Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Proper 26 (31) (November 5, 2017)
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
This week we are again in Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica. Again we have a relatively short passage. This is a interesting passage in that Paul reminds the church that while they were there they spent time earning their own keep. As a church planter, Paul and the team did not want to be a burden to the fledgling church. As I think about how that applies to any of us who are in the ministry – a pastor should be paid a fair wage, but should never be a burden on the ministry. Some might ask where that line is? I’m not sure. I think it depends on the church. Over the last 20 years of ministry, I have only been single vocational for about 4 years. The other sixteen years have been bi-vocational. However, just because Paul and the team were bi-vocational, that didn’t mean that their hearts were any less into it. Listen to Paul’s words:
We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live you lives in a way that God would consider worthy, For He called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
This gives a good picture of the role of a minister. Again a minister or preacher is not one with fancy and clever words, and mere human ideas, but from his lips should be the very Word of God. That Word of God then continues to do its work in the lives of the believers. Paul, Silas and Timothy preached God’s Good News to the churches and the churches responded by sharing the God’s Good News with others and by sharing in God’s glory. This is a great example of the relationship between the minister and the church. It is a partnership – together for the Gospel.
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
All Saints Day (November 1, 2017)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
1 John 3:1-3 | New Living Translation (NLT)
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Today is All Saint’s Day. What do you think of when you think of a saint? Do you think of someone who has already gone on to their reward in heaven? We usually think of older people, who have lived a devoted life to Christ as a saint. We typically don’t think of younger people as saints. We also don’t think of those who haven’t gone through trials as saints.
The reality is that those who have received Christ as their Savior, who are living according to his commands are saints. In the words of John – we are children of God. Throughout the New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters, we hear the word saint used in relation to those who are following after Christ. So if you are dedicated to the cause of Christ and obeying his commandments and making disciples, you are a saint! How does that make you feel.
The children of God have a great promise which is alluded to in John’s letter. John also received a vision from Jesus – we call that vision the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is the final book of the Bible and also written by John. In it we are given a glimpse of the hope and worship that awaits for the saint, when they are called home by God.
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
“That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
So child of God, you are a saint that God wants to use and has a great reward awaiting for you.
Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is the day that Martin Luther took his 95 Theses and nailed them to the door of Wittenburg Chapel. It really did change the course of Christian history. Martin Luther never intended to split the church – he did however want to reform the abuses that were happening within the church and that he did.
On this Reformation Day, I thought I would share some links, especially those from a Wesleyan perspective – on Reformation Day. But before I do that, I want to share the Nicene Creed. It it what Christ-followers around the world hold to be their core beliefs:
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
There are several videos available at Seedbed.com’s Seven Minute Seminary. But I did want to embed this one in the blog. Here is the link to the rest:
Indiana Wesleyan professor Ken Schenck posted 95 Theses For The Church Today
As I close, I want to share Martin Luther’s famous quote from the Diet of Worms “Here I Stand.”
“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. So help me God. Amen.”