New International Version (NIV)
26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Drama moment " Priorities"
Note from webperson : Nancy thruly surprised us with this drama moment as it was not written in the buletin and she really got into the character..... Great !
AMY -- (enters crosses briskly to DC) Listen, I'm sorry to interrupt, but... well something... unusual happened to me on the way here. You're probably not going to believe it. You're probably going to think I'm a fruitcake or something, but... well here goes...
I was riding in my car on the way here when, all of a sudden, a man appeared in the seat next to me. Well, he looked like a man, but he was no mere man. I mean, what kind of man appears out of nowhere?
He said, (imitating slow, low voice) "It's time". (backs away, gasps) I knew exactly what he meant.
(reliving the experience) I said, "I can't go. Not yet." He said, (imitating slow, low voice) "It's time".
"No! I'm not ready!"
(deep breath, steps toward audience) You know how in the movies when someone is about to die, they show his life passing in front of him? It didn't happen like that. Not for me. What passed before MY eyes was just a handful of things, things I left undone.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the reason she's not ready to die is because she's not a Christian. But I AM a Christian. I put my trust in Jesus. I know I'm going to Heaven. But I still had some unfinished business to deal with, my mother for one. She and I, we had an argument a couple of days ago. So I told the angel, I said (relives the conversation with the angel) "I can't go until I make things right with my Mom!"
He said, (imitating slow, low voice) "It's time".
"And my Dad. I haven't told him I love him for two or three weeks."
He said, (imitating slow, low voice) "It's time".
"What About Jennifer? I borrowed some mon,qm from her. I've been avoiding her. I've got the money. You can't take me away before I pay her back!"
He said, (imitating slow, low voice) "It's time".
"Will you stop with the 'It's time', already?!" Coo! He was completely unreasonable!
(relaxes) Then it dawned on me. We Christians are supposed to live life as if there is no tomorrow. I had no right to put off these important things. Do you know why I let all these things slide? Because they were out of my comfort zone.
I figured it would be easier to apologize to Mom if I let things cool down for a while. And Daddy knows I love him. I don't have to go out of my way to tell him so. And do you know why I didn't pay back that money to Jennifer? The ATM machine was a little out of my way. The same is true for the video movie I borrowed from my brother and for that ministry I was going to get involved in at church. "I'll get around to it.., some day."
Then the angel said again, (imitating slow, low voice) "It's time". (sigh) It's time. And I'm not ready to go.
So, I asked him. I said, "If you won't let me tie up MY loose ends, at least let me warn the others." (points to audience, turns her back to exit) So, here I am.
(looks over shoulder at exit, shouts) I know. "It's time."
(backing to exit) Listen, I've got to go. But take it from someone who knows, don't put off the things you'll regret when it's your time to go. Get out of your comfort zone and do it NOW.
What is Christian reconciliation? Why do we need to be reconciled with God? There is a website called "GotQuestions.org." and this is the answer given on the site.
Imagine two friends who have a fight or argument. The good relationship they once enjoyed is strained to the point of breaking. They stop speaking to each other, communication is deemed too awkward. The friends gradually become strangers. Such estrangement can only be reversed by reconciliation. To be reconciled is to be restored to friendship or harmony. When old friends resolve their differences and restore their relationship, reconciliation has occurred.
The Bible says that Christ reconciled us to God. The fact that we needed reconciliation means that our relationship with God was broken. Since God is holy, we were the ones to blame. Our sin alienated us from Him.
When Christ died on the cross, He satisfied God's judgement and made it possible for God's enemies to find peace with Him. Our reconciliation to God involves the exercise of His grace and the forgiveness of our sin. The result of Jesus' sacrifice is that our relationship has changed from enmity to friendship. Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants, Instead, I have called you friends." Christian reconciliation is a glorious truth! We were God's enemies, but are now His friends. We were in a state of condemnation because of our sins, but we are now forgiven. We were at war with God, but now have the peace that transcends all understanding.
