Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

Message: “Memorial Day "

I intend this to be an interactive sermon so please join in. Feel free to sprinkle a few amens or Hallelujah, raise your hands during the hymns, or however the spirit moves you.

For most people, Memorial Day is just another flag waving holiday

like the 4th of July, Flag Day, and  Labor Day.

It marks the beginning of summer. Can i get a hallelujah?


It's the weekend of the Indy 500.


School's out. Many have mixed emotions about that, Right?


The pools open. Even if the weather is cold enough to turn your lips blue, we have to at least dip our toes in the pool.


It provides the first real chance for picnics, grilling, and of course an outing to Cutty’s. How about another hallelujah?

Memorial day hasn’t always been that way though.

Memorial Day grew out of the human need to remember where we have been. The needed to remember is why we save photos, letters, trophies, odd bits of ribbon, and a million other things.

What things are in your treasure collection?

We save the past to help us gain a better view of the where we've been. Only then can we figure out where we are going.

The cherished memories of a nation, a town, a church, a family, or an individual provide the values and dream that one generation passes on to the next.

Forgetting to share with the next generation means dropping the torch, as does failing tho learn from the party generations. We as a nation have often forgotten the lessons of the past and repeated the same mistakes once again. Amen?

One of the lessons we have failed to learn is the human cost of war. It is estimated that 1,255,500 US military personnel have died on active duty, including the 620,000 during the civil war..

This is Memorial Day weekend the time set aside to remember those who died during active military service.

Memorial Day unofficially  begun during the Civil War when some concerned women decided to decorate the graves of those who had bravely given their lives in that destructive civil conflict between the states.

I’m sure similar thoughts were on the mind of President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863 as he made his way to a Pennsylvania battlefield.

He feared that he might well be the very last President of the UNITED States of America.

He had good reason for that fear. The country teetered on the brink of self-destruction. It could easily have become un-united and only a confederation of allied but separate countries.

The ceremony that afternoon was to dedicate the site of a cemetery for the over 3,500 union soldiers killed at Gettysburg in the three-day battle the previous July. However the toll was much higher when the loss of Confederate soldiers is added in. Over forty thousand American soldiers died in or because of wounds suffered in that battle.

Though it is short, his speech that day is well remembered. He said,”

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

We are met on a great battle-field of that war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Lincoln's remarks provided the seedbed for what would become Memorial Day.

           Memorial day was set up to honor, as Lincoln said, those brave men who struggled and gave their last full measure of devotion t li. Over the years, many memorials have been erected to honor a person or persons who have died.

I have visited the memorials and cemeteries in and around Washington D.C. The row upon row of white crosses standing in military precision at the Arlington National Cemetery was an overwhelming sight.

At the Vietnam Memorial, as I was standing and reading the names of those killed, I suddenly noticed my reflection in the polished black marble. I have no words to discribe the flood of emotions that came over me. Though I was never in combat, I did serve in the army during that war.

What memorials have you visited? What was your reaction?

This is a worship service so let us think for a moment of the memorials to Jesus the Christ.

           What memorials to Jesus Christ do we have? In a way, every cross and church building is a memorial to him. But the memorial that comes most readily to my mind is the communion meal where we are commanded to “Do this in remembrance of me.”

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

Remember the miracles that he did. What miracles do you remember?


Remember His lessons on how to live. What life lessons have you learned?


Remember His Descriptions of Heaven. Tell me what heaven is like


Remember His Promises. What promises have you claimed? “Where I am you will be also. I’ll be with you until the end of the age.  I’ll send a helper, the Holy Spirit


Remember His betrayal by the religious authorities. Do you remember the illegal night time “trial” with false witnesses?


Remember the betrayal by his closest friends. Who betrayed him? Judas, our course, but all of them betrayed him by abandoning him. And to keep us from becoming smug, we see reminded that "all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory." (Romans 3:23)


Remember the humiliation of his beatings, the path through the streets with the weight of the cross, the mocking crown of thorns, the nails that pierced His flesh.


Remember the agonizing effort it took for him to speak His few words from the cross. Because of the cruel nature of the crucifixion most prisoners died of asphyxiation (couldn’t breathe). And yet, Christ pushed with his nail pierced feet and pulled with his nail pierced hands to raise himself enough to breathe out some important words, “


Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do


Today you will be with me in paradise

Behold your son: behold your mother


My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?


I thirst


It is finished


Father, into your hands I commit my spirit


Remember His triumph over the grave.


Remember His final words … the last commandment to His followers after the resurrection and just before he ascended into heaven.  “So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News

And always remember that He did all of it for YOU and me!

Let us now remember through Holy Communion by receiving the Bread and the Cup. Join me in the prayer of confession.

Friday, March 29, 2019

WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED?




MUSINGS - March 2, 2019


WHAT HAVE YOU GAINED?


Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Those who want to come with me must say no to the things they want, pick up their crosses, and follow me. Those who want to save their lives will lose them. But those who lose their lives for me will find them. What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life?

