word for the weak: week eighteen

 

Communion is the theme for this week’s reading in the Uncommon Truth for Common People project at MoSt Church. The schedule looks like this:

• Mon., Apr. 30 – Exodus 12.1-30
• Tues., May 1 – Jeremiah 31.31-34; Luke 22.7-23
• Wed., May 2 – John 6.26-59; 1 Corinthians 10.16-17
• Thur., May 3 – Hebrews 9.1-28; 10.19-22
• Fri., May 4 – 1 Corinthians 5.6-8; 11.17-34

This week’s memory verse is: “…we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf of bread.” (1 Corinthians 10.17 CEB)

praying for some of the troops

 

Would you join me this morning in prayer for my friend and brother, Roberto Hernandez, Jr., and all of those who also serve in his unit, who are currently deployed in Afghanistan?

God our Father, I come to you in the name of our Shield and Protector, our Strength and Savior: Jesus Christ.

Thank You for Roberto and for all in his unit. You know all things and you know everyone in this unit better than they know themselves. Who else could we turn to, Father, but you?

You are greater than everything and everyone. And so, may every heart bow to you and serve you first and humbly in whatever role they find themselves in.

As surely as you have provided what all of these have needed every day of their life thus far, pour out on them what they need today, and in all the coming days.

Every day you call us to live courageously and humbly, boldly and compassionately, and every day You lead by example in this, holding before us the life of your Son. Thank you.

Where there is pain or wound in spirit or body, may your Son, the Great Physician, attend, ministering your complete and perfect care.

When unspeakable things happen, stir every heart to speak openly and often with you in prayer, not holding back or ceasing, for we know that you, the Great Listener, loves to pour out the help of the Comforter, your Holy Spirit, on all who truly call on you.

May trust in you grow and deepen, especially in those times when faith is hard pressed.

May hope never give out, but only grow, particularly in what appears, in human eyes, to be hopeless situations.

May much love, your great love, be shown by this unit to each other and to all they encounter.

You finish what you start, Father. And so, as certainly as you have brought Robert and his comrades this far in life, bring them all the way, all the home.

Amen.

picture Bible commentary

 

All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were made of gold, and all the items in the Forest of Lebanon Palace were made of pure gold, not silver, since even silver wasn’t considered good enough in Solomon’s time! The royal fleet of Tarshish-style ships was at sea with Hiram’s fleet, returning once every three years with gold, silver, ivory, monkeys, and peacocks. King Solomon far exceeded all the earth’s kings in wealth and wisdom. (1 Kings 10.21-23 CEB)

this went thru my mind

 

American history: ‘Historical fact differs from myth,’ said historian Lambert by John Pierce

“‘Most countries construct myths of their origins … and speak of those myths in divine hues,’ said Franklin T. Lambert, professor of history at Purdue University, during an April 18 lecture at Mercer University. The United States is no different …”

Church & fellowship: 10 Insights About Your Church’s Fellowship by Joe McKeever

“Fellowship may not be why people are drawn to your church, but it’s why they stay.”

Churches of Christ & decline: Jay Guin’s review of Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr.’s book, Why They Left: Listening to Those Who Have Left Churches of Christ [required reading]

Here are links to parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen.

Ministry: It’s a Strange Thing Being a Pastor by Julian Freeman

“Ultimately we labour and long for results that we can never achieve. Being a pastor is a lifelong journey to a place of utter dependence.”

Preaching: No Small Matter

“It is no small matter to stand up in the face of a congregation, and deliver a message of salvation or damnation, as from the living God, in the name of our Redeemer. It is no easy matter to speak so plain, that the ignorant may understand us; and so seriously that the deadest hearts may feel us; and so convincingly, that contradicting cavillers may be silenced.” (Richard Baxter)

Statistics: Poodwaddle World Clock

not a flake; part of the flock (3)

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, Sun., Apr. 29. This guide will enable your follow-up of the third (and final) installment in the sermon mini-series on some of what it means to be a sheep in God’s flock (Not a Flake; Part of the Flock). The primary texts for tomorrow morning’s sermon, and this discussion, are John 10:7-8,10,27-28 and John 21:15-17,19. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title “LIFE group guides.”

