Day of Decision

1st Sunday in Lent
Scripture: St. Mark 1:9-15

As Jesus and his disciples come down off the mountain, He tells His disciple not to tell anyone what had happened on the mountaintop.

He knew in His heart that they did not really understand what had transpired while they were up on the mountain. They did not yet understand that He must suffer and die. They were steeped in Jewish history. Elijah had to come three days before the Messiah would appear.

On day one, Elijah would stand on the mountaintop of Israel and lament that the Israelites doubted the Lord's peace. On the second day, he would settle all doubtful points of ritual and ceremonial practices. He would cleanse the nation of Israel using words that all Jews would understand. He would be stating that Elijah had already come and that Elijah was mistreated, beaten, and put to death.

He was speaking of John the Baptist as Elijah. The Jews would treat him badly and kill him. Now, if the Jews treated the forerunner of the Messiah likewise, they would kill the Messiah.

Why did this happen after years of looking for the coming of the Messiah. It was all because they wanted it their way. They refused to see it God’s way. This is something that Peter and the others did not want to happen.

Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”

When men and women seek to shut the still small voice of God out of there lives and hearts, the word of God will not be seen, heard or felt. It does not matter how high-sounding a person confesses the Lord; if their actions do not show the "fruit of the spirit," there is no eternal sense of the presence of the Spirit of the Lord. The masses then are seeking a messiah only to get something from him to sweeten their own lives.

Jesus came to offer us a blessing here on earth and eternal life in the heavenly kingdom. We see that the Lord faced many of the same situations that we must face, but He won the victory over sin and death. He Offers us that same victory.

His heavenly Father did not keep His precious Son from the pitfalls of physical life. By enduring them He won the victory and grants us that same victory.

"If" is a little word with a big meaning. If we confess our sins in His holy name, we must remember he paid the price giving us victory over sin and death.

Praise be the name of the Lord, Jesus the Christ, who paid the price for your sin and mine, giving us eternal life in the fullness of the heavenly kingdom.

Praise to the Lord!!!! Amen!

Prolong the Moment

Last Sunday of Epiphany
Scripture: St. Mark 9:2-9

When I read the account of the transfiguration I feel a strong kinship with Peter, who bursts out in a bunch of nonsensical words wanting to prolong the oneness with the heroes of ancient Israel. He felt the need to do something. He was hopeless and out of place with these 3 heroes of the faith: Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.

I must state and confess I have been in Peter’s shoes more than once. What about each of you?

As Jesus starts his earthly ministry, he needs to know if He is on the right path. His Heavenly Father assured Him that He was in His visit with Moses and Elijah.

Moses was the great “Law Giver.” He brought the 10 commandments down from the mountain. Moses said, “Obey these commandments and you will be on the right pathway for this life.”

Elijah was the greatest prophet of Israel, sharing with how one should live as a child of God. Do this and you will be on the right pathway to God.

All of us would like to be sure we are doing what Jesus would like us to be doing and we do this by reliving the great spiritual moments and experiences of our life. I treasure my invitation to be a servant of the Lord.

I experienced the light that Moses illuminated when he came off of Mount Sinai and I heard the voice of God as plain as you hear me now. He said, “Come follow me and feed my sheep.” Again I experienced the presence of God in the garden by the tomb while Rev. Ida Easley was singing We Are Standing on Holy Ground.

The Transfiguration enabled Peter, James, and John to continue on the pathway of God after Jesus’ crucifixion.

When one is at an all-time low spiritually, one needs to relive the special moments with God. This will lift a person on his spiritual journey to a higher plain.

Our Heavenly Father tells us to continue on our spiritual journey regardless of what is transpiring in our lives. Covet the deep spiritual moments in your life and rejoice in them, for the devil will constantly try to sidetrack us...

… while God always walks hand-in-hand with us! Amen!

A Private Miracle

5th Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Mark 1:29-39

As Jesus begins His earthly ministry He offers a glimpse into the fullness of that ministry. It starts with the healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law.

There are 3 aspects of this portion of scripture:

1.) He never separates WORDS from ACTION
2.) He never separates SOUL from BODY
3.) He never separates EARTH and HEAVEN
Jesus sees Peter’s Mother-in-Law sick in bed with a fever. They never speak a word to one another. He simply takes her hand and says to her, "Rise from your sick bed." Then the fever left her, wherein she begins to serve the him and the disciples a meal. There is no evidence of fanfare or show in His actions.

Jesus is our Master. He ministers to the whole BODY and SOUL Jesus displays the evidence of BODY and SOUL in this miracle.

We experience "the feeding of the masses" at Thanksgiving and Christmas… yet we seldom focus on the spiritual side of life then. But what about the rest of the year, for we desperately need nourishment of the body and soul daily?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we paid MORE attention to our spiritual needs daily and LESS to our physical needs?

We need to take time daily to recharge our spiritual batteries. This is evident after Jesus healed and ministered to the needs of others. In fact, He often went off alone to recharge and communicate with OUR Heavenly Father.

It’s a proven fact that after 8 hours of labor, our energy level starts to dwindle. 12-hour work schedules CAN be less productive than an 8 hour day because our energy level.

Some say “I DON’T NEED THE CHURCH”! My late Father-in-Law said often “Why should I go to church and spend time with those hypocrites? Because I spend 40-some hours with them at work.”

The desire of Jesus while on Earth was that there was No Separation between WORDS and ACTIONS, BODY and SOUL, because one is a child of God in all ACTIONS.

