GO TO THE PEOPLE!
The continuing growth of the church and its spread throughout the region now shifts to the direction of Paul and Barnabas. Although we did not read that verse, Saul begins to be called Paul starting in verse 9 of chapter 13. These two men are the first to be sent out with a specific mission to take the message to the Gentiles. While Gentiles heard and received the message of Christ in earlier chapters, we read in Acts 13 today that the message is now going to them with real purpose. These two men give such an incredible sermon to those who are listening. As I read it this morning, I can still feel the power of this particular message all these years later. Once the Gentiles heard this message and knew they were now included with no strings attached, it is hard to imagine how they felt. For centuries they had been treated by the Jews as outcasts unworthy of God’s message. Now it is just as available to them as to anyone else. God’s message of salvation and redemption is really for us, they might have been saying to one another. How incredible it had to make them feel.
In the world we live in today we face many obstacles. Sadly, belief in God is under attack from many different directions. Unlike the Gentiles that were not worthy or God’s message for so long, we have different challenges in our world today. They were hungry for the opportunity to be included in God’s plan of salvation. However, more and more people in this nation and around the world do not believe there is a God and if there is one, they believe he doesn’t really care. These are the things that challenge those of us who not only believe but more precisely know there is a God. So, the challenge for us is how do we get the message of salvation and redemption to make sense to a world that needs this message more than ever? We must find a way to have the passion and purpose Paul and Barnabas showed to those they spoke to.
In verse 44, we read how after the message Paul and Barnabas had delivered the previous Sunday, the WHOLE city came out to hear them. We also read, though, not quite everyone was excited about the message. The Jewish leaders were badmouthing Paul and Barnabas every way they could, but we see it did not stop them. They even pointed out that they first took the message to the Jews but when YOU rejected it, they went to the Gentiles. What exciting and challenging times they lived in. For multiple reasons, we live in equally challenging and yes, in many ways, exciting times as well.
In the verses we read for our call to worship in Acts 13:1-3, we see Paul and Barnabas began this journey with prayer and fasting. I have heard more and more pastors recently challenging their congregations to pray and fast for this nation and the world. In our world today, is this how God wants his church to ignite the fire that may change our town, our county, our state, our nation, our world? Are we serious about seeing those in Cerro Gordo and surrounding areas come to a better, stronger relationship with God that can change hearts and minds? What are you and I willing to do to be used by God to see this happen? When I read about Paul and Barnabas and how powerful their message was and how it was received, I wonder, can that happen right here in our community and our nation today? This is what is before us, to find ways for God to use us in ways maybe we haven’t done before. The way we begin is to continue to show love to one another as we read in John 13:35. Not only those in the church but share that love everywhere we can. It can be difficult, not everyone is ready to receive God’s love through us. We must keep hanging in there and be persistent, just like the widow we talked about last week. We may be called to be more focused personally. God may want us to do what Paul and Barnabas did—not only pray but also fast. The prayer and fasting must be targeted, though, with a purpose. We may look at that a little more next week.
God wants us to be honest and real, recognizing our shortcomings as well as our strengths but as important as anything else is a willingness to say to God, “Here I am, use me.” I know many of you have done many things for this church and in the community for years and for that I say, “Thank you.” In whatever ways we can, though, God still needs us. Our message title today is “Go to the people.” God still needs some good men and women to make themselves available. May God show each one of us what we can do to help change our world, starting right here. God does not want you to do more than you can do, but he wants us to do everything we are ready and able to do.
August: We will worship in the sanctuary at 10:00 for those who feel comfortable coming. Physical distancing must be maintained and the wearing of face masks, please. We will also continue the facebook live service for those who wish to stay home. Adult Sunday School is at 9:00.
Every Tuesday: Bible Study 9:30
August 12, 7:00 p.m.: Executive Committee
Please do not bring any more donations for Kentucky Mountain Mission. This fall's trip is cancelled and there is no room for any more donations. We will let you know when we can start collecting again.
NO Women’s Fellowship meeting in August. We were going to collect supplies for health kits, but in view of our circumstances right now, the co-presidents decided it would be more feasible to collect monetary donations from our women/congregation toward making them. We will send these donations to Church World Service which can then purchase the supplies for the kits themselves. The kits are always made on behalf of CWS and shipped out from our own Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, MD. $15 will purchase a kit; please give your donation to Kathy Gentry, Carol Kussart, or Nancy Fansler by the end of August. If you are writing a check, make it out to Women’s Fellowship.
Offerings are collected in the back of the sanctuary. We are thankful to all who are faithful in bringing them or mailing them. (PO Box 45)
Please remember to lock the doors when you are the last one to leave the church. We have found unlocked doors on occasion in the past month or so.
If you have copier issues, please let Carol know.
Masks are still available at the back of the sanctuary if you need one. Remember that the cloth masks are washable.
Upper Room and Daily Bread: issues available in the back of the sanctuary
First Sunday of the month: Food Banks
Food needs: boxes of cereal, boxes of prepared foods, such as soups, potatoes, rice, mac & cheese, peanut butter, jelly. NOTE: The Lord’s Storehouse can particularly use peanut butter and jelly. They are hard to come by for them and jelly is expensive for them to purchase.
Donation Box July and August: AC bills
Larry Traxler’s phone number: 217-454-2362
Our district disaster services coordinator, Loren Habegger, has recently provided the following notice for the next disaster ministries service opportunity:
Our district is scheduled to provide 8-10 volunteers for a new rebuild project near Dayton, Ohio, the week of November 29 through December 5, 2020. We anticipate that this location closer to the District will encourage potential volunteers that were somewhat reluctant to make a trip to previous more distant project sites such as in North Carolina. The volunteer assignment will again be shared with South/Central Indiana.
If you, or members or friends in your congregation think serving on the Ohio project this winter is a possibility, please contact me as soon as possible. If you have questions/concerns regarding volunteering, BDM leadership is wanting to help in any way they can and has taken many steps to ensure that the health & safety of volunteers is a priority during the pandemic. -Loren Habegger
Keep in Your Prayers
Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Mike Gentry; 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; Jennifer Like; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 156,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; the unemployed; the family of Ali Bryant; teachers, staff, and students as school starts up again
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers