Sunday message: “Up…” (part two of a three-part series)

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost – July 14, 2019

Scriptures:

Psalm 25:1–10 (CEV)

1 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NRSV)

Luke 6:12-19 (NRSV)

For God to move forward with any congregation at any time, there are various ways to look at it. When I use the diagram of IN, UP and OUT, this is merely another way of looking at the way a congregation works. Some congregations focus a lot on OUT and IN, but — without judging — have very little focus on becoming quiet and reflecting on God, the UP dimension. That could become skewed.

As Christians we have the way of describing God as “here” but also “elsewhere.” There’s no way of pinning God down. Is God down below, or up above? In metaphorical ways we see God as up, even though the earth is round. When our Lord Jesus was on earth, He spent time with his heavenly Father. God intended it that way. Many times, we read about Jesus praying. He spoke with his father, God. He listened to God in heaven. Jesus engaged regularly in worship and praise on his own and in formal gatherings at the synagogue and temple. In Acts, we see the apostles and the early church doing the same things wherever they went. 1.) They were imitating. Luke 6:12-19 shows us a day in the life of Jesus. “Jesus went out to the mountain to pray…” Then there is this encouragement we get from the apostle Paul when in 1 Corinthians 4, he appeals to us to be imitators of him.

Last week we had a look at the first part, “In”, and this week we look at “Up” before we get to “Out” next week.

When we talk about this triangular movement, where the three aren’t separated, it is worthwhile fleshing out what “Up” refers to. “Up”, just as “In” and “Out” never works in isolation. 

Being in communion with our Maker, and having a close relationship with Jesus who saved us, the Holy Spirit guides our lives into the future. We can not do it by simply loving one another and reaching out. We can only make sense of it all when we love God, by reaching to God.

We can get closer to our Triune God (Three in One), creator-God, saviour Jesus Christ, through the inspiring work of the Holy Spirit by making time to read the scriptures, sing songs of praise and praying regularly for the Lord’s guidance. This way we know that God truly is with us on our faith journey.  

Let’s briefly turn to these three, scripture, songs and prayer. 

God draws us closer through God’s written word. Scripture speaks to us and enlightens us every Sunday. Some describe scripture as God’s love-letter to us as God’s church. In a very real sense, we learn a lot about how God loves us people on earth. Throughout the week, we can be drawn to God to want to learn more about this loving God. It happens whenever we prayerfully read the Bible and study it. There are also formal Bible study groups at churches. Ours gets up and running again on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 in September. 

Let’s move on from Scriptures to song. 

God gave us music. That’s why songs also direct us to God. There is also the ancient proverb: “One who sings well prays twice.” It’s a natural thing for someone to want to sing to the one whom they love. Who wants to refuse to be in a good mood from singing out loud and enjoying it? When we intentionally sing to God, it’s possible for us to get into a closer relationship with God. The opposite is also true, that if we don’t intentionally sing to God, it could be hollow and empty. It’s the same as just singing a tune and having no clue what the song is about. 

Now from song, we move over to prayer.

Prayer—prayer can be seen as an all-important way God created for us to get in touch with God self. It is the way our soul breathes in oxygen to keep our soul alive. Without talking and conversing with God, our souls starve out, without us even knowing what went wrong. Most all of us go through times when our prayer-life wanes and then it waxes again. There’s an ebb and a flow to our spiritual lives. The main thing is to keep returning to this wonderful example that Jesus set for us by talking to God regularly. 

Doesn’t it make sense that our lives together as fellow believers in various groupings can literally only make sense when we have a closer walk with our creator-God? God groups us together, by reaching “In” as children of God, and then as we’ll see next week, because we are spiritually equipped, we are able to reach out. 

Any family, also a church family that prays together, stays together. This way, we have strength to serve anyone with whom we cross paths. This sums up what God has always intended for us. Gather, and then be strengthened by God to be sent out.

 

1.) From an article “Discipling Lifestyle – Up-In-Out” on a website https://firstcoastmissional.org/discipling-lifestyle-up-in-out/

 

Copyright 2019 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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