Happy Birthday to the Valentine's day Princess!!!
She made all the decorations and even the special Valentine's day crown
for a special Princess!
To read the Drama moment please see lower......
CALL & RESPONSE: (based on Psalm 89)
ONE: God of our hearts, here we are to worship. We've come with thirsty hearts, praying that Your Word will satisfy us.
ALL: We come with aching hearts, praying for good news to comfort us. ONE: We come with overflowing hearts, praying for a chance to share Your love.
ALL: You, who know our hearts and hear our prayers, be with us now in this hour of worship.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE & THE LORD'S PRAYER:
0 most merciful and gracious God, from whom comes all that is good, we praise You for Your mercies, for Your goodness that has created us, Your grace that has sustained us, Your patience that has borne with us, and Your love that has redeemed. Help us to love You and to be thankful for all Your gifts.
Father, we thank You for bringing each of us safely to this place this morning. We gladly surrender our lives to You in worship and praise. As we gather together, we remember those who are not with us today. For those who are sick we ask for healing. And for those away from us we ask for Your blessing to be on them.
We invite Your Holy Spirit to move freely amongst us. Come dwell in each of our hearts. Equip us, challenge us, comfort us, teach us. Inspire us as we learn more about Your majestic ways. Father, as we meet now, may we behold Your beauty and encounter Your grace. We ask all this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray together:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
The Offertory Prayer:
0 God, from whose open hand we all have received much; we ask You to accept this offering of Your people. Remember in Your love those who have brought it. Remember also those persons and purposes for which it is given. So follow this offering with Your blessing that it may promote peace and good will, and advance the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Psalm 25: 1-5 Page 863
New International Version (NIV)
1 In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 118: 1-7 Page 956
New International Version (NIV)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say:
“His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say:
“His love endures forever.”
5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
Genesis 21: 1-7 Page 29
New International Version (NIV)
The Birth of Isaac
21 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.
MEDITATION: Letting Go
Letting go is never easy. Perhaps you have experienced the letting go of some of your prized possessions. Perhaps you have lost a loved one. Some may have lost jobs. Others have had relationships which have ended. Some of you may have experienced the loss of a child going off to college, starting their careers, getting married, or enlisting in the military.
At different times in our lives, we may have to learn to let go of relationships, loved ones, friends that move away, homes in which we grew up, teachers we liked, the old comfortable T.V. chair, and maybe even some of our dreams and goals when we were younger. Think of the times you've been de-cluttering and how you've hesitated throwing out that chipped plate, or giving your old coat to Good will. In the back of your mind you still want to keep a hold on these treasured items.
But the hardest thing to do is letting go of your children. I remember my kids' first day of school, and how I cried, because they were going on to the next phase of their life. I remember how worried and concerned I was when they left for CEGEP. They would be living on their own and only coming home on the weekend. And then, when they got married, moving on to begin their life with someone else, that was probably the hardest 'letting go' of all.
So just imagine, if you possibly can, how Abraham must have felt when he awoke one night and heard a voice calling him with a terrible message. The message was so terrible that Abraham thought he was having a bad dream. "Abraham," said the Lord, "take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to Mount Moriah, and there offer him for a burnt offering.
Could he really be hearing God? The God who had given him and Sarah a son in their old age? The God who said, "In Isaac shall your name be carried on", and "You shall become many nations and many people"? How could it be, if he was to slay his son and offer him, like a lamb, as a burnt offering?
Now Abraham knew that some fathers in the land offered their eldest son as a burnt offering, but it was to their false gods. As far as Abraham knew, the true God had never asked for a child, or any human being, to be offered to Him as a burnt offering. Could it be, Abraham thought, that he was listening to one of those false or evil gods? Or perhaps it was the devil, asking him to destroy his only hope, his only son.
Abraham struggled in his mind, and he prayed. He had known God so long, he had heard his voice so many times, that now he knew he couldn't doubt. He knew that it was his God speaking to him. And he thought, "If God tells me to do this, then I must obey. He can raise Isaac from the dead, if He will."
So Abraham went and woke up Isaac from his sleep and led him out of the tent. He didn't want to waken Sarah, Isaac's mother. He just couldn't bear to tell her what God had told him to do. Silently in the night, with Isaac and two of his young servants, and with an ass loaded with dry wood and fire in an iron basket, Abraham started on his three day journey.
