Monday, July 25, 2022

July 24 Sermon

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

July 24, 2022

 

Be On Guard

Romans 16:17-20

 

Last week we looked at the verse at the heart of this year’s Annual Conference, Romans 15:7. We looked at that verse and also verses 6-13. Since we were in Romans 15 last week, I have felt led to continue to look at what Paul was being encouraged to say to the largely Gentile part of the church in Rome. Before we go further, I want to point out that Romans may be the most controversial book of the New Testament for a variety of reasons.

 

Paul wanted to sound the warning alarm that there are those who either intentionally or unintentionally may not be giving the accurate gospel to the new believers, which is largely, at this point, the Gentiles in Rome. In verse 17 Paul is bluntly saying to watch out for those who may cause divisions within the church. Some of the divisions may be caused by putting obstacles in their way. In other words, some are telling these new Christians there are certain things you have to do before they can be followers of Christ. Paul clearly believes the truth has already been told to them so they should not be tricked into believing something else. Paul even goes as far as to say when they encounter such people, stay away from them. Paul is pointing out that these people have their own agenda that does not match God’s plan. He is also pointing out they know exactly what they are doing. Paul is implying what some may tell you will sound good or seem to make some sense, but it is really not agreeing with the teachings of Christ. Then Paul goes on to give these “new” Christians a little bit of a pep talk saying everyone has heard of their obedience. In other words, we all know their desire to learn and to be faithful to the Lord, but they must be on their guard to carefully consider those teachers who first brought the true, honest gospel to them. Match that up with the others who may be telling them something else. Paul goes as far as to say some who share a false view of the gospel are evil.

 

In the first half of verse 20, Paul tells what God will do to those who deceive His people. He first reminds them that God is a God of peace yet, he then goes on to say, the God of righteousness and justice will soon crush Satan under your feet. In other words, Satan and those who share Satan’s lies will pay the ultimate price and the day is coming when that will happen. Paul finishes verse 20 with the encouragement “the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

 So as is the case with everything that has been recorded in God’s word, what is the Lord reminding us of and what is he telling us today in these verses? II Timothy 2:15 says we should, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” So how do we do that? Tomorrow, we begin Bible School. One of the songs I remember is, “Read your Bible, pray every day, if you love the Lord.” Now I am not saying God does not love us or that he won’t allow us in his eternal kingdom if we do not literally do those things every day, but the song is a reminder of how we can know God’s word and draw close to Him. These verses in chapter 16 of Romans are a reminder that we must be careful of what we are doing. Some will claim to be God’s people, but they have actually been deceived and are spreading Satan’s lies. The best way for us to be able to overcome Satan’s evil is to know God’s word, continue to study God’s word, pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us into God’s truth, and make sure those we are listening to are proclaiming the true and honest word of God.

 

Just as we were encouraged to be in unity within the church last week, Paul is making it clear: do not have unity just for the sake of unity, by diluting the word of God so what we are following is no longer the true message that the Lord Jesus Christ brought to those who will believe. No one is perfect or will ever get everything right all the time. No pastor will ever have everything exactly right all the time. No congregation or denomination will get everything God wants us to know exactly right either, but the important thing is to be able to point to God’s word for why we believe what we believe. Not pick and choose a verse here and a verse there that may seem to make sense when in fact the whole meaning may have been changed by how we piece the scriptures together. The great thing is, is that we have God’s Word now to refer to. They did not have the New Testament when Paul shared this truth with the Christians in Rome.

 

The next thing is, however, we know God wins! In fact, God has already defeated Satan, he just won’t admit it. And we His people will win as well when we stay true to God and His Word. I know I am preaching to the choir. However, I must continue to sound the alarm that Satan is alive and well and he wants to destroy every professing believer he can. But Jesus has won the victory for us. As Paul said to the church in Rome, I say the same to you here today. “I am full of joy for each and every one of you.” Do not give up, do not let Satan lie to you. The victory is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pastor Larry

 

 

 

                                                      

Monday, July 4, 2022

July 3 Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

July 3, 2022

 

Praying for a Happy Birthday!