Jesus's message to his disciples then and to us now is the sane. If any one of us wants to be his disciple, we must not do only what we ourselves want to do. We must be willing to let people hurt us and disgrace us. In Jesus's time on earth they humiliated criminals and maDr then carry a cross to the place where the criminals were executed. Though in this age and inn most countries the criminals aren't brutalized before their exicution there is certainly humiliation through the trial and incarceration. That is what anyone who wants to be his disciple must be willing to do. We must do that, because those who try to save their lives by denying that they belong to Jesus when people want to kill them for believing in him will not live eternally, but those who are killed because of being his disciples will live with God eternally. Some people might get everything they desire in this world, but if they do not follow Jesus, they would really be gaining nothing because they would not get eternal life! So, really what would they have gained if they have not become his disciples? They will have lost their eternal life! There is absolutely nothing that people can give to God that would enable them to gain eternal life, it can not be purchased. Have you secured your life eternal buy following Jesus? This earthly life is but the tiniest portion of eternity. Your tomorrow is not guaranteed but you CAN have your forever life guaranteed by giving everything over to Jesus's control. He died so that you might live. Accept that free gift while you arestill able.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

THE TEACHING AFTER THE SERMON

THE TEACHING AFTER THE SERMON




MUSINGS - March 05, 2019


THE TEACHING AFTER THE SERMON


Matthew 13:36-43
When Jesus had sent the people away, he went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain what the illustration of the weeds in the field means."

He answered, "The one who plants the good seeds is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seeds are those who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are those who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The workers are angels.

Just as weeds are gathered and burned, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels. They will gather everything in his kingdom that causes people to sin and everyone who does evil. The angels will throw them into a blazing furnace. People will cry and be in extreme pain there. Then the people who have God's approval will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Let the person who has ears listen!

The disciples didn't understand the illustration of weeds and wheat. They still were thinking on earthly terms rather than the spiritual realm. Jesus had already explained his previous story about the seed that was planted on various soils. Yet their eyes couldn't see nor their wars hear because the minds were closed tho the spirit.

How frustrating that must have been for Jesus that his closest followers still lacked understanding. How frustrating out must still be when so many have ears but can not hear.

Clean the wax from your spiritual ears. Put on your spiritual glasses and open your bibles. Pray for understanding, then read looking for what meaning it had for YOU. Ask, Who are you in the context of the story? Are you the farmer, the worker, the enemy, the good seed, or the bad seed? Now Ask yourself, How am I changed (or to change) by what I read?

I beg you, for the sake of your eternal life, read and study the bible, listen to and think about the sermons you hear. Search for understanding.

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All content (except quotations) ©2019 Thomas E. WilliamsTHE TEACHING AFTER THE SERMON




MUSINGS - March 05, 2019


THE TEACHING AFTER THE SERMON


Matthew 13:36-43
When Jesus had sent the people away, he went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain what the illustration of the weeds in the field means."

He answered, "The one who plants the good seeds is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seeds are those who belong to the kingdom. The weeds are those who belong to the evil one. The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The workers are angels.

Just as weeds are gathered and burned, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels. They will gather everything in his kingdom that causes people to sin and everyone who does evil. The angels will throw them into a blazing furnace. People will cry and be in extreme pain there. Then the people who have God's approval will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom. Let the person who has ears listen!

The disciples didn't understand the illustration of weeds and wheat. They still were thinking on earthly terms rather than the spiritual realm. Jesus had already explained his previous story about the seed that was planted on various soils. Yet their eyes couldn't see nor their wars hear because the minds were closed tho the spirit.

How frustrating that must have been for Jesus that his closest followers still lacked understanding. How frustrating out must still be when so many have ears but can not hear.

Clean the wax from your spiritual ears. Put on your spiritual glasses and open your bibles. Pray for understanding, then read looking for what meaning it had for YOU. Ask, Who are you in the context of the story? Are you the farmer, the worker, the enemy, the good seed, or the bad seed? Now Ask yourself, How am I changed (or to change) by what I read?

I beg you, for the sake of your eternal life, read and study the bible, listen to and think about the sermons you hear. Search for understanding.

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

WEEDS AND WHEAT




MUSINGS - March 02, 2019
WEEDS AND WHEAT


Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus used another illustration. He said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field. But while people were asleep, his enemy planted weeds in the wheat field and went away. When the wheat came up and formed kernels, weeds appeared. "The owner's workers came to him and asked, 'Sir, didn't you plant good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?' "He told them, 'An enemy did this.' "His workers asked him, 'Do you want us to pull out the weeds?' "He replied, 'No. If you pull out the weeds, you may pull out the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. When the grain is cut, I will tell the workers to gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to be burned. But I'll have them bring the wheat into my barn.'"

In Jesus's illustration he sharers that there will come a time of separation of the evil from the holy. That time has not yet come. There is time for God to miraculously change weeds into wheat, sinners into saved.

To be saved, the sinners must hear the good news that Jesus lived tho show the way and died to take away the sins of all humanity. Once saved, we have a duty to perform. We are not saved by works. But we are saved to work. Jesus commanded, "So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

Romans 10:13-15 says, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News? How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them? As Scripture says, "How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News."

