Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Easter, April 4

 

EASTER SUNDAY

 

Behold Those Living in Darkness

Have Seen a Great Light!

Matthew 27:11-54, 62-66; Matthew 28:1-10

 

I apologize for sharing so many verses this morning but so much happened in such a short space of time we did not even scratch the surface of everything happening the last couple of days before Jesus’ crucifixion.  In verses 11-26, we see Jesus is before Pilate. Pilate is a governor of the region that includes Jerusalem. He has the authority to make certain decisions on his own. In this case, there was a way he could have released Jesus. However, the chief priests and elders convinced the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas, a known killer, instead of Jesus. All the while Pilate’s wife warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus; seemingly, the Lord had made Pilate’s wife miserable so she told him to avoid dealing with Jesus any way he could. Ultimately, Pilate asked for a basin of water and in front of everyone symbolically washed his hands of any responsibility for what would happen to Jesus. Tragically, the people there said Jesus’ blood would be on them and their children. Can you imagine being willing to say to God, “We accept responsibility for Jesus’ death”? That is what the people did. What a sad example of allowing yourself to be deceived by Satan. This is an even worse example than Adam and Eve eating the fruit they should not have eaten.

 

After all of that, Pilate had Jesus flogged and then turned over to be crucified. We then saw how some of Pilate’s soldiers threatened Jesus. In verses 27-31, we see the horrific way the soldiers treated Jesus. They first stripped him and put a red robe on him, not a purple robe that most often symbolizes royalty. Then they made a crown of thorns and jammed it on Jesus’ head causing great pain and bleeding to occur. Then they put a staff in his hand and mockingly knelt down as if to worship a king, saying “Hail, King of Jews!” The soldiers then took the staff from Jesus and started to hit him on the head over and over again, driving the thorns deeper and deeper into his head. When they were done with their fun, they put his clothes back on him and led him out to be crucified.

 

Now we come to the crucifixion. In verses 32-44, it tells what happened on the way to Golgotha where Jesus is to be crucified, as well as what happened when Jesus was officially hanging on the cross. The gospels have slightly different details about these events, but the results are the same. First, Jesus has been so weakened by the beatings and abuse he has become too weak to carry his cross all the way to where he is to be crucified, so they have a man by the name of Simon carry the cross the final distance.

 

Once hanging on the cross, Jesus was offered a mixture that was to reduce the pain of the crucifixion but Jesus refused it. The soldiers then divided the only possession Jesus had, his clothes. Next, they mockingly hung a sign over his head that said, “The King of the Jews.” Those who had followed to watch the show then hurled insults at Jesus telling him to save himself as he had he claimed to have saved others. They continued by saying, “Let God rescue him if he wants him to live.”

 

Next, we read when Jesus died on the cross. Verses 45-54 tells of how things happened as Jesus died on the cross. We are told from the 6th hour, which is noon, until the 9th hour, which is of course 3 in the afternoon, there was darkness over the land. I am sure this just was not a cloudy sky. It was as if it were nighttime immediately before Jesus died on the cross.

 

Next, we see Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Those who were watching this all unfold did not know what Jesus was saying or what it meant. They once again offered Jesus a drink on a sponge. Soon after Jesus cried out one more time; the scripture says he then gave up his spirit. Jesus has died. Immediately, the curtain that separates the average Jew from the most holy place in the temple is torn by the hand of God from the top to the bottom. Even some of those who had lived godly lives had their graves opened and came back to life, giving a preview of what would happen in just a few days. The amazing thing is the Roman guards who had been with Jesus throughout all of this realized as they saw everything that had happened that Jesus truly was the Son of God.

 

Moving on we read in verses 62-66 what happened next. The chief priests knew what Jesus had said earlier, that he would raise from the dead. The chief priests did not believe this could happen but were afraid the disciples would steal his body to make it look like Jesus had come back to life, so the Roman leadership said they would have the guards make the tomb secure.

