Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approx. Notes for the Sunday Message; Sunday, 2-June-2013

 

1 Corinthians 10:23-33 NIV2010  The Believer’s Freedom

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

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In the summer, starting with June 16, I will preach a series of sermons that for now I will call Face2Faith. In that series I will attempt to explain some of the theological concepts that many of us take for granted. I am talking about words which we can correctly use in a sentence, but which we have a hard time explaining to someone who is not familiar with the language of the Church.

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To give a few examples: What is Original Sin? What is the Trinity? What is Grace? What is a soul? What does it mean that we are made in the image of God? Why do we care about the answers to these questions?

I did spend quite a bit of time in prayer about it and I believe that the Holy Spirit is nudging me in that direction. I am nervous about this series because I recognize the responsibility that comes with attempting to explain these topics; I have already spent quite a bit of time thinking and praying about it. Meanwhile, if you have any topics that you would like covered, please let me know via e-mail, via facebook, or by calling the office.

Originally I felt a nudge to preach this series when someone asked me a simple question, “Why do you believe in God?”

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“Why do you believe in God?” I have been asked this question in the past and I am confident that I will be asked that question in the future. That question presupposes my having faith, what it tries to ascertain is WHY do I have it.

It is a fair question. In this day and age of scientific discovery we are programmed to explain the world that we live in scientific terms. Growing up I was raised as an atheist and trained to do just that.

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But then something happened to me. One day, early in the morning, I was driving my little Ford Escort with an AM Radio and no air-conditioner, listening to Lawrence Welk (the only station I could get) when God reached deep into my soul and I felt God’s presence around me. I know what I felt and I know what happened to me that morning; if I could explain that in scientific terms I would dust off my resume and go back to being a programmer in a heartbeat. So the first and foremost reason why I believe in God is my personal experience. Because of that experience I just know that there is God and for some reason God reached out to me and later called me to ordained ministry.

If you asked me that question, “Why do you believe in God?” two years ago, that would be my answer, except someone from this church shared something with me. That person said, “Pastor Asher, I pray to God every day and I ask God to grant me a personal experience but it does not happen. I cannot truthfully say,” that person continued, “that I have ever experienced God’s presence.”

That challenged me: Would I still believe in God if “that morning” in my car had not happened?

{Let’s consider what we know about God from the history and sciences of the Judeo-Christian world that we live in}

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We know the location of Peter’s house where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. We have concrete proof that Jesus walked this earth. We have concrete proof that countless Christians in the first century made a conscious choice to be martyred rather than give up their connections with the Spirit of Jesus and with their community of fellow believers. We have leading scientific minds like Galileo (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) and Georges Lemaître (17 July 1894 – 20 June 1966) who managed to advance major scientific breakthroughs and understand them through the lens of their faith. We have servants like Mother Theresa, John Wesley and Dietrich Bonhoeffer who dedicated their lives to serving God and not only persevered in their faith but grew in their understanding of God and love of their neighbor through their lives of service.

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Looking at the Universe in all of its simplicity and complexity, I recognize that science and faith are two different ways of understanding our existence. Science helps us understand the physical processes—how things work. This is hugely important; we need to understand how to heal our bodies, how to change oil in a car engine and why it is important to brush our teeth every morning. Science asks questions about WHAT happens and HOW it happens.

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Faith on the other hand gives us an understanding of what it means to exist. Faith helps us to recognize what God is doing in God’s world and challenges us to understand WHY things happen.

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I believe in God because, of my previous experience and because when my scientific understandings are combined with my faith, I gain a much more nuanced and functional picture of the Universe.

My faith helps me to recognize that although everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial. My faith helps me to recognize that although I can do lots of things, not everything will result in the outcomes that I hope for.

Knowing that and having faith helps me to get up every morning and face the challenges of the next day unafraid, because in the long run God’s Grace is with every one of us and God invites us all to live our lives to God’s Glory.

{Illustration and application: what is YOUR story?; how are you going to share it WHEN (not IF) you are asked, “Why do you believe in God?”}

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