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The Seed, The Soil, The Good and Not So Good!

Genesis 25:19-34, Romans 8:1-11 and Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Jesus is incredibly patient! He invests in his disciples for a good number of years only to see them falter, fail, flourish, and eventually forgiven. And the “harvest” of that first century planting is going on 2000 years now! The Church of Jesus Christ is still ministering, failing, forgiven, and going forward. It’s a wonder to behold!

The Church has a message of “planting the Gospel seed” here and yon and waiting on the various “soil and souls” to give increase….or not.
It’s both exciting and frustrating.

With six months to go in a rough and questionable 2020, will we the Church keep doing our ongoing “field work” in sharing good/Gospel seed for “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?” How much of a difference will it make in the USA and the world? We can’t say. The “soil” varies from person to person, place to place. We plant, people respond or don’t, and God’s bountiful harvest will still come about in each generation. Until the End.

So, let’s worship the God who is patient with us and with the many, and will bring to pass the Kingdom with “whosoever will!”

See you Sunday in worship!

Pastor Barry

Never Give In And Never Give Up

What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

World War II ravaged through Europe for more than two years. The Axis forces looked invincible. England had suffered massive air raids by German forces in late 1940, and again in the spring of 1941.

On October 29, 1941, Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, visited the Harrow School for boys, his alma mater-to speak to its students. What message did the times demand? What could Churchill say to these young men in the face of the Blitzkrieg that seized Europe, leveled London, and cast their lives and futures into a thick fog of uncertainty? His words were simple, moving, and unforgettable: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, never give in.”

Are you tired, have you grown weary from the “Blitzkrieg” in your life? Are you weary from the COVID-19 situation or the political unrest that seems to be in our news every day? Are you personally struggling with something that has worn you down? Well, There is hope at the cross for you. God is in the business of turning hopeless situations around. Remember, Lazarus had been in a grave for four days, his family was in mourning when Jesus showed up and called him back from the place of the dead.

God can make something of the ashes that we bring to Him—Isaiah 61:3 tells us that “He will give us beauty in exchange for ashes.” We need to stand firm in our faith and never give up or give in to the belief that He cannot redeem us or the situations we find ourselves in.

Perseverance—it’s born of faith, it’s nourished by hope and it’s a sure sign of strength of character. What role does it play in your Christian life?

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

The greatest glory in living lies not, in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Nelson Mandela

May God give each of you strength today. May God bless your journey and remind you that you are never alone.

Praying for each of you today,

Chaplain Rob

Trusting God With Your Tomorrows

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” – Psalm 31:14

Do you recall an advertisement that captured your attention?

No matter which medium . . . television, radio, print, or the web, advertisements are created to arrest our attention. Recently, I was caught off guard with a newspaper ad. It pictured a gray-haired senior citizen in a wet suit. The woman was holding up her surf board along the edge of the beach. The ad began, “No matter where life takes you, your health care coverage goes along.”

The ad was designed to have you think about your future. No one knows what crisis tomorrow may bring. The life of faith involves living each day trusting God to guide and direct your future. That doesn’t mean that you are naïve and ignore things like health care coverage. But for the bigger picture of life, you can trust God. In the unexpected events of life, you can trust God. The Bible describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

You may not know where your life is taking you. But you can be sure that tomorrow, God has something prepared for you that you can’t see or imagine. That’s why we need to learn to trust God each day, no matter what the day holds.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. – Corrie ten Boom

God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine. – David Nicholas

. . . it is presumptuous of me to wish to choose my path, because I cannot tell which path is best for me. I must leave it to the Lord, Who knows me, to lead me by the path which is best for me, so that in all things His will may be done. – Teresa of Ávila

May you and your families have a blessed week.

In grace,

Chaplain Rob

Prisoners of Hope in a Time of Name Calling

Zechariah 9:9-12, Romans 6:15-25a and Matthew 11:16-30

What a great expression from Zechariah: “prisoners of hope.” We can’t really escape from Hope or another way of saying, “don’t be afraid!” This is a theme throughout the Bible and we hear it in each generation with its unique troubles and challenges.