 

What an incredible 24 hours we have looked at! I left out large major portions of what happened, and yet, I hope you got a pretty clear picture of what Jesus went through. This happened on Friday. Now a couple days have passed and it is Sunday. We read in the first 10 verses of the 28th chapter of Matthew. We see early Sunday morning the two Marys were compelled by their love and sense of loss to go to Jesus’ tomb. When they got there, they were amazed to find the stone that covered the front of the tomb had been rolled away. The guards saw the angel who had rolled the stone away, and they were so afraid they passed out as if dead. The women were greeted by the angel who told them, “Jesus is not here. He has risen from the dead.” They were told, “Jesus is going on ahead to Galilee. There you will see him.”

 

In spite of everything they had heard Jesus say, I do not believe they thought they would ever see Jesus again. Yet their lives and the lives of everyone who will believe were changed forever. In shock, yet filled with joy, they headed out to tell the disciples what they saw and what they had been told. Death could not hold Jesus. The chief priests did not understand that when they mockingly said to let God save Jesus, that is exactly what he would do. Not, however, until Jesus accomplished what he came to earth to do. Your sins and mine were nailed to that cross. Our sins died on that cross, never to be remembered again. That is why believers around the world continue to celebrate Easter. When out of the blue Jesus was there before them, they fell down at Jesus’ feet, probably from both shock and to worship Jesus who is alive. Jesus then calms them and says, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there I will see them.”

 

This morning, Easter Sunday, we celebrate what happened 2000 years ago. Not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate the empty tomb. The Friday Jesus was crucified was the darkest day in history, but Sunday came bringing the promise of abundant life while we live on this earth and an even more abundant life when we are untied with Jesus for eternity.

 

HALLELUJAH CHRIST IS RISEN!


Announcements


Sundays: 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.

Bible Study every Tuesday 9:30

The adult Sunday School class will not be meeting until further notice.

April 14 7:00 Executive Committee

If you would like to volunteer to mow the church yard this year, please sign up on the sheet on the bulletin or call Stacie Warren.

Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel

 First Sundays: food donations for food banks

Annual Conference, June 30 – July 4, is going to be virtual. There will be business sessions, worship services, and insight sessions. Pastor Larry will be our delegate.

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

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

Keep in Your Prayers

Terry Marvin; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carol & Mike Seidenstricker; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl & Wilma Cable; Sherry Wright; Brittany Wright; Sonna Hall; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Arnold & Marlene Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; 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 545,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; all who are ill with the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; our nation’s government; the Nigerian church; victims of violence

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

March 28 Sermon

 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

Matthew 21:1-17,28-32

Matthew 22:15-22

 

While things have been pointing to this time in what we have read the last three weeks now, we are truly seeing things moving quickly now. While I shared quite a bit from scripture this morning, we did not even remotely address all the things that are happening in Jesus’ and the disciple’s lives.

 

Jesus has been teaching his disciples as well as many others that had been following the way God wants his people to live, as well as trying to let them know that things are about to change. Jesus was especially concerned about his disciples. He knew there would be the calm before the storm, and he wanted to make sure the disciples did not get confused by the different things that were about to happen.

 

Let us look at what we first read this morning which is entitled “The Triumphal Entry” in my Bible. Jesus sends two disciples ahead to a small town they are approaching, telling them that they will find two donkeys. Jesus tells them if anyone asks what they are doing, tell them that the Lord needs them to bring the donkeys to him. Jesus did this for two reasons: 1) To fulfill prophesy from what was spoken in Zachariah 9:9; 2) Also to build the faith of his disciples.

 

As Jesus got closer to Jerusalem the crowds grew and they placed palm branches, as well as their coats, on the road as Jesus drew nearer. Kind of a “red carpet” welcome for Jesus. The crowd started to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” We read when Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole city was stirred and was asking, “Who is this?” to which some in the crowd answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Once Jesus was in Jerusalem he went to the temple. We do not know if it was the same day he arrived or a little later. We do know Jesus was not happy with what he found when he got to the temple. Jesus turned over the tables of those buying and selling at the temple. Jesus made it clear why he did this. Jesus once again referred to scripture from both Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. When he said, “It is written my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” While Jesus gave an example of God’s holy anger, Jesus also showed compassion on those in need, healing the blind and the lame while he was still at the temple. While Jesus did all this, children that were also at the temple started shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” This made the chief priests and teachers at the temple mad. Jesus once again quoted scripture to those who questioned what was going on. In Psalm 8:2 it talks of from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise. Jesus’ ability to quote scripture whenever he needed to not only encouraged his disciples but also caused anyone who dare question him to think twice about it.