What creates animosity between friends? What creates walls between men and between nations? I believe there are 4 reasons, the first being fear. For many reasons we fear one another, and to fear people is to be separated from them. The second reason is pride. When we're confronted by the truth about ourselves, our pride keeps us from facing our inadequacies. We're separated from others who might free us and allow us to know them.
The third reason is power. Wanting to control lives and governments, we build walls of concrete or wood or even ideas, and we lock ourselves in as well as lock others out. Living in this province, at this time, I'm sure you understand what I'm talking about. The last reason, and perhaps the most powerful one, is hate. We are unable, or maybe we're just unwilling, to love each other. We hate people we don't know, and some go as to wish harm or even death. Death of recognition is a hard, cold wall.
We ask ourselves, can these walls be broken down? Yes, but we are like the walls. They make us feel safe and secure. As long as no one scales the walls, there is a kind of peace, or should we say silence, the silence of the dead. We seem to prefer the peace of death to the struggle of life. So I'll ask again, can the walls be broken down? Yes, they certainly can, with faith. If we dare to trust one another, if we dare to trust the Giver of all life, then fear can be banished, and so, too, the wall made of it. But both sides of the wall must trust each other, and trust must have a foundation on which to build understanding.
Humility breaks walls of pride. Then we who dare to see ourselves as we are can begin to build relationships out of what is really there. But humility must first be cultivated in ourselves. Love is the perfect breaker of the walls that separate people. We all need the confirmation of love. Others need such love from us. We all need to know that God cares for us.
If all this true, the walls come down at tremendous cost to us as we try to break them down. Sometimes the cost is death. Jesus died on a cross, but though He was killed, yet He loved His killers. The walls of hate and power and pride and fear could not prevail. Ephesians 2:14 states, "For He is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing walls of hostility."
A little boy went out to ball field by himself, wearing his baseball cap and carrying a bat and ball. In his eyes was the look of steely determination. He was so full of confidence that he put his bat on his shoulder, tossed the ball into the air, and said, "I'm the greatest batter in the world!" But he swung and missed. "Strike one," he said. He picked up the ball and carefully examined it. Then he threw it into the air again. As he watched the ball descend, he repeated, "I'm the greatest batter in the world." But once again he missed. "Strike two," he said with a puzzled look on his face, and he stopped to examine the bat to make sure there wasn't a hole in it. A third time he picked up the ball, adjusted his cap, and tossed the ball into the air. As the ball went up a third time he repeated the refrain, "I'm the greatest batter in the world." He swung with all his might, but he missed for the third straight time. "Strike three. Y're out!" he said with the emphasis of an empire. But instead of being discouraged, the boy began to jump and shout across the ball field: "Wow! What a pitcher. I'm the greatest pitcher in the world!"
So far this year, things may have gone very well for you. On the other hand, it may seem like you struck out. We have all struck out in some areas, but the good news is that you don't have to justify it somehow, or call failure by another name. Because even though you may have messed up, there is always another chance to begin anew, especially with God. Anybody here need another chance, a new beginning, a clean slate? We serve the God of second chances, and I, for one, am very grateful for that. Our sins can never be greater than the grace of God. Our failure can never be greater than the love of God. Our failure in the past does not determine what we will become in the future.
Failure is not final. If failure was final none of us would make it. None of the people of the Bible would make it. In fact, the Bible is one story after another of people who messed up repeatedly, and how they were coached along by God until they got it right. Names like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jonah, David, Paul and Peter, along with many others, including my own. If failures were not included in the Bible there would be no one there. If failures were not included in the church no one would be here either. But the Bible also shows us that failure is not final. The Lord says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:34). That's why the Bible says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16).
In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 5. Paul writes about reconciling with God, but is he in fact speaking about overcoming alienation and establishing new and peaceful relationships? Later in Corinthians, Paul is trying to convince the people of Corinth that the death of Christ has abolished the old standards for what counts as power and persuasiveness, and he urges them to stop their rivalry and boasting and conflict. They should be reconciled to Paul and to one another. Paul proclaims the transformation of the world and summons us to see all things made new in the light of that transformation. God was reconciling the world to Himself, not just individuals. Paul says that the whole world is being made new by the cross and resurrection, and that all our relationships have to be re-evaluated in light of that transformation. '
One consequence of God's reconciling act in Christ is that God has now given us the ministry of reconciliation, as we read in verse 18. This is an amazing act from God, so amazing, that Paul repeats it in verse 19, "in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."
