Woodlawn CC

Woodlawn CC

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Luke 4:14-30, And Thus It Begins... Jesus Returns to Nazareth

Below please find the video of last Sunday's sermon, the scripture verses from which I preached and the supporting scripture that I gathered in preparing for the sermon.  As so often happens, I never really know until I start talking at the pulpit where I'm going to go and what I'll want for supporting verses, in the end, I only used the verses from Isaiah 61 in the sermon.

In the verses found in Luke's Gospel 4:14-30, we find Jesus coming back home to Nazareth, going home is always exciting but once you've left it's difficult to fit back in at home... especially when you've been as acclaimed as Jesus was.  There are several directions that one can take with this passage but, the path I followed had to do with the crowd's reaction to Jesus' refusal to perform any healings or miracles among them.

When people tell us what we don't want to hear, and perhaps allude to what we've done wrong, we generally have one or the other of two possible responses.  Our response can either be one of regret and a request for forgiveness and perhaps another opportunity to improve ourselves, or we can react in anger.  For far too many (and it's getting worse and worse) the reaction is one of anger.  This is the reaction that Jesus witnesses in the crowd in Nazareth.

When we are reading scripture and we come across one of those moments of conviction... when we see our own sin spelled out on the page... will we react like the crowd in Nazareth, or will we feel the need to repent and confess our own guilt?  Or maybe we'll take the ever-popular third way, and rationalize and deny that what we're doing is a sin at all... that's another route that's gotten to be VERY, VERY popular today... and then just again employ anger in your denial of the sin.

If you never see your own sin and only the sins of others in scripture, you really need to go back and read again... your sin is there... trust me.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His Grace,

Luke 4:14-30 (NRSV)
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’” 24 And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers[a] in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30 But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

a) Luke 4:27 The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases

Isaiah 61 (NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6  And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” 
10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

a) Isaiah 61:1 Hebrew; Septuagint the blind

Matthew 10 (NRSV)
The Twelve Apostles
1 Then Jesus[a] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[b] 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
The Mission of the Twelve
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’[c] 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. 9 Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
Coming Persecutions
16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
Whom to Fear
26 “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[e] 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35 For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
36 and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

a) Matthew 10:1 Gk he
b) Matthew 10:3 Other ancient authorities read Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus
c) Matthew 10:7 Or is at hand
d) Matthew 10:8 The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases
e) Matthew 10:28 Gk Gehenna

Romans 11 (NIV)
The Remnant of Israel
1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]?4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that could not see
    and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”[c]
9 And David says:
“May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.”[d]
Ingrafted Branches
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
All Israel Will Be Saved
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[e] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is[f] my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”[g]
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”[j]
35 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”[k]
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen.

a) Romans 11:3 1 Kings 19:10,14
b) Romans 11:4 1 Kings 19:18
c) Romans 11:8 Deut. 29:4; Isaiah 29:10
d) Romans 11:10 Psalm 69:22,23
e) Romans 11:26 Or and so
f) Romans 11:27 Or will be
g) Romans 11:27 Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); Jer. 31:33,34
h) Romans 11:31 Some manuscripts do not have now.
i) Romans 11:33 Or riches and the wisdom and the
j) Romans 11:34 Isaiah 40:13
k) Romans 11:35 Job 41:11

Photo by Christian Begeman

Monday, January 28, 2019

February 2019 "Pastor's Ponderings" - Newsletter Article

Here is my February Article for the Church's Newsletter, it looks like the weather folks finally got one right... it's brutally cold today and looks like it will only get worse before it gets better.  Hopefully, you're reading this inside your warm home or workspace, please don't go outside unless you absolutely have to!  This kind of weather is deadly!

At this point, I'm not 100% sure or not if Gail and I will be going to Omaha tomorrow to attend the funeral of Marcie Molby.  Marcie was married to my friend and mentor Bob Molby and both Gail and I are greatly saddened to hear of her passing.  Please pray for comfort for Bob and Marcie's families.  Thank you.

We're in a bit of a slower phase of the year right now, but plans are in the works for all the things that spring and summer will bring!  Remember... 'to be a blessing to someone today'!

In Christ,

Pastor's Ponderings:

And just like that, we're looking forward to February!  January has seen us with the threat of bad weather several times where (thankfully) the weather didn't materialize.  As I sit here typing we have yet another warning about the weather this week, hopefully, the weather folks will miss this forecast as badly as the others. Even though the snow hasn't been as bad as billed, we all need to thank Clyde for his continual devotion to the church and getting the walks and steps ready for people all week long and especially for worship on Sunday.  Clyde is tireless in his attention to the ice and snow removal and we really all need to thank him and show our appreciation.  THANK YOU, Clyde!

In February I'll be traveling the first weekend to Omaha to participate in a seminar called “Vision Day”, it looks to be an interesting seminar with some new ideas on how to be church and how to interact as a church, hopefully, I'll have more to report from that in the near future.  We're working on upgrading our wi-fi coverage in the Church and that will help with our “Live-Streaming” of both the Thursday night and Sunday morning services.  Currently, the wi-fi is so weak that I have just been using the data on my phone to do the broadcast, the hope is that the wi-fi will give better streaming of the services, plus it won't count against my data plan which would be a good thing as well.  It will also allow those that want to broadcast parts of the service on their personal phones to do so, again without using up their data plans.  We truly are in a world of technology and even the little bit that we do allows us to add to our outreach in ministry.  There have been times when an unbelievable number of folks have watched the service on the “Live-Stream”, and it allows our own members to watch from home if they're too sick or the weather is too risky for them to be out.  We have people that have been watching each week that are out of State and there are even people that have commented or liked that reside outside of the USA.  I've noticed that there are a couple of retired ministers from out of State that tune in regularly and I find that encouraging.  The fact that we can now witness to and influence others so easily is truly amazing!

We had the first meeting for the new members of the Christian Council and we all should thank Scott Crandall for stepping up to be the Chair for the Council.  I know Scott will do a great job of leading this group as they plan and implement both new and old ways of ministry here at Woodlawn!  Thank you, Scott!

The committee for our 4th Annual Concert 'Son Celebration' has set a concert date, mark your calendars for July 27th at 5:30 pm.  Hopefully, this year's production will be a great success!  Thank you to the concert committee members, Kathy Holm, Kim Anderson, Kathryn Myers, Mel Alcox, Gail Karlen, Clyde Westcott, and myself.  Gail agreed to chair the committee for this year and we thank her for taking on that role!  The concert is a great witness and with the committee's hard work and the hard work of everyone in the congregation, we can reach more folks for Christ!

We really must focus on and always, always, always, remember that EVERYTHING we do here (and hopefully away from here as well) we do for Christ.   When we worship, when we labor together on projects, when we sit in meetings and upon committees, let us remember that we do so to glorify Christ.  Allowing our egos to get in the way of ministry does not serve Christ... arguing over trivial things does not serve Christ... we must always have in the forefront of our minds that we do not come here to do our will but to do the will of our Lord.  Let us serve Him together with love and grace for each other no matter what!

Be a blessing to someone today!  Pastor Roy

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January 20, 2019 "The Wedding at Cana"

As I mention in the sermon, these verses are ones upon which a multitude of sermons could be (and have been) launched.  There is a nearly endless variety of directions that can be taken from these verses.  Many sermons focus on the 'great abundance', some focus on the filling of the jars as being the 'fulfillment' of the scriptures, others upon the 'Bridegroom' and the 'Bride', or even that everything is a  'Party' once you let Jesus into your life... I chose not to pursue any of these.  I also chose not to go down the path I took the last time I preached over these verses... though I did mention that direction in passing.

The main point that I attempted to make in the sermon really was that even though Jesus solved one problem, the lack of wine and the embarrassment and dishonor that would come from this (which is another common direction for sermons), He truly caused another problem.  There is now no more water which with to obey the law and it's required ritual cleansings.  To us, this doesn't seem like a big deal at all... but to a 1st Century Jew, it's a BIG problem.  Of course, the message is that Jesus has replaced the law, we are no longer tied to the law rather, we are liberated by the wine which represents Christ's blood shed on the cross.  This passage foreshadows the Last Supper (even though John doesn't use the Last Supper in the fashion of the Synoptics) in the new life given by the cup Christ shared with His Disciples.

