Yesterday, I missed Pastor Frank’s message. I was teaching the children about the cycles of sin in Judges, and how we need to be careful to not get so comfortable in life that we stop serving our Great God!
I love the tender brevity of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. We don’t know her name. We don’t know her relationship with Peter. Mark’s account uses the word “immediately” in regards to leaving the synagogue and the sharing of illness that put this woman in bed. You can feel their concern. Andrew and Peter it seems eagerly told Jesus she was there and ill.
Jesus lifted her up. Mark records, “And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1:31). In a time when we know women were not esteemed Jesus raised her from her bed. This was during the time when the Pharisees said a man could get out of supporting honoring his mother and father, the sick woman who touched Jesus was an outcast, the woman at the well we infer was not welcome with the other women, and Mary had 7 demons cast out of her.
Jesus, on a holy day, a day when no work was to be done, cared for a woman. In gratefulness Mark 1:31 concludes, “and she began to serve them.”
Believers in Jesus, don’t stop serving our Great God! Learn from this woman.
Imagine this, Sunday morning you hear your pastor emphatically say “preach the gospel to every creature.” You nod passionately in agreement, and think to yourself, “Self, he is speaking to us. Let’s evangelize the world!” On the way out of church, you thank your pastor for the challenge and ask him to pray for you this week as you hope to share the gospel boldly.
Sunday lunch is delicious. The nap afterwards leaves you ready to take on the world. You go to sleep thinking of all of the awesome opportunities God is going to provide to share Jesus at work.
However, that project ends up needing to be tweaked, you spend 90% percent of your time behind a computer and the remaining time listening to Loud Larry gripe about the cost of braces and the current political environment. You manage to mention you had a great time at church Sunday, to which Loud Larry bellyaches about the ills of organized religion (you think about how funny it would be to start singing a hymn as a joke of the problems with disorganized religion, nonetheless let the conversation drop).
You feel like a failure, you haven’t preached the gospel to anyone, and think to yourself, “Self, is this what Paul and Peter faced?”
All of the thoughts of evangelism slip as you drive home. You happily think about how great game night is going to be and it only momentarily crosses your mind that you might get a chance to share the gospel. But, you think to yourself, “Self, how would that even work?”
Does this sound at all familiar?
We want you to be confident in the gospel and sharing the gospel. Before you ever get a presentation out there, take a step back and try a different strategy.
First, pray. Pray that God would provide the opportunity to share the gospel. Jesus said we are to pray to the Lord of the Harvest for laborers in the harvest, and Paul said to pray that door would be open to share. Ask the One who said He would do the work for opportunity and boldness.
Second, pay attention. Play the games well. You will be a better representation of Jesus if you follow the rules, know what is going on, and are competitive. Some game nights are party game nights for fun, others are serious gamers who want to play. Know what is going on and be present.
Get to know the gamers you are playing with and be interested and interesting! Don’t be the conversation killer. Ask questions, inquire about families, work, hobbies, and life. Be friendly.
Finally, take the opportunities the Lord provides. Don’t “Jesus juke”. Don’t say things like, “This game is fun … want to know what else is fun? Following Jesus!” Or, “I will let you win if you come to church Sunday.” Or, “tough loss, the greatest loss a man can experience is losing his soul to hell.”
Celebrate wins (not just in the game, but newborns, graduations, promotions, etc.). Mourn losses (life is genuinely hard and if someone shares a loss, they are being vulnerable). Look for the right time. If someone asks you “what must I do to be saved?” You know the answer, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
If the conversation instead goes to “I spend as much time out of my house because I find it difficult to be around my wife,” you have an opening. Ask a question, perhaps “what makes it so difficult for you?” Or make a true statement, “when I struggle to honor my wife, I like to remember that she is to be treated like a weaker vessel, it helps.”
The Philippian Jailer asking “what must I do to be saved?” is only recorded once in scripture. Paul reasoned daily in the marketplace. Peter lived in Jerusalem for a time. Jesus used both men to share the gospel and He saved people through their preaching the good news.