Verse 21 states, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." This is one of the most magnificent verses in the Bible. Everything you need to know about how to get into heaven is in these 23 words! Sometimes Christians fall into sin. This is an unchangeable fact. But thankfully, it's the exception, not the rule. Temptation can sweep a weak believer off his feet and send him tumbling into sin. When this happens to someone, what are we supposed to do about it?
This is the Apostle's advice: "Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ and complete what is lacking in your obedience to it. For if any person thinks himself to be somebody when he is nobody, he deceives and deludes and cheats himself."
Jesus faced temptation head on, full strength, all that the devil could throw at Him. But having felt its full weight, He never gave in, never flinched, never even came close to sinning. He never confessed a fault, because He had no faults to confess. He never asked for a pardon, because He never needed one. He claimed that no one could convict Him of sin, and He was right. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, became sin for us. When Christ died on the cross, He took my place and He took yours.
Jesus' gift to us is that we might become the righteousness of God. That's what we all want, to have our record cleared, to know that when we go to sleep at night there's nothing between us and our Heavenly Father. Jesus was condemned that we might be justified. He bore our sin that we might be set free. He died that we might live. He suffered that we might be redeemed. He was made of sin that we might be made righteous.
This message of reconciliation is not just a promise of life after death. It's a message announcing that God's work of reconciliation has begun. The ministry of reconciliation has begun, and we are caught up in it. This means that even in the midst of present sufferings, we can trust that God's reconciling power will prevail. Paul's concluding announcement is, "See, now is the well-accepted time; see, now is the day of salvation."
The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions. So I will leave you to ponder this Russian proverb: "In a quarrel, leave room for reconciliation."
Father, we give You thanks. We give You praise and glory. We give You honor.
We also come humbly before You admitting our great need for You. Not simply
a partial need, Lord, but a comprehensive, deep, constant, and daily need. Thank
You that You give grace to the humble. And so we humble ourselves before You
and ask that You would pour out Your grace in mighty measures today.
Graciously speaking to us. Graciously touching our hearts. Graciously working
in us to will and to do according to Your good pleasure. And graciously,
transforming our lives to the image of Jesus Christ. By Your Holy Spirit, unfold
Your Word and make it alive to us. And Lord, we confess that we can only live
by every word that proceeds from Your mouth. So speak to us. We are ready to
hear what you have to say. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
SHALL WE NOW SAY TOGETHER THE PRAYER YOU TAUGHT US TO PRAY:
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 & ever. Amen.
Gracious God, God of the covenant, in the glory of the cross your Son embraced the power of death and broke its hold over your people. During these few weeks of Lent we pray that you draw us near so that we may confess Jesus as Lord and put aside the deeds of death and accept the life of your kingdom.
Holy Father, Father of Christ who both bore our shame, and gave us the example of how to live according to your love, give us hope. By your Spirit, fill us with a heart of adoration and thanksgiving for your gift of salvation through Christ. By your Spirit, move us to show others that they are loved and valued through our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. Help us to show compassion and kindness, hospitality and forgiveness. Let us be just and merciful as you are just and merciful to us.
Sovereign Lord, Father of all in the power of the Holy Spirit, you alone can bring into order our unruly wills and affections. Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise, that among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely be fixed where true joys are to be found. We pray this through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Each of us is a fragile miracle,
evidence of God's creative hands,
and amazing grace.
We are each unique,
unrepeatable gifts to the world.
We are proof of God's love.
And so we who are the gifts of creation
now give gifts to our Creator.
Gifts brought in love.
