“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved (Matthew 9:16-17).”
Jesus had just done things that the religious people of his day would not have done. Jesus ate with Matthew and his tax collector friends. Jesus also healed a paralyzed man and proclaimed the forgiveness of sins, something considered blasphemous by the Jews because only God can forgive sins. As Jesus walked through the villages and towns, the winds of change were blowing! God was doing something new, in person, focusing more on love and care for people than rules and regulations. And guess what? The religious leaders didn’t like it! They told Jesus so. Thus, he shared the image of an unshrunk cloth patch sewn onto an old cloth which shrunk as it was washed, tearing an even larger hole in the shirt than was there before. He also shared the image of new wine being put into old, fully stretched wineskins. Their inflexibility, their inability to stretch and change led to them bursting, spilling the goodness of the new wine on the ground. Harold Wilson puts it this way, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” So, change is inevitable, and, when we follow Jesus, he invites us to change for the better by deepening our love for God and each other.
Most of you know Lakeside is facing tremendous change as we relocate and rebuild. We are building on a great location with frontage on State Road 46 where we have an even greater opportunity to reach our community with the love of Jesus Christ! And, yes, it means God is inviting us to change! With God’s Spirit and our efforts to reach and serve our community, Lakeside will grow. As we grow, God will require us to be more attentive to welcoming strangers as friends and to be sure to help new people get connected into the life of the church. Many of you already look for new people to welcome, and I’m proud of you for showing God’s love!
Let’s all agree to intentionally connect with people we know that don’t go to church in our neighborhood and at our kids’ sporting events and at our jobs, and invite them to join us as we grow with Jesus! And let’s also agree to make a special effort to extend a hand of welcome to any new people we see at Lakeside, asking them how we can help them connect to God and our church.
Here is one more funny quote about change to send you off with: “”Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine (Robert C. Gallagher).”
“Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he mocked the Jews. 2 He said in the presence of his associates and of the army of Samaria, ‘What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore things? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish it in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish—and burned ones at that?’ 3 Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, ‘That stone wall they are building—any fox going up on it would break it down (Nehemiah 4: 1-3).'”
At the finish line that read “26.2 miles Disney Marathon,” I was in serious need of revival! My mouth spoke for my body and it said something like, “Give me gatorade and water!” My legs, one of which had a stress fracture, shouted at me too, saying, “Sit down, lie down. Do whatever you have to do to get down and stop standing on us!” Hours, meals, and days later, I began to almost feel normal again. I had pushed my body to its limit and needed food, rest, and sleep to be revived!
Nehemiah felt God call him back to the rubble of Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and to rebuild the faith of the people of God. Sanballat, governor of Samaria, the area that likely encompassed the ruined Temple, did not want to give up that property, so he spread rumors that Nehemiah’s real plan was to undermine the King of Babylon. He sarcastically said, “What are they going to do, revive those burned stones?” He would come to find out that what God had in mind was not only putting the stones back together but bringing back to life his people!
Today, I believe that God is calling Lakeside to be revived! It’s not that we are dying or are exhausted. In fact, we are a small but healthy church. Yet, as we relocate and rebuild at our new location on Henderson and SR 46, I feel God is giving us a grand opportunity to have even more of the life and vitality of Jesus Christ through his Holy Spirit breathed into us!
I encourage you to do two things in the coming months:
- Commit to pray 1/week for God to lead and empower Lakeside members to share their faith in acts of kindness and words that tell people of God’s love in their every day lives and invite others to walk in faith with Jesus.
- Commit to being in worship every week over the next six weeks in person or by listening to the sermons on the website or through the Lakeside app, as we share how God used the people like John Wesley and the people called Methodist’s to revive the faith and lives of millions in the name of Jesus Christ and how God wants to revive us today!
Peace of Jesus,
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death (Hebrews 2: 14-15).
We’re almost there! We’ve almost made it through the season of fasting and prayer, through Lent to Easter! Keep it up, you can do it! And by the way, don’t forget to bring any money you saved up to help the Grace and Grits feeding ministry in Sanford with you to church this Easter Sunday. We want to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by doing what we can to give life to others in need!
As for the Bible passage above and many of the Bible passages we read on Easter, there is a lot of talk about fear. When the two Marys go to the tomb on the first Easter, they are startled by the angels who tell them Jesus is not there. They are afraid. The disciples are found behind the locked doors of the upper room, afraid that the religious leaders who crucified Jesus would come looking for them next. Finally, the Hebrews passage above is written to Christians facing terrible suffering and maybe death because of their faith in Jesus Christ as the risen Lord of the universe.
