ANNOUNCEMENTS

Wed. Oct. 18           7 pm Bible Study

Next Sun. Oct. 22

10 am    Sunday School
11 am    Worship
4 pm      Service at Twin Oaks
You are invited to a 90th birthday party for Irene Gensman from 2-4 pm, Saturday, October 21 at the Senior Center. Cards only.

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MANY

(Matthew 22:1-14)    Pastor Carol Weist

A few were chosen to call those invited to a wedding banquet for the king’s son.  We are not told how many they were to call,  but those called would not come.  Those chosen to call people to come suffered disappointment.  They did what they were sent to do with no results.

The king does not get upset at them.  Instead the king tries again. Perhaps those turning down the invitation will listen to others.  Maybe if the delightful food to be offered is mentioned, those invited will come. The king chooses some others to do the calling and inviting and instructs them to remind those invited of all the wonderful food that is ready to enjoy now.

Still those called do not accept the invitation.  One goes to his farm where he can provide food for himself.  Another goes about his business.  Still others mistreat and kill the ones chosen to do the inviting.  Those few chosen suffered dearly.  Serving on the mission they were chosen for cost them their lives.

We are not told how many were invited,  but it sounds like the whole city was invited.  The king is infuriated that those invited will not come  and some have mistreated those chosen to do the inviting.  That whole city is destroyed.

Then the king tries again.  He chooses another crew to invite people to the banquet.  The instructions to those chosen to invite are to invite everyone they could find on the streets, both good and bad.

Many, many people answer the call.  Many, many people accept the invitation.  At last the banquet hall is filled with guests. Continue reading

FRUITS OF THE KINGDOM

(Matthew 21:33-46)

Pastor Carol Weist

What are the fruits of the kingdom?

There is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Galatians 5 opens with a call to freedom:  “For freedom Christ has set us free.
Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

We are called to be tenants, tenants of the vineyard, tenants in God’s kingdom.  We are called to be care-takers.  We are called to be good stewards of the land.   Remember the lessons of the dust bowl years, the lessons of the dirty thirties.   How the land was used left things wide open for the dust storms.  We are called to be good tenants, good stewards of the land.

We are called to be good stewards of our freedom:  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,
but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
Continue reading

EQUAL

(Matthew 20:1-16)    Pastor Carol Weist

If you and I are equal, who is first and who is last?  If you and I are equal in Christ, who is first and who is last?  Are you first if you became a Christian first?   Are you first because you get to heaven first?   Are you last, less of a Christian, if you last longer on this earth   than another Christian? Or are you first?

In Christ we are all equal. Ultimately there is no first and last except for Jesus who is the first and the last and the forever.

In Romans 1:16-17 the apostle Paul states his position:  For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith,  to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith;  as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

The gospel, the good news of Jesus dying for our sins and being raised from the dead not just for Jesus to have eternal life, but for us to have eternal life, that gospel is the power of God, and God does not mean for us to be standing around idle.

Who became a Christian first is not the question. We are all equal in Christ. Continue reading

HOW MANY TIMES?

(Matthew 18:21-35)    Pastor Carol Weist

How many times? How many times has God forgiven? “The death Christ died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” (Romans 6:10) Jesus Christ dying on the cross is God forgiving us. Does that mean God forgives each one of us one time, for only one thing we do wrong? Or that God won’t forgive us for having done the same thing wrong seven times or seventy-seven times? Or does that mean that God forgives
myriads and myriads of people myriads of times? A myriad is 10,000.

By now God has forgiven billions. That one death on a cross forgives billions – billions of sins, billions of people. Not only that God forgives us from his heart.
People often struggle with forgiving from the heart. How do we forgive from the heart? How do we learn to forgive from the heart? Hebrews 7:27 is one place that helps us: “Unlike the other high priests, Jesus has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.”

You may not consider yourself a priest, much less a high priest, but according to 1 Peter 2:9-10 we are a royal priesthood: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;  once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Once you were nobodies. In Christ each person is a somebody. As a believer in Christ, you are a somebody in Christ. There may be people who don’t consider you part of their people. That does not change the fact you are part of Christ’s people.

Forgiveness from the heart does not mean agreeing with or approving everything another person has done. Forgiving another from the heart means considering that person a part of the people in Christ if that person is a believer or seeing that person has the potential to be someone in Christ if not a believer. It means respecting the personhood of other people who are created by God just as much as we are whether we personally like them or not. Loving another person, loving your neighbor, does not mean you are required to like everything they do. It means respecting their basic God-given humanity and treating people with dignity and respect.

As a believer in Christ you have accepted the gift of God’s merciful forgiveness. Once we were sinners, perhaps even scorning God’s merciful forgiveness. Now you know in your minds and hearts what God’s mercy is. Continue reading

THE NUMBER

(Matthew 18:15-20)              Pastor Carol Weist

The number is one.   God is The One.

Consider Deuteronomy 6:  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord,   and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. (RSV)

Another translation is:  Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.   You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.   (NRSV)

God alone.    God does not need anybody else. We need God and we need other people.  We might get it into our heads that we don’t need to worship God with anybody else.  God disagrees.

Here is what our Lord Jesus Christ tells his early disciples and tells us as well. Since we are no better than those early disciples  we also need this promise from our Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Hebrews 10:25 also reminds us about “not neglecting to meet together,  as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,  and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  The Day, with a capital “D” is approaching, “D” as in major Disasters.  Right now there are plenty of hurricanes, fires, and even a big earthquake.

So how do we encourage one another?  It certainly helps if we spend time gathering together to focus on The Number One, the Holy One, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ as Hebrews 10:23 reminds us:     Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering,  for he who has promised is faithful.”

Who is the one who has promised?  Jesus has promised.  Jesus is faithful. We hold fast to the confession of our hope in Jesus, not alone, but with others.  Of course, it is permitted to praise and thank and cry out to the Lord in our own private space, a favorite outdoor or indoor place, even while out and about on a ride or drive in a vehicle.

However, we need more.  God can be The One alone.  God did not make us to be alone but to interact with other people. Those interactions do not always go smoothly.  What a powerful witness it is that even when interactions don’t go smoothly we can still praise and thank the Lord with others.  We can still pray with others for others, for ourselves and for each other. Continue reading

IT DEPENDS

(Romans 12:9-21)      Pastor Carol Weist

It depends.  When someone says, “It depends,” that does not signal certainty.  Rather it implies follow through may or may not happen.  It implies there are conditions for follow through happening.

Saying it depends on God has a different ring to it.  We can depend on God’s love being genuine.  Let God cleanse, heal, wash away those road blocks inside us.  Let God’s genuine love flow.  Don’t let it flow only around you or despite of you.

We cannot stop the flow of God’s love. It is so much better when we let God’s love transform us from the inside out.  That is what Romans 12:9 living is about. It starts with letting love be genuine. Let God give you such love.  Our love becomes genuine when our hearts are infused with God’s love. Continue reading