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.

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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.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Wow! It’s been an interesting week, and I say that in a good way.  The weather continues to be interesting.  Since Thursday, we have had on and off snow showers – snow followed by sunshine and back to sunshine.  Today was a bit different starting with snow showers and then we had partly cloudy skies for the rest of the day.  Like all of you we lost an hour’s sleep last night.  It was interesting…those who normally show up early…showed up a little later and I almost thought several had forgot to move their clocks ahead.

This past week, we had our first Lenten Luncheon with the local ministerial association.  I led the worship and ended up doing the devotional.  This week our church is helping to provide the food, but the other church is doing the devotional, but I will still be doing the worship (responsive reading and music.)

In addition, I am working with a community choir for a Palm Sunday concert.  I offer a word of thanks to my friend Allen, who got me some music from our former church.  We have some impressive talent here in our area.  The choir sight-read most of the musical and the pianist sight-read the accompaniment.  I am looking forward to our Palm Sunday evening worship event.

Friday evening, we trekked over the mountain to Bradford to assist First Wesleyan with their coffee house service.  Once again there were some people who wandered in off the street, which is exactly how this service is designed to work.  Pam and I were there for support and I kicked off the service with a call to worship and invocation.

It’s hard to believe but our revival is just around the corner.  Our guest will be Joe Payne who pastors the Hess Road Wesleyan Church.  We have been praying for revival and we are looking forward to what God has in store.

So far, it seems like it’s been all church stuff, but that’s the way it has gone this week and the next two weeks are much the same.  Next year our revival will be after Lent.

Over spring break, James told us he will be going to Washington DC.  He will be meeting with representatives with Congress about the healthcare situation.  We are praying for James as he goes and represents Houghton.

I do have an unspoken prayer request that I would ask you to pray for.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Today was an absolutely incredible morning.  Pam, Anna and I sang a special, but the whole service was truly anointed.  It am thankful for what God is doing in McKean County.  At this point, I can’t think of anything else, so we will see you next week.

Here is the sermon link from this morning.

Currently listening to:

 

Prayer for the Week

Second Sunday in Lent

Lent-Cross

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Made New

pexels-photo-119580.jpegSecond Sunday in Lent (March 12, 2017)


Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.

13 Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

16 So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. 17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.


This Sunday I am preaching from John 3. Which is the account of Nicodemus coming to Jesus after dark.  Nicodemus is curious about this Jesus.  My belief is that he wanted to know more about this man.  Who was this Jesus?  Is he really who he claims to be?  I believe that he was a genuine seeker.  We find later in John’s gospel that Nicodemus comes to Jesus’ defense. He even helps Joseph of Arimathea bury the body of Jesus after he is crucified.  That conversation in John 3 was just the beginning.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born from above (we use the term born again, but the Greek here is fuzzy.) Nicodemus doesn’t understand all of that, but Jesus explains.  It seems that while Nicodemus is a religious leader, he doesn’t understand all things spiritual.  Toward the end of the conversation we come upon what is probably the best known verse in all the Bible. If you grew up in church, you probably even memorized it.

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

This helps set up our New Testament scripture for this week.  Paul is making the case that it is our faith that makes us right with God…not our good deeds.  After all if our good deeds make us righteous, Paul goes on to say then we have something to boast about.  We come upon these words that are also found in Genesis 15:6:

Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.

We are reminded that Jesus is a free gift.  That it is through Jesus that we are saved…not of ourselves and the things that we do.  Paul tells us that we are counted righteous…not because of our work…but because of our faith in God.  It is God who forgives sinners because of their faith – through the blood of Jesus Christ.  We are reminded in the John 3:17 passage that Jesus came to save the world.

Abraham is the father of the Hebrew nation.  Even so, Paul tells us that Abraham was not made righteous because he obeyed the law (the Law wasn’t even written in stone yet.) But it was because of his right relationship with God through faith.  Paul will go on later to say that the whole point of the law is to show that we are helpless on our own to obey the law.  It only shows how sinful we really are.  In fact he says, that if we could obey the law then God’s promise is pointless, because the only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break.

Here we learn that the promise of eternal life is received by faith…not of ourselves.  The promise is a free gift…it is not something that we can earn.  How do we receive it?  We need to have a faith like Abraham’s.

I love how Paul finishes up this section:

Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

God desires to make each one of us new.  God wants to redeem us from the empty life.  The cross of Jesus has made a way.  Jesus is our free gift.  God wants us to call upon him. Later on in Romans Paul writes these words:

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

The gift is available for those who believe.  Will you believe?  Will you have faith in God? Will you declare that Jesus is Lord?  Will you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?  If so, you can be made right with God…you can be reconciled to Him.

 

 

Be Yourself and the World Will Adjust

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Last week one of my friends on Facebook had a picture of Pig Pen from the Charlie Brown comics with these words “Be You. The World Will Adjust. I thought it was a great picture I put it on my Facebook page. This is a thought process that I have struggled with as a pastor’s wife/pastor the past twenty years. The struggle is we have had people who want to change us to fit into their mold of how pastors and their family should look and act. Two week ago, I was talking to pastor, who is our age about this struggle. I did not think that would still tell me how to dress when I has fifty-four years old. During this conversation, I had an epiphany what the true problem involved. Dale and I have been the first non-baby boomer pastors in all our churches. We were born in the gap between Baby Boomers and Gen X which 1961-1966.  People who were born in those years usually related to one or the other.  In our case we tend to identify more with the Gen X generation than the Baby Boomer generation.  We also like to hang out will Gen X’ers or Millennials. One because when Dale went to college for the second time, he hung out with the Gen X generation, because they were going to school at this time.  Our oldest two daughters are part of the generation before Millennials and our son is a Millennial.  We have spent a great deal of time trying to connect and identify with these generations.  Perhaps because we see these generations are missing in so many churches.

I know that when we were growing up we heard a great deal about the “generation gap.” In many ways this gap has only widened over the succeeding decades.  Perhaps this is why the picture on Facebook spoke to me.  We expect people to form into our image of what we think they should be, rather than let them be themselves.  We do need to celebrate our differences because God made us all different.  He made us all different.  That way we can relate to different people.  I love the fact that each one of us can relate to different people because we are different.  After all if we were all the same, where would the fun be?  If we were all the same, let’s face it, some of us would be unnecessary.

It is important to be you…because there is no one else like you.  AND…it is important to let others be themselves.  God is using them in unique ways. Does someone not fit into your mold of the way you think they should behave – or any number of things — like the car they drive, the shoes they wear, the foods they eat, the clothes they wear, the books they read, they way they decorate their house?  God uses each one of us in our uniqueness to minister to people – to different types of people – so that we can take the Good News to the world around us.