All of these stories prompt us to ask, “What are you afraid of?” According to Hebrews, followers of Jesus need not fear even death because Jesus’ resurrection frees us from it. Oh sure, we will all face physical death, but we need not worry about it. Because those who place their faith in Christ will come out the other side of death into eternal life with Christ.
So live lives of loving service in Jesus’ name. Share with people that the resurrection of Jesus is the reason you have hope in the midst of suffering, and live without fear. Our God of love has brought salvation to us and this world through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Happy Easter!
“The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation (Mark 8: 11-12).'”
When you read the whole story surrounding the quote from Mark above, you will notice that Jesus had just performed an amazing miracle! He fed four thousand people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. With the life-giving power of God, Jesus heals the sick, casts out demons by his command, and feeds the hungry! Ironically, it is the religious people, those who claim to be closest to God, that don’t see the power of God at work through Jesus!
The text seems to show the “religious know it alls” coming to Jesus with an attitude of opposition to Jesus. In other words, no matter what Jesus does, no matter how amazing and good his actions, they already have their mind made up that Jesus cannot be from God. Ironically again, it is the non-religious people, the common, uneducated, needy masses who flock to Jesus and marvel at his work, hanging on his every word. Those with an open heart to Jesus’ words and message, an open desire to see God do see God at work.
I have always loved a quotation from St. Anselm that is printed on a bookmark I own which reads, “Faith seeking understanding.” In Anselm’s time, scholars were beginning to presuppose that there was not God and therefore sought to study the Christian faith to debunk or disprove it. Their saying might have been “understanding then maybe faith.” But Anselm understood that the role of scholarship is to try to understand the things God has revealed of himself in Jesus Christ.
As you go through your day, assume by faith that God is already at work in your circumstances, at home, at work, in your neighborhood, or on the sports field. Look for God with faith and odds are high that you will find God working in those circumstances and working in you!
“This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God (1 Corinthians 8: 2-3).”
We’ve all met them. They are annoying…know-it-alls. Let your mind go back to a time when one of these people made you feel small because they were rubbing something they knew that you didn’t in your face. In life, we need people around us who know more than we do and who use that knowledge for our good. You want a doctor who knows quite a bit about your condition. You want a mechanic that knows more about cars than you do. But no matter how much a person knows, if they do not love, their lives are diminished and so are those they live and work with.
Paul is writing to warn mature Christians who have decided that they can eat food that once was part of an offering to an idol that made its way to the market place. Since they are smart, they realize that there really are no other gods than the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, therefore they feel no guilt or worry about eating that meat. The problem is that some newer Christians who have joined their church have just turned away from idol worship to life in Jesus, and, at the sight of the meat that they know was once offered to idols, memories flooded in of the gods they previously worshiped. Maybe doubt crept in…maybe fear…maybe worry. Regardless of the emotions, these new Christians were being distracted from their focus on Jesus by the behavior of other Christians.
Paul argued that mature Christians, even though they were morally right, should be more concerned about the spiritual well being of their new brothers and sisters than about being right. In this way, they would be acting like God, showing the world the love of Jesus. When have we been right about something but expressed it without love for someone else? In the Christian community, love is even more important than being technically correct. Let us love one another as Jesus Christ has loved us.
John 20:21New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
I attended a continuing education seminar last week with Wendy Votino (Children’s and Youth Director) and Nancy Koscoe (Leadership Team Chairperson) called “Missio Ecclesia.” I know, the name is in a foreign language, but it essentially means “the mission of the gathered ones.” God gathers us together as his people and then sends us out on mission with Jesus. Here are some key points from the seminar that every Christian needs to understand.
- We now live in a “post-Christian society”…Most people no longer look for a church to attend to grow in their faith. They may be looking for a spiritual experience or for God, but they less frequently expect to find God in a formal Church.
- Christians need to remember that we are sent. When we start following Jesus, we go out with Jesus into the world to serve the world with him and to point the world to him! Like the Father sent Jesus the son to come to earth to save, so we are sent by Jesus out into the world to share his love in tangible, life giving ways as he did.
- Our main area of ministry is where we live, work, and play, not in the walls of the church building. Church buildings where we worship, pray, and gather are not the main place we live out our faith, they are launching pads where we refocus, refuel, and launch into our daily lives with God’s love and power for doing good in the world. God is out in the world where all the people are, drawing them to himself so they may find new life through Christ. So that is where God sends us!
As you pray and imagine your life this week, remember that God sends you to your job, your neighborhood, your family, your church, your grocery store, your recreation field to be his representative, to point people to him by the way you love so that others may find life by following Jesus. We are the “sent ones!”