Sermon Notes for 5.30.21
“YOU HAVE A FRIEND” John 14:15-21
It does make a difference when someone comes alongside us when we are in need.
But there are times when we need
But why does Jesus say, “I will give you ANOTHER advocate . . .”
The writer of John wants us to understand that
John is very clear that
In other words,
The Holy Spirit is the one who falls down beside us--
This teaching is reinforced as he continues to say in this passage,
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever the Spirit of truth.. . .”
The ADVOCATE is the HOLY SPIRIT
"I want churrrrch!!” he cried as we left the church building one day.
He didn’t mean the building though, he meant the people, the body of believers, the community. When I look at how my child is received by the body of believers we call our church, I am so very thankful. It wasn’t always that way for me growing up, there were some who were incredible to us and others who pushed us to the side and treated us as unimportant or as a nuisance, who rather than listening and encouraging us as we grew in knowledge and talents, put us down or dismissed us. I see our church becoming the church to my children.
Sharing, caring, loving, praying for one another, serving, growing with and encouraging one another in Christ.
He was sick a few weeks ago. I held him in the nursery at church while waiting for his daddy to come pick him up because we had an event going on that I needed to be at. As we were sitting there, a church member passed by and stopped to chat for a second. We mentioned Riko wasn’t feeling well, Zinho wasn’t either for that matter. Riko looked at the church member and said “would you pray for me?” O my heart! The church member said yes, and asked if he could pray right then? Such a beautiful moment. (I might have cried a little) It brought to mind this time he cried “I want churrrrch!”
This is a child who knows he has a God who loves and cares for him and can help him when he’s sick. He knows where to turn for help, never shy to ask for prayer. A child who knows he’s loved and cared for in His church, a community willing to take the prayer requests of a child seriously. My son is learning he has others to lean on and love him, not just mommy and daddy. This connection between this church member who took a minute out of his time and my son is unbroken now, in fact Riko joined him for a donut one Sunday morning with no inhibitions. It’s connecting moments like these that will keep our kids in church. They aren’t a nuisance they are a blessing, little worshippers ready to connect to God and others who just have WAY more energy than we do. I want churrrrrch for every child! I want them to have a community that will take Jesus’ words seriously when he said “let the little children come to me…”
What this church member doesn’t know is the next day Riko began to feel better. As he cleared his throat in the morning he said, “is God taking all the gunk away mommy?” (Now there’s another devo in itself right...?) He sure is honey, He sure is! “I think it’s cause ‘he' prayed for me.”
The next time you see one of our littlest worshippers, don’t count them out. Some of them have deeper questions about their faith than you, some of them have a belief stronger than you, that God can do anything. Some of them may grow up to be your pastor or your child’s pastor and they sure can serve Christ with more gusto and guts than you or I! They aren’t the future, they are the church! Let’s encourage and equip, pray for and teach. Pentecost Sunday is over, church, let’s be the church to young and to younger!
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" James 5:14
"But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these". Luke 18:16
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)
There’s no better mirror for someone’s theology than the content of their prayers. How you pray and what you pray for reflects what you believe about God—who God is, what his character is like, as well as his attitude toward us, his children. It is as if the words we use in our prayers are like mirrored pieces of glass, each one reflecting back our beliefs about the one we’re addressing.
For example, if you pray very small prayers, they you probably don’t really believe in a God who answers big prayers. If most of your prayers are for yourself and your comfort, then this reflects your belief that God is just there to serve you. Or maybe you’ve noticed the way someone facing a tough situation will say, “Well, now that we’ve exhausted all the solutions—all we can do now is pray.” If prayer is your last resort, this reflects what you believe about God.
Today, I challenge you to look at your prayers. What have your prayers been saying about God lately? Then, pray boldly and rely on God as your first choice - not your last option. Would you be willing to trust him enough to pray for his will and not what you think needs to be done? Praying boldly means letting him lead you - even when you can’t see where he’s taking you.
Devotions with Pastor Holmes
One essential key to a fulfilling and productive lifestyle is to pursue wisdom. Some might be inclined to think, “If I just had more money and resources, then I would have a more fulfilling and productive life.”
John Ross won 2 million dollars in a California lottery. Within a year, he was in jail for stealing a car.
Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery, twice for a total of 5.4 Million. Before two years had expired, she had lost it all in an Atlantic City casino.
