Tuesday, September 1
From August 23
The Kingdom of God is like ... what did the people expect? Not to be too hard on them, what do we expect for the Kingdom of God?
The first parable is about the seed (remember the soil, remember the light which is the Word.)
One of the parables we looked at was the parable of the farmer sowing seed. Often we are afraid and think that we are all alone when it comes to harvesting the seed. We have to remember that it is God who prepares the seed for harvest and we only need to tell God "we''re available" to bring in the harvest. God says in His Word that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. What harvest is God asking you to be apart of today?
Some passages that we looked at today I Corinthians 3: 5-9, Matthew 9: 35-38, John 4: 34-38, and Galatians 6: 7-10. Remember, we all sow, the question is what do we sow?
Tim and Caroline
From August 16
Yesterday we were a small group of five but we worshiped the Lord with all our heart. We talked about not hiding a lamp under a bowl but putting it on a stand from Mark 4:21-25. Jesus is the light that lives in each of us and we need to let that light shine. We often tend to hide the Jesus that lives inside of us and even turning off that light. We decide to live in darkness and forget about the light that lives inside of us. Choices we make can keep us walking in the dark and stumbling through life. We need to decide to walk in the light. John 12:35 says "the man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going." John 12:36 says to "Put your trust in the light while you have it, sot that you may become sons of light." I was reading yesterday in Joyce Meyer's book "Pursuit of Peace" that many people who call themselves Christians are not really "sons of God" but still "children of God". She said "sons of God" means being mature in Christ. So as I look at this passage of John 12:36 I ask us all are we "sons of the light?" Do we really put our trust in the light in everything we do? What do you need to give over to God so you can continue to walk in his light? Would you rather walk in darkness the rest of your life? I prefer the light. Use the light of Jesus Christ today to help you make the right choices. Matt 5:15,16 says "... Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowel. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Walk with Jesus today. Let your light give joy to everyone!
Monday, August 24
From August 2
Background. This parable comes immediately after the previous chapter - Jesus was meeting in a house and in a synagogue. And He had to deal with constant questions from the religious leaders of the day.
Now the location has switched to the open air by the sea. Why? He was reaching another group of people and more of them. People who were maybe less religious but more receptive to His message of the kingdom. And there were more of them, so many that He had to get into a boat to be able to teach them better. The message also switched to a parable, the first one in Mark. This story is about everyday experiences; agriculture and dusty paths; weeds, fields and crops; work. All things that the people had experienced and seen and been a part of on their way to Him.
After Jesus told this parable the people close to Him asked for an explanation. Do you? Do I? Is our belief based on traditions or opinions? How does the Word of God answer our questions? What does Jesus say?
The farmer sows the Word, or seed, which lands on the soil of hearts. How the hearts are prepared determine how the seed will grow. What training did the farmer have? I doubt that he went to Ag College, or even to the Skill Center. He probably learned from his father, or another mentor. He was a blue collar guy like most of us. Sowing the Word does not depend exclusively on a minister. We all can sow, and we all do. We even sow the Word into our own lives. This seed was scattered everywhere, extravagantly even wastefully. Wow!
Path - the seed is removed as soon as it lands by Satan. But what about the choices we make that make our hearts like a path? What do we use as excuses for not hearing the Word? Galatians 6: 7-10 says that a man reaps what he sows.
Soil Over Rock - warms quickly and cools off quickly; persecution takes it away. What persecution do you face? How much of it is self-induced because we don't want to give anything up?
Weeds - grow up and choke it out. Worries of life (the poor), deceitfulness of wealth, desires for other things (everyone else!) make it unfruitful. This is the opposite result of living the Jesus Creed - Love God, Love Others.
Good Soil - Extravagant seeding, extravagant results! Beyond imagining.
More Application - What is involved in raising a bumper crop of anything?
1. Seed - the Word
2. Care - Plants do not grow in darkness they need light and water and nutrients to grow. So do we! What choices are you going to make?
3. Harvest - the result is fruit.
What is the condition of your heart right now? Has it ever been a stony path? Are there parts of your life that you have given to the light? Are there any parts that are still in the darkness?