Romans 13:5-12

 

Tomorrow, July 4th, America will celebrate yet another birthday. There have been a lot of things happen in the past 246 years. This nation has grown from 13 states to 50 states. Going from mainly the east coast all the way west to the Pacific, as well as an island state and a state north of Canada. There have been many changes and challenges that have faced this nation and its people. The nation first declared its independence from England in 1776 but did not get an official guiding document that outlined our laws until 1787.

 

The first thing those gathered working on our Constitution agreed on was the mission statement for our country. It is called as most all of you know, the Preamble of the Constitution. It states these goals, these beliefs. “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

 

The Constitution then went on to outline how America would work. There were provisions built into the Constitution to make changes as, in time, it became clear they should be made. It was a system put in place that allowed for all the things that would be necessary to make changes as this nation grew. The framers also thought it was a good idea to have three different branches of government as well that were intended to function together yet independently. Nothing quite like this form of government had ever been tried before.

 

Here we are almost 250 years later. This nation has had a series of challenges during its history. A little over 160 years ago, a war that literally led families to go to war against one another occurred. It would have been easy to have seen this nation come to an end at this time but it did not. This nation continues to face serious challenges to its core promise stated in the Preamble. What was stated is a goal to create a more perfect union. You notice they understood it would never be possible to create a perfect union. The goals and dreams of the original framers is what lives on today. There continues to be people in this nation that believe those goals are still worthy and worth striving to achieve.

While there is some disagreement on just how the framers lived out their faith, all of the framers had a belief and a faith in God guiding them as this nation was formed. They believed with God’s help these goals of the Preamble might be achieved, which leads us back to today and the birthday we about to celebrate. There are problems facing this nation, it seems, on every front. I am not going to highlight them. You can come to your own conclusions.

 

The verses we read this morning from Romans highlight what God is calling us as Christians to do. First, we are to obey the laws. We are to pay taxes. The 6th verse goes as far as to say our leaders are God’s servants. Verse 7 says to give to everyone what is owed them. Verse 8 makes it clear what debt we are allowed to owe. That debt is to love one another. A brief checklist of some of the Ten Commandments is then stated with the concluding thought that love is the fulfillment of the law. Just as there were challenges to the Christians during the Roman Empire when these words were spoken, we Christians clearly have challenges today as well. Paul wrote this encouragement and warning to the church in Rome, but it could just as easily be written last week to Christians in America. “Understanding the present time, the hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”

 

As America celebrates another birthday, it is time for us as Christians to make our voices heard. That can take many different forms, but we need to lift up God’s holy standards. We need to try to draw others to God’s redeeming power and his forgiveness. And most of all, we must do all of that out of love for one another. That is what God is calling us to do as his children and as citizens of this still great beacon of hope, which is the United States of America.

 

May God’s blessing continue to rest upon this imperfect union. Remember the sacrifice first of all that Jesus Christ made for you and me. Also remember those who have tried to do their best for the people of this nation throughout our nation’s history. May God’s guiding hand still lead us today and may God bless America.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study

 

July 10 Guest speaker Jim Helton of Prison Ministries

 

July 10 – 14 Annual Conference in Omaha—Pastor Larry is our delegate

 

July 13 Board meeting—6:15 Exec Comm; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board

 

July 23 9:30 – 10:30 Food bank distribution at Kirby Medical Group, Cerro Gordo

 

July 25-29 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. VBS here at our church


August 3 12:00 noon Women's Fellowship Luncheon--salad potluck

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: AC bills

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Janet James and family; Mike Nuding; Michelle West; Tom West; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Maralyn Heckman; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Sonna Hall; Tina Wilhelm; Baby Tate; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of those who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for Camp Emmaus and camp managers Bill and Betty Hare

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                       

Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.

Monday, June 27, 2022

June 26 Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

June 26, 2022

 

Give Me My Daily Bread

Provers 30:5-9

 

One of the reasons we gather together is our hope the Lord shows us more of himself. I know I need more and more understanding of what God is calling me to do with the days I am given on this earth. The older I get I have found myself reflecting more on what God is wanting to do with the opportunities he gives me.

