I’ve put this one up before, but I thought it bears repeating. If you are discouraged on this Monday morning, put your trust in the Everlasting God. Check out Isaiah 40:30-31!
Welcome to Sunday Night thoughts on this fourth Sunday night in October. As I mentioned in my sermon this morning, this is the three month anniversary of our first Sunday at McCrae Brook. As I write this, I am looking at the remain fall foliage. It is really pretty with the sun shining on it. Our leaves took a good hit with all the rain over the last few day. According to the news, we received over 2 inches from Thursday night through yesterday. That’s quite a bit of rain.
It looks like the weather is finally starting to head in to the cooler arena. We have several days forecast with the lows in high 20’s and low 30’s.
This week we took a trip to Buffalo for our monthly district pastors meeting. We car pooled up with two other area pastors. I love meeting regularly with the district.
I was able to get several runs in this week. Not as many as I would have liked – I am going to try to get in four full runs this week, along with some walks.
We had a wonderful Holy Spirit filled service this morning. I preached from 2 Timothy 4:6-8 in which Paul tells us to fight the good fight, run the race and keep the faith. I shared out testimony of God bringing us to Eldred. God is doing a good work and we are praying for the days ahead. We are starting to make our initial plans for a revival this spring. This coming week I plan on preaching a salvation message as we look at salvation through grace by faith.
This week I also started my bus driver training and have a few more hours this week. I have to finish one more thing and I should be ready to sub. I am looking forward to doing that. That’s about all I have for this week. Blessings….
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
October 23, 2016
Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
2 Timothy 4:6-8 | New International Version (NIV)
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:16-18
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This week we come to the end of Paul’s second letter to Timothy. These are some of Paul’s last words that we have, because this letter was written very near the end of his life. Since Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, he has been serving his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Paul has endured much suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11:16 and forward, Paul lays out just of the portion of the things that he has suffered for the cause of Christ. Paul has been faithful to the cause of Christ. Enduring suffering, pouring out his life to others. We know that Paul considered Timothy to be his son in the faith. Imagine the amount of mentoring that went on there. Paul poured his life into the churches that he planted – and worried about their spiritual health.
Paul is reminding us – who serve in the body of Christ – to pour out our lives sacrificially. This Sunday marks our three month anniversary of being at McCrae Brook. The following week our District Superintendent came and installed us. One of the things that I remember was his admonition to pour our lives sacrificially into the people here. Not only did he tell us to pour into the people, but that the congregation reciprocate. It’s only been three months, but I think that we have done that well.
Paul knows that he has spent his life in service to his Savior. He knows that he has been faithful despite the challenges. I think of this in my own life – and it is a constant reminder. Lord willing there are many more years left to be faithful to my Savior. It should come as no surprise that one of my favorite verses is also from Paul.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12-14
Paul reminds us to press on toward the goal for which Christ has called us. Each one of us has been called by God to do something in service for the King. As Paul nears the end of the race, he is looking back.
That is not normally something runners do – they keep their eyes on the prize – that is the finish line. But perhaps – at this moment in Paul’s life – he realizes that he has already crossed the finish line – that for all practical purposes – the work that God has called him to do is finished. Perhaps that is why now, instead of looking toward the prize – the finish line, he is looking back.
I love the fact that Paul is not looking back wistfully – not begrudgingly – not in the way that says, “I wish I would have done better.” No, Paul says that I have poured out my life – I have done everything possible to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling” – I have been a faithful soldier for the Lord – I have finished the race – I have kept the faith. I have poured out my life to the best of my God given ability and I am done.
After just a moment of looking back, then Paul looks ahead – Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day. Paul knows that it won’t be long now before he will be in the presence of the Father. As he recounts his faithful service to God, he is reminded of the prize. He is reminded why he pressed on toward the goal – the crown of righteousness. This is much like the wreath that was awarded to runners in ancient times for finishing the race.
One of the fun things about running a longer race, is the medal that you receive for finishing. While I have enjoyed my finishers metals for half-marathons, the finisher’s medal for the Richmond Marathon has much more meaning. I know that I trained hard – that I was faithful to the training. While not everything went the way I had hoped, I still finished the race. I fought the good fight, and as I crossed the finish line, I was given the prizes for my effort. I remember thinking, “how am I going to drive back to Staunton?” I was spent. I had just poured four hours and twenty minutes of running out. I was done. I think this is how Paul felt. But he reminds us who fight the good fight, who finish the race that there is a reward for all our work – to all who are faithful to His work – to all who long for the appearance of Christ.
In his final words, Paul reminds us once again that we are not in this race alone. We have God at our side. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. The battle is strong – the battle is not ours – the battle is the Lord’s. We are called to be faithful to take the message of Christ to those who don’t know Him – even in the face of opposition – and yet in that opposition – we know that God will be with us. God has been with his people throughout the ages and He will continue to be with us.
So fight the good fight – finish the race – and receive the prize – pour your life out for God.
This this is an older tune, but it one that I’ve always liked even though we’ve never really sung it congregationally much. It reminds us of who Jesus is, what he has done for us and because of that, that is why we praise him.
Yes, I am really early with this. It has been a crazy week, and even though we haven’t been on the road the entire week, it sure feels like it. At least this week, I am writing from the comfort of my own house. It has been great to see all of our kids this week. Last Sunday afternoon, following worship, we headed up to Winchester, ON. We spent time with them celebrating a Canadian Thanksgiving. It was really good to be with them. I got to play and read with my grandson, and we are now looking forward to the arrival of a granddaughter – sometime after the new year.
On the way home – we took a side trip to Houghton (yes, we were there again.) We will soon have been to Houghton in one year as many times as we were to Southern Wesleyan in six. We picked James up for Fall Break. In a surprising turn of events, James did not sleep through his break the way the girls did. We have had quite the interesting conversations over the last five days.
Yesterday, we took James to one of my new favorite places to visit – the Kinzua Bridge State Park. We even hiked down to the bottom of the valley and back – which proved to be quite a challenge in both directions. We had a lot of fun doing that.
It was one of those weeks that I had to keep focusing on my sermon – with being away and having James home for break. I’m not used to writing sermons on such a regular basis. Yesterday we also had our first men’s breakfast at McCrae Brook. We had about 10 men there and it was a great time. This afternoon while I take James back to Houghton, Pam will be hosting a ladies fellowship. James and I even went to the local barber shop. It’s been forever since I have been in a barbershop. We even got to meet some of the locals.
This morning was one of those special mornings – the last few meetings that we have had have been special – especially on Wednesday evenings. The Holy Spirit met with us as we worshiped this morning. I love Holy Spirit inspired services. We continue to look forward to what God has in store for us at McCrae Brook.
This week I do driver training for the local school bus company – I will be working as a sub – hopefully I will be able to do some driving next week. Oh, and by the way, we are finally completely official residents of Pennsylvania – both cars now have permanent registrations! We also head to Buffalo for our monthly district leadership meeting. Really looking forward to that. That’s about all I have for this week. Blessings….Dale