Where is Gods' Kingdom trying to take root right now in your life, in AC Church, in Allendale?
How do we improve the soil of our hearts?
Wednesday, July 29
How many movies or stories are there about the ability of witnesses to report accurately what they have seen? Mark 3 talks about at least 5 different groups who see Jesus in very different ways.
I'll even give you one application/question up front. Which set do you relate to most?
1) vs. 7 - A large crowd. Something special was happening and they wanted to be a part of it almost in a Rock star, Beatles to America thing. Their vision of a kingdom was distorted; it was a vision starting with themselves and not with God. It was messed up by a desire to see what they could get out of it.
But within that crowd were many who had the beginning of faith, a desire for the kingdom that Jesus preached as demonstrated by the many who wanted to touch Him, who wanted to be healed. Love God, love others.
2) vs 11/12 "You are the Son of God." Now that's a pretty good testimony, right? What irony, the demons recognized Jesus when so many did not. I'll repeat myself again - knowing about Jesus doesn't cut it. A believing faith in Jesus is what matters and then you will respond with the Jesus Creed.
3) vs 14/15 "Jesus ... called to Him those He wanted" Are you a "called one"? Don't think that these guys had it all together. They, like you and I, are on a journey of faith. But they were called to spend time with Jesus, and after spending time with Him to tell what they were witnesses of and to even cast out demons.
4) vs 21 Family. But what do they say? "He is out of His mind". I don't know if they meant mental institution or just an expression they would use for someone who jumps out of an airplane. Maybe it was just - don't embarrass us anymore, tone it down a little. Jesus isn't about a part-time, when convenient faith; His is a crazy faith.
5) vs 22 Teachers of the law, all the way from downtown Jerusalem. And what did they say? "He is possessed". Again the irony. Who should know and testify about Jesus? But they don't. They try to trap and trick Him.
6) vs 33 And then Caroline pointed out that there is at least one more - Himself. Jesus is a witness to Himself and the kingdom that He is bringing. The new kingdom, the one that lives out the Jesus Creed, that will take over the world in a new way, that brings us all together at the table as we live out the journey together.
So which witness are you, or do you want to be? Are you able to report accurately what you have seen and experienced?
And how will you respond to Jesus?
Tuesday, July 21
Our message today was from Mark 3: 1-6 and Matthew 12:9-13
The Pharisees were baiting Jesus, trying to set Him up, get Him to break their rules of Sunday service. They had a man there with a shriveled hand and wanted to see if Jesus would heal him. Of course, if He did that would break probably several of their rules about work on Sunday. (Now my rules growing up were that Sunday was only for nap time. Well it seems that the pendulum has swung past that now.)
Anyway, Jesus answered with a question. From Matthew He asked if anyone has a sheep that falls into a pit, won't he pull it out? And isn't a man more valuable than a sheep? And then He heals the man. Jesus has been trying to show us and the Pharisees that we are to worship and act for the right reason. People are more important to God than rituals.
And how had the man with the hand been treated by the Pharisees? He was just a pawn to them used to try to trap Jesus. What was the response by Jesus? 1. Anger at the stubborn hearts of the Pharisees. 2. He healed the man despite the wrong motives that got him there.
God desires a loving relationship with us not a legalistic one. We've seen that God reaches out to zombies and outcasts and cripples, mixes us all together at one table, sinners and disciples alike because we have all been rescued like the sheep from the pit.
Who do your rules say you can help? How do you respond to your rescue?
One response is called The Jesus Creed (Scott McKnight, book of the same name).
"Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength." The second like it is this "Love your neighbor as yourself." There is no commandment greater than these.
Tuesday, July 14
Because we didn't have the 100 families who needed food this month we were able to give more away to our families who did come. Seventy-three percent of these families are returns this month. They so appreciate the food, the prayers and the people who volunteer their time. We also want to say thank you to this month's volunteers who came to us from St. Luke University Parish, First CRC, Allendale Community Church, North Blendon CRC, Rusk CRC, True Community, Allendale Wesleyan Church, and others.
