Monday, August 2, 2021

August 1 Sermon and Announcements

 

August 1, 2021

 

WHAT HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

ACTS 9:1-31

 

Starting a couple of weeks ago we saw a man by the name of Saul emerge as one of those who is seeking to destroy the early church. Saul gave his approval for the stoning of Stephen. Saul then turned his attention to the church that remained in Jerusalem, even going door to door rounding up both men and women to throw them in jail or even worse. We read this morning that Saul is determined to follow these Christians wherever they go with the intention of arresting them and throwing them in jail, just like in Jerusalem. Saul asked the high priest for papers that would allow him to go to Damascus with the plan to terrorize the men and women who were followers of Jesus Christ there. Clearly, Saul got what he wanted, so off to Damascus he went, but something happened to Saul while he was still a little bit from getting to Damascus. Saul had an encounter with Jesus the risen Savior. There was a light that flashed that I believe was so bright it blinded him and then he heard a voice calling out to him. As we saw from what we read this morning, it was Jesus talking directly to Saul. Jesus point blank asked Saul, “Why are you persecuting me?” Saul did not want to believe it could have anything to do with what he was doing to the church so he asked the very simple question. “Who are you, Lord?” You have to believe he really was not ready for the answer. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Then Jesus gave him instructions on what he was supposed to do. “Go on in to Damascus and you will be told what to do."

 

We read others were traveling with Saul and while they heard noises, they were not allowed to understand what was going on or where the sound came from. Saul told his travelling companions to lead him to Damascus and that is what they did. In the meantime, Jesus spoke to one of his followers, Ananias, who lived in Damascus. Ananias was told exactly where to go and that he would find Saul of Tarsus there. Saul was well known among the believers by now and Ananias asked Jesus, “Do you really want me to go there? He is out to arrest all of us believers.” Jesus assured Ananias that it would be alright and that he had a plan for Saul. Ananias faithfully did as Jesus asked, went to the house Saul was staying, placed his hands on Saul’s eyes, prayed for his healing and Jesus honored Ananias’ faithfulness by healing Saul right then and there. Immediately Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit, got up, and was baptized and in more ways than one Saul could see lots of things more clearly.

 

Saul then moved about with some of Jesus’ other followers in Damascus preaching about Jesus in of all places, the synagogues. While many in the church in Damascus were skeptical of Saul more and more, they could see the commitment and power Saul displayed and they began to accept him. In fact, in a very short space of time Saul went from being the most feared man the church had to deal with, to the man the Jewish leadership most hated and wanted to get rid of. The Jews in fact plotted to kill Saul because he was beginning to persuade Jews about who Jesus was. All of a sudden Saul became public enemy number 1 to the priests and Jewish leadership. Closing out what we read this morning, we see at this time the church experienced a degree of peace from persecution and their numbers continued to increase. 

 

Saul had a truly life-changing encounter with the risen Savior on the road to Damascus. This morning the question I would like each of us to answer is what was that moment like that changed your life and mine? Many of us may have grown up going to church from an early age. Others though may not have started attending a church until later in life. I believe the fact remains that at some point we each went from attending church to truly accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. You cannot speak for me and I cannot speak for you. This is a very personal decision and moment that may be different for each one of us. Is it possible some of us here today or some of you watching on Facebook have never officially taken that leap of faith and accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior? I would have to say yes that could be possible. You and you alone, as well as the Lord, are the only ones who really know. I am not claiming to know with absolute certainty where anyone of you stand in relation to the Lord, just as you do not know for absolute certain about me. Some of us may have had just about as dramatic an encounter with the risen Savior as Saul did. For others of us, maybe not quite as dramatic.

 

The thing that is exciting to me is that God is still transforming lives. Bringing hope to the hopeless, joy to those who at times struggle to find joy and bringing healing to those who need God’s special touch. Saul’s story is like many others who have come after him. In Saul’s case, he did not really know he was headed down the wrong path, but Jesus came and helped to change him at just the right time. What that shows us is God knows what we need at times long before we realize it. I hope God has used Saul’s example this morning to get us to look at what it is, and what it was, that brought us to the point of realizing we needed a Savior. Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is still meeting all who will welcome him in to that place where we are changed forever.