 

At Walt Morgenthaler’s funeral, the Lord led me to share some verses from the Psalm 90. One of the verses was verse 12, which says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When we think about how we are to consider our days and match that with the words we read in Proverbs this morning, we can see how God is encouraging us to trust him with our lives. In these verses from Proverbs, we are given a few warnings about how we should treat God and His word. It also warns about adding or changing his word.

 

There is also the simple request on how to live out life. One of the things that can bring honor from both God and man is to, as verse 8 says, “Keep lies and falsehood far from me.” Most Christians do not purposely say falsehoods, but there are times things happen that cause people to stretch the truth a little. The first part of verse 8 does not say, “Help me not to lie.”  It says “Keep lies far from me.” I was told by my dad long ago a saying many of you have probably heard as well. “Tell a lie and you can never forget; tell the truth and you don’t have to remember.” In other words, if a person tells a lie, you better keep it straight and consistent, but if you have told the truth, it will just naturally come out without any special effort.

 

In verse 7 of Proverbs we read, the writer is asking two things of God. The first is to keep falsehoods and lies far from himself and secondly give him neither poverty nor riches, just give him his daily bread. The writer goes on in verse 9 to explain the second part.

 

We read the Lord’s Prayer for our Call to Worship this morning. Long after Solomon was encouraged to write these Proverbs, Jesus shared an example prayer that says much the same thing these verses in Proverbs say. In the brief verses we have read in Proverbs there is an incredible amount of wisdom. It basically tells us to make sure we know what is important. As Christians, being honest and trustworthy are at the top of the list. We all will stumble from time to time, but as Christians we are to own up to our mistakes, our sins, as quickly as we can.

 

The fact is that Solomon had it all. He was the most powerful man in Israel at the time he wrote these Proverbs. He had wealth and prestige, but he came to understand the only thing that really matters is to have faith in God and put your trust in Him. Solomon was not badmouthing wealth: elsewhere in the Old Testament it says it is a good thing to leave an inheritance to your children when that is possible. Obviously, without some surplus that would not be possible. No, for all Solomon had gained in life he understood what is really important. He had come to understand the meaning of the verse in Psalms about numbering our days aright.

 

When it is all said and done, what really matters is our relationship with God and how we share God’s love with others. None of us are, or ever will be perfect; that is why we need a savior. God wants to give each one of us the wisdom to know what is important. I would like to share my top ten list that is all about godly wisdom.

1.    Loving and honoring God.

2.   Lifting up God’s Holy Word.

3.   Being honest and true with ourselves and others.

4.   To the point that at times we are willing to say,” I don’t know the answer.”

5.   As best we can to be there for one another.

6.   To not have too high of expectations but also to not have too low of expectations.

7.   To be willing to forgive as we have been forgiven (you cannot have one without the other).

8.   To never give up, never lose hope, God has already won the war.

9.   To love one another, once again, just as God loves us.

10.And when it is all said and done, to ask and expect God

     to simply give us our daily bread.

 

God loves you and me; he created us for a reason. Your greatest victories may still be to come. So, God, I simply ask you to give me my daily bread, because I know you have and will continue to take care of the rest.

Pastor Larry

 

 Announcements:

 

 Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study

 

June 29 Submissions for July newsletter due

 

July 13 Board meeting

 

Late July VBS here at our church

 

 Thanks to all helpers and participants in our Strawberry Festival! It was a huge success.

 

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

 

Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Doris Morganthaler and family; Mike Nuding; Michelle West; Tom West; Stuart James; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli Brunner; Susan Gentry; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Maralyn Heckman; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Sonna Hall; Tina Wilhelm; Baby Tate; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of those who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library situation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Panther Creek congregation

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                       

Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.

 

Monday, May 23, 2022

May 22 Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

May 22, 2022

Have We Moved the Boundary Stones?

