1 Corinthians 15
3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
Paul tells us in summary what we learn in the Gospels about what Easter is all about.
As we move closer to Resurrection Sunday we hear about Jesus breaking out of the Tomb, and we know He came upon the 12 while they were locked down.
Have you ever been locked in or locked down?
The first year I was pastor at Skippack, over 20 years ago, I went to the church for some office hours. It was a cold dark night. We lived about 5 Miles away at that time.
I decided that before I left for home, I would change the Lettering on the sign outfront.
Once I was finished, I was cold cause I didn’t wear my coat out to the sign.
That is when I realized that my keys and my Phone were in my Coat pocket. I wasn’t able to get back in the church, my car or even call anyone.
I decided to Break In.
Now Skippack was built in 1855 and in those days the windows were heavy pieces of solid wood. They would be hard to open, especially if locked. I used part of the Mailbox pole to pry one open. Slowly I was able to lift it up so I could slide up and into the church.
I was pretty proud of myself.
That feeling left quickly when, just as was ¾ of the way inside, the window abruptly closed, catching me just behind my two Knee caps. Right in the crook of the legs.
I couldn’t move. I was dangling about 2 feet off the floor inside and could even yell for help – who would have heard. We are a “small Country Church”, and no one was around.
I thought how disappointing the folks would be when they came in the next day to see their new pastor, frozen and stuck in the window.
The I saw lights flashing. At first I thought I was heading to Heaven, but instead I realized they were Police.
I was filled with joy.
That quickly ended when I heard the Office say “Sir, come out from the window and raise your hands”.
WHAT?? I thought, is he serious?
“Officer, I responded, ‘I cant do that”
He repeated “I am telling you to come out of the window…”
“Officer, you're not going to believe this, but I am the Pastor of the Church and I am stuck in the window.”
I went from my “Good Friday” moment to an Easter moment, once he rose the window and I slid out.
I still have to convince him who I was and all my ID and Keys were inside….. He held the window as I went in and kept the bright Flashlight on me till I climbed in and walked over to the front door.
I was Free!!
The Photos attached take us from The 3 Crosses for Good Friday to Easter – or as I like to call it, “The Son-Rise”.
Many of us wear a Cross around our neck, many have a Cross hanging in our homes. The Cross is a symbol of Christianity.
Let’s consider the Empty Tomb as one as well. Many died on a Cross but only one came out of the tomb.
Only One was Locked In and Came out – very different from me –Locked Out and Came In - well at least with the Police Officers help.
That is a powerful statement about the power and the love of God.
It is a statement about the power to wipe away fear and uncertainty cause the Tomb was empty.
Should we continue to live a life of Good Fridays”, we may miss the joy and the power of the Son-Rise.
On Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The grave no longer has a hold on Him. We know that everything is OK now and we can wipe away the tears.
I’m sure that every one of us has been touched by difficulty in recent months.
I’m not just talking about the Pandemic. That in itself is enough to make our world sad.
But, in addition, some of you have lost loved ones. Some of you have lost relationships. Some have lost jobs. Some of you have lost your health.
Some of you grieve over school or in our personal lives.
An elderly man facing difficult trials said this past week, “I don’t know how much longer I can take this.” Yesterday I spoke with my mother who was at my dad’s bedside in the hospital.. I told her that I was going to talk today about wiping away the tears. She said, “Sometimes it’s hard to wipe all of them away.” We have all experienced it and we feel that all the tissues in town won’t wipe away the tears.
On that first Easter morning we see how God took Mary and the others from sadness to joy, from brokenness to wholeness.
Mary knew what it was to weep. Then, according to Luke 7, she came to Jesus, kneeling at his feet, weeping, and bathing his feet with her tears. Finally, she had found one in whom was real love. Jesus not only loved her; he forgave her sins.
And when Jesus died on that cross- Good Friday -she was heart broken.
Then she discovered that the tomb had been opened and the body was no longer there.
The grave was empty, not because someone took Jesus away, but because he got up and walked out. God had opened the door of that prison and freed Jesus from death. He did not get stuck – in a window or on Good Friday.
As we move to Easter and the Joy of the Son-Rise, let us be the same.
Think about this. Easter this year may be a little different for us. Many are Locked IN, not Out, many have troubles and are worried. Many are overworked standing up for others. That FIRST Easter was similar. They didn’t go to a church to sing “Thine is the Glory” or other songs .. they were LOCKED in. They were frightened, disappointed, worried. They Jesus broke out and broke into their lives.. The Joy returned. They went from a Good Friday life to an Easter life.
We can do the same. Let us celebrate the JOY,
Lets Pray: Father God, during these days till the SonRise we marvel in the power and promise of our Holy God. You lord Jesus were not LOCKED in any longer. You take us from the Good Fridays of our lives to the Joy of Easter.
We thank you and we praise you. We shout for Joy “He is Risen – He is Risen Indeed”.
We pray this in the risen lords name, our Jesus, Amen
Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. 3 You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, 4 with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.” 6 So Joshua son of Nun summoned the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and have seven priests carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark of the Lord.” 7 To the people he said, “Go forward and march around the city; have the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”
When I was in the Army I was stationed overseas.
The Company captain asked for volunteers to go on a Hike. It was to be a competitive Hike. 25 soldiers in in company will march against each other 2 by 2. Those who did it the fastest would win and the winners would receive a 3 Day Pass.
Well, that sounded good to me. I raised my hand.
When the 25 of us gathered we were told to report in the morning with all our gear.
The next morning we heard the rest of the plan.
We would march a 25 Mile Speed March, in all our gear and that included a 25 Pound Sandbag which was loaded into our back packs.
I thought, that wasn’t in my plan. I still obeyed however cause I wanted that 3 Day Pass.
We practiced for 2 days. We started with a 10 mile one day and then a 15 mile one the next. The Sgt. assured us we could win theis event if we followed his directions.
Our feet were already feeling sore. We spent the evenings trying to soften our Boots as much as possible.
The next day we did it for real.
We were exhausted. Some fell and we had to practically carry them or their Sand Bag. Have you ever tried to do a Speed March, almost like a slow jog, with 50 pounds of extra weight on your back?
The entire company must finish together however, so we needed to trust one another.
It was eye opening to see how large Blisters could get but after a grueling march, we won the contest.
I was glad we trusted one another and we obeyed the Sgt. on the trail but I , like most of the others, spent our 3 day pass in our Bunks.
The Story of Joshua and Jericho was a violent moment, used to make way to Gods plan.
It was a story of Trust as well. A story of obedience. I often wonder what these soldiers were thinking when they march for all those days.
But they trusted someone much greater- God.
Have you listened lately to the wonderful Hymn “Trust and Obey”.
Not only during these days, but for all our journey Trusting and Obeying is important.
Can you recall facing a challenge that was difficult or perplexing?
Perhaps , you like many of us are facing challenging times now.
Much of the News stories are about Trust and Obeying.
The fact is many are doing it well … when the TV tells us, but we must also, trust and Obey our God even more.
Charles Stanly says: When the Lord calls you to a task that seems unreasonable, you have two options. You can obey Him even though you don’t understand what will happen, or you can become fearful and attempt to find a way out.
Joshua chose the first option. Because he trusted the Lord, he disregarded all his military experience and adopted God’s bizarre battle plan. Over the years, he had learned that the Lord is perfectly trustworthy.
We may feel as if we’re always marching in step with the Lord—until He proposes a change of direction.
That’s when our resistance kicks in, along with the realization that we aren’t as close to Him as we thought.
At that point, our decision determines whether the Lord will be able to use us as He desires. Joshua decided time and time again that the Lord’s way was better than his own, and he continued to serve the Lord for the remainder of his life.
At times, obedience is a struggle, as the mind considers all the reasons God’s path is illogical.
When fear takes over, our reasoning says we should run the other way, and we don’t want to comply.
But obedience is always the best choice, because our loving omniscient Father can be trusted.
Lets Pray; Father God, we come to you this day trusting you. Yes we want to trust and obey, for there’s no other way. And just want to be happy. Lord as we march through this day and through the days ahead, we thank you for allowing us to follow your lead. The days behind us have been somewhat grueling, but remain confident that you have it all under control. We may not know why, we may not understand, but you tell us “my ways are not your ways” and we trust in you.
Be with us this day and let us see and recognize special moments which we are obedient to you this day. In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Trust and Obey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmGb3zRv6xE
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
Reading this passage shows us how important it is to follow directions. Peter didn’t know it at the time, but because he followed directions he soon would be 'fishing for men' rather than in the Sea. His entire life was about to change.
Following direction is important.
A few years ago Barb and I were at a Conference in West Va. We were staying on the top floor of the Marriott.
Barb was in a seminar and I went to the room to do some work on my laptop.
I received a call on my Cell and as I usually do, I walk around when talking. I walked over to the Balcony and the sliding doors, I noticed a sign on the door which read "This Balcony is only for view from the inside. DO NOT GO OUT ONTO TH BALCONY"
Guess what? Yeah, you’re right, I slid the door open and went out. The door closed behind me as I continued the call.
The hot summer afternoon sun was beating down on me. I started to feel it, and decided to go back in.
Yeah, right again, the door was locked. I was stuck on a balcony I didn’t belong. I quickly ended my call.
How was I to get back. Barb wouldn’t be back for 2 hours and I couldn’t call her while she was in the Seminar. I looked down to the ground. I saw a friend I knew and Yelled “Herb…. Hey Herb”. He looked around, could barely hear my call…. Then he looked up to the 14th floor.
That is when I thought ‘what can I say to him, how do I explain, what could he do?’… so I just waved to him and said “Hi There”
Now I was really getting hot.
I decided to call the Front desk…. “Hi, this is Mr ONeill in 1427 and I am stuck on the balcony.
“Sir’, the reply came back, ‘you are not to suppose to be ON the balcony”
“Yes, I know, I am sorry, but regardless I am locked out and need help”
“I cannot help you but will transfer you to Concierge”, she told me.