Aim

To lay down a basic understanding of the life and role of a person who is one of God’s sheep.

Word

… Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. … Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. … I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest. …

My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. (John 10.7-8,10,27-28 CEB)

When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.”

He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. … After saying this, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” (John 21.15-17,19 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Complete this sentence: “I believe I’m the most useful and productive whenever I ______?”

2. What songs or movies, not specifically religious, reinforce the need to live a selfless life?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. In John 21-15-17,19, what does Jesus specifically call for Peter to do?

2. Let the two texts above spark your recall of other Scriptures that speak clearly for us to live useful lives for the Master. What passages come to your mind? Why?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. What other animals convey to you a sense of “we’re here for the sake of others?”

2. What would a “full life” be like for a sheep?

3. What are some of the greatest hurdles you have to regularly clear in giving your life in service to others? What do you find helps you clear them?

4. Create a moment of specific affirmation and encouragement for each group member. As a group, affirm and verbalize something of the contributions you are aware of in each group member that honor’s God’s name and promotes the health of God’s flock. Afterward, pray.

5. With or without question # 3 in view, is there anything in particular you can tell us about that we can pray for in regard to you laying down your life more fully in service to others?

Bruner on John 6.28-29

 

“So they said to him, ‘What should we be doing, then, so that we are actually doing the works of God?’ Jesus replied and said to them, ‘This is the work of God: that you trust the One That One Sent.’” (John 6.28-29) …

“The one great challenge of the whole Gospel of John , focused marvelously in our present verse, is this – simply and continually – to trust God’s gift of a good relation with himself that he has perfectly worked out by himself through the one substitutionary Death and vivifying Resurrection of his Son for us and that he perfectly and continually works in us by the gift of his Holy Spirit to us through his gospel Church, word, and sacrament. When our cat Etta purrs right next to my face as I carry her around our apartment on my shoulder (a ritual we perform when I come home) – “rumm, rumm, rumm” – I feel I am getting as good an animal commentary as I can get on this verse and on the main message of the Gospel according to John: God wants his creatures to purr in his loving presence as he carries us about in life. ‘This is the work of God, that you purr in the carrying of the One God Sent.’ Out of this purring should come a deep, lasting Life in our several relations. A purring cat or a trusting dog is a miniature gospel and a very pleasant creature to be around. The animal world and little children give us a world of parables for the Gospel truth of trust.”

Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), pp.387,392-393

this went thru my mind

 

Criticism: 5 Ways to Handle Criticism Like a Champ by Mark Altrogge

“… after 31 years as a pastor, though I should be used to feedback, I still squirm when told my opening preaching illustration was lame or my counsel didn’t part the clouds and cause angels to sing.”

Millenials: Young ‘Millennials’ Losing Faith in Record Numbers

“… 1 in 4 young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion. But most within this unaffiliated group — 55% — identified with a religious group when they were younger.”

Mormonism: Go West, Young Religion: Mormonism on Exhibit by Edward RothStein

“For a glimpse of how Mormons see themselves, though, it’s worth visiting the Church History Museum of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints here [Salt Lake City, UT] … The Church History Museum is at 45 North West Temple Street in Salt Lake City … or lds.org/churchhistory/museum.”

Shepherding: * When Elders Get It Right by Dan Bouchelle; * Staying at Your Post: Reflections on John 10:11-18 by Alyce McKenzie

* “I had just witnessed elders shepherding each other in a real and vulnerable way. I heard mature men bear their souls and tell some of the most painful stories from their past. I saw God’s power made perfect in weakness. I saw men who often expressed feelings of inadequacy as shepherds excelling in that very role. I saw a redemptive community at work.”

* “… Wallace Hartley … left work as a bank teller for a career in music … and he worked some eighty maritime voyages before joining the Titanic as bandmaster.”