Monday, May 16, 2022

May 15 Sermon and Announcements

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

May 15, 2022

So What Do You Think?

Colossians 2:6-15

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

May 16 6:00 Village Board Meeting

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

 

Keep in Your Prayers

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

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Franklin Grove congregation.

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

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

                       

Our Mission Statement:

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

Monday, May 2, 2022

What Do You Believe?

 

CERRO GORDO CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN

May 1, 2022

What do you believe?

Acts 1:6-8

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 Pastor Larry

 Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

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

 

May 15 Council Meeting immediately following worship

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Donation Box: VBS

First Sundays: food donations for food banks

 

Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362

 

To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

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

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

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

 Keep in Your Prayers

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

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Oakley Brick congregation

 

Church of the Brethren vision statement:

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

                       

Our Mission Statement:

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