Finally Concierge answered.
“ Hi this is Mr ONeill in 1427, I am locked out of my room”
“Oh, so sorry’ he said. “are you outside your door”
“No, I am on the Balcony”
“Mr Oneill, youre not suppose to be ON the Balcony”
UGGGG. “Yes, I know, but I AM. I need someone to help me”
By now the summer heat was getting to me in a few ways…
“I will transfer you to Security”
FINE, I thought…. “Yes, Please do”
“Hello Security” was the voice I heard after 10-15 minutes.
Again, “This is Mr ONeill and I am locked outside on my Balcony.
Yeah, right again…. “Sir you are not suppose to be on the Balcony”, was the reply.
“I KNOW, I KNOW but I AM!! Yeah the heat in my body was getting to rise like the Heat ON my body.
“I will send someone up”.
“Thank you”. I also thanked God.
Another 10-15 minutes went by, and then I heard a KNOCK on my door. Yes, a KNOCK. I couldn’t believe it. Then the knocking ended. They left.
I called Security again. This time a different person.
“Sir we sent someone up but no one answered the door”
“How am I suppose to answer the door when I am stuck on the balcony”
“Mr ONeill, you are not suppose……..”
I cut him off in midsentence. “I KNOW I am not suppose to be, but I am and I need security NOW!!”
The Sun was beginning to turn my Scots/Irish body to a cooked lobster state.
FINALLY, I heard a knock again and two fellows came in. They walked across the room to me.
There I was standing in my drenched T-Shirt, sweating, hot and annoyed… one at myself and two, cause it took over an hour to get back in.
They walked to the door and before they opened it – yeas, truth… They pointed to the sign which read “DO NOT GO OUT ONTO THE BALCONY”
I growled slowly -- “OPEN – THE- DOOR”
Barb came back about 20 minutes later and looked at my redness and the sweat and said “Oh, I didn’t know you were going down to the Pool”
This passage from Luke is about following directions.
Different of course, but still directions.
I thought that the Sign was insignificant, probably as Peter felt when Jesus, this fellow who was just preaching on his boat said “Put out into deep water”
The day was over, he had this teacher in his boat and he had other plans…. But, unlike me, he followed the directions.
It may have seemed trivial, but it set him on a different course as he ‘sailed’ though history.
Then he threw out his nets, the same ones he had out all day, and had more fish than he could handle.
I wonder if he may have even found a Lobster or two.
Just by following these directions verbatim , he saw the power of this preacher man, and never looked at Him the same.
God still gives directions.
We surely have had a lot of directions lately.
“Don’t go out in public – stay 6’ feet apart- No social gathering – wash your hands”
I have been following them, as many of you are.
We have been washing our hands so much to the tune of Happy Birthday to me….just as the directions say … that later this month, when the family brings my Birthday cake in, and they start to sing, I will probably rush over to the sink.
Yes, we follow those directions well.
Are we following HIS directions as well.
To “Be Still” to “Trust in me with all your heart”; to “not be anxious for anything – and to pray”
When we listen to HIS directions, we may still find ourselves stuck on a balcony someday, but we will never be lost or alone.
Father God, We thank you for the directions you give us. Sometimes we find them in your Holy Word. The Bible gives us them abundantly.
We hear them as well in the stillness of the day, when the Spirit speaks to us. May we follow them this day and throughout this journey.
Bless those in need, and you, Lord Jesus, know whom they are and what they need. Yes, Bless them and us this day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
Mark 4: 35-41
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Just a few months ago I went to one of those Car Washes where you Put your Card in and then the door opens and you drive in and stop. Then the Jets move back and forth and with Water, Soap and Wax.
While the Jets were going I was sitting comfortably on my car. I started to think – “Hmmm, I should have taken my Eagles Bumper Sticker off the back of the car. It was a special one. Shape of a Football with an Eagles Logo and simply said “41-33”.
When the wash was over the Exit door automatically open and I drove through the Dryer Blowers.
Once outside, the door closed and I got out to check the Decal. Sure enough it came off. It was inside the now closed Wash Bay.
I drove around to the front. No one else was getting their car washed and there was no way for me to get inside.
I charged another wash and the door opened…. Well, I surely wasn’t going Drive in, it would set off the Jets and besides I would be able to find my decal.
I decided just to walk in.
When I was in the middle of the soap suds, the door closed. And because I tripped the Light Sensors, the Wash began.
I yelled for someone to help, but there was no one around. The Jets moved towards me and I was getting soaked with the prewash. I ran to the other exit door and the Jets followed me, now with Soap. I was covered. It went back and forth for five minutes, then it stopped. I saw my Magnet in the midst of all the soap, and I felt at ease, soaked, but at ease. The Exit door opened, and I went to wards it only to have the powerful Drying Fans blwoing me back. I pushed on and through and ran out.
I looked around to make sure there was no one there… they would have been laughing there heads off.
I drove home, wet from head to feet. I walked in and Barb asked..”what happened to you”?
“ I was stuck in storm, please don’t ask again”
WOW.. I could have used Jesus to calm those JETS at that time
Have you ever been caught in a wicked storm?
