Monday, November 30, 2020

First Sunday in Advent: Sermon and Announcements

November 29, 2020

 

LORD WE NEED YOUR LIGHT!

ISAIAH 9:2, ISAIAH 2:6-7

 

Thanksgiving is now over, and the Christmas season has officially begun. Isaiah 9:2 points to the fact we have need of light to show the way. If you enter a room at night without a light on, you better remember where everything is, or you could trip and fall over things and hurt yourself.

 

When Isaiah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to make the announcements, we see in the 9th chapter of Isaiah Israel had seemingly lost its way. Something needed to happen, or God’s people would continue to wander aimlessly, at best, or else they might go so far from God in spiritual darkness they might never come back. These moments in relation to God seem to happen over and over again. It seems God’s people will get in a right relationship with God and before you know it we begin to think we have it all figured out. We seemingly say to God we are doing alright right now and will call you if we need you.  This was the place God’s people had moved to during Isaiah’s time. God was only needed on standby if the people got into trouble they could not handle. That pattern seems to repeat itself over and over again throughout history. God’s blessing is so strong, and God’s people are so thankful that everything seems to go really well for a while.

As we approach Christmas 2020, where are we? Are we, God’s people, where they were during Isaiah’s time or are we exactly where God wants us to be?

 

Christmas is one of those times of year God is calling us to reexamine lots of things in our lives. Not only should we take a look at where we are in relation to God, but we should also take some time to examine the relations we have with those closest to us, our families and friends, as well as the priorities we seem to have in life.

 

The Church throughout history has kept Christmas alive because often times we do lose our way over the course of the year. Sometimes things that started off with such promise may get off track. God knows us, his people, better than we know ourselves. God knows if we are headed the right way or if we are wandering in the darkness in desperate need of the light. No matter how close we are to God or how far we may have wandered, we all desperately need a Savior. It does not matter what your place in life may be whether you are one with plenty or one just barely getting by. We all need God’s saving grace.

 

In Isaiah 9 verses 6 and 7, God let his people know that help is on the way. Get ready, things are going to change. God’s people, as it turned out, still had about 700 years to wait until the light came to end the darkness.

 

We are so blessed to live in what many call the church age. We do not have to wait for the Savior to come. He is here, ready, and able to bring light to our darkness if we let him in. As we approach Christmas 2020, I believe this nation, this world needs the light only God can bring as much as ever before. There seems to be more wandering in darkness now than ever before. It is time for me first to examine my relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. While all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, God chooses to work through us as imperfect as we might be. So, at this Christmas where am I, Lord? Is your light shining brightly through me, or do I need you to light my way anew?

 

The people during Isaiah’s time probably did not really understand how God was going to change the world. No one understood just how God would accomplish His perfect plan for His people who desperately needed a Savior.

 

In the weeks to come, we will be reminded how God made a way for His people. What did it mean when Isaiah wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given”? God points us back to that 2nd verse of Isaiah 9 once more. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” What a promise God has made to us. We no longer have to walk in darkness, living in the fear of death. The light of the world has come. A child is born that will take away the sins of all God’s people. But as we will see once again, God brought it all about in the most amazing and miraculous way. May we seek God’s light this Christmas to reveal what is hidden before it is too late. After all, we all do need God’s light to show the way.

Larry


Announcements Nov. 29, 2020

In-person worship starts Sunday, December 6 for those who are comfortable coming. Worship will continue on facebook live as well.

Council meeting is postponed until January.

December 9 will be executive committee only, not the full board. The board will reorganize in January after council meeting.

Daily Bread devotionals are available for pickup in the copy room. The Upper Room is at the back of the sanctuary. Also, remember the Advent devotionals are in the back of the sanctuary for you to pick up.

Witness Commission donated $100 to the Piatt County Mental Health Center. A thank you has been received from them.

Women who have prayer partners, remember to place your clearly labeled gifts on the decorated tables in the basement between December 6 and December 13. These can be picked up any time after worship on the 13th. If you no longer want to participate in 2021 or if you haven’t participated and want to, let Carol know. Otherwise, those who are currently participating will have a new prayer partner slip in your mailbox by December 20.

Give Carol any newsletter submissions by Dec. 1 please.

Put directory information in Carol or Stacie’s mailbox or email it to them.

Pick up and pay for candy orders between 10:00 and 12:00 on December 5 please.

 

 


 

 

 

Monday, November 23, 2020

November 22 Sermon and Announcements

 

LET US GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD!

