Awaiting Stewart Burrows' text.
CALL TO WORSHIP: (singing in unison)
Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird…
Praise with elation, praise every morning,
God’s re-creation of the new day!
In the Gospel of John we find The "I am" sayings.
Seven times, Jesus uses these terms of himself.
The main point....
John chapter 8 verse 12 chapter 9 verse 5. "I am the light of the world" John chapter 10 verse 7'9. "I am the door"
John chapter 10 verse 11 and 14. "I am the good Shepherd" John chapter 11 verse 25. "I am the resurrection and the life" John chapter 14 verse six. "I am the Way, the truth, and the life" John chapter 15 verse 1 , 5. "I am the true vine"
Today I want to focus on one saying that is, Jesus as the "Good Shepherd"... But first a little bit of background.
We read of the blind man who received his sight. And because he received his site and testified that it was the man Jesus who had healed,,, on the Sabbath! And because he could not deny that Jesus was "a profit" and from God. He was quickly excommunicated by the Pharisees from the synagogue.
Jesus addresses his disciples question.
Because they wanted to know this.... Jn, Chapter 9 verse 2.
And his disciples asked him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?
This quote was found in my study Bible. "While Jesus responded to the man who was born blind with compassion, the disciples consulted Jesus as if simply discussing theological issues. The Jews often attributed physical limitation to punishment for wrongdoing
Question............ How do we too today,,,also pass judgement on others when we see "The less
So was the blindness The result of a man's personal sin?
In their minds, the disability could be attributed to 1 of 3 types of sin..
Jesus addresses and Points out the Pharisees blindness.
John chapter 9 vs 39 and 40.
And Jesus said," For judgement I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind". Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to him, "are we blind also?"
Aside lesson or application we can take from this........
That a man who was once blind and now sees, and is excommunicated from the synagogue. Becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ!
Jn chapter, 9 vs 35-38.
Jesus Heard that they had cast him out, and when He had found him, He said to him."Do you believe in the Son of God?"
Jesus answered and said, "who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him"
Jesus said to him. "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you" He said, "Lord, I believe! " And he worshiped Him.
It is in this context that Jesus uses these terms. "I am True Shepherd , The Door, and Good Shepherd"
John chapter 10 vs 7-16.
Then Jesus said to them again, "most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep do not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly.
11. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know my sheep and am known by my own, as the father knows me, even so I know the father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one Shepherd...
When Christ spoke that, He was speaking of The Gentiles who we're called of God.
If you remember before, in one of my messages, and in our Bible study, we read of Paul in his epistles, and how he spoke of "the mystery" that is being revealed...Well Christ is referring to that same "mystery" if you will as "all" that is simply this. That,Jews and Gentiles together are making up the kingdom of God. He was referring to making us all one flock, with one common Shepherd, one God, one Father. He was referring to you and I, of people today, tomorrow, until the fulness of the Gentiles is complete. Or until the very last person on earth hears the call of God to receive and worship Christ...
We can find comfort and security in knowing that Christ, "The good Shepherd" loves us very much. Because He has laid down his life for us, and also in Him, "The Door", we find salvation, and Good pasture.
Therefore let us remind one another these truths, and be busy in the work of God, being a disciple and making disciples.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
ONE: True happiness comes from following God's way.
ALL: Our only delight comes in walking with Christ.
ONE: Let us praise our Maker by fixing our vision upon the Lord. ALL: We offer our praise through faithful action. Let us worship God.
PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER:
0 God, whose Word is not just a one way conversation,
talk with us today and hear us as we pray. Free us, that we might listen for Your voice, and empower us to speak to You. For in Christ Jesus, You have called us into a friendship which influences all other relationships. Help us to see beauty where we might be tempted to see ugliness, in ourselves as well as others. May Your joy be found there as well. Recreate in us a new heart, 0 God, one that beats in time with Your own. And now, as Jesus taught: 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, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
Offertory Prayer: Our Father, most merciful and gracious, of whose bounty we have all received, we pray You accept these offerings of Your people. Remember in love those who have given, and those for whom it is given. And so follow it with Your blessing that it may promote worship among men and women and advance the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.