Michael Carroll won the British lottery for 15 million. Bought new cars and started a demolition derby. He wasted the rest on drugs and ended up in jail.
Can you imagine a different outcome if John, Evelyn and Michael had been acquainted with Proverbs 4:5-9?
Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
“Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
“Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”
True life experiences teach wisdom is the key to every worthwhile venture. So today, acquire wisdom! Allow God’s Word to guide you in your journey of acquisition…then you will find a fulfilling productive life.
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil.1:6, ESV
Thank God! Jesus is able to complete what he started in my life. It’s not up to me. Although most of the time I have the best intentions, sometimes I still blow it. An unkind word pops out of my mouth or an uncharitable look shows up on my face or my attitude just plain stinks! Before I understood this business of God completing His work in my life, I used to go on some pretty miserable guilt trips. Misunderstanding the concept of holiness, I expected perfection all the time. From myself, and from others, too; it was very disappointing when I perceived faults in a godly person. But the work of perfection belongs to Jesus, not me.
That doesn’t mean, though, that I get to just bee-bop along, doing whatever I feel like. That would just be wrong. I must cooperate with God and exercise self-control – which is also His work in me.
I find so much help in Phil. 2:13: “...it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” When I was trying to do the “work” of holiness, I failed constantly. And it didn’t help much when I tried to change my “will” by my own efforts. When I finally realized that God wants to do the work of changing my will as well as my actions, then I was able to let go and let Him get the work done. And I am longing for the day it will be brought to completion.
God bless you!
Sermon Notes for 5.23.2021
Devotions with Pastor Bill Ritchey
Acts 2:1-3 tells us “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.”
As we approach the Day of Pentecost, I have been thinking a lot about this passage. Those tongues of flame indicated the presence of the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples in a special way – I believe this represents the experience of entire sanctification. The holiness of GOD was now with them, and His holiness consumed all that is inconsistent with it. Oh, they still had plenty of struggles, as can be seen later in the lives of Peter and the other apostles. However, as they matured in their walk with GOD, they became ever stronger in their faith because of their trials and tribulations, and the light of God shone brightly through them.
Their various walks brought glory to our Lord. We, like those disciples in that upper room “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation for His own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
WE have been “…called out of darkness into His marvelous light,” and this means that we are to walk according to His will and plan. I am surrendered to that plan and pray for the Holy Spirit’s light to burn brighter in me daily!
I hope you will let His light shine through you, too.
Devotions with Pastor Blake Owings
Forgetful and Fruitful
We all love our siblings, right? However, no matter how much you love each other, siblings have a way of pushing your buttons. They do or say the right thing at the right time and it just makes you mad. Which typically leads to a fight. (I never did this, I was a perfect child) But have you ever been so upset with your brother or sister that you literally named your kid “God has made me forget all of my troubles and everyone in my father’s family”. This is where we find Joseph in Genesis 41. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Joseph I encourage you to read about him in Genesis. Here is the cliff notes version…
Joseph has 11 brothers. They are jealous of him because he is very obviously dad’s favorite child. Joseph has some dreams that tell of a future where his brothers would bow down to him one day. Brothers get mad, and throw him in a well with plans to kill him later. They decide to sell him and he ends up as a slave in Egypt. Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and spent several years in prison. While in prison, He correctly predicts the dreams of some of the prisoners. He is forgotten about until Pharaoh needs a dream interpreter. He interprets the dreams of Pharaoh and is made the ruler of all Egypt. He is given a wife and has 2 sons named the older one Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” and his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.” (Genesis 41:50-52) Later in the story Joseph’s vision about his brothers came true and he is able to save his entire family from a famine.
I have read, heard, and watched this story many, many times. The amazing thing about God’s word is you can read a passage hundreds of times and still learn something new each time. I was reading this story the other day, and the names of Joseph’s sons really stood out to me. In fact it kind of made me laugh that Joseph named his kid Manasseh because he was able to forget about his family. Then I read his brother’s name. Ephraim, which means fruitful. Then it hit me, Joseph named his kids forget and fruitful to serve as a reminder of what God was doing in his life.
