Fifth Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture:  2 Corinthians 8:7-15

The mother church in Jerusalem was in crisis!

She was in great need, trying to continue her ministry. We don’t know exactly what the need was, only that she was in need of a lot of money. Hearing of this, Paul, who was in Macedonia, starts a fundraising drive to help erase that need.

Seeing the Macedonians and their generous hearts, even with their own needs, Paul asks them to help the mother church. So, even with their own poverty yet with their overflowing generous hearts, the church responded to those needs.

Now, no gift can be in any way a real gift  without the giver,giving a bit of themself wrapped into the gift.

The same is so very true with all our gifts given unto our LORD. Paul sites several reasons for being generous. He set the example that others could follow. The church in Macedonia was a poor church, yet a church very generous in helping others.

Another example is that of our Lord Jesus the Christ. He sacrificed Himself on the cross. The generosity showed there did not start with the crucifixion. Nor did it being at His birth; rather it began in Heaven when He chose to lay down His life so that all of us might have abundant life on Earth and eternal life of peace in heaven.

I want to praise you as members of the Peniel Church. When I requested a special offering for Nepal’s Earth Quake, while we took some out of the Mission Fund, we raised nearly $500 more through your individual giving.

Paul reminds us of the strange way that life has a way of evening things out. It’s a true saying that far more often than not we find the measure we respond to others is the same measure that is returned to us.

We cannot outgive God! Paul includes his appeal with phrases from Exodus 16:17-18, the sharing of the Manna and quail in the wilderness. The Israelites did as they were told.  Some gathered much manna; others gathered less.

When they measured it by the omar, he who gathered much did not have too much and he who gathered little had not too little.

We need to realize all of our gifts given unto our Lord, proportional to our ability, is a blessing.
No gift is too large and no gift is too small. Remember the lady with the 2 mites?   The Lord measures all of those gifts using the same yardstick.

The more we put into something, the more we get out. Our Christian action is response to our faith. If we put only a little of our faith into actions, very little will we get out of it.

Matthew 6:1 does caution about giving to the needy: "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

2 Corinthians 9:7 says:
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

So we gave almost $1,500.00 to the people of Nepal, who will never know who you are,
but they will know it came from the Church.

Let us pray!

Blizzard of Trouble

4th Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

In all the chances and changes in his life, Paul maintained one main concern: to show himself as a sincere faithful minister of Jesus Christ. He would say without reservation that the Christian life style is not for the faint of heart.

When Satan and his demons throw trials and temptations at you, you must persevere.

Winston S. Churchill said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. it is the courage to continue that counts.”

In today society too many expect that once they confess their faith in the Lord Jesus the Christ life will be a bed of roses… roses without thorns.

In our text for today, Paul is sharing the eternal conflict of a true Christian life style. There are all sorts of conflicts that constantly weigh down our hearts and spirits.

I was going to my office to prepare this message when the telephone rang. It was about 9:30 AM, and it was my nephew calling to tell me his sister had killed herself. She was my only sister’s daughter. I had to spend quite a bit of time to get my thoughts together. I don’t understand the “why” in this situation, only that the Lord will guide and comfort our whole family during these difficult days,

Like Paul, I know the Holy Spirit is in all of life’s up and downs and He will be with us always. God loves us regardless of whatever is going on in our lives. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in prison, yet Paul was in prison seven times for speaking about  the Lord.

He suffered at least two beatings with a cat of nine tails and got 39 lashes. Because he was a Roman citizen they were not permitted to give his 40 lashes, as the 40th lash might have caused his death.

I don’t know how many ship wrecks he was involved in.

And we get upset when someone says something that offends us or hurts our felling. If Paul had acted that way there would be no Christian church today. But he stayed with his course of action in preaching and witnessing the Gospel, that we might have a true witness to the pitfalls of being faithful to our confession in Jesus Christ our Lord.

As I look back over the trials and treatment of Paul and His labors to preach the Gospel, I can not see one time in my whole ministry even once that I have suffered anything like Paul suffered for his love for our Lord. And today we are a spoiled lot. We gripe because its either too hot or to cool. We get furious when someone says something about us or what we supposedly did or didn't do.

Remember the old saying: “It’s unwise to change horses in the middle of the stream!”

But in spite of our narrow tempers and misunderstanding with one another, the church is still alive and doing business for the Lord Jesus the Christ. May each of us look at our service for the church today and where we may be a stumbling block to one another. Maybe we should repent, ask for forgiveness, and then seek to find the gifts of the Spirit God gave us to illuminate His presence… in us!


Peace of the Presence

3rd Sunday of Pentecost
Scripture: St. Mark 4:35-41

The Sea of Galilee is between two large mountain ranges. It sets in a bowl its water coming in from the north. This is a natural wind tunnel, causing the sea that is like a sheet of glass to become rough with high waves, some of which are several feet high.