 

We then skip ahead in Chapter 21 to what is entitled “The Parable of the Two Sons.” In verses 28-32, we see Jesus continuing to teach. In this parable Jesus gives an interesting story of two sons. We see a dad who tells his first son to go work in the vineyard. He immediately tells his dad no but then goes to work in the vineyard after all. The dad then goes to the second son, probably disappointed by what the first son had said. The second son immediately says, “Yes I will go,” but as it turns out, he never does. Jesus then asked the disciples as well as others there, “Who did what their father wanted?” They all agreed it was the first son. To which Jesus pointed out how things will work in God’s kingdom. Jesus is apparently talking to some of the chief priests and teachers that continued to follow him when he said tax collectors and prostitutes will enter God’s kingdom ahead of you. Jesus said John the Baptist came to show you the way to righteousness but you did not believe. That is why he said those who are looked down on by society when they believe will be in God’s kingdom ahead of those who one would think should make it in easy.

 

We read one passage of scripture from Matthew 22 and the heading is entitled, “Paying Taxes to Caesar.” At this time the Pharisees as well as others associated with the Jewish temple are following Jesus everywhere he goes. They are not doing this because they believe his message. They have been deceived by Satan and do not believe Jesus is anything at all. However, they know many people believe Jesus is a special man of God, so their goal was to trap Jesus in a lie or trick him into saying something most Jews would never believe. In these verses we see the Pharisees are trying to trick Jesus into saying the Jews should either have loyalty to the Roman Empire, which most all the Jews hate, or they are trying to get him in trouble with the Roman government by saying Jewish people should not pay taxes or give any concern about Roman laws. By encouraging the second idea, Jesus would probably have been arrested by the Roman government. The wisdom of God gave Jesus a way of answering the question that was truly appropriate and honest. Showing a degree of respect for the Roman Empire and also giving the proper honor to God we are called to have. The question for Jesus was should the Jews pays taxes to Caesar. Jesus knew they were trying to trap him, in fact he called them out on it. He then asked for a coin that is commonly used. He asked the Pharisees a very simple question. “Whose picture and whose signature is on the coin?” They answered, “Caesar.” To which Jesus responded, “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s.” Even the Pharisees were amazed by Jesus’ answer and for the time being left Jesus alone.

 

In a period of five days, lots is going on. We should have begun looking at the last few weeks of Jesus’ ministry several weeks earlier than we did, because we simply do not have the time to cover everything Jesus is teaching and everything he is having to deal with.

 

Let’s do a quick review of what we read today. Jesus enters Jerusalem to what seems like a hero’s welcome. All the while Jesus is teaching his disciples and trying to build their faith. Next, we see Jesus entering God’s house and not liking what he sees going on. Jesus was teaching the disciples, as well as us today, that there is a time and place for everything. God’s house deserves honor and respect. If you do not show proper honor and respect for God and his house of worship, there WILL be a price to pay. Next, we read about two sons and how they did or did not show respect for their father. Jesus reminds us all that, for one thing, it is not what you say that is as important as what you do. There are those who seem to say all the right things, even give the appearance of doing what God would want, but are really only putting on a show. In a way, Jesus is saying something similar to what we read the last two weeks--in God’s kingdom in some cases the first will be last and the last will be first. The last thing we read was about paying taxes to Caesar. While that is what the question was, that is not what Jesus was really concerned about. Jesus was basically saying we all need to have our priorities in the right place, in the right order. Jesus was saying as a citizen you have an obligation to contribute to the nation you live in. God has no problem with that. However, God’s concern is about what we really believe is important in life. While even in Jesus’ day God’s people were expected to financially support the church, God is less concerned about financial support for the church than he is about where the allegiance of our heart and soul is. Jesus knows it is truly the Beginning of the End of his ministry here on earth. Jesus is most concerned about where the heart of his disciples and those who have been following him is at. That is what Jesus is still concerned about today. Have we allowed the distractions of this world to weaken our faith? There are more things competing for our allegiance than ever before. Jesus is reaching out to you and me reminding us he is the only way to peace and salvation.

 

Next Sunday is Easter. Will we allow Jesus Christ to renew our faith, to reenergize our passion to serve the living God? As Jesus was trying to help his disciples to stand strong, that same message Jesus is using to encourage his church today. God, please help us to stand strong for you and help us to draw those who do not know you to the cross.

 

Monday, March 22, 2021

March 21 Sermon and Announcements

  

IT IS ALMOST TIME!

Matthew 20:17-34

 

The first 16 verses of Matthew 20, which we did not read, contain the parable of the workers in the vineyard. This parable can teach us of more than one application. We are not going to go into this parable today. We will leave it for another time, but I will point out Jesus is continuing the theme of the first being last and the last being first. Jesus closed out what we read in the 19th chapter of Matthew with that statement and he repeats it again in the 16th verse of Matthew 20. Let us move on to what Jesus is trying to prepare the disciples for in verses 17-19. Jesus is getting really specific with describing what is about to happen to himself. Whether the disciples really understood Jesus was telling them real details of how he would die and how he would be treated we do not know. Jesus was being this detailed so they would ultimately have their faith strengthened.

 

Moving ahead in the 20th chapter, we see what my Bible entitles “A Mother’s Request.” Jesus’ disciples, James and John, were brothers. They were called the “sons of thunder.” Their mother made a bold request. The request she made when they first became disciples was that when Jesus came into his kingdom that one son would sit on his right and the other son would sit on his left. The interesting thing about this request is that whether the disciples understood fully who Jesus was and what he would be doing in the future. James and John’s mother seemed to understand what Jesus would ultimately be doing. Going back to the request, Jesus is reminding their mom and James and John as well that you really do not know what you are asking. Things are going to get bad really soon and there is no way any of you realize what it will be like. James and John quickly spoke up. “We can do whatever it takes, Jesus!” (This is my paraphrased version.) Whether James and John realized it or not, Jesus did warn them, you will pay a heavy price for following me. Jesus ultimately told James, John and their mother whoever sits on the left or right of me is not going to be my decision. It will be God the Father’s decision. While all of this is going on, the other 10 disciples hear about it. They are not happy with James and John or their mother. They apparently made sure Jesus knew they did not think what had happened was right. Jesus then proceeded to tell them what anyone that wants to be part of his kingdom should do. Jesus pointed out that the Gentile rulers make sure everyone knows who is in charge and that they must show proper respect and pay homage to the leaders. Jesus then went on to say that in God’s kingdom those who want to be great must be willing to be a servant. Jesus also reminded the disciples that the Son of Man did not come to the world to be served but came into the world to serve others. Jesus once again pointed out he was going to give his life to pay for not only the disciples sins but also the sins of everyone past, present and future who believes. Jesus knows it is almost time and he is using every teaching moment he can to not only help them understand what is about to happen but also what their role would be in the not-so-distant future.

 

In the 20th chapter of Matthew, there is one more teaching moment that occurs. Beginning with verse 29, two blind men were sitting along the road Jesus was traveling on. When they heard the commotion, they realized Jesus, whom they had heard about, was passing by. They cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.” The crowd was mad these men were bothering Jesus. They probably were wanting to get something from Jesus themselves. Jesus stopped in front of the men and asked a very direct question. “What do you want me to do for you?” Two men quickly responded, “We want to be able to see.” We read Jesus had compassion on them, touched their eyes and immediately they had their sight. Once this happened, these men followed Jesus.

 

What can we learn from all these things that we read about in Chapter 20? First of all, the verses we did not read of the parable of the workers in the vineyard, one of the things Jesus is telling whoever will listen is that while it is in your best interests to receive God’s mercy and love as early in life as possible, the fact is whether you receive Jesus Christ as Savior early in life or whether it happens to be later in life, all who accept God’s gift of forgiveness will be welcomed in God’s kingdom. Jesus also reminds us all of how much God loves us by taking the punishment for us. We should also realize that if we are followers of Jesus Christ, we will be expected to make sacrifices and we should not complain when we are asked to sacrifice. The last thing we are reminded of is God is never too busy to listen to what is going on in our lives. God is willing to provide us with what we need when we need it. God may not always give us what we want, but he will give us what we need. God also wants us to be specific with our requests. It is almost the time that Jesus will accomplish what he came to this earth to do. What God is asking us to do is put as many of Jesus’ teachings into practice as we can. We will be better for it, our church will be better for it, and our community will be better for it. All the things we have been reading simply reminds us how much God loves us.

Larry


Announcements:

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

 

One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) special offering will be collected on March 28. We will have envelopes at the back of the sanctuary for you to use. Denominations across the country support OGHS.

 

March 28 Palm Sunday

April 4 Easter 7:00 Sonrise Service at Veteran’s Park

            10:00 Worship here with bread and cup communion

 

April 14 7:00 Executive Committee

 Mowing volunteer sign up sheet is on the bulletin board.

Submissions for April newsletter due March 30 to Carol.

 

Care packages: bring snack items by the end of March please. We know of 6: Madison Warren, Michelle Wright, Jordan Wright, Sadie Sawyer; Robert Cripe; Shawn Cain (sugar free goodies for him)

Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Oren Wright; Terry Marvin; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 540,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of natural disasters; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

Families of Richard Chenoweth and Harold Phelps

 

                       

Our Mission Statement:

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


Monday, March 15, 2021

March 14 Sermon and Announcements


 

IT IS GETTING CLOSER!

Matthew 10:1-2, 16-30

 

What we read this morning is a direct continuation of what we looked at last Sunday. In the first two verses we are told Jesus had been teaching in Galilee and now has gone to the region of Judea. We also see not only were the disciples following him and learning everything they could from Jesus but we also see that a large crowd is following him as well. Some may be following because of what Jesus is teaching, but we see in the second verse there may be another reason. When they got on the other side of the Jordan, Jesus healed those who had problems as well. What would we do if we knew there was a man in the area that without exception could heal your illness every time? We would probably seek him out if we had a health or emotional problem, wouldn’t we?

 

As the time was getting closer to Jesus’ appointment with destiny. Jesus was continuing to not only be with the disciples but also with anyone who sought him out. As we see in the 16th verse, a man asked Jesus the question, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus asked the man why he used the word “good” in his question. Jesus then proceeded to tell him there is only one who is good. Jesus’ response to the question was that if you want eternal life you need to obey the commandments. The man then asks Jesus a strange question, “Which ones?” To which Jesus stated 7 of the 10 commandments. The man confidently answered, “All of these I have kept, so what do I lack?” To which Jesus gave his answer. He said, “If you want to be perfect, sell all that you have, give it to the poor and follow me.” If you notice, Jesus never questioned the young man’s heart about the commandments. He simply said “If you want to be perfect, this is what you have to do.” The young man left Jesus, disillusioned, because he had great wealth. The disciples were stunned by everything that had happened to the point of asking Jesus who can be saved. Obviously, they were impressed with the young man. Jesus said “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Peter then boldly said, “We have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?” Jesus’ answer gave a hint of things to come when he said, “At the renewal of all things, when the son of man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on the twelve thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.” He goes on to say everyone who has sacrificed for him and for God’s kingdom will receive 100 times as much as they have given up. Jesus closes out the 19th chapter by saying, “Many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” In these verses we read this morning, what is Jesus saying to his disciples, to those who had been following wherever he went, and to us today?  On the one hand, Jesus is pointing out the futility of trying to earn your own salvation. The young man who asked Jesus the question of what it takes had apparently lived a very faithful life for God. Yet he wanted to be certain of this salvation through his own efforts. Jesus knew in a very short time from that moment, he was going to make a way for all of us to get right with God. At the same time Jesus assured the disciples that your love and commitment have not gone unnoticed. Something special will be reserved for us at the time of judgment. Jesus also went on to say those who have given up much will also reap a great reward.

 

I feel so blessed by God to have the opportunity to be a Christian in America. Much of the sacrifice and persecution that happens to Christians in other parts of the world have not really reached us. Yet there can be a price to pay, even in America, for the cause of Christ. How far have you and I been willing to go in our faith for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? As Jesus continues to teach his disciples, he also reminds them to be careful about judging people. Things are not always what they seem. When man tries to decide who is worthy and who is not, we have our own prejudices and opinions that can get in the way, but Jesus is pointing out God looks at the heart. God sees and understands things in ways we simply cannot. That is why his answer to the disciples about who is worthy to be saved, stated with man it would be impossible but with God all things are possible.

 

Aren’t we so thankful God can see things as they really are, not how some may think they are? Jesus is wanting the disciples to realize no one can earn their salvation through good works as nice as that might be. Jesus also wants the disciples and the church to realize with God all things are possible. Jesus also wanted all of us to know some who may appear to be first in God’s kingdom may actually be towards the back of the pack. And those we may think are going to be at the back of the line will actually be at the front. Jesus wants us to know, do not worry about where you fit in, just do your best during your lifetime and God will take care of the rest. Jesus knows it is getting closer and the hard work that we cannot do for ourselves is about to be done. To God Be All the Glory, Honor and Praise!

Larry


Announcements:

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

 

March 16-20 District “Potluck” via Zoom. See details on bulletin board--worship and workshops. Carol will send you the links if you are interested in attending any or all of the sessions.

 

One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) special offering will be collected on March 28. We will envelopes at the back of the sanctuary for you to use. Denominations across the country support OGHS. You may have received a brochure in the mail.

 

Copies of the March newsletter are in the back.

 

Care packages: bring snack items by the end of March please. We know of these 6: Madison Warren, Michelle Wright, Jordan Wright, Sadie Sawyer, Shawn Cain, Robert Cripe


To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Terry Marvin; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 530,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of natural disasters; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

  Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

                    

Our Mission Statement:

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


Monday, March 8, 2021

March 7 Sermon and Announcements

 

March 7, 2021

 

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS!

Matthew 18:1-9

 

We are four weeks from Easter. The day that marks the most important event of human history. The next three Sundays we will look at some of the things that happened in the life of Jesus and his disciples leading up to what we celebrate as Easter. At this point Jesus knows the clock is ticking and the countdown is truly underway. Jesus is trying his hardest to prepare the disciples for what is about to happen. There is still much he wants to teach his disciples. The verses we read this morning show the disciples are also wanting to learn everything they can from Jesus. They are not asking because they know the time is short. They are asking questions because they know there has never been anyone like Jesus before and they want to learn what he is about as well as get a better understanding of who he is.

 

In the first verse of Chapter 18 they ask a very simple question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” They probably were not ready for the way Jesus would answer their question. Jesus called a little child over and said to the disciples, “unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. The disciples wanted to know who the greatest in heaven is and Jesus was telling them before you think about that you better know what it takes to get to heaven. Are you sure you will make it to heaven? Then Jesus goes on to say what will happen if anyone causes one of his children to sin. Jesus was not just talking about this child. He was talking about all of God’s creation because we have all been created to be God’s children. Whether you are as young as Presley Born or as old as me, God cares about all of us and no one had better mess with God’s kids.

 

In the 7th verse, Jesus says, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause men to sin!” Jesus acknowledges that people will lead people astray but woe to the man that causes people to sin. In the Bible when the word is written “woe” it is not a good thing to those caught in that situation. Jesus closes out the verses we read with some unique encouragements. Jesus said if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. Jesus goes on to say that you will be better off lame or blind in heaven than “whole going to hell.”

