Monday, December 28, 2020

Sermon and Announcements December 27, 2020

 

THEY FOLLOWED THE STAR

Matthew 2:1-15

 

For one more Sunday we will continue to look at the amazing things that happened when Jesus was born. Today we read about the Magi that came looking for the future king who they knew was to be born. They came to Jerusalem looking for the newborn king, knowing that was the center of the Jewish world. They obviously believed this newborn king probably was born to someone in a position of leadership. Of course when Herod heard of this, he was alarmed that men had come from so far away to pay their respects to this newborn king. He knew this must be a big deal and could present a problem to his leadership in the region. Herod called on the Jewish scholars to find out what these men from the east were talking about.

 

We looked at the question last week of whether any of the Jewish leaders still believed in the promises made thru Isaiah 700 years earlier. It would appear the answer to that question is no. It took the Magi from the east to remind the Jewish leaders of that promise from so long ago. But once they heard about the possibility they knew where to look to find the answer that the Magi and King Herod was looking for. It was King Herod who sought out the Jewish scholars to see what the Magi was talking about. When King Herod got the answer he was looking for, he called the Magi in and told them, “You will find the child in Bethlehem. Go and find him. Then send word back to me so I too can worship this newborn king.”

 

We do not know for sure how much time elapsed from when the shepherds celebrated the birth of Jesus until the wise men arrived. We do see Mary, Joseph and Jesus are now living in a house in Bethlehem. The wise men did not find him still in a manger. I cannot help but think Jesus is still a small baby. Otherwise, they probably would have gone back to Nazareth. Nazareth was obviously where Joseph and Mary’s family were from. The wise men brought three gifts to the newborn king. Each one had an important meaning.

(1)  Gold for, no doubt, a king.

(2)  Incense is often used to celebrate those who are of royalty.

(3)  Myrrh was used often for embalming, symbolizing what the Messiah would do for the people. 

 

Once the wise men paid their respects, God warned them not to go back and tell Herod where this new king was, so they went back to their country a different way. God also warned Joseph in a dream what King Herod was up to. So almost the minute the Magi left, Joseph loaded up Mary and Jesus and left for Egypt.

 

Matthew recognized, as he recorded all these events, that Hosea 11:1 talked of God’s son being called out of Egypt. God once again proved that he is in control, even when things may seem out of control. We again also see Joseph being the man called on to care for both Mary and the future Savior of the world. We see Joseph took the responsibility he had been given very seriously. No one was going to harm this boy whom God was going to use to do amazing things. One must wonder though just how Joseph felt about this boy that many would think was his boy throughout the early years of Jesus’ life. I can only imagine both the sense of pride and responsibility he had to feel. God had given Joseph the important job of being the man that would help to mold Jesus during those early years. And while Joseph knew Jesus was a special man that had come from God, he still felt early on, “Jesus is my boy, my responsibility”. Joseph probably wanted to simply enjoy the moment. We know how much Mary stored up all the things she was told and how a mother has a special bond with her child, but I cannot help but think that this was a special time for Joseph also. After all, God chose Joseph for this special world-changing moment. With all that, Joseph probably still wanted some time just to enjoy his son he has been blessed to raise.

 

There is a song by Mercy Me called “Joseph’s Lullaby” that may tell how Joseph felt about everything happening surrounding the birth of the Messiah. As we close the service today, I would like you to listen to what this song says and for those who are parents, see if you can relate to everything that is said in the song.

Larry


Announcements

Every Tuesday at 9:30--Bible Study--all are welcome to attend.

New offering envelopes are available by the copy machine.

Please check your mail boxes.

January 10, after worship--Council Meeting

January 13--board meeting with old and new board members

Please place your offering in the locked box at the back of the sanctuary or mail to the church at PO Box 45, Cerro Gordo. Thanks you for your continued giving!

December 31--New Year's Eve

January 1, 2021--New Year's Day

Have a blessed New Year! 

Sermon December 20

 

 

I AM DOING A NEW THING.

WILL YOU MAKE ROOM?