Whether a Natural one or Manmade (like mine)?
We could feel we are in a STORM right now.
Cannot go outside, worried about finances, anxious about loved one, over worked in other cases… it all could be considered a storm in our lives.
Sometimes the storms of LIFE are heavier and last longer.
Many believers expect life to be filled with comfort and ease.
And then when the storms come upon us, bringing disruption, trouble, conflict, and worry, we start wondering where the Lord is.
After all, we are believers in Jesus Christ, and God is our loving heavenly Father. So why is He letting this happen?
We are told the disciples would have preferred smooth sailing, actually expected it as well. Then the waves came, and they came hard and fast. That is when they were able to see Jesus in a new and different way.
He stands and rebukes the wind and the waves and they had ‘peace’.
Here we read that they ask “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
The same can be true for us when the storms hit us.
Storms can provide us with new opportunities to see Jesus in a new light.
It’s in our extreme need that we can begin to see we have too small a view of God. We asked earlier “How Big is Your God – remember?
We all may be going through our own personal storm during these weeks.
We all may be able to see Jesus in a new way as the disciples did that day on the Sea. The Circumstances may not immediately cease, after all He never promised us a Rose Garden, but we can take hold of His Peace and that alone can bring comfort.
He may not have opened the doors of the car wash so I can escape, but He gave me the strength to get though it…. He was probably laughing as well.
We come to you through your Son, our Jesus. He brings us the Peace of God even in the midst of our storms. We pray for those who seek that peace in so many different ways.
We want to see you in a new way this day. We want to hear you say “Peace, be still”.
Walk with us this day, for this is the day You have made for us. Tomorrow is not promised and yesterday ended at midnight…. Let your presence and your peace be known to us this day… and in the name of Jesus we offer our prayers and say Amen.
Stay Safe, Be Well and remember the 5 P's.
15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
HAVE you ever wandered off like the sheep?
Part of you knew you shouldn’t but you did anyway…
A few years ago I was in the Hospital for 2 weeks. I missed being home with Barb and I missed our Dogs.
One day Barb brought the dogs over for me to see. They were in the car down in the Parking Lot, and she parked near my window. I was on the 4th floor.
When she arrived my sister was there as well visiting.
She said the dogs were here and in the car. I was excited to see them.
My Sister and Barb were blocking the view and I wanted to see.
I could hear them laughing and saying things like.. "aw, look how cute they are", but I couldnt see them.
SO – I took my Drip Pole and in my Gown and walked out.
Barb and Sharon never saw me go, I walked right pass the Nurses station, got on elevator and walked to the car..
My sister saw this 'guy', rolling his Drip Pole through the Lot and laughinly said...“Hey, that fellow with the Pole looks like Larry”
Barb turned to see my empty bed… “THAT IS LARRY”.
They ran out, followed closely by Nurses and Security.
They got me back. Gotta tell ya, they were not happy.
Yes, I guess I knew I should not have done that, but when other things distract us, perhaps we 'wander off'.
That can be not be good in these times as well.
We are doing what we should be doing, for ourselves, our families and the community at large, and some for almost 3 weeks. We get rammy (if thats a word) and start drawing on the things we WANT to do rather than what we SHOULD do and wander off.
Now that is just not meaning we want to get OUT, but we also fall away from our spiritual life.
It surely would be wonderful if after we accepted Jesus, our lives progressed in a straight line of uninterrupted obedience to our heavenly Father.
That is not always the case however, because we all stray now and then.
Jesus tells this story about a shepherd who went in search of a lost sheep.
While this parable is about the salvation of a wayward soul, the lessons in the story can also be applied to those of us who belong to Christ.
We know we are held in the Father’s hand (remember - He's Got the Whole World in His Hands) and will never lose our salvation, we can drift away from Him when distractions come in front of us.
Those distractions can be Cabin Fever, or Fear, worry and anxiousness. That is the time when we should ask - why would I wander away from the God who loves me?
If a sheep takes its eyes off the shepherd, it can easily meander toward a more appealing patch of grass and end up far afield.
In the same way, we might see a path that seems to lead to a better outcome.
But as we follow it, we grow further from the Lord and His light upon our path.
We may not notice the distance between us and our Savior until we find ourselves in trouble.
We may know our choice is not the right one, but we rationalize the decision or blame our circumstances for misleading us.
We, like I did that day, wander away just because I couldn't look at the window.
Regardless of how we end up off of Jesus’s path, we are responsible for the action that put us there.
Though another opportunity may look good, the only place believers will find true contentment is in a trusting, obedient relationship with Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and guard against pursuing anything except His will.
When we do, we do not need to have security drag us back.
Father God, we thank you for this day. We thank you for the blessings you have given us. Let us be aware of what we DO have rather than what we do NOT have.
Lord, we are anxious, bored, worried and some, over worked and over stressed and we want to give it all to You.
Jesus calls us to Come to Him, and this day we do -- and by doing so, we will not wander away from the Good Shepherd.
Bless us and bless us indeed this day.