My Yoke Is Easy, My Burden Is Light Norm
THADEUS -- (enters hurriedly wearing shabby tunic and sandals, carrying Bible scrolls) I'm sorry I'm so late. But some wonderful things have been happening. (examines audience) Oh, it's happened again! I have never seen this room so full since I began preaching here three years ago!
Forgive me. Those of you who have never been in this church before have no idea who I am or why I'm here. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Thaddeus. I am a fisherman on the mainland. But I was appointed by Apostle Paul to preach the gospel to the people of these islands. For those of you who have never been here before, Paul is a Jew, like myself, but some of you may know him as Saul of Tarsus.
Anyway, I row out here to the three islands to preach every Sunday. Normally, this is my first of three stops. I usually arrive here first thing in the morning. I usually read a few passages from Bible scrolls like this one (holds up scroll), then I usually preach a message about what the passage means to us. Then, I get back into my row boat and row over to the (points) middle island about midday and repeat the process. Finally, in mid-afternoon, I row over to the far island (points) and repeat the process there.
Recently, however, Apostle Paul gave me this NEW scroll that he calls part of the NEW TESTAMENT. For the last three years I have been preaching on what we used to call the Holy Scriptures, but now because we have writings from apostles like Paul and some friends of Jesus, we call those old scrolls the Old Testament. The New Testament describes the life and times of Jesus and what it means to us today.
Anyway, I recently began to read and preach about this New Testament scroll. But when I came to today's passage, my mind was blank. After days of meditation and prayer about it, I had no idea what I was going to preach. Indeed, I didn't even know what my message would be this morning as I got into my boat and began to row over to this island. Let me read today's passage to you. It's a quote from Jesus himself recorded by his friend Matthew.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
So, there I am in the boat and, as usual, Finehas and a few others were waiting on shore to help me pull my boat up on shore. But when I was still a couple of hundred yards offshore, the ever-changing winds in this channel became a cross wind, blowing me sideways. I struggled and struggled on the ores to keep my heading. But then all of a sudden my struggling became the message I was going to preach.
I stood up in the boat and turned around and waved good-bye to
the people standing on shore. Then I picked up the ores and threw them overboard and let the wind take me where it wanted to go. It blew me straight to the farthest island (points). When the people of that island saw me coming so early, they assumed that I was bringing important news, so the members of the church invited everybody on the island to come listen to me.
Now keep in mind, for the last three years, I have been preaching to the same small number of people at each church every Sunday. I have been doing everything I could think of to get more people to hear the good news of Christ. So, it seems that the moment I gave up struggling, the Lord took over and immediately did what I should have let him do all along.
Well, as it happened, the moment I stepped on shore at the far island, the wind in the channel changed directions again. So, when I finish there and I got into my boat and pushed off, the wind carried me directly to the middle island. Again, the Lord filled the church with curiosity seekers, but because they could see that the Lord was not the demanding task master that they thought him to be, many gave their lives over to Him.
Then again the wind shifted and carried me here, And yet again the Lord filled the church with people. And so again, I will tell you what I told the others. When I was in my boat, that cross wind reminded me that we Christians are to serve the same way we were saved, not by our own strength and struggle, but by the strength of the One who died for us. I'm not going to tell you to throw away the ores to your fishing boats. That message was just for me, because I thought I was supposed to build these churches by the sweat of my brow. (wipes forehead symbolically)
(looks offstage, smiles) Well, look there! It happened again! The wind shifted again! It looks like I'll have a tail-wind blowing me home to the mainland.
The message in this passage is clear. Give up the struggle. Give up trying to do it on your own. (reads) "My yoke is easy and my burden is light"
(waves exiting) Well, thanks for listening. I'll see you next week.
A Solid Bridge with Nancy Campbell
The central theme of the book of Galatians is justification by faith. Justification by faith is the foundation of the bridge that reconciles God and man, and without it, Christianity fails. There are other themes in Galatians including the inability of the law to justify, the believer's lethargic attitude to the law, that believers are Abraham's spiritual children and therefore blessed. It also shows that the law doesn't bring salvation, but rather it brings God's wrath. The just shall live by faith and believers are spiritually baptized to walk in the Spirit. And the final theme is the importance of believers bearing one another's burdens.
The apostle Paul wanted to persuade the Galatians to reject the false gospel they were being taught and to continue in the true gospel which Paul had taught. He wrote the Epistle to the Galatians to protest against the corruption of the gospel of Christ. In Chapter 2 he wrote, "For even before I was born God had chosen me to be His, and He called me —what kindness and grace to reveal His Son within me, so that I could go to the Gentiles and show them the Good News about Jesus." And Paul continued, "Listen to what I am saying, for I was telling you this in the very presence of God."
Paul was concerned because the people were not following the true gospel of Christ. In Chapter 3 he writes, "It is clear that no one can ever win God's favour by trying to keep the Jewish laws, because God has said that the only way we can be right in His sight is by faith
Paul was adamant that the Galatians know that faith is the most important thing, and in Chapter 5 he wrote, "When the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will provide this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws."
The result of justification by grace through faith is spiritual freedom. Paul pleaded to the Galatians to stand true to their freedom. Christian freedom is not an excuse to satisfy your basic needs and wants. It is meant for each person to love one another. Christian freedom doesn't shield you from life's trials and temptations. Paul tells us that the righteous shall live by faith.
Faith in Jesus Christ saves us from our sins. Salvation is a gift from God. Paul told the Galatians that righteousness can't be earned through good deeds or good behaviour, but that it is earned by truly believing in Christ, and by this faith you will be received by God. True Christian freedom comes from the gospel. The Holy Spirit works in us to bring us to Christ. Salvation is not achieved by our doing, but by God's. The Holy Spirit advises, guides and sanctions us to live the Christian life. God's love and peace flow through us because of the Holy Spirit.
Many people rarely feel the freedom and joy of life. They often have soiled consciences that fear the future, fear others and fear God. Paul tells of a new freedom, a freedom which opens the way of such sweeping fullness that anything compared to it is lifeless and bland.
Let's look again to what Paul said; "If a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto to the right path, remembering that the next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong. Share each other's troubles and problems and obey God's command. If anyone thinks he is too great to stoop to this, he is fooling himself. He is really a nobody. Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done, and won't need to compare himself with someone else. Each of us must bear some faults and burdens of our own. For none of us is perfect!"
These are emphatic words from Paul, but he was trying to teach the Galatians, and us, that Christians shouldn't do what their natural desires want them to do. All Christians find out sooner or later that sin will test them, and that sin often wins. Most people don't deliberately set out to sin, but God is always ready for sinners to confess to Him. God wants sinners to help each other, not to judge one another.
Paul tells us to love others as we do ourselves. It's difficult to carry a heavy load by yourself. It feels much lighter when someone else is there to help. When you help others, you show them love.
But remember this, the helpers are not perfect. We need to be careful not to become too proud, because sin can also tempt those who help. Pride is never a good attribute. A Christian can easily feel superior when he sees another Christian in trouble. Paul reminds us that no one is better than anyone else. Christians should only compare themselves to God's standards and be thankful for the ways that God has helped them, and be happy with what they've achieved.
God has given gifts to everyone. He has given each one of us good works to do, and in the end, we each will have to give an account to God for our own actions. Every Christian is responsible for the way that he or she behaves.
How many of you have ever come to a bridge and on the bridge is a sign saying; "Unsafe for more than two-ton load" or something similar to that. The sign was put there to warn people that the bridge is not strong enough to hold a weight larger than two tons.
If I had a six-ton load of bricks on a truck and were to come to that two-ton bridge, wanting to cross, what would I do? I'd have to go to some place where there was a stronger bridge or try to find a way to ford the stream or river. Worst case, I'd have to unload and carry across two-tons at a time and then reload my truck before I could continue on my way.
Today bridges are made of steel and concrete. Older bridges are made of stone or wood. And not all bridges are the same size or shape. One thing is true of all bridges, they need to be strong. Tension and compression in a structure are distributed by various shapes. Triangles provide strengthening ability. Arches utilize compression to strengthen, and arches and domes provide weight-bearing ability. We, too, need specific things to keep our faith strong. We must remember that God is always there. He will never forget you. We should do a daily devotional which will keep us closer to God, even if we are struggling with our faith. And we should never be afraid to talk to someone. By talking through your issues and praying with someone to help guide you, they can offer insight into how they have worked through their own struggles.
When an engineer plans to build a bridge he needs to consider several things: traffic flow, size of loads, the width of the stream, river or ravine, pilings, strain and materials. If you think about it, peoples' characters are like bridges. Some of them are weak and give in easily to temptation, and some are strong. Some have such weak characters that they can't be trusted to carry the big loads — they're not safe. These people should have signs on them to warn others not to trust them too much. Some of their signs should say, "Not safe when we are tempted to lie," or "Not to be trusted if we are tempted to steal or talk behind someone's back." We all know people like that, people who can't really be trusted — so when you come to one of them you need to go around them, to be safe.
On the other hand, there are people with strong, trust-worthy characters which, like big bridges, don't need any sign at all. They can carry any load safely. They won't lie, or steal, or cheat, or sneak around, no matter how much they're tempted. They are like the engineer building a bridge. They have selected the best materials for their characters to use in work, in leisure, in companions and in family.
We don't want to be a bridge of little character, which must wear a sign to keep people from trusting us. We want to have a fine, strong character that needs no sign. Remember that one weak beam is enough to make a bridge unsafe.
Paul's letter to the Galatians is a reminder for us to be of good character, so that we are able to carry each other's burdens and to test our own actions. He advises us that we will reap eternal life. He closes his letter reminding us that the only thing that counts is a new creation in Christ. Be the solid bridge and keep a strong character "for each one should carry his own load." And if you ever have doubts, or are unsure of having a strong enough character, remember the words of Paul Simon; "Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind."
My horoscope for today says that 1 shouldn't be so practical that i forget to be pertinent. It also said to be generous with those around me this week. Generosity isn't always about money. A kind word, a pat on the back or a smile works wonders. A positive attitude is contagious. I think this is a good horoscope for all of us to follow — not just today, but everyday.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
One: We gather in the presence of God as disciples of the one whose love healed those the world scorned.
All: We gather as disciples of Jesus to rejoice
in what God has done.
One: The God whose power and presence shone in Jesus
is with us still to help us seek justice and find
the path to more abundant life.
All: We are a blessed people, called to bless the world
that God loves.
One: All glory and praise be to our God.
Let us pray…
WE ARE WITNESSES—CHIST IS ALIVE!
John 20: 19-31
I WONDER -How many this morning have been called a “Doubting Thomas?” or experienced doubts.
There are times we can have our doubts about many things; We doubt God-our faith-people- our talents-and events
I remember when I earned that label from who else but my wife, Sharon.
“Your nothing but a doubting Thomas.”
I’m sure many of you recall doubting.
When you think of Thomas in connection with the story of Jesus, I find it hard to understand why Thomas should always be remembered as “doubting-Thomas?”
** In chapter 11:16, When his fellow disciples who were reluctant to follow Jesus to Bethany, he told them “Let us..go, that we may die with him.” He probably would have bit- his-tongue had he known the kind of death that awaited Jesus. Thoma could be called “Courageous Thomas”
**In 14:5 chapter remember the time Jesus tells his disciples “there many dwelling places in my father’s house and I’m going there to prepare a place for you and that they know the way there, Thomas interrupts Jesus saying “Lord we do not know where you are going? How can we know the way?” Thomas could be called “Out-Spoken Thomas”
So we see that John depicts Thomas as much more than “doubting.” but as a man who spoke his mind, a straight talker.
I think Jesus liked this freedom in one of his followers.
John’s story reads, the disciples were locked in a room, frightened to death.-- Where was Thomas?-- Strange that he wasn’t there?-- Maybe he was the only one brave enough to venture out and sneak through the alleys of Jerusalem.-- in search of food? --We just don’t know.
And when we listen closely to the story we find that Thomas didn't doubt Christ! He doubted is fellow disciples and he only wanted the same proof as they had. After all, Jesus had made an appearance to the disciples when Thomas was not with them. Seems only fair to me!
We see that Thomas isn’t the only doubter in the resurrection story.
MARY MAGDALENE DOUBTED when she saw the empty tomb. It was not until Christ appeared to her and talked with her that she believed.
THE DISCIPLES DOUBTED Mary Magdalene that she had seen the risen Jesus and saw the empty tomb – I think we can agree, Thomas wasn't the only one to have doubts when he heard about Jesus’ appearances.
Like the other disciples in the story he wanted proof.
When you think of it, as we make our way through life we oft-times doubts and want proof. We are searching for assurance, some basis of faith and hope.
