Wednesday, February 8, 2017

State of the Flock 2017

State of the Flock Address
Fr. Philip Eberhart
February 5, 2017


Welcome, my friends, to the Annual State of the Flock Address for 2017.

I think that many of us awoke on January 1, just about a month ago, happy that 2016 was in the rear view mirror!  In looking back over the year, both personally and professionally, for our family and for the church here, it was a year of change, renewal, almost a year of "reset!"

For the Eberhart's personally, almost all are aware of the remodel of our house, that was accompanied by an almost clean sweep of appliances and systems, including our heating and A/C, our washer/drier, our dishwasher, and of course, the death of my long time friend, the BOB - Big ol Burb.  Alongside all of those changes, came an accident at Val's work which broke her wrist and jammed her elbow and arm at the shoulder.  We are still engaged in that fight as many know and pray for daily or weekly.  For us the year, contained much upheaval and change.  It felt as though we had a big "reset" button on the house that Someone pressed!

This past year has also seen significant changes here at REZ as well, especially in our staff.  On the last Sunday night in June we had the only triple ordination I've ever seen, with Michael, our friend Jerry from Florida being priested and Ethel ordained a deacon.  Along side that our Reverend ladies, Margie and Barb were received as  priests by Bishop Bill on behalf of the ACNA and began to function fully along side myself, Edward and now Michael.  Over the past year the Lord has been forging us into a team to lead REZ.   You can see the new flow chart in your Report booklet outlining the many ministries and roles that each of us have.

 

We feel certain that God has brought us all together here at REZ for special purposes in His Kingdom.  Over the past year part of the task has been to eliminate the feel that this is all the Fr. Phil show - the "one-man-band" that it has been for so many years.  As I have been working more and more with Bp. Bill in our Diocese and in our City over the past couple of years, God has seen to it that the players have increased alongside me to bless this congregation and continue to grow it both in depth and in breadth.

Probably the greatest things that have happened this past year are these changes and the addition of truly amazing people who are willing to engage in ministry as volunteers in this parish.  I, Mary and Bonephas remain the only "paid" employees of this parish, while we have a very active ministry staff of priests and a deacon who volunteer their time throughout the week and are very active in the ministries of this church.  I wanted to say that very loudly for all to hear.  We have been given an extraordinary pool of talent both in the clergy and in the laity at this church.  The changes have been challenging at some points, but our focus is singular:  We want to exalt Jesus Christ and to draw near to His presence here at REZ;  We want to bring God's people to maturity, recognizing their own value and giftedness, taking their places in ministry as the Body becomes whole and sound; We want to be the Love of God, extended to the World, both near and far.  

I am reminded of a line in one of my favorite Pentecost hymns:  "tell of how a hundred people, turned the whole world upside down!"

When I talk about our church to people on the outside, in our diocese or across the city, I describe us as a "hobbit" church, small in stature, but with a great big hairy foot print!  You all completely amaze me!  In a few weeks you will have an opportunity to see all that we have our feet and fingers in, around the city and around the world.  When you step back from it and look, it is really amazing what God has accomplished through this small faithful band of friends.

Part of my role in this talk is to remind us of who we are and to challenge us to new things!

In years past we've talked a good bit about the Acts 2:42 formula as a template for the life of our parish:
  >  The Apostles' teaching
  >  The Fellowship
  >  The Breaking of Bread
  >  The Prayers

Each of these parts are faithfully represented in our life at Resurrection from the central part the Word of God takes in our services and preaching and teaching, to the depth of fellowship and belonging that we all feel to and for one another, to the hospitality of the Lord's table and extending that, of our own tables, to the powerful presence of Jesus that we feel as we pray in various ways and venues in this church!  The outcome of hitting that target is that we are in a place where love is the hallmark of our life together;  Where prayer happens at the drop of a hat;  Where funds are shared generously, as each has need; And finally, where people come to meet and encounter the presence of Jesus in His people, day by day.  All of these things are realities, in this, my favorite church!

And today God is calling us further up and closer in!

The prayers and the life-verses from Scripture apply to us as the Body of Christ!  Welcoming the Presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of His People is our goal here, the goal of all of us as clergy and we hope, all of us as worshippers together.  Jesus said that the Father seeks those out who will worship "in Spirit and in Truth."  We have always stiven, and continue to do so, to let the life of this parish run on those twin 'tracks'.  The leadership of Jesus through the power of His Spirit and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as truth about our life together and the world around us.

Over and over in these last days, as we pray,  we have been hearing the prayers of St. Paul and his directions in Ephesians for this church.  Let me just read a couple of his prayers for the churches in Colosse and Ephesus, and the directions he gives to the church in Ephesus...

Prayer #1 is from Colossians 1:

We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

9b
 We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,[c]
 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom[d]and forgave our sins.

Prayer #2 is from Ephesians 1:  Similarly, Paul prays ...

I pray for you constantly,
 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom[f] and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.[g]
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Prayer #3 is from Ephesians 3:  Going deeper, Paul continues his prayer ...

14 
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e]
15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[f] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen

And finally, the WHY of all the prayers:  from Eph 4...
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
5   There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,6    one God and Father of all,who is over all, in all, and living through all.
However, he has given each one of us a special gift[a] through the generosity of Christ. 
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ."

What we are called to, friends, here at Resurrection Anglican Fellowship, is nothing less than completing the work of the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ and seeing Him present and exalted in our midst as His Body the Church in our day.  Over and over, you have put up with me harping on saying these things happen through our Willingness, our Availability and finally, our Obedience.  This simple trinity form what I call our REZ BE-ATITUDES!  The apostolic prayers of Paul and the promise of the Gifts of Christ in our midst, call us to a mature faith, a complete Body, which sees each of us operating in the Gifts of Christ as our motivation and mode of life in Him!!  
Over the next year we will be striving to live into and bring our life together into alignment with these Biblical directives and prayers. We live in times which require our best, friends.  We believe that we are much nearer to Jesus' return in our days and we are seeing many of the things that describe those days, the "last days", in Jesus teaching and throughout the Old and New Testaments, coming to us on our news channels!  I believe that we have been given a kind of time-out, a period where prayer and Christian living can lengthen the days, giving time for us to further the Kingdom of God in our nation and around the world.  
So let us continue to pray with and for one another; continue to pray for our partners in the Gospel around the nation and around the world.  Let us continue to reach for the Gifts of Christ in our midst and to live from a mature faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul prays, that He might be manifest in and among us, "until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ."
When that happens among us, Paul tells us, "we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love."
And we say, Amen, Lord!  Let it be so among us, and come quickly, Lord Jesus!!

Respectfully submitted,
Fr. Philip Eberhart

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Epiphany I - God's Missions Movement

Epiphany 1
Jan 8, 2017
Fr. Phil Eberhart


God's Missions Movement



With acknowledgement of Rev. John Stott, and his article in Path Light:  The Bible in World Evangelization, pp. 3-7.


I want this morning to prime the pump - to whet the appetite for the course we are embarking on beginning next Sunday morning in our Adult Forum Time called Path Light, Toward Global Awareness.  This is going to be a 5 week study of the paths that God uses to "get the Word out!"  

This sermon is taken from the very first article in the book, by Rev. John Stott.  I will be quoting directly from the article in some parts of the sermon this morning.

Epiphany is the season of light - specifically the Light of the World as it is revealed to the World, the whole world.

During this Epiphany we are going to be studying the ways that the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is taken to the world by ... us!  If you remember the video a few weeks back ...  "WE are the plan!"

And the plan - God's Plan - for US is entirely found in The Bible!  Here is the first Stott quote:

"The Church's commitment to world evangelization is commensurate with the degree of its conviction about the authority of the Bible!"

The more we are convinced and convicted that the Bible is actually TRUE, the more likely we are to actually GO! Our hope here this month and next is to begin to understand our Christian movement as a missionary one!  We are sent from a missionary God!  We'll develop that a bit.

So first of all, the Bible gives us our MANDATE (first M) for Missions... for World Evangelization.

In our world today we see two opposite and equal poles that have developed in the world: on the one hand, a radical fanaticism has developed, which sees its job as conversion by any means possible, including violence, warfare, ... any means possible!  We see it on the news almost daily.  

The other, opposite pole of that pendulum is a religious pluralism that claims that all religion is the same!  It asks us to COEXIST in the famous bumper sticker.  Can't we all just get along, because all religion is the same... it takes us all to the same place!  Right?   Um... no.

Even a cursory study of the world's religions will reveal that to be an out and out lie.  No such claims are made by any religion, except the Johnny-come-lately pablum that is being fed to those who so want it to be true!  

Both poles severely resent and openly oppose any kind of evangelism.  The one because it represents departure from its aims, the other because it means that there are exclusive claims among the religions of the world.

Let's look at our MANDATE in that light.

Abraham was called by God.  Abraham didn't invent Judaism!  This is revealed by God.  And the promise to Abraham, when it was revealed to Him in Genesis 12, was that "all nations will be blessed through you."  God has always had the whole earth in view, from the very beginning.  Our Mandate is the whole bible!  From beginning to end - from Creation to Maps!  "The Spirit and the Bride say come!"  God is the Spirit and We are the Bride!  With one voice the invitation is made to the whole world, "COME!"