 

Thank you, Father God, for loving us enough to still change lives and to help us be the best husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, children, we possibly can be. To God be all praise, honor and glory. Amen.

Pastor Larry


Announcements:

 

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

We are looking for help with the regular adult Sunday School class. If you are willing to take a turn teaching, please sign the sheet on the east bulletin board.

 

August 11 7:00 p.m. Executive Committee

 

August 14 4:30 Oakley Brick Church Pork Chop Supper

 

October 2 All church wiener roast sponsored by Women’s Fellowship—stay tuned for details.

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!

 

Thanks to those who are keeping our church lawn mowed!

 

Donation Box: AC Bills

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

 

Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; 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 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

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, July 26, 2021

July 25 Sermon and Announcements

 

July 25, 2021

 

Nothing Can Stop God!

Acts 8:1-25

 

Last Sunday we read and talked about how no matter what, Stephen answered the call. We saw Stephen’s faithfulness cost him his life. This morning the first three verses we read tell how the church reacted to what happened to Stephen. We see not only was Stephen attacked but then the church in Jerusalem was attacked. As a result, most of its members took off for other places. We even see in the third verse Saul led the Jewish people to go house to house searching for Christians. Saul and the other Jewish leaders so desperately wanted to destroy this group of Christians. They literally dragged men and women off to prison in the name of God. The ironic thing is when the scattered church left Jerusalem and went to the other towns, they continued to share about Jesus. The Holy Spirit gave them power to do many miracles, to drive out evil spirits, and to heal the sick, as well as those who had physical limitations. Philip was one person God used to take the Word to Samaria. If you remember, the region of Samaria and, in particular, the Samaritans, were people Israelites would not associate with. They were Gentiles. But that is where God led Philip to proclaim the Word.

 

We also see in one of the cities of Samaria was a man by the name of Simon. He practiced sorcery. He apparently was able to do some pretty good magic tricks and people thought he had special powers. However, when he saw what Philip was able to do, he realized he had nothing compared to him. The apostles who had remained in Jerusalem heard what God had done through Philip in Samaria and sent Peter and John to help the Samaritans with their understanding of God. When Peter and John shared the complete message of salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit, they truly were changed in a powerful way with special signs that all could see. Simon the sorcerer saw this and sought to buy this power from the apostles. God’s power, however, is not for sale. Ironically, it is free for all who will receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. While Simon had claimed to believe Philip’s message, he had not truly accepted the full message of Jesus as Savior. Peter pointed out that the power of the Holy Spirit is not for sale. Peter also told Simon to repent before it was too late. Simon asked for Peter to pray for God to forgive him and save him.

 

Peter and John returned to Jerusalem preaching the Word in other Samarian towns as they went, and God’s Word continued to be proclaimed. What an incredible message of God’s power and love in the midst of crisis. Satan continued to try to do what he was not able to do on the cross, stop the message of Jesus Christ the Savior from going forward. Satan continued to kill and destroy, yet God’s Word kept moving ahead. You would have thought Stephen’s murder would have driven everyone into hiding. That it also would have stopped the apostles and their followers from proclaiming the Word, but God is never going to be stopped.

 

We live in a world where more and more the church is under attack. Our message at times is drowned out by all the other things happening around us. Just like during the early days of the church in Acts we need to keep pressing forward living lives that honestly show God is still alive and waiting to move during the ups and downs we face in life. We may not have all the answers but we believe and serve a God who does. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to provide us power just like he did for Peter and John. The Holy Spirit’s power is not for sale, but anyone can receive it for free when we truly accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. What a story we have to tell!

 

May this church live in the power of the Holy Spirit recognizing nothing and I mean nothing can stop us when we are doing God’s will. What should have stopped the early church by the stoning of Stephen and the persecution that followed, God actually used to energize the believers. We need to be willing to do what the early church did. When life gives us lemons, make lemonade. Use negative things that come our way to learn from God and move forward in faith. Nothing is too hard for our God and the Holy Spirit.