PSALM 107:1-9

 

As America gets ready for Thanksgiving, we are in a much different place than we have ever been before. There are some who can still remember what it was like to experience Thanksgiving during World War II, but most of us have not faced truly difficult times as we have celebrated Thanksgiving. Some families have had, for their own personal reasons, extremely difficult Thanksgiving situations but nothing quite like what we are experiencing on a national scale as this year. There are strong recommendations to limit the size and the type of Thanksgiving get-togethers we have this year. So, what are we as Christians to think about a time of reflection and Thanksgiving this year? Despite all the turmoil this nation is facing this Thanksgiving, what does God expect of us, his people?

 

In the first verse of Psalm 107, we read the fundamental facts our God wants us to always hang on to. We should always give thanks to the Lord. Why? Because he is good, and his love endures forever. No matter what is going on in our lives or in our world, this basic truth never changes. The psalmist goes on to remind us that our God is seeking us out no matter where we are. No matter what we are facing, no matter how far from God we have travelled. This Thanksgiving is truly going to be different than any before, but we have so much to thank God for. There may be some who have had difficult Thanksgivings in the past. Some may have lost loved ones at this time of year on previous occasions that made it difficult to feel thankful. This year some may be dealing with more than the limitations that may occur because of the Coronavirus.

 

While many of us look forward to the opportunity to get together with family and friend at Thanksgiving, it is not always a happy-go-lucky time of year for everyone, which bring us back to how we should view Thanksgiving this year and for that matter every year. This is, in a way, just another day on the calendar. This nation began the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving hundreds of years ago. At the center of this nation’s Thanksgiving celebrations has been to give thanks, first and foremost to God. In spite of some incredibly challenging times, the pilgrims chose to acknowledge God for his goodness and mercy. Should we as Christians in America in 2020 do any less? Despite the difficulties of this year for this nation and maybe for some of you for your own personal reasons, we still have much to be thankful for. God’s love and mercy for us is just as strong today as it ever has been. Even if we have not always been as faithful this year as we should be, God is faithful. Even if we have had major disappointments or even some personal tragedies, God is with us encouraging us, providing us with his strength to carry on. We do not know whether blessing on top of blessing lies just ahead for us or whether more difficult times are just around the corner but this we can be assured of—God will be with us. Nothing is going to happen to us, God’s people, that catches God by surprise. If you and I remain firm in our faith, we will be victorious no matter what comes our way. In Romans 8:30, we are reminded, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So, I encourage you this Thanksgiving that no matter what your Thanksgiving looks like this year to take some time to reflect on God’s love for you. While there will be challenges ahead, be assured God is with you. With God’s help, we will prevail. As it is pointed out in verses 8 and 9 read earlier this morning, we are reminded, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love, and his wonderful deeds for men. For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” So, let us give thanks to the Lord! Have a great Thanksgiving. Remember God is ready and able to provide us, his people, with good things. 

Larry


Announcements

Remember to order your candy by December 1.

Advent devotionals are available in the back of the sanctuary. Please pick one up if you have access to the church. The first devotion is on the first day of Advent, November 29.

Please submit any newsletter articles or information to Carol by December 1.

We will not have in-person worship on November 29. Worship will be on facebook live at 10:00 that day.


Monday, November 16, 2020

November 15 Sermon and Announcements

GOD HELP ME TO CHOOSE HOPE AND JOY

1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-21

 

There are lots of things out there trying to steal our joy and our hope. If we listen to the news so much that it affects the way we live, we are failing to see what God intended for us. In the first letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he is pointing out to the church that they have gotten way off track. They are allowing themselves to get distracted in ways that are not good for anyone, so God is having Paul sound the warning to regroup before it is too late. The verses we read this morning tells a very honest, yet blunt, story. Either what we believe is true or we are fools and liars. We are wasting our time and trying to encourage others to follow something that is not true. In Corinth he was basically telling them you must decide because what you have been told is, in fact, true so either start living a life that reflects that truth or forget it.

 

That is where we as the church in America are as well. Do we really believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world? Do we really believe God is capable of doing anything he wants in the world he created or not? The church must decide; you and I must decide. In many ways this message is for me maybe more than anyone else. I have frustrated myself because I have listened more to man than to God too much of this year. It seems to only be getting worse. Between the battles over the elections this year and the ongoing talk and actions about the Coronavirus, it is easy to be disillusioned about the future. We all have choices in life to make. What to believe and who or what to put our trust in, but those choices can change our lives in drastic ways.

 

I may come across this morning as angry as well as frustrated and it is true I am. I am sorry for having this kind of tone, but the anger and frustration I have is not with anyone but myself. I said earlier we all have choices to make and that is true about a variety of things. The choice I am talking about this morning is whether I am going to put my faith and trust in God or put my trust and faith in President Trump, Joe Biden, J. B. Pritzker, the scientist or you name it. This is the choice I must make at this time in my life right now. Do I believe there is a God is the first question I must answer. Then if I answer yes, do I believe in the God of the Bible, and how much am I willing to trust God for? Is God the God of Daniel, of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the God of David? Or is the God I believe today not that strong or that powerful anymore? As I am admitting to you this morning this is the question I am asking myself, what do you believe? How much trust are you willing to put in God?

