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What It Means to be Blessed July 15, 2018

July 13th, 2018

What It Means to be Blessed

Psalm 24:1-6 and Ephesians 1:3-14

(Quoted scripture is New International Version)

 

Praise God for all the wonderful things God has done in our lives and in our world! We continue to be filled with awe and wonder. Our fitting response is to sing praises to our God. Our favorite praise hymns and songs can transport us beyond our present situation into the very presence of God.

Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Isn’t God awesome? He’s given us this beautiful earth and all that it is in it and on it. God has given us these amazing human bodies which have healing power created within them, and minds that think, create, discover, imagine, invent ways to better our lives and the life of God’s creation. We are truly blessed!

There are those minds and bodies which are controlled by Satan and used for his evil; people who try to destroy God’s creation and try to destroy those of us who try to build God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  There is temptation around every corner that can lead you away from God. Please pray before you make any decision. Ask God for guidance and follow what He puts upon your heart, instead of what the world would lead you into. The devil is looking to devour you!

King David wrote in Psalm 24:3-6, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.” Keep seeking God’s face and His will in your life; and know that you are blessed by God!

What does it mean that we be blessed by God? Paul writes in Ephesians 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

What does that mean? Does it mean that everything is always going to be a bed of roses? Maybe it means something entirely different.

Al Keeney, whom God has blessed with intelligence, the ability to work, a wife and family, tells of a young man bagging groceries at his local super market. The young man takes his job seriously. The young man has Down’s syndrome. As he bags Al Keeney’s groceries, he does so very conscientiously.  Keeney thanks him and moves to push the grocery cart out the door. But the young man insists that helping him to the car with the groceries is part of his job. Keeney dutifully follows the young man to the car. He opens the trunk and the young man carefully places the grocery bags inside. Keeney says thank you. Then the young man does something that catches Keeney off-guard. He puts his arms around Keeney and says, “I like you!” Keeney, in turn, says the only thing he can come up with, “I like you, too.”

Thinking about that moment Al Keeney writes something quite touching. He writes, “Now, some will say that when I see that young man in Heaven, he will have been made whole. In other words, they think he will be like the rest of us. But I wonder if, when by God’s grace I am made whole, I won’t be more like that young man than he like me. You see, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 6:22-23). My friend the bag boy was blessed with all those qualities and none of the pride or meanness that so often afflicts me.” (1)

We have been chosen by God. Paul writes in verse 4, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Being chosen may mean something different from what we think.

God said to the Hebrew people in Deuteronomy 7:6, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

Normally we think of being chosen as an honor or an award that we have won. Chosen for the football team, chosen to be a cheerleader, chosen for a promotion. This is something we work for and look forward to. We may even brag about it when we are chosen. Long before we were chosen by God, the children of Israel were chosen by God. Few groups have suffered from persecution as much as the Jewish people have. Think Hitler’s Germany.

When God chose me to be in pastoral ministry and I answered His call, I felt blessed to be chosen. There are days, however, when I wish God hadn’t chosen me. Days when I must rely totally on God’s strength to get through the day. When I think about it, this may have been God’s plan all along. We are not meant to do this life without God. When I try to, He puts a situation in my life, where I must call out, “Jesus, I cannot do this day without you!”

The Apostle Paul then writes, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-“ (v.5). Adoption is the process by which a person who does not belong to a given family is formally brought into it and made a full, legal family member with the rights and responsibilities of that position. It is a beautiful practice when such families function as they should.

A minister in Vermont tells about a Bible Class teacher who was registering the children in Sunday school, and she asked two brothers their ages and birthday. One of the two boys said, “We’re both seven. My birthday is April 8, 1976, and my brother’s is April 20, 1976.”