 

In the remaining verses of Chapter 18 Jesus uses illustrations to tell how God’s people should deal with one another. We are not going to read them, but I will give you the headings of three different things Jesus was teaching his disciples.

 

First the parable of the lost sheep—An example of God’s love for you and me in such a powerful, yet simple story. Next is entitled “A brother who sins against you.” Jesus is showing how Christians should resolve disagreements that arise between believers. Jesus goes on to explain that when brothers and sisters agree in the Lord the power of God is released in that place. He also says when two come together and agree in prayer God listens and can do great things. Jesus goes on to say, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with you.”

The final thing Jesus is sharing with his disciples in the 18th chapter is the parable of the unmerciful servant. In this parable Jesus is sharing about forgiveness, mercy and hypocrisy. It talks about two different servants that owed money. The first asks for mercy in regard to his debt and asks the master for more time to pay. Not only is he given more time but the fact is the master told him he did not have to pay him back. Just so you know, this man owed a lot of money to the man that forgave the debt. As we continue on, the man who just had his debt forgiven ran into a man that owed him a little bit of money. This man also asked for more time. Not only was he not given more time, he was thrown in prison for not paying. When the first master who forgave the large amount heard what this man had done, he ordered this man tortured by the jailer. Jesus closed out the 18th chapter with these words, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from you heart.”

 

Jesus knows the countdown has begun. He wants to teach his disciples as many of God the Father’s principles as he can in the time he has left. As I thought about all the things Jesus was sharing with his disciples, I thought about the role you and I have in God’s plan today. For those of you who are moms and dads, we are given a period of time to help the children we have been blest with be ready to go out on their own. Those influences are not limited just to moms and dads. Aunts and uncles can play important roles in helping the next generation be ready for what lies ahead as well. Jesus and his disciples had, to this point, experienced both good times and difficult times. Jesus knew the disciples were soon going to be challenged in ways they have never experienced before. We may come back at a later time and go over these teaching moments Jesus had with his disciples again.

 

Just as parents want to do as much as they can to help their children be ready to go out on their own, Jesus wanted his disciples to be ready for the time he would no longer be with them in person. Jesus was not candy coating what God wants from his people. The time for honest and sometimes blunt teaching was at hand. Jesus knew if the disciples were to continue to share the message Jesus had given them, they would need to have the right mix of blunt, honest truth about who God is and what he expects and yet at the same time an understanding of God’s patience, love and mercy. All these years later it is yours and my turn to keep the message alive. A message of faith, hope and love. That does not ignore God’s call for justice and warning of future judgment. This is why we gather together. This is why the message of Easter and what it means to all who will believe is just as important today as it was 2000 years ago. Over the next couple of weeks, we will continue to see what Jesus is saying to the disciples and what Jesus wants the church of 2021 to know as well.

 

May God reveal to us even more this Easter season what he wants us to know. Not only now but how we can be more victorious in our personal life and be more effective as God’s church right here in Cerro Gordo.

Larry


Announcements:

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

 

March10 Full board meeting—6:15 Executive Committee, 7:00 Commissions, 7:30 Board meeting

 

March 16-20 District “Potluck” via Zoom. See details on bulletin board--worship and workshops. Carol will send you the links if you are interested in attending any or all of the sessions.

 

Care packages for college students et al: bring snack items by the end of March please. We know of 4: Madison Warren, Michelle Wright, Jordan Wright, Sadie Sawyer

 

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.

 

Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362


To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 520,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of natural disasters; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government

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, February 22, 2021

February 21 Sermon and Announcements

 

 

WHAT GUIDES OUR LIVES?

Romans 2:12-16

 

A couple weeks ago we read in Romans 2:10 and 11 that while the Jewish people hold a special place with God, we who are Gentiles also have access to everything the Jewish people have available to them at this time. God gave the law to Moses around 4,000 years ago and that law has been the guiding force to the Jewish people ever since. The Jews wanted God to tell them what they could and could not do. They wanted to know what things would save them from punishment. The verses we read today explain how God views the law and what its value is. We see that all who sin, whether they understand the law or not or whether they even know what the law is will be judged by God. We see also in these verses that being a Jewish person or being a Gentile does not really matter to God. What does matter is how you obey the law. For the Gentiles, who at this time were not allowed to have access to the law of Moses, we see God writes his law on the hearts of those who are not of the Jewish faith. It is the attitude of the heart that God is looking at.