 

May God’s word teach us how to deal with both the good, as well as the bad, we face in life. May our faith continue to grow whether we have been following Christ for a short time or a long time. God is not done with us yet. May we never forget that.

 

As we continue in Acts, may the Holy Spirit reveal new ways to grow and be empowered because as we have seen today, “Nothing can stop God!”

Pastor Larry


Announcements:

 

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

Newsletter submissions are due July 28.

 

We are looking for help with the regular adult Sunday School class. If you are willing to take a turn teaching, please sign the sheet on the east bulletin board.

 

August 11 Executive Committee

 

August 14 Oakley Brick Church Pork Chop Supper

 

Offering plates are in the back of the sanctuary. Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!

 

Donation Box: AC Bills

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

 

Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; 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 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

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, July 19, 2021

July 18 Sermon and Announcements

 

July 18, 2021

 

Answering the call

Acts 6:1-15, 7:1-60, 9:1

 

We see the church is growing almost on a daily basis as written in Acts 6:1. The fact the church has decided to have everything pooled together means they need to figure out a way to meet everyone’s needs. We see in verse 1 that somehow the needs of some of the widows among those in the church are not getting everything they need. At the same time, the apostles know their primary responsibility is to continue to preach the word wherever the Holy Spirit leads them, so the apostles decide to get a few of the men from among them to meet the physical needs of those in the church. You might say a search committee was formed to find the right men for the job. It would seem the Holy Spirit led the search committee to a group of seven men who would do the job. Among the seven was a man by the name of Stephen. Once the seven were presented to the apostles, they prayed with them, laid hands on them, and sent them forward to do what they had been entrusted to do.

 

Another example of the unity that existed in the early church: Everyone was stepping up, willing to do what they could to make sure not only the needs of the current believers were being met, but also to show those who were not yet believers how God is working in the lives of believers. As a result, we see yet again that the number of disciples were rapidly increasing and even some of the Jewish priests were beginning to recognize that God was moving through these believers, and this movement was really of God. Even with all of this good news, not everyone was accepting and believing. In spite of all the things God was doing at this time there were still many in the Jewish community that did not believe. In fact, they believed the church was not of God at all. Stephen was especially effective in proclaiming the word of God, as well as leading the group that was making sure the church’s needs were met. There were a couple of groups in the Jewish community that took Stephen on for what he was saying and doing. This group’s desire was to prove Stephen was lying, but the Holy Spirit provided Stephen with everything he needed to show he was proclaiming the truth. These Jewish leaders were so convinced Stephen and the early church were wrong that they made up lies about him to the main decision makers in the Jewish synagogue, a group called the Sanhedrin. Sadly, those who opposed Stephen and the church went so far as to get others to testify against him with what were complete and total lies.

 

We are not going to read the majority of the 7th chapter, but I would encourage you to read it again to see what a compelling and gifted man Stephen was. As Stephen was asked in the first verse of chapter 7 if the charges against him were true, he went on to take the Jewish leaders through a brief history of what they all believed from their past. Stephen pointed out, however, a history that most chose to ignore about the unbelief that almost always came into play as God tried to move in their midst. You can tell Stephen was so frustrated about what was happening to the church at the hands of his own people, the Jews. He, by the power of the Holy Spirit, called it exactly as it was. Beginning with the 51st verse in chapter 7 he does not pull any punches. Can you imagine just how Stephen felt that caused him to be so blunt about his people’s past; the fact that history was repeating itself again. Listen again to what Stephen said, “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears; you are just like your fathers. You always resist the Holy Spirit; was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?” Wow, at this point I do not believe he was looking to win friends and influence people. It should have been so obvious to everyone that God was moving in a powerful way and that Jesus Christ was indeed the promised Messiah, but large parts of the Jewish community did not care. Stephen then made it personal to those there at that time. Stephen reminds them that, “They even killed those who predicted the coming righteous one. And now you have betrayed and murdered him. You have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

 