July 4th in the USA is now one of celebration and community enjoyment. In 1776 the celebration was tempered by the armed conflict with England. Sic semper tyrannis! The patriots then were very hopeful in spite of going up against British government and its armies! Revolutionary colonists as “prisoners of hope!”

We also find the same theme of hope in Paul’s wrestling with his Sin nature and in Jesus being called a “glutton and drunkard.” Sadly, name calling today is nothing new. We hear or see something in others or in ourselves and we give it a “name” for better or worse! But, the Bible leans toward finding the “positive” name for us and proclaiming the Name that is above every other name!”

Come together this Sunday July 5 and hear your name calling from God. No escape here! You will discover you are a “prisoner of hope.” The rough, troubling Friday arrives, but….Sunday is coming!”

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

June 25th Devotional

If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:3-5 NIV

As we begin to resume gathering together in some in-person ways as the church, it doesn’t take long to realize what we’ve been missing. Worshiping together, serving together, and studying together. None have gone away completely, but just some MIA!!

We’re one Sunday into a new season of worship with temporary safety precautions in place during the pandemic. Hopefully we can continue safely until a vaccine or other measures emerge to release us from these restrictions of interactions with each other and the broader public.

As to study…..how are we doing in our lifelong call to “seek, knock, and the door being opened” to Kingdom living? Sunday School at both congregations is soon to find ways to regroup and study Scripture, reason together, share experiences, and build on what others have taught for generation after generation. Kedron’s adult class will resume this Sunday 8:45am June 28. Locks will do likewise before long.

The Tuesday Bible study at Travis Perry’s home will need to completely reconsider time and place since Travis’ is relocating with family. Bless him for his hospitality and teaching over the years!

During the month of July there will be considerations underway as to other options for study together. It feels as though the need is great to be encouraged through the Word and to find inspiration for service and witness!

Ideas and offers are welcome as to times and places. Until then, make it a daily habit to open your Bible and other devotional readings in your home. Share with someone “nearby” and give thanks for that which comes from God! “Call out,” “cry aloud,” “look” and “search” as Proverbs insists! We need that kind of help to continue forward together in this very unusual time.

Blessings in your readings and studies! Bear witness as you can with others!

Pastor Barry

A Father and Son Experience? Listen and Learn

Genesis 22:1-14, Romans 6:12-23 and Matthew 10:40-42

The experience of father Abraham and son Isaac’s near death by sacrifice moment is both inspiring and disturbing. Not something you would wish upon anyone nor legally would go unpunished today! But, being at the very heart of God’s promise to bless all generations through Abraham, there it is for all to ponder and pray through.

It just so happens that John Wesley’s birthday falls on this Sunday as well as this Genesis text. A birth in 1703 that only became truly momentous some 35 years later when Wesley’s heart was so moved by God that the spiritual movement known as Methodism sprang forth and continues into the 21st century!

Which one of these stories is more appealing and one you can relate to? Even so, in sermon, prayer, song, and witness we will attempt to share both in worship! Who ever said faith was an easy walk! We are asked to hear these stories of faith and to look inward and outward ourselves and to ask, “what saith the Lord to me?!”

We should pray to be challenged and to hear rightly what is good and helpful for each one in a troubled world. How might we be inspired to step up our faith for a full life offered in commitment to God in Jesus Christ!

Perhaps as the week’s unfold in Summer “by our fruits will we be known” as Christians! Let’s do this together not unlike Abraham and Isaac going up Mt Moriah and John Wesley being “strangely warmed in his heart at a prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London!

Pastor Barry

I’m Glad God Cares

Psalm 86:1-10, Romans 8:31-39 and Matthew 10:24-39

This Sunday has the highlights of our “coming back from a mini-exile,” a recognition of Fathers in our lives, and the official first day of Summer 2020! Cause for celebration! Our return to the sanctuary will be less like a “celebratory parade” but more like a cautious stepping “inside” after an extended absence! We will still be staying “safe” during a time of public health concerns. Some will not be able to join us and will hopefully still be watching our “live streaming” broadcast. It is all a work in progress. It is a walk by faith not by a lot of sight!

