Chosen

Posted by on Oct 18, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Chosen

Dear Lord…Thank you so much for your gifts to us of our days in your world. Thank you for choosing us to use our talents here in your world. You know are strengths and weaknesses and we want to continue serving you all the days of our lives. Show us where we can be your voice in our world that needs to hear of your love and forgiveness. Thank you for giving us your peace, your love and forgiveness.Our message for this week, the 20th week of Pentecost is from I Thessalonians 1:1-10. Paul writes this letter to the people in Thessalonica because he has heard from Timothy how faithful the people in this area has been. You ask…why is this being said?At one point, Paul was in Thessalonica and had faced persecution from the people. The people had accepted the message Paul was giving them of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and what Christ faced. However, they expected that Jesus would return in their lifetime. They were upset as they felt they had missed the rapture and all they thought they would experience within their lifetime. He now heard from Timothy that the people of this city had changed and were being faithful to what Paul was preaching. He wrote this letter to comfort them, to teach them and to praise (exhort) them to continue in their chosen fellowship with God. This city was made up not only of a large Jewish population, but also of Romans. Those from Rome were the city administrators who represented Rome. Also within this city were some pagan worshipers. So, it was a really mixed society. In other words, Paul was teaching to both Jews and Gentiles when he was in this city.In our reading for today, Paul is beginning by stating the letter is not only from him, but from the founders of the church there. His use in verse 1 of the phrase “Grace and peace” combines both Christian words and Greek words, which all would have understood. It also doesn’t discriminate against any certain group of people. All people are included.Paul is grateful that the people are showing their faith by working with others through love. He is thankful for their active faith, their working faith and urges them to continue to work with the people and to love those they work with. He assures the members of this community church that they were chosen by God and were given the power to work with the people to grow the church by the Holy Spirit. He remarks that he knows their words have moved past their community into nearby places of Macedonia and Achaia…as well as other areas in which the believers have been and have witnessed to Christ’s love and forgiveness.Paul says he is thankful for their faith, their love and the hope they bring to others. It is at this point that the work exhibited by the people who originally persecuted Paul, but repented for their actions equate to our actions in God choosing us to bring the gospel to His world.God has also chosen us to be his disciples. He has chosen us to work with the talents and gifts we have been given. He asks us to work in Faith….that rests in Christ on the cross. He asks us to work in love…in the presence of Christ at the Father’s right hand. And to work in hope that looks to the future…or Christ’s coming for his own. Paul is emphasizing to the people there, and to us that our work, as with the...

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Christian Joy

Posted by on Oct 12, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Christian Joy

Dear Lord….it seems to us that we are in a time that is wearing on us. With the combination of the pandemic and the very divisive campaign time, all we hear and see is argument, bullying with words, unrest at how we will combat the virus we have been experiencing. It’s not easy for us, and for some people, is meaning division between friends. Thank you, Lord, for helping us all through this time. Thank you for the reassurance you are always with us. Thank you for your love and protection. May we all exhibit the mind of Christ and Christian joy to all we meet. The passage we are considering this week is from Philippians 4:1-9. In this section from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul is first concerned about issues between two of the women who have been working with him. He is asking these two people to put on the mind of Christ in working with each other. As a reminder, the mind of Christ that we heard about a couple of weeks ago was specifically about having our minds centered on other people, not ourselves. We were to be working toward unity with God’s creation and people. Instead of being intent on keeping our own mind-set, we are asked to soften up our mind to consider the thoughts and ideas of other people. And, finally, as we transform ourselves to have the mind of Christ, we confess Jesus Christ as Lord. We know that we do not always agree with those people around us. We all have differing opinions, outlooks, etc. We are different people…and we are often asked to use those differing ideas and opinions to help each other solve problems in the world. However, there are also times when we are all asked to put aside our own ideas and consider, together, what is best to solve a problem or a situation. In other words, compromise and find the best solution together. In this passage, Paul is asking the women to reconcile their differences. He is also asking one of their fellow disciples to assist in the resolution of the issues. Notice that in verse 3, Paul asks for help as all of them have worked together in the work of the gospel, “whose names are in the book of life.” Just because of a disagreement, they are all members of God’s family and granted graces and forgiveness by Christ. Here is where we come to the concept of Christian joy, a concept that even in our day and age we can accept as our way of maneuvering through God’s world. In Christian joy, we are all grounded in the Lord. I said ALL are grounded in the Lord. There is no difference for having different ideas, for God is near always and ready to help us. When have you called on God to help you? In Christian joy, as in having the mind of Christ, we are to look outward, not inward. We are to share graciousness with all people. This whole message really spoke to me this week, as I have two friends who are diametrically opposed in many ways. This opposition is culminating right now in the fact that they are on opposite political sides. They have different needs in this time of “physical and social distancing” as one needs people. One doesn’t need to have friends, or so he thinks. These two are quite “stiff-necked” right now. I am attempting to be a sounding block for them….to let their frustrations be exhibited to me.I am also trying to just...

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Our Cornerstone

Posted by on Oct 4, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Our Cornerstone

Dear Lord….thank you so much for the gifts you give us each day…the gift of health, the gift of friends, the gift of a home and place to lay our head in the evening…and especially for the love you give us every day. Thank you for the Son you gave us all who died for our forgiveness and life. Show us how we can spread your Good News to other people through our words and our actions.Two of our lessons for this Sunday come from Philippians 3:4b-16 and from Matthew 21:33-46.In the Matthew text, we see the third time Jesus has utilized a parable set in a vineyard. Remember that the vineyard represents God’s world, of which we are a part of, and the owner is God. He utilized this parable to attempt to speak to the temple leaders through a story, calling on their own minds to realize what he was saying.In the first usage of the vineyard, stated specifically in Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus was talking about the workers that were hired to work in the vineyard. The owner/manager promised them all a day’s wages, but those who began work early in the morning were upset when they received the same payment as those who began work in the late afternoon. The complainers were jealous of those who received the same amount of pay. Remember that “manager” asked the complainers, “Are you envious because I’m generous?” What Jesus was really talking about was that God gives grace and forgiveness to all those He chooses to give to. He gives to those who accept His truth and His Son. Also…God gives the same gifts and graces to everyone who believes in Him and accepts Jesus as Savior.Then, last week, we were again told a parable about the vineyard. In this parable, Jesus was telling the temple leaders about two sons. One son was asked to work in the vineyard and refused to do as his father asked him. He later repented and was accepted by his father. The second son was asked to work in the vineyard and said he would. However, he did NO work in the vineyard. Jesus was using the parable to expose the leader’s deficient view of both John the Baptist and Jesus. The first son was representing known sinners who were disobedient before they heard John’s message and later repented. The second son represented the temple leaders who feigned obedience to God and refused to accept John’s message. Jesus was telling the temple leaders that sinners will go to God’s kingdom before they would….as they refused to accept John’s message and would not believe.So…this week, we have the third parable about the vineyard. The theme of this story is that of “producing fruit”. In this parable, the vineyard is not only God’s world, but more specifically represents the people of Israel. The owner of this vineyard had put a great deal of work and protection into the building of the place. Then, it was leased to tenants and the owner left the country. With any vineyard, the owner was due to have a percentage of the product. So, the owner sent his slaves/representatives to collect what was owed to him. (Rather like rental payment for the owner.) However, the slaves were beaten and killed by the tenants. So, the owner sent his son to get what was owed him. He thought that the tenants would respect the son. However, they killed the owner’s son.OK…are you beginning to see what this parable represents? The owner is God. The tenants are the leaders of Israel. The...

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