The memory of Joseph’s family wasn’t erased from his mind like the neutralizer in Men In Black. Rather he came to the point in his spiritual life where the past actions of his brothers did not affect how he saw them, and how he thought of himself. Because of that decision that he made his life became fruitful. Joseph had to learn how to Forget in order to become Fruitful. He had to forget the hurt and pain from his past in order to move on, and become the man that God has called him to be. Imagine if Joseph had not learned to forget. Imagine if his brothers came begging for food, and because he held on to that anger he turned them away. What would have happened? Keep in mind it wouldn’t have been just his brothers who suffered. But their wives, children, servants, his father. That could have been the end of the line of Israel. God had a plan and Joseph, and Joseph was willing to allow God to work in his heart. This led to him saving not only Egypt, but his family, the nation of Israel.
My question for you is, What do you need to forget? What sort of things in your past are keeping you from moving forward in your walk with the Lord? God has a plan for you that will lead to a fruitful life. (John 15:16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.) It is a life that will lead you and others to eternity with Him. Satan wants to distract you. His goal is to drag you down and destroy you. (1 Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.) Keeping you focused on the things of the past, keeps you from growing, from moving forward in your walk with God. We need to learn to forgive. Forgive others, forgive ourselves, and allow ourselves to be forgiven. That is really what it means to forget. I am not saying don’t learn from what has happened, rather do not allow those things to keep you from moving forward in your relationship with God. Because you might be holding yourself back from something amazing.
Philippians 3:12-14 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
What do you need to Forget in order for God to come into your life and make you Fruitful?
Hebrews 10:11-18 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. “Every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins. But this man [Jesus], after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. He is now waiting until his enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. For after he says: This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, the Lord says, I will put my laws on their hearts and write them on their minds, and I will never again remember their sins and their lawless acts. Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” (CSB)
I love this passage for a number of reasons. Jesus accomplished through His death, burial and resurrection that which no human could ever do. Through that sacrifice He won our forgiveness, salvation, and sanctification.
The thing that stands out to me the most, however, is verse 13: “He is now waiting until his enemies are made his footstool.”
Let us never forget that we serve a risen, living Lord and Savior, who is the ultimate Victor, both now and forever!
Devotions with Holly Woodbridge
He Loves Me!
A simple pondering by Holly Woodbridge
John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life. 17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.
1 John 3:1 The Father has loved us so much! He loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children. But the people in the world do not understand that we are God’s children, because they have not known him.
“God loves you. He really, really loves you!” This is how I often end my correspondence with our kids. And it’s true! He does. But when I take a moment to actually ponder this truth for me, I am blown away again and again.
He loves me. HE LOVES ME!
And He knows me. GOD who knows me completely, loves me perfectly. What a glorious truth to rest my life upon! He rescued me into His own family. WOW! So simple and so gigantic.
And I love Him. Not at all perfectly, but I sure do want to live my life to please Him. He is my dad, and I am His girl.
And He loves them. You know, all THOSE people. Every one of them. The ones we nod hello to, and those we pass by without a thought. He loves them all and He wants them in His family right along with you and me.
Some of them are pretty messed up you know. But so was I and so were you. And I know He can do for them what He is doing for us. Because that’s what love does. And it’s going to be awesome to celebrate each other all along the way.
P.S. It’s our job to let them know He loves them. Dad said so.
Sermon Notes for 5.16.21
Life-Long Learning in the Lord
1 Timothy 1:(3-6)
May 16, 2021
· Faithful learning in the Lord leads to a ______________________________________________
· Faithful learning in the Lord is characterized by a _____________________________________________________________
· Faithful learning in the Lord will build a community of __________________________ and _______________________________.
Life-Long Learning in the Lord
1 Timothy 1:(3-6)
May 16, 2021
· Faithful learning in the Lord leads to a WHOLE NEW WAY OF
· Faithful learning in the Lord is characterized by a PURE
HEART, GOOD CONSCIENCE AND A SINCERE FAITH.
· Faithful learning in the Lord will build a community of
MUTUAL LOVE and ACCOUNTABILITY
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
The word comfort comes from the Latin word con fortaremeaning with strength and support. This isn’t just a warm gesture or a soft encouragement This kind of comfort empowers us to persevere.
The University of Wisconsin’s Center for the Study of Pain conducted an experiment in which researchers timed how long volunteers could keep their feet in buckets of freezing water. They discovered something very remarkable. They discovered that whenever a companion was allowed in the room with the person whose feet were being frozen, they could endure the cold for twice as long as those who suffered alone. The presence of another caring person doubled the amount of pain that a person could endure. The same can be said of emotional pain.