Tend your soil with Kevin Harvey
Main point: Diligently tend the heart of
your heart and mind for blessed are you
when you have ears to hear and eyes to
Passage: Parable of the sower: Mark 4 1-20
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Parable of the Sower and Soils
4 He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. 2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, 3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, [a]let him hear.”
10 As soon as He was alone, [b]His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”
13 And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they [c]fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the [d]world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”
Today I want to focus on this parable but before I do,
I want to bring up some things to ponder.
Facebook comments on Christ
Peoples view on who Christ is
Lets begin with a question that John the Baptist
asked: " Are you the expected one, or shall we look
for someone else?" Mat 11 V 3
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”
Context was John the Baptist was in prison awaiting
his execution because of Herodias and her daughter.
Also before Christ spoke this parable he said some
things concerning himself. Personal credentials if you
will; some things he said
A) Matthew 12 V 6 "Something greater than the
temple is here"
B) Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.
The context eating grain, breaking the Sabbath law,
and Christ knows the heart of the Pharisees.
C) Matthew 12 V 41 Something greater than Jonah is
Pharisees want a sign, but Christ says the only sign
for them would be the sign of Jonah
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
D) Someone greater than Solomon is here.
so, it is with this in mind that we must pay heed to
this parable. Mark 4 1-9
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Parable of the Sower and Soils4 He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. 2 And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, 3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, [a]let him hear.”
A) There needs to be a sower to sew the Word
B) V 15 Satan is an actual being whose job it is to
undermine the Word of God, Ex: Did God really say.
Gen. Ex. The temptation of Christ in Matthew 4,
Christ was hungry, Satan said turn the rocks into
bread. Satan knows the word, and he can twist it,
but Christ always responds with: "It is written", the
Verse 16 & 17 Rocky places or Flaky faith
Examples: happy, no firm root, temporary; trouble
because of the word, they fall away
Vs 18 Thorns equal the worries of the world
Vs 19 Deceitfulness of riches and desire for things
Then finally the good soil, people hear and accept
and bear fruit 30, 60, 100 in vs 20
The Scripture for this week's service :
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness
4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’[b]”
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’[c]”
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[d]”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[e]”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
New International Version (NIV)
1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it,because the time is near.
Greetings and Doxology
To the seven churches in the province of Asia:
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Preparation For Easter
Today is the first Sunday in Lent, the season that extends from Ash Wednesday up to the eve of Easter Sunday. The word lent is derived from a German word meaning spring. Lent is a time of purification. It's a time to examine ourselves and our inner thoughts in preparation for the renewal in spring. Some Christians use this period of Lent to give up something in order to remind themselves of what Jesus gave up for us on the cross. The first day of Lent occurs on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter Sunday. The number 40 has a lot of significance in relation to the story of Jesus and the preparation of Lent. According to scripture, Jesus was 40 hours in the tomb before his resurrection, 40 days from the resurrection to His ascension and 40 days fasting in the wilderness.
When Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, he encountered Satan, wild beasts and angels. It sounds like a spiritual journey, similar to walking a labyrinth. A labyrinth is a spiritual tool. It's not the same thing as a maze, which tricks the walker with false starts and dead ends. A maze has many paths, a labyrinth only one. When you walk a labyrinth, you walk slowly, and pray or observe what happens within yourself. Labyrinths are a way to journey the inner self, observe or realize spiritual reality, and then return to ordinary life. A labyrinth can be used as a meditative tool even if you only have a picture of one and follow it with your finger.
A labyrinth involves lessons of trust and patience, and often gives insight into some issue that might be troubling in your life at the time. It takes time and effort to follow the path and reach the center. When you reach the center take time to rest and consider your new understanding of the journey, of preparation and persistence. Did you miss something along the way? The wilderness experience of walking the labyrinth seems a good modern-day way to connect with the spiritual journey Jesus made in the wilderness. We can picture His time in prayer, His need to face the wild beasts that snapped at His heels, the temptation of Satan, and finally receiving the blessing of the ministry of angels. When Jesus came out of the wilderness, He spoke from His spiritual center, He called people to become aware of the presence of the Kingdom of God, as He was. His time in the wilderness was a time of testing and reflecting. His time in the wilderness prepared Him to walk fearlessly through the trials that were to come.