Finally they came in sight of Mount Moriah. (Mount Moriah is where Jerusalem is today) Abraham told his servants to stay while he and Isaac went to worship, and that after they had worshipped, they would come back. He tied the wood on Isaac's back, he took the fire and a knife in his hand, and started with Isaac up the steep hill. (Are you picturing what this must have been like for Abraham, knowing what he was about to do?)
Then Isaac asked his father, "Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham couldn't bring himself to tell the awful truth to Isaac, and so he said, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering."
Upon reaching the top of the mountain, there was nothing to do but to tell his son the truth. As you can well imagine, Isaac was astonished and dismayed, but he was an obedient son. Isaac, himself, was like a lamb. He said to Abraham, "Father, if God has told you to do this, then you must do it."
Together, they built an altar of stones and laid the wood on it. Then Abraham bound Isaac as he would a lamb, and he laid him on the wood. In complete agony, he reached for his knife, ready to plunge it into his son's heart. Just then he heard a voice call. It was God's voice. Abraham said, "Here I am." God spoke again, saying, "Lay not your hand on the boy. For now I know that you love God, seeing that you would not keep back your only son from Me."
What a relief and a joy these words brought to the heart of Abraham. Dazed, and relieved, Abraham looked around and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. Quickly unbinding his son, he caught the sheep and offered it on the altar instead of Isaac.
The place where this altar was built, Abraham called Jehovah-jireh, meaning 'the Lord will provide.' The offering, which seems so strange, showed Abraham, and Isaac also, that Isaac belonged to God, for to God he had been offered, and in Isaac, all his descendants had been given to God. Abraham saw and understood what God's plan was. The lamb Abraham offered and the son he was willing to offer pointed forward to the Lamb, the Son, that God would provide, to die for the sins of the world.
The offering showed Abraham and all the people after him, that God didn't want children or men or women killed as offerings for worship. And while all the people around offered such sacrifices, the Israelites, who came from Abraham, and from Isaac, never offered them, but offered oxen, sheep and goats instead. These gifts, which cost so much toil, they felt must be pleasing to God, because they expressed their thankfulness to Him.
John Calvin writes, "The Lord indeed, is so indulgent to our infirmity, that he does not so severely and sharply try our faith: yet he intended in the father of all the faithful, to propose an example by which he might call us to a general trial of faith." We know that God won't test us as He did Abraham, yet He nevertheless will bring trials into our lives to strengthen our faith and bring us assurance. If you are facing a test of faith today, know that God can sustain you if you trust in Him.
When I think of the faith that Abraham had and the courage it took to obey God's command, I marvel at what happens when true faith is exercised. And there are probably many people here this morning with stories of God's answer to their faith. Abraham did not withhold from God , and God did not withhold Himself from Abraham. If we want to deepen our relationship with God, let's not withhold ourselves from Him. Maybe you feel challenged by God to take a kind of spiritual audit, not of your possessions, but of your life. If so, ask yourself, "Is there anything that I would withhold from God?"
Abraham was able to be faithful to God, because he knew God. What started as a burden later became a blessing. God honoured Abraham's faith and gave him a greater promise than before. For us, in these days, we probably won't be asked to offer one of our children on an altar of stone as a burnt offering. We do know that trials will come, and we may never know why; but we can rest assured that the God of Abraham is the same God we serve, and He always knows what is best for us!
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
May the love of the Father, the tenderness of the
Son and the presence of the Spirit gladden your heart, and bring peace to your soul, this day and all days.
"Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go."
1. Come along. Don't daily.
2. What's your all-fired hurry? Where are you taking me?
1. Well, for the fifth time, we're going to Tony's Restaurant.
2. Hey, I remember Tony's. That's where I asked you to marry me. That was a long, long time ago. You and your folks were living in that mansion.
1. We lived in a trailer.
2. It was a double-wide. And you had a fuzzy little cat.
1. It was a dog.
2. His name was Fido.
1. He was a Chihuahua and his name was Pedro.
2. You wore a beautiful pink dress.
1. It was yellow.
2. Strapless, as I remember.
1. It had a big collar and puffy sleeves.
2. All I remember is you were as pretty as a picture. Remember how they all looked at you when we drove up in that old Chevy?