And our scriptures and sermon focus on a caring God whatever we are going through. Life can be hard and difficult. The Bible is clear in agreement on that! But nowhere are we to “fear” or feel as though there is no hope. The Psalmist, Paul, and Jesus resoundingly declare God CARES!

Yet, being human as we are…..we have our “moments.” And we seem to be going through a universal “moment” when the path before us and the road ahead are not as clear as we would like.

All the more reason to hear “what saith the Lord.” All the more reason to gather together as we can in person or in whatever means keep us connected! So, “come on in” or “tune in” this Sunday! God has a Word for all of us together in this moment!

“See” you Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Why Do We Experience Setbacks In Life?

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10

Do you ever think that your level of success in life is minimized by the problems and setbacks you experience along the way? Well, it’s just not true.

Our problems and setbacks don’t determine the shape and direction of our lives. What problems and setbacks do, however, is reveal character. They show us how we respond to fear, disappointments, and failure. They reveal what level of resilience we possess; whether or not we’re content to play the role of a victim; and whether we’re willing to take a risk again after initial failure. In other words, they diagnose our shortcomings and call us to positive change.

Problems and setbacks are the crucible of character formation, and they give us perspective as we pause and evaluate what’s truly important in life. So don’t be discouraged when troubles come your way, instead hang on to your faith, See the obstacle as possibly the way forward. Remember God’s word and ask yourself, “what can I learn from this”. Trust that the God who created you and in whom you place your faith and trust will carry you through your setback or trial.

Strong people are made by opposition like kites that go up against the wind. – Frank Harris

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. – Helen Keller

Blessings on your journey,

Chaplain Rob

This Weeks Devotional

This Friday will be 33 years now since President Ronald Reagan visiting in a divided Berlin, Germany spoke publicly to Soviet leader Gorbachov and said “tear down this wall Mr. Gorbachov.” It took another two years but the Berlin Wall that divided a city and a nation came down and a united democratic Germany was reborn.

Our Gospel is all about breaking down walls between us and God, neighbor and neighbor, Jew and Gentile, differences that falsely lead to conflict and fighting. That’s why Jesus is often referred to as the Mediator (Hebrews 8:6). And blessed are the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9).

Obviously one of the most difficult tasks for us in the “human condition.” A never ending calling, but one that has produced results and reconciliation throughout God’s creation. How might each of pray about and pray together for this to occur in so many spheres of life in the next half of 2020?! Let us pray to seek reconciliation and peace where we see conflict and division.

Just as the Berlin Wall finally came down to reunite a people, justice accompanied that reconciliation and rebuilding. It is a community process and takes collective and individual patience to see it through. Remember that God is obviously patient with us! Nevertheless, God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven~~~~+

Let’s step out in faith and do and be what God leads us toward…..The Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 65:17-25). The lion and the lamb will lie down together!

Pastor Barry

Not an Apostle but Close

Psalm 116:1-9, Romans 5:1-8 and Matthew 9:35-10:8

On this second Sunday after Pentecost we note that our national Flag Day falls on the 14th as well. It’s astounding when you realize the number of flags in the world, the number of nations! And how memorable our Pledge of Allegiance is when it calls us to “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We are people of faith in a specific nation as are millions throughout our planet. And as Christians, we identify with Jesus who calls us today just as he called that first group we know as Apostles. He pledged Himself to them 100% even if they failed Him multiple times. And the Gospel of Matthew names them: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John and 8 more!
Remarkably, Jesus gives them authority and power to do a lot of good. He shares God’s call to mission with them weak and inadequate as they are!

The same authority is given to us 2000 years plus later! We should wave that “flag” as well as our country’s flag! It is a powerful Liberty we are given to serve freely our Savior and Friend Jesus. He has empowered us to do that very thing…serve others for the Kingdom of God!

This Sunday we will hear of these early Apostles and their descendants, that is, US! And other Christians around the world in different nations, under different flags but under One God known to us in Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday as you “listen in” to hear your name as well as the names of others even the Apostles!

Blessings!

Pastor Barry