Hosea 5:1-10

As we ask the question, “Are we living in the end times?” We will look at how the Lord has dealt with his people in the past. In the verses we read this morning they tell of a time when Israel had wandered away from the Lord. Hosea is sounding the warning for the different groups of people that made up Israel at the time to get ready. Hosea is also acknowledging the people of Israel have brought the judgment of God upon themselves because of their difference and disobedience. In verse 10 Hosea is saying of Judah they are like those who move ancient boundary stones. When we ask ourselves the question, “Are we living in the end times?” we must be honest and look for the answer to why God would choose to say now is the time to end the world God created all those years ago. Is there anything happening in our world today, as well as in the church that is so much different from times past that could cause God to say, “Enough is enough”?

 

To set the tone for coming up with the answer to that question I would like to share once again what Jesus said to his disciples when they asked what the signs would be like at the end of the age.

So let us look again at Matthew 24:3-13, As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said. “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming I am the Christ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise again nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase in wickedness the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

 

Then to again read from 2 Timothy to see what some of the things that will be happening the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1-5, But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of Godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

 

Quite a list, isn’t it? Do we see any of these things happening in our world today? For those of us that have been around longer than others here today, have we seen any changes in the attitudes and the understanding of what is right and wrong that has happened in our lifetime? If so, are those changes limited to society in general or are we seeing pressure to change the things we as Christians have traditionally believed? To refresh one more time what was said in 2 Timothy 4:3, see if anything said in the verse might be happening in the church today? Verse 3 says, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

 

At this time, I am going to share some of the things I have seen change mainly during my lifetime. Many of these changes are not only in society and the world, in general, but are also being expected in many of the churches today. Last Sunday we saw how over the past 100 years the Church of the Brethren’s attitude about divorce has changed, but how about these? The sanctity of life, homosexuality, transgender issues, drug use, gambling, the way laws are viewed, the way those who break the laws are not held accountable, the lack of respect shown towards people, the way public schools are less concerned about reading, writing and arithmetic than they are about sex orientation. How more and more in our world seem to worship things that God created rather than respect and acknowledge the creator, God. The ways some seem to exploit racial and nationality differences for person gain rather than work to resolve those differences in meaningful ways. Of course, in America and much of the world, we have seen fewer people attending church and respecting Christianity. In fact, Christians are seen as out of touch and ridiculed if they have not accepted the new understanding of what is changing in society. Are we in today’s world moving these boundary stones almost on a daily basis? Are we as Christians also moving those boundary markers/stones?

 

Israel did that over 2,000 ears ago and paid a price as God’s protection was removed and they were overrun by people who clearly did not honor God. This happened to set the stage for Jesus coming and to get God’s people’s attention to acknowledge their sin against God. In the last days scripture says things will again happen because of society and the church being unfaithful to God.

 

I gave a list of some of the things I have seen happening in America, in the world, and in the church mostly in our lifetimes. There are many more variations of that list. I do not know how each of you think about the things I listed. As I shared my list of things to consider, you may have thought of many more changes that have happened that I did not mention. The question each of us must answer is, “Are these things that are changing in the world and in the church appropriate in the eyes of God?” Or are they sins that God does not condone. Is our world becoming more loving, patient and kind to one another? Do we believe it is appropriate to have certain standards to live by? Are the standards established in the Bible appropriate and worthy of our respect today? Did God give us, his people, standards that will make us all better if we follow them or were they appropriate long ago but are outdated today?

 

Your homework for the next couple of weeks is to look at what is talked about in the news. The attitudes that exist between the people in the news, as well as people you may encounter on a daily basis. Is God’s love, mercy and grace obvious in most of what you see? Is there a belief that a society needs laws and standards to live by? Is the church leading the way in honoring God by both living as examples of God’s mercy and grace and yet also lifting up his holiness and righteousness? Are we as Christians honoring God by at times being willing to speak the truth with genuine love as is stated in Ephesians 4:1?