It's not a long sermon so please take a listen.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His Grace,

John 2:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Wedding at Cana

2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Monday, January 21, 2019

1 Corinthians 12:1-11, Spiritual Gifts - We Dare Not Rank Them...

One of the primary problems that the church in Corinth had was human ego, and that extended to their thoughts on 'spiritual gifts' where it seems some believed one or the other gift was superior to another.  Paul's message is that there is no ranking of gifts, all are important and all are necessary for the body of Christ.  The Spirit gives gifts to all and thus all are to be considered a gift from God and none is greater than another.

We today can become victims of our own egos far, far too easily.  We can become convinced that because we're a leader in the church that for some reason our gifts are more worthy and lofty than those of others.  Each and every one of us has some gift or another, it is our task to utilize those gifts no matter what they may be to further God's Kingdom.  The only problem is when we for some reason decide to sit on our hands and not bring our gifts to bear in order to support the body of Christ.  No matter what the reason is that we are sitting 'idle', we need to be in prayer and to become determined to see that the gifts we have been given, are in fact utilized... God has given us these abilities, let us not be idle... let us use them to honor Him.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His Grace,

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Spiritual Gifts
12 Now concerning spiritual gifts,[a] brothers and sisters,[b] I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

a) 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or spiritual persons
b) 1 Corinthians 12:1 Gk brothers

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Luke 3:15-22 "The Baptism of Christ"

This past Sunday was "Epiphany 1 - or the Baptism of Christ" and the verses in Luke's Gospel found in the Lectionary are of course those that mention Christ's baptism by John the Baptist.  These verses also mention the relationship of Herod Antipas and his second wife Herodias, and how John's criticism of this marriage caused John to be imprisoned by Herod Antipas.

To fully understand the revulsion that the Jewish people had towards Herod's and Herodias' wedding we need to realize that Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, her mother was Hyrcanus. Also, Herodias' first husband was Philip I, son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, so she married her own uncle, by whom she had a daughter, Salome. Salome you'll remember was the dancer who pleased Herod Antipas and whom Herodias used to destroy John the Baptist. When Herod Antipas visited Rome, he was entertained by Philip and Herodias. Herod abducted his royal brother’s wife. His own wife, an Arabian princess, was an obstacle to an illicit marriage, so he divorced her, and Herodias became queen in her stead. The corroding immorality of Herod’s family shows itself in his marriage with Herodias his brother’s wife, and his own niece, along with his discarding of his first wife and all the other wreck-less offenses thereby given to Jewish sensibilities. 

The Lectionary eliminates the verses mentioning Herod (18&19), but I believe that the Author of Luke fully intended for us to be able to contrast the 'immersion' of Herod into his worldly sins, and the 'immersion' of Christ and the symbolic washing away of all earthly sins.  Then, of course, we have the acceptance of the Holy Spirit by Christ contrasted to the embrace of human ego by Herod.

Take a listen to the sermon below and hear more about this contrast made by the Author of Luke.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His Grace,

Luke 3:15-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,[a] 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler,[c] who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;[d] with you I am well pleased.”[e]

a) Luke 3:15 Or the Christ
b) Luke 3:16 Or in
c) Luke 3:19 Gk tetrarch
d) Luke 3:22 Or my beloved Son

e) Luke 3:22 Other ancient authorities read You are my Son, today I have begotten you

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Thursday Night Worship, January 10, 2019 - Acts 8:4-25

Last Thursday night the scripture for the sermon was from the Book of Acts 8:4-25.  One of the interesting points found in these verses is the early conversion of folks in Samaria.  The Samaritans as we know were looked down upon by the Jews and the Samaritans didn't have a high opinion of the Jewish people either... which is to be expected, typically one doesn't hold high regard for those who despise you... unless you're called to follow Jesus that is.  This is, of course, one of the more radical concepts that Jesus professed and here we see the Samaritans as coming into this new faith even before the Gentiles.  This is really astonishing especially when we realize that at the time Christianity was still a Jewish Sect.  Samaritans converting to a Jewish Sect is really and truly a display of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Through Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it seems that even the most divided, the most broken can and will be reconciled.

