THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS!
We are four
weeks from Easter. The day that marks the most important event of human
history. The next three Sundays we will look at some of the things that
happened in the life of Jesus and his disciples leading up to what we celebrate
as Easter. At this point Jesus knows the clock is ticking and the countdown is
truly underway. Jesus is trying his hardest to prepare the disciples for what
is about to happen. There is still much he wants to teach his disciples. The
verses we read this morning show the disciples are also wanting to learn
everything they can from Jesus. They are not asking because they know the time
is short. They are asking questions because they know there has never been
anyone like Jesus before and they want to learn what he is about as well as get
a better understanding of who he is.
In the first
verse of Chapter 18 they ask a very simple question, “Who is the greatest in
the kingdom of heaven?” They probably were not ready for the way Jesus would
answer their question. Jesus called a little child over and said to the
disciples, “unless you change and become like little children you will never
enter the kingdom of heaven”. The disciples wanted to know who the greatest in
heaven is and Jesus was telling them before you think about that you better
know what it takes to get to heaven. Are you sure you will make it to heaven?
Then Jesus goes on to say what will happen if anyone causes one of his children
to sin. Jesus was not just talking about this child. He was talking about all
of God’s creation because we have all been created to be God’s children.
Whether you are as young as Presley Born or as old as me, God cares about all
of us and no one had better mess with God’s kids.
In the 7th
verse, Jesus says, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause men to
sin!” Jesus acknowledges that people will lead people astray but woe to the man
that causes people to sin. In the Bible when the word is written “woe” it is
not a good thing to those caught in that situation. Jesus closes out the verses
we read with some unique encouragements. Jesus said if your hand or foot causes
you to sin, cut it off. If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. Jesus goes
on to say that you will be better off lame or blind in heaven than “whole going
remaining verses of Chapter 18 Jesus uses illustrations to tell how God’s
people should deal with one another. We are not going to read them, but I will
give you the headings of three different things Jesus was teaching his
parable of the lost sheep—An example of God’s love for you and me in such a
powerful, yet simple story. Next is entitled “A brother who sins against you.”
Jesus is showing how Christians should resolve disagreements that arise between
believers. Jesus goes on to explain that when brothers and sisters agree in the
Lord the power of God is released in that place. He also says when two come
together and agree in prayer God listens and can do great things. Jesus goes on
to say, “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with you.”
thing Jesus is sharing with his disciples in the 18th chapter is the
parable of the unmerciful servant. In this parable Jesus is sharing about
forgiveness, mercy and hypocrisy. It talks about two different servants that
owed money. The first asks for mercy in regard to his debt and asks the master
for more time to pay. Not only is he given more time but the fact is the master
told him he did not have to pay him back. Just so you know, this man owed a lot
of money to the man that forgave the debt. As we continue on, the man who just
had his debt forgiven ran into a man that owed him a little bit of money. This
man also asked for more time. Not only was he not given more time, he was
thrown in prison for not paying. When the first master who forgave the large
amount heard what this man had done, he ordered this man tortured by the
jailer. Jesus closed out the 18th chapter with these words, “This is how my
heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from you
the countdown has begun. He wants to teach his disciples as many of God the
Father’s principles as he can in the time he has left. As I thought about all
the things Jesus was sharing with his disciples, I thought about the role you
and I have in God’s plan today. For those of you who are moms and dads, we are
given a period of time to help the children we have been blest with be ready to
go out on their own. Those influences are not limited just to moms and dads.
Aunts and uncles can play important roles in helping the next generation be
ready for what lies ahead as well. Jesus and his disciples had, to this point,
experienced both good times and difficult times. Jesus knew the disciples were
soon going to be challenged in ways they have never experienced before. We may
come back at a later time and go over these teaching moments Jesus had with his
parents want to do as much as they can to help their children be ready to go
out on their own, Jesus wanted his disciples to be ready for the time he would
no longer be with them in person. Jesus was not candy coating what God wants
from his people. The time for honest and sometimes blunt teaching was at hand.
Jesus knew if the disciples were to continue to share the message Jesus had
given them, they would need to have the right mix of blunt, honest truth about
who God is and what he expects and yet at the same time an understanding of
God’s patience, love and mercy. All these years later it is yours and my turn
to keep the message alive. A message of faith, hope and love. That does not
ignore God’s call for justice and warning of future judgment. This is why we
gather together. This is why the message of Easter and what it means to all who
will believe is just as important today as it was 2000 years ago. Over the next
couple of weeks, we will continue to see what Jesus is saying to the disciples
and what Jesus wants the church of 2021 to know as well.
May God reveal
to us even more this Easter season what he wants us to know. Not only
now but how we can be more victorious in our personal life and be more
effective as God’s church right here in Cerro Gordo.
Every Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study. All are invited to attend.
March10 Full board meeting—6:15 Executive Committee, 7:00 Commissions, 7:30
March 16-20 District “Potluck” via Zoom. See details on
bulletin board--worship and workshops. Carol will send you the links if you are
interested in attending any or all of the sessions.
Care packages for college students et al: bring snack items by the end of March please. We know of 4: Madison Warren, Michelle Wright, Jordan Wright, Sadie Sawyer
Please place your offering in the plates at the back
of the sanctuary. Thank you for your continued giving!
Thank you for wearing masks and helping contain the
spread of the virus. Extra masks are at the back of the sanctuary.
Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Pastor Larry Traxler- (217) 454-2362
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in Your Prayers
Tera Runyan; Holly
Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Sherry Wright; Tim
and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright;
Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and
Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose
Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo &
Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy
Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and
first responders; the families of the 520,000+ people who have died from
COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers,
staff, and students; victims of natural disasters; District of IL/WI search
committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government
Military and Other
Services and their families
Service workers; Disaster project workers
God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace.