Sunday, October 29, 2017

OCT 1 - THE PRIORITY OF OBEDIENCE


FR. PHIL EBERHART
OCT 1, 2017
THE PRIORITY OF OBEDIENCE

Ezek 18:1-4,25-32
get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!

Ps 25:1-14(15-21)
4  Make me to know your ways, O LORD;*     teach me your paths. 5  Lead me in your truth and teach me,     for you are the God of my salvation;*     for you I wait all the day long.

Phil 2:1-13
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,... he humbled himself and became obedient

Mt 21:28-32
Which of the two did the will of his father?”... change your minds and believe him.




Over the past 10 DAYS OF AWE I've had the opportunity to share our three fold stool - our three steps of discipleship ... of action and movement in serving the Lord on a daily basis:

WILLINGNESS
AVAILABILITY
OBEDIENCE

Today I want to talk about the point of the three-fold way: The Priority of Obedience

What's it ALL about?

Jesus said it over and over and over and over ... you get the picture, right?

In preparing for the sermon I looked up the word OBEY and found that Jesus only used it about 25 times, depending on the translation you use. And then I went to Mt 7, the end of the chapter. Turn there with me if you have your bible or your phone.


[Mat 7:20-25 NLT]
20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. 21 "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' 23 But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.' 24 "Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.

I stumbled across a Greek word ... I don't often preach on a single Greek word...
Obey only happened about 45 times in the Gospels, but this word happens 579 times in the NT, 290 times just in the Gospels!!

Its the word "DO"
ποιέω
G-4160 in Strong's Concordance

Its the word "DO"
nearly 600 times. Is there a message there?

I want you to DO what I tell you!

Jesus said it would be a primary sign of our love for Him!

[Jhn 14:15-16 NLT]
15 "If you love me, [you will] obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

James, the little brother of Jesus, said that it is the key to our life

[Jas 1:22-25 NLT] 
22 But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

I want you to DO what I tell you!

Willingness and Availability only take us so far ... Obedience is the point.
Willingness and Availability are the preparation for Obedience!

You have to set your mind to live "according to the Spirit."

We all struggle at the point of Obedience!
We struggle with our own flesh, we struggle with our fears, we struggle with our desires to sin, to do our OWN THING.

Willingness and Availability are the discipline of "setting your mind"
Turn to Romans 8.

[Rom 8:2, 5-6 NLT]
2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. ... 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

Willingness and Availability are about fixing you "decider" - Obedience is about your "doer."

Be a "doer" of the Word, James said. Not a hearer only!
He warns us about this as the quickest way to self-deception!
Any kind of deception is bad, but Self-Deception is king!

We think we're doing good, but something else is going on! Come back to Matt 7 again.

[Mat 7:20-21 NLT]
20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. 21 "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

I want to come back to our readings now for today: Look at the specific phrases, grab a pen and underline them...

Ezek 18:1-4,25-32
get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!

Ps 25:1-14(15-21)
4  Make me to know your ways, O LORD;*     teach me your paths. 5  Lead me in your truth and teach me,     for you are the God of my salvation;*     for you I wait all the day long.

Phil 2:1-13
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,... he humbled himself and became obedient

Mt 21:28-32
Which of the two did the will of his father?”... change your minds and believe him.

Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

The season of our year that just finished yesterday with the Day of Atonement - Yom Kippur, is a season for the Jews, not unlike our Lent. A time of reflection, of self assessment, a time of repentance and amendment of life. A time to take stock of your self and to seek the face of God.

This morning I wanted to urge you to do just that - our themes across our readings this morning are very lenten! Change your minds... and believe! ACT! Don't just read the Word ... DO IT!

NIKE HAS IT RIGHT... "JUST DO IT!"

It was the instruction of Mary, Jesus' mother at the Wedding in Cana... to the servants...
"Just Do What He Says."

It's there ... right there ... that the simplicity and the beauty of the Gospel hit the road!
Willingness and Availability prepare us to listen to Jesus on a moment-by-moment basis, but if we are not willing to do what He tells us to do... We are No where!

If our willingness is separated from obedience, we are NO WHERE!
If our willingness joins itself to obedience, we move from NO WHERE to NOW HERE!

JESUS IS NOW HERE!

We become HIS hands and feet, his eyes, and ears and mouth.

This week I've discovered afresh how much that one letter shift means, and what His presence can accomplish. I have criss crossed the city, probably over a 1000 miles in these 10 Days, praying in what feels like every church, every ministry, every nook and cranny of the Kingdom! And the presence of God has been with us, tangibly as we have met with pastors and people, with those who minister on Colfax, from East to West and on I-25 from North to South. We have spent this past 10 Days making a giant sign of the Cross over Denver!

I want to close this morning with a commissioning. God is about to move us out! Not just of this worship space but out literally into the world. I want to pray some more! I want to commission you to be willing, to be available and to be obedient.

If you want that commissioning, for your home, for your family, for you workplace, for the places you go and the people you see, come up. We have seen the anointing of God do amazing things this week, and I want to continue that flow here today.

Come quickly as I pray:

Jesus, You are the Lord who did! You came and did the will of Him who sent you and you finished His work! Lord, fill us this morning with that same Spirit that you had, The same mind that you had, to humble ourselves and do God's will, in God's way, and in God's time. Let us be your servants, Lord, in every place You send us. Help us to be willing and available to You, but most of all, help us to be obedient - to do what we Hear you saying - as we go through each day. Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is Heaven! and Use us, Lord, USE US! In Jesus Name. AMEN.

(Anointing time)

FORWARD! ALWAYS FORWARD!! EVERYWHERE FORWARD!!!

Sept 24, 2017
Fr. Phil Eberhart


Some have been saying that The Rapture was to occur yesterday...  I was torn between a desire for Jesus to return for His Bride and the need to write the sermon!  Guess which one won?

The Church, or individuals in the Church seem to have a penchant for wanting to set dates for Jesus to come back.  Jesus himself said that the times and dates are in the heart and mind of the Father - our part is to be vigilant and ready!  Our part is to be doing the work that God has set before us, to be vigilant in the relationship we have with God and that we have with one another, and to be ready for His return, at any moment.

All that said, we need to look forward this morning, not backward to yesterday.  

I want to remind us of the motto for our Anglican Church in North America:  Do you know what it is?  

"Forward!  Always Forward!  Everywhere Forward!"

This week, literally two minutes after having returned home from our time in Hawaii, I received a call from our hosts here at Horan-McConaty that as of Nov 1, we are out of the Funeral Home's business!  We have 6 more services, counting this one, in this space.

One of those services will be a visitation and confirmation from Bishop Bill Atwood, on Oct 8th. That service will be at 8:30 AM because of the Bishop's schedule of two services that morning, one here and one in Castle Rock.  Our other remaining services will begin at 9:30 in the morning - one service each week, starting Oct 1.  We have several who have expressed interest in confirmation and will be gathering those names this week. If you are one, please make sure and contact me (Fr. Phil -720.219.0055).

FORWARD!  ALWAYS FORWARD!  EVERYWHERE FORWARD!!

I'm sure that everyone is asking "where to now?"  Well that is not known just at this moment, though I have already been offered space and time to meet, should we not find adequate space for a Sunday Morning time, which is our goal this next month.  We started this church meeting on Sunday afternoons in the summer of 2001.  We have had many, many moves since that time, one on only two weeks notice!!  So I believe that with 6 weeks, we will be well able to find a space for us to meet.  So stay tuned!

What's happening here?

Friends, we are in the Hands of the Living God!   Have you noticed that there is a great deal of natural turmoil happening?  That is one of the things that we've been looking at with care, as we considered the soon return of Jesus.  Since we are still here this morning, I have to say that while the natural disasters and earthquakes and hurricanes are interesting, the scriptures say that they are the "beginning of birth pangs."

I believe that we are entering a time of extraordinary grace!  God is about to do something in the earth that is going to shake it, as is promised in Hebrews 12.  But we are not to focus on the "shaking" because we are receiving an "unshakeable" Kingdom!

There are going to be a lot of changes ahead of us.  Places, possibly times at the very least.  I believe that the reason the Lord had me preach the last sermon I preached here; the one with the exercise movement in it... remember the exercise?  Fists facing up and closed tightly - and OPEN!  Close... and OPEN!  Again...

The more tightly we hold on to the past - to our ways of doing things, to our times for doing things, to our preferences and wants... the more tightly we hold on to those things the more impossible it is for God to place in our hands, what He has for us!  That is true individually and it is true corporately.  

I've spoken in the past few weeks and months about the mother eagle, when it is time for the eaglet to fly, she comes and takes the fluff out of the nest!  It becomes uncomfortable to stay there.  It may become necessary for the mother to come and toss the eaglet out!  