 

If we are living in the end times, what is keeping God from ending things today? 2 Peter 3:8-9 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends with the Lord a day is like a thousand year, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

 

You and I must decide for ourselves what it is we see happening in America, the world and in the church. Are we getting closer to the end or not? Watch what is happening around us, see for yourself. Are the things happening honoring God or not?

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Today 4:00 High School Baccalaureate at the Brethren Church

 

Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study

 

May 28 7:00 High School Graduation

 

June 12 Strawberry Festival--Sign up sheet for donating food items is in the back. Berries will be stemmed on June 11.

 

 

 

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

 

Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Eli Brunner; Susan Gentry; Nancy Fansler; Oren Wright; Devon Wright; Leah Flory; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Maralyn Heckman; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Sonna Hall; Tina Wilhelm; Baby Tate; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of those who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library situation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Rockford Community congregation and the National Young Adult Conference

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                       

Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.

Monday, May 16, 2022

May 15 Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

May 15, 2022

So What Do You Think?

Colossians 2:6-15

 

This is part 2 of Are We Living in the End Times? We are going to spend a few minutes this morning looking at what you might think about that question. I do not know how many of you have thought about the main question about the end times. I really jumped ahead a little two weeks ago because for a Christian the first most fundamental question we must have an answer for us is all about Jesus. Do we believe Jesus actually lived on earth? Do we believe the first amazing part of His story that Jesus was born of a virgin? Depending on how we answer those questions will determine how much more we need to come to an understanding and belief of. If we said yes to those first two most fundamental questions of Christianity, then we go forward seeking out more understanding and answers.

 

The next question we must answer for ourselves is whether we believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins?  The next question to answer then is did God the father raise Jesus (the son) from the dead? How do you, how do I, answer these questions? If we have come to the place of confidently and victoriously answering yes to these questions, I believe we can then begin answering the question at the center of what we are looking at now. For those who were either here or joined us on Facebook two Sundays ago, I shared a number of scriptures that point to the reality that the world as we know it will come to an end. Some of the verses were from Jesus’ own words, the others were things Paul had shared during his ministry that went along with what Jesus had said earlier.

 

To refresh your memories from what we read two weeks ago, Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1, but mark this. “There will be terrible times in the last days.” Then moving ahead to 2 Timothy 4:1-4 Paul challenged Timothy with these words. “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge. Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

 

When we look at what we read this morning, we see the same theme in the 2nd chapter of Colossians in the 8th verse. So, we see there are clear warnings of what will happen in society and in the church in the last days. In the past 100 or so years we have seen more changes in the way our world views things than in the previous 2000 years combined. What each of us must do is sort through these changes and decide what it all means. Have these changes been appropriate, God ordained changes, or are these consistent with the warnings we see in scripture? We must always go back to the other most fundamental question a Christian must answer. Is the Bible the inspired, accurate word of God that can be trusted in 2022? Before we can answer the questions about society and our world today and all the changes occurring, we must answer that question. So, what do you think about the honesty, accuracy and integrity of the Bible? Can it be trusted today or is it outdated in many ways and not valid in our world today? This is the question we must answer for ourselves.

 

I recently ran across a Christian book that looks at the moral issues of the day. I would like to read the general list that is given in this book and then look a little deeper at one of the concerns listed, that affects much of our world. It states things this way.

Let us pause and consider the great moral issues that affect our civilization—Peace, temperance, liberty. Simplicity of life, purity and sacredness of the home and the marriage relation.”

Do these headings cover most all the important areas facing the church first of all, and our world secondly? What makes talking and thinking about how things seem to be changing in our world so difficult is the fact more and more families see things happening that did not seem to happen 50 or 60 years ago. Virtually every family has seen things happen that were not that common not that many years ago. This is true both among those who do not claim to be Christians as well as in today’s church.

 

As we close our look at what is happening in the church today, verses when the Bible was written I would like to share concerns in this book about one specific area.

