Drive-In Communion

Bring your own bread (or crackers) and grape juice to the Drive Thru Communion Sunday, August 16th 10:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m.

Donation Collection:

Coronavirus precautions will be taken during the collecting of food donations, books, and cases of water bottles.

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Wonderful Words of Life: Doubt?

The Bible is a testimony from faith to faith. Therefore, it is not surprising that the word “doubt” appears only 11 times in the Revised Standard Version, three times in the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, and eight times in the New Testament.

Sometimes, in both testaments, the word “doubt” is used in what we might call “secular” or “ordinary” circumstances. In Genesis 37, Jacob sees the robe he had given to his son Joseph torn and stained with blood, and he says, “It is my son’s robe; a wild beast has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” In Deuteronomy 28, Moses warns that if the people of Israel are not careful to do all the words of this law which are written in the book of the Law, in order that they may fear the LORD’s glorious and awful name, then the LORD will bring on them and their offspring extraordinary “afflictions and sickness” that are both “grievous and lasting.” Some of the afflictions and sicknesses will be like those they knew in Egypt, and but some will be new, so new that the threat of them is not even “recorded in the Book of this law.” So, too, the Lord will take delight in drastically reducing their numbers and scattering them among the nations so that:

“..your life shall hang in doubt before you; night and day you shall be in dread, and have no assurance of your life.”

It is clear from this text that those who “doubt” God live under a cloud of doubt, for they have “no assurances of (their lives).” As Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of Eternal life!” (John 6:68)

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus speaks of doubt on two different occasions. In Matthew 14, When Peter began to sink into the sea, Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” And in Matthew 21 (CF Mark 11) when the disciples wonder that the fig tree he cursed has withered, Jesus says to them:

“Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will be done.”

In Romans 14, St. Paul seems to agree with Jesus that negative “doubt” is the opposite of positive “faith,” when he says that “everything that does not proceed from faith is sin.” And James 1 the apostle warns that those who lack wisdom and ask God for it must “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

Obviously, there is a sense in which doubt is a bad thing, equal to faithlessness, and we ought always to avoid it, right? Not necessarily. Matthew uses the word doubt in the final chapter of his gospel. At the direction of the angel, the women found at the empty tomb, the eleven disciples have gone to a mountaintop in Galilee to see the Risen Lord, and there, they see him, “But some doubted!” What? The Resurrection is the central miracle of the Christian faith, the cornerstone of the New Testament. How can it be that the disciples themselves look full into the face of Jesus and “some doubted?”

A couple of points ought to be made:

1.         The disciples do not doubt God. There is no hint that their faith in the Lord God of Israel has been shaken in the least.

2.         The disciples do doubt their own experience. They had seen Jesus crucified, dead and buried. They could hardly believe that the radiant figure before them was he.

3.         The disciples overcame their doubts, and this means an abundance of certitude for us. We value the testimony of those who were harder to convince. We value the testimony of “Doubting Thomas.” According to John 20, on the evening of that first Easter Day, the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Thomas’s doubt makes his eventual confession of the Risen Christ ring still more clearly/ “My Lord and my God!”, he said. Likewise, we value the testimony of Paul because he was first a persecutor of the church. In 1st Corinthians 15 he writes of his experience of the Risen Christ. He says, “Last of all, he appeared unto me, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” In the same way, the doubt of some of the disciples makes their dramatic turn to faith all the more critical. No doubt, this is a part of God’s plan. “…(to) convince some, who doubt.” (Jude 1:22)

Eventually, we must settle the matter of trusting “the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” We don’t want to limp along, with one foot in the camp of faith, and the other in the camp of doubt.  When we do that we are unsettled and unsettling.  However, we do want to exercise caution.  We do not doubt God, but we do well to doubt much that others try to say about God. Many will be wrong.  As St. John tells us:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

The apostle’s advice is doubly good for today! We need a double share of wisdom and discernment. That is why doubt is one of the Wonderful Words of Life.

The Pastor

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Wonderful Words of Life: Review

Today we are going to do a short review of the first three “Wonderful Words of Life.”

Faith: Faith is akin to humility, because faith believes that there is Some One or Some Thing outside of us Who watches over us and determines our future. Ephesians 2:8 declares that “by grace we are saved through faith, and this is not our own doing, it is the gift of God.” In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In Romans 10:9 the apostle writes, “If you confess with your lips that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your hearts that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” In the New Testament Faith is always in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who gave him up for us all, to die for our sins, then raised him from death that we too might walk in newness of life.

Love: In 1st Corinthians 13 we find the perfect definition of love.

4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful, 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.  7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.   

In Romans 13, St. Paul says:

9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Hope: In Romans 5 St. Paul says that “…we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” In Romans 8 he says that “if we hope for what we do not see (the resurrection and glorification of our bodies that they might be like glorious body)we wait for it with patience.”  Not only do we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God, we rejoice that the God who has promised us Eternal Life has also promised to hear our prayers.  God knows what we need before we ask him. Dr. James S. Stewart once said:

The central business of preaching to day is to tell men and women (boys and girls) that the same power that took Jesus out of the tomb is available to us also, not just in the hour of our death, but in the midst of life.

“So faith, hope, love abide, these three, but the greatest of these in love.”  1st Corinthians 13:13

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Wonderful Words of Life: Repentance

This morning, the Wonderful Word of Life is “repentance.”

The word “repent” and its derivatives appear 39 times in the Old Testament, and 27 times in the New Testament, 19 times in the gospels, and eight times in the Acts and Epistles.

In Matthew 21, in a parable told by Jesus, the father told his first son to go and work in the vineyard. The first son said, “I will not,” but afterward, he “repented” and went.

One repents in light of a higher standard. In the Bible, there are at least three standards that affect human behavior.

1.         According to Romans 1 and 2, the first standard is our conscience. All human beings who live together in society eventually develop a collective conscience, which sorts out right and wrong, and lays down a universal law.

2.         The second standard is God’s law, which was laid down by Moses. This law, like the law of conscience, protects human beings from themselves and one another.

3.         The third and highest standard is the Gospel, the dawn of the Kingdom of God. We know from the text of the Lord’s Prayer that the Kingdom of God is ever and always the place where God’s will is done, “on earth as it is in heaven.” In Mark 1:4, Jesus himself said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.” Continue reading

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Wonderful Words of Life: The Series

Years ago an aging Moravian pastor named William Kaltrider gave me a little booklet he had written entitled, “Wonderful Words of Life.” He did not say it, but his obvious pride in the handsome little blue and yellow bound mimeographed work made me think he thought it the crowning achievement of his long life and ministry. In the slim little volume with the purposeful title he had distilled the gospel down to a dozen or so words that were the foundation of our faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. As he handed it to me he said, “If you learn these words, you will add immeasurably to your understanding of the Bible–if you will read it, that is.”

For many long years and decades I kept that little booklet in the center drawer of my desk. I seldom referred to it, or picked it up, but its presence in the drawer was a pleasant reminder of Mr. Kaltrider, friend of my father. And his word studies inspired my own. I took it upon myself to study “the wonderful words of life” I found in the Bible, and these studies did make the Bible much easier to understand. If I was reading a passage in a particular book, and discovered a word that seemed important to the author, then I studied that same word in all of that author’s writings. Then I went on to study it in the other significant authors and divisions of the Bible and related literature, such as the early preachers, and historians of the church. (Click on Page 2 Below).

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