 

I believe the church is getting closer and closer to a crossroad, maybe we are already there. Jesus warned us this day is coming. In John 16 he was telling the disciples about the fact he was going to be killed, knowing this could destroy their hope and faith in God. He warned them in advance and said these words in the 33rd verse. “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” I believe our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is saying the same thing to us today. “In this world you WILL have trouble but be of good cheer I have overcome this world.” Do I believe it? Do you believe it? This is the most important decision we must reaffirm to God and ourselves right now. At least that is the case with me.

 

Paul was being very blunt with a disobedient church in Corinth in what we started off reading this morning. He made it clear that if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. He is basically saying if we do not believe God can change our lives, not only while we are here on earth but, in fact, for eternity, we are wasting our time.

 

So, what am I saying? Where is this going? I am here this morning saying God forgive me. I am not where I should be but by the power of your Holy Spirit I pray you will transform me and use me in whatever way you can to bring glory to you and draw others to your eternal kingdom. I agree with the father in Mark 9:24 who said, “I do believe, help me with my unbelief.”

 

Going back again to our original scripture for today, after Paul said we should be pitied if we are believing a lie, Paul said in the 20th verse, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” The God who was able to raise Jesus from the dead is more than able to change my life and the life of anyone who believes. I must make a decision to quit listening to the garbage that is there wanting to steal my hope and joy. I must also understand Satan is at the center of it all. Maybe all of you are able to keep the distractions of this world out. Maybe the Lord had me share this with you this morning so you can help me stay accountable, but if anyone else out there agrees you are not as full of faith, hope, trust and joy as God intended, will you join with me? I choose to stand with God and his word. We live in a world and a nation that, as much as ever, needs the hope and joy only a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring. I choose to put my faith, my trust, my hope in Jesus Christ. When Joshua was faced with a people that were going the wrong direction, he issued this challenge to God’s people as well as this personal declaration in Joshua 24:15. He says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” As we have the gods of this world distracting us on so many levels, what will we do? Will I allow the politicians, the news networks, the “experts” to shape what I believe, or will I work harder than ever to allow God to lead me? The choice is up to me and it is up to anyone else that feels the same way I do. I choose to agree with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

 


Announcements

We collected $570 for The Lord’s Storehouse Thanksgiving baskets. Thank you to all!

 

The women are taking candy orders until December 1. $3.50 per half pound bag. The flier was emailed out last week and is on our web pages as well as being posted around town. Call Nancy Fansler or Chelle Shively to order.

 

If you want to purchase a poinsettia for December, please call Shirley Wright by November 25 and tell her how many you want. Price is unknown at this time.

 

Stacie and Carol will be working on updating our church directory. Please turn in your form by the end of the year. Even if there is no change, write your name at the top and say “no change.”

 

Carol & Glen will be doing the sanctuary decorating this year.

 

There is Mexican vanilla available for purchase for $5 per bottle. If it is not on a table in the fellowship hall, it is in the cupboard in the storage room. Leave your $5 in the box please. Carol will set it out on a table the next time she is at church. These proceeds will go to women’s fellowship.

 

Three college care packages were packed on behalf of women’s fellowship for Sadie Sawyer, Jordan Wright, and Michelle Wright.

 

Women, remember to have your prayer partner gifts here by Dec. 13. There will be decorated tables and places to place your gift by Dec. 6. Please label the outside with the recipient’s name so it will be easy to see.

 

Since we are not meeting in person right now, remember that we still value your offerings. They may be placed in the locked wooden box at the back of the sanctuary or mailed to PO Box 45, Cerro Gordo. Thank you for giving! It helps further our work in this community and beyond.


Monday, November 9, 2020

November 8 Sermon and Announcements


MAY WE ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER

ROMANS 14:1-12

 

I am going to give one more Sunday to the election that has taken place this past week in America. While everything is not officially settled yet, it is becoming clearer what the results are. As I mentioned last Sunday, some will be happy with what the final results are and some not so much. We are so blessed to have elections on a regularly scheduled basis here in America where we get to choose every two and four years the direction this nation may go. There is no question this election has been different from any other in large part because of the coronavirus. Election laws were changed in an attempt to provide more safe opportunities to vote. This, however, has created more questions and confusion for some than we have ever had before. I pray each of us will accept as best we can the results this year and be willing to move on together.