In Jesus name we prayer, Amen
Peace and Blessings, Be safe and stay well and remember the 5 P’s.
1 Peter 5:6-7:
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Do you sometimes feel as if you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? Burdens come in all forms, but they have one thing in common—they weigh us down and wear us out.
And the longer we carry them, the heavier they seem. Unless we deal with them properly, they can cloud our thinking, interfere with our work, and affect our life in many ways.
Barb and I were in Manhattan at Christmas a few years ago. Did the Holiday shopping at Macys, watched the Ice Skating and the enjoyed the Tree in Rockefeller Center.
The International Building caught my eye. Outside the building is a very large, impressive statue of Atlas. He was carrying the World on his back. Muscles were straining as he held the weight of the world upon his shoulders.
Across the street is St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Choir was practicing their Christmas music. We went in and moved to front to hear them. They were wonderful, of course, but something else caught my eye. It was another statue. This one however was of Jesus as a small child, standing very peacefully and hold the world on His left hand – effortlessy.
It made me think.
As the ‘world’ struggles to handle our issues , each in their own way, we struggle.
During these days the world’s answers for anxiety mounting, but Jesus offers the only true solution.
The author of Hebrews writes in chapter 4 : 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin
Jesus, not only wants us to, but encoursges us to to cast our worries and concerns on Him because He cares for us.
He’s our faithful High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses and intercedes for us with His Father .
While on His earthly journey, Jesus knew firsthand the difficulties and burdens of life.
He knew how to live on meager financial resources without feeling anxious and that is sometimes hard for us, especially now.
Most importantly He trusted His Father
He experienced betrayal by Judas Iscariot and rejection by His own people. And while Jesus never sinned, He faced temptations just as we do.
When, and as, we feel the pressure of the day, let us accept His call to give our burdens to Him?
Perhaps we’ve tried, but the heavy load of concern and worry just seems to keep rolling back onto our shoulders. We struggle like Atlas.
It takes a humble spirit to admit we can’t handle things ourselves, and it takes trust to allow God to work the situation out according to His will.
“After all He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (listen below)
If we’ll surrender the burden to Him, the only thing we have to lose is our anxiety.
Father God, we come to you today encouraged by the knowledge that You have the Whole world in your hands. That means us. It means You have know our cares, our worries and and our anxiety all the time and perhaps even more during these days.
We sometimes struggle to carry our burdens ourselves, and we ask that you forgive us.
We know you are in control, and You walk with us during our trying times and we thank you.
Let us feel the “peace which the world cannot give”.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Peace and Blessings, Be safe and stay well and remember the 5 P’s.
Where is God?
A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous.
The two were always getting into trouble and their parents could be assured that if any mischief occurred in their town their two young sons were in some way involved.
The parents were at their wits end as to what to do about their sons' behavior. The mother suggested they talk with their Pastor. He may help, he had children…
The husband said, 'We might as well. We need to do something before I really lose my temper!'
The Pastor agreed to speak with the boys, but asked to see them individually.
The 8 year old went to meet with him first. The pastor sat the boy down, made some opening introductions and then asked the boy--'Where is God?'
The boy made no response, so the pastor repeated the question in an even sterner tone, 'Where is God?'
Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the pastor raised his voice even more and pointed his finger and asked again 'WHERE IS GOD?'
At that the boy bolted from the room and ran directly home, slamming himself in the closet.
His older brother followed him into the closet and asked what had happened. The younger brother replied, 'We are in BIG trouble this time. God is missing and they think we did it.'
Sometimes we all have problems with that question as well. WHERE IS God? We try and try, we pray and pray and yet it seems sometimes we wondered if someone took him.
During these days, many of us may wonder sometimes, WHERE IS GOD, as well.
In John 11, they wondered as well.
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
Here we read that Jesus, God incarnate waited.
Gods timing however is always perfect, and He is always in control.
He told those who were angry at Him for healing the Lame man by the Pool in Jerusalem, and doing it on the Sabbath.
He said, as recorded in John 5:
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
Sometimes that work comes in Mountain top ways … we all know about The Flood, David’s clash with Goliath, Opening the Red Sea and of course the miraculous. Birth of the long awaited savior. Those in darkness have seen a great light.
It doesn’t end there however.
He is always at work, in in quiet ways and when we think He has stopped.
This is what the sisters said when He finally arrived in John 11 again :
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
then a few verses later:
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
He wept…. Scripture tells us just before that verse, the shortest on in the Bible, “He was moved by the Spirit and was troubled”
Perhaps one of the reasons He was troubled because of the sadness, but also because their faith was wavering.
When we face difficult times we may waver as well.
When we remember that He is always at work we can feel encouraged and walk ‘through’ any Valley, even when the darkness overcomes us we can see a great light.
We don’t have to hide in a closet and worry “where is God”, we know He is wherever we are.
Lets Pray: Father God, we do not hide in our closet and wonder where you are today. We come to you full of faith, faith is that whioch is believed though unseen.