The Bible is full of wilderness journeys. This seems to be something God loves to do with His people. He calls them out of the places where they were settled and s nds them into the wilderness, saying, "Get up! Go out! Go from your country and your family ard your father's house to the land that I will show you," is what God said to Abraham and Sarai. So Abraham went.
The Israelites were called out of Egypt, out of their bondage and slavery and into the wilderness for 40 long years. And when God called to Moses, he went up to the mountaintop to speak with God. Moses spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai. Then there's the story of Elijah who flees to the desert, running for his life. He, too, spends 40 days and nights in the wilderness before hearing God's command; "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Even Noah and the animals endured 40 days and 40 nights of rain.
It is the tradition in Christian churches to read the story of the temptations of Christ on the first Sunday in Lent. The temptations of Christ are about two things: the naming of the three types of temptations and the threefold overcoming of those temptations. Christ overcame the temptations as we can, if we know that Christ is in us. The grace which Christ has given us is not given in vain as long as we act upon it.
The Gospels tell us that Christ's temptations followed His baptism. Immediately after the baptism, Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke describes it as being thrown into the wilderness and suggests the violent aspects of sin as well as the determination to achieve our reconciliation.
We might ask why the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for 40 days and nights. If the wilderness is a place where we are transformed from just ordinary people into God's people,
then why was Jesus sent there? Jesus is already God's person. Jesus knew this because after he rose from the water after His baptism, he saw the Spirit descend upon Him like a dove, and He heard a voice say, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
We know that Jesus went to the wilderness to prepare Himself for the mission God sent Him to accomplish, to establish a new covenant that would supercede all the previous covenants which God had made with His people. Satan, in turn, did his best to entice Jesus to choose His own will over the will of God. Despite His weakened condition, due to fatigue and lack of food for 40 days, Jesus steadfastly rejected Satan's subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, temptations. Where did Jesus find His strength to survive the desert's harsh conditions and the devil's seduction? He fed on His Father's word and found strength in doing God's will. Remember Jesus' answer to Satan; "For it is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested, tempted and to be humbled. It's important to remember that Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Fasting is the most effective way of passing through the wilderness. Fasting helps to focus on the spiritual matters related to the flesh. So even though Jesus was physically weak, he was spiritually strong.
We all go through wilderness experiences in our Christian walk through life. It can be very exhausting and draining. It deprives us of all the comforts that we may usually enjoy. It
tests the deepest secrets and convictions of our heart to test what lies in our walk with God. Next, we find ourselves in spiritual turmoil, our own personal wilderness. During these times of testing, we need to put our complete trust in the Lord.
This was no ordinary moment for Jesus. But what was His calling, and what was His kingdom? That was yet to be made clear. And the explanation came in the wilderness. In the clear simplicity of the desert, away from all the familiar distractions, the conflict becomes an open one. The devil is manifest, and in the temptation of Jesus the nature and forms of that conflict are made clear. Satan pulls out his entire bag of tricks to try to get Jesus to forget who He is and what He's there for. Satan does his best to distract Jesus from His true identity. But Jesus doesn't take the bait. He knows who He is and to whom He belongs.
Jesus, in preparation for His ministry on earth, faces temptation in the wilderness, but the Holy Spirit is with Him. The devil's first temptation asks, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." Jesus proves that He can take on the wholeness of total humility. Jesus pointed out that life is not just about the physical needs, but that there's more to it. The Word of God is life-giving, and we can build and live our life on His Words. We have both physical and spiritual needs, but only God can satisfy our spiritual hunger. The Holy Spirit is with Jesus.