It seems, in our struggle with doubt, we look for signs; and the gospel writer John was a master at telling us the good news through signs of Jesus:
It might be good to understand a bit about John’s congregation. John was writing his gospel in 90-100 AD. Some 75 years after Jesus’ death and his church was a Jewish community with 3 different groups,
--1) The Jews, Pharisies, Scribes and High Priests who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, 2) another group called the Jesus Movement who believed in Jesus and 3) lastly the gentiles with their doubts about Jesus.
It was within this community John wrote his gospel and this story of Thomas. I believe John included this sign of Jesus appearance to Thomas to help those in his church community to move from their DOUBTS to having FAITH and encourage them to get on with the job of witnessing.
After Thomas saw and touched and he was positive it was Jesus, I imagine he was thrilled. Then Jesus told them
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe in me.” This is the message that John wanted to get across to his congregation. Forget your differences—your doubts and believe Jesus Spirit is a live in each one of us.
John’s message is for US today!
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe in me.”
We know there have been generations of men and women who believed—not because of the experience like that of Thomas, but because of miraculous signs we experience in life
WE have NOT SEE the risen Christ as Thomas experienced--YET WE BELIEVE.
Notice Jesus didn’t think any the less of Thomas for wanted some evidence, so I imagine Jesus is telling us it’s okay to have doubts—When we have doubts it proves we are thinking about Jesus and God and our faith.
So far this morning John’s story has told us of Jesus’ APPEARANCE after his death ---how Thomas DOUBTED and received EVIDENCE that gave him FAITH and one thing remains to complete the story— WITNESSING. WITNESSES to spread the good news “Jesus’ Spirit lives on.”
Have you ever thought that we are WITNESSES?
Did you ever think that we witness every day by how we talk— how we serve others and how we act?
Talking of HOW WE ACT reminds me of a women who was very indignant when she was wrongly arrested for car-theft.
—The officer said she was speeding, weaving in and out of lanes and giving the finger to all the other drivers...
When I saw the Bumper sticker reading “JESUS GIVES YOU PEACE”
I was sure the car must be stolen
It seems actions speak louder than words!
Aside from our actions of individual witnessing, through visiting, phone calls and sending cards, every church congregation in the valley is called to be Witnesses as a community.
As a Church-Family, each of us has been given a unique gift from God --and all of us are different,--- some family members have the gift of--Organizing events—carpentry—music—teaching—cooking—finances—leading worship-- --some with lots of love to give—others who like to serve— By each of us using our gifts has made this church-family’s witness noticeable in the community!
I’m positive our witnessing has had an impact in Rockburn and throughout the valley?
-Driving by the church Sunday morning people hear the congregation singing “Jesus Christ is resin today or Come in, come in and sit down you are part of the family…. ’’
** What a meaningful a witness this is!!—Some will say—we’re such a small group—Jesus only had 12 members of his group!
**But it’s important for people in the community to know we are here to give a helping hand.
**It’s good to know you can depend on the person sitting next to you will come to your rescue if you need help—and we have a beautiful church building to welcome visitors to worship with us our faith is evident in the pride you(we) take looking after the building.
--Also we have Sunday School where children are always welcome and we have a dedicated teacher who loves the children.
--Let’s not forget our Rockburn Choral Group going to the senior’s residences several times a year bringing joy to our seniors.
-we pass a church on a Sunday we might hear the Franklin Ensemble playing old time gospel songs:
--Neighbours hear about the hymn-sing – friends are invited. People passing by wonder what going on – just come and sing the old gospel hymns “I’ve got the Love of Jesus down in your Heart.” That’s a strong witness.
-smell the aroma drifting through the air as we past the church hall. It’s our popular pork supper or is it roast beef tonight.
—look at the crowds—food is always a great way to have fellowship—remember Jesus seemed to be constantly eating with the crowds. One thing I notice is the wonderful smiling faces of the church members as they serve the meal.
-What’s all that singing, laughing and playing games out on the lawn, it must be the annual church-family picnic or vacation-bible school.
Now lets not swelled heads, but when I think of the size of our church-family and the average age of the family members, I think we do a pretty good job witnessing God’s love.
Let’s continue to be a strong WITNESS that Christ is alive and well in the valley and around the world, let’s make sure it continues for many years too come. May God bless us all!! AMEN