God put you where He wants you and is bringing people into your life to impact. You might share a great gospel presentation, and it might fall on deaf ears. You might bumble your way through a conversation, only to discover God used it to bring someone to faith in Jesus. Game nights are one of many opportunities to preach the gospel to every creature.
1. Pray. 2. Pay attention. 3. Take the opportunities God provides
We live in a time of showing off strength. The gym shows strong people. The workplace has strong people. The biggest movies that will eventually come to the big screen are about strong people.
But not all are strong. There are weak people. Some are weak in will, and need help resisting the spirit of the age. Some are weak in knowledge, and need help strengthening their knowledge of God and His Word.
Believers who are strong are directed to help the weak. We are to train the weak. Strong believers are tasked with bolstering the weak.
Check this out:
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 12:1-4
The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. Romans 14:22
These verses encourage us in bearing with those who are weak. Throughout our Christian life will be those who demand their rights. We must determine if we our rights will stand in contrast and break fellowship, or give us an opportunity to serve like Jesus. The King of Glory stooped to wash dung off the disciples’ feet. My Great God and Savior gave Himself on the cross for my willful sin. My Lord gave me life to serve His people.
May the service of those at Cornerstone uplift those who are weak. May we bear well with the burdens of those who are fainthearted. May we help those who are immature in Christ to grow to maturity. This is not a speedy process. Some children walk before their first birthday, but none of my kids did. Like children, serve those who seem weak to you well. Care for them, bolster them, and help them mature in Christ.
Church is the place Jesus designed for Christians to grow. If you believe in Jesus, you need teaching, accountability, and fellowship. He saved you to be part of his body, which is the church (Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:24). He wants you to grow in wisdom through the preaching of His Word; he wants you to practice grace in the fellowship of fellow Christians; and, he wants you to be generous in your use of his gifting.
Christians apart from the church do not lose their salvation. However, they do lack the design of God in their lives. You should go to church because it is God’s design. While Christians who don’t attend church may be able to listen to better preachers or musicians online, they miss out on the leading of God to help them grow in wisdom, grace, and generosity.
Going to church may at times be an inconvenience (toddlers, the quirkiness of others, conviction through preaching, etc.). But the benefit of growing in wisdom, grace, and generosity will positively impact individuals, families, and the community.
So, you should go to church.*
*When you are healthy enough to do so. Please do not join if you are sick or recently exposed to illness. We understand during the current health climate may preclude some from gathering with an entire church fellowship.
We desire to reach the cities of Clinton, West Point, Syracuse, Clearfield, Layton, Sunset, Roy, Hooper, and West Haven with the gospel.
I believe it is time to go to war. Though I don’t believe we need to shed any blood. Our war is not against humans we see (check out Ephesians 6:10-12). Our war is against our sinful desires, the false teaching that leads men and women from truth, and all that is unholy.
When it comes to mankind, we pursue peace. Jesus proclaimed, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 ESV).
James wrote “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17, 18 ESV).
These are only 2 of the many times believers are instructed to chase peace. If it was so important to God to tell us to be peacemaker, perhaps we ought to listen. Now is the time be at peace with those around us, so that we might boldly confront whatever is leading them from following the Prince of Peace.
I encourage you to put away the cacophony of voices that rile up dissension, wrath, and clamor. Listen to the wisdom from above and enjoy God’s perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Have you thought these questions? I have heard them uttered. I have read them as well. I even heard them in the tone of the guy in line outside of Home Depot Saturday.
The truth of scripture reminds me when I am anxious or afraid that God is right where He has always been. He is on His throne. Isaiah 6:1 “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” Exodus 24:10 “and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.” Revelation 5:1 “Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.”
The rule of God has never been lessened. He is in control. He is steering and guiding and controlling the virus to bring about His will! Glory to His name! Also, He is extending His manifold mercies and abundant grace throughout the world! How could He allow this to happen? Because He is bringing about the plan He has been working before the foundation of the earth. “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
Where is God during this pandemic? He is on the throne! We can be confident in His direction, even when there is upheaval. We can rejoice that even if His hand of provision is taken away, He has not left us or forsaken us!