The teacher was a little confused and said, “But that’s impossible!” The other brother said, “No, it’s not, one of us is adopted.” Before she was even aware that she had asked, the words came out, “Which one?”  The boys looked at each other and smiled. Then one of them said, “We asked Dad that a while ago, but he just said he loved us, and he couldn’t remember any more which one was adopted.”  (2)

When we come to Jesus and confess our sins, asking Jesus to be the Lord of our life; God says, “Come on in to the family of God. I want to adopt you as my child.” Then He no longer remembers our sins and we walk in God’s grace and mercy. I like the thought of that, don’t you?

Paul continues in verse 7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

What does this mean, redemption through Jesus’ blood, the forgiveness of sins? Redemption was the price paid to gain freedom for a slave. Jesus redeemed us by his blood on the cross, paying the price to release us from slavery to sin. We are not pure enough to pay the price for our sin. We are sinful human beings. What Jesus did is called the grace of God. It was not those nails that held Jesus on the cross, it was God’s grace and love.

Forgiveness in the Old Testament times was based on the shedding of animals’ blood. We are forgiven by the shedding of the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb of God; Jesus, God’s one and only Son. We can’t earn salvation, nor do we deserve it. No religious, intellectual, or moral effort can gain it, because it comes only from God’s mercy and love. Without God’s grace, no person can be saved. To receive it, we must acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves, that only God can save us, and our only way to receive this loving blessing from God is through faith in Jesus. Faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. Praise be to God for His glorious love and grace!

What a wonderful thing it is to be blessed, to be chosen, to be adopted, to be redeemed and forgiven. It doesn’t mean that God loves us any more than He loves everyone else. It doesn’t mean that life is going to be any easier than it is for anyone else. What it means is that our lives have meaning and purpose. What it means is that we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Go, live your life knowing you are blessed by God. Be an ambassador for Jesus Christ!

 

Pastor Rosemary DeHut                                                                           July 15, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References: (1) Copyright 2012, Al Keeney by way of

“Christian Voices” (ChristianVoices@att.net).

(2) Contributed. Source: Attributed to Alan

Smith.

By: Ironwoodumc

July 13th, 2018

Called to Love and to Serve July 8, 2018

July 9th, 2018

Called to Love and to Serve

James 2:14-17 and Matthew 25:31-46

(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)

 

There’s an old story, probably invented by some preacher, about a boy living in a children’s home. For grace at the dinner table, the superintendent of the children’s home usually prayed, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, let this food to us be blessed.” After this happened several times, the boy said to him, “You always ask Jesus to come, but he never does. Will he ever come?”

The superintendent said, “If we really want him to, he will.”

The boy thought, “I really want him to, so I’m going to put a chair beside me tonight so he’ll have a place to sit when he comes.”

That evening, during supper, there was a knock on the door, and standing there was an old man, poorly clothed, cold and hungry. The superintendent invited him to join them for supper, and he pointed to the empty chair. The man sat, and the boy gladly passed food to him and even shared from his own plate.

Later the boy said, “Jesus must not have been able to come himself, so he sent this man in his place.”

This story is a good illustration of both our scripture passages. From James chapter 2 and the words of Jesus in our Matthew chapter 25 passage. James wrote, “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So, faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (vv. 15-17)

In Matthew 25 we read what Jesus said to the sheep on his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me. — Truly I tell you just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (vv. 34-36, 40)

Last week I cited scripture passages which told us that every person is important to Jesus; no matter the color of their skin, their age, or their economic status. Every, created in the image of God, human being is important to Jesus. I said you are important to Jesus, no matter what you may have done in the past, or what was done to you in your past. You are important to Jesus.

John the apostle wrote in 1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  Jesus died so that all people may have life eternal, if they choose to believe in Jesus. I asked you to believe that you are important to Jesus, and to look at others with eyes and a heart that knows every person is important to Jesus.

In our American culture we are so bombarded with advertisements that tell us that our lives should be ‘all about us.’ Yet, Jesus says in the Bible our lives should be lived to serve others. Our lives should be lives that love God above all else and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus tells us these two commandments are all the laws God gave Moses combined, and they are the most important!