The second temptation is to test the divine powers. The devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says, "If You, then, will worship me, it will all be Yours." But Jesus proves that His mission on earth is not to be political. It's a divine mission, God's mission to us. In this temptation, Satan used the Word of God to prove his point. The devil knows the Word of God, he can use it, twist it, misinterpret it and present it in such a way which is contrary to the will of God. Today we see many people being fallen away by misinterpretation of the Word of God. The key aspect of Satan's argument was, and is, the use of the Word of God out of context. The second temptation, at its core, is about testing God and testing His words. Rightly so, Jesus reminded Satan that "it is also written, do not put the Lord your God to the test." The Holy Spirit is again with Him.
The third temptation is the most basic and essential. Satan says to Jesus,"If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written, He will command His angels concerning You, to protect You and on their hanky they will bear You up, so that You will not dash Your foot against a stone." This temptation brought the innermost desire of Satan, to become God. He wants to be worshipped as God. He is with the desire of being like God. And he offers the biggest lie to all who follow him, that they can also be God. How often have we seen rulers, Kings or Emperors of the mighty kingdoms at their peak, wanting to be worshipped as 'God?' Unfortunately it can only lead to self-destruction. So Jesus rejects the idea that, as the Son of God, He could have some special protection. His total humanity is as fragile as yours or mine, making Him obedient to death, even death on a cross. The devil's proposal was a direct breaking of the first commandment; "You shall have no other gods before me." Jesus, in His reply, quoted the first commandment, in effect, saying, "enough, you're crossing the line!" The Holy Spirit is still with Him. In all three of Jesus' answers to Satan, He insisted on the written Word of God. Today, we have so much resources available related to the Word of God, that we are sometimes distracted from the actual 'Word.'
These temptations of Jesus represent the fundamental forms of all temptation. They are our temptations. In the Bible, the wilderness is the classic place of encounter. Encounter with ourselves. The wilderness is the place where we are put to the test. In this season of Lent, we are led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, where we should be made free from our temptations. A certain wilderness is necessary for the clarifying of the Spirit. Turn off the noise for a few moments and shun the continual distractions for awhile. Lent calls us to participate, at least in a small way, in that flight to the wilderness, to try to see ourselves clearly in the undistracted light of God's word.
Jesus goes out into the wilderness to show us how it's done. He shows us how to walk through the wilderness with our eyes trained straight again. God's Spirit is driving us into the wilderness now, just for a little while, just until we know, deep down, who we are, that we are the people of God. Oscar Wilde once said, "I can resist anything except temptation!" If we let God into our lives, we will be able to resist temptation.
God called Abraham to the wilderness to make him into a nation as numerous as the stars in the sky — God's nation, God's people. God called the Israelites into the wilderness to make them into His chosen people. God called Moses to the wilderness to shine His glory right down on him until Moses' face lit up like a light bulb. He called Elijah through the wilderness to Mount Horeb in order to brush against him as He passed by. God told Noah to build an ark and Noah was obedient to Him. Noah loved God, so he remained obedient and did exactly what God had commanded him to do.
Perhaps the most important task for us this Lent is to realize that God loves us, all of us..... We will all have wilderness experiences in our life, and we need to be ready for them. We can do this by knowing God is near and that He wants to help us. May our temptations be seen as clearly as Jesus saw the temptations of Satan and may our responses be as the resolution of Jesus. God calls us out of the places we were in order to dwell among us and to be our God. God called us here today because He is about to pass by.
Annual general meeting
CALL TO WORSHIP:
One: God will surprise us with kindness.
ALL: Our lives will be carried beyond the horizons of human mercy,
and enriched with overflowing love.
One: Pause, turn around on the mountain and see a new reality.
All: On this mountain we may find the free gifts of God through Christ.
One: Then, in celebration, we will refresh the world, with generosity
beyond the common place.
New Living Translation (NLT)
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there, and I will give you the tablets of stone on which I have inscribed the instructions and commands so you can teach the people.” 13 So Moses and his assistant Joshua set out, and Moses climbed up the mountain of God.
14 Moses told the elders, “Stay here and wait for us until we come back. Aaron and Hur are here with you. If anyone has a dispute while I am gone, consult with them.”
