Sunday Night Thoughts

The interesting Twin Tiers winter continues…

Earlier this week, there was a thought that we might have another winter storm this weekend. That would be the second weekend in a row for a winter storm. In what is uncharacteristic for the coldest week statistically is that it was warm enough for rain. Yesterday morning we had a bit of a mix, but most of it fell as rain yesterday and we had about an inch of snow this morning. The seven day forecast has another winter storm possibility for next weekend.

This past week was a short week, because of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. It was a great week for running and exercise. For the first time in over 8 weeks, I was able to run 20 miles. It feels so good to get that kind of mileage. I did learn that Olean is planning on a half marathon this fall. There is an outside chance I could run two halfs this fall. They would be the first half I have run since moving here. If so, I am going to need to do some serious training this summer. At this point, I am well over a two-hour pace. I would have to get down to a 9 minute mile to get under two hours and currently I am two minutes a mile slower. This will be a good challenge for me.

On Wednesday evening we had a good Kid’s Club. We are working through an eight week series on creation. We have around 3 students coming on a regular basis.

Yesterday we sort of took the day off, but it was good to step back.

This morning I woke up to shovel about an inch of the white stuff as we prepared for worship. We had a good service and the Holy Spirit was evident as we worshiped. I preached from James 2 and Matthew 25 – about the importance of working out our faith through our actions.

We were going to celebration Chinese New Year’s this afternoon by eating Chinese food, but it wasn’t suppose to be. So we ended up at Subway. At this point I am relaxing for the rest of the night and waiting to talk to our grandkids. That’s about it. Have a great week.

Prayer for the Week

Third Sunday after Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom

Third Sunday after Epiphany | January 26, 2020

Isaiah 9:1-4 • Psalm 27:1, 4-9 • 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 • Matthew 4:12-23

Matthew 4:12-23 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

12 John had been put in prison. When Jesus heard about this, he returned to Galilee. 13 Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in the city of Capernaum. It was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 In that way, what the prophet Isaiah had said came true. He had said,

15 “Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
    Galilee, where Gentiles live!
    Land along the Mediterranean Sea! Territory east of the Jordan River!
16 The people who are now living in darkness
    have seen a great light.
They are now living in a very dark land.
    But a light has shined on them.” (Isaiah 9:1,2)

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach. “Turn away from your sins!” he said. “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”

18 One day Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. There he saw two brothers, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake, because they were fishermen. 19 “Come and follow me,” Jesus said. “I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers. They were James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee. As they were preparing their nets, Jesus called out to them. 22 Right away they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.

23 Jesus went all over Galilee. There he taught in the synagogues. He preached the good news of God’s kingdom. He healed every illness and sickness the people had.

After a week outside of Matthew, we are back in Matthew and continuing through Matthew’s descriptions of the events in Jesus’ life. Two weeks ago, we heard about how Jesus was baptized…how that Jesus said, “We must carry out all that God requires.”

We skipped over the account of Jesus’ temptation, because we will deal with that on the First Sunday of Lent. After Jesus’ temptation we hear how Jesus’ ministry began. Last week, we said that after the baptism of Jesus, John faded into the woodwork. Part of that reason is that he was arrested and put into prison. John the Baptist was not one to mince words. He was willing to tell it like it is. We learn that Jesus starts his ministry after John has been put into prison. Here the accounts of Matthew and John have different takes on the story.

Jesus starts his ministry…picking up where John the Baptist left off. We learn that Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” John had already been preaching this – preparing the way for the people.

Jesus also knows, that he can’t do all the work, so he starts recruiting disciples. He is walking along the Sea of Galilee. It is here that he sees two fishermen and calls those fishermen to follow him and to help him preach the Gospel of repenting from sin and turning to God.

It doesn’t appear from the text that there was any hesitation. When God called, they immediately left their nets. When God called, they left everything they knew behind and started to follow this unknown teacher. They don’t walk very much further and Jesus calls two more disciples who also follow him and follow Jesus immediately. They leave their nets…all their fishing equipment…and…their family.

Jesus said the cost of doing God’s work is high. It is a sacrifice that is required daily. That’s why he later tells his disciples, “You must take up your cross daily.” Imagine what it felt like to leave everything you know to follow some itinerant preacher.

But that’s what they did. It’s not in our text, but in what follows that Jesus attracted quite a crowd – everywhere He went – people followed. Jesus was preaching the Good News of the Kingdom – preaching repentance, healing the sick, casting out demons…whatever was ailing them. Jesus was changing the world…one person at a time. He showed his disciples what was required – and soon, He would command them to do the same. Even while he was with them…he sent them out…into the highways and hedges to preach the Good News and heal the sick.

Today, God is calling us to do the same…not just the “professional” but God is calling all of his people to preach the Good News…to build the Kingdom of Heaven. Just imagine if each disciple would make a new disciple – what a change would happen in the world.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Hard to believe we are halfway through January. So far winter has been kind to us. The last couple of days have been hard to figure out. The forecast for yesterday was snow, so we decided to stay put – which once the snow started was a good decision. I shoveled the sidewalks several times and then finally this morning, salted them. It was nice not to have to be out in the snow. Right now it’s 22 degrees and tonight and tomorrow the lows are to be in the single digits. But a warming trend is on the way for later in the week.

Currently I am working on selecting a musical for Palm Sunday. I will be directing a community choir for Palm Sunday. This has been one of the highlights of the last couple of years.

The rest of the month is slow in relative terms and it is nice for the break, especially as we await the arrival of our third grandchild. This past week we were supposed to go to Buffalo for a district meeting but the weather was a bit crazy, so Pam and I decided to stay home and I think that was a good decision.

This morning was busy as I had to get the sidewalks clear. We had a small but good crowd this morning – the weather played a factor in attendance, as we are still getting lake effect snow. We may see a winter that Lake Erie doesn’t freeze over. We were hoping at sometime to go see Niagara Falls froze over, but we haven’t had that kind of cold.

It may have been winter dreary this morning, but we had a good service. God was evident as we sang and as I preached. This afternoon we have been relaxing and watching championship football. Since all my teams are out, I haven’t chosen who I’d like to see yet.

That about wraps it up. See you next week!