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Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7 (Common English Bible)
17 The whole Israelite community broke camp and set out from the Sin desert to continue their journey, as the Lord commanded. They set up their camp at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people argued with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses said to them, “Why are you arguing with me? Why are you testing the Lord?”
3 But the people were very thirsty for water there, and they complained to Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with this people? They are getting ready to stone me.”
5 The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of Israel’s elders with you. Take in your hand the shepherd’s rod that you used to strike the Nile River, and go. 6 I’ll be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Hit the rock. Water will come out of it, and the people will be able to drink.” Moses did so while Israel’s elders watched.7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites argued with and tested the Lord, asking, “Is the Lord really with us or not?”
Sermon OutlineJohn's "spiritual" gospel
Today's Scripture: John 3:1-19 (Common English Bible)
What's it like to be a Christ-follower?
YOU, come to the light!
Scripture: John 3:1-19 (CEB)
3 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom.6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?”
10 “Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? 11 I assure you that we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you don’t receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son.
19 “This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil.
The Old Testament Book of Isaiah had multiple authors and
was written over hundreds of years. Some parts go all the way back to
the 8th century B.C. when Assyria dominated the Middle East,
The most recent bully of the middle east had been Babylon. In 587 B.C., the
Babylonian army swept through Jerusalem. The brutality, the suffering, the loss of life was terrible. And it didn’t end for the Jews when the battle was lost. In an ancient version of ethnic cleansing, the Babylonians force-marched the Jews back to Babylon for a life in captivity and economic subjugation. It’s all well-documented in the Old Testament. One verse poignantly reads: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept, as we remembered Jerusalem.”
The Jews’ answer to prayer came 50 years later when the Babylonian Empire fell to King Cyrus of Persia. Within days, the new King issued an “executive order” setting all the slaves free; telling the Jews to go home, to return to their historic and spiritual homeland. And home they went, telling everyone that King Cyrus was God’s agent of deliverance.
At first, for awhile, life back in Jerusalem was just a big party. Like a gigantic family reunion. But soon enough, reality began to set in. They began to realize the enormity of the tasks before them: rebuilding infrastructure; restoring institutions, reclaiming the good things about their history prior to the Babylonian exile. Restoration was a HUGE task. And it wasn’t easy.
Within decades issues arose. Imagine this: there was hypocrisy in organized religion, evidence of political corruption, and systemic injustice in the culture. In Isaiah’s language, darkness re-emerged — threatening the nation’s sustainability — just like the bad old days before the Babylonians invaded.
But on the surface, everything looked great. If you just took into account the standard measures of church vitality, you could conclude that Isaiah didn’t realize how good he had it. His people could hardly wait to get out of bed on the Sabbath and come to church. In Isaiah’s day, going to church on the Sabbath was the thing to do. In Isaiah’s day, at the Temple in Jerusalem, it was standing room only. They sang psalms — mostly old ones, occasionally a new one. They prayed, they gave their offerings. They were faithful to all the trappings of their religion.
BUT, God says, they never made the connections between their religion and their daily lives. Their religious practices were less than “skin” deep! They were sinking back into their old patterns. God says to Isaiah, tell them they are a bunch of hypocrites. Tell them their country is going to hell. Perhaps Isaiah was an “Interim” prophet!
It may have been a new day in Israel, but the people and the nation were afflicted by the same old sins… greed, violence, the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few, and, economic exploitation of the rest.
Same sins, same remedies offered by God’s prophets in every era. And just showing up for church won’t save your hide. On God’s behalf, Isaiah told anyone willing to listen: Here’s how God wants to clean up this mess….
Turn toward God! Turn away from your idols, your addictions, your sins. Center your life in God. Not just the morning of the Sabbath, but every day. This is how I will know that you’re on my team, says God. You’ll live lives of compassion. You’ll work for social justice. Let freedom ring! Give everyone a chance. Take care of the vulnerable. Be kind to the hurting…
If you do these things… your light will shine in the darkness. The world will be a better place. People will know that you are mine. The Kingdom of God will be here, on earth. And you and your nation will be so blessed!
Excerpt from Hal Murry’s Sermon on 2/5/17, based on Isaiah 58:1-12
"numinous" (adjective)-- having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of divinity.
Always ask: "What does it mean?"
Today's Scripture: Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)
THE foundational belief
Scripture: Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)
17Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’
What if it works?
Test case: Corinth
Today's Scripture: I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-22
Can the "center" hold?