Tag Archives: United Methodist

How To Spot A Christian

These were my sermon notes from Sunday morning. I don’t guarantee spelling, grammar, etc. are used correctly since these were only my speaking notes.

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Gospel Reading:        John 13:31-35

Scripture Text:           1 Corinthians 13

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On June 13, 2003, I was ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church.

 A lot had to happen in order to get that far, but one of the tougher ones was the series of theological questions I had to give written answers for.

 One of the questions:  “What are the marks of the Christian life?”

 How will you know if someone else is an authentic, real Christian and not just faking it?

 How will someone else know if YOU are an authentic, real Christian and not just faking it?

 Scripture speaks of a multitude of “marks” signifying the authentic Christian life.

 James 1:27…   keeping oneself ‘unpolluted’ is one mark of the Christian life that I see throughout Scripture… the idea of holiness.

 “Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance,” Peter explains in I Peter 1:14-16, and then calls us all to “be holy.”

For me, holiness boils down to Christians making personal choices about their personal behaviors based on the choices God would make as described in the Scriptural record.

 One mark of a Christian when they obey the principles of the Bible. I John 5:3  reads: “This is love for God: to obey his commands.” Jesus said “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).  

 We also read that in Matthew 7:22 where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord.’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”

As a United Methodist, I believe other marks of the Christian life include meeting together in worship (Hebrews 10:25), active participation in worship by singing, praying, listening, giving, and such (I Cor. 14:26-27), baptism (Matt. 28:19), sharing Holy Communion (I Cor. 11:17-33), hearing the “instruction of the apostles” (Acts 2:42), studying the Scriptures (II Tim. 2:15),  discipleship (Matt. 28:19), and being witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).

 But let’s take it a step further, shall we? 

 Paul spoke of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5: 22-23) that would be natural by-products of a Christian life:

  • love,
  • joy,
  • peace,
  • patience,
  • kindness,
  • goodness,
  • faithfulness,
  • gentleness, and
  • self-control.

 Ultimately though, I think it boils down to what Jesus says in John 13:35, when he clarifies that love is the determining mark of who is or isn’t Christian… “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Years later, his disciples would reiterate that delineating mark of a Christian in passages like First John 4:7-8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

And the love that marks a Christian life is evidenced by our willingness “to lay down our lives for our brothers…” including sharing our material possessions.

HOW DO WE DO THIS?

HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE HAVE THIS KIND OF LOVE THAT SHOWS THAT WE ARE TRULY CHRISTIANS?

John cautioned the church to “not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth” (I John 3:18).

James explained that this action- and truth-based form of love would be seen by believers caring for those in distress… even orphans and widows…. (James 1:27).

Peter encouraged the believers to “Live such good lives…” that “they may see your good deeds and glorify God…” (I Peter 2:12).

Jesus Himself spoke of the importance of action-based love when he explained that reward and punishment for those who claimed to be his followers would be based on what people had done “to the least of these” because that was the same as doing (or not doing) for him.

Therefore, If I am TRULY a Christian, then I “love my neighbor”(Matt. 19:19) in such a way that I reach out and help with what I have as much as possible to the hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned, orphaned, widowed, and needy… physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

HOW DO I LOVE MY NEIGHBOR?

 I Cor. 13:4-8   Love is…

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.

Not that any of us does this perfectly, but we know it’s what we are to strive for.

O God, help us to love those you’ve put in our path… that we have the “mark” that shows others that we are YOUR disciples!

 

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The HEART of the Team

These are my sermon notes for this past Sunday (January 1, 2012) at the Clarks Mills UMC. This is primarily an expanded outline from which I then preached. 

JUST A FEW WEEKS FROM NOW…

 

Super Bowl!

TEAMWORK…Establish a team that can work together and knows the same playbook…
AS CHRISTIANS……..
Christ wants to establish a team WITH US!
Not just those who SAY they’re Christian or those who go to church… but those who know the same playbook, have the same ground rules for working together with each other and with Christ.

 

1 Samuel 16:7

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
It is in our hearts that we will be Christian.
In our hearts we will make the choices to be a part of the team, set out to make disciples for Jesus Christ.
It is through our hearts that we will show
Matthew 7:16
“By their fruit you shall recognize them.”
What will people around us recognize by the “fruit” the grows from our hearts?


Dr. Roy Trueblood, in his book Partners in Ministry, used that word HEART as an acrostic to identify 5 key ground rules that teams, especially ministry teams, HAVE TO HAVE in order to be GREAT teams.
H
HEAR AND UNDERSTAND ME
Jesus said repeatedly, Let him who has ears to hear, hear.
Don’t let this message go in one ear and out the other….
PAY ATTENTION… HEAR ME AND UNDERSTAND ME!
Jesus showed us the importance of this and gave us the example…
John 4… Woman at the well.
He’s tired, and sits down to rest while the disciples go on…
He hears the woman… understands the rejection and pain that she’s operating out of, and meets her right there where she is.
So often we Christians look at where the world around us & the people around us OUGHT to be and get upset , angry, or depressed because they don’t seem to get it.
Jesus showed us the better way… Stop. Hear them and REALLY listen. Understand where they’re coming from. Meet them where they are.


E
EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME WRONG
Again, Jesus is our example:
John 8…woman taken in adultery…

Who accuses you?

Go and sin no more.


A
ACKNOWLEDGE THE GREATNESS WITHIN ME
Jesus affirmed the greatness and worth of those around him.
Example:
·       Ate & drank with sinners and even prostitutes mk 2.16
·       Nathaniel… I saw you under the fig tree… john 1:48


R
REMEMBER TO LOOK FOR MY LOVING INTENTIONS
John 12:1-18
Mary & Martha’s home
Mary broke box of ointment, disciples complained about impracticality. 

Jesus saw her loving intentions.


T
TELL ME THE TRUTH WITH COMPASSION
Ephesians 4.15
Paul teaches that it is as we speak “the truth in love” that “we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Truth, without love, without compassion, tears down and wounds the one to whom you speak.
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In many organizations, at their first meeting of the year, they install their new officers. And, in essence, so do we today. BUT, I want us to be MORE than just a roster of officers… It is my hope, my prayer, and my goal, that we be a MINISTRY TEAM.
Officers have authority to do their job and are responsible to go do their job and carry out their assigned tasks.
A Ministry TEAM, has team members who do have specific tasks and areas that are their responsibility, but they are dependant upon everyone else in the team doing their jobs as well.
So, I don’t talk about “officers” of the church “organization,” but rather we work as a “team” each of us doing our job but completely ineffective unless we’re doing it WITH the rest of the team as a part of that team.
One final word…
All of these things we’ve talked about today are built upon the assumption that you KNOW Jesus Christ first!
These are not qualities that you’re going to be able to work on alone. You MUST have Jesus Christ as your foundation you or it won’t make a difference.
That’s why one of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, (the “play book” if you will of the United Methodist Church) includes a requirement that those serving in positions of leadership and responsibility must have Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior first or else they are NOT eligible to lead in our church.
As we work together in 2012, let’s remember the HEART of the team!
–All Scripture references from The Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984 (NIV).

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