Little is Much in the Hands and Heart of Our Lord

4th Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: 2 Kings 4:1-7

We enter the scripture today and see a widow with two small boys who are facing a desperate situation. The husband and father of her sons was a servant of the Lord; he died after an illness and left them a tremendous debt. She has only a small jar of olive oil to her name to maintain herself and her sons.

Olive oil is used for almost everything at this time:

  • food
  • lights
  • heat
  • medicine
  • bathing for some of the rich

There is a knock on the door. She opens the door to see the man who the debt is owed to. He demands his money. She says she does not have any. He says, “I will be back in a week and if you cannot pay me, I will take the boys and sell them into slavery to pay your debt”.

She cries for mercy and time. He refuses her request. She is beside herself and does not know what to do. She goes to Elisha, a prophet, telling him her situation.

He asked her, “What do you have”?

She says “Only a small jar of oil”.

He tells her to tell the boys to go into their neighborhood asking for an empty jar, take the jar to their mother, close the door, and take the oil and pour into one of the empty jars. There will still be more oil, and Elisha instructs them to continue this process until all the jars are full and take the oil to the market place and sell it.

This is enough to pay off all their debts and provide them enough oil to live on.

Elisha was much like our Lord Jesus Christ in that he had wisdom, compassion, and care.

Now, no one escapes:

  • hardships
  • misfortunes
  • sorrows
  • pain
  • or affliction

We often think that if we were rich, these things would not befall us. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the needs of this life?! But this is not the case.

I like the American Indian saying “Don’t judge any man until you walk in his shoes for two full moons.”

No one is exempt from having life’s troubles. Everybody experiences difficulties. Our scripture today is about a young preacher and his family. He dies quite young after an illness, leaving them in great financial need. They are a good family, yet they face life’s financial needs, difficulties and problems. Misfortune may or may not befall any one of us.

Our precious Lord even endured many hardships during his life on Earth. He was arrested, given many lashes, beaten nearly to death, forced to wear a crown of thorns, tortured, and tormented. Then He was crucified on a cross between two thieves.

Yet our Lord Jesus the Christ walks daily with us each step we take and each moment in our lives, enabling us to preserver through each calamity that befalls us because of the promise and certainty of eternal life.

Have you ever felt that each calamity in our lives is a badge of courage and honor?

Even though we will endure some pain and suffering there is hope, rest assured, the free gift at the end of the line is eternal life in His holy presence. Amen!

Action Speaks Louder Than Words!

Third Sunday After Epiphany
Scripture: St. Mark 1:14-20

We start in Mark where Jesus began his first calling of his disciples, and then I want to go back to the Old Testament where God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the wicked of that great city.

Nineveh must have been a huge city, engulfing 264,000 feet with a 100 foot wall around it. It took 40,000 men 8 years to build it.

God said to Jonah “Are they not worth saving?”

But, Jonah decided that they were heathens and not even Jews. Thus he turns his back on God’s request and heads in the other direction to Tarsus.

When have you and I turned our back on God’s request and headed in the opposite direction and not willing to fulfill God’s request?

While trying to get away from God’s request, Jonah is thrown into the sea during a terrible storm. Instead of drowning, he is swallowed by a big fish and is in the belly of the fish for 3 DAYS! And then he repents and is spat out onto dry land.

Then hearing God’s message to respond, Jonah finally went to Nineveh and preached God’s destruction and the people believed and repented from their sins.

Jonah is unhappy because he believed that God was for the Jews only, not the Gentiles.

In the story of Jonah, 3 different entities changed their mind.
1. Jonah first refused, and then decided to go.
2. The people of Nineveh, they confessed their sins after hearing about God's judgment and love.
3. God relented, sparing the Ninevites.

As a child of God, doing His bidding, one is responsible only to share the message.

God will take care of the harvest in due time. Our responsibility is to share the word, and God will take care of the harvest.

Let us pray!

Be an Agent Called by God

2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. John 1:40-51

Has the Lord ever called you for special works of labor for the kingdom of God? Are you aware of your uncharted gifts for the kingdom? One must be aware to venture out of their comfort zone.

Andrew is a man of a faith that allowed the Lord to use him. Only on 3 different occasions do we see Andrew center staged:
  • He brought Peter to Jesus. Jesus looked at Peter and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter, Aramaic for “rock.”
  • He found the lad with 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed the 5,000 men, the women, and the children. There were 12 baskets of crumbs picked up afterwards.
  • He took the Greek man to meet Jesus.
Andrew was in the shadow of Jesus’ ministry. As Jesus prepares to leave Galilee, he finds Philip and says “Follow Me.” Philip, Andrew, Peter, and Nathanael were all from Bethsaida. Nathanael’s reaction was, “Can anything good come from there?”

Jesus tells Nathanael where he first saw him, under the fig tree. Nathanael confesses “You are the Son of God, the Messiah.”

We are all guilty of thinking we have nothing or little to offer the Lord. Only when we surrender ourselves to the Lord do we encounter many of our abilities to labor in the vineyard of the Lord.

Examples of people who answered the call:
  • Ed Gladish
  • Tim Voll
  • Judy Lints
  • Casey Archer
Maybe you haven't been recognized. Maybe you are living in the shadows, sort of like Andrew was. As servants of God, we should strive to make sure He gets the credit, not us. We should strive to be selfless so that we can be effective witnesses to God’s work in this world. Let us come together and pray.