15 Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. 16 And the glory of the Lord settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud. 17 To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the Lordappeared at the summit like a consuming fire. 18 Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
New Living Translation (NLT)
17 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9 As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man[b] has been raised from the dead.”
PIT-STOP “TRANSFIGURATION:” MATT. 17:1-9 MARCH 2, 2014
How many here today have watched the Daytona 500 races on television; maybe some of you have gone to Daytona to see the races. The powerful cars—modified motors and bodies—the smell of grease and fuel—the noise of the crowds cheering on their hero. I noticed that each driver had a team who were just as important to winning the race and anxiously waiting for the driver to make a PIT-STOP.
At designated times during the race or if the car was acting up—the race was not going the way the driver expected- the car would make a PIT- STOP to refuel-change tires—check oil—and LISTEN TO INSTRUCTIONS from the team leader.
When I was reading today’s scripture of Moses visit up the mountain and Jesus Transfiguration story I thought it was like having a PIT-STOP. Both were on a difficult journey and stopped to get clarification they were on the right path--would successfully fulfill God purpose--- and to give assurance to their followers.
In our Exodus text, we hear about Moses’ mountaintop experience with God. God said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there.” (Ex. 24:12, NRSV)
So Moses did as the Lord instructed, and Moses waited. Six days passed. Then on the seventh day, God called to Moses from the cloud that was covering the mountain and spoke. Moses entered the cloud and went further up the mountain.
It was a PIT-STOP. Moses needed to insure he had enough fuel for the journey ahead—He needed to have his sandals changed to give him a more secure grip on his people—he needed some instructions from God to strengthen his desire to complete the journey—he needed assurance the Promised Land was in sight.
When Moses completed his time with God on the mountain, he came back down with the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. In other scriptures when Moses encountered God, the people could tell because his face became radiant and shone in the darkness.
Looking at Jesus’ ministry, I think Jesus was getting weary. Was he on the right path? He wasn’t making great gains with the people.— How about his disciples, was his message getting through to them? Jesus knew what he had to face in Jerusalem; maybe he wondered if he had the strength to continue his journey? Jesus felt he needed his battery recharged--It was time for —a PIT-STOP.
Matthew tells us of a time that Jesus went up to the mountaintop. He took his inner circle of Peter, James and John with him as he went. While they were up there, Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white and his face shone like the sun. The scripture says that Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared and began talking with Jesus.
So you might be wondering, why Moses and Elijah? Having Moses and Elijah there with Jesus represents the long history of God’s interaction with God’s people. Moses was known as the great law-giver. Through Moses, God spoke and gave the law. Elijah was the great prophet; he predicted the coming of God’s kingdom. The presence of Old Testament heroes is a reminder this narrative in Jesus’ life doesn’t take place in isolation and its bigger than Jesus and Christianity.
The similarities between the gospel account of transfiguration and the story of Moses on Mount Sinai are striking. In both stories the presence of God in the form of a cloud that envelopes a mountain, a traditional location to experience God. In both stories God’s voice provides a clear signal to the people that a significant revelation is taking place. On Mount Sinai the Ten Commandments are given to the people, in the transfiguration Christ is revealed as the embodiment of the word of God.
One of the things we are reminded Jesus is BELOVED by God. A voice said,
“THIS IS MY SON, THE BELOVED, WITH HIM I AM WELL PLEASED. LISTEN TO HIM.”
We would never have heard that down in the valley, never have guessed he is beloved by anybody.
Professor Thomas Long a university theology professor, tells it this way, “ we have already seen Jesus has been misunderstood by his disciples-- rejected by his hometown,--drained of his power by his neighbours’ scoffing unbelief-- and plotted against by the authorities. And now he must undergo great suffering and be rejected. Jesus beloved? Hardly. “
I believe, at the time Matthew wrote his gospel his congregation was experiencing rejection and suffering, they would recognize the parallel between themselves and Jesus. No one ever treated them as beloved! But, they could visual God’s care hovering over them, hearing God calling them “BELOVED.