There may have been times some of us here have had blowups with family, friends, co-workers, bosses and things may have gotten ugly. Here we have a man of God trying to convince the world of God’s plan and it is so obvious some of those hearing him not only do not care, but actually wanted Stephen and the church eliminated because Satan had deceived them that badly. The Holy Spirt recognized that fact and had Stephen say these blunt words maybe because there were others there that needed to know the honest truth about what was going on before it was too late for them. What was the result? After hearing Stephen lay it out, these Jewish leaders were like Nineveh in the time of Jonah. They repented and turned to God. Right? Let us read one more time and see what happened. “When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him, but Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the son of man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears and yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile the witnesses laid their clothes at the foot of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them.’ When he said this, he fell asleep.” No, not only did the people refuse to repent of their sin against God, they added to it by stoning Stephen. We can see by Stephen’s statement that when he launched against the Jewish leaders, he did not do it out of anger. He actually did it out of love. His hope and prayer were that these blunt, honest words would force them to honestly look at their lives and what is really true. However, it did not work. Satan’s hold on these Jewish leaders was so strong, they refused to see the truth. With Stephen’s dying breath, he said something that had to shake many of those there watching, as well as the ones actually doing the stoning when he asked God not to hold against them what they were doing.

 

The title of our sermon today is “Answering the call.” Clearly Stephen is an incredible example of that faith, that love, that commitment. How many of us would react as Stephen did? When we saw how these Jewish leaders were treating our brothers and sisters, would we react in anger or love? I pray we will never face what Stephen ultimately faced. However, God is still calling men and women to boldly step up when the occasion arises. Will we continue to answer the call? Sometimes it will not be easy. Sometimes it will come at a price. Stephen knew it was worth the cost to be obedient to God. I pray the Lord gives me the courage, the boldness, the faith and, yes, the love that we saw in Stephen. May we each in our own way continue to answer the call.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

Newsletter submissions are due July 28.

 

August 11 Executive Committee

 

August 14 Oakley Brick Church Pork Chop Supper

 

If you would like to view Annual Conference worship sessions, go to www.brethren.org/AC2021/ and click on the link.

 

Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!

 

Donation Box: AC Bills

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 Galen Handley; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; 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 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

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, July 12, 2021

July 11 Sermon and Announcements

 

July 11, 2021

 

What’s the big deal?

Acts 5:1-11

 

As we move ahead in our look at the early church in Acts, we see resistance continuing from the Jewish leaders in the 4th chapter of Acts which, of course, we did not read and now we move ahead to the 5th chapter. Had we read the last five verses of Acts 4, we would have seen that there was such a spirit of unity many were selling everything they had and giving everything to the apostles so they could use it as the Holy Spirit led, which leads us to the verses we read today.

 

There was a husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira. These two were apparently followers in the early church and wanted to appear to join with everyone else in giving all they had to the apostles. However, that is not quite what they did. We see they sold a piece of property and decided together to give part of the money to the apostles but to keep part for themselves. When they presented the money for the land to the apostles, however, they made it appear that that was all they had gotten for the land. They were “giving it all” to the apostles so they said. Obviously, the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter that was not the truth. Peter confronted Ananias with what happened. Peter pointed out to him the property and its worth are yours for you and your wife to do with as you wish. However, do not try to claim you are giving everything when you are purposely holding back some. Essentially Peter was saying, “If you wanted to keep some back, that is fine, but do not lie to us and to God claiming you are, like everyone else, giving it all to the church.” Once Ananias heard this from Peter, we see what happened. He died right there on the spot. About 3 hours later we see Ananias’ wife returns to the place the apostles are and the first thing Peter asks her is how much did you sell your property for? Peter was giving her a chance to save herself and tell the truth. She also, however, told a lie about what they received for the property. Peter basically also said to Sapphira, “Why are you lying to us and to God?” He then pointed out the ones who just buried her husband and “they are now here for you.” Immediately Sapphira died as well. We see that everyone in the church was in great fear after they heard what had happened to Ananias and Sapphira. What do you think our reaction would be in this church if we knew someone told “a kind of harmless lie” and instantly died? Would we change the way we talk to people and especially the way we do things with God? Is it fair that the Holy Spirit made that lie to the apostles and the church such a life and death deal? Why do you think God did do this with Ananias and Sapphira? I believe it was the most extreme way to get the early church’s attention about being honest with one another and God.

 

The 2 most important things in any relationship are trust and unity. The early church was beginning to have more and more pressure put on them from all sides. While we know God’s word says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we need to limit those intentional lies, those sins that misrepresent us to one another and the communities we are a part of. In the early church, trust and unity was going to be so important as Satan attacked them from all sides. God knew that, and chose to use Ananias and Saphira as an extreme example to help the church realize how important honesty is among believers. What God is saying to us is to be honest about what you will do and what you will not do. And while it is always best not to promise more than you are able to do, there is a difference between really planning on doing something but having life happen and saying you are going to do something but not ever planning on doing whatever it is.

 

We are looking at restarting the children’s story time and the Sunday School class. The thing you need to get that started is someone to do the story and lead the lesson. If any one of us is not comfortable doing those things, that is alright. However, if we say we will do either or from time to time both, we need to try our hardest to make sure we do. When we all work together to the best of our abilities and say to God, “Here I am, use me,” that is all God asks. Yes, sometimes things happen that prevent us from doing all the things we say we will do. The example of Ananias and Sapphira is not about that. It is an example of two people intentionally lying, not only to the apostles, but also to God. No one told them they had to give all the money to the apostles just because others had. That does not mean they had to. They simply should have been honest with everyone instead of trying to make it look like, “Hey see what we have done!”

 

The question for you and me is to answer is the question, “What’s the big deal?” God, to put it simply, wants us to be willing to do the things we say we will do. At the same time, be honest with yourself, God and others by knowing your limits. It is never a bad thing to do more than we say we will do, as long as everyone understands what is going on. You and I must simply, ourselves, know what we are doing and why we are doing the things we do as we seek to serve God to the best of our abilities.

Pastor Larry

Announcements:

 

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

July 14 Board Meeting: 6:15 Executive Committee; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board

 

July 17 2:30 CUIC Music and Ice Cream in Born Park

Several musicians are participating.

 

Looking ahead:

August 11 Executive Committee

August 14 Oakley Brick Church Pork Chop Supper

 

If you would like to view Annual Conference worship sessions, go to www.brethren.org/AC2021/ and click on the link. They were all excellent.

 

Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!

 

Donation Box: AC bills

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 Galen Handley; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; 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 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

 

Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers

 

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, July 5, 2021

July 4, 2021

 

July 4, 2021

 

What is Our Mission?

Acts 3:1-23

Before we begin looking at what God is calling us to do, let us read Acts 2, verses 46 and 47. First of all, we see there was a sense of unity that was incredible in the new church. The result of the one voice coming from the apostles and others who were working closely with them is that the Lord was adding to their numbers or to the early church daily.

 

Last week we read about the way the Holy Spirit made himself known to not only the apostles but also to many who were in Jerusalem at this time. Now we see the results of the unity that existed at this time. In the 3rd chapter of Acts, we see the Holy Spirit is confirming the authority of the apostles by a miracle that no one familiar with this man could deny. When people are agreeing together in the church, great things can happen. Here Peter and John were going to share their faith in the temple when God provided this incredible opportunity for them.

 

As I listened to what was one of the topics of discussion at this year’s Annual Conference, I was struck by the acknowledgement that the Church of the Brethren in America needs to sharpen its focus on unity within the church. This has led the denomination to come up with “A compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren.” Conversations have been going on for three years about what that means and how to practically apply the vision in individual churches and across the entire denomination. The basic vision statement says, “Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ though relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable and fearless.”

 

As I have listened the past several days at how we can put this into practice, I was drawn to what the early church in Acts was doing. The apostles were allowing in a meaningful way the Holy Spirit to guide them wherever he wanted them to go. The apostles were also willing to do whatever they were asked to do to accomplish God’s purposes at this time in history. As we read about the apostles in the early church, they are putting into practice what the vision statement of the Church of the Brethren is reminding us today of what we should be doing.