We pray it ... "...So clothe us with Your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of Your Name!"

Our MANDATE is clear to anyone who will see!  We must "hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" this Word of God and we will "hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" the Missio Dei - the Mission of God - the MANDATE of God to US, his people, from Abraham to REZ!  The Mandate has never changed.

So lets look to the Bible also for our MESSAGE (2nd M).

It's the whole story!!  We encapsulate it every Sunday when we say The Nicene Creed.

We believe... in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth!  

From before time in eternity, God the creator has been a missionary God. The Psalmist tells us that Creation itself speaks without end!  This God chose Abraham some 4000 years ago - chose him and made a covenant with him to "bless him, and his family, and through him all the families of the earth." (Gen 12:1-4)

Paul tells us in Romans that we who believe, we who have faith, are counted as Abraham's descendants!  The People of Christ are the descendants of Abraham. The Old Testament prophets are prolific with words about the coming Messiah - words which Christ claimed and endorsed while here on earth in His incarnation.  Jesus equally had the whole world in view as He was "sent from the Father."  Likewise the apostles and the church took up this view as they were filled with the same Holy Spirit and sent to "Jerusalem, all Judea, to Samaria and the Uttermost Parts of the Earth!" (Acts 1:8)  As I've preached before, the movement of the Spirit of God is ever outward!

Jesus claims "all authority in heaven and on earth" - and on that basis commissions us to GO!  To spread the news, the Good News, the "Euangelion" of His coming and of His death, His resurrection, and ascension!  The news of His soon return and the ACCESS to God that we have as believers.  We have become the Bride who says COME!

Quoting Stott again:  "The Church of God is a multinational, missionary community, under orders to evanglize until Christ returns."

Not only has God given us the Mandate and the Message, He has provided for us THE MODEL! (3rd M)
He has given us not only the What but the HOW!  "We learn how to preach the Gospel by considering how God has done it!"

What we learn as we read how God has done it is about His Humility - the humiliation of coming as a baby, being born in a cattle stall, living in abject poverty as a refugee, and growing up as a worker in the world.  The mystery of the Incarnation is the key to understanding the HOW of God!  Stott calls it "the climax of the self-communicating God!"

The Word became flesh!  And made it's habitation among us! (Jn 1:1-14)  

The same principle of Incarnation is seen in the giving of the written Word of God!  100% God AND 100% Men! The divine communicated through the human!  The principle is "identification without loss of identity" and it is the "model for all evangelism, especially cross-cultural evangelism." (p. 5)  So often failure in evangelism, means that we have failed to identify with those we are going to!  Jesus fully identified with us, in every way tempted as we are, yet without sin. The Kenotic Principle of Philippians 2 applies clearly.  He humbled himself - emptied himself-  and became a man, even to the kind of death he suffered!  Likewise our MODEL is a radical self-sacrifice, all the while maintaining the love that God pours out, into our hearts, as we have access to Him, to His presence and to His power.

That brings us finally to the 4th M - MOTIVE POWER!  Our only way forward is by the Motive Power of the Holy Spirit!

We cannot bring change of life!  Our fight is not against flesh and blood!  Paul tells us up front (Ro 1:16) that the Gospel IS the Power of God for salvation, to the Jew first and then to the Greek!   Our power is not found in our strategies or our methods, nor in our willpower or determination!  Our power is found in the Gospel preached!  The Word of God spoken!  It is the Word of God that is the Power of God.  It is in fact called the Sword of the Spirit!   Not even our sword!  Our job is to simply speak it.  To let it loose in the world!  

One more Stott quote:  "Without the Bible we have no gospel to take to the nations, no warrant to take it to them, no idea of how to set about the task, and no hope of any success!"

But with the Bible God gives us the mandate, the message, the model and the motive power we need to GO - to Go with God's Word and tell the world.  "So let's seek to repossess it (the Bible) by diligent study and meditation.  "Hear, Read, Mark, Learn and Inwardly Digest".  "Let's heed its summons, grasp its message, follow its directions, and trust its power.  Let's lift up our voices and make it known."

Amen and Amen!

Our closing prayer today is the opening collect you will hear next Sunday:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

Christmas Eve
Dec 24, 2016
Fr. Phil Eberhart


Merry Christmas !!

============================================================================


Merry Christmas !!

How many times have you heard it or said it this month?  Merry Christmas!