 

I have begun to read the book, Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis. This book was written in 1952. Many of you know who C.S. Lewis is. He wrote not only truly Christian-based books but also a variety of other books, including a series that not too long ago was made into a movie or series of movies called The Chronicles of Narnia. As I was reading the verses we are looking at today, I was struck by what C.S. Lewis said early on in the book, Mere Christianity. From his own observations, he is saying exactly what Paul is telling both Jews and Gentiles in Rome. God’s laws are obvious to virtually everyone, whether you have been exposed to the Jewish faith or Christianity or not. I would like to share just a little from his book. He says, “This law was called the Law of Nature because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and it did not need to be taught. They did not mean, of course, that you might not find an odd individual here and there who did not know it, just as you find a few people who are color blind or have no ear for a tune. But taking the race as a whole, they thought that the human idea of decent behavior was obvious to everyone. And I believe they are right.” C.S. Lewis continues to make the case for a God-inspired natural law everyone understands.

 

Before I share these final thoughts from C.S. Lewis, I am not sure everyone realizes he started his adult life as an atheist, but he could not ignore God’s hand on not only his life, but in the world he lived in. Continuing on he says, “I know that some people say the ideas of a Law of Nature or decent behavior known to all men is unsound, because different civilizations and different ages have had quite different moralities. But this is not true. There have been differences between moralities but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference. If anyone will take the trouble to compare the moral teaching of say, the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks and Romans, what will really strike him will be how very like they are to each other and to our own.” C.S. Lewis was a man who wanted to understand why things happen as they do and why people do what they do. Nearly 2,000 years after God inspired Paul to write this to the church in Rome, C.S. Lewis observed the exact same thing. God sees what we do whether we have some formal law or not. God has written his law on every person’s heart. By what we read this morning, some might say, “See I do not need to go to church. I do not even need the Bible. God will let me know what I need to know when I need to know it.”

 

When we continue on in Romans, we will see that is not what Paul was saying and that is not what God wants us to do. The reality is the less we know about God’s word, the more likely Satan is to come in and trick us and deceive us. Paul was talking about people who, at that time, had not opportunity to know much of anything about God. What Paul was saying first of all, to the Jewish Christians, is do not look down on the Gentiles. We were given the law and did not do a very good job of following it. God wrote his law on the Gentiles hearts and if they observed that natural law, they would be in a better place with God than us. This again is Paul talking to the Jewish Christians.

 

The question for you and me today is what do we believe and what is it that guides our lives? These verses we read today shows us God loves all of his creation, and he has made a way for each of us, no matter what our life has been like. As we continue in Romans, we will see more and more God’s love, his patience, and his grace for us. Paul closed out these verses that we read by saying this. “God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ as my gospel declares.” Jesus Christ is the one who paves the way for us. God wants us to be ready to face every challenge that comes our way. God has given us his holy word so we can stand against Satan’s lies. What guides our lives? I pray it is a relationship with Jesus Christ and the law that is not only written on our hearts, but also in the Bible that give us all the encouragement and direction we will ever need as revealed by the Holy Spirit.


Announcements

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

 

February 27 7:00 p.m. Denomination-wide worship via Zoom

February 28 10:00 Tom West will be our guest speaker.

 2:30 Moderator’s Q&A via Zoom. Talk to Carol for the links.

 

Lenten Devotionals are available in the back of the sanctuary.

 

New directories are in your mailbox.

Copies of the February newsletter are in the back. Submissions for March newsletter are due March 3.

 

March10 Full board meeting

 

March 16-20 District Potluck via Zoom. See details on bulletin board. Carol will send you the links if you are interested in attending any or all of the sessions.

 

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.

 

Donation Box: Utilities

 

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362


To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 496,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of natural disasters; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government

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.