew 5 13 through 16. We're going to reiterate here you are the salt of the earth, but if that salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again and possible it's good for nothing except to be thrown away and Trampled Under people's feet. You are the light of the world a sitting on top of the hill that can't be hidden. And neither do people light a lamp and put it under the basket and said they put it on top of the lamps in and it shines on all who are in the house and in the same way let your light shine before people so that they can see the good things you do and praise your father who is in heaven.
Continue in the story of Bonhoeffer we hear of a young man at the alotian who exemplify the words of Jesus to be a light for the world. Everything was against him. We like to admit it there more in the Holocaust Christians, including the US and Rome. Hope to ignore what Hitler was doing and the whores and offenses towards Jews Christians and the marginalized. Was it just Jewish people that suffered Hitler's Wrath? He killed and murdered innocent people. It was not until Japan was hit or Japan hit us at Pearl Harbor. That we truly showed an interest. Have her Christians around the globe. We're Gathering to fight that elephants has towards God and his people. Christians were smuggling Jews polish families Catholics in the list goes on in their homes at the risk of being killed themselves. Now. The only thing we can maybe parallel with that in the u.s. Is there any slavery when Christians would gather around this country smuggling African Americans to escape slavery
They were struggling smuggling these families and with all Christians believing that all people are made in the image of God. And that each person has sacred worth as his children. I wonder why the delay of the masses and doing anything. Let me tell you when I went to that whole cost Museum. And Israel, I was pretty disgusted. at the fact that We stood by. And it's easy for me to judge right? I wasn't there. I don't know the full circumstances, but I would have liked to think that the church has the Pope in particular of that time would have stood up and said this is wrong, but it took us getting hit on us soil the finally get involved now, but what I'm proposing here is radical. Sometimes in life. We are given challenging circumstances. Where we must use a stance? It's our dearest Challenge from almighty God to choose to be salt to the world and the light on the hill. Are we choose to be good for nothing? Go back that verse 13 here. It's good for nothing except to be thrown away and Trampled Under people's feet. Let me tell you I don't want to be considered good for nothing by God my father. You must be willing not only to take a stance, but be willing to suffer the consequences which Bonhoeffer did to be hung by people that were persecuting Christians must be willing to fight evil oppression and ungodly leaders. Not only promote chaos, but Satan in this world, and if you're unwilling we must be willing to live with the Eternal consequences that Jesus tells us and he's first three verses. Do we have to ask yourself? Where is God calling us to take our moral and Humane stance in the world. Is it to the poor? You're pressed or something else?
Last night we talked about taking a saint for the hungry. The innocent families that go to bed with no food on their tables. Christians are gathering the support the body of Christ. How is God calling you to live your life fully for him? And how is God calling you today? Now I'm going to remind everybody when I go through these passages every week. It comes from the lectionary. We we preach and teach with churches around the world and sometimes are very difficult passages. Especially for me. The gospel lesson are the easiest. Often are filled with love and joy and kindness, but when we get to the Old Testament when we get to the song, sometimes those are really difficult so we can 10 you and Matthew 5:17 through 18, and we really get this understanding of what I grew up with. I Now understand Islam gospel. So 17 and 18 says don't misunderstand why I have come I did not come to abolish the law of Moses are the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose and I tell you the truth until Heaven and Earth disappear. Not even the smallest detail God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. now
I've been around a theological family. Now this point and I'll never forget when I first entered Ministry. My candidate cement fours. Jeff Ponder was his name is the United Methodist Pastor in Metairie, Louisiana, and he says he warned me. He says if you go around all these different groups, you're never going to know what you believe and he probably has some truth and validity the saying that to me because I have been around it and I've been exposed to different Theology and
Up until about three years ago. I really focused on the gospel lessons of Jesus and I really focused on you know, that mercy and love and forgiveness of Christ for the next verses that brings us back to bonhoeffer's understanding of cheap Grace. If we only ever focus on the gospel Jesus we fail to acknowledge the Cross of Christ. Christ died for a reason this morning. We're here for a reason we have love and joy because of Jesus because he died on the cross to save sinners.