One of my prayers this month was to have someone who could speak Spanish and God brought us Maria all the way from Spain who is a visiting here for three weeks teaching English her students from Spain at Allendale High School. Some of you it was your first time with us and we welcome you back anytime. We were blessed with 33 volunteers. If you would like to receive the prayer needs of those we served via email let us know.
One of the big prayer requests we learned today is that Gleaners funding may be cut by the State Government. The people were able to write down on a paper plate why they need Gleaners and here are a few reasons. These will be sent back to Gleaners. 1) Helps my family of four with our food needs monthly. If I receive something I can't use, I share it with needy families in the neighborhood. 2) We appreciate it it because it frees up a little money to help with utilities and housing. 3) I'm retired and money doesn't go far as it did. The food helps a lot. It looks like it won't get better. 4) The food helps me and my family while I am working and a single mom. My father is disabled and my mother works part time so anything that helps make ends meet is a blessing. 5) The food I got today could mean the difference between having enough to eat and starving. It is that important. 6) Maria shared that the Spanish speaking people wrote how much they appreciated the food.
I don't have a lot to say about the message this week but I will copy what Caroline sent out in her prayer list and the link to the video we used. Thanks Caroline. It is At the Cross, Hillsong.
We celebrated communion and it was so humbling to kneel at the cross. Thank you Tim for listening to God's call to do that. We looked at Mark 2:18-27. I was particularly moved by vs. 22. We are new wine skins made new in Christ. What a reminder to put off the old self and look to Christ to renew us. It is a daily process. Yet we can always come to Him and ask for forgiveness because of what he did for us. Thank you Jesus for dying for us that we may live for you.
Monday, July 6
A third week of encounters with outcasts! This time it is the tax collector called Levi (or Matthew). This seems to happen soon after healing the paralysed man as Jesus is teaching to another group of people.
The Romans had this nifty way of collecting taxes and transferring feelings away from themselves. They required taxes, they had the local population collect them, and they didn't pay to have these taxes collected. So to make money the tax collectors had to charge extra in taxes, and sometimes a lot extra. So, these tax collectors were the ones hated not the Romans!
The Pharisees went further and made the tax collectors outcast - they and their families were restricted from a lot of things but especially from the synagogue. In the days of sacrifice, this meant that they were separated from God. (Just on a tangent thinking about Levi. I doubt that tax collector was the career choice he set out for after graduating high school. By the time he ended up as one I wonder if he felt that he had a choice in his future at all?)
What did Jesus see when He looked at Him? What did He say? What was the response?
Jesus said, "Follow Me"; Levi now had a choice for the future and he had two responses. The first response was the same as the other called men, the fishermen. He left everything to follow Jesus. (See Luke 5:28 and then vs 11). Jesus saw the same thing He saw when He looked at James, John, Peter or You and I. He saw ordinary people who could be extra-ordinary with Him.
The other response of Levi was to throw a party made up of tax collectors and fishermen; sinners and disciples. A) What, if any, was the difference between the two groups?
B) Being a disciple of Jesus does that - it pushes us together and connects us with "outcasts".
So the Pharisees were checking out this party from the door and asked the disciples (not Jesus) why He was hanging out with such sinners. What does a sinner look like? To the Pharisees - anyone who they said it was.
Some final questions.
What does it mean to eat together? What does it mean for Jesus to eat with all these people? Does it have anything to say about who should be included at Holy Communion?
Jesus said that He came not to call the righteous but the sinners. Of those two, who recognizes their sin? Is it enough to recognize your sin? Is the church a rest home for the righteous or a hospital for sinners?
See also Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8, and Isaiah 1:10-20 about justice, mercy and personal righteousness.
Tuesday, June 30
Mark 2: 1-12
Jesus continues to show His compassion for people as He again provides emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. In this familiar story, Jesus returns home to Capernaum, to preach the word. And I'm sure that word was what He proclaimed in Mark 1:15-20, "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Maybe most of the town had been healed by now? Jesus could get down to this part of His business on earth. His compassion was for the whole person as His message expands to include, "Your sins are forgiven."
