God’s Direction in our Lives

Posted by on Oct 30, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on God’s Direction in our Lives

Dear Lord…Thank you for keeping us safe through this week. Thank you for the many gifts you give us each day…many of which we often don’t realize are really gifts from you. As we consider your words this day, speak to each one of us and how we can show we are yours through our actions. On this November 1, we are not only celebrating communion together, but we are also celebrating All Saints Day. This day is always celebrated the day after Halloween. In many denominations, Halloween is also called “All Hallows Eve”. It is on the next day that churches celebrate all of the members of the churches who have gone to heaven. Our gospel reading for today is from Matthew 5:1-12. These verses are part of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” that is described by Matthew from 4:23 through 7:29. This section sets the stage for God’s mission through Jesus’ teachings and actions. Just prior to this section, Jesus has called his first disciples and they went with him seeing the healing that Jesus was performing just before they went to the mountain.In the first verse, we see Jesus observing the crowds that had been following and going up to the mountain with the disciples. At this point, Jesus needed to be alone with the disciples for a time to begin their instruction and give them the promises of God they would obtain and observe in their discipleship. These verses are called the “Beatitudes”. The description for “beatitude” is “blessedness”. Each beatitude implies a state of happiness and well-being. Jesus is indicating to the disciples how they were to live life when they had accepted God’s forgiveness and had repented from their previous life. It also indicates how people who have been forgiven will exhibit the gifts bestowed on them. The first four of the eight Beatitudes describe attributes of honorable disposition that followers of God will have as part of their lives on acceptance of God’s forgiveness. The first one of these attributes is that of “poverty of spirit” or in modern terms, humility. The humility comes for knowing we are nothing and have nothing without Jesus Christ. To paraphrase, “Blessed are those who humbly recognize their need for God, for they will enter into His Kingdom.”The second beatitude is talking about “those who mourn”…or who are sorry for their sins and repent. The forgiveness they find when they repent along with the joy of salvation is a comfort for those who repent. “Blessed are those who mourn for their sins, for they shall receive forgiveness and life eternal.” In the third beatitude we find the subject of “meekness”…or the submission to God’s authority and declare Him as Lord. In Revelation, we find God saying that His children will “inherit all things”. Those who are meek are imitators of Christ and are shown by their gentleness and self-control. The fourth beatitude talks about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. This describes a deep, strong need for justice. In reality, this beatitude is one that can apply to both what God gives us when we recognize what we are lacking and what God expects us to exemplify as one of His disciples. God can feed us as well as give us living water to replenish our souls…when we accept His love and forgiveness.The last four beatitudes talk about our social relationships as God’s disciples. The first one is, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” If we show people acceptance and kindness, that is what we will...

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Greatest Law

Posted by on Oct 30, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Greatest Law

Dear Lord….we are living in a time right now that is unprecedented. Thank you for being our Savior. Thank you for listening to us when we are wanting to know what to do in any situation. Thank you for speaking to us and leading us to how we can show people we belong to you. Thank you for your love and forgiveness when we fall short.Our consideration this week is coming from our gospel lesson from Matthew 22:34-46. We are also celebrating Reformation Sunday this week, so there is a LOT God wants us to consider.On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. He also mailed this document to the Archbishop of Mainz for consideration of making changes within the church. I had never thought about looking at these writings, but I did make a copy of all 95 theses this week. I was impressed by the very first sentence of these 95 statements, that says, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’ (Mt. 4:17) he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” This was the beginning of the statements that Luther wanted the church to go back to the Bible…to the basics and back to Jesus, the core of the gospel. These statements began changes that were not popular with some, but helped other churches form their history. In fact, the Methodist church began as a part of the Church of England and was further developed by Wesley when he saw how people enjoyed meeting in smaller groups outside a large worship facility. This was not a peaceful change…and the history of all denominations is FAR from calm and quiet. John Wesley, himself was changed and “greatly warmed” when he heard Luther’s preface to Romans that stated, “Change is what God works in a person’s heart through faith in Christ.” At this time, Wesley was questioning some of his beliefs and found great comfort in the words. Even though Wesley did not leave the Church of England, he espoused many of the thoughts and considerations of Martin Luther…that was written about 200 years before Wesley’s ministry began. We still celebrate this day as a sense of moving toward unity and community.Now, we come to consideration of the gospel lesson for today, where Jesus is again faced with questions from the leaders of the temple. The Pharisees were disturbed when they found out Jesus had silenced the Sadducees and decided to see if they could test Jesus. The question they asked him was about the “greatest commandment in the law.” They, of course, were talking about the Torah…the law they followed and studied. These two laws were stated in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus19:18. Jesus response is stated in verse 37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.” In verse 38, Jesus goes on to say that the second commandment is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”The Pharisees knew these verses, but they were on the offensive as Jesus had quieted the Sadducees. The Pharisees were responsible for knowing and studying the Law to be counselors and judges as well as administer the Law. So, this testing was really diabolical on their part as they were trying to prove they knew more. In preparing for this sermon, I wanted to look up the definition of “love” just to investigate. There are 12 different definitions in Merriam Webster for this word....

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