Sadly due to unfortunate circumstances, there are no recap per say for this service....
June 28, 2015
PROCESSIONAL: “Thy Word” # 496 blue hymn
CALL TO WORSHIP: (from Psalm 2:1-3)
ONE: Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain?
ALL: The kings of the earth take their stand
ONE: And the rulers gather together against the Lord and against
His Anointed One.
ALL: Let us break their chains they say, and throw off their fetters.
HYMN: # 801 “From Ocean Unto Ocean”
OPENING PRAYER & THE LORD’S PRAYER
ANNOUNCEMENTS, BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES (BETTY)
DRAMA MOMENT: Betty
PRESENTATION OF OFFERING Offering Received: Offertory Hymn: #79 (blue hymnal) Offertory Prayer
ANTHEM: “Let’s Sing a Song” (choir)
HYMN: # 315 “A Mighty Fortress”
MEDITATION: “The Invasion of Canaan”
HYMN: # 121 “Something to Sing About” Mary’s Songbook
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN
Thank You Nancy & Randy for sharing your message with us today!
Ten ways to love
1. Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18)
2. Speak without accusing (James 1:19)
3. Give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)
4. Pray without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)
5. Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1)
6. Share without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)
7. Enjoy without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)
8. Trust without wavering. (Corinthians 12:7)
9. Forgive without punishing.. (Colossians 3:13)
10. Promise without forgetting. (Proverbs 12:12)
Today immediately after the service we will have a short meeting concerning details of the clean up, painting etc. of the Church. Coffee and juice will be served. Removal of the necessary pews will take place after that.
It is so exciting to think that when we return to Church on Aug. 2, our beautiful Sanctuary will be clean and bright. We will be sure to have a special dedication service of song and praise to acknowledge and be thankful for all the hard work and donations received. Have a nice holiday!
Habits, Hobbits and Heaven
An elderly nun ran into an old friend who saw her dressed in her religious garb and exclaimed, “My goodness, Sister Agatha, why are you still dressed like that? Didn’t your church allow you to dress more informally years ago?”
“Why yes,” Agatha replied, “but I dress this way because it’s my habit.”
The humour in her comment may be lost on some, but what she said illustrates the human condition in her words. It’s her habit. The other day, Sue and I sat in a restaurant when all of a sudden her hand flashed out and back. I looked at her and she said, “Mosquito.” Another habit.
A Duke University researcher in 2006 found that 40 per cent of the actions people take each day are not a result of conscious decisions, but habits. When you wake up in the morning, what do you do first, hop in the shower, exercise, grab a coffee, watch the news, take Fido for a walk? Or, perhaps, do you pray?
William James, an American philosopher, psychologist, and doctor wrote in 1892, “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” We may think we are making conscious decisions every day, but we aren’t always. Bit by bit, action after action, we are self-programming our brains until the things we do repetitively become habits.
Now, there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with this. Habits can become shortcuts to save time and mental energy. They can be constructive ways to use our talents and get mundane things out of the way to make room for more important, more creative, or more altruistic activities.
But habits can come in two broad categories, good habits and bad habits. Good habits are those that build a better you, and a better you means you will have a better impact on your friends and family and the world around you. There’s an iphone app, for those who are technology literate, that keeps track on which habits are the most popular with people nowadays. One user of this app decided to list the 7 most popular habits. They are these: Exercise more, Read, Floss, Sleep by Midnight, Eat breakfast, Save Money, Eat more fruit and vegetables. Now, I’m not saying all these people practice these habits. Let’s just say these are the most popular habits people would like to have today.
I would add one to the list which has made a greater change in my life than any of the seven others, daily prayer. Remember the old adage? The family that prays together stays together. It was a truism to our grandparents, still strong perhaps to our parents, but to today’s generation, not so much.
Let’s carry on to that other segment of habits, the bad habits. Bad habits can be so destructive that they can ruin, actually destroy, the lives of you and your loved ones. We can certainly guess what most of them are: smoking, drinking, drugs, irresponsible sex, over-eating, excessive tv watching, and so on.
The ancient Greeks had two important admonitions, “Know thyself,” and “Nothing in excess”, or “All things in moderation.”
Biblical scripture puts it this way:
1 Corinthians 6:12 – “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.”
The problem is two-fold: One, we are imperfect beings. God alone is perfect. Two, bad habits are just so much darned fun. Or, at least, they’re so much fun at first. After a while, the fun groove we are in, gambling, drinking, smoking, casual sex, etc., changes from groove to rut, and we find our habit has become an addiction. Oh, boy. Now, we’re in for it. Now, we find that rut so deep we can’t climb out. Now, we need a lifeline.