“A home to be happy and prosperous must have God in it, and the church holds that to maintain the permanence of the institution of marriage is the way to maintain the purity of society. The disclosures made in the courts of justice show a moral laxity which is a disgrace to our boasted civilization. Thank God, the church holds up a higher standard than than—one based on the preservation and integrity of the family institution as God originally made it. When the question of immorality in the church arose, the Apostles’ rule was that while it was no part of the church’s duty to judge those that are without, the church must purge itself of the member who was leading an impure life. What the world needs is the bright and consistent example of all Christian people, and to present an unbroken front against the flood of divorces which threatens to engulf our social civilization. Civilization to be morally right must have a standard, and that standard must be seen. All light, whether physical, moral or spiritual, has its origin in God. If the church is the light of the world, the church must be in the fore on every issue that stands for the uplift of the race.”

What do you think about the standards encouraged in this book and the concerns if they are not upheld? Divorce has affected virtually every family in America. I am not sharing this to embarrass anyone or pick on anyone. The Bible clearly talks of a number of things that can separate us from God if left undealt with. I will give a more specific list of things that have changed in our world and are challenging the church next week. If anyone has been made to feel uncomfortable, I do apologize for that. I shared that example for a specific reason. What book do you think I have been reading from? A very conservative Baptist book? Baptist, after all, is the fire and brimstone denomination. An evangelical book that is very conservative? Some extreme author? This book is written from the 1908 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. Shirley Krall a while back offered to let me read some Church of the Brethren books she had. The point of me sharing this with you today shows how attitudes have changed within the church. Things that 100 years ago were understood throughout most of Christianity have drastically changed. Are these positive changes that God has ordained or are they steps stated in scripture that is leading towards possibly the end of this age? I ask for your patience and indulgence at least one more Sunday as we continue to look for God’s answers to these questions.

 

On what we are looking at in regard to living in the end times, I have no plan to give my opinion. These messages are to encourage you to look into God’s word for yourself and find the answers about what you think is going on. Next Sunday I will give a more complete list of things that are seemingly challenging the church within the last year or so and definitely over the last 50 to 100 years. What God challenged me to try to do quite a few years ago is know what you believe and why you believe it. That is my hope and prayer for each of you as well.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

May 16 6:00 Village Board Meeting

 

May 18 12:00 Women’s Fellowship Luncheon, a salad potluck

7:00 p.m. via Zoom—Stepping Out of Covid, sponsored         by the District potluck committee

 

Women’s Fellowship is planning the return of the Strawberry Festival the first or second week of June. Sign up sheet for baked pie shells is in the back.

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Evelyn Eads and family; Eli Brunner; Susan Gentry; Nancy Fansler; Oren Wright; Devon Wright; Leah Flory; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Maralyn Heckman; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Sonna Hall; Tina Wilhelm; Baby Tate; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of those who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library situation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Franklin Grove congregation.

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                       

Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.

Monday, May 2, 2022

What Do You Believe?

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

May 1, 2022

What do you believe?

Acts 1:6-8

 

We are going to begin a series that is entitled, “Are we living in the end times?” Ever since Jesus died on the cross and rose again, then ascended to the Heavenly Father, believers have been looking for Jesus’ return. In Acts 1:6 we read that the apostles asked Jesus before his ascension, “Will you restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?” Jesus answered basically “no” by saying in the 7th verse, “It is not for you to know the times or date the Father has set.” I am not sharing these upcoming messages to scare anyone or to get anyone worried about what lies ahead. I am sharing these messages because on some of the news broadcasts they are asking whether the world is headed toward World War III with what is going on in the Ukraine with Russia. With Russia seemingly becoming more aligned with China and Iran, it is easy to wonder where this is all going to lead. I feel obligated as the one entrusted to spiritually lead this congregation at this time to have us as ready as we can be. We need to fully understand what we believe and why we believe whatever that may be.

 

This morning I am going to share a number of scriptures that show what Jesus tells us about what is eventually coming to the world, as well as some other scriptures we find in the New Testament. The most fundamental question we must answer for ourselves is “what do we believe?”

 

Have you thought about the fact the Bible seems to point to a time the world as we know it will come to an end and Jesus will come back to earth to establish his eternal kingdom? Do we believe this is literally going to happen, or is it a kind of transformation earth will achieve without eternal life being part of an actual plan from a creator God?