Thank you Lord Jesus for being with us always. Just as you promised “I will never leave you NOR forsake you”. That ‘forsake you’ stands with us today as much as the faith that you will never leave us.
Forgive us when we sometimes wavier, when we succumb to the fear and loneliness which the Evil One showers upon us.
We love You and our faith is in you.
In Jesus name we offer our prayer… AMEN
In the Woods
3 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a]
If you’ve ever been lost in the woods,?
I know I have.
A few years back Barb and I were vacationing in Yellowstone area, Jackson Lake I believe. We rented a small cabin down by the lake side. There were only a few and at that time of year, even fewer were occupied.
We drive down from the Guard station and unloaded our luggage. We went down to the lake and enjoyed the Sunset and then went back to the small porch off the side of the cabin.
We watched the final rays of the Sun set and were at peace.
We decided to go back into the cabin.
The problem was that I ‘somehow’ locked the door. My keys to my car and my sandals were inside….
We were over a mile from the station.
Barb was concerned, but I said ‘no worry, I will walk up to the station and get another set of keys’.
So , here I go, bare footed, in the dark, walking up to someplace I am only guessing was there.
I saw a path, and decided to follow that instead of the dirt road, and I took it.
Soon I realized that I was walking more than a mile.
Then I heard another person walking in the wood.
The branches snapped, the limbs were being pushed – but he seemed to be making better head way than me.
I called over : “excuse me – is this the way to the Guard Cabin?”
No answer – only silence.
Then I heard him walking again.
I moved closer and asked the question again – “Are you heading up to the front gates?”
Again – stillness.
When he started to walk again, hardly being able to see my hand in front of my face, I decided to follow.
He was moving very well, so I rushed to stay up to him.
I stared to think he may be afraid I was stalking him, so I moved as stealthily as I could. At that point I had no idea where I was.
Finally I could hear him shortly ahead. He had again stopped.
I moved closer and , not wanting to scare him, open the bushes and limbs as quietly as I could… and said” Excuse me, can you help me?”
Then and only then did I realize I was staring in the eyes of a Big, Big Bear ---
His eyes went wider than me, he ran one way and I ran the other.
I made record time back to the lake and the cabin.
We slept in our car that night …..
If you have ever been in a situation like that (and hopefully not) you know the concerns, confusion, and panic such a situation causes.
Now think what a difference it would have made to know that a guiding light before you….
Spiritually speaking, we all have such a Light… whether in the Woods at Yellowstone , or right now, Hunkered down in these days… We call it—God’s Word.
But guess what, it does no good unless we let it guide us during these trying times
There have been many ways and we have many hours of opportunity to dig in and study His word.
Each week , after our Scripture reading I say “ May Gods blessings be revealed in the reading and studying of His Word”
That studying is so important. We all can read… but it takes commitment to STUDY
At times, we may fail to study scriptural guidance because of many reasons ...
Neglect. Sometimes we are so busy walking through life a dn life issues (especially now) that we forget to follow the Light of the World to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.
Pride. We often want to determine our own destiny. Many of us prefer to plan a course of action by relying on our strength, wisdom, and abilities. What a difference it makes when we put our pride away and submit to that which God puts forward to us
Distractions. The Lord’s path of obedience isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be extremely challenging. The evil One offers other trails that promise pleasure and ease if we will just ignore the Word and follow him.
Although these routes seem pleasant at first, they lead to heartbreak and discouragement, and sometimes the “Bears” in our day.
Difficulties. Whenever obstacles appear on the trail, our natural tendency is to try and find a way around them.
But by ignoring God’s light following our OWN path, we’ll miss the blessings He wants to give us through the rough patches—benefits such as strong faith and godly character.
Why should we wander when the Lord’s light is available?
Let Scripture be our guide on life’s journey.
God promises productive days and fruitful years if you follow His path.
Why should we wander through these days when the Lord’s Light is available?
Let Scripture be our guide on this journey.
God promises productive days and fruitful years if we follow His path.
He’ll direct us through this as well as other trials we may face later.
He directed ME back to the Cabin…. Scratched feet and all. To that I will always be thankful,
By the way, in the morning, Barb and I walked the dirt road to the Station.
She had her sandals…. I just limped along.
Be safe, Be well … and please remember the 5 P’s.
Lets Pray… Oh Father God, we come before you and ask that you shed your light on our journeys path. Not through the Woods of Yellowstone, but the through the Woods of these days.
We know you are on the Throne and in all ways, on all days, You are in control.
Let us use these quiet days to spend time with you and your Word..
Let us not just read, but study and see the Light our Jesus, the Light of the World is illuminating upon our journeys path.
Bless us and bless us indeed.
In Jesus name we pray …. Amen and Amen
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Many years ago I dropped off my date after a Movie Date.
I was just a little over 16 years old and had my first car which my father bought me for my birthday. Now it wasn’t anything fancy, not like a Charger , a Camaro or a Vette etc, it was a Corvair, but it was special to me -- .
The Movie we watched was especially scary. There was a scene in it where the Villian hid in the back seat of a car and when ready, he reached up and grabbed the driver.