I want to spend just a few minutes tonight, on the eve of Christmas, thinking with you about what it means to say...  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Merry is what we all want to be... Right?  What we wish for ourselves and hopefully, for others.  What we share with family and with friends in emails, and FB posts and a few still send cards!  Updates, newsletters, year end letters.  But all with a simple wish -- Merry Christmas!

We sing songs -  with radio stations dedicating 24/7 playtime from Thanksgiving to Christmas - the 12 days of Christmas has become the 30 days of Christmas!!  We've started seeing Christmas displays and some decorations as early as Halloween - in an effort to make the Christmas season MERRY for the retailers!  HO HO HO!

I heard it when I put a dollar or two in the red kettle at King Soopers - stopped and talked a few times with the bell ringers for Salvation Army at different places.  Merry Christmas!

Why Merry? 

What's merry about this holiday?  What sets it apart from other days that capture our imaginations and make us happy?  

Let me just say a word about what makes this season different,  ...  Merry!     

JESUS!

No matter what our circumstances, the news that God himself has taken up our cause ... has come to stand along side us ... has offered himself to us ... fully, with no guarantees ... no strings attached.   The reason we are here tonight and the reason over a billion celebrate this night is that because of Jesus, born in Bethlehem of Judah, from Nazareth of Galilee, raised a carpenter become itinerant preacher in Israel, 2000+ years ago;   because of this Jesus, we are given a gift beyond our wildest imaginations.  

We have been given, through this child and who he was among us and what he did during his 33 years here and how he died, a gift of unimaginable riches, of incomparable wealth, of untold treasure - IN HIM.

We say MERRY but the Bible calls it "joy unspeakable and full of glory!"  That is the weight behind the word, MERRY.

Paul tells us that nothing we can experience here on earth can outweigh this glory!  It outshines everything that we can see with our eyes!  It outweighs all the sorrows and pain, all the sickness and surgery, all the cancer and yes, even the darkness of death.  As we experienced earlier this week, the saying is true ... "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?"  All has been out weighed - out shined by the life, death and resurrection of this little baby child.

MERRY doesn't even touch it, friends.  We are so much more than Merry, because of Jesus -- because of Christ mass.

The center of Christmas is CHRIST!  The never ending power behind Christmas is CHRIST JESUS - EMMANUEL - GOD WITH US.  No matter how our culture would like to displace him, I revel in the fact that as I drive around from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I can, at almost any time hear the story of this amazing gift in the music of the season ... of the hymns and Christmas songs on the radio.  Sure there is a lot of sentimental goo but every now and again you hear O Holy Night, or Silent Night, or Joy to the World, or Angels We Have Heard on High.  You hear Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas declaring Luke 2 to be the REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS! 

(Christ candle processes to center of church - church is darkened of all lights)

 The songs we sing on this night tell a never-ending story, and no matter how hard we work to cover it over with decorations, with tinsel, with piles of presents - nor how the weight and tragedies of life try to drown our joy, to kill our spirits, or annihilate our hearts - Christ stands at the center of it all with a light that will not - that cannot be quenched! If we just look to Him as the Center of our lives, He gives us the light to walk in this land of darkness and distraction.  

(lighting of candles)

Thus we come to reflect His glory!  A glory, as the Gospel tells us, that is from the Father's One and Only Son!  That light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it!  And so we say to one another, Merry Christmas!   Merry Christmas!   Alleluia, and Merry Christmas. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

ADVENT IV - GO !!!

Advent IV
December 18, 2016
Fr. Phil Eberhart


Ready, Set, GO!!

This morning is our final Sunday of Advent - last Sunday before Christmas!  This is GO Sunday!

I want to start this morning with the little video trailer that is on our website.  Many indicated that they have not listened to it yet!  I've put it in the text of my sermon on my blog last week or two ago.  I'm not sure how many availed themselves of that resource.  So here it is again.  I just want you to hear this minute and a half challenge...


What happens when the Body of Christ SHOWS UP!???   People get to know that God is Good!

We become the hands and feet of Jesus - We become God with skin on!  We become the only Bible a person may ever read!!!

This morning is the last in our series of preparatory sermons for the season of Advent.  A season of anticipation and personal and corporate preparation, but for what?

The presents under the tree?  The advent of Santa?  NO!

This preparation is for the greatest adventure you will ever live!  This preparation is for the ADVENT OF GOD on planet Earth! And the fact that that God has not only sent His one and only Son to be the Savior but has now enlisted us in the enterprise of His Kingdom and has sent us with a mission.

Look at the preamble to the Roman Letter this morning in our readings!

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

First of all, I want to tell you that you are called!  You may not be called to hold the office of an Apostle, or a Prophet, or and Evangelist, or a Pastor or Teacher, BUT you are called to exhibit all of those qualities in their varying measure, according to the gifting of Christ that is in you!

