Monday, May 3, 2021

May 2 Sermon and Announcements "How Will God Get Our Attention?"

 


HOW WILL GOD GET OUR ATTENTION?

Jonah 2:1-10, 3:1-10

 

Last week we saw in the example of Jonah that you can run from God but you cannot hide. Let us look at that example one more time for a minute from a different angle. Have you ever had your mom or dad, your boss or coworkers, your husband or wife or even a close friend tell you or, depending on your relationship, ask you to do something and you refused to do it? I still remember one occasion in particular when I did not do what I was supposed to do when I was grade school age, and my dad did not appreciate my resistance. I do not remember what I did or did not do, but I know dad had a punishment in mind I did not like. He was going to give me a spanking and instead of accepting my punishment I tried to run away from dad. He may not have said you can run but you cannot hide, but I think he said something like, “When you get ready to come in, I will be waiting for you!” If I had simply done what I was told to do, that would have never happened. Dad did not do much spanking, so I know what I did deserved the punishment I ultimately got. I do not believe I ever did or did not do something ever again to deserve that kind of teaching moment. Has anyone here done something like that?

 

In the 2nd chapter, we read what is called Jonah’s prayer. By what Jonah said to God, we can see he realizes he deserved the punishment he was given. Jonah admitted he believed his sin was going to lead to his death. As he saw his life about to end, Jonah saw God’s hand on his life. In the 7th verse Jonah said, “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your Holy Temple.” In verse 8 Jonah tells where he truly was in relationship to the Lord. Talking about himself to God, Jonah says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” The honesty and the desperation Jonah is feeling made him realize how far from God’s will he had drifted. When Jonah realized his physical life and spiritual life were as good as dead, the Lord helped him to realize it is not too late for things to change. Jonah had been chasing things that had separated him from God. Jonah realized for those who do that you will forfeit the grace God has for all who believe.

 

How much of the time am I doing and saying the things God wants me to do? Have I, have you, allowed some of the things of this world to have too much space in my life or in your life? How often do we, like Jonah, have to hit rock bottom before we realize we are off course? God has given us examples like Jonah to help us realize to not wait until it seems all is lost. God’s grace is available all the time. God does not want to see us struggle. God wants us to be victorious in every way. Jonah knew God was giving him a new opportunity.

 

When Jonah realized it, he had a thankful heart for that second chance he was given. Jonah vowed to God, “I will do what you have called me to do.” When we veer off course, do we have the courage and the desire to be like Jonah and say, “I messed up God. Please help me.” After Jonah came to the place of repentance, God had another opportunity in store for Jonah at Nineveh. Right there within easy walking distance of Nineveh, God has the big fish spit Jonah out right on the beach. We often times believe this big fish was a whale, but I believe God created this special fish just for Jonah. He may have been the only one that ever saw this fish. I believe God can do anything. After God had got Jonah’s attention in the most unusual way, God once again told Jonah to take his message to Nineveh. This time Jonah did what God had told him to do. So how did Jonah get greeted when he arrived in Nineveh? He probably did not look the best after riding around inside a fish for three days! On top of that, he is telling everyone how wicked they are. You would think the people of Nineveh, as well as its leaders would say, “Who do you think you are saying this to us?” To remind you of what the scripture said, the city of Nineveh was so big it would take three days to see the entire city. Scholars claim the city probably had around 120,000 people in it. Jonah is basically saying in 40 days this city will cease to exist. So, were the people mad? Were they ready to kill the messenger? No. They accepted the warning and did everything they could do to show God they got the message. Going as far as putting sackcloth on not only the people but also their animals. At this time in history, sackcloth was one of the ways to show you are in sorrow or you are seeking forgiveness for a wrong you have done. The king went as far as to say, “Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows, God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not parish.” So, what happened after all they deserved to be destroyed because of the evil they had committed against God? God destroyed them, right? No. We read that “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways he had compassion and did not bring upon them destruction.” We see another example of God’s patience and love.

 

When anyone admits to their mistakes, their sins, God will forgive and restore what was lost. We have seen two examples of God’s mercy and grace. First Jonah not only refused to do what God had called him to do, but also tried to run just as far away as he could. In spite of that, God gave Jonah a second chance. The same thing is true of the city of Nineveh. They were so far off track, God warned them of what was about to happen. Instead of ignoring the warning, they accepted the fact they deserved punishment and as a result God gave them another chance also.

 

How will God get our attention? We see what it took for Jonah and for Nineveh. What about you and me? Maybe most all of you have already had that moment when God got your attention. If so, what did it take? Was it a gentle nudge? Or was it a rock bottom experience? Or perhaps you saw such an incredible moment of God’s love and mercy that made it real for you from that point on. Everything God does he does because he loves us. What’s your story? We saw what lengths God has to go to sometimes get our attention. Remember God wants us to be blessed while we are on this earth. And the only way that can happen is to recognize God’s love and mercy through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

May 9 Mothers’ Day

May 12 Board Meeting

May 16 Council Meeting immediately after worship

 

Camp Emmanuel schedules and registration forms are available in the back of the sanctuary. Thank you for your generous donations to the Camp! They will be greatly appreciated!

 June 4-6 Women’s Camp

June 6-12 High School Camp

June 13-19 Middle School Camp

June 20-23 Junior Camp

July 9-11 Pre-Junior Camp

July 26-30 Day Camp

August 6-8 Men’s Camp

September 3-6 Family Camp

The parsonage has been sold, and our new neighbor, Terry Southard, is moving in. Welcome, Terry and family!

 

Women’s Fellowship is hoping to make strawberry pies. Stay tuned for details. We will need help.

 

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

 

Extra masks are at the back of the sanctuary.

 

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

 

Lauren Gentry; David Roe; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; 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 570,000+ 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; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

Poetry Corner:         

bees

 

them busy bees sure be a buzzin

maybe there could be a couple hundred dozen

 

they all live in a self made hive

where only Pooh seems to be able to survive

 

we laugh at him ‘cause he is so funny

when he gets a hankerin for some real good hunny

 

but those workers though really seem to mind

when he visits they sting him in his furry behind

 

bees do stay quite busy all the day long

their wings a singing a lively song

 

I often wonder what this devotion all means

working hard for just one queen

 

longing to study them, I would if I could

but if they object, well that’s not gonna end good

 

so I keep my distance from God’s creatures that are hard at it

and marvel from a far not stirring them up a bit!

 

 

By Robin Shively


Our Mission Statement:

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


Monday, April 26, 2021

April 25 Sermon and Announcements

  

YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CANNOT HIDE!

Jonah 1:1-17

Earlier this month we celebrated Easter in which God came to the earth first as a baby, then grew to a man. A man who was called to bring the truth to a people and a world that needed to hear what God had to say. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to this world to accomplish several things. When the going got tough, Jesus could have said I am not doing this, but he stayed true to all the things he came to earth to do.

          This morning we read about Jonah and what he had been called by God to do. Jonah had been given the job of telling the people of Nineveh how judgement from God was coming to them because of their sin. As we read on in the book of Jonah the next couple of weeks, we will see why Jonah reacted the way he did. Jonah did not want to do what God had called him to do. Jonah had no plans of going to Nineveh. In fact, Jonah found the first ship going the exact opposite direction from Nineveh he could find and paid to go to the town of Tarshish. Clearly Tarshish was not anywhere near Nineveh. Jonah’s plan was clearly not to do what God had commanded him to do, but Jonah’s plans were not going according to the way he thought they would. Once Jonah was on the ship, he decided to stay out of sight as much as he could. He went below to sleep until they got to Tarshish, but God still had plans for Jonah. God caused the waters to be so violent that the captain was afraid the ship would break to pieces. The captain went down and woke Jonah up and told him to ask his God for help. Then the sailors decided to cast lots, believing it would reveal who brought this problem of a deadly sea upon them. God made sure the lot fell on Jonah. When that had happened, they asked Jonah, “Why is this happening?” Jonah explained he was a Hebrew and that he worshiped the God who made Heaven as well as the seas. Sailors had such a deep respect for the sea that when Jonah said this, they were afraid of what it all might mean for them.

Earlier Jonah had told some of the sailors he was trying to get away from what his God wanted him to do. The sailors were afraid of Jonah’s God as well as Jonah so they asked him, “What can we do to calm the sea?” To Jonah’s credit, he told the sailors to throw him into the sea. The sailors were afraid that Jonah’s God would be mad at them so they continued to try to save their ship but it was not working. In desperation they cried out to Jonah’s God saying, “Do not hold it against us if Jonah dies because we did what he told us to do.” The minute they threw Jonah overboard the sea became calm. As a result of what happened the sailors had a life-changing moment that led them to worship God. They offered sacrifices to God and made vows to God that reflected their thankfulness to God for saving their lives. These sailors were forever changed, but what about Jonah? Was God going to have to find someone else to go to Nineveh? After all, Jonah had to have drowned, right? No God’s plan to use Jonah to deliver the message to Nineveh was still in effect. God had another plan to get Jonah to Nineveh. He got to ride in the belly of a great big fish for three days and three nights. Satan had convinced Jonah to run. Satan did not want Nineveh to get the message God had for them. Satan believed he had stopped God’s plan for Nineveh just like Satan believed he had stopped God’s plan when he saw to it that Jesus was crucified. Satan, however, found out God’s plans will never be stopped.

Have you ever heard God calling you to do something before, but in some cases you came up with a bunch of reasons why you just could not do it? What we have read so far in the story of Jonah is that God is persistent. I think we will find out God accomplished his plan for Nineveh.

God will always complete his plans every time. The question at times for you and me is, will we help God complete his plans? God has plans to bless us and use us to accomplish his purposes. We may not know what God has in store for us next, but we can always trust in the fact that God loves us and will never ask us to do more than we are capable of. As we continue looking at Jonah’s story next week, will some of us see similarities in his story to our own? Jonah found out you can run but you cannot hide. One of the lessons we can learn from Jonah’s experience is when God is calling us to do something, it will probably be best if we just do it. Otherwise, we may end up in the belly of a big fish or maybe, just maybe, something worse.

Larry

Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

April 29 Newsletter deadline

May 9 Mothers’ Day

May 12 Board Meeting

May 19 Council Meeting immediately after worship

 

Executive Committee decided that as long as we are in our seats and socially distanced in the sanctuary, we may remove our masks, if we are comfortable doing so. If we get up or want to sing with the hymns, masks must go back on. We are grateful for the care everyone has taken to help prevent the spread of the virus.

 

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

 

David Roe; 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 570,000+ 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; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church

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, April 19, 2021

April 18 Sermon and Announcements

 

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?

John 21:15-25

We are going to spend a little more time looking at how Jesus continued teaching his disciples after his resurrection. Last week we saw how Jesus dealt with Thomas’ unbelief and what that means to us today. In the verses we read this morning, Jesus is talking to Peter. If you remember, Peter was the most confident and outgoing of the disciples. Peter was the one that when Jesus stayed behind on the shore to pray, the disciples got in a boat to go to the other side of the lake. Peter and the disciples saw Jesus’ walking on the water and Peter boldly said, “Can I come out of the boat and walk with you?” Jesus said, “Yes, come on.” We all know what happened. Peter looked back at the disciples on the boat and with a little arrogance in his voice said, “Look at me, I am walking on water!” But then when he looked around and saw the waves and thought about what he was doing he again said, “I am walking on water. I cannot walk on water.” He then began to sink.

To Peter’s credit he was never lacking in confidence. When Jesus was sharing the Last Supper with the disciples, Jesus told them, “One of you will betray me.” Peter immediately said, “Not me. No, no, I will never betray you. I will die for you if need be.” Then came the ultimate humiliation for Peter when they were sitting around the table eating the Last Supper, Peter had said to Jesus, “I will always stand beside you, no matter what.” To which Jesus told Peter, “Before the sun rises tomorrow, you will deny me three times.” Of course, Peter again said, “Never, I would never do that!” Of course, we know what happened. Then when they all went out to the garden after the Passover meal and the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter grabbed a sword and struck one of the soldiers at which Jesus scolded him. Clearly Peter did not realize this was part of the plan that Jesus was to be arrested, beaten and ultimately hung on a cross to die.

Peter was always in the middle of everything. To his credit, he always tried to do what he thought was the right thing. In John 18:15 -27, we see what Jesus had said about Peter came true. Before we look at what we read this morning, early on Jesus made one very important pronouncement. In Matthew 16, verse 18 Jesus said, “This is Peter or Petra (which means rock), upon this rock I will build my church.” In spite of all of Peter’s ups and downs, Jesus knew Peter was the disciple who would be key in getting the church going after Jesus’ ascension.