Praise be to God.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His Care,

Acts 8:4-25 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Philip Preaches in Samaria
4 Now those who were scattered went from place to place, proclaiming the word. 5 Philip went down to the city[a] of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah[b] to them. 6 The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, 7 for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed; and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. 8 So there was great joy in that city.

9 Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. 10 All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come[c] upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John[d] laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! 21 You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” 24 Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you[e] have said may happen to me.”

25 Now after Peter and John[f] had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.

a) Acts 8:5 Other ancient authorities read a city
b) Acts 8:5 Or the Christ
c) Acts 8:16 Gk fallen
d) Acts 8:17 Gk they
e) Acts 8:24 The Greek word for you and the verb pray are plural

f) Acts 8:25 Gk after they

Monday, January 7, 2019

Jan 6, 2019 - Another look at Colossians 3:1-17, more about being a community

Last week on Sunday I preached over the verses found in Colossians 3:1-17, this week we went back and took yet another look at this passage. In the prior week the linchpin of the sermon was about the children... this week I considered us all.  We as Christians are called to be in community with one another, the very concept of the communion table and it's import for us as Christ followers should be sufficient to establish this facet of our faith.  I have referenced a number of scripture verses that speak to our needing to be in community, there are more verses that can be considered... many, many more.

One of the more conspicuous of these verses is to be found in: Proverbs 27:17 - "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another"  We literally need each other in order to remain... and more importantly to grow in our faith relationship with Christ.  Each of us brings a unique set of life experiences, observations, and yes bias to the scripture.  All of us have an innate tendency to view Christ in a different light.  In the sermon, I mention the influence that our dear late friend Evelyn Johnson has had on me.  I personally am inclined to view Christ as the Shepherd who walks with His sheep, going alongside each of us in this life's journey.  Evelyn, God bless her, reminded me (and continues to remind me) to keep Christ on His Throne... and I, in turn, reminded her to bring Christ down and walk with Him.  Literally, we needed each other in order to have a more full and meaningful experience with Christ.

All of us with our various views, ideas, experiences, and knowledge need to come together... as the body of Christ in order that all of us might have a fuller and more complete understanding of our Saving Lord.  We are the body of Christ, let us dwell in community...

Be a blessing to someone today! (bring them into the community)

In His Glory,

Colossians 3:1-17 New Century Version (NCV)
Your New Life in Christ
3 Since you were raised from the dead with Christ, aim at what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth. 3 Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your[a] life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory.

5 So put all evil things out of your life: sexual sinning, doing evil, letting evil thoughts control you, wanting things that are evil, and greed. This is really serving a false god. 6 These things make God angry.[b] 7 In your past, evil life you also did these things.

8 But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. 9 Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. 10 You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. 11 In the new life there is no difference between Greeks and Jews, those who are circumcised and those who are not circumcised, or people who are foreigners, or Scythians.[c] There is no difference between slaves and free people. But Christ is in all believers, and Christ is all that is important.

12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. 14 Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body[d] to have peace. Always be thankful. 16 Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.

3:4 your Some Greek copies read “our.”
3:6 These . . . angry Some Greek copies continue, “against the people who do not obey God.”
3:11 Scythians The Scythians were known as very wild and cruel people.
3:15 body The spiritual body of Christ, meaning the church or his people.

Hebrews 10:24-25 English Standard Version (ESV)
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Galatians 6:2 English Standard Version (ESV)

2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Acts 2:42 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Value of a Friend
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Romans 12:3-13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[a] 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

1 Corinthians 12:25-27 English Standard Version (ESV)

25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 John 1:7 English Standard Version (ESV)

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Proverbs 17:17 New Century Version (NCV)

17 A friend loves you all the time,
    and a brother helps in time of trouble.

1 Corinthians 1:10 New Century Version (NCV)

Problems in the Church
10 I beg you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree with each other and not be split into groups. I beg that you be completely joined together by having the same kind of thinking and the same purpose.

1 Peter 4:8-11 English Standard Version (ESV)

8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 4:2-6 English Standard Version (ESV)

2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Proverbs 27:17 English Standard Version (ESV)

17 Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another

Galatians 6:10 English Standard Version (ESV)

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Mark 10:45 English Standard Version (ESV)

45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Colossians 3:1-17 - December 30, 2018

This last Sunday I chose to preach over the verses found in Colossians 3:1-17.  The ultimate focus of the sermon had to do with what are we teaching our children (and other adults around us as well) about how important Christ is in our lives.  When we skip church for a ballgame what are we telling our children about the importance of Christ... when we only come to church for Christmas Eve and Easter, what are we telling the children about how important Christ is in our lives?

