March 18- The Greatest Show
Spent most of my life trying to make sure any “oddities” in my life were as hidden as possible, and that the show I presented was neat and orderly and looked as normal as possible. I did not want to be “different”. I wanted to look “normal” have “normal” relationships, do what “normal people do… When I became a Christian I wanted to be different but that “orderly” part of my personality followed me into ministry. I loved people, but I needed them to “get in line”…I was determined that my students would not be like all the christians I grew up with, I did not want hypocrites, so I created Pharisees.
Then I joined this circus…Coffee Cup…Our Monkeys, Our Circus
Matthew 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest.
The mess of life is actually the greatest show…and we can get way too wrapped up in how things are “supposed” to look and miss what God is doing. Paul battled the same thing in the early church.
Galatians 6: 11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
Paul is trying to get the church of Galatia to stop focusing on the “order” the “rules”, doing what “looks good” the….straight rows of crops, and to look at “what counts” which “is the new creation.”
Isiah 43: 18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Whether you consider yourself a part of this circus or not, or you think yourself as wheat or a weed…God wants to do a new thing in each of our lives, to make paths in what feels wild, to make streams in what feels wasted and dry. How does he do that?
God Loves Diversity in His People
The greatest show IS humanity
Video – Faces of the world
Psalm 139:13-14 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Humanity is the greatest show…
But in the middle of all that…we all have strengths and talents and abilities and gifts….but we also all have weaknesses
We see both strengths and weaknesses in all Biblical characters…
they made amazingly wise decisions and amazingly foolish.
Noah built ark / was a drunk
Abraham Trusted God / was too old and slept with his servant
Jacob was a liar & Cheat / Israel – Father of the nation
Leah was rejected/“second string” / Faithful
Joseph was abused / Trusted God saved his family & Nation
Moses had a stuttering problem and was a murderer / Leader
Gideon was afraid / Mighty warrior
Samson delivered Israel from Philistines / womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute / Trusted God
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David man after Gods Heart / adulterer and a murderer
Elijah great prophet / was suicidal
Isaiah Voice of wisdom / preached naked
Jonah prophet / ran from God
Naomi was a widow / guided Ruth
Peter was impulsive & denied Christ / disciple & Leader of Church
Mary Magdalene was possessed / Witness to resurrection
Martha was a worrier / faithful worker
Paul was arrogant / Selfless leader…
These are The Greatest Show!
After Paul’s conversion, everyone is terrified, but Barnabas pleads for him, and they start the first missionary journey, they take John Mark with them, and in the middle of that he leaves and gets frustrated…time for 2nd journey, Barnabas wants to take John Mark, but Paul says no, and they split and Paul takes Silas.
Acts 15:36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Barnabas believes in Paul when no one would believe in Paul, then he believed in Mark when Paul doesn’t….later Paul asks for Mark…
2 Timothy 4: 9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
Paul needed to be believed in, and God did a new work.
John Mark needed to be believed in, and God did a new work…
The greatest show is about unlikely people….
God Loves the Unlikely
Paul was not a likely candidate to be a founding part of the Christian church. But that’s what God does…
1 Corinthians 1:26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.
Our limitations don’t limit God, but our insecurities get in the way.
Our pride does not blind God, he knows our hearts, but our ego gets in the way.
Both overcoming our arrogance and pride, or overcoming our guilt and shame…require us to get uncomfortable.
The question becomes will we allow God to take our strengths and weaknesses and use them? Two BIG Questions from me this morning…1. How have you written yourself off?
With Ashley’s ordination today a friend of mine was asking me questions about the process of ordination and my thoughts which then led to my ordination, which led to my graduation, which led to my baptism….I have an issue not with the moment, or what I feel about my personal involvement in the moment, but with what I think others are thinking in the moment. Do they think I am worthy of that moment? I am way too wrapped up in other people’s thoughts…so I diminish myself, I downplay things, I hide, I don’t venture…but I’m not alone…
– Moses’ Excuses? – before he gets to the whole “I can’t speak…” thing, he does…What if they ask me…? What if they don’t listen? What if they don’t believe
– Esther’s fear? But what if they kill me?
2 Corinthians 12:9 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
All those moments God ordained and gifted me to walk in and through and yet all my energy was wrapped up in how others feel, what others think rather than my calling and gifts from God.
2. Or how have you written off others?
John in the gas station
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
When was the last time you looked down on someone? looked down on a group of people?
But God is bigger than John’s struggles…dyslexia or pride or bias…he is bigger than your insecurities, weaknesses, or arrogance…
When God says, “I have a calling for your life”
We all have something to bring to the table.
Often times we are going to be asked to do things that we cannot do without him, other times our natural talent will get in our way, and we will have to allow God to do things to reveal our blind spots.
Parts of your life will feel “against” that calling…
Moses said, “I am not a good speaker, and good leaders must be able to speak well…” and God says, “well, yes, but I have wired together your other talents and strengths and can still, even with a struggle speaking, use you as a great leader”….
Gideon…”I’m too weak” God, “but that weakness will help you not to be an arrogant leader.”
Pastor John’s gifting on the surface “should be” computers and technology…but here we are…
You could say, “This is me, this is just the way I was born!” Well then, you need to be “born again”
– On the other side, there are times we see already gifted and talented people that struggle with humility and arrogance, or remaining teachable…
Saul, David, Paul
So when we say, “This is Me”… what does that mean?
if we talk to Moses at age 75, he would have said This is Me! “shepherd/fugitive”…if you had that conversation at 85, it would have been This is Me! leader of 1 Million people. If we had the conversation with Gideon it would have been This is Me! “Weakest Member of the Weakest Clan”, encounters God, “Leader of the Army of Israel”, John Mark after the first missionary journey would have said This is Me! “disappointment and rejected for leadership”, later, “writer of one of the gospels and valuable aid to Paul”
What will your “This Is Me” be? We need to celebrate…
I don’t have to be someone else, but I have to allow God to use what I am.
Take-Away/Change: “This is Me”
A line from the song…”and I know that I deserve your love…there’s nothing I’m unworthy off…”
Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Quote from Wrinkle In Time.There are a million moments, decisions…things in the universe…that have to happen, a million alignments required to make you, just as you are…
You have a purpose, “oddities” and all…Change will be required to allow God to really use you, either way…but come as you are, and see what can happen.
Walk-Out: “Come Alive”