I'm afraid we've become comfortable here in this space.  It was easy to do!  For seven years, we have enjoyed an uninterrupted stay and peace with it, virtually no conflict with our hosts.  Then suddenly, on July 16, as we considered together, who we were and what God intends for us, the conflict began.  Since then, time after time, we have run aground of expectations or of parameters, even of relationships with our hosts.  Now they have opted not to renew our contract.  And so we go!  Like the eaglet, out of our comfortable nest.  But don't forget the point of it all:  That the eaglet may fly!  Otherwise it dies where it sits.  Those are our options:  Fly ... or ... die!

I'm not trying to be over dramatic.  Within hours of finding out about this turn of events, literally two minutes after I sat down at home after returning from our family time in Hawaii, God has assured me and others that He has GOT THIS!  

The direction we have from the Lord at this point is the direction that He gave to our Father, Abraham!  Turn to Gen 12...

[Gen 12:1-4 NLT] 1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you." 4 So Abram departed as the LORD had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

You may notice that there is no address in v. 1!  It says "to the land I will show you."

We are in an Abraham moment.

Over and over, as we began this church, the Lord told us we were a "Pilgrim" or "Bedouin" people -  that's a people who carry their tents with them!  Who have no permanent dwelling place here on earth.  We have made that an identity, but have gotten settled here in this place.  8 years since 2009.  Let me remind you, because some of you have not been on this journey with us...  We started on Sunday afternoons in the chapel of Colorado Community Church and then we outgrew the chapel and moved to their basement for worship.  We moved from there to the Chamber Center, near the Egg and I Restaurant, from fall of 2001 to fall of 2003.  We moved to a Middle School and then a Grade School from 2003 to 2006.  We moved to the Tuesday Morning location and tried a 24/7 space, that almost broke us.  Finally in 2009 we moved to Horan-McConaty, and have been hosted here for 9 years.  After the crash of 2008, God protected us from financial disaster by giving us a place at 1/12th of what we were paying for space!  He rescued us and pulled us out of the swift water and into a side eddy, where we have remained and gotten comfortable.

That season is over.

I believe that we are entering a time not unlike the children of Israel, in their tents around the Tabernacle.  We need to be attentive to the Presence of the Lord, the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day!  God leads His People, to move with Him or to stay with Him, the operative words there are not MOVE or STAY, they are WITH HIM!  

It will be important for us to give attention to the Presence and to the Word of God during this time!  We need all hands on deck!  We need to be at Battle Stations.
In those times and under those kinds of conditions, crew members and soldiers know there are specific tasks that need doing; they know that they and their tasks are "mission critical."  The same is true here today.

Your presence and contributions are Mission Critical!  

In these times, as we engage change together, it is also important to remember one other lesson from the ancient peoples of Israel.  As they moved from Egypt to Mt. Sinai, and again as they went in conquest into Palestine, the greatest danger that they faces was not from the outside - from the challenges of the changes as they were on the way!
The greatest danger was from the inside - from their attitudes and from the murmured words they spoke against Moses and indeed, against God Himself.  So much so that the generation that came out of Egypt on a 28 day journey through the Arabian Peninsula, died there, in what became a 40 year odyssey! 

Why?

Because the people of God moved away from the wisdom of Proverbs 3 and knew better than God what was needed.  They ceased trusting, and started telling!  Their mouths got them in trouble!  The bible calls it murmuring, grumbling about Moses' leadership and about God's intent for them.  The results were pretty dramatic!  Movie worthy!  Charlton Hesston movie worthy!  The golden calf, because they abandoned the worship of Yahweh.  The challenges to Moses about water and food and meat.  All of these things are legitimate concerns, to be sure, but the lack of faith in God throughout is striking!
I just mention these things to set a parameter.

It's time for open, honest conversation.  If you hear a rumor, STOP IT.  Direct questions to me or the clergy team, to the board members.  The board will meet after we dismiss today. This morning's coffee hour will be Q & A with me.  We will keep you informed of possibilities and plans, soliciting your input as we move forward, but move forward we will.  

FORWARD!  ALWAYS FORWARD!  EVERYWHERE FORWARD!!

Let's commit our way to the Lord this morning.  God has us well in hand and we need to apply our favorite verses from Prov 3: 5-6.

Let's pray: 

Lord our God, we trust in You.  We declare our trust in You as a congregation.
Let's say it together:   WE TRUST IN YOU!
Let's continue:             WE LEAN NOT ON OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING ...
                                     WE ACKNOWLEDGE YOU IN ALL OUR WAYS...
                                      YOU WILL DIRECT OUR PATHS! ...