Now let us look at what we read this morning. Jesus and the disciples had just finished eating when Jesus turned to Peter and very deliberately asked, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”  To which Peter answered, “You know I love you.” Jesus then said, “Feed my lambs.” Then a second time Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?” Again, Peter answered, “Lord you know that I love you.” This time Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” Yet a third time Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And we see by now Peter’s feelings have been hurt by Jesus repeatedly questioning whether he loved Jesus. Peter said, “You know all things. You know that I love you.” To which Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus also made what was in fact a prediction of what would be in Peter’s future when he said, “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to do.” What Jesus was making reference to was the way Peter would die. Peter also would be crucified. After Jesus had said all these things to Peter, he said one more thing, “Follow me.”

Why did Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved him? I believe it was to cancel out the three times Peter had denied Jesus as he was being taken away to be crucified. As I was reading this, I tried to put myself in Peter’s place. The fact is while Peter knew he had messed up badly the night Jesus had been arrested by denying Jesus, he thought Jesus was taking things a bit too far. By the third time Jesus had asked if Peter loved him, Peter could not help himself acknowledging that Jesus is God. He said, “You know everything. You know I love you.”

Have you ever messed up before with your mom or dad, brother or sister, husband or wife, your boss or co-worker or even your children by saying you can count on me and then something happened and you did not do what you said you would do? Then some time later you are wanting to make up for your earlier mistake by really coming through and that person, in their own way, questions you. “Are you sure you are going to do it this time?” You, of course, are saying, “Yes, you can count on me.” Then they say again, “Are you sure? I will be counting on you.” You more emphatically say, “Yes I will do it.” One more time they say, “Are you sure?” By now you are disappointed and maybe a little mad at the constant question to the point you are about to say, “Fine! Do it yourself or get someone else.” Have you ever had something like this happen?

Jesus knew Peter realized what a terrible mistake he had made, but Jesus wanted Peter to get fired up, in a good way, convincing himself, I will never make that mistake again. Jesus, I will be there for you now and forever. What Jesus was doing with Peter reminds me a little bit of a hearing aid commercial that is on television. I do not know if you have seen it or not, but on this commercial, there is has a son saying to his father, “I love you dad.” The dad says, “What?” Again, the son says to the dad, “I said I love you.” To which the dad responds, “I heard you the first time. I just wanted to hear it again.” This is what Jesus was doing with Peter. He not only wanted to hear Peter say it to him, Jesus also wanted Peter to hear himself say it repeatedly.

When we make mistakes with loved ones or co-workers, sometimes it takes a while before we will be trusted again. We have to show them over and over again we can be trusted. The Lord realizes we will make mistakes, commit sins from time to time. God does not expect perfection. God simply wants honesty. God wants us to not only be honest with him, but we also need to be honest with ourselves. With Peter, Jesus was preparing him for what was about to happen. Again, Peter was going to be possibly the most important person in the early Church. After each response Peter gave to Jesus, Jesus said first, “Feed my lambs.” Then, “Take care of my sheep.” Finally, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus is letting Peter know there is a world waiting for the message you are going to share. I trust you to accomplish what I am calling you to do. Jesus is saying the same thing to you and me today. He knows we will make mistakes and sin. However, what we are called to do is own up to those sins and learn from them. We are now the ones to keep God’s message of love, mercy, grace and salvation alive. Our message title is, “How would we feel?” When we mess up, whether it is with a person or the Holy Spirit that reminds us of that sin, how do we react? None of us like to be scolded, but when we do deserve it, do we learn from our sin or do we try to say, “It wasn’t that bad.” God can and will use us if we are willing to take our medicine and learn. What would you or I do? Maybe more accurately, what have we done? God loves us just like he loved Peter and did not give up on him. Thank God He never gives up on us.

Larry


Announcements:

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

Executive Committee decided that as long as we are in our seats and socially distanced in the sanctuary, we may remove our masks, if we are comfortable doing so. If we get up or want to sing with the hymns, masks must go back on. We are grateful for the care everyone has taken to help prevent the spread of the virus.

 

May 9 Mothers’ Day

 

May 12 Board Meeting

 

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

 

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

 

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 565,000+ 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, April 12, 2021

April 11 Sermon and Announcements

 


NOW DO YOU BELIEVE?

John 20:19-31

 

We celebrated Easter last Sunday. What Jesus came to earth to accomplish in the form of a man had been completed. Jesus had changed the world forever. Jesus came to earth to be the ultimate, once and for all sacrifice. Since the days of Moses in Egypt, sacrifices--blood sacrifices--were required at appointed times to cover the sins of man. Jesus became the blood sacrifice that made the other sacrifices unnecessary. Jesus also died for those who did not believe. That love, that mercy, that grace, continues to this day.

 

What we read today is a continuation of what we read last Sunday. The women found the disciples and told them what the angel had said as well as what Jesus said and that they would see Jesus in Galilee. So here we are, most of the disciples in a place with the doors locked, afraid the Jews are coming after them. When out of nowhere Jesus is in the room with them. Can you imagine if we were here at church or at home with all the doors locked, no one else has the keys and suddenly someone, whom everyone knew was not in the room, was there? Jesus told the disciples the only thing he could say, “Peace be with you.” I cannot help but think they instantly knew it was Jesus. As impossible and unlikely as it could be, it was Jesus there with them again. To prove it to them, he showed the disciples his hands and side. In spite of the fact Jesus had risen from the dead, the evidence of his brutal and unjustified death remained.  We see the disciples were overjoyed. In spite of Jesus’ best efforts to explain what was going to happen and why, the disciples just had not got it, but there Jesus was, just as real and alive as he ever was. Once again Jesus assured them with the words, “Peace be with you” and then he took it a step further. Jesus reminded them that now it is your turn. You will take the message of God’s love, mercy, grace and justice to the people. Jesus also told them you will have power that you do not have a clue about that will allow you to accomplish God’s mission. God’s wisdom and power will help them do what is ahead of them.

 

As it turned out one of the eleven was not in that room when Jesus suddenly appeared. Thomas was apparently somewhere else. When the other disciples caught up with him and told him what had happened, he said that all sounds good but unless I see Jesus myself and get proof it is really him, I will not believe.

 

We read in the 26th verse it had been one week since Jesus had risen from the grave and talked with the disciples. In other words, it was this very day all those years ago. The disciples were back at the same house they were at one week earlier, but this time Thomas was there with them. Again, the doors were locked so no uninvited guests could get in when Jesus suddenly appeared. Jesus knew what Thomas had been thinking. After all, Jesus is God. Jesus instantly went over to Thomas and said, “Put your finger here in the holes in my hands.” Jesus then said, “Put your hand here,” pointing to his side. Instantly, out of both embarrassment and joy, Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus did not scold Thomas. He simply made a very blunt statement, “You believe because you have seen. Blessed are those who have never seen yet believe.” You and me, we are those in the second category. Believers from that time forward are in a special category. While some of us have had our own unique experience with the risen Savior, very few claim to have seen Jesus in the flesh.

 

The verses we read this morning close out this way. Beginning with the 30th verse, we are told by John that Jesus performed many other miraculous signs while he was with the disciples. John goes on to say while not all miracles are recorded, the ones that have been recorded are so we will believe. Believe Jesus is the Christ and know if we accept all those things that have been recorded and recognize Jesus died for our sins, we, like Jesus, will also have eternal life. All of the things we have read about over the last several weeks was not only for the benefit of disciples, it was written down for your benefit and mine. Jesus is alive. By God’s grace, we are forgiven. God has made you and me and all who will believe part of his family. May we live like the victorious people God has made us to be. Over 2000 years ago after Jesus was crucified Thomas said he would not believe until he sees Jesus face to face and sees his hands and side.

 

The question for you and me God is asking is, “Now do you believe?” If you are saying I am just not sure, what is it going to take? Jesus is still changing lives. I am convinced most of you here in the sanctuary and most watching on Facebook have been changed by the power of God through Jesus Christ. For those who may be still unsure, I just want to remind you we serve a risen Savior. God’s love is never ending. Let Jesus into your life. For those who know Jesus as Savior, keep hanging in there. The same power that transformed the disciples into the greatest evangelists the world has ever known, the power the Holy Spirit gives, is living in you and me today. Agree with me today, Lord Jesus, yes, we believe!

Pastor Larry


Announcements:

 

NO Bible Study this week

 

April 14 7:00 Executive Committee

 

May 9 Mothers’ Day

 

May 12 Board Meeting

 

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

 

Terry Marvin; Oren Wright; 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 560,000+ 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.


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

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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.”

 

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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.