Isaiah 43:18-19; Luke 2:1-20

 

For several weeks now we have used Isaiah as the starting point for our scripture and our message. We have read in Isaiah God’s people were told someone would come to prepare the people for what was about to happen. Then they were told the unbelievable way God would bring things about to change the world. Of all things Isaiah told them a virgin would have a child and this is how it would all begin. Continuing in Isaiah today, we see God is warning and encouraging his people to forget the past, He is going to do a new thing. God said, “I am going to change everything.” God asks the question, “Do you believe it?”

 

We move ahead to the 2nd chapter of Luke. After 700 years God is fulfilling the promises made so long ago. After 700 years though, it is hard to tell how many had still held onto the promise made through Isaiah to God’s people. Had it been lost through the years? Had the people simply conceded that God is never going to change the way things are? What is the use believing anything will ever change?

 

So now here we are in Luke seeing how God’s timing is at work. First the Savior is to come from Bethlehem as written hundreds of years earlier in Micah 5:2. God has to see to it Joseph and Mary leave Nazareth where they lived and are at Bethlehem at just the right time. After all, God keeps his promises. Then God wanted to make sure it was recorded for all time the Savior of the world did not enter this world in the most comfortable setting. The way Jesus came into the world was a preview of how many would not make room for the Savior of the world, not just in their homes but their hearts.

 

The first to greet Jesus into the world were not kings and queens. It was not priests or other important Jewish leaders. No, it was those who maybe were not the most admired or respected in their world. The first to greet the Savior of the world were shepherds who were in a nearby field. The shepherds first had to overcome their doubts and fears of what they said and heard.

 

We at times think what some experienced in the Bible was not that hard to accept. Many of us have read or heard these stories so many times they just become easy to accept. But just as you and I would be asking ourselves, “Am I really seeing and hearing what I think or am I dreaming or what?” On this occasion, in spite of how powerful this experience was for the shepherds, this was a lot to take in. First an angel appears out of nowhere. Then, as if that were not enough, a choir of angels appear and start singing a song proclaiming what was happening. To say this is not something the shepherds experienced everyday would be an understatement. Once the angels left the shepherds, you can bet they began to talk to one another making sure they all agreed they had seen the same thing. Then once they calmed down, they probably said to each other, “Well there is one way to prove whether we have been out with the sheep too long and simply need a break or whether something really special is happening that we were the first to learn about.”

 

Not many babies are going to be born in a manger and the odds of a baby being in a manger like they were told is going to be about zero unless God is behind this. So off they go to Bethlehem. When the shepherds got there, they found everything to be just like they were told. They were so excited they told Mary and Joseph everything they had seen and heard that evening. We see that Mary stored all those things in her heart. Even though we do not know Joseph’s reaction, you have to know once again it was confirmed to him this is where God wanted him. How blessed both Mary and Joseph had to feel to be part of what God was about to do.

 

When Jesus came to the world, the world was lost in spiritual darkness, even God’s people had mostly lost their way. How much different is our world today? It would be easy to say, “What’s the use? Nothing is going to get better or change.” But the Savior of the world did come to shine light in the darkness. Jesus is still changing lives. The baby born over 2,000 years ago in that manger is still transforming lives. As we close this morning, I would like to ask two basic questions.

1.)   Do we believe God did and is still doing a new thing?

2.)   Will we, have we, made room in our hearts for the Savior of the world?

 

I pray each and every one of us is able to answer these questions yes I do and yes I have. This is the message we need to pray for the world to receive as well. Nothing will ever truly change in our lives or in our world until we make room in our hearts for Jesus.

 Larry

 

 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Sermon and Announcements December 13, 2020


 

God Keeps His Promise

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25

 

The last two Sundays we have seen how God had set the stage for what was about to happen. God has a way of making sure His people know there is only one way the things God foretells and promises can happen. God also by virtue of the way he does things makes sure we know His hand of mercy, grace and love is at the center of what is happening. The verses we looked at this morning are part of the story most of us have read over and over again, year after year. With that being said, this is still such an incredible story to me. It never gets old, rereading it and reimagining all it means. We once again began this morning seeing that God was telling Isaiah to let the people know that help is on the way. This again is something being foretold 700 years before it would happen. Clearly Isaiah, as well as those he was speaking to, did not understand what it all meant or when it would happen. They were being told something that was humanly impossible. Yet this is what God planned to do. We fast forward to what is happening to this young woman, Mary, and the man who is planning on marrying her. What we read this morning skips ahead to Joseph’s reaction to what God’s plan is. We are not going to read at this time how Mary was told about what was about to happen. That is found in Luke 1:26-38.

 

As we see in what we read this morning, Joseph was skeptical about what was happening. Obviously, Mary had already told Joseph what Gabriel had told her, because Joseph had plans of ending the engagement and calling off the wedding. Obviously, Joseph found Mary’s story hard to believe. NEVER in history had anything like this happened before, so it is easy to understand why. Mary realized something special was happening because of the special visitor she had that delivered the message to her. That would probably get anyone’s attention if out of nowhere someone was in the room talking to us. We see Mary got almost immediate confirmation when she went to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Zechariah had been the first to be visited by Gabriel the angel. They were the first to know God was getting ready to fulfill what had been promised for 700 years. Now is the time. God is about to change things for all who by faith will believe. We do not know for sure when Mary broke the news to Joseph. It very well may have been when she got back from visiting Elizabeth and Zechariah.

 

As I try to think of how I would react, I find myself believing I would have reacted the same way Joseph did. For you women, how do you think you would have reacted if suddenly someone you had never seen before announced to you that you were going to have a baby and it was not going to be just any baby? Would you have not only told him it is impossible but also that you just cannot. Even if God can do this, I do not want the responsibility and besides that my fiancé will never believe me. Try to put yourself in Mary’s place as best you can. Then there is Joseph. From what we read, Joseph must have been so stunned when Mary told him the news, he did not know what to say to her. He apparently left her and tried to figure out what to say and do, but none of it included going through with the marriage to Mary.

While Joseph was wrestling with what to do, he also got a visit. Joseph’s visit was not the same as Zechariah or Mary where Gabriel appeared in the room with them. Joseph was talked to in a dream. All of us have probably had dreams that we remembered after we woke up. Sometimes I have had some dreams that seemed so real and when I woke up, I wondered how things would have turned out had I not woken up. Have you had dreams that seemed real at the time? Well, here is Joseph having a dream unlike any he had ever had. In this dream, he is being told about what Mary had just told him. This dream was so powerful, Joseph apparently could not avoid the message of the dream. This was not just a dream he could wake up from and go on about his life as if it never happened, as if it were not real, as if it was only a dream. Joseph, I cannot help but think, knew he had to marry Mary because God ordained the marriage. What an incredible God we have!

 

Joseph and Mary were just ordinary people. They were not people of high standing; they did not come from important families, even from a Jewish perspective. Yet they are who God chose to raise the Savior of the world. Throughout the Bible we see the truth that God keeps his promises. We also see God uses people of all types. The only requirement is that you are willing to allow God to use you. As unbelievable and unlikely as what happened to Joseph and Mary was, the one basic fact remains. A fact that has two parts. First, God keeps his promises. And secondly, God will use those who say, “Yes Lord I will”.

 

Aren’t you glad God kept his promises? The Savior of the world has come! We have been redeemed! God brought all those things about in the most incredible way. We celebrate Christmas because we know God is a God of miracles. He proves it over and over again. Will we receive the miracle God has made available to all who will receive? Next Sunday we will once again see how God officially put his plan into motion. The Christmas story never gets old to me. God reminds me how much he loves us and how nothing is impossible with Him.

Larry


Announcements

Every Tuesday at 9:30--BIBLE STUDY. All are invited to attend.

Worship all winter this year will be in the sanctuary. We will not move to the Fellowship Hall as has been our custom.

Sunday, January 10, 2021--COUNCIL MEETING right after worship

Wednesday, January 13--BOARD MEETING. New and old board members are asked to attend as this is the reorganization meeting.

Prayer Partners: If you have not put out or picked up your presents, please do as soon as you can. New prayer partners will be in your mailboxes on December 20.

Copies of The Upper Room and Daily Bread are available.

Please place your offering in the locked wooden box at the back of the sanctuary or mail to PO Box 45, Cerro Gordo.

The women's candy sale was very successful. Thanks to everyone who helped in any way!

Donation Box this month is for The Lord's Storehouse.

First Sundays: Food donations for the food banks.

Pastor Larry Traxler: 217-454-2362

Keep in Your Prayers

 

Bud Blickenstaff; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; 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 280,000+ 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, December 7, 2020

Sermon and Announcements December 6, 2020

 

Prepare the way, the wait is over!