 

How many of us have ever thought about these things? Are most of us aware the Bible talks about these things as facts that will indeed come to pass. Let us dig into some of the scriptures to better understand what is written in the Bible. First Jesus talks about signs on earth that will point to God’s judgment on a sinful world. 

 

Luke 21:25-28  25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

 

We read what Jesus is telling his disciples what to look for.

 

Matthew 24:3-14 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

 

He goes into more detail about what is happening on earth just before the end of this age and Jesus returns. In the verses in Matthew, Jesus is telling not only what will be going on in the last days but also challenging God’s people to stand firm and to not be deceived by those pretending to be Christian leaders who are really out to deceive.

 

Now let us look at some of the scriptures found elsewhere in the New Testament.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

 

In this we read a list of attitudes that are becoming common in the world. In verse 5 we are being warned that there will be a form of godliness but it is powerless. Basically, a watered-down version of what God has made available to his people.

 

We will see if we back up to 1 Timothy 4:1-3 some more warnings of what will happen during the end times. It talks of people abandoning the faith and believing what is called deceiving spirits. In verse 2 it goes as far as to say these false teachers are hypocritical liars who have no conscience. Paul in these verses even warns that they will discourage marriage and yet encourage people not to eat meat that God has said is acceptable to eat. Any of this sound familiar in today’s world?

 

I Timothy 4:1-3  The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

 

The final passage I will share with you today is found below.

 

2 Timothy 4:1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

 

These verses are directed at the church, at true believers. Paul again is warning in the last days there will be a time when some in the church will turn from the truths of the Bible. People will embrace things, that suit their own desires by looking for “godly teachers” who preach what they want the Bible to say instead of what it really says. The 4th verse says they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. In other words, to lies that are not truly in God’s Word. These warnings were actually given to Timothy by Paul about some of what he would encounter during the ministry God had called him to.

 

The question for us today is, does any of what Paul was warning Timothy about happening in our world today? During Paul and Timothy’s times they were battling a variety of pagan religions that existed in their world. And some who were coming from those religions into the early church were trying to bring some of these evil beliefs with them. Paul was encouraging Timothy to stand strong in the true faith. In our world today is the church being attacked if they believe in the historical views of scripture? On a regular basis are we being told to accept things that not long ago would have been rejected by almost everyone in the church. We must go back to the question that the title of this message asks, “What do we believe?”

 

We will spend some time over the next few weeks looking deeper into what the Bible says about some of the things we read this morning. I ask your indulgence and patience as we look at the times we live in and what the Bible tells us to be looking for. I pray the Holy Spirit will lead us as we explore some of these things together. I hope never to give my opinion as much as share what God’s Word says. We must each know what we believe. Is what we believe based on what the world is telling us or what God is revealing to us in his Word? The first question we must answer is whether the Bible is trustworthy and still applies to the church and God’s people today.

 Pastor Larry

 Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

May 11 Board Meeting 6:15 Exec. Comm.; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 board

 

May 15 Council Meeting immediately following worship

 

May 18 12:00 Women’s Fellowship Luncheon, a salad potluck

 

May 18 7:00 p.m. via Zoom—Stepping Out of Covid, sponsored by the District potluck committee—info on bulletin board

 

To register for Camp Emmanuel, go to: www.campem.com

Women’s Camp begins the season, June 3-5

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

 Keep in Your Prayers

Family of Liza Yore; Eli Brunner; Susan Gentry; Nancy Fansler; Oren Wright; Devon Wright; Leah Flory; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Anna Rose Larrick; Ron & Kathleen Petersen; Anna Gentry Thompson; Louis & Carol Sulwer; Maralyn Heckman; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Sonna Hall; Tina Wilhelm; Baby Tate; Bryce Ashenfelter; Mindy Sawyer; Marlene Schultz; Sarah Rudelick; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker;  Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler; Candy Dobson; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of those who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; Haitian Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library situation

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Oakley Brick congregation

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

                       

Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.