The apostle Paul tells us in these verses that we can pass on to others comfort we ourselves receive from God. Would you take a few moments to ask the Lord to show you someone who needs to know God’s comfort expressed through you this week?
Let me close with this prayer from Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness joy.
O Divine master grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved. as to love
For it's in giving that we receive
And it's in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born
To eternal life.
Devotions with Pastor Jerry Schmid
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)
If a tiny mustard seed can grow into a tree that spans an area of up to 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide, think of the implications for your life!
Pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a bit of food, a grain of sand, bacteria, or even a piece of the mollusk's mantle becomes trapped in the mollusk. To protect itself, the mollusk secretes a substance made of mineral and protein to continually coat the irritant, only succeeding in making the irritant larger, thus the pearl.
Similarly, a tiny pebble in your shoe becomes an irritant, that if not removed, the irritant seems to grow larger even though the pebble remains the same.
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)
If a tiny amount of faith only the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain how much more can faith in Christ do in your life? The opposite also can bring us down, for sin, no matter how large or small even as the size of a mustard seed can keep us from all the best Christ has for us. And yet it may seem we are the mollusk trying to coat over the sin in our life to prevent it from being an irritant, but like the mollusk all we accomplish is making the irritant larger. Why do we continue to walk through life allowing those irritating little pebbles of sin to affect our relationships, conversations, our commitments and every day life by causing us pain and grief like a pebble in our shoe?
Tolerate them No Longer! Stop, and ask God to remove the pain and struggles by simply asking the Lord for His forgiveness and removal of those things. Now is the time to begin living in faith and obedience! You have the choice.
Yes, faith the size of a mustard see can move a mountains and God can work in and through your life by whatever way He knows is best for you to grow in your faith. Even as that tiniest of seeds grows over time into a huge tree, so does our faith and trust in the Lord.
Many times, I have asked God to allow me to move what seems to be an unscalable mountain in my life, and God was faithful, though His method was to hand me a teaspoon instructing me “be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” and by faith, one spoonful at a time I will see you through.
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit (Jude 20:12)
Yours in Christ, Rev. Jerry Schmid
Devotions with Pastor Fran Ruecker
I am constantly amazed at how giving our people are here at Wanamaker Woods. When we bring a need before the congregation like the church in Zambia that needed money for a roof people don’t hesitate to dig deep into their resources and give from their hearts. It reminds me of a story I heard about a while back.
A little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was 'too crowded.'
'I can't go to Sunday School,' she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by.
Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class. The child was so happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.
As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump.
Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: 'This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday school.'
For two years she had saved for this offering of love.
When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion.
He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.
But the story does not end there...
A newspaper learned of the story and published It. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands.
When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.
Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide.
Within five years the little girl's gift had increased to $250,000.00-- a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.
When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300. And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.
Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday school building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.
In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, 'Acres of Diamonds'.
This is a true story, which goes to show WHAT GOD CAN DO WITH 57 CENTS.
Thank you for your giving heart!
"Not as though I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12
It is a snare to imagine that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He
Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection.
Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship to God
It used to be I’d turn around and see my oldest climbing on something (on top of the upright piano, with his hoppy horse on the kitchen table, on the fence etc.) my heart would sink thinking the worst would happen. I didn’t trust him. I didn’t know how strong he was, if he could balance, how far was too far, if he knew his strength, if he knew when to stop, or if he knew what was good or right for himself. It dawned on me the other day as he was reaching out of his tree house which has no walls, I didn’t flinch, when he was atop our 6 foot fence shortly after, I didn’t even get the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach like this could be the one that sends him to the hospital. I trust him, I’ve seen him in action, he’s proven himself steady, I know he’ll be careful, he has balance and knows how to land.
In the last couple of years we’ve had some things happen in our family that could have rocked our world (aside from the pandemic). Normally something like what we’ve went through would make me completely sick with worry or I’d be in a pit of despair and uncertainty trying to figuring out what to do next. Instead, I was able, after a second, to give it to God and not flinch. I trust Him. I’ve seen Him in action. He’s proven Himself steady, certain, true and faithful. I know my God, I know He can see the whole picture and knows what’s best. He has promised to be faithful and hasn’t given me any reason to think He won’t be. And in each of those situations He’s proved it even further.
Whatever you may be facing, God is faithful. His promises are true. Step back, let Him have it and watch Him do some incredible things!
Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
Have you noticed how busy everyone seems to be? We fill our calendars with all sorts of things—often good things. But these good, busy things have contributed to isolation. In fact, when asked how you're doing, often we respond with, “I’m so busy!” It is interesting to think about how our modern conveniences have shifted us into this busier and isolated society. For instance, there’s the air conditioner. Before the AC, people sat on their front porches to catch a breeze to cool off. On the front porch, you could wave to and interact with your neighbors. But with AC, we don’t have to sit on our front porches anymore. Attached garages didn’t help either. Now we just pull in, close the door and we’re inside our house. Fences, gated communities, answering machines, and caller ID all reinforce this notion that we are too busy to be bothered. If we want to be left alone, we can. We don’t have to interact with anyone, so we don’t. Even online shopping and social media make it so much easier to avoid interaction with people.
But when I read the gospels, I see that Jesus always had time for people. He talked to them, fed them, healed them, and forgave them. He often met physical needs in order to address spiritual needs. It makes me wonder: if I am too busy to even interact with the people around me—let alone engage with their struggles—am I really following Christ’s example? If we’re too busy to interact with people, then we are also missing out on the blessing of loving and serving one another.
Today, let’s all take the time to stop, listen to, and talk with someone you see every day but rarely slow down to get to know.
Devotions with Pastor Holmes
Many moral dilemmas of our time would cease to exist if we just stopped pursuing Christlikeness and a holy life style.
Most would agree there is a right way in just about every situation. The challenge is first to discover the right (morally speaking) and second to follow what we know to be right.
Take for instance, you back into someone’s car in a parking lot, doing minimal damage. There is no one present which sees the incident. Do you leave a note or just leave?
A cashier gives you too much change back. Do you smile and give it back or just smile?
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts. To do right and just is desired by the Lord rather than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:2-3
A wise man once said, “The fruits of your life are often determined by the roots of your life!”
The more you find yourself doing the right thing, the deeper your moral roots will go! These roots then become what hold you steadfast when the storms of life buffet you! Nurture those good roots!
Devotions with Nell Ritchey
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
It was food box delivery day again, and half of our team had cancelled. Which meant the other half had to double (or triple) up to get the job done. But it’s God’s job, right? So it willget done. And it did – again. And here’s what I learned this time.
To make it happen, I as well as others had to double up. But my car will only hold so many food boxes. I had been praying about it ever since the first cancellation came in. “Lord,” I said, “You know what needs to happen. You know how to make those boxes fit. I’m trusting You to take care of it.” And then I began to develop a back-up plan.
Whoa! A back-up plan? I’m not sure “trust” and “back-up plans” are compatible. It was very clear, when God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3-4, that Moses wasthe plan. There was no other. He also made it clear to Gideon in Judges 6, and to many others throughout Scripture.
It’s easy for me to think that if I don’t do it, someone else will. But will they? God has a job for each of us to do, and I believe that we must do the job designed for us. But since it’s God’s job, I’m pretty sure He’ll get it done, if we just cooperate. And trust. What a privilege, to be allowed to be a part of His plan!
So we showed up at the pick-up site. And there I ran into a young man I discipled years ago, who now serves God with a steady heart. We visited for a minute, and I shared my concerns about the boxes fitting in my car. With complete confidence, much more than I had, he said, “They’ll fit.”
And they did. Trust. It’s God’s plan.
God Bless You!
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:10-12
It was 1969 and we were just baby Christians. We were living in Amarillo, Texas and attending a little Baptist church there. The pastor had recently preached a sermon on giving and how 10% of our earnings belonged to God. Arnie was really bothered about that. He didn’t understand why God needed 10% of his paycheck. He really struggled over the sermon and the new revelation about tithing. Arnie was the type that needed confirmation on things before he totally bought into it.
It was a beautiful Sunday and we decided instead of going to church we would take a little trip up to Texhoma, Oklahoma which was about 2 hours away. We didn’t have much money to do a lot of things back then. We had two children at the time and Arnie was working Saturdays so we felt we needed a break. We decided to take the money set aside for tithe and take a little trip. After all it was our money, right?