1. It was a Ford.
2. You really turned heads in those days.
1. Why, thank you.
2. I had spent all my money buying the diamond ring, so I was glad when you only ordered spaghetti.
2. I was so nervous that when I finally gave you the ring, my hands were shaking.
1. (takes his hand) Mine too.
2. Seems like yesterday. I remember it as clear as a bell. (stops, looks around)
Say, you don't suppose they tore it down?
1 Tore what down?
2 Charlie's Restaurant.
2. Like I said, (points ahead) Tony's Restaurant is right there where I remembered it.
We usually only go to Tony's on Valentine's Day. That's when I asked you to marry me. Seems like yesterday. I remember it clear as a bell.
1. Do you know what today is?
2. Friday? No, Saturday? Oh, what's difference does it make?
1. Clear as a bell.
2. Hey, Toots.
2. Just in case I forgot to tell you today, I want you to know I love you.
1. That's what I like about you, Honey. You never forget the important things!
No turning Back
A) He is greater than
B) A warning
C) He sympathizes with our weakness
D) Dont be complacent
E) Press on!
Introduction: Hebrews was written to first Century Christians who were in danger of giving up because of fierce persecution, imprisonment, having their belongings convescated because of their faith in Christ. In particular Jewish believers were tempted to go back to their familiar practices. This is the reason why the book of Hebrews was written to tell the Jews, dont turn back
-- The opening chapter begins with quotes from the old Testament, chapter 1 1-13.
New International Version (NIV)
God’s Final Word: His Son
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
The Son Superior to Angels5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”?
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”?
6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
7 In speaking of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”
8 But about the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
10 He also says,
“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.”
13 To which of the angels did God ever say,
-- Then we see a warning Chapter 2 vs 1 & 4 , chapt. 3 vs 811 // 6 vs 4-8, warnings that say do not neglect so great a salvation.
Hebrews 2 New International Version (NIV)
Warning to Pay Attention
2 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angelswas binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various acles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
-- Why? Because "Christ is" greater than, superior to, better than. Angels Ch 1 vs 6, Moses 3 vs 3, the law 1 vs 2, then Priests 1 vs 6, & ch 7 vs 23-28 than the old covenant, ch 8 vs 7-13
Hebrews 7:23-28New International Version (NIV)
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[a] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins,and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
Hebrews 8:7-13New International Version (NIV)
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
Or if you prefer for us today, better than our traditions, our denomination etc. Sometimes we feel like shrinking back.
Jesus, our high Priest sympathizes with our weaknesess Ch 4 vs 14-16, but we must hold fast, or as Churchill said "Never surrender"
Because of what Christ has done, and he sympathizes with us, we can come boldly to the throne of Grace! Thats good news! We come not in fear yet reverantly. We can find mercy, Grace in time of need, in time of persecution, in time of danger or being shunned by your family for ones faith
If I may add complacency is a great time of need when we drift away,,, note Hebrews 2 read the box on dangers of drifting.
No soldier gains ground by standing still, but by pressing on, and the rewards are many. So it is with the believer. We may be tempted to go back to drift away to complacency or whatever, but lets not do that. Let us press on!
They didn’t ask questions. Feb-1. 2015
Mark 1: 14-20
John the Baptist has just been executed and Jesus steps up to take his place as the new leader to spread God’s message of the New Kingdom. His first task is to recruit disciples to help him. Our scripture story relates where and how Jesus searches out his first followers.
This story of how Jesus goes about calling his first disciples always puzzles me. Jesus shows up by the shores of Sea of Galilee, calls out to Simon Peter and Andrew, tells them he’s going to upend their lives and give them a new vocation, he commands them to follow him without a backward glance or thought about their family or fishing business. Mark records no questions asked by either fisherman. In the space of one sentence, Jesus issues the same call to James and John with the same results. In a flash they are out of the boats and following Jesus-no questions asked!
Maybe we are all puzzled! “They didn’t ask questions.” Maybe we are all thinking the same, how we would respond?
“I’m sure I’d blurt out, “who are you and where are you going?” and “what your plan and where do I fit in to it?” “What happens to my family business and all the people it supports? “Why are you calling me and once we catch these people, what are we to do with them?”
I imagine we would all ask the same questions.
Put ourselves in the fishermen’s shoes, how would we respond to such a call when there’s-
-- no business plan,
--no evangelism outreach strategy,
-- no job description,
-- no job interview
-- no time to consider the pros and cons about the offer
Just an itinerant preacher who appears on the shore, shouts an invitation and walks on.