 

The Holy Spirit’s guidance was so powerful and the apostles’ willingness to serve was so evident that God was doing great things through them. Peter and John saw a need that this man had and they were so full of faith God would provide what this man needed that they simply, without thinking, said and did what the Holy Spirit encouraged them to do.

 

In our Bible Study on Tuesday, there was a question asked, “What is holding you back from witnessing for God?” Clearly nothing was holding Peter and John back from sharing what God had to offer. The healing part of what happened would be easy for any of us to do if we knew for sure God would make it happen. What happened next is what is more difficult. Peter boldly asked the question, “Why does this healing surprise you?” There were many who were there and witnessed this man who had never walked a day in his life, now miraculously healed and walking. Peter and John quickly pointed out it was not them that made this miracle happen, it was the God you all should know about. They go on to say, “The one you had killed, Jesus, is the one who has made this incredible miracle happen!” Peter and John tell those gathered, “Repent of your sins and turn to God for the forgiveness of those sins.” This is the part of God’s story for his creation that is more difficult to share. It is easier, not always easy, but easier, to tell of God’s love, mercy, grace and peace, but when it comes to telling of God’s righteous judgment that is where it gets hard. The last sentence in the vision statement seems to recognize the need we have in the Church of the Brethren to tell the whole story of God. That sentence, again, says, “To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable and fearless.” Does that sound familiar? That is the statement Peter and John could very well have created. This is a vision of what God wants to do through me and I dare say you. We must grab hold of it with both hands and go forward with it. It has always been true, but today maybe more than ever, we need to be innovative, adaptable and most of all fearless.

 

In America today this nation celebrates the 4th of July, which is the official founding of this new concept called self-governance.  This nation is not and never has been perfect, but it is still the nation in the world that millions of people want to come to, whether by legal or illegal means. These holidays are good times for its people to take a step back and think on what we are doing right, both past and present, and what we need to work to change.

 

God has inspired many of the good things that have happened in this nation’s past and in the present as well. However, because men and women make the ultimate decisions in this nation, we will always make some mistakes. When I look at the difference between our nation and the church, I see one major difference. If we as the church allow God and His word to guide and direct us, we will always be victorious because it is not us, it is God leading. I am not saying that means there will never be pain and suffering or that we will live in total perfection on this earth. What I am saying is God will make clear what the mission of the church is and what our individual mission is as well. I was encouraged by a lot of what I heard at this year’s Annual Conference. The denomination wants to recommit and refocus the mission we have in this nation and the world.

 

What is our mission? When we look at what was happening in the early church in Acts, I think we can learn what we need to do today by looking what happened in the past. Here are 6 steps we must do to fulfill our mission.

 

1.    Allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead us.

2.    Continue in the unity of the faith.

3.    Make ourselves available, whatever that might mean to each one of us individually and as a church.

4.    Be willing at times to share how Jesus brought forgiveness of sins to us as believers.

5.    Be willing to admit to our shortcomings.  

6.    Do all of this as the Church of the Brethren’s vision concludes with living our lives for the cause of God through Jesus Christ fearlessly.

 

May God’s church here in Cerro Gordo and across this country and around the world recognize this mission and catch this vision just as the apostles did 2000 years ago.

Pastor Larry


Announcements:

 

 

Bible Study 9:30 Tuesday

 

If you were previously giving children’s messages, we will put you on the schedule unless you tell Beth Sawyer otherwise. Thanks in advance for doing this!

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July 14 Board Meeting—6:15 Exec. Comm; 7:00 Commissions; 7:30 Board

 

Pick up your new Upper Room in the back. Daily Bread is also available.

Hard copies of the July newsletter are available in the back.

 

Stolley Pest Control treated the church for free—thank you!

 

Thanks to everyone for your faithful giving!

 

Donation Box: AC bills

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 Galen Handley; Family of Holly Flenner; Marlene Schultz & family; Sarah Rudelick; Sydney (Nancy Gorrell’s niece); David Roe; Tera Runyan; Tim Laird; Carl and Wilma Cable; Mike Gentry; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; 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 600,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; victims of disasters; victims of shootings; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; victims of the volcano in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda

 

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.