The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Worship Gathering of March 5, 06

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In-de-scribable! Woke up with that beautiful new song on my mind this morning. It’s been following me around all day. Thanks, musicians!

First Sunday in Lent March 5, 2006

Songs:
That’s Why We Praise Him
Your Great Name We Praise
Indescribable

Prayer (Pastor Sharon):
We give you all thanks and praise, O God,
for in tenderness and faithful love
you forgive our sins and guide us when we stray.

When the ancient flood destroyed the world you had created,
you saved Noah and his family from the waters,
and established a covenant with them
and with every living creature for all time.

In later times your Son, Jesus,
came forth from the waters of baptism,
and after proving himself in the wilderness
where waves of temptation threatened to engulf him,
he began proclaiming the good news of your kingdom,
calling people to repent and believe in the gospel.
He was cast down to the land of the dead
where he preached even to those lost in the flood,
but you raised him to new life
and seated him at your side
to reign over every authority and power for ever.

Therefore, with our hearts lifted high,
we offer you thanks and praise at all times
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

©2003 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net

Welcome
Message: God Keeps His Promises
There are marks in our world: signs that God has put there to remind us of himself. Here’s the story of one that comes just after the flood of Noah:

Genesis 9:8-17 Monte reads
8Then God spoke to Noah and his sons: 9″I’m setting up my covenant with you including your children who will come after you, 10along with everything alive around you–birds, farm animals, wild animals–that came out of the ship with you. 11I’m setting up my covenant with you that never again will everything living be destroyed by floodwaters; no, never again will a flood destroy the Earth.”
12God continued, “This is the sign [the mark?] of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. 13I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. 14From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, 15I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. 16When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.”
17And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I’ve set up between me and everything living on the Earth.”

What’s the sign of the covenant?
When you see it, what does it tell you about God? He keeps his promises.
What does it tell you about us? We’ll never all have to suffer like that again.

* * *

Now here’s another sign, also of water, and also with suffering – but this sign represents the results of a very different kind of suffering:

1 Peter 3:18-22 – Dan reads
18That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all–was put to death and then made alive–to bring us to God.
19He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment 20because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact–saved from the water by the water. 21The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. 22Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes.

What’s the sign this time? Baptism.
In the flood story, people who rejected God suffered. God resolved not to do it that way again. Who suffered this time? Jesus Christ.
What does it tell you about God?
What does it tell you about us?

* * *

Jesus himself was baptized, perhaps as a demonstration for us. But he hadn’t done anything wrong. And listen to what happened at his baptism:

Mark 1:9-15 – Monte reads
9At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. [cue Baptism and transfiguration] 11Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

What are the signs? A dove and a voice.
What does it tell you about Jesus? God’s Son, chosen, marked by love – and there’s another sign, or mark: Jesus is marked by the love of God.

Remember the transfiguration story (last week)? Remember the voice that spoke? Here’s what it said: [cue B&T p2] “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.” I was dreaming last week in the sermon and said something like: “What if you and I could become people of which it was said, ‘They are marked by the love of God.’?” In other words, what if God’s love dwelt in us so richly that people knew we

were connected to him?

I was a little hesitant about it. Sure, I thought, Jesus was marked by God’s love – but maybe I was stretching it to think that I could be. But the idea showed up again in this Scripture we just read for this week.

And then, during this week’s preparations, I came to Psalm 25, and a stunning line. Watch for it:

Psalm 25:1-10 – Sharon
A David psalm
My head is high, GOD, held high;
I’m looking to you, GOD;

No hangdog skulking for me.
I’ve thrown in my lot with you;

You won’t embarrass me, will you? Or let my enemies get the best of me?
Don’t embarrass any of us
who went out on a limb for you. . .

Show me how you work, GOD; School me in your ways.
Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.

You are my Savior, aren’t you?
Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, GOD;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!
Forget that I sowed wild oats;

Mark me with your sign of love.

Plan only the best for me, GOD!
GOD is fair and just;

He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.
He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.

From now on every road you travel will take you to GOD. Follow the Covenant signs; Read the charted directions.

Mark me with your sign of love. There’s a prayer request.
Back to the gospel – so Jesus heard the Voice, realized he was marked by God’s love. Wonder what happens right after that?

God’s Kingdom Is Here
12At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. 13For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.

Ever been tempted day and night for forty days by Satan himself? Jesus has. And he made it, unbowed, without throwing in the towel and giving up. Could it be that the Voice, affirming the Father’s love for him, was just what he needed to be ready? Could it be that awareness of the Voice – of God’s covenant-keeping love for us – is what we need, too? How do I go there? Here’s how the story ends, once the temptation was over:

14After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: 15″Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”

Repent – change my life – and trust. Oh, that’s how the Psalm ended, too:
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, GOD!
GOD is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.
He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.
From now on every road you travel will take you to GOD. Follow the Covenant signs; Read the charted directions.

I see God’s faithfulness. I want what he has for me. I change my life. I trust. That’s how we started a relationship with God. And that is how we grow in one. I repent. I trust. I find that God has marked me with a little more of his love. Does the way ever change?

Jesus left us with another sign – we call it Communion. It is an emblem that the life of repentance and trust has begun in me, and that Christ is putting himself inside me. We eat the bread and drink the wine here together, as an emblem that he is feeding us the same food, and that we are in it together.

If you have begun a life of repentance, and there is, in you, a glimmer of faith, I invite you to share in this emblem. And while we do, you’ll hear a song about our Covenant-keeping God.

Communion
Never Will I Leave You Michael Card CD, track 5

“This is my body, which was broken for you.
This cup is my blood, my New Covenant with you.
Each time you drink this, remember me.”

Giving
Indescribable
Blessing – Sharon
Go now, and live in the spirit of your baptism,
even when you are led into wild and hard places.
With repentance and trust, give yourselves to God,
and with fasting and prayer,
strengthen yourselves against the ways of the tempter.

And may God enfold you in tender and lasting love.
May Christ be beside you in times of struggle.
And may the Spirit guide you back to the path
……..whenever you stray, that you may keep the covenant.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
……..In the name of Christ. Amen.

©2000 Nathan Nettleton http://www.laughingbird.net

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Written by Monte

March 7, 2006 at 4:59 pm

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