The Operating System for Jesus’ Church

November 3, 2019 – Spiritual gifts are the operating system for Jesus’ church! They function behind the scenes, enabling all programs to function well. Paul summarizes his teaching on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7 The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. When we serve in the area of our passion, using Spirit-given gifts, we serve without burning out. Jesus refers to this concept in Matthew 11:28-30: When we take on his yoke (our unique calling), the Kingdom work is not heavy.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11, 24b-31

On Earth, as it is in Heaven, (part 2)

October 13, 2019 – The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 2:11-22 and 3:1-11, provides direction for Jesus’ church, in experiencing the oneness and community of the Trinity, on earth, as it is in heaven. The key is recognizing that on the cross, Jesus destroyed the walls which divide us. The world keeps building walls, but as Jesus’ followers, we know the foundation for walls (hatred) has already been destroyed. Our task is to live as if the walls are not there, even though the world sees them. We continue the reconciling work Jesus began, even as the world calls us naïve. Community is not an aspect of the gospel, community IS the gospel, when it is breaking down the barriers which divide us.

Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:1-11

On Earth, as it is in Heaven (part 1)

October 6, 2019 – On earth, as it is in heaven, part 1, focuses on unity and community within the Trinity. Andrei Rublev’s icon, The Trinity, conflates the story of Abraham and Sarah’s three visitors (Gen. 18), with Jesus prayer in John 17. The worshiper is invited to pull up a chair, and listen in as the Trinity talks about their visit with Abraham and Sarah, the events of Holy Week, the birth of the church at Pentecost, and all of Church History. Rublev conveys the essential unity/community of the Trinity, and God being free from the constraints of time as we humans understand time. This understanding of what’s going on in heaven (oneness of purpose/community), will lay the groundwork for our Oct. 13 focus on Jesus’ desire for oneness of purpose for his Church.

Scripture: John 17:20-26, Genesis 18:1-15

Three Strikes and Ruth’s Babe

September 29, 2019 – The story (and Bethlehem society) defined Ruth by the three strikes held against her: foreigner, woman and widow. She was called out on strikes—an “outsider.” Three strikes and Ruth’s babe invites us to go beyond welcoming the outsider, to valuing relationships with, and learning from the outsider. When we don’t, we unintentionally become self-appointed umpires, calling strikes on others because they are different from us. Romans 12:1-8 is clear: we are to allow God to change the way we think. When we are transformed, our invitations to others to change the way they think will be better received. Would we recognize a Ruth, if we saw one? 

Scripture: Ruth 4, Romans 12:1–8

Do the Right Thing

September 22, 2019 – In the third episode of Gleaning Right, Boaz simply followed through by doing the right thing. His life was characterized by humility, putting the community first, and valuing accountability. Most of the Christian life is follow through—doing the little things on a regularly basis, which build up our character, enabling us step up and do the right thing when called upon to do so. We note wisdom for 21st Century economic policy in Jeremiah 29:1-9, an illustration of putting community needs first.

Scripture: Ruth 3

God can handle it

September 15, 2019 – God can handle it, the second sermon from Ruth, affirms Naomi for being emotionally honest with God when she felt completely abandoned—without family, protection or income. Naomi’s relationship with God, was based on her awareness of God’s steadfast love. When she felt God let her down, she blamed God. While that’s not good theology, it is what God desires from us when life is cruel: emotional honesty. Like Jacob, Naomi wrestled with God, and received God’s blessing.

Scripture: Ruth 2

Take the less-traveled road

September 8, 2019 – The Ruth story celebrates and affirms courage in the lives of women, and assures us of God’s providence. It also reminds us that our decisions can affect how God’s grace flows into our lives, and through us, to others. Orpah chose to play it safe on the much-traveled road. Ruth took the less-traveled road.   

Scripture: Ruth 1