We fail to acknowledge our need for Jesus to be nailed on the cross if if we don't focus on the old we don't look at the Old Testament. Jesus tells us in these passages and Matthew that just because he died on the cross. It doesn't give us this free pass to life. Inside tells us that we are these laws are still in effect until the Earth disappears. Which means for us this morning then indeed we should strive to do our best to live within the law of God.
Knowing that we cannot save ourselves nor will the law save us but we should look for the Old Testament not as a dated not culturally relevant not as important as a new testament, but an equal part of God's word. We will hear God on our judgment days and how we love Jesus how we love God and yes how we get obeying the law from Moses and the prophets. We have to ask ourselves. Where are we messing up the most personally? How do we focus our lives not to save ourselves, but the love God love people and not to live with in this cheap Grace that Bonhoeffer describes. But Harper says salvation. Salvation is free. But discipleship will cost you your life. Salvation is free discipleship will cost you your life. The live knowing that without the cross which includes the pain and suffering of Jesus that we would not have eternal life and we would not be able to have a life of Joy. The cross of Jesus was not cheap and neither should our commitment to Christ.
C&R next versus hear it almost seems to be contradicting Paul's works. I mean 19 and 20 uses. Therefore whoever ignores one of the least of these command and teaches others to do the same will be called the lowest in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever keeps his commands and teaches people to keep them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven and I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisee you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven feel like we hear all these passages from the Apostle Paul that tells us, you know, that that the law is not going to save us the not focus on it. Praise God for some of it right because I like to eat and a lot of things you can't eat in the Old Testament, right? I love to have a cheeseburger. I can't have a cheeseburger. I can't have any toppings on my pizza that I really enjoyed. And and God says all food is okay at this point, but he also said he came to fulfill it. They hit us hard and Jesus bluntly tells us I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and Pharisees. You will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I am assuming that all the Pharisees and all the legal experts in Jesus time. We're not all bad people. Some of them probably just ignored and went with the flow of everyone else so they didn't speak up when Jesus was being dried and murdered and we know the end of the story. but Jesus says that we must be more righteous than them now isn't that difficult for us this morning? That we should be striving for righteousness now Wesleyan theology because I really love the ology. It says that we are striving for entire sanctification and as part of our Dogma as a church-going the book discipline and go to the very beginning and has all the Theology of our church and what it says is that we have the opportunity as Christians on Earth to be perfected in the love of Christ. But our desire to send leaves us. And so how do we do that when we strive for righteousness? We we don't. Again have one added to the church one attitude in the community and another at home. It's it's all one person. Price is Pawling us to strive for righteousness. So I want to think about this real quick. So we talked about cheaply Grace. So I kind of rewrote Bonhoeffer statement of what she flea Grace is so that we fumc Chiefland preach the Forgiveness of God with requiring repentance. We have to go to repent that's why we did a confession this morning and I know temperatures are getting away and we want to be more modern and I get that but I also see the necessity to go before the Lord and I confess our sins. And we have baptism with church discipline. So just because you're baptized doesn't mean you stop growing. And we have communion with compassion. If you go before the altar, you should come with a repentant heart. You should want to confess your sins to God. It's very important. There's a passage in there that says, you know, you can't take of the Lord's table and the lord of the devil to you have to you have to confess. We have Absolution with personal confession. And that's how hard is it hard to think through your week or your day and say oh my goodness. What sins have I committed today? And what ones do I need to confess that Jesus about some of you are on a higher level of that process of sanctification than me and maybe only had one send that week. right