It was close to midnight, and I was driving up Township Line Road as I thought about this. It was dark of course and I just wanted to get home. I was about 2 miles from home as I was getting ready to go over the RailRoad tracks.
The scene from the movie was waying heavey on me and then I thought –“ya, know, I never even checked the back seat before I got in; someone could be back there right now, and as soon as I stop, he’ll grab me”
I stared to panic. So I thought – I’ll just slowly check the back seat with the rear view mirror, nothing fast, nothing obvious, just look. So slowly I adjusted the Mirror a bit and began to move my head to look….
AHHHHH ---- there he was, looking at me, he was right there and close…
I over reacted and yelled, and my car went off the road and down the embankment on the other side of the RR tracks.
My car was buried in brush and the front end – it was a mess. Only then did I realize the face I saw in the mirror – was mine.
I scared myself off the road.
That wasn’t my only lack of courage that night.
One can only assume what courage it was going to take, now to walk 2 miles home and tell my Dad I was in an accident and “I” was the reason….
I thought of this passage from Joshua
Can you imagine the COURAGE it took for Joshua to move ahead?
Much more than it was for me, walking home.
As Joshua stepped into Moses’ giant-sized sandals, he faced a tremendous challenge: bringing the Israelites into the Promised Land.
The responsibility was huge, and we can surmise from the Lord’s repeated commands to “be strong and courageous” that Joshua was probably not feeling up to the task (Josh. 1:6-7; Josh. 1:9).
At one time or another, we all face obstacles and difficulties that seem insurmountable. Many are feeling isolated and alone right now. Others are on the ‘front lines’ of this virus and they and/or their families may be worried.
The question is, How do we respond?
Some people try to push through or manipulate their way around the barriers, while others give up.
But the Lord wants us to trust Him to remove each impediment.
Any obstacle that stands between us and God’s purpose is subject to His supernatural power.
Most of us would readily agree that nothing is too difficult for the Lord, but fear and worry reveal our doubts.
By focusing on the problem, we allow it to grow and block our view of almighty God.
Knowing the difficulty of Joshua’s assignment, the Lord assured him that he would be successful in completing the mission. God’s responsibility was to remove every hindrance that stood between the Israelites and the land He had promised to give them. Joshua’s job was to believe the Lord and carefully obey all His commands.
Obstacles are one way that our faith can grow.
When we are confused and cannot see how God could work out your situation, lets not walk away in defeat and miss His blessing.
He wants to teach you His way of obedience, trust, and courage.
Believe Him—He always keeps His promises.
BTW – I summed up my courage and told my Dad exactly what happened.
He never was mad at me, and helped me that night as late as it was to dig my car out of the Brush….. actually, he couldn’t get mad, we was laughing too hard all night.
Be safe, stay well and always blessed.
Lets pray, Father God, we come to you this day with varied obstacles in our path. Some are worn out and tired, fatigued and perhaps over worked as they are working in the medical practice; some are our first responders , now doing extra duty due to others who may be not ‘on the lines’, ; families who wory for their loved ones; others may be angry at their situation or perhaps bored…. They are all obtacles which prevent us from seeing the blessings you shower upon us.
Lord as we pray for all those above, we ask that help us remove our own obstacles and to “Be strong and courageous “ and to put our trust in You.
Thank you Lord Jesus for being our Good Shepherd and walking with us through our Valleys.
I Jesus name we pray, amen.
PS – This link is a wonderful song by one of my favorite artists. It makes a point that obstacles can be large or small. I am also trying to practice on my Ukulele.
I read that - once upon a time, before television, there was radio.
You know what radio is--television without pictures.
Well, before television, one of the most popular daytime radio programs was called "Queen for a Day."
He wrote that each day four or five women from the studio audience would tell the host what they would like to have and do if they could be "Queen for a Day."
And then, on the basis of applause, one woman was chosen, and insofar as they were able, the sponsors fulfilled her wildest desires.
She was given a number of valuable prizes and for one day she reigned as "Queen."
That sounds like what happened to Jesus, doesn’t it?
Jesus was crowned "King for a Day" on that first Palm Sunday.
Still a few weeks away, but during this lent season, as we journey to the Cross and the Son-Rise, we trek through Palm Sunday.
Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem marked the beginning of his last week on earth.
It fulfilled prophecy and revealed his true identity to the masses.
But I think it was more than that.
It was God’s own gift of encouragement to Jesus.
As Jesus rode through the crowd who praised and cheered Him, as if He WAS King for a Day -- it was as if God was saying, "Son—remember this day? Remember what it’s like to hear the angels above say 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.' Only one more week and it will be finished— and you will be home.”
We all need encouragement at times.
William Arthur Ward once said:- Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.
In a sense our life, especially in these ‘times’ we could use the cloud of witnesses - our heroes, our family and friends - cheering us on in a similar fashion.
We too can be the ones who are the encouragers.
Encouraging our family, friends, those who are shut-in with limited supply of food.
We can encourage the Doctors, Nurses, Technicians and all the Health Care folks working their best to help others. The First Responders of all sorts, who are still there to Protect (one of our 5 P’s).