Many churches encourage tithing as a financial stewardship discipline: Giving 10 percent of income to Christ’s work, and yes, this is from the Bible. Yet, how many go further and encourage disciples to give one-tenth of their time to God as well, doing ministries they may one day recognize as serving the risen Lord Jesus through service to others?

If we spend eight hours a day sleeping, that leaves 16 waking hours. One-tenth of that is 1.6 hours. Multiply that figure by seven, and you get just over 11 hours a week. Just think of what the typical congregation could accomplish, if it used all those hours to serve “the least of these” in their community!

The late Ernest Campbell, formerly pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, used to point out that there are two places where the strength of a Christian’s commitment is recorded in writing: the checkbook and the calendar. Of the two, he went on to say, the calendar is probably the most revealing.

“When did we see you, Lord? Was it during the hours we spent in front of the TV or iPad or out shopping? Was it during the time we spent cleaning the house, or mowing the lawn? Or was it those extra hours we put in at work, hoping to acquire the boss’s favor and get that promotion?”

Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” There is nothing wrong with living life abundantly, but if we allow our abundant living to crowd out Christian service, we just may be taking our place among the goats.

Reverend James E. Wallis Jr. wrote this in 1974, “The new evangelical consciousness is most characterized by a return to biblical Christianity and the desire to apply biblical insights to the need for new forms of sociopolitical engagement.” (1)

In other words, get to know God’s word and apply those insights to how you live your life, and let those biblical insights determine the people you vote for to govern us.

Rev. Wallis has written many books and is often featured on TV news talk shows as a spokesman for the Christian community. He talks about the ministry of the Sojourners Neighborhood Center in Washington, D.C., his hometown. This center stands just one‑and‑a‑half miles from the White House. On any given day three hundred families stand in line outside the center to receive a bag of groceries which is critical to getting them through the week.

Just before the doors are opened and all the people come in, all those who help prepare the food join hands and say a prayer. The prayer is often offered by Mary Glover, a sixty‑year‑old black woman who knows what it means to be poor and knows how to pray. She prays like someone who knows to whom she is talking. She has been carrying on a conversation with her Lord for many, many years. She first thanks God for another day, “Another day to serve you, Lord,” she says. And then Mary Glover may pray something like this, “Lord, we know that you’ll be coming through this line today so, Lord, help us to treat you well.” (2)

Hebrews 13:2, tells us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Be careful how you treat anyone you meet. They may be an angel, or they may be Jesus in disguise.

When we are welcoming to the stranger, we may be welcoming Jesus. When we serve the poor, we may be serving Jesus. When we visit the sick, we may discover Jesus there. When we minister to the prisoner, we may meet Jesus in that jail or prison.

One of the most influential people of the last century was a man named Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer was one of the most brilliant students in Germany. He was outstanding in philosophy. He was one of the greatest of all organists, and in particular played Bach as no one else could play him. Yet, at the back of his mind there was a feeling that would not be stilled. He once said that as far back as he could remember, the thought of all the misery in the world had deeply troubled him. He came to believe that he did not have the moral right to take his happy youth, his good health and his ability to work as a matter of course. He believed that we must all take our share of the misery which weighs so heavily upon the world.

Albert Schweitzer decided to give everything up and to study night and day to be a doctor. He went as a missionary to Lambarene in Africa where he established a hospital. One day a poor African man who was in much pain was brought to his hospital. “Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death himself,” Schweitzer once said. Schweitzer laid his hand upon the man’s head and said: “Don’t be afraid. In an hour’s time you will be put to sleep and you will feel no more pain when you wake up.” When the operation was over, the man discovered Schweitzer waiting there beside the bed. The man looked around, and said again and again: “I have no more pain! I have no more pain!”

Schweitzer wrote, “His hand feels for mine and will not let it go.” (3)

In the children’s movie Whistle Down the Wind, Haley Mills and her friends stumble across a vagrant sleeping in the straw, while they are playing in a country barn. The frightened children shout, “Who are you?” The shocked vagrant replied, “Jesus Christ.” What the man meant as an expletive, the children took as a fact. They thought the man was Jesus Christ. So, they treated him with awe, respect and love. They brought him food and blankets; they talked with him, and listened to his story. Their tenderness transformed this ex-convict’s life and opened his eyes to the Lord.