 

When we look at the scripture we read this morning, it points out Christians will have disagreements. It is one thing to disagree over key points of what the Bible says. It is something quite different about issues that do not seem to really affect what is at the root of our Christian faith. In these verses, we see there have been disagreements in the church about what we should eat and about what days we should consider as more important and sacred than others. Paul is trying to remind the church there are some things that deserve to be discussed and even fought for and others that are more of an individual decision. Paul is reminding us to make sure we are doing what we are doing for the right reasons. In verse 12 he reminds us we will each give an account to God for what we say and do. That should make each one of us to take a step back and carefully consider what we believe and why we believe it.

 

I do not know how many of you watch and follow elections closely at the local, state, and federal levels, but for those who do who wins and loses can be a big deal. It is a good thing for us to be concerned and involved in what is happening in our nation. Once again, we are so blessed by God to have the opportunity to live in a country in which each citizen can vote for people we believe will lead in ways we most closely identify with. And while we should take seriously the privilege we have in America to vote and have some say in things, we need to remember we are on this earth for a very short time compared to eternity. The most important decision we will make is whether we have made Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Yes, elections matter. They do affect our lives in sometimes very important ways, but I remind you of what Peter said in 1 Peter 2:11. “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” We must remember this earth, this country is not our final destination. Peter was reminding us not to get overly tangled up in the things of this world. Those things can distract us and even lead to sin. We read last week that those who are in places of authority have been

placed there by God for a reason. As Christians, we are obligated to listen to our leaders out of faithfulness to God.

 

At one point, the Jewish leaders tried to trap Jesus with a clever question. Jesus had been emphasizing the importance of faithfulness to God and saying how important it is to be devoted completely to him. In Matthew 22:15-21, we read, “When they asked him the question, is it right for God’s people to pay taxes to the evil Roman Empire?” As most of you remember, Jesus asked one of them for a coin. He asked whose name and inscription was on it, which they answered “Caesar’s,” Jesus response then was, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

 

As we consider what the impact of this election and future elections may be, we need to remember not to allow ourselves to get distracted from what really matters. There is a community, a state, a country, a world that needs Jesus Christ in its life. Nothing else matters when it is all said and done if we have not made sure our most important focus is sharing Jesus Christ in whatever form that might take. In Matthew 16:26, Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Again, elections can be very important. We should take advantage of the opportunity we have to have our voices heard. When it is all said and done, it is time to get about the more important task of living a life that is truly pleasing to God. There will be times we need to agree to disagree about some of the things going on around us. We read in Romans 14 that we should not make things that do not really affect what God wants us to do while we are here on this earth into bigger things than they should be. That also includes political disagreements. To remind you one more time, Romans 14:12 says each of us will give an account for our lives before God. I pray when all the dust settles, we will move forward as Americans, but most importantly as Christians, as there is still much to do. 

Larry


Announcements

Every Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study. All are invited to attend.

 

November 11 Board Meeting—6:15 Ex Comm; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board

 

November 15 Council Meeting immediately after worship

 

Copies of The Upper Room and Daily Bread are available.

Donation Box: The Lord’s Storehouse

 

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)

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

 

Tim Lynch; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Bertha Eveland; Betty Moore; Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Barb Baker; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Bailey & Liam Martina; Jeff Sawyer; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 237,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; wildfire and hurricane victims; District of IL/WI; nursing home residents

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

                       

Our Mission Statement:

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


Monday, November 2, 2020

November 1 Sermon and Announcements

WHAT ARE WE TO DO?

ROMANS 13:1-7

As everyone knows by now Election Day in America is about here. I am guessing most of us will be glad when it is over, but there are still a couple more days to go. Just to make one thing clear right up front, I will never endorse a particular candidate or party from the pulpit. I will, however, at times speak out about things happening in our community, state, and nation that I feel have to do with what we as Christians should be caring about.

 

When we look at what is written in these verses, we read this morning it is very clear how we should view those local, state and national leaders. We, as Christians, have an obligation before God to comply with what the authorities say. We are blessed in this nation to have a government system that allows its citizens to disagree with what may be going on, but we are to disagree in a peaceful, respectful way. There have been strong disagreements with presidents in the past and present as well as other political leaders at a more local level. This will without a doubt always occur.

 

According to the scripture, we read this morning that we as Christians have an obligation to God to show a level of respect and are to obey what the leaders to say as long as the leaders are not forcing us to go against God’s commands for our lives.

We should look at what the conditions were like when Paul wrote and spoke these things to the Christians of Rome. Rome was not a place that at that time was supportive of Christians or the Jewish community. While they may not be putting people into the lions’ den or fiery furnace, they clearly had no love for people of faith. If you remember from last week, Claudius had ordered Jews out of Rome. When this book of Romans was given to the people, I do not believe it was that long after what we read about last week in Acts. So, to say things were better for Christians in Rome when Paul delivered this writing to the Roman Christians than what we are experiencing in America today would be incorrect. It is natural for us to disagree with the political leaders from time to time. There are those who have voiced literal hatred towards our current president for the past four years. There are signs in Cerro Gordo that show extreme displeasure with our current governor.

