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Growing Faith: Personal Ministry.
It is easy during this time of isolation and fear to allow the darkness of despair to get the best of us. It seems there is only bad news, and we struggle to see how God is at work and helping us in these times. If we are not careful, we will see everything through a lens of despair, rather than hope! This is why we need this series, “Growing Faith”. We need a bigger faith in order to find peace, hope, joy, and love during difficult times. In this week’s sermon, we turn to the power of “Personal Ministry.” We are called to bring the presence of Jesus to the world around us. Yet, as we struggle with our circumstances, it is hard to find the energy to care for others. In Matthew 14:23-33, there is a dramatic and difficult moment for the disciples, but Jesus comes to them while walking on the water. It is easy to get caught up in this miracle and miss the lesson that Jesus wanted to teach his disciples and Peter. It helps us to find the strength to minister others under difficult circumstances. As you read Matthew 14:22-33, may the presence of Christ come to you to give you courage and hope! Matthew 14: 23-33: After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (NIV)
Growing Faith: Pivotal Circumstances.
Due to the President’s guidelines, we will not be gathering in the sanctuary during this Holy Week or in the month of April! Please watch our Palm Sunday worship service online as well as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. This week, we complete our series, Growing Faith, with the sermon, Pivotal Circumstances. We are seeing pivotal circumstances at work in the world around us! We watch each day as the Corona virus wreaks more havoc, especially here in the US, but how is God at work? This week, we turn to a section of Romans that has the often quoted scripture of Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. How are we to understand this? As encouraging as this is, we have to wonder, what good can come out of this? Ultimately, God wants to grow our faith into a bigger faith. Circumstances such as these create a great opportunity for growth, especially if we look at the entire section of Romans 8:26-32. We continue to pray for all of you, and we hope that you sense God’s strength during this time of crisis. As you read this passage, may the Holy Spirit give you hope and joy! Romans 8:26-32: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV)
I Believe in the Resurrection.
Our Easter sermon, “I Believe in the Resurrection.” It is this simple affirmation that separates the Christian faith from any other! We believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and with him we will be raised too. Jesus has conquered death forever. This is a poignant Easter with the impact of the COVID-19 virus. There has been so much suffering and death. We turn to the Gospel of Matthew 28:8-20 for our scripture. The women are greeted at the tomb by an angel who tells them that Jesus is not there, but he has risen from death. The angel instructs them to go and tell his disciples. As they leave the tomb, they encounter the risen Lord. This encounter with Jesus helped them to overcome fear and find joy! We learn that this simple affirmation, “I believe,” leads to strength and hope for all of our lives. As you read Matthew 28:8-20, we pray that the joy of Easter and the hope of the resurrection will fill your heart! Matthew 28:8-20: 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” 11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer!
Our after Easter sermon series is, “Take Courage: Reasons to be of Good Cheer!” It is an important time for us to take stock of our resources. Not just paper towels, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, milk, eggs, and butter you may have in the pantry, but of the emotional and spiritual strengths that will help us to thrive as we go through the uncertain days ahead. Despair and discouragement are always trying to track us down, as they did God’s people long ago. We are tracking a single word through the pages of scripture, which means to “take courage” or “be of good cheer.” One of the first instances of this word is found in Exodus 14: 10-16. This is a dramatic moment that you may have learned in Sunday school. It is the miracle of God parting the Red Sea and the people of God crossing upon dry ground to escape Pharaoh’s army. In the sermon “God’s Power,“ we realize that Moses’ words are not just for those who has escaped Egypt, but they hold a great lesson for us today! May you be filled with the light of God’s power and peace as you read Exodus 14:10-16: As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (NIV)