Sunday Night Thoughts

It’s a post-Thanksgiving Sunday Night Thoughts.  It’s been a busy week, but we have had a wonderful week.  It was a cold week here in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania.  We had some low single digits on Thursday and Friday.  The snow that we got last weekend hasn’t really gone anywhere.  Then yesterday we had some freezing rain.  We have been to Houghton and back twice – to pick up our son James and then take him back.  

On Monday Pam and I got to attend some special training for transporters.  It helps us in driving and assisting students.  We got lots of good information.

We had a great Thanksgiving. We had meatloaf, PA Dutch Potato Filling, Sweet Potatoes, and Corn.  Two of our family really aren’t turkey eaters and one of the others couldn’t eat solids on Thursday.  We had a great day anyway.  God has blessed us in many ways and we are thankful for his blessings.  

We have been enjoying our free Y membership.  We have been running and walking the track – its 12.5 laps to the mile in the walking lane and 11.5 laps to the mile in the running lane – that’s alot of laps, but it sure beats being in the cold.  

The week was topped off by today.  Today we had Camouflage Sunday.  We encouraged everyone to invite their friends and wear camouflage to church. The Holy Spirit was evident as we worshiped. I was so thankful for a rich presence of the Holy Spirit. There was a good response to the message for which I am very grateful.  

Following the worship service we had a wonderful chili cook-off.  Five people entered chilis and the competition was fierce. I would not have wanted to be a judge.  We had a great competition and great fellowship.  It was so much fun.  

So that about wraps it up.  I hope you all have a great week.  Next week we begin a new church year.  Advent “arrives” next Sunday.  Blessings…

Prayer for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Reign of Christ Sunday

2 Samuel 23:1-7 • Psalm 132:1-18 • Revelation 1:4b-8 • John 18:33-37

Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
    And everyone will see him—
    even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
    will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Revelation 1:4b-8 (New Living Translation)

This is the last Sunday on the church calendar.  Next week begins Advent and a new year.  Starting next week, we will be looking at the Gospel reading for the next three years.  

We finish the church year in the opening paragraphs to the book of Revelation.  It is the last book in the Bible – a prophetic book – and an apocalyptic book.  Many have tried to “decode” its meaning.  We aren’t looking at the greater part of this book, but the opening paragraph where Jesus speaks to John.  This is the same John who wrote the Gospel of John and 1, 2, 3 John.  

The book is written to seven churches in Asia – the region we now now as Turkey.  Jesus declares here that he the one who is, who always was, and is to come.  Jesus has always existed from the dawn of time and Jesus will continue to exist.  Jesus even existed here on the earth.  John reminds us that Jesus was incarnate – that he dwelt among us as a human.  

Here Jesus reminds us that the everlasting one loves us and freed us from our sins through the shedding of blood.  This is an amazing statement.  I ask the question in tomorrow’s sermon, “What kind of King would lay down his life for his subjects?”  Just this week, I was introduced to a song called “How Many Kings.”  Here are the lyrics:

‘Cause how many kings step down from their thrones
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

How Many Kings – Downhere

Not only did Jesus — the King of Kings — lay down his life for us, but He also rose from the dead.  John records that he is the first to rise from the dead.  John also records that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end – the first and the last.  Jesus is the one who reigns forever and he is worthy of all of our praise!  

One day, Jesus is coming again.  John writes: “Look! he comes with the clouds of heaven…” For those who have placed our trust in Him, we too have the promise that Jesus is coming back again and we will then be able to have eternal life.  As an old praise chorus goes:

All hail King Jesus, All hail Emmanuel
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Bright Morning Star
And for all eternity I'm going to praise Him
And forevermore I will reign with Him

As we gather for worship tomorrow, we remember that Jesus is the King that will reign forever.  

Thanksgiving Day

Joel 2:21-27  •  Psalm 126  •  1 Timothy 2:1-7  •  Matthew 6:25-33

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.For,

There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.

This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

It is thanksgiving day here in the United States.  Paul writes to Timothy these words

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.  Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

– 1 Timothy 2:1

This is a great reminder to pray for the people that God puts in your way.  Paul doesn’t tell us to pray just for those we like – it tells us to pray for all people – people that God places in your way. Pam and I have really tried to live this way – especially in our roles as transportation specialists.  It’s so easy to make judgments about people.  Instead, we are encouraged to pray for them – to ask God to help them – to give thanks for them.  

In that way we live peaceful and quite lives marked by godliness and dignity.  Not only are we to pray for those God places in our path, but we are to pray for those in authority over us – whether we agree with them or not.  I know – that can be hard to do, but the way Paul writes, believers do not have an option not to pray for those in authority over them.  

Why should we pray and give thanks for people that God places in our lives?  Because God desires that all people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus.  God wants everyone to understand the truth of Jesus.  Only Jesus can reconcile God and humanity.  As we have been looking over the last few weeks, Jesus is the Great High Priest who mediates between God and humanity.  Jesus is the one who purchased freedom through us.  This is the message that we are called to preach — whether we have been called to preach as a vocational ministry or if we are a lay-person. Everyone – who is in Christ Jesus – has been called to preach the message of the Gospel.  

Today, let’s pray for those who God places in our path.  Let’s also thank God for Jesus Christ – who paid the penalty for our sin on the cross – who rose again – so that we might have new life in God.  

Sunday Night Thoughts

It’s almost 10 PM on a Sunday evening and just getting to this.  It has been a full, rewarding day – from our morning worship service to this evening’s Community Thanksgiving Service.  

*(Now playing – Michael W. Smith – Michael W. Smith II) I have been listening to some older Christian albums of late and I have been enjoying playing bass along with them, like I did back in the day.  

It has been a snowy weekend here in the Northern Tier.  It all started as we were returning from our monthly district leadership meeting in Hamburg, NY. It was such a good time – it was like being in church – in a very good way.  The Holy Spirit was evident as we met together.  

On the way home – around Ellicottville, it started snowing.  We had to pick up Anna at work and then I had a podiatrist appointment.  By that time, roads were starting to get slick.  We were supposed to have a choir practice for our community service, but we canceled because of the weather.  By Friday morning, we were greeted with 9 to 9-1/2 inches of heavy, wet snow – and the kids went to school, albeit on a 2 hour delay.  It took me some time to get the driveway shoveled out (by the way as I write the distinctive sound of a plow going by can be heard. 

As a result of going to a nutritionist, Pam and I got a 30 pass to the YMCA.  So, Saturday morning we got up and I did three miles on the indoor track.  I loved that compared to running on a treadmill.  But we also learned about some of the other fitness equipment.  In the evening we went to one of our friend’s houses for their family’s thanksgiving celebration.  I even ended up in an impromptu jam session. 

Like I said we had two really good services.  I preached from Psalm 136 this morning – Give thanks to the Lord…His faithful love endures forever.  This evening I led worship and the community choir.  It was a great service. I am thankful for a great bunch of community ministers – all who love the Lord and want to see the Kingdom of God grow. 

This week is thanksgiving and I wish you an early thanksgiving.  So that’s about it – I hope you have a great week.   

Me leading worship this evening.  

Prayer for the Week

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.