 

Are the verses we read this morning saying we cannot disagree with our political leaders? Absolutely not, that is not what is being said. We as Christians, however, should never allow our disagreements to turn to hatred. Those who are in power have been allowed by God to be in those positions because of God’s plan. That is what the scripture we read implies. In fact, in the second verse, it goes as far as to say he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. In other words, we are rebelling against God if we go too far. So, what are we to do? If a leader is forcing us to go against what we know God wants us to do, we have an obligation before God to stand up for God’s holy word. However, if there are simply things we do not like about a person in power that does not expect or require us to go against God’s word, we better be careful how far we are willing to take things for we read in these verses this morning that those in authority can take action against us if we break laws that clearly do not violate God’s laws. While we in America have the legal right to peacefully disagree with our leaders, there are limits to what is acceptable in God’s eyes.

 

We have an election in two days. I do not know where those of you in this church stand on this year’s presidential election and I do not want to know. I do know this. There will almost certainly be some happy with the results and some who will not be so happy. We as Christians have an obligation to God to respect the results however they turn out. God is in control in spite of the fact many in our nation and world want to believe we the people are in control of our nation and world. God not only wants us to obey leaders and our laws, he requires us to. God gives each of us the ability to choose to follow Him and His word or do things on our own. We are also blessed to live in a nation that still allows us to have choices about leaders and the direction we believe our nation should go. We do have rules that dictate how elections are run and how outcomes are determined. I pray no matter how this election turns out those of us at the Cerro Gordo Church of the Brethren will respect what the results of this election are. When we have the chance to change things with our voices and our votes, we have every right to do so in a respectful way. But when the results are in, we should obey God’s word and accept the results. In Romans 13:7 it is very clear we are to give everyone what you owe. If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. We have an obligation before God to pray for this nation and its leaders. They have been placed in authority by virtue of God’s plan.

May we as God’s people always be peacemakers. There are always going to be disagreements, whether in politics or simply in life. May we always honor God and obey God’s word even when it is hard to do as sometimes it can be. Pray for this nation, its leaders, as well as we it’s people. It is the right thing to do no matter who is in office. Pray for a peaceful Election Day. Pray that God’s will shall truly be done on this nation’s behalf. Pray that God will continue to bless and guide this nation. 

Larry


 Announcements

Sundays: Sunday School 9:00; Worship 10:00 Please social distance and wear masks. We continue carrying our worship on facebook live. We are grateful that it reaches many people in and beyond our congregation.

November 11 6:15 p.m. Executive Committee; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board Meeting

Sunday, November 15 Council Meeting will be immediately after worship in the sanctuary.

The Lord’s Storehouse is asking for donations for Thanksgiving baskets. $25 will feed a family of 4; Please put donations in the bucket in the back of the church. Checks may be made out to The Lord’s Storehouse. These are due November 8.

Donation Box November/December: The Lord’s Storehouse

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

The Women will be taking candy orders soon. $3.50 per ½ pound. Watch for details.

District Q & A with CoB Moderator

 Annual Conference Moderator Paul Mundey is scheduling a virtual visit with our district November 10, 2020, at 6:00pm, via Zoom. The format of the visit is a Question and Answer session with Paul, along with Moderator-elect David Sollenberger and Secretary Jim Beckwith. The session is open for any and all questions, and to everyone who wishes to participate. The focus of this event will be on the state of the church. If you would like to participate, please forward your name and email address to the district office (andreag.iwdcob@gmail.com). The Zoom link will be sent to you at a later date.

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)

Keep in Your Prayers

Brittany Wright; Sonna Hall; Evelyn Eads; Bertha Eveland; Betty Moore; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Barb Baker; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Bailey & Liam Martina; Jeff Sawyer; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Mary Beth Pflum; Tim Lynch; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 228,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; all who are ill with the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of the wildfires and hurricanes; District of IL/WI; nursing home residents; the harvest; the election

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers


The District of IL/WI is sponsoring a book study, beginning November 12 via zoom.  The facilitators are Dennis Webb, pastor of the Naperville congregation, and Christy Waltersdorff, pastor of the York Center congregation. The book to be studied is White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Race by Robin DiAngelo. The series takes place on six Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. (Central time) on Nov. 12, Dec. 3 and 17, Jan. 7 and 21, and Feb. 4.  To sign up for the book study contact the district office at andreag.iwdcob@gmail.com .

 

 

 

Our Mission Statement:

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


Monday, October 26, 2020

October 25 Sermon and Announcements

ONE MORE TIME

ACTS 18:1-17

 

We are going to wrap up our look at the early church in Acts for now. Maybe we will look at more of what happened later, but this will be our last look at Acts for a while.