Is the most important thing in your world Christ?  Is He truly the light in your life, or is He just a minor player... something that can be put off in order to 'worship' some other aspect of our lives...

Be a blessing to someone today... invite them to church!

In His Grace,

Colossians 3:1-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The New Life in Christ
3 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3 for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a] life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient.[b] 7 These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life.[c] 8 But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive[d] language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal[e] there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord[f] has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ[g] dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.[h] 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

a) Colossians 3:4 Other authorities read our
b) Colossians 3:6 Other ancient authorities lack on those who are disobedient (Gk the children of disobedience)
c) Colossians 3:7 Or living among such people
d) Colossians 3:8 Or filthy
e) Colossians 3:11 Gk its creator, 11 where
f) Colossians 3:13 Other ancient authorities read just as Christ
g) Colossians 3:16 Other ancient authorities read of God, or of the Lord

h) Colossians 3:16 Other ancient authorities read to the Lord

Luke 2:41-52 - Dec 27, 2018 - Preparing to Serve

This story about Jesus at the age of twelve in the Temple is the only story that we have in the Gospels about Jesus from between about the age of two (Matthew's story of the Magi) and Jesus showing up to be baptized by John the Baptist.  There were attempts by later Christians to fill in this gap and a number of 'gospels' were written none of which was as far as I know ever considered for the Canon and many were distinctly 'gnostic' in their writing.

For whatever reason, we as humans are often uncomfortable with 'not knowing' something.  And this was why there was this attempt to supplement the four Gospels and to fill in this gap between the age of twelve and around thirty to thirty-three.  Where and what was Jesus doing during those twenty long years?  There are those that have tried to promote that Jesus traveled to India where he was influenced by the Eastern Religions, I don't personally find any of these accounts as credible.  I believe that Jesus did just what it says he did, he went home... and learned...

Now spending an entire life up until approximately thirty may seem like a long preparation for a preaching career that only encompassed from roughly three years to maybe as little as ten months (John's Gospel -vs- Mark's Gospel); but God can and does work that way.  He will spend many, many, many, years forming our hearts and our lives for what may well be in the end a very short duration or even a single event.  It's not for us to judge God in how and where he uses us... it's just our duty as Christians to constantly prepare, to study, pray, reflect, and watch... for where and when our Father needs us to serve.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In His service,

Luke 2:41-52  New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents[a] saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years,[c] and in divine and human favor.

Luke 2:48 Gk they
Luke 2:49 Or be about my Father’s interests?

Luke 2:52 Or in stature

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Hebrews 5:5-10 - December 23, 2018 - The 4th Sunday of Advent, Lighting the Love Candle

Slowly, but surely, I am catching up with the blog.  Here is the sermon over the 4th Candle of Advent... the Candle of Love.  In this sermon, I caution about thinking that we can equate the amount of gifts that we give each other to the amount of love that we have for each other.  We need to understand that our Father doesn't want all that much from us, He just wants us to love Him... and to remember the great, great gift that He gave to us.  Gifts given to each other when given in the right spirit and the right context to one another can even be a form of worship.

Remember to be a blessing to someone today!

In Christ,

Hebrews 5:5-10 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him,

“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”;

6 as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
    according to the order of Melchizedek.”

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.


Hebrews 5:7 Gk he

December 20, 2018 - Luke 1:39-56 - Preparing for the 4th Sunday of Advent 2018

I apologize for being terribly behind on updating the blog, it has as is always the case this time of year 'hectic'.

Here is the video of the sermon given during the Thursday Night Service on December 20, 2018.  It was leading up to the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

I discussed not only God's love but Elizabeth's love for Mary.

Be a blessing to someone today!

In Christ,

Luke 1:39-56 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be[a] a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise
46 And Mary[b] said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

a) Luke 1:45 Or believed, for there will be
b) Luke 1:46 Other ancient authorities read Elizabeth