Worship Sunday February 21 2021
      • Bible Trivia
      • Bible Trivia
  • Thy Loving Kindness
  • How Deep The Father's Love For Us
  • I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever
  • More Love, More Power
  • Please pray with me:
    Magnificent, Sovereign, Holy God - open to us your Word this morning. Give us ears to hear, minds to understand, hearts that are changed, and spirits that are moved to act. We are here Lord to listen, and we invite you to speak. To the glory the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN.
    We began this morning with a reading from Psalm 25 as our call to worship. Our Old Testament reading comes from Genesis 9:8-17.
    Genesis 9:8–17 ESV
    Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
    This is one of God’s earliest covenants with humanity.
    Our New Testament Reading comes from 1 Peter 3:18-22
    1 Peter 3:18–22 ESV
    For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
    And finally our Gospel reading from Mark 1:9-15.
    Mark 1:9–15 ESV
    In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    These are readings from God’s Holy Word.
    Thanks be to God.

    Fear and Peace

    Our Scriptures this morning all have one thing in common. Death.
    In Genesis every living thing that was not in the ark was wiped out by the flood. In 1 Peter we read of Jesus being put to death and his resurrection. And in Mark, we read of baptism… wait. Where’s death in that?
    For the Christian, baptism represents more than being washed. This is why many are so partial to baptism by immersion. When the waters cover over the person it is very symbolic of their death, and as the person is brought up out of the water very much an image of new life and resurrection bursting from the water.
    Yes, for practical reason we can sprinkle and pour, but the imagery of death and new life is not visually represented nearly as well.
    This past Wednesday we began a season within the church that leads to death. The season of Lent is a season in which each of us individually, and the church corporately dies to itself, to be raised with Christ on Easter morning. It is a season of critical inward self examination.
    It is in many ways our annual check-up on our faith, and our heart and soul. I am personally drawn to the season of Lent with its discipline and goal of drawing closer to Jesus. Unlike Christmas where there is so much cultural noise to weed through Lent is uniquely Christian. The only real mention you might even hear of it is in the celebrations of Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras the day prior to Ash Wednesday. And then there is silence as Christians quietly move through this 40 day season leading up to Holy Week and ultimately the celebration of the resurrection on Easter.
    Traditionally we impose ashes on the foreheads of Christians in the sign of the cross. As the ashen mark is made on the recipients forehead the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return,” remind us of our mortality.
    Over the years I have used an entirely different scriptural reference during these services, one with a much more New Testament flavor. I have used Paul’s words from Galatians 2:20.
    Galatians 2:20 ESV
    I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
    I have the receiver of the ashes recite the first half, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
    Then the person making the ash cross on their forehead says, “The life you now live in the flesh live by faith in the Son of god, who loves you and gave himself for you.”
    Yes, it reminds us of our mortality, but more than that it reminds us that we are no longer living for ourselves but for Christ.
    Paul also wrote, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” (Philippians 1:21).
    And to the Romans he wrote: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
    Sacrifices die. Therefore a living sacrifice must continually give itself over to the death of itself.

    Fear and Peace

    For most of 2020, and now into 2021 many have been living in one form of fear or another. In this time of pandemic some have been paralyzed by their fear of contracting or spreading the invisible virus.
    In a time of protests against social injustice the fear of civil unrest has risen.
    In a contentious election with sharp barbs being volleyed from all sides people feared what would happen if “the other person” was elected.
    We’re still here.
    Proverbs 1:7 ESV
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    So could it be that our fear is looking in the wrong direction? Perhaps the answer is yes...
    …and perhaps the answer is no.
    Psalm 27:1 ESV
    The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
    This past week I shared on our social media a blog post by Philip Yancey in which he shared an excerpt from his paraphrase of John Donne’s Devotions. In that post he quotes John Donne,
    “You command me both to speak to you and to fear you—don’t those two cancel each other out? Yet there is no contradiction in you, my God, my sun and my moon, who directs me as well in the night of adversity as in my day of prosperity. I must then speak to you at all times. When, then, must I fear you? At all times too.”
    It seems to me that this past year our world has been shouting at us “Fear! Fear! Fear!” and it is easy to get caught up in that and what it really does is take our focus away from God.
    Yet throughout the Scriptures we read, “Fear not!” By some accounts over 360 times! In the NIV translation the phrase “Do not be afraid” is recorded over 70 times.
    Yet fear seems to dominate our minds. We fear illness, we fear death. As Christians we need to ask ourselves, do we believe the Gospel or don’t we?
    From our Gospel reading this morning we read,
    Mark 1:15 ESV
    and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
    Believe in the gospel. The Good News!
    For too many of us, we’ve lost sight of the gospel. What is it? It’s summed up in John 3:16
    John 3:16 ESV
    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
    Wow! God loves me!
    Have you ever meditated on that thought? I have, and man, I can think of all kinds of reasons God shouldn’t love me, reasons why I should be considered unworthy of His love - and before any of us get all high and mighty I can think of plenty reasons about you too. And still God says plain and simple that He loves us.
    It’s true.
    And yet we have all this fear and we miss out on peace.

    Fear and Peace

    Shalom is the greeting used in Israel. It is recorded in the Bible 236 times in the Old Testament. We learned in our devotion this week, “It can mean peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. It is used to mean both hello and goodbye throughout the Middle East. The Jewish greeting is shalom aleichem, meaning “peace be upon you.”
    My prayer for you during this Lenten season is that you will take the time to really examine your life in the light of God’s love. That you will take the time to confess whatever darkness, or sin, within you that God brings into the light. Pride, hypocrisy, greed, covetousness, anger, lies, etc., lay them all at the feet of the cross of Christ. Be washed in His blood and know your sins are forgiven.
    You know, so much of our sin is rooted in fear: fear of failure, fear of not fitting in, fear of what others might think of us, etc. But as we replace that with the fear of the Lord, knowing that each of us as a follower of Christ can claim to be “the disciple Jesus loves”, we can live with a deeper inner peace.
    It is when we have that peace that we can truly be instruments of peace in a world dominated by fear.
    Lord God, you are the God of all true sorrow and true joy too, of all fear and all hope too. As you have given me a repentance not to be repented of, so give me a fear of which I may not be afraid. Give me tender and sensitive emotions, so that I may joy with those who joy and mourn with those who mourn, may I fear with those who fear.
    Ultimately Lord, as I turn from the fears of what this world may bring to standing before your glory, a child whom you have loved, may I be transformed into an instrument of your peace. AMEN.
      • Genesis 9:8–17ESV

      • 1 Peter 3:18–22ESV

      • Mark 1:9–15ESV

      • Galatians 2:20ESV

      • Proverbs 1:7ESV

      • Psalm 27:1ESV

      • Mark 1:15ESV

      • John 3:16ESV

  • Jesus Loves Me

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