Accept the Gift

5th Sunday After PentecostJune 24, 2018

stones-2533882_640.jpg1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49  • Psalm 9:9-20  • 2 Corinthians 6:1-13  •  Mark 4:35-41

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!

2 Corinthians 6:1-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

We continue our walk through Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.  We know by his Paul’s first letter that this was a church that had some issues.  But really there are many churches that have issues.  By the sounds of what Paul writes, there were some who were not willing to accept the gift of salvation.  Just before this passage, Paul urges the Corinthians to accept God’s gift of reconciliation.  Paul and his cohorts are ambassador’s of Christ and they are urging people to come back to God – to be reconciled to God.  This is the gift that Paul is referring to.  Paul continues, “Today is the day of salvation.” Apparently some didn’t believe that Paul and those who traveled with them really were ministers of the gospel.  Paul recounts the various hardships he has faced since repenting of his sins and now preaching the gospel.  He is following the leading of the Holy Spirit and wants others to do the same. Paul desires to live in such a way that that no one will stumble – that no one would be led astray – that no one will find fault in their ministry.  Yes, there will always be those who find fault even when our motives are pure, but that doesn’t give us license to do whatever we please — we must still live as true ministers of God.  Paul tells his readers that they have proved that they are true ministers by their conduct and by following the leading of the Holy Spirit – faithfully preaching the truth – and by their sincere love.  Paul even mentions the love he has for the Corinthian believers, even though they don’t reciprocate.  Paul is asking the Corinthian believers to respond as true children of God – to open their hearts to the Gospel that Paul and his friends have preached – the truth of God – through the power of God – the Holy Spirit!


Sunday Night Thoughts


As I write this, I can still see light of the sun still lighting up the Brook.  The sun has already set, but you can see the glow of the setting sun on the trees.  Summer has really arrived – at least for the next couple of days.

Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day.  I was able to call my dad and we FaceTimed with our kids in Canada.  The weather was much like last year’s Father’s Day.  I made sure we had the windows open in church so it didn’t get too sauna like.  My dad handed down a wonderful legacy to me.  I hope I have handed down a legacy like that to my kids.  I did get a card and a new Phillies t-shirt and they took me out for lunch today.  We had a great time.

District Conference

Yesterday, Pam and I and James (who served as our lay delegate) headed north to Williamsville, NY – just to the northeast of Buffalo for district conference. Part business meeting – part worship – part inspiration.  It was a good 7 hours together with our district family.  I appreciate the leadership that Pastor Joey gives to our district. He talked about the three areas of focus this year:

  1. Focus on Lost People
  2. Focus on the Local Church
  3. Focus on Partnerships

Our district has several great partnerships – churches working with other churches.  We are better together.

Following District Conference we went to Ted’s Hot Dogs.  We’ve only gone to two district conferences, but both times we stopped at Ted’s on the way home.

This past week, we finished up our first round of driving for school.  We now get a three week break and we also get a break from church events.  The next big event for us is our 80th Anniversary and Homecoming.  We are looking forward to this event.

This week I can begin working on some summer projects in anticipation of fall.  First thing though tomorrow is to go out for a long run – it’s going to be warm so…we’ll see how that goes.  Time to wrap it up.   Blessings…

Prayer for the Week

lens-reflection-2757801_960_720Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

New Life Has Begun!

growth-621090_640Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13 and Psalm 20  •  2 Corinthians 5:6-17  •  Mark 4:26-34

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:6-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul continues this second letter to the church at Corinth.  In the previous paragraphs, Paul has written about the trials that he has faced in preaching the gospel.  In chapter 4 he writes, “We are pressed on every side by trouble, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

He also writes about being a treasure in this human jar of clay.  He transitions then to the hope – that there is coming a day when these earthly tents that we live in will be exchanged for eternal bodies.

This is what gives Paul his confidence as we read in vs 6.  As long as we are in these bodies, we are absent from our home with the Lord.  We are reminded that we walk by faith, not by sight.  The older I get the more I understand why the saints of the church long to be with their Savior.  Paul even mentions this.  We would rather be at home with the Lord, but we make it our ambition while we are in these “earthly tents” to please the Lord.  Ultimately, this is what we will be judged on.

Knowing that, we have a responsibility to live as ambassadors for Christ.  Paul calls it a fearful responsibility to the Lord.  We work to share the gospel of Christ.  Why? because of Christ’s love.  The love of Christ compels us to share the good news – that Jesus came, that Jesus died, that Jesus rose, and that Jesus is coming again.

Jesus came that we may have new life.  It is different from the old life.  Jesus died so that we no longer live for ourselves, but that we live for Christ, if we receive the new life that he offers us.  It is this new life in Christ that compels us to live for him.  Paul finishes this section with “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Thursday Set List

Emmaus Road

Emmaus Road has moved to Thursday nights.  Here was tonight’s set list:

I opened with Dan Fogelburg’s “Leader of the Band.”

  • Your Love Awakens Me
  • Resurrection Power
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • Revelation Song
  • In Christ Alone