 

We see Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a husband and wife named Aquilla and Priscilla. They had moved to Corinth because Claudius, emperor of Rome, had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Apparently, Claudius had become so tired of the problems Jews were causing in Rome, he wanted them out. As had been the case at his other recent stops, Paul went the synagogue on every Sabbath and tried to convince both Jews and Greeks of who Jesus is and what he had done. Once Timothy and Silas arrived in town, it says Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching the Word to the Jews. But when the Jews opposed him, he symbolically shook the dust from his clothes and said, “Your blood be on your heads.” He said, “I have tried my best. I am done with you. I am going to preach the word to the Gentiles from now on.” It is obvious that while most of the Jews rejected the message, some received it. We read Crispus, a synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord and many others in Corinth also believed and were baptized.

 

We saw Paul, Silas and Timothy had not stayed in the other cities long.  However, on this occasion, God, in a vision, encouraged them to stay in Corinth where they would be safe. We see they stayed for a year and a half teaching and proclaiming the word. The Jews that had rejected his message in Corinth did not forget about Paul. They came against him using the legal system of the day and took him to court. They argued Paul was trying to convince Jews in Corinth to believe things contrary to the law. The prosecuting attorney in Corinth, however, said that this has nothing to do with the region’s laws. It has to do with Jewish rules and laws and that is not my problem. In other words, you settle this yourselves. Do not bother us with it in Corinth courts.

 

What happened next is a typical reaction when people feel they have been made to look bad. The Jews that made a big deal in court got mad at the Jewish synagogue ruler at this time. They were so mad that the Corinthian prosecutor threw out their complaint that right there on the spot they grabbed Sosthenes, the synagogue ruler, and beat him in front of the court because they felt he had made them look like fools.

 

So, what lessons can we learn from what happened at Corinth? First, we see Paul wanted to give the Jews one more chance at receiving the gospel. After all, Paul was also a Jew and he had a special place in his heart for his fellow Jews. But when they refused to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading through Paul’s teaching, what was his reaction? He said, “I will no longer waste my time on people that refuse to hear anything I am saying.”

 

What about us? Some of you have probably tried time and again to convince people of things. All of us have at different times. Whether it is the gospel or something else, you probably have had good compelling arguments, but they have refused to listen. What is God saying to us then? As much as we might not want to, we see God saying that it is alright to move on. I am sure Paul never stopped loving his fellow Jews, but he came to realize there comes a time I can be more useful to God elsewhere. If we have conflicts and disagreements with friends or family especially, I am convinced God does not want us to stop loving them, but maybe it is time to fully turn it over to God and move on to other opportunities that God puts before us.

 

We are also reminded in the verses we read today that some people may try to do ugly things to us over the disagreements we have. They tried dragging Paul into court over the things they were not happy about. We see God’s hand of protection was with Paul on this occasion and not only was he let go, but those who were accusing him of something wrong, when it did not go the way they wanted, turned on each other. We should be reminded of the fact when we do things, to make sure we are doing whatever it might be for the right reasons. Things have a way of coming back around to bite us when we are not on solid ground.

 

The message today is entitled “One More Time”. I am convinced there are times God wants us to give some things one more try, one more time. If we see God bringing the success we are praying for, rejoice that your patience has been rewarded. If not, God is telling us it is time to move on. If you have done your best, that is all God ever asks of you. Always leave the door open as best you can for future opportunities, however. We must always remember that with God all things are possible. God may be asking some of us today to try something one more time. At times when we are feeling discouraged and thinking what is the use, that is the time God will bring the victory.

 Larry


Announcements:

 

Every Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study. All are invited to attend.

 

Submissions for November newsletter due to Carol by 10/29

 

November 11 Board Meeting

 

November 15 Council Meeting immediately after worship

 

Executive Committee made the decision to cancel this year’s Christmas Vespers.

 

The Lord’s Storehouse is asking for donations for Thanksgiving Baskets. Suggested donation is $25 per basket. Donations may be placed in the bucket in the back of the sanctuary. Checks to The Lord’s Storehouse. Last day for donations is 11/8.

 

Please place your offering in the plates at the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!

 

Thank you for wearing masks and helping contain the spread of the virus. Extra masks are at the back of the sanctuary if you don’t have one. Remember: the cloth masks are washable.