But some of us have multiple sentence that week and we need to go before Jesus and admit that were messed up. That we on hold we uphold costly Grace. With discipleship the cross and Jesus Christ. I'm taking a class on catechesis right now, and I didn't go through a catechism growing up. But you know what it really is. It's how to disciple the baptize people of your church. Simply. How do you decipher them? I have to look at everything that we are doing as a church and say, how are we discipling the people so let's think about it. I know we have a Sunday school class, right? That means in the fellowship hall. Let's build on that. Let's have more people more classes people need the word of God. We have a coffee and conversations group that meets that's discipleship. Are we have a youth group that meets a read the Bible? They study the Bible That's discipleship. What other things do we have going on that is promoting discipleship Sunshine disciples that he's the word of God. So, how are we discipling our congregation? I would hope that every single person in here this morning at some point in the week is getting some type of discipleship. The Sunday morning is really the proclamation of the word. It is not a time of discipleship and access that is done in small groups. And that was the foundation of Methodist was the small groups. And so I encourage that so let's let's do that. Let's talk about costly Grace. We Begin personally and as a church to continue to take one more bite of that elephant that we talked about last week Doing our best to improve our faithfulness to God even with personal cost and even when it makes us personally uncomfortable. And it calls us to Fullerton. The right now brothers and sisters and I personally struggling with some of this. I to know that true faithfulness. Sometimes has consequences and the world will hate me for it. Now why one of the world hates me for it? Because it tells us in the Bible. Those right here John 15:18 at the world hates, you know that I hated me first. Now they hated Jesus. They hated the prophets every one of them were basically murdered. all the disciples all of our examples of from the Bible are people that the world just didn't like but you know, we we we want the road to lie, cuz I like to be like who doesn't like to be like You know, so as a as a Methodist Pastor you you have to go through this thing called a psychological exam right and they want to see if you're crazy. And I bet they ask you things like you. Do You Hear Voices? Do you you want to hurt yourself? You want to hurt people, you know and what are the things that came up my cycle? I supposed to I like people to like me, but you know what the psychiatrist says you're like every other pastor. Like every other pastor and there's something online. It says if you want people to like it you should have sold ice cream in El Sol. Hearst Family I pray that even if the world hates us. For preaching the word of God. Oh my goodness video mad at you.
That Jesus will tell us this Monday. Well done, you are a good and faithful servant. You been Faithful over a little and I'll put you in charge of much come celebrate with me. Sudhir church family. I hope we strive for righteousness. We strive for entire sanctification. We strive because we love Jesus. I cuz we're trying to be perfect now cuz we're trying to earn our way to heaven cuz I'm never going to do that, but I should strive to be like Christ. We closed this morning and simplicity be faithful to God. Faith is more than a church. It's about choosing costly Grace. It's about living a life for Jesus and suffering for him. It's about embracing the consequences of carrying our cross. now hear this don't do stupid stuff. Right, like I told my students don't do stupid stuff. God did give us a brain we should use them but God tells his work upper, right? But when. Calls on our hearts to believe in him, it's costly. And it's a lifelong decision to enter and communion at his table. He's called us to take a stand for the least of these. everyday There are the least of these within our own Community. He calls us to stand for those who have no voice. And those who are persecuted for his sake that you got to see on the news. It was like 35 Christians were killed yesterday.
I continue to pray for those dear people. He's calling us to be faithful to his creation and up holding it accountable to his word and helping the wreck the ship when necessary this whole Ridiculousness about separation of church and state know that God tells us to have an impact in most state in the world that God's word is primary. So that's what it is. That's the word of God. That's first that we are to have an impact in the world. We are called to bring Sinners to a forgiving God so that all centers may know and embrace God's love forgiveness and mercy.
So we have to go forth. and repentance acknowledging our faults in the let go Anta the Tracer in the one true God the guide our steps as a faith community as a church and us personally, so I challenge you this week if you're wondering like me why. Ask God to guide your steps. And he may tell you something you don't want to hear. You may open a door. You don't want to open you may close the door that you don't want to be closed, but guess what god, dammit. Stop for stop for the love of God. Let us pray. Oh mighty God. We thank you for your word. Are we thank you for the fathers of the faith like Bonhoeffer. Who was killed for standing for the truth of God? We thank you for our persecuted brothers and sisters who are doing the same right now all around the world. We thank you for giving us our church that we can proclaim the good news. Guy wewe admit worst messed up sometimes. I got you. Love us. Anyways, like a loving father loves her children.
God help us guide us and make us be obedient make us follow your word and your stats for our lives. Help us stand up for the least of these. Those with no voice those who need to be heard. Yeah, we we ask for your forgiveness on our brothers and sisters Mack and War. I didn't send for you.
Guy, we love you and we pray this in your holy name. Amen.
Are closing him today?