Who can WE make a Queen for a Day? A King for a day?
When we feed the hearts of others with encouragement, we find peace. (and that wasn’t even one of the P’s)
There is a story of a young couple who were planning their wedding. They were in love with ONE another as well as with their Lord Jesus.
The Bride hired a wonderful Baker and Decorator to make the Cake for their reception.
She asked that he just put the words “1John 4:18” on the top.
That is the beautiful passage : “18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”.
They knew they had ‘perfect love’
She was aghast when they arrived at the reception and saw on the top on the cake “John 4:18”.
The Baker forgot the “ONE (1).
John 4 is the story of the Woman at the Well and the Verse 18 is:
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Wow, how things can change just ONE number.
Yes, One number, One person, makes a difference.
In THESE times when each “ONE” of us is, or should be, taking it upon ourselves to not only ‘be’ healthy, but to keep someone else healthy, that number has new respect.
That number is important as well to our little church and to the greater church as well.
Paul writes about Jesus and His Bride in Ephesians 4:
He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What does that mean to us…..WE, individually and as a Body of Christ are ONE with Him.
Charles Stanley explains it this way:
One body. God adopts people into His family without regard for race, gender, or denomination. Trust in Jesus Christ is all that matters
One Spirit. All Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We’re different on the outside, but as believers, we all have the Spirit to empower and guide us.
One hope. As believers, we share a common hope—the return of Jesus and life in heaven with Him.
One Lord. Jesus’ lordship extends over all people. We should submit to His authority in every area of life.
One faith. Believers are united in one faith, which is founded on several basic truths: Jesus is God; He lived a sinless life, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, where He’s seated at God’s right hand.
Yes, when we are ONE in Christ, we can better understand the things we have in common and not dwell on that which separates us.
My Prayer for today:
Father God, We thank you, and bring praise and honor to you this morning .. we are grateful we can join together as B&S’s in the body of Christ, perhaps not in person, this day, but as ONE BODY united in our love for you. We may be in many different places this day, but are ONE with you.
We thank you for this day of light and warmth.. and not just in the pre-spring sunshine but for your love.
We know that spring and summer will turn into fall and winter.. not just outside, but also in our lives.. but your presence is ever upon us..
We come here this morning, children in need of your comfort.
We hunger for tranquility.
We thirst for the peace we have known in months and years past.
We seem somewhat separated from our social norm, but we feel secure in your arms and in the prayers of our sisters and brothers in Christ.
We pray for family and friends around the world who are in similar situations and we know you are in control and all ‘this shall pass’.
As we adjust to what may be the new norm at least for a few weeks, we understand that we do not always appreciate what we have till its gone … we struggle with a day to day regimen that keeps us anxious, keeps us on edge, but Lord Jesus, we come to you today knowing that YOU can calm the seas of our souls, that YOU can establish a PEACE within us and OH God, we thank you for that.
Lord, we ask you to Bless us, and bless us indeed ..
For all the mercy you have showered upon us. For all the grace you have bestowed ON us.. for the glory that belongs to you and you alone, we praise you, thank you and love you … In Jesus name we pray -AMEN
Remember the 5 P’s and let us be One with Christ and with One Another.
Blessings and Peace
Larry ONeill, Pastor
3/12/20: I wish to share which I have pondered deeply these past weeks.
The Updates on the COVID-19 strain comes daily and it seems to change hourly.
I have always considered myself in a “last man standing” mentality.
That is not Prudent. (The first P)
That being said, Church services will be Cancelled this Sunday.
While some may say this is over reactive, it is actually my ‘2nd P’ - Proactive.
Being overreactive or overcautious it may be, but being proactive for a week or two is still acceptable.
It comes after a lot of thought and even more prayer.
This virus affects folks differently, but with the population of our church family, and the rapidly moving components of this virus, we want to have some sense of “Preventiveness” for those who would attend.
It would be hard for me personally to carry the guilt-feeling should someone become sick or seriously ill by not being ‘Protective’ of them.
I will be sending a similar message to the Local churches, informing them the Mid-Week Lent service will not be held at Skippack next Wednesday.
My final “P” is Prayerfulness”.
Let us keep those who are ill, those in the Healthcare profession who, even if not working with patients with the Virus, are in a location where the possibility is greater, in our prayers.
I will send out a Time for Peace, a Prayer and a Sermon.
I would do something on YouTube, or Upload it to our Website if I could ever figure out how to do that.
Sunday March 22 will be decided later. We have some thoughts about that, but we will see how this week plays out.
I have believed since Valentine’s Day, and told many folks, that we will all have greater grasp and understanding of the impact of this Virus by St Patricks’ Day, and it seems we will.
Till then – let us be Prudent – Proactive – Preventive - Protective and of course Prayerful.
Please call, email or text me if you have questions, or if I can assist in any way.
Blessings and Peace
Larry ONeill, Pastor
At Skippack Church, it's our mission to help you explore your relationship with God and improve those meaningful relationships in your family life. Join us each Sunday and experience the warmth of faith and the strength of our community.