Who else were there? The people of Capernaum crowded the place but see Luke 10:15 about them; the disciples were there, the owner of the house and ...
Maybe these guys, Pharisees and teachers of the law, got here very early to listen to Jesus, before everyone else. In the Luke 5:17-26 version it says that they were "sitting" while everyone else was standing! They were the hypocritical keepers of laws, they decided who sinned, who was forgiven, and what it would cost. When Jesus said that the mans' sins were forgiven they started to question and blame Him amongst themselves. And Jesus knew what they were talking about! Note to self - If we have questions, go ahead and ask Him. The Spirit knows what we are thinking anyway.
They overcame obstacles to get their friend to Jesus. And Jesus recognized their them for it, "When Jesus saw their faith". What an example of determination, love and daring. Note to self - follow their example!
Again we have an image of a man doomed, like last week. At that time the thinking was that the worse the disease, the worse was the sin that was committed. And the only way to be healed was to repent, and being paralyzed that wasn't going to happen. This is also a vivid description of ourselves and of a lost world. Jesus cut through all of that, for us and for the man.
And Jesus does this all with so much compassion. His first words are "Son", an emotional healing and a restoration to the family, to Jesus' family.
Then, "your sins are forgiven." What are the consequences of sin? Separation from God. This is a spiritual healing that restored the connection between God and this man.
Then, what was more difficult to do? Forgive sins or heal? Jesus said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." An action was required and a place of restoration was given. The response of the people who saw this was amazement; literally "it blew their mind."
Lessons and Questions and Statements
Friends get friends to Jesus
A Response to Healing Happens
Am I paralysed or what is keeping me paralysed? What is the mat that I am laying on and what is keeping me there? Do I need my relationship with God restored? Do I have friends who need to be healed by Jesus?
What was my response to my healing?
Tim (whose mind is blown!)
Thursday, June 25
"A man with leprosy came to Him and begged Him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. "I am willing, be clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.
Leprosy was a condemnation of death. You were an outcast and considered dead while you were still alive. You had to avoid all contact with people and even yell out "Unclean" if anyone came near. Your cloths were ragged, your hair was unkempt and you probably stank. You weren't even allowed to worship in the temple.
Jesus, so filled with compassion, was willing and was powerful enough to beat death.
First His touch, before anything else, gave emotional healing. How long had it been since that man had been touched by anyone? What would that have been like?
Then the man was given physical healing - the leprosy left him. (Did he smell good now?) And finally, he was given spiritual healing when told that he was cleansed and to present himself to the priests so that he could worship again in the temple.
What if my sins showed on me the same way that leprosy showed on the man?
Would I feel sorry for myself or would I seek healing? Would I believe? Would I rejoice and celebrate and tell everyone I knew the good news when I was cleansed?
Healing #1. The mother-in-law of Simon. Jesus showed compassion when he touched her. And her response? Service. My response to my healing? Service also!
Healing #2. After sunset, so it was legal to travel. After a day of teaching, Mark says that all the town, all the sick, all the demon possesed showed up at the house for healing. How long did that take? Was that an all-nighter?
Healing #3. Jesus needed to "heal" himself. Maybe the word heal is a stretch, but He needed to restore Himself. After a late night of healing, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and prayed. Jesus went to His power source. Even though He is fully God and fully human, He is not super-man. He needed to, just like I need to, get re-charged and take time to listen and to talk with God.
Wednesday, May 27
The first disciples witnessed the first teaching of Jesus in Capernaum. The people were amazed because He spoke with the authority of God and not worldly authority.
The disciples witnessed the Power of Jesus as He expelled the evil spirit from the man. (What was he doing in the synagogue?) "I know you are the Holy One of God" said the spirit. Jesus will release the world from demon possessions in the same way that he released the man from demon possession.
They also witnessed the response of the people who were amazed. But read the curse given to Capernaum for their lack of belief in Jesus in Matthew 11:23-24.
We have also been witnesses of the power of Jesus. What is your response?
