Sunday Night Thoughtss

It is late evening on a Sunday night.  A Sunday night that has left my heart full.  It has been an incredibly full week.  But let me start at the beginning.  Since we interviewed at McCrae Brook, God has been laying on my heart the need for revival – by the way – not just at McCrae Brook, but in all of God’s church, for our county, state, country and world.  God has been laying on my heart the need for the church to be at prayer and even (as I have been learning lately) for individual believers to be at prayer.  Over this past week, we have been preparing ourselves for our services that began today.  More about that in a moment.

I do want to put a plug in for the book again “Ablaze for God.” This book is powerful.  The church needs to read this book – whether you are a pastor, lay leader, or a member of the congregation.  I believe this book describes how to attain a heart for God. It’s not an easy read, but it is a needed read for all of us.

Pam and I have had several things on our plate this week.  The first was the Lenten Luncheon.  I am so excited about what is happening in our community.  The weather (I believe) kept our numbers down this week.  But I have been excited at churches reach across denominational lines to gather together for lunch and a devotional during Lent.  It has really been amazing.

Also this week, another community pastor and I met to help plan a Baccalaureate Service for our graduating seniors in the community.  As part of that service, we are awarding a local graduating student scholarship. We didn’t have any funds raised so the churches of the ministerial association hosted a dinner fundraiser.  We had chicken and biscuits.  I didn’t know chicken and biscuits was a thing this far north but it is.  The community really came out to support the fundraiser and we are thankful.  Each church was responsible for parts of the dinner and then we all came together to serve the meal.

In addition to all of that, I am directing the community choir for a program on Palm Sunday. We are using music that I have used before at Parkway and Preston Wesleyan Churches.  It is called “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”. It has several Getty tunes, several Chris Tomlin songs, supported by several traditional hymns.  I am looking forward to directing this.  We have some wonderfully talented musicians in our little, rural corner of the world.  We meet every Thursday evening.

 

 

On Friday nights, we are assisting our friends over at First Wesleyan in Bradford with a coffeehouse service.  This week the family led worship.  They did a great job.  Please be praying for this endeavor, because our meeting place has decided they don’t want to do the coffeehouse…pray for wisdom and discernment as the team figures out what to do.

Which finally brings us back to today.  Pastor Joe Payne from the Hess Road Wesleyan Church is our evangelist.  We have been praying over many, many months for these series of services.  Because our regular worship leader was sick, I led worship and I have served as the song evangelist.  It’s a different role because I am doing that as the pastor of the church.  We had two powerful services, but tonight was special.  The Holy Spirit showed up – made himself manifest and hearts were touched.  We are thankful for the ministry of Pastor Joe.

I am looking forward to the next three nights of revival.  Tomorrow we take our guest out to Sprague’s.  It is a local restaurant that also has a working maple syrup operation.  They make some great pancakes and great breakfast.

Oh, I forgot, then there was that snowstorm.  We didn’t get what most of the rest of the Northeast got.  In fact, the kids in our district went to school all week – no closings or delays.  This despite 6 or 7 inches of snow and then the blowing snow on Wednesday.  We have some hardy people here in Northwest PA.

That…now…is…all…folks!

 

Prayer for the Week

cropped-cropped-lent_page_banner.jpgThird Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

God’s Great Love

Twindow-1916154_640hird Sunday in Lent (March 19, 2017)


Romans 5:1-11 | New Living Translation

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.


Last week we looked at Romans 4 and we learned that Abraham was counted righteous because of faith in God.  People are not counted righteous because of the things we do. We are counted because of our faith in God.  The promise is received by faith and is a free gift and not because of the things we have done.

How does all of this happen?  That brings us to chapter 5.  Remember again that Paul wrote this as a letter and did not write it with chapter and verse.  Paul writes, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.”

Paul really begins to make the case that we are made righteous by faith through Jesus Christ.  We are reminded in verse 6 that Christ came when we were utterly helpless – when we couldn’t help ourselves – he came as a baby, born under a woman – so that he could be God with us.  Jesus, the Son of God became helpless to save us helpless people. That really strikes me as a paradox.

We are utterly helpless to live a life of righteousness on our own.  At just the right time, Jesus Christ came to save us – and he died for us sinners.  Paul makes his argument that very few people would be willing to die for an upright person, but Christ made the ultimate sacrifice – to die for unrighteous people.  “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8) Christ didn’t come because we were good people.  But his love for us was so great that he came and died for us.  Christ came to make us righteous – he came to make us at one with God – Christ made us one with God through his blood.  Because we are made right with God, Paul tells us, that we will be saved from God’s condemnation.

Christ’s death on the cross saved us from God’s condemnation and made us friends with God.  That’s a little hard to comprehend.  No wonder Paul called it a mystery.  While we were enemies of God, Christ died for us to reconcile us to God and now…we can rejoice because we have been reconciled and we are now friends of God.

What an amazing love that is!  Let’s go out rejoicing this morning as we remember Christ’s sufferings and the price that he paid for us when we didn’t deserve it and now we are friends with God.

 

St. Patrick’s Prayer

Below is the text to a prayer attributed to St. Patrick.  It would be a great thing to read through and then pray through at some point in this day when we remember a man who went back to the very people who captured him and held him in slavery and told them about Jesus.

Large_Green__Brown_Celtic_Cross-1

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.