I’m sure we would be curious, wondering just who this person thought he was or maybe we would have laughed thinking it was some kind of a joke. I’m sure we to would have stayed in the boat or “hummed and hawed” for so long, Jesus would have been long gone before we made our move.
When reading biblical text in today’s environment, we need to pay attention to questions like, “when-why-what” questions that will help us understand what the author was expressing with this story. Like all stories of the Bible, they take place in a particular time and place. Here we are talking about a time approx. year 30 of the first century and within an agrarian society.
The Bible story, this morning reveals an encounter with God—gives us a glimpse of Jesus, to hear his proclamation of the kingdom and his call. These stories confront us with the reality that God has the HABIT OF SHOWING UP UNEXPECTEDLY in the ODDEST PLACES and invite us to turn around from where we are and follow him—NO QUESTIONS ASKED.
In the story Jesus has come to Galilee announcing God’s good News. He is asking people to join him. It has a “take it or leave it” atitude. Jesus is inviting them to be part of his life and mission, and they must decide what their response will be. Follow him or keep fishing.
Have things really changed? What does it take for those of us in the ORDINARY BOATS OF LIFE to respond immediately to Jesus invitation—TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT AND FOLLOW HIM, NO QUESTIONS ASKED? What keeps our feet stuck to the bottom of our particular boat?
A list of rather obvious barriers, quickly come to mind. We have responsibilities to families, our employers and members of our communities. They expect us to be in the boat every day fulfilling our duties. Wouldn’t it be irresponsible, even crazy, to walk away with some street preacher?
If we can somehow get past these barriers, there are also some other items we must take into consideration. We’re supposed to carefully analyze situations, set goals and make a plan. The idea of pushing that carefully crafted plan overboard at the call of Jesus leaves many of us shaking our heads.
But perhaps the stickiest glue holding us in the boat is the desire to be in control. We go to elaborate lengths to gain and assert control over our lives, families, work and finances.
Much of this control is an allusion we conjure up to keep from seeing and admitting the truth that even with all of our diligence--
-financial market may crash,(oil-corrupt stock market)
-disease(Ebola-Cancer-Alzeimers) may enter our lives,
-people get caught up in natural disasters
-and relationships change.
It’s hard to live with these uncertainties, so we hide and pretend we’ve got it all under control.
This can make it difficult to respond to Jesus call, because in order to say YES, we HAVE TO FOLLOW A LEADER WHO STANDS THE WORLD ON ITS HEAD.
Listen to what Jesus expects from us--
-- First will be last,
-- Turn the other cheek,
--Blessed are the poor,
--Love your enemy
Jesus brings us face to face with our humanness and challenges us to stake our lives on his promises instead of our plans.
Following Jesus is life-giving and transforming—but we don’t get to draw the map or have questions answered before we start walking. We have to listen to Jesus’ call and take the first step.
But we must be trusting in the prompting of God’s spirit:
Call to lay ministry UTC--
Talking about unexpected-oddist time- I remember an occasion when Sharon and I had made plans to visit our son in Australia, we had decided when, the length of our vacation, all we had to do was contact a travel agent.
Out of the blue I got an unexpected call, it must have been God directing me to go to lay school. It was the oddest time-no questions- last chance-- no other classes for two years-and it was in the Eastern Townships Classes would be starting the same time as our trip. We postponed our trip-just missed the last weekend classes-I must admit I struggled with some questions-but it was take it or leave. I was glad I took it-it proved to me God is active in our lives.
During my life I have discovered God’s call comes--Unexpectedly --in the Oddest place –we are left with no questions but simply follow.
I’m sure we all noticed that over the course of Jesus’ ministry it was the struggle to keep the disciples humble and ordinary-looking. And it’s the same struggle Jesus has with us. Every time we start angling for power or arguing amongst ourselves as to who was the greatest, Jesus slapped us back down to the street level of service just like he had to do with his disciples!
Jesus needs all of us to be common, ordinary, and above all humble if we are going to do Jesus any good and so change the world.
It can be downright uncomfortable. Jesus stands on the shore giving an invitation that makes real promises with real demands. The one thing that makes it possible to follow is that we know he will walk the entire way with us, leading the way into the God’s New Kingdom.
Credit: Associate pastor Cynthia Anderson United Methodist church for ideas used in the service.
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