Remember the great words of Psalm 46:10 when, like me, you find yourself anxious. “”Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Are you looking for a new read? Most of that list is a great time investment. Specifically, the cheap Kindle version of Eric Metaxas’ Martin Luther and the free Pilgrim’s Progress are ones everyone should pick up.
Virtual Coffee Hour continues Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 am. Drop in, stay the whole time, and learn something new about each other https://zoom.us/j/202192408.
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Many of you have asked how they can help. Would you send a text, make a phone call, mail a card, or email the people you would regularly see on Sunday? This will help us to stay connected with each other.
What an unexpected couple of weeks this has been. We are gearing up for online church. We are cancelling in person meetings. We are looking to protect each other and walk in wisdom. How do we do this?
We pray. We pray for patience for those who are spending more time with their families in close quarters throughout the day. We pray for those whose jobs may be affected. We remember those going through cancer in prayer. We uphold each other to avoid temptation, be delivered from evil, and to walk upright an godly lives. We pray for our neighbors and for those we have never met.
We read. We devour scripture. We memorize passages of comfort (Psalm 23, Philippians 4, and Joshua 1 are all great options.) We rejoice that the 66 books of the Bible are true, entirely truth, and preserved for us.
We serve. We can serve others and carry their burdens. We can find out who needs help, and help. We can explore new avenues of help, even when we cannot be in close proximity (I don’t need to be near you to rake your yard).
We strategize. We need to make a plan for the next days ahead. We need to know how to conduct ourselves if this continues for weeks or even months.
We labor in the work of ministry. Some are going to plant food to share. Some are going to prepare a 4-session Bible study to share. Some are going to write the hymns for the next generation.
We connect. The body of Christ is all the members. Jesus is the head of the body and everyone in Jesus is vital to the body. We reach out more often. We call, video call, text, message more often. We do more more often!
Believers in Jesus don’t live in fear, for our God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46). We do follow the instructions of the government, serve like Jesus, do good to all (especially those of the household of faith), and rejoice with hope. Tonight, gather your family on the couch, pray together, read Psalm 23, and enjoy pasture in which God has provided.
God has really shaken things up! It is amazing how things have changed in the last week. The passage Frank preached on Sunday, Psalm 103, continues to be true (as it has always been true). Especially apt is Psalm 103:19 “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.” He is not surprised by the disruption to our normal schedules, even when we are besides ourselves.
Disruption is affecting even our Sunday morning. I have joked in the past that it would be nice to have church in our pajamas; I didn’t think it was about to happen. We will be live streaming Sunday’s service on our YouTube page. Please subscribe to this page to be informed when live streams are happening. We will begin with prayer at 9:15 am and the Sunday service at 10 am. If you want to catch up on past sermons, visit www.cornerstoneofutah.com/sermons.
Please do not attend the facility Sunday morning. An advisory board meeting will be held Saturday to determine the best course of action for the next couple of weeks. We will follow the recommendations from our state and national government limit gatherings and cooperate with social distancing.
We are praying the Lord will use this time to impact our community with the gospel of the glory of Christ. The “Hello Neighbor!” flyer is an intentional way to connect with your neighbors.
I encourage you to make use of the church app to stay connected while we practice social distancing. We bear each other’s burdens and lessen anxiety when we stay in contact. The pastoral team is available if you need to talk, pray, get books from the church library, or need connection.
I hope you have a peace that passes all understanding.
Do you feel grounded in Bible? Not just can you read it, but do you understand how Genesis connects to Isaiah? Do you know why Revelation points so heavily to events not yet fulfilled? Are you confident of you standing with God?
Discipleship, the process of helping believers follow Jesus. It starts with gathering Sundays, and continues through the week. Getting together can look like drinking coffee,skiing down a hill, or asking “why do we have to believe in Jesus” (as one of the kids of Cornerstone did last night at small group). The goal is to enjoy life while building up in Christ.