We packed a picnic lunch and started out for Texhoma. We forgot that there was what they called a “blue law” in that area. Nothing was open on Sundays, not even a gas station. We got to the border of Texas and Oklahoma and found a little rest area where we could stop and eat our lunch. When we got ready to leave the car wouldn’t start. We had had problems earlier in the week with it starting but it seemed fine that morning. We sat there in the rest stop trying to decide what to do. A car pulled up after seeing the hood of our car open and asked if he could be of help. Arnie told him he thought it was the starter or the alternator. It so happened that this man owned the only gas station and auto parts store in Texhoma but was closed because it was Sunday. He told Arnie that he thought he had the part we needed and that he would go there and get it. He returned shortly and they proceeded to fix the car while I tended to two fussy children that were hot and tired. When they got the car fixed Arnie asked, “How much do I owe you?” The man told him if he could just pay for the part that’s all he would owe. Arnie asked how much and the man gave him the price. I looked art Arnie and he looked at me in total disbelief. The price was the exact amount of what we would have put into the offering plate as our tithe. Arnie got his confirmation!
We learned a valuable lesson that Sunday. It doesn’t pay to rob God of what belongs to Him. We have also found out over the years of giving that you truly can’t out give God. He has truly blessed us in so many ways. Arnie never doubted God again over tithing. If fact he was one of the first to take out the check book or his wallet and give over and above to those in need.
If you struggle with giving, try putting Tithe at the top of your budget as the first thing you pay and watch God stretch the rest of your money over the month to meet your need! It’s amazing how it works, but it does. Sometimes I sit in amazement as to how I managed to pay all of last month’s expenses and when it doesn’t add up on paper it’s because God was put first! Try it! You might be amazed!
God is so good all the time!!!
The heart is a miraculous thing. In the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly small, roughly the size of your fist. However, this little thing is quite possibly the most important part of your body. If it’s not doing its job properly, nothing in the rest of your body can do its job either. As miraculous and powerful as the heart is, everything in our body is designed to work together. God knew exactly what He was doing when he designed us!
In Psalm 139:13-18, David praises God by saying this: “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made. Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began. God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of the sand; when I wake up, I am still with you.”
God not only took great care in designing every one of us, even to our smallest and most important parts, but he cares about us enough to continue to care about us and His thoughts outnumber the grains of sand!
How great is our God!
Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. Job 16:19 ESV
In this passage Job acknowledged that he had a true friend, an unnamed intercessor who is in heaven, unlike his other so-called friends who were of no help to him (v.20). In the New Testament, we recognize this friend and intercessor as our Lord, Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1; Hebrews 7:24-25)
Job’s experience was similar in some ways to that of the apostle Peter. In Luke 22:31-34 Jesus told Peter that Satan demanded permission to “sift you like wheat.” Peter was then told that Jesus had prayed for him that his faith might not fail but that he was to strengthen his brothers after he had “turned again”. Peter, who had walked on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33) was quick to claim he was ready to join Jesus in prison or death. This passage continues and Peter is told he would deny the Lord three times before the rooster crowed.
We know that both Job and Peter were restored regarding their relationship with GOD. Both had difficult times in different ways before that restoral came about. We know that Job’s fortunes were restored to him and that he lived a prosperous life the remainder of his days. Peter’s life was different following his restoration—he ministered in a powerful way until he died a martyr’s death for his faith.
Jesus Christ was Job’s and Peter’s intercessor then, just as He is ours now. I know I both want and need his advocacy and intercession. Why? Stuff happens!
Peace be unto you and yours,
Sermon Notes for 5.2.21
Living for God’s Will
1 Peter 3:18, 4:1-11 (N I V)
May 2, 2021
Bottom Line: As followers of Christ, we are called to live for God’s will.
· This is not your HOME.
· Remember: Christ died for our SINS.
· We must be armed with Jesus’ attitude: “I’m going to be OBEDIENT to God,
even if it brings SUFFERING.”
· You will never be LOVED the way you want to be loved until you’re
willing to LOVE the way you wanted to be loved.
· Use the GIFT God has given you so that God may be PRAISED.
Living for God’s Will
1 Peter 3:18, 4:1-11 (N I V)
May 2, 2021
Bottom Line: As followers of Christ, we are called to live for God’s will.
· This is not your ______________________.
· Remember: Christ died for our ____________________.
· We must be armed with Jesus’ attitude: “I’m going to be ________________
to God, even if it brings________________
· You will never be ________________ the way you want to be loved until
you’re willing to _______________ the way you wanted to be loved.
· Use the ______________ God has given you so that God may be
Notes from the Staff @The Woods