 

Donation Box October: The Lord’s Storehouse

 

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)

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

 

Shirley Krall; Tim Lynch; MariBeth Pflum; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Bertha Eveland and Betty Moore; Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Larry Cripe; Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Barb Baker; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liam Martina; Jeff Sawyer; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo and Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 225,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; wildfire and hurricane victims; District of IL/WI; nursing home residents; the harvest; peaceful election

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

                       

Our Mission Statement:

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

 

 


Monday, October 19, 2020

October 18 Sermon and Announcements

THE TALE OF THREE CITIES

ACTS 17:1-34

 

In these verses, we see Paul and Silas visited three different cities over a short period of time. The reaction and reception they received was different with each city they went to. The first city was Thessalonica. Immediately Paul went to the Jewish synagogue to discuss scriptures with those there. Thessalonica was a major city of 200,000 people. It had people of all kinds of beliefs living there, but Paul’s primary mission was to share Jesus with the Jews living there. Paul soon had some success not only with some of the Jews but also some of the Greeks or Gentiles. Not all of the Jews were happy about what was going on to the point that if you remember what we read, it says they rounded up some bad characters and formed a mob and started a riot in the city. The mob searched for Paul and Silas but could not find them, so they dragged out a guy by the name of Jason because he had let them come to his house for a while.

 

As I read this, I could not help but think about what has happened in this country this past summer. Whether we agree or disagree with those who were angry, mobs and rioters took to the streets destroying and robbing businesses that had nothing to do with the complaints, just like with the mob in Acts that could not find the ones they felt they had a beef with. They took it out on someone who had nothing to do with what Paul and Silas had been doing. The mobs and rioters in America did the same thing. They knew they could not personally do anything to the ones they were mad at, so they robbed and destroyed places that were easy and convenient. Some things do not ever change, do they?

 

The next town they went to was Berea. Paul and Silas did the same thing when they got there. They went to the synagogue to talk about Jesus. The reaction of the Jews there was much different. See what it said. The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians. Obviously, the people of some towns and cities are good and decent people and some are not. We read the Bereans received the message with eagerness. They did, however, carefully think about what was being said. We also read many Jews and Greek men and women believed.  So, everything was good in Berea, right? No, there were some from Thessalonica that heard Paul and Silas were there and the mob followed them agitating and stirring up the crowd against Paul and Silas. Once again, this sounds familiar with what happened here in America this past summer.

 

The believers of Berea helped Paul escape to Athens. Athens is the third city Paul and Silas went to at this time. Paul and Silas as well as Timothy who was new with them had got separated. While Paul was in Athens by himself, he roamed around town and was troubled by all the idols that were in that city. Once again, Paul went to the synagogue to share Jesus with those who where there. On this occasion, Paul also went to the streets with the message of Jesus. Athens was known for their great philosophers and some of them confronted Paul. They apparently had never heard of Jesus and his story did not make any sense to them. But God revealed to Paul a way to reach this group of people in the very different city. Paul explained that as he walked around their city, he ran across an altar that was dedicated to an “unknown god”. Paul explained that is who I have come here to share with you. Paul proceeded to explain to them about the God who created the heavens and the earth.  He also explained to them about God’s plan to redeem creation through what Jesus did and had done. We read that some sneered at such things, yet others said they would like to hear more.

 

As we consider the three cities Paul and Silas visited and preached in, we see different attitudes by some in each city. In Thessalonica, while some embraced the message, others took to the streets as angry mobs and rioters. At Berea we see the people there were kind and receptive but outside agitators came to stir up the people of that city. In Athens we see people who view life differently from the other two. If they were going to change the way they have always viewed things, it was going to take time and persuading. They were, however, respectful, and open to learn more. In each one of these cities we see there were some good people who may not agree with everything you say but will treat you with respect. In one of the cities we see some people just enjoy causing trouble.

 

When we look at Cerro Gordo what do we see? I believe it is a town made up of basically good people who want to do the right thing. In spite of there being churches in this town for a long time, not everyone has come to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. That continues to be our mission. Just like Paul and Silas proclaimed the good news to those cities, we are called to continue to share Jesus in whatever way we can as well. Will our message always be accepted? Probably not. That part is not up to us, it is up to God. Paul and Silas could have been disillusioned and quit after their reception in Thessalonica, but they did not quit. No, they kept moving forward wherever God led them. That continues to be the message God is telling us at the Cerro Gordo Church of the Brethren. Don’t quit. God is saying not everyone is going to love what we are doing, but together we can do great things.


Announcements


Every Tuesday 9:30 a.m. Bible Study. All are welcome to attend.

Board Meeting Wednesday, November 11

Council Meeting immediately after worship on Sunday, November 15.

The Lord's Storehouse is asking for donations for their Thanksgiving baskets. Suggested donation is $25 per basket. Donations may be placed in the bucket at the back of the sanctuary. Checks should be made out to The Lord's Storehouse.

Pastor Larry's phone number: 217-454-2362


Keep in Your Prayers

 

Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Bertha Eveland and Betty Moore (Michelle West’s mother and grandmother); Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Larry Cripe; Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Barb Baker; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liam Martina; Jeff Sawyer; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo and Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 215,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; wildfire and hurricane victims; District of IL/WI; nursing home residents; the harvest

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

 

                       

Our Mission Statement:

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



Monday, October 12, 2020

October 11 Sermon and Announcements

NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY!