If you haven't heard that Jesus has paid the price to set you free from your sin, then listen: Through the grace of God you are free from the debt of sin. You must only accept it, believe it, and act on It. Go and sin no more.

If you have heard, have accepted, have believed, then duo your duty and share the good news. That's the only way that weeds can become wheat.

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Friday, March 1, 2019

GET OFF THAT ROCK!

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MUSINGS - March 01, 2019

GET OFF THAT ROCK!

Matthew 13:1-23
That same day Jesus left the house and sat down by the Sea of Galilee. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat. He sat in the boat while the entire crowd stood on the shore. Then he used stories as illustrations to tell them many things. He said, "Listen! A farmer went to plant seed. Some seeds were planted along the road, and birds came and devoured them. Other seeds were planted on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn't deep. But when the sun came up, they were scorched. They withered because their roots weren't deep enough. Other seeds were planted among thornbushes, and the thornbushes grew up and choked them. But other seeds were planted on good ground and produced grain. They produced one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted. Let the person who has ears listen!" The disciples asked him, "Why do you use stories as illustrations when you speak to people?" Jesus answered, "Knowledge about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you. But it has not been given to the crowd. Those who understand these mysteries will be given more knowledge, and they will excel in understanding them. However, some people don't understand these mysteries. Even what they understand will be taken away from them. This is why I speak to them this way. They see, but they're blind. They hear, but they don't listen. They don't even try to understand. So they make Isaiah's prophecy come true: 'You will hear clearly but never understand. You will see clearly but never comprehend. These people have become close-minded and hard of hearing. They have shut their eyes so that their eyes never see. Their ears never hear. Their minds never understand. And they never return to me for healing!' "Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear. I can guarantee this truth: Many prophets and many of God's people longed to see what you see but didn't see it, to hear what you hear but didn't hear it. "Listen to what the story about the farmer means. Someone hears the word about the kingdom but doesn't understand it. The evil one comes at once and snatches away what was planted in him. This is what the seed planted along the road illustrates. The seed planted on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and accepts it at once with joy. Since he doesn't have any root, he lasts only a little while. When suffering or persecution comes along because of the word, he immediately falls from faith. The seed planted among thornbushes is another person who hears the word. But the worries of life and the deceitful pleasures of riches choke the word so that it can't produce anything. But the seed planted on good ground is the person who hears and understands the word. This type produces crops. They produce one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted."

There is no interpretation needed here. Jesus himself explained the parable.

Unlike seeds, if you are on rocky ground, you can move to good soil. On the end times you will not greet by with the excuse, "I heard, but I was on a rock and couldn't grow. It's not my fault!"

Don't be like Those people who have become close-minded and hard of hearing. Who have shut their eyes so that their eyes never see. Whose ears never hear and minds that never understand. Get off that rock!

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

CLOSER THAN FAMILY


MUSINGS - February 26, 2019


CLOSER THAN FAMILY


Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was still talking to the crowds, his mother and brothers were standing outside. They wanted to talk to him. Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside. They want to talk to you." He replied to the man speaking to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing with his hand at his disciples, he said, "Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother and sister and mother."

Throughout this chapter Jesus had been responding to the Pharisees. Now, however, he is talking to the crowd. And while he was still talking, still teaching, still preaching he was interrupted with news that his mother and brothers wanted to talk to him.

I have some trouble imaging what that interruption would be like, to be in the middle of delivering a sermon and be told that my family wanted to talk to me. Can you imagine this happening in your church, with your pastor being interrupted by family members who have cone to visit? How disrespectful that was to Jesus and the to the crowd! It would be as if what his family had to say was more important than his teachings.

Jesus made use of the interruption as he turned it into a teaching moment. "Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother and sister and mother."

Who is your family? Are they the ones who share the same DNA? Or are they those who share the same beliefs, hopes, and convictions? Are these closer than family?

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

GO AND SIN NO MORE


MUSINGS - February 25, 2019
GO AND SIN NO MORE


Matthew 12:43-45
"When an evil spirit comes out of a person, it goes through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn't find any. Then it says, 'I'll go back to the home I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean, and in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself. They enter and take up permanent residence there. In the end the condition of that person is worse than it was before. That is what will happen to the evil people of this day."

Jesus was still speaking to the Pharisees, who had come asking for Jesus to do a miracle. He now explains what happens when the soul had been cleansed. He then warned that the freshly cleaned "house", if left empty, was like having a welcome mat and an unlocked door.

What does that teaching mean tho us? Do you remember the story of the woman caught in adultry? (John 8:2-11) The last thing Jesus said to her was, "Go and sin no more." Once we are freed from sin, we are to go and sin no more. But the reality is, it is humanly impossible to sin no more. Sin happens anytime that we choose our own will instead of following the will of God.

Sin literally means to miss the mark or wander from the path. Once we have been set back pin the correct path we need to stay on it. Fortunately, we have the Holy Spirit as our guide. And by having the Spirit indwelling we don't need to worry that our "house" had been left empty.

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