Monday, May 22, 2023

Sermon and Announcements May 21


May 21, 2023

How Far Are You Willing to Go?

1 John 3:7-24

For a couple of different reasons, the Lord led me to this message. The

message title implies I am asking you this question. When in fact it is

the Lord asking this question to all of his followers who are willing to

honestly look at the relationship we have with the Lord and also the

relationship we have with one another. Before we get into it this

morning, ironically after I felt led to share on this question, some of

these same situations were part of the Sunday School lesson today and

I am using the almost same verses as was in the lesson. Cathy and I

went on a 4-day cruise Monday thru Thursday. It was somewhat of a

repeat of a cruise we took for our 25 th wedding anniversary. While on

the cruise we celebrated our 48 th anniversary. I mention the cruise

because as I observed the people on the cruise, I realized people of all

colors and from many different nations were on the cruise. I didn’t

notice any arguments or problems of any kind during our time on the

ship, which leads me to ask this question. Why is there so much

disagreement and even anger and hatred it seems highlighted on the

news virtually every day. I am not implying everyone on the ship was a

devoted Christian. One reason there seemed to be harmony from most

onboard is because most everyone was doing something they wanted

to do. Going on a cruise! As a result of me observing this led me to ask

the Lord why? Why is so much of America and in all honesty the rest of

the developed world fighting with one another? You can’t watch the

news without reports of threatened violence or actual violence being

highlighted every day, which leads us back to today’s sermon title. How

far are you willing to go?

The verses we read this morning talks of a concern John has about what

is creeping into the church. Gnosticism was being taught to many

believers and some were apparently buying into its beliefs. At the heart

of this belief was that Jesus did not actually die for the sins of creation

(men and women, past, present and future). That morality of any kind

is of no real value and is necessary to live by. Salvation is not achieved

by believing in God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ; instead,

salvation is achieved through being enlightened by one’s own efforts. A

greater understanding of the world and greater harmony with the

world and with yourself. To make one thing clear, Gnostics did not

believe Jesus truly lived and died like every other human who has

walked the earth so salvation couldn’t be achieved through his sacrifice

of living a perfect life, then being the perfect sacrifice. The fact is, they

did not believe that’s how you would achieve salvation, even if Jesus

did live and die as most Christians believe.

When we look at what had crept into the church way back in John’s

time can you see any similarities to what is happening today? In the

verses we read this morning John is giving everyone who will listen a

refresher course on what Christians should believe. John is one of the

original disciples and observed firsthand everything Jesus did. He also

observed Jesus’ death for the sins of the world.

Last week when we looked at Mary, Jesus’ mother’s life, it was this

same man Jesus put in charge of caring for his mom for the rest of her

life. John was there through all the ups and downs of Jesus’ ministry.

John understood and believed Jesus was God and could and did do

everything he (Jesus) promised. That is why John continued to preach

and teach salvation through Jesus alone until the day he died. John had

become aware that false teachers were coming into many of the

churches everywhere. It wasn’t an isolated case here and there. It is

quite possible John was the only original apostle alive at this time. John

is the only apostle who died of natural causes. Every other apostle was

killed for their faith. God allowed John to preach and teach even from

prison until the day he died.

We will go into detail about what was happening in the church when

John wrote this letter to the churches of his day ands see if any of this

looks similar to what is happening in our churches and in the world


Next Sunday is Memorial weekend so we may not pick this up again

until the first Sunday of June. I ask for your patience as we seek the

Lord’s guidance and his wisdom to be directing our time together. The

overall message God wants the church to bring to all people is that

salvation is real and available through Jesus Christ. The message God

wants every Christian to know is that we are called to be different in a

good way and we are called to make a difference in the world. At times

that means we must go against the flow. When we pick up on John’s

message to the church that we read in the verses today, I pray we will

better understand what we are up against and what we are called to


Pastor Larry


Tuesdays 9:30 Bible Study

Sunday School 9:00

June 4 Council Meeting immediately after worship

If you would like to contribute to Heifer International through the

church in order for the 10x match to happen, write a check to

the church with “Heifer” on the memo line (or give cash with a

note that it’s for Heifer Int) by next Sunday, May 28. Ron will

then be able to write a check from the church.

June 10 9:30 Stem strawberries, arrange tables

June 11 4:00 – 6:00 Strawberry Festival—Please look at the

donation needs in the back and sign up to donate something.

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

Keep in Your Prayers

Chris Wright; Iva Traughber Brunner; Nora Hanaver; Todd

Henricks; Tate Sawyer; Jonah Martina; Jan Bower; Larry

Traxler; Michelle West; Michelle’s mom; Carolyn Hirsch; Eli

Brunner; Nancy Fansler; Joe Waltz; Doug Larrick; Ron &

Kathleen Petersen; Debbie Leibrock; Dorthea Wood; Tina

Wilhelm; Mindy Sawyer; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike and Carol

Seidenstricker; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Doug Fansler;

Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Patty

Cripe; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests;

healthcare workers and first responders; victims of disasters;

victims of shootings; shut-ins; the Nigerian church; Haitian

Brethren; Ukraine; Hope Welty Library

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

District Prayer Calendar: Pray for the Rockford congregation

and for the Part-time Pastor/Full-time Church program.

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.

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