Amazement does not equal belief. Knowing who Jesus is does not equal belief. Being in church does not equal belief. What is your belief?
Friday, May 22
Remember that song? Little Jimmy even helped us with the motions on Sunday.
We are looking at Jesus, using Mark, and looked at the Mark 1:14-20.
Whew! A lot there.
In Mark, Jesus bursts on the scene proclaiming Good News (the gospel - restoration with God) and the Kingdom of God (now and forever).
Repent, Believe, Discipleship - His call then and now.
James and John, Simon and Andrew were fishing when Jesus called them to follow Him. And they did, immediately.
Rather ordinary people, called not for what they were, but for what they could become through God. Isn't that pretty much what we are? Ordinary people. Are we ready to become extra-ordinary with God?
Friday, April 17
Funny how things turn out sometimes. I have grown and learned so much about God's grace here at this place and that will live with me forever. I love our diverse group of families who serve. And now we have other area churches getting involved. Disregarding denomination-serving in Christ's name and isn't that what it is all about?
Perhaps the living waters are flowing and for that we should all feel blessed. Enjoy the pics...I couldn't upload the pictures because they were too large and I don't know how to fix that. I'll try to later. Have a super day!
Sunday, July 13
What I do see are weeds growing! Overnight, all over, I see weeds. They are pretty obvious – different colors and textures than the grass – and about twice as high. It is easy to pull them out right now but if I let them go they will overtake my yard.
Weeds are like that. They are opportunistic, taking the energy and the feeding first, trying to choke out what should be there.
I fertilized at church also. And I noticed the planting area at the entrance. Actually, I noticed the weeds growing there, waist high and thick. I pulled and I chopped and I even had to cut until they were mostly removed. And what did that reveal when I looked behind and beyond the weeds?
Hidden by the weeds were daylilies and about 15 Easter lilies in bloom - all planted by someone else. So I have to wonder, as we talked about the power of endurance including my spiritual roots today. What weeds are hiding the beauty that the blood of Jesus has put on my heart?
From the song by Kathryn Scott that we sang today: “At the foot of the cross where I am made complete … I trade my ashes in for beauty and wear forgiveness like a crown.”
When Marc was with us, one of the testimonies he gave was about his health and recovery and his faith in the future that God has for him.
He also talked about laminin, a miniture protein in our bodies that holds our cells together.
Here is a short bit on laminin.
Saturday, July 12
A missionary on furlough told this true story while visiting his home church in Michigan.
'While serving at a hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point. On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine, and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the hospital. Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident...Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated. He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, 'Some friends and I followed you into the jungle and planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.' At this, I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone in that jungle campsite. The young man said, 'No, sir, I was not the only person to see the guards, my friends also saw them, and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.' "At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story: "On the night of your incident in Africa, it was Morning here and I was preparing to go play golf when I felt the urge to pray for you. The urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?" The men stood up. The missionary wasn't concerned with who they were, he was too busy counting how many. There were 26!
I have read stories similar to this one and am not sure if it's an actual TRUE story; however I DO know that it COULD be true and that it IS true in my daughter's case. So thanks again for all your prayers! Sal
Wednesday, July 9
Thank you so much Pam for this picture and this reminder to us that we are all just a bunch of crack pots! Please pray more often! You have such a beautiful and a powerful gift! Sal
Monday, June 23
Sunday, June 15
Saturday, May 3
Each time we host the Second Gleaners distribution, I am blessed by watching how you all give of yourselves and the amount of joy we share with those in our community. What makes it even more special for me I think, is knowing that many of you are facing challenging situations in your own lives right now.
I am truly humbled by your love of God and your fellow man.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Thursday, May 1
What a wonderful blessing it is to have Bonnie and her smile a part of our church. It's amazing to me how in spite of all she's been through she is always there welcoming us all with a beautiful smile and warm hug. How awesome it is to see this wonderful lady in action with our community. How she can get so many to allow her to pray for them. Just thinking about it gives me Jesus bumps. :0 Thankyou Bonnie for being the light of Christ to so many! God Bless!
Wednesday, April 30