Sometimes, we try to use humour as an aid, even when we describe bad habits. There’s the story of the two Irishmen sitting in a pub having a few sweet cream ales. Their table faces the street outside and directly across it on the other side is a house of ill repute. Well, as the two drinking buddies are sipping away they see the Presbyterian minister opening the front door of the house, glancing up and down the street, and slipping inside.
“Did you see that, Clancy? Did you behold what my poor eyes just witnessed.”
“I did indeed, Seamus, I did indeed. I never would have believed it.”
Well, not 15 minutes later, who would that be coming furtively down the street, but the Anglican priest. Hurriedly, he also looks both ways up and down, opens the front door of the house opposite and slips through.
“Begorrah, Clancy, did you see that now, did you see?”
“’Tis a sad day, Seamus, a sad day. A man of the cloth at that.”
But then, no sooner did the two friends settle in for yet another round but who do they see walking stealthily into that house on the other side but Fr. Murphy, their very own priest.
As the door closes behind the man, Seamus lets out a deep sigh and shakes his head, “Ah, Clancy, that’s a real shame. One of them poor girls must be dyin’.”
Denial is often at the heart of habit-breaking. We make a litany of excuses. It is also one of our self-induced habits that we see the worst in others, but not in our own selves. It is another example of how some faults are thousands of years old: In Matt 7: ”Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own.”
My mother-in-law once put it this way. She was holding court in her living room with several of us there, and she was talking – no, gossiping - about a woman she knew. She went on at great length about all this woman’s failings when all of a sudden she stopped. And she said, “But I’d better not say any more. As surely as I can see all of her faults, she can just as well see mine.” My mother-in-law didn’t read the bible, so she wouldn’t have been familiar with the quotation from Matthew. But she nailed its message in those few words.
One wonders why some habits are so hard to break? Why do they drag us down into despair and often into surrender? Why in heaven’s name must we be so imperfect? God made us to be the way we are. We feel he must often be as ashamed of us as we are of ourselves. We might express our shame in words such as “I’m just no good. I don’t deserve to live. I wish I had never been born.”
Take a few steps back and think about it. God made us in His image, we are told. Yet God made us to be imperfect. Yet again, God is satisfied with how he made us. I think I can prove that conclusion, first of all by the bible. Right at the beginning of Genesis, Gen 1:27, it says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Not only that, but just a few lines further, Gen 1:31, “And God saw everything that he created and it was very good.”
Imagine that. He made us imperfect, and it was very good. How could that be? Fr. Scott Lewis, our retreat director at Manresa in Pickering last weekend first gave me the following insight. Consider our imperfections not in the light of shame or regret. Rather, consider them as gifts of God. In giving us imperfections, God also gave us the gift of potential improvement. He gave us something that he himself doesn’t have. He gave us the ability to recognize faults and, at the same time, the ability to improve ourselves. God himself can’t do that. He is already perfect. There’s nothing to improve. So, God loves us just the way we are, and he will help us get over our bad habits. But we have to ask him first. Jesus taught us how to ask God for help. In prayer. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Yet what’s the point of mouthing the words if you don’t believe them? Without belief, you won’t have the faith to move ahead, and you may not have the faith to get over bad habits. Someone asked me once on the internet if I believe in God and all that mumbo-jumbo that goes with Christianity. His words, not mine. After a moment of thought, I said, “It isn’t important that I believe all that mumbo-jumbo. What’s important is that I believe in all that mumbo-jumbo.
“Oh, I suppose you believe in Santa Claus and hobbits, too,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I do. I believe in hobbits. I believe in leprechauns. I believe in Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. It isn’t important to me that these figures may not be literally part of our physical world, although when I look at Donald Vine over there, I sometimes think he really is Santa Claus. He certainly wears the white beard. No, what I believe to be literally true is that such creatures bring joy to the world. When I see that joy reflected in a child’s eyes I see a beautiful story come to life. I see the joy of creation. I see that all’s right with the world.
A long time ago, when I was wracking my head over the prospect of belief in God or belief in only what I could experience with my senses, I came to the conclusion that if I just said, “I believe,” and said it with meaning, all my doubts and questions would fade away, and my life would be renewed. I would be re-born. So, that’s what I did. I said, “My God, from this moment on, I choose to believe in you.” At that very instant, it was like a blanket of anxiety and doubt just washed away from me. It was like the conversion of Paul, although I wasn’t blinded. On the contrary, for the first time, I began to see. It was like the doubt that fell away from Thomas when he dropped to his knees and said, “My Lord and my God,” in full conviction.
God gave us imperfections as tools to improve ourselves and the world we live in. He gave us the chance to be one with our neighbor. If we believe and pray for God’s help, he will answer our prayer. In the epistle of 1 John 5:14-15, it is written, “and this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
Our imperfections are the opportunities God gave us to improve who we are as his children. They are the means by which we change our habits, even the ones seemingly impossible to change. They are pathways to heaven.
My parents were both alcoholics. After the 1956 Hungarian revolution, my father escaped Hungary and went to live in London, England. But he knew that if he were to survive, he had to give up his habit, and so he did, cold turkey. My mother, on the other hand, succumbed to her habit. At the age of 49, she took her own life out of despair. They were both good people. My father attended church on Sundays, though I can’t say he was a strong believer. My mother did not. I don’t know what might have happened if my mother had reached out her hand to God in the midst of her despair, but my strong belief is that God would have put his loving arms around her and given her comfort and strength. I believe that because of the number of times he has done it for me and for others. All we have to do is say, “I believe, I believe, I believe.” And heaven is our reward.
What about heaven? Where is it? What is it? Revelation gives us graphic descriptions of it. But one person’s graphics may not exactly fit another’s, just as a painting by Michaelangelo may not match the style of Van Gogh, although both men were what could be called ‘heavenly inspired.’ But if I may I will offer you these two glimpses, which are not exactly alike, but pretty close in my opinion.
The first one is an excerpt from a poem I wrote one morning immediately after waking up from a dream state. I had dreamt that a spirit was calling me to come and see, and for a brief moment I was pulled part-way over into what I can only describe as the most exquisite moment I have ever experienced.
Straining still with eyes that spent their sight
The call beguiled me to an open door
Rent long and yawning open to the floor
“Come,” it rang more vibrant than before
As wispy fingers off some distant shore
Tugged gently at my soul, my unlocked core
Till I was carried drifting through the door
At once my every fibre lost its might
And nerve and sinew stayed behind the shade
And I emerged more placid and restrained
As peace like snow descended in the glade
To which I’d come imperfect and unmade…..
There’s more, but I don’t want to lull you completely to sleep. Then here are the words from
Revelation 4:1-11, which I hadn’t read before I wrote the poem – “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice I heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit…”
If you want to experience God in all his truth, if you want to get closer to him, if you want to help your neighbor, or if you simply want to have relief from suffering, try to adopt this habit for 30 days. Each morning, as soon as you open your eyes, say softly, “I believe. I believe. I believe.” I believe he will hear you and reply. Listen for his voice. Look for his sign. It will be in your life. I believe after 30 days, you will be convinced, and will never again doubt.
As for me, when my retreat on human imperfection was over last weekend, the first thing I needed to do was to buy gas. So, I wheeled into a gas station and started to back up into the only available bay. Suddenly, a guy on a motorbike whizzed by me and took the slot I wanted. Irritated, I cranked my window down and yelled,
“Hey, buddy, I was backing in to that spot.”
“You were?” he asked.
“Yeah, I was.”
With that, he turned his back on me and started to fill up.
I swore and drove away to the next station. I wasn’t going to sit there watching him use ‘my’ spot. No sir!
Then, as I drove off, it suddenly hit me. God had just given me a little test, and…I had flunked. Well, the nice thing about imperfections is they will always be there, as more and more opportunities to do what even God cannot. To change for the better.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
O God, the joy of this day, the hope for every day to come, Move in our midst, fill us with Your Spirit, and make us one. May our words, as well as our actions, and even the secret thoughts of our hearts, be a part of Your worship this hour, O Lord of great power, displayed in sacrificial love. For we pray focused upon the One who died for all, Your only begotten son. Amen. Shall we now pray in unison the Lord’s Prayer
You have given us so much, O Lord. We have more than we could ever need yet, we often keep it to ourselves. Just as we share your love to those we encounter today, we share these gifts with your church. Teach us not only to be generous, but to be content. Amen.
In the morning when we rise and in the night when we lay down, and in all the moments in between, O Lord, you are there. In the night while we sleep, or toss and turn in anxiety, even then, O Lord, you are there. You are waiting for us to turn to you. You are waiting for us to look for you. You are waiting for us to make time for you, to pay attention to you, to take time to attend to our relationship with you. Far too often we are too busy. God, you call us to be still. We confess that this is difficult for us. We prefer to be active. We prefer to be busy. We prefer to be surrounded by activity and noise. Silence unsettles us. Solitudes intimidates us. Reflection rattles us. So we seek diversions and welcome distractions. We fill our schedules to overflowing. And yet . . . and yet . . . deep within us, there is a hunger that grows and grows. A hunger for silence. A hunger for solitude. A hunger for time to reflect. A hunger for you, God. And the busier we get, the more this hunger grows. We feel it – an ache, an emptiness. Grant us, O God, the strength of will to feed our hunger, to step away, even when there are other demands on our time. Shield us from the temptation to put off our prayers and postpone our time for reflection. Drive away the fears that make us shrink back from silence. Teach us how to be still and know you. We pray this day for the sick. Show us how to provide good care for them in whatever ways we can. Bless their doctors and nurses with both skill and compassion. Bless their families and loved ones with patience and the strength to give support. As bodies heal, let faith grow and relationships with others become deeper. We pray your peace for all who mourn, O Lord. Send your Spirit to lead them through the valley of the shadow. Fill their minds with positive memories and their hearts with comfort and resurrection hope. Answer the cries of the desperate and the discouraged, the frantic and the frightened, the anxious and the alone. Protect the poor and weak from the rich and powerful. Continue to guide and sustain those who are committed to showing the world a better way – your way. We rejoice and give thanks for your offer of love and friendship, O God – for your presence with us and your sacrifice for us. We thank you for answers to many prayers. We thank you for friends who are faithful, for people we can call upon and count upon when we are stretched beyond our limits. We thank you for the forgiveness of our sins and the new life we receive through faith in Jesus Christ. And we thank you for the sense of purpose and worth we derive from our call to follow Jesus and to continue his work in this world. Now help us as we prepare ourselves to hear and obey your word. Amen.
May the peace of God surround you
Like the trees of the forest
May the peace of God warm you all over
Like the sun in the sky
May the peace of God swell and roll over you
Like a wave in the sea
May the peace of God fill you
Like the cool wind
May the peace of God be with you
Further on Down the Road with Saul on the Damascus road
Last week we looked at Saul’s conversion on the Damascus road. We looked at the two most important questions that he and we must answer.
1) Who are you Lord?
2) What do you want me to do?
Today we will see where Paul’s Damascus Road leads him. Before Kings, before gentiles and the children of Israel,and how much he will have to suffer for the sake of Christ. Indeed for the sake of the Gospel, and we will see how that relates to us as well.
Acts 9:19-22 New International Version (NIV)
19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
A complete 180 turn-around. Sauls conversion.
· Before: zealous persecutor; Christ was not the Messiah; love the law
· after: zealous defender; Loves Christ
A) How did Paul preach that Christ was the Messiah?
B) From where other than his conversion/vision, would he get his information or authority?
Answer: from the old Testament...the same place where we get our information, but now we have the whole cannon of Scriptures.
So what happens next.
Acts 14V 9 New International Version (NIV) Stonning :
9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed
then Act 16 V 22 beatings, imprisonment.
Acts 16:22 New International Version (NIV)
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods.
How does apply to us? In this world you will suffer. Christ suffered. Are we above our Master that we should not? The Scriptures say we all share in the "fellowship" of His suffering.
Paul teaches in another place; Corinthian, better to suffer for doing good, than for doing evil.
Acts 13, 16 ff
Acts 13:16-52 New International Version (NIV)
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct] in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.
Paul preaches to the Jews. 13 v 44-47 he turns to the gentiles
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
Acts 20 vs 21-24 get’ er done kind of guy
Acts 20:21-24 New International Version (NIV)
21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Now we will look at how a plot to murder Paul turns into an open door to go to Rome, and be a witness before Kings, just as prophesied.
Act 23 vs 11-12 vs 17. "Send him to Felix" vs 23-24
Acts 23:11-12 New International Version (NIV)
11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
The Plot to Kill Paul
12 The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
Acts 23:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Then Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commander; he has something to tell him.”
Acts 24:24-25 New International Version (NIV)
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
Chapter 24 vs 24-25 application: sometimes what looks like persecution and troubles is just a change of direction and it is really God's Hand.
Acts 25:12 New International Version (NIV)
12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!”
In Chapter 25 vs 12 Paul appeals to Caesar, then we see he goes before King Agrippa, one of the Herods.
Here then is the point of all of this: God had a plan for Paul. We, too, share in that plan. And that is to be brought into the family of God through Christ Jesus, and to testify, and indeed suffer as well. And we testify not necessarily to Kings, but to whoever we come across. And it is to have that same attitude which Paul received from the Holy Spirit, which is a spirit of joy in the midst of suffering. And that we too, may have a part in winning people to Christ.
We, the Church, have been entrusted with the Gospel, and you and I were given the same command that the apostles were given. "Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the simple Gospel" le: The death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ," who is and was and is to come"
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