There is a contemporary Christian song by Matthew West that resonated with me from the first time I heard it. I’d like to share the lyrics with you this morning.

Do Something

I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”

Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t You do

Something?”

He said, “I did, I created you.”

 

 

Chorus:

          If not us then who

          If not me and you

          Right now, it’s time for us to do something

          If not now, then when

          Will we see an end

          To all this pain

          Oh, it’s not enough to do nothing

          It’s time for us to do something

 

God created us to be in a relationship with Him and with other people. He created us to love and serve Him by loving and serving our neighbor. As followers of Jesus Christ, who claim the name Christian, we are called to love and to serve.

Jesus, in John 13:14-15, told the disciples after he washed their feet, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

Jesus exemplified what it means to serve others. We must follow his example. You never know when it may be Jesus you are serving.

 

Pastor Rosemary DeHut                                                      July 8, 2018

 

 

References: 1. en.m.wikipedia.org. retrieved July 6, 2018

  1. http://www.csec.org/csec/sermon/medema_3410.htm.
  2. William Barclay, And He Had Compassion (Valley

Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1976), pp.186-187.

 

By: Ironwoodumc

July 9th, 2018

You Are Important to Jesus July 1, 2018

July 2nd, 2018

You Are Important to Jesus

Luke 9:46-48 and Mark 5:21-43

(Quoted scripture is New International Version)

 

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.” – Luke 9:46-48

In Jesus’ day children were not considered important. I wonder if this was because nearly one third of infants died before their first birthday and mothers and fathers had to prepare themselves that this might happen. Yet Jesus, in this passage, clearly says, every person, including children, is important.

A business executive became depressed. Things were not going well at work, and he was bringing his problems home with him every night. Every evening he would eat his dinner in silence, shutting out his wife and five-year-old daughter. Then he would go into the den and read the paper using the newspaper to wall his family out of his life.

After several nights of this, one evening his daughter took her little hand and pushed the newspaper down. She then jumped into her father’s lap, wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him strongly. The father said abruptly, “Honey, you are hugging me to death!” “No, Daddy,” the little girl said, “I’m hugging you to life!”

This was the love of Jesus. He took people where they were and hugged them to life. That is precisely what we see Jesus doing here in this passage in Mark 5. He is loving needy and hurting people, hugging them to life. This passage is a fascinating one because here we have two healing stories rolled into one. The two people involved could not be more different.

Jairus, shown in the top picture on the front of your bulletin, represented the upper class of society. Jairus was the ruler of the synagogue. He was a man of substance, rich and powerful and religiously prominent. In the synagogue, he decided who would preach, what scripture would be read, and what psalms would be sung and ran the school. He represented the upper class, especially in the religious world. As the synagogue leader he would have a close relationship with the Pharisees, and they were likely pressuring him to not support Jesus. Yet, now he needs Jesus and because he believes Jesus can heal his daughter.

Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”’ – Mark 5:22-23

The second picture on the front of your bulletin is the hemorrhaging woman, also down on her knees in front of Jesus. She was a social outcast, considered unclean, as one who was under the judgment of God and therefore not allowed to set foot in the synagogue. If she touched even the hem of Jesus’ garment, he would be defiled.

Picture this. The crowd around Jesus is like the crowd around a Hollywood celebrity. Pushing, shoving and making it impossible for this woman to get anywhere near Jesus. She knows she is considered unclean, yet she thinks, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (she reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment) “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (v.28).

In this wonderful passage, these two vastly different people, the down and out hemorrhaging woman and the upper class daughter of Jairus, are loved into life by Jesus.