ACTS 16:1-34

 

A few weeks ago, we read how Paul and Silas had now become a team checking in with the churches and proclaiming the Word of God. We see Paul and Silas were traveling around the area when they encountered a slave girl. She was no ordinary girl; she could tell the future. We are told she had a spirit that gave her the ability to do this. She began following Paul and Silas shouting that they were servants of God who would tell you how to be saved. This apparently became annoying to Paul, and he finally said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus I command you to come out!”  He said she is being possessed, if you will, by a spirit clearly not of God. When we look at how something like this is viewed in America and many parts of the world, you would be viewed as nuts if you claim someone is possessed by a spirit. We, at times, seem to want to believe Satan does not exist or at least has no power to do anything. I believe we are deceived if we choose to ignore how Satan is continuing to affect this nation and the world.

 

We see Paul successfully drove the spirit from this girl. Did everyone celebrate that this girl had her life back? No! The owners of this slave girl were mad. She had been making them a lot of money telling the future of people in the area. We have psychics in America today who advertise they can tell you your future. Horoscopes used to be printed in the newspaper telling your future by your birthday or sign. So, what this girl was doing is still happening today.

 

The girl’s owners then started spreading lies about Paul and Silas since their ability to make money from this girl was gone. They got enough people stirred up that Paul and Silas were arrested. The authorities had them stripped and beaten. What was their crime? Freeing this girl from a spirit who was, I am sure, making her life a nightmare. Her owners were no longer able to take advantage of her for their own gain. They did not care what all this was doing to her. Paul and Silas were not only beaten but were put in chains and thrown into prison. Through it all, what was Paul and Silas’ reaction? Were they angry at God for letting this happen? They were simply doing the right thing for this girl and how were they treated? They were treated like criminals. So, were they mad at God? Did they sit in prison feeling sorry for themselves? One could say they had the right to. No. They began praying and singing hymns to God. All the other prisoners heard them as well as the guards. The prisoners probably knew they did not deserve to be there. And yet they were praising God while in chains. We see while this was going on an earthquake occurred, allowing all the jail cell doors to open. When the guard realized what had happened, he was ready to kill himself, because if prisoners escaped while you were on duty you would be killed by your superiors. He knew everyone would escape and he would be killed, so he was ready to kill himself, but what did he find? Everyone was still there! He obviously heard Paul and Silas praying and singing to God and knew that is why they stayed in their cells. Paul and Silas knew it was not the guard’s fault they were in jail. They also knew if they escaped, the guard would be killed so they all stayed. What was the guard’s reaction? He asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved! What a tremendous testimony Paul and Silas gave to the other prisoners and the guards. First of all, they could have sat in the corner of their cell mad at God. Instead, they prayed and sang songs to God. Then when they had the chance to escape, they could have left as soon as the jail door opened, but instead they showed compassion to the guard and stayed. They refused to be stopped in their desire to share God’s word even when life seemed unfair. Instead they decided not to miss the opportunity to proclaim God’s goodness, even when they had in many ways every right to.

 

How many opportunities do you and I miss because life seems unfair? We get mad or at least disappointed to the point we do not see the opportunities right in front of us. We serve a loving, merciful God and even when things are not going as we think they should, God’s hand is on our lives. May we choose to look beyond our circumstances when things are not going right to see what God is doing in these situations. God wants to bless us and use us to bless others if we will let him. May we be like Paul and Silas, choosing to never miss an opportunity. May we also see God in each situation we find ourselves in. As best as we can, may we also choose to make the most of what God puts before us.

 Larry


Announcements:

 

Every Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study—studying Acts. All are invited to attend.

 

October 14 7:00 Executive Committee

 

Thank you to our lawn mowers! Your dedication is greatly appreciated!

 

The Lord’s Storehouse is asking for donations for their Thanksgiving Baskets. Suggested donation is $25 per basket. Donations may be placed in the bucket in the back of the sanctuary. Checks to The Lord’s Storehouse.

 

Please place your offering in the plates at the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving.

 

Thank you for wearing masks and helping contain the spread of the virus. Extra masks are at the back of the sanctuary if you don’t have one. Remember: the cloth masks are washable.

 

Donation Box October: The Lord’s Storehouse

 

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)

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

 

 

Keep in Your Prayers

 

Brittany Wright; Bertha Eveland and Betty Moore (Michelle West’s mother and grandmother); Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Larry Cripe; Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Barb Baker; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liam Martina; Jeff Sawyer; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 215,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; wildfire and hurricane victims; District of IL/WI

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers


Our Mission Statement:

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