I’m sure everyone here today prays to God on a regular basis, we all ask God for his help - if not for yourselves, then for others. That is good. But how many of us here today [like Moses and Jesus}] actually [wait and] listen to God?
How many times have we heard or been told “for heaven’s sake, will you just stop talking and listen for a minute!!” We are all guilty! If we are not talking we are busy thinking up what we are going to say next. Listening seems to be hard to do.
There are times when everyone needs to take a Pit-Stop. Often we fall into our daily routines without a thought about the divinity that surrounds us, without any real awareness of the power that surrounds us and holds us up. We have business to do, we have people to see, we have meals to prepare, house cleaning--we have kids to transport from daycare --to music lessons--to the hockey arena.
Often hurried off our feet in the work that we do, we forget whose we are –we forget the promise given to those who are attentive to God’s voice.
Rev. Richard Fairchild, minister out in B.C. put it this way “How many of us here in our time of prayer stop talking, stop reading, stop thinking about what concerns us and simply LISTEN. Listen to the point where you can hear your pulse beating in your ears and feel the air moving steadily and strongly in and out of your lungs. Listen to the point where images began to dance on the back of your eyelids and the spirit begins to put words upon your hearts, words that you do not think about - words that come from somewhere within you - words of praise and of assurance, words of guidance and of comfort.”
Are we willing to retreat from the crowed way of life for a while as did Moses and Jesus just to listen-to gaze upon the beauty that surrounds us and enter into the silence that embodies the moment– the silence where the words of Christ are not only remembered - but come to us fresh.
What about us? Have we acted before we listened? We who are called to be Jesus’ disciples are nevertheless divided by all sorts of conflicts. What should we be saying to a world about war—capital punishment—abortion? The Quebec Charter--rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people —Environment degradation—Economic disparity between haves and have not? Many devout Christians are opposed to one another on such issues.
Could it be that many of us are not LISTENING TO GOD before making up our minds?
We lead such busy lives that if we are not careful we can miss the times when God’s Spirit has made its presence in our daily lives—and it’s times for PIT-STOP!
In life, moments occur that are incomprehensible. The birth of one’s own child is one of those moments. The loss of a loved one is one of those moments. There are mountaintop and valley moments throughout life. We are never ready for them. They arrive unannounced changing us in irreversible ways. We get time—time for reflection—maybe change in your thinking—receive a new purpose for your life —given the courage to face adversity—prepare our bodies to receive healing—restore a relationship. Mostly we get assurance that we are LOVED.
But there is one thing they all have in common. They demand that we be silent and listen. These moments have something to say to us, to teach us.
I will always remember the Pit-Stop Sharon and I shared when we climbed Mont. Butter Pot overlooking Conception Bay. ( with names like that you can guess we were in NFLD.)
—I might have told you this once before but it always comes to mind on Transfiguration Day. -- up the mountain it was cool and windy –all the folks who climbed before us placed a stone in the pile—a simple 12 ft. monument –we added our stones— I tried to imagine the feelings we share with others when placing stones -- We both realized it was a time to be silent and LISTEN-- the wind— the rustle of the leaves – the rain that started to fall. -- Sharon and I could sense the Creator’s presence that day.
It was ironic that this particular encounter with God happened on a mountain far from home and so unexpected, but you don’t have to find a mountain to experience God.
Dare I suggest times when it might happen and you will feel God’s presence?
--when you look into the eyes of a child.
--maybe giving a hug to a lonely relative or friend
--during silent meditation or prayer
--preparing meals-doing dishes--walking your dog-milking the cows.
It is a time when you get that feeling that something special has transpired, take a moment to have a PIT-STOP and LISTEN to God’s voice..
The stories in the scripture of Moses, Elijah and Jesus tell us what we can expect from a Pit-Stop, who could ask for better examples!
This morning we are all invited to come to the mountain top to wait, to listen and experience God; then, just as the Olympic Torch was carried from town to town, we will carry the light that shines upon us —to places in our community and into places where others may see it as well.
Let’s make it a practice to carry our torch as we enter the Lenten Season.
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