Lord, we take You at Your Word!  Plain and simple.  We know that we are loved by you
and that you have not brought us this far to abandon us.  In fact quite the opposite.  In these times You are nearer to us than our breath.  Give us your presence each day now, pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, to guide us and to give us your peace.  Lead us, O Lord, into the place that you have prepared for us.

I pray for each person here, that you will calm our fears and help us to trust in You as we have declared.  Teach us to open our hands and hold loosely our thoughts and words, guarding them and seeking to think Your thoughts and to speak Your Words.

Bring us finally to the place you have prepared for us.  We Trust in You.

And everyone said...

Amen and Amen.

A PRESIDENTIAL DECREE ... TO PRAY!

Sunday, Sept 3
13th Sunday of Pentecost
Fr. Phil Eberhart+



Today is the first Day of Prayer ordered by a sitting President of the United States since Woodrow Wilson did it in 1918, 99 years ago.  So, I want to use my time judiciously and speak to some meaty issues from our scriptures this morning and then spend some minutes observing the order of the day ... praying to God for our land.

We have a goodly number of "prophets" who have arisen among us in the past few weeks.  In fact, being a prophet is kind of "in vogue" in some circles these days!!  There are two kinds of prophets in the world - Those who speak God's Word like Jeremiah, (see v. 16) and suffer for it because it creates a tension inside of them with the world in which they live - they speak and the WORD is not popular.  This was the struggle that we see Jeremiah engaged in here in this mornings passage:  He is struggling with his call as a prophet.  The sweetness of God's Word in his mouth and as he consumes it - but the rage that follows him, when he tells others of what God has said!  He in turn, says some hard things to God:  He asks if God Himself is going to abandon him?  He asks if he can still drink from pure and sure waters?

Let me say that if you fancy yourself a prophet, your in for it!  Most of the "real" prophets I know, struggle with the Word of God. It's described as a fire inside;  a heavy hand on you;  indignation is the word for what Jeremiah felt.  For Jeremiah, the calling was literally "a pain" like an incurable wound!  But if you sit with it, the pain, the weight of God's hand, the indignation;  if you persist in the calling as a 'true' prophet - here's where you come to:

"If you return (this is the same word as repent, turn back - if you stick in with the relationship with your God) I will restore! It's the same word used twice - return, turn back and restore, rebuild!  It's as in the picture we get of the Jews returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding - it's all one thing!   If you don't walk away from your calling to speak for ME, God says, If you stick
with it - stick with ME, I will restore you, rebuild you AND you will find yourself "speaking for me" - You will be MY MOUTH!

Can you imagine?

Now I have to say there are and always have been other prophets among us.  Not the Jeremiah kind, but the Balaam kind. Those who take their own opinions and spout them out there and baptize their opinions with "thus saith the Lord."  I just want to caution those who fancy themselves as "prophetic" that this kind of struggle is on-going.  I would urge you to allow
God to "put a burning coal to your mouth" like Isaiah, or like Jeremiah here, "extract or divide the precious from the worthless."

In my experience most of what comes out of our mouths is of the later kind!   We have to be vigilant to the extreme as both James and Peter urge in their letters, to capture our tongues and then to "speak, if we're given to speaking, with the VERY WORDS OF GOD!"  Proverbs reminds us that "life and death are in the power of the tongue."  James tells us that "great fires are set; great ships are guided... by the tongue."  We must be vigilant about our words, friends.  If we are not, Satan shows up.  IN THEM.

Peter had that experience!  Much to his surprise and chagrin!  Right after being commended as being anointed by the special wisdom from God - by none other than Jesus himself.  After being told he was the ROCK - on which God's Church was going to be built!  WOW.  One moment Peter spoke the VERY WORD OF GOD:  "You are the Messiah; the Son of the Living God!" and in the next sentence he switched over to his opinion!  The popular belief under which the disciples labored until the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, was that He was their kind of Messiah; the coming King of the Jews - which He was as He just said to Peter - but not in the way they thought.