Luke 1:13-17, 57-79

 

Last week we read what was predicted in Isaiah would be happening for God’s people. We saw God had a plan. A plan that would not come to pass for 700 years but now things are beginning to happen. The first thing to happen would involve God’s blessing on two people who had been faithful to the Lord but had not received the ultimate blessing that husbands and wives in good standing with God came to expect, a child. We read at long last God heard their prayers and was going to bless them with a son. He would be a special child with a special job given to him by God. By what is being told to his father, Zechariah, we can see how far God’s people had strayed. This special man would help many of God’s people return to the place they should be, including compelling the men to realize their role in the family God has placed them in. This special man of God would prepare the people for what the Lord was about to do. Zechariah was an important man among the Jewish people. He took seriously the role he played as a priest. If we would have read the 6th verse, we would have seen both Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, had lived upright lives in the sight of God. It is even recorded they had observed all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.

 

Can you imagine what a compliment that was for both Zechariah and Elizabeth? How many people would say that about you and me? So, when Gabriel told Zechariah what his son would do for God, I can only imagine the joy and pride both he and Elizabeth ultimately felt. For years they probably wondered why God had not blessed them with a child. Probably even some of their friends and family privately thought maybe they were not exactly the people they appeared to be, but that was all about to change.

 

For those of us who have been blessed to have children, one of the most incredible times of our lives is when that child we so anxiously have waited for comes into our lives. At this time in history, it was an even bigger deal to not have children than it is in our world today, so when Gabriel told Zechariah this news, what a weight had been lifted off Zechariah and Elizabeth’s shoulders, especially when Gabriel told Zechariah just how important a role, his son John, would play in God’s kingdom. He was so overjoyed by the news they are going to have a son. I encourage you to read Luke 1:5-25, especially, to get the full understanding of everything Zechariah was being told. Did Zechariah instantly embrace everything he was being told? How do you think any one of us would have reacted? As much as I am sure Zechariah wanted to believe what he was being told, he had doubts. In verse 18 we see Zechariah was questioning what he was being told. How could it be? Because of his doubting, he would be unable to speak until after his son was born, which is where we picked up the story in verse 57. In verses 58 through 66 we see their friends and family there to share in this special moment. When they saw that suddenly Zechariah could speak again, they even asked themselves what is this child going to be? They all knew something special was about to happen. Then Zechariah said, what is called Zechariah’s song in my Bible, verses 68-79. Zechariah knew his son was not the Messiah, the Savior of the world, but he was going to have the job of preparing God’s people for what was about to happen.

 

All of us who have been, once again, blessed with children have hopes and dreams for our kids, don’t we? Our parents probably did for us as well. Sometimes those hopes and dreams come true; sometimes it does not work out quite like we had hoped. Regardless, I want to believe we have never stopped praying for our children, praying for the best. Zechariah knew God had a special plan for his son. I cannot help but think he was convinced he would play an important role for his entire life. A life he would want to believe would last a long, long time. As most of you probably know, it did not work out quite that way for John. Did John accomplish everything God had called him to do? Absolutely!

 

As we draw closer to Christmas, we will see how God continued to do things that most would have never expected, that we would believe never could happen. We are reminded in the prayer we had when we lit the advent candles—Help us to see what is important, to be who you want us to be, and to do what you would have us to do. Throughout all of history that is what God is asking of his people. Zechariah and Elizabeth answered that call, so did John. What is God asking us to do this Christmas season? Will we answer the call? Not only at Christmas but all throughout the year.

Larry


Announcements


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

 

December 9 7:00 p.m. Executive Committee only 


Women: if you have a prayer partner, please have her Christmas gift on the decorated table in the church basement by this coming Sunday, December 13. After worship that day, you may pick up the gift that is for you. New prayer partners will be in your mailboxes on December 20. If you participated in 2020, Carol will assume you want to participate again, unless you let her know otherwise. If you have not participated before and would like to, let Carol know so you can be included.


Thank you to all who helped with the candy making fundraiser in any way!

 

Council Meeting is postponed until January.

 

Copies of The Upper Room and Daily Bread are available.

 

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

 

Remember to check your mailboxes.

 

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: 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

 

Bud Blickenstaff; Carol Seidenstricker; 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 280,000+ 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 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