Grace Received – Grace Shared

Posted by on Nov 23, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Grace Received – Grace Shared

Dear Gracious Lord….we are so very thankful that you are with us every day. You know our comings and our goings. You are there to strengthen us when times are unsettled. Thank you for your care, your forgiveness of our shortcomings and for your Son who you sent to save us. Our gospel lesson for this Sunday, as we celebrate Christ the King is from Matthew 25:31-46. This is the final parable Jesus told to the disciples and the crowd gathered around Him. In this parable we are seeing Christ coming back as the Son of Man. He is coming back and will sit on his throne while all people and nations are gathered around him. The scene pictured here is the judgment time…after the tribulation and the second coming. This is the time Christ will begin his reign. We see that all nations are included in this scene. We have seen Christ use the sheep and goats in previous parables and here they are separated and placed on either side of the king.The king begins to talk to the groups of goats and sheep. He says to the one group that is at his right hand, that they will be blessed and will inherit the kingdom. He says that because they took care of him when he needed help, they ministered to him in prison, they fed him when he was hungry, they welcomed him as a stranger, they will inherit the kingdom.The people of the sheep questioned when this all happened. They had been busy and had just kept doing what they felt was right to do. Then, the king says, “Because you did it to the least of my family, you did it to me.” Then, the king spoke to those on his left hand who had done nothing to help people. They had been selfish with their property, they had not taken care of the sick, they had not fed or clothed those in need. Because of this, these people would be sent to the eternal fire. The people questioned the king about this….as they claimed they had not seen him in need. And the king said, because you didn’t care for those who needed the help….they had not done a good deed for the king and they would go to eternal punishment.It’s an interesting scenario that we have here. Some people would argue that this is a story about works righteousness. That we gain the kingdom by working for and with the people hoping to gain our salvation…and making sure everyone knows how much we work and how hard we work for God. However, this is FAR from that concept. This story is about the fact that those who believe in God, who have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and are part of God’s family, work with and for other people because they are thankful for all God has given to them. The righteous do the good for people because that is how God wants us to act on his earth. Not becoming righteous because they do the good for other people. The strong, obvious implication here is that good deeds do not produce righteousness. Even those the people on the right hand were often not included in the larger group of accepted people. But, they had learned to love through being part of God’s family. They had learned to care for others through being a part of God’s family and God’s kingdom. They realized and had found out that they were responding to salvation as a response to God’s love for them…not...

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Fulfilling Our Responsibilities

Posted by on Nov 12, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Fulfilling Our Responsibilities

Dear Lord….Thank you so much for seeing us through these past days. Thank you for your protection for us and your forgiveness for our shortcomings. Be with us as we continue to work through the unusual times we have been experiencing…show us how we can use our gifts and talents that you have given to us to spread your word to the people of our nation and world. Our gospel lesson for Sunday, November 15 is from Matthew 25:14-30. Most Bibles have titled this section, “The Parable of the Talents”. I know I have used this for a sermon before. We have all read this section, I know…many times. Every time I have used it, the main topic was dealing with what “talents” meant in the time of Jesus. This subject was often about how money we have been given or have earned has been used in our worldHowever, I have realized that the meaning of this parable is much deeper than dealing mainly with the subject of money. Yes, the term “talents” to the people in Jesus time meant money. One talent was equal to 6,000 denarius. A normal wage in this time was one denarius a day so that the amount of money being given to the slaves in this parable equaled a great amount of money.But, Jesus was talking about something totally different than money. In this parable, the kingdom of heaven is not the subject. The world the disciples and the people were living in was the subject. The “man” going on the journey was Jesus. In other words, Jesus was telling the crowd gathered about what would be expected from them while Jesus was gone from the earth…until His return. He was expanding the concept of “being ready”. Makes a big difference in how we read this section, doesn’t it? When the “man” left on his journey, he gave talents to three slaves who were to take care of the property while the man was gone. He gave a different quantity of talents to the three people. One had 5 talents, one had 2 talents and one was given 1 talent. The slave who had been given 5 talents traded some of the talents and ended up doubling the amount of talents in his possession. The person with 2 talents also doubled the amount he had been given to work with. However, the one with 1 talent hid the talent in the ground and did nothing with it.When the master returned, the slaves were able to share with him what they had accomplished with what money had been given to them. Yes…two of the people doubled what they had been given…and the one just gave the talent back to the master. The two who had doubled the investment were praised and promised that because they had cared for this amount, they would be trusted with even more. The one who had hidden the talent away was chastised by the master for not growing the number given to him.I thought it was interesting that this last person indicated that he thought the master was mean and wicked and he was afraid of the master, which is why he hid the talent. The master indicated that really, this person did not know him…and that he still should have invested the talent and the master would have received what was his own. And…in the last verse, we see the master saying this slave should be thrown into the darkness and not have anything..as it would be taken away from him.So….let’s see what this parable is REALLY talking...

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Preparing Every Day

Posted by on Nov 8, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Preparing Every Day

Dear Lord….Thank you so much for the many blessings to give us every day. We are grateful for our families, our friends, our homes, the care you give to us each day. Be with us as we continue to work through the many differences we have been experiencing these past months. Calm us to be able to do your work in your world. Our gospel for this morning is from Matthew 25, verses 1-13. At this point in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is getting closer to the events of the week and days before his trial and his crucifixion. He is taking the time to talk with his disciples and the people around them…warning them, comforting them and challenging them. He is doing this teaching through parables.The parable we have to consider this morning is the one about the bridesmaids with their lamps and the bridegroom. Matthew begins our consideration with the words, “The Kingdom of heaven will be like this.” All of the parables in this section of Matthew are termed “warning parables.” Also, remember that the kingdom of heaven is God’s empire.In this parable, Jesus is represented by the bridegroom. The ten bridesmaids are following the groom as was a practice in Jewish times. They followed the groom to the house where the groom and the bride would be living with their lights.Five of the women following the groom were “wise” and five were “foolish”….as stated by Jesus. We find the foolish five had no oil in their lamps. Guess they weren’t prepared for what they were to be doing. The wise five had plenty of oil in their lamps as they also carried flasks of oil with their lamps so they wouldn’t run out. These women didn’t know how long it would take for the bridegroom to reach their location, so they had to be prepared for a long wait. The groom finally came nearer about midnight so the bridesmaids got up and lite their lamps. The foolish five wanted the wise five to give them some of their oil. They hadn’t bothered to go find more oil before, so now, they had to leave the group to go buy some more oil.While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived. Those who had their lamps lit were allowed to go into the wedding banquet with the groom. Then, the door was shut. When the foolish five arrived, they were denied entrance. The groom said he didn’t know who they were. And Jesus completes the parable with the words, “Keep awake…you know neither the day nor the hourNow you say…what does this have to say for us today. Yes…Jesus was telling a parable about being prepared for when He comes to earth again. But, there is so much more within this story. Remember when Jesus was talking in the Sermon on the Mount about “You are the light of the world.” We are to light the way to God for other people. This light represents a life of service and at times sacrifice. This light shows the people around us where we are centered. The light represents a life transformed by faith in Jesus. The wise five had prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom all their lives. The foolish five thought the preparation didn’t matter until the last minute. When the bridegroom arrived, the foolish five didn’t have anything to show that they belonged to him. They didn’t have anything to show of a life of living, giving, caring and hoping in the bridegroom. This parable is about those who have transformed their life by declaring and living...

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