Some people think they are unclean because of their past, or unimportant, and ‘why should Jesus care about me. I am no one special.’ If, as a child they were abused, verbally, sexually, physically, or told they were not important. If, as a child, they were told they would never amount to anything or couldn’t do anything right; that person could think they were unworthy of the love and healing of Jesus Christ. That is untrue! Every person is important to Jesus. We see Jesus healing the hemorrhaging outcast woman and also the daughter of the upper class synagogue leader.

On Wednesday America will celebrate the 4th of July and remember when the newly formed Congress of the United States of America declared our independence from Great Britain.  Very near the beginning of the Declaration of Independence is this phrase, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It is evident that the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence were only referring to themselves. They were not referring to women, Native Americans, or Africans.

In this United States of America, women, Native Americans and Africans, who became African Americans, have had to fight and sometimes die to be granted equal rights. In many cases they are still fighting and dying in the pursuit of their unalienable rights endowed by their Creator, yet taken from them by men.

Melba Pattillo Beals writes in the July 2018 Guidepost magazine what she encountered as an African American in pursuit of her unalienable equal rights. At 15 she was one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of African American teenagers who integrated all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She writes that it hurt her to see her mother, a teacher working on her doctorate degree ‘kowtow’ to whites. It hurt to have to drink from ‘colored’ water fountains and sit in the back of the bus. She was ready to fight for those unalienable rights as stated in the Declaration of Independence. She didn’t know what she was in for.

Every day, escorted by the 101st Airborne, through an angry mob, the teenagers were hit, kicked and spit on by white students. When she went to the bathroom they tossed burning strips of paper over the stall. Melba walked the halls of Central High School in constant fear. When she complained to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. he said, “Don’t be selfish, Melba. You are doing this for generations yet unborn.” That changed Melba’s direction of her commitment. Her grandmother told her, “You can always call on the Lord. He’s as close as your skin.”

Melba had to leave her home in Little Rock, Arkansas because she was afraid to go to school.

She went to live with a white Quaker family in San Francisco, California. She attended an all-white school where she was treated differently from the all-white school in Little Rock. Students smiled at her, helped her with her locker and offered to show her the way to her classes. She did face some discrimination at the city swimming pool, where she was told she couldn’t swim because of the color of her skin.

The white Quaker father she was living with stood up for her and he and some friends from San Francisco College, where he taught, marched on the pool for a week continuously. After that it wasn’t a problem for Melba to swim in the city pool. Melba was surprised when this white Quaker man referred to her as his daughter and came to her defense.

Melba went back to Little Rock for a brief visit over Christmas and she had the same hurtful experience she’d had previously. She finally understood, that her true home was not a particular place, or even with particular people. It was with God, and that he cared about her.

Melba graduated from San Francisco State College and is now a wife, mother, TV news reporter, writer and university professor. She achieved those unalienable rights the signers of the Declaration of Independence wrote about yet didn’t put into practice.

Every person is important to Jesus, and every person should be important to Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Every person is important to Jesus; no matter what color their skin, what their economic status, what sin they’ve committed or what has been done to them in the past.

You are important to Jesus. What ever you’ve done in the past, whatever unfair thing was done to you in the past, Jesus’ love and healing power can heal you. You are important to Jesus. If you build walls around your heart to keep people out, because of something you have done in the past, or something unfair that has happened to you; those walls will not let Jesus’ love and healing power in either.

Please know that you are important to Jesus and please look at others with eyes and a heart that knows everyone is important to Jesus. John the apostle writes in

1 John 2:2, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Jesus died so that all people may have; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Believe this and practice what you say you believe.

 

Pastor Rosemary DeHut                                                July 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

By: Ironwoodumc

July 2nd, 2018

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Our Hours

Sunday Service 11:00 A.M. Central Time (nursery available)

Phone Number: 906-932-3900

Pastor: Rev. Rosemary DeHut

Pastor Rosemary is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays

Prayer

~~ For the renewal of the church Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, We thank you that you are also a Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church That passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom Which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, The Savior of the world. Amen. ~~