This is the beginning of Jesus' teaching about His Cross!  Now catch the significance of this setting; they are up in Ceasarea Phillipi, in the north of Israel, almost as far away from Jerusalem as you can get in Israel - away from the danger of the Sanhedrin and the High Priest. This is at the beginning of Jesus preaching and teaching ministry in Galilee and the North.  No CROSS in sight! NO SUFFERING in sight! In the disciples' minds, its a straight in shot, to land this thing in Jerusalem and set up the KINGDOM of MESSIAH.  They are arguing about the seating chart in the Throneroom!!!  Get the picture.

And here, in that setting, Jesus begins talking about suffering - suffering that He will have to go through!  WHAAAAAT?!!!!!  Not only no, but ...  So Peter grabs his arm and leads him aside and begins to lay the word on Him.  That what Peter did, cause that's what PETER DOES.  Open mouth, insert foot!

So Jesus sets him straight - allowing him to see what spirit he was of, at that moment.  You see, we think we have it cooked!  We have God all figured out!  And then He goes and says or does something that is diametrically opposed to our worldview "for HIM."  After all, isn't God subject to OUR WORLDVIEW?  One friend of mine said of "original sin" that God created us, and we've been trying to return the favor ever since!

SO, let me land this plane...

Turn to your gospel lesson in your bulletin with me.  

I want you to look with me at proximity.  Look at the verses and where Jesus goes immediately after this encounter with Peter and his foot-in-mouth disease.  

“If any want to 
become my followers, let them deny 
themselves and take up their cross and follow 
me. 
  For those who want to save their life will 
lose it, and those who lose their life for my 
sake will find it."

This is the second mention of the CROSS in the teaching of Jesus.  Jesus repeats these phrases twice in His teachings, before He goes down to Jerusalem.  Once earlier, almost as a passing phrase, and here, in response to Peter's foot-in-mouth, as a reminder!  On the heals of teaching them the truth about who He is, what He has come to do AND how it will be done.  

The disciples all, not just Peter, had this idea of the Messiah.  When He healed people, and fed 15,000 and faced-down the Pharisees, they interpreted those actions along the lines of their preconceived notion of Him.  But here Jesus lays out the FULL MEAL DEAL.

This is about SACRIFICE - This is about SURRENDER.

Jesus is the model of those things:  Paul picks up the theme in his Roman letter this morning:  

JB Phillips says it this way:

Romans 12J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

We have seen God’s mercy and wisdom: how shall we respond?

12 1-2 With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
The MESSAGE puts it this way...

Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

A week or so ago I had a conversation with a friend.  Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in something, you know, like living, that you just couldn't "let go."  You're losing sleep...  You're not eating... You're overwrought... You worry all the time... You can't let go!
I told my friend about a little exercise I do on occasion, when I find myself in those places.
Hold out your closed fists, facing up.  Now listen to this again: (the Message 12:1a) and place it before God as an offering"
Now here is the exercise -  ready?   Open your fists!   OK?   Now close them?   Now open them!  Now close them.  Now open them!
Got it?
The next thing the Word says is "embracing what God does for you" - how can you receive or embrace what God wants for you if you have your hands closed and tightly wrapped around something else?
You see that was Peter's problem - He had his hands tightly wrapped around his conception of the Messiah and the Messiah's behavior.  Any time we do that, we are going to get challenged by God, because the ONLY thing God want's in our hands is His hand.
Let's exercise again:   close your fists, Open, close, Open, close, Open!  Which way are you going to live?  When you close your fists, inhale and hold!  When you open your fists, exhale and rest!  Which way to you want to live?  I move we exhale and rest in God's plans for us - in what He wants to do - in the Way He wants to do it.
How does the Scripture read?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths!"  And it goes on... "Do not be wise in your own eyes.  Fear the Lord and turn away from evil."

Let's pray and exercise!

Lord Jesus Christ, we can so easily get wrapped around the axle of our life!  Teach us to fully rely on You, to release our life, to rest in your way, your provision - your "ways and means."  Help us not to be "wise in our own eyes" - not to have a higher opinion of our selves or of our opinions, than we ought.  Teach us to order our thoughts and lives after your Word and Your Word alone. Help us to separate the precious from the vile and worthless in our culture and lives.   Lord, like Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, ... we desire to speak your Words to those around us.  Help us make sure they're Your words, not ours.  Words that are filled with both Truth and LOVE.  Sometimes its a hard balance, Lord.  Keep us quiet until we can do it your way!  
Help us with our exercises!  Closed, Open, Closed, Open...  Let us remain open to you - receiving from You - Willing, Available and Obedient, every day, in every circumstance, and with every opportunity.

We pray in Jesus Name and for the sake of His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.
Amen and amen.