WHAT?   No one told me about this before I signed on!!

Here is your job description!  From Ephesians 4:11 and 12

Let me read it to you:

[Eph 4:11-13 NLT] 11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work andbuild up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

MEASURING UP TO THE FULL AND COMPLETE STANDARD OF CHRIST!

WOW!   We have a ways to go, huh?

Let me bring those two passages together for us.  Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, is writing the Romans in what is undoubtably his Magnum Opus - his own "gospel" as it were - the story of what God was doing in Christ, not from a historical, factual point of view like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, but from a theological point of view!  Romans is the Theology of the Gospel of Christ - it is a theological mission statement.

We can take hints from what has become called the "Roman Road" - an outline of the plan of Salvation in Christ!
Scripture passages from Romans, chapters 1 to 11

Ro 1: 20-21;                                   although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as  
                                                                       
God, nor were thankful

Ro 3: 23                                          For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.

Ro 5:8                                             while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Rom 6: 23                                       wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life

Ro 10: 9-10, 13                               if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and                                                                                 believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the                                                                           dead, you will be saved. ...whoever calls on the name of                                                                         the LORD shall be saved

Ro 11:36                                        of Him and through Him and to Him are all things,


The Road is simple, but not easy!

My point here is that Paul had a clear vision of what He was supposed to be doing!  Often we do not!  But out task is the same as his was!  What is that?   to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name.

In other words ... or word...  GO!

SHOW UP!

At lunch with a friend from REZ this week, I heard the admission that when he says "Here am I!  Send me!"  he is often ducking behind the pew!  Ever feel like that.  When the teacher is about to call on someone, you wish you had the power to vanish - to become invisible!

You put your hand over your eyes and hope she can't see you!  Don't make eye contact under any circumstances!!!
 
I learned a new word from my engineer daughter a couple months back!   Have you heard it?    VOLUN-TOLD !!
I love it !!

VOLUNTOLD  -  The state you find yourself in when the teacher sees you!  And you have to stand beside your desk and recite the poem you wrote, or something else that is equally icky!!

VOLUNTOLD -  The place you occupy when the platoon takes a step back after the Sargent asks for volunteers!

VOLUNTOLD -  What happens when you are UNWILLING, UNAVAILABLE and DISOBEDIENT.

OK!  So let's explore those three a bit...

We've heard these three ad infinitum here:   Willingness - Availability - Obedience

The task we are talking about the is work of the Kingdom of God - the MIssio Dei , the Mission of God!

Jn 3:16-17  we all know the first part but do we know the second?

[Jhn 3:16-17 NASB] 16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

The mission of God is the salvation of the world.  It's that simple.
And our mission is (or should be) His Mission!

"To Connect people to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom" is our REZ Mission statement.  We do that through Willingness - Availability and Obedience to HIM.

The call of God that Paul was talking about was that of an Apostle (read Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher) whose JOB it was to equip God's People for the works of their service -  That means that the works of our service are, in varying measures, apostolic and prophetic and evangelistic and pastoral and teaching.  These aren't names for the guys and gals in the robes up front - they are the pentagon of the work of the church!

The Pentagon is the hub of our armed forces - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard!  Each has a particular specialty in the "pentagon" of activity that is needed around the world.  Likewise with the Church - the agent of the Kingdom of God around the world!
These things are our marching orders and are the forms of Training that we must all go through in order for us to be EQUIPPED as soldiers in the Lord's Army (or whichever branch we are serving in, according to our calling and gifting).  

Everything we do as Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teacher is designed to CONNECT PEOPLE TO JESUS CHRIST AND TO HIS KINGDOM!  As leaders we are working to equip you for these ministries and to seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the work that you are going forth to do.

We are called into the most vital partnership ever imagined in the history of the world!  Partnership with God!  And its by His design. 
We've been VOLUN-TOLD!

The question is will we accept?

At the beginning of the morning we prayed:   Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us;

The power of God is always pointed outward!  We receive it but its not for us!  Our greatest danger is that we keep it to ourselves!  It's great to see God at work in our lives, right?  

But we must never forget the lesson of the seas in Israel!  There are two seas.  One receives and gives out and the other just receives.
One if filled with life and life surrounds it on every side.  The other is named DEAD.

God's Spirit and His calling on our life is always pushing us outward!  Jesus promised it:    Acts 1:8
"When you receive power, you will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth!"

We have been Voluntold friends.  Let's pray...

Lord Jesus Christ;  you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace!   So clothe us with your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love, might bring those who do no know You to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your Name.   AMEN