Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

What Story Should You Tell? - July 29, 2018

Acts 7It's kind of wild that we can get a brief summary of the whole biblical Jewish history in just one chapter. If you've studied the Old Testament scriptures much, or if you went to Sunday school as a child, you probably knew the names and at least part of the stories. If you're new to the church or the Old Testament stories—good news, you're

caught up! I'm kidding, there's much more depth and history in these pages.
But...the reality is it is the overarching framework for the story of God with God's people. God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him. Abraham's family grew into the 12 tribes that now form Israel. God called the people to faithfulness and led them to the place God promised. But along the way, there were bumps and blips. The people thought it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. They were anxious and grew tired of obedience to God. They rebelled. They went their own way. Their way led to trouble. God let them suffer a few of their own consequences, long enough that they might actually start to listen again.
Then God sends a prophet—a truth teller—someone who lays it all out for the people—showing them their insolence and disobedience. Then, instead of admitting their failures and repenting and going back to God's ways—they argue with the prophets. Reject them. Resist them. Tell them they're wrong. And so they stay stuck awhile longer.
Then God, being faithful and loving, tries again. Sometimes the people listen and get back on course with God. And sometimes they're so sure of their own ways that they refuse God's laws and God's wisdom, and the pattern repeats.
That's the story. But not just their story—it's our story. God chooses us—offers us blessings and goodness and we jump at the chance for something good. All it requires is faithfulness and persistence, which we tend to only do well for a little while...then we drift—decide we know better and generally end up tangled, broken, and lost.
Sound familiar? Not just in theory, or from a story in the scriptures, but in life. Anyone ever pray the "Please help me, God! I'll follow, I'll change, just show me the way!" prayer? Most of us have, right? When we're struggling lost, or broken, wondering if anyone will care or dare to help us. And we plead and beg with God—please help me! Why did you do this to me?! Then...Not always, but often, there's this flash of truth—God didn't do this to you, you did this to you—this is your mess!
And how many of us are so humble and vulnerable in those moments that we hear that and see the truth of our sinfulness or disobedience and apologize and get ready to move forward? Not many. That's not our nature. Our nature is to justify our own actions. We launch into some long drawn out thing of how it all just sort of happened and we didn't mean for anyone to get hurt, but wasn't that bad. And....didn't you see what Joe did because Joe was really the problem....he's the one you should be looking at. He's the one who started it all. You know, if it weren't for Joe, I definitely wouldn't be here.
How many of us fall into that group? Argumentative? Self-justifying? Refusing to accept responsibility for what we've done? I know, you're all perfect angels and you never mess up. You're always faithful to God. You never do anything out of pride or selfishness. You're always generous and never self-serving. Pretty much, we have the most perfect church of flawless people ever.
Whatever! The story Stephen tells isn't just about the Israelites. It's about us. It's the common theme for all humanity. It's our story.
And the real trouble is when we fail to see ourselves in that story...when we only want to point fingers at all those people who don't listen to God. All those people who sin. All those people who refuse to listen to God's messengers. But Stephen cautious before you get too judgy. You're one of them. You're one of us...broken, selfish, self-serving. And before you get on your high horse of self-justification, take a minute to listen, to really hear from God.
Now the people in Stephen's story would have no part of it. They didn't want to be wrong. They didn't want to have to change their ways. They didn't want to admit they had disobeyed God...they had chosen their own way and their own way had failed them. And they got angry, so angry that they did the unthinkable. They didn't just kill Stephen, the stoned him—brutalized him all so they wouldn't have to see or admit their own wrongdoing.
I hope that's not us. I wish I could guarantee that it's not us. But we're human but us is them and them is us and it's likely we don't want to see our stuff either. It's likely we get angry when we get called on the carpet. But it doesn't have to be that way. Just because that's how we're bent doesn't mean that's how we have to live.
Are you ready to listen? Willing to listen? Courageous enough to ask the question—God where have I gotten off course? Where am I failing to hear you? Give me ears to hear God. The choice is ours...humility and obedience, or pride and will you choose?

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary. William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

322 East Third Street
Moscow, ID 83843


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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...

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