When Jesus and His disciples started across the lake, the surface was a sheet of glass. About half way across the wind came blowing hard.  The little boat is tossed about like a toy top on a flat surface. Jesus is laying on a piece of carpet with a small pillow. The helmsman stands on deck a couple feet away. The waves were hitting the boat so hard that the boat was taking on water.

The disciples were afraid that the boat was about to sink.  They woke Jesus up, saying, “Teacher don’t you care that we are about to perish?”

Jesus gets up and sternly rebukes the wind and waves. Jesus tells the wind and waves “BE SILENT…BE MUZZLED”. The wind and waves die down immediately. The sea surface returns to being a sheet of glass. The disciples marvels that even the wind and waves obey His command.

What is interesting here is that Jesus used the same words to the wind and waves that he used to silence a demon-possessed man in Mark 1:25: “Be Quiet.” Here in Mark 4:39, Jesus says “QUIET ... BE STILL.” This passage not only shows the power of Jesus, but that He can bring peace in the storms of life that we face.

There is a tale of a gardener who loved a certain flower and he spent extra time tending to its every need, using only the best products for its care. One morning, he went to the garden to check on his flower. It was gone! No trace! He began to rant and rave over who would do such a trick. Why would anybody steal his most precious flower?

Standing there in the garden, he felt the presence of something. In his mind he heard a voice. The voice said, “Hush! I plucked it for myself.” Then he realized it was the voice of the Lord, speaking to his heart. He at once realized that Jesus could calm the storms of our rage in an instant and in the darkest moments of our lives.

Jesus offers us peace when our lives are asunder, such as during the loss of a precious loved one.

His presence comes to us when we don’t know what to do. Often the real tragedy is not that we don’t know what to do, but so often we do not humble ourselves to be guided by Him. He offers us peace of His presence, when the storms of life are raging within us.

Remember the enemy of peace is worry. We worry for ourselves and our loved ones and about the unknown future. Jesus speaks to us as a Father who’s heart and love never causes His precious child a needless tear.

I love the words in our hymn on page 512, Stand by Me.

“When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me.
Stand by me.
When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me.
Stand by me.

“When the world is tossing us like a ship upon the sea,
Then who ruleth Wind and Waters,
Stand by me.
Stand by me.”

Jesus the Christ, is the only one that can grant us true peace of body, mind, and spirit. Amen!

Secret of Endurance

2nd Sunday of Pentecost June 7th,2015
Scripture: 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18

The secret of endurance is like both sides of a coin. It has things that are seen with our eyes and things that are not visible but are felt in our heart.

I looked up the words "endure" and "endurance." The dictionaries use phrases like:
  • To hold out against
  • To sustain without impairment
  • The power to bear life encounters without resistance
  • To support adverse forces with not yielding to them
The things that are seen are man-made earthly items, while the things not seen are from God’s love, grace, and eternal presence.

Paul’s words include all those in the earthly life, that may or may not happen to us in our lives, like the strength of one’s body in it’s youth. We see that strength fade away in the aging process of life.

Through this life we need to feed the soul that keeps us health and wise in the Lord’s presence and love. It is in the human body that we suffer many things that weaken us, yet it is the soul that keeps us strong and aware of God’s presence even in our suffering.

Paul was convinced that suffering and adversity happens if we endure them with God’s presence and strength, they are worth the GOAL and the PRIZE we seek: Eternal LIFE! With God as our helper.

Suffering may destroy our body, while with the Spirit with God at the helm of our lives we will win the VICTORY over SIN AND DEATH!

As we look back over our lives, we will all see suffering in many situations. Have you seen them as events that awaken our faith journey? As an event that has sustained us? For we realize that the Lord walk beside us at all times, often holding our hands, but at other times carrying us though that situation, until we can stand and walk under our own strength.

Thomas Wood penned these words:

"I remember.
I remember
The fir tree dark and high.

"I used to think their slender tips
Were close against the sky.

"It was a childish ignorance
To know I’m further off from Heaven
Than when I was a boy."

We all know the countless pitfalls that Paul endured during his journey in life, but he never lost sight or failed to believe that all his earthly suffering, were nothing compared to the glory that awaited him at his death because he endured these pitfalls while being baptized in Christ’s blood and eternal life.

I am as guilty as you are of having slipped into a state of self-pity, asking the Lord, "Why me? Why me?"

Because I was seeing and allowing myself to see only my eyes and not the heart of God. When I have stopped dead in my tracks and look back in all the years of my life, I see countless times God working in and through the pitfalls of my life. Even at birth, there was a struggle for my twin and I. But God intervened.

This reminds me of the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”

"One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

"In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

"This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

"'You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?'

"The Lord replied, 'The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.'… My Precious, precious child,

"I love you and I would never leave you."
-Mary Stevenson

During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints in the sand…
… it was then that God carried you.

How do you see your life? With only your eyesight or through the eyes of God?

For He sees not who we are or how we are living, but who we might become through His living presence and power in our lives.

Lord we thank you for the ability to endure this life’s struggles and pitfalls, for we know they are nothing compared to the JOY and LOVE that You offer and give to each one who acknowledges You as their redeeming God!