Meditation

Featured

01/17/2020

“At that time I pleaded with the Lord: ‘O Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there to heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—-that fine hill country and Lebanon.’ But because of your the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. . ‘That is enough,’ The Lord said. ‘Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. God up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan.’” (Deuteronomy 3:23-27)

God say, “No,” to some of our petitions. Moses’ request had been blocked by sin (Numbers 20:6-12). Once God speaks, His word remain unalterable. God’s “No” to a prayer request does not mean He does not forgive us or accept us as His saved people.

It means we must accept some earthly consequences of sin even when the sin no longer separates us from God. A divine, “No,” does not end our prayer life. It does call us to accept His answer and continue our fellowship with Him.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, the lesson from Deuteronomy today teaches us that we are to continue our relationship with You, even when You tell us “No” to a request. Sin had separated Moses and Aaron from God, because of a lack of faith in God doing as He said He would do. Abba, we believe in Your Word and we believe in the relationship that we have with You and we believe that You will do exactly has You have said You would do. You are our God and there is no other. Guide us always in Your ways and let Your will be done, as is necessary for our benefit. All this we pray in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

The Bible isn’t antique or modern, it is eternal.

KNOWING GOD:

Surely the arm of he Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah59:12)

Beloved sin separates us from God and blocks His answers to our prayer requests.

The honest prayer of repentance removes the hindrances to answered prayer. However, as in the case with Moses, the sin he committed of not trusting God completely, kept him from entering into the Promised Land. God allowed him to see the land from atop a hill, but he was not allowed to enter. Forgiveness of our sins, does not mean we not held accountable from them, but it does mean our relationship with God is restored.

I AM:

Prayer, Hindrances”: (Malachi 2:11-14)

Two offenses prevented God from accepting the offerings of the people—-marriage to a pagan and divorce. A right spirit, not an emotional outpouring, would make the offerings acceptable. Family relationships greatly affect our prayer life. Giving or ceremonial worship does not remove the necessity for right living, including respect within families. The holiness of God means unforgiven sin separates us from Him. Israel thought nothing of divorcing wives who had long been faithful for younger, more attractive foreigners. Then they entered worship and expected God to hear their prayers and accept their gifts. God refused. We must find forgiveness of sin before we can worship the holy God.

Second Thought of the Day:

“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord had done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’” (Mark 5:1819)

Here again, some prayers receive an answer of “no.” As worthy as the desire to stay with Jesus was, Jesus had a higher purpose for the former demoniac. Prayer leads us to follow God’s will to achieve His purposes.

Jesus’ miraculous healing of Legion, casting the demons out of him, was a powerful demonstration of the grace of God. Graces is the unmerited blessing, the gift of God’s overflowing love to one who does not deserve it and has no grounds for asking for it. Jesus Himself was the instrument of healing for the man, but He told him that the blessing that came to him was mercy from the Lord. Then, He sent him to tell and show his family, friends, and neighbors, what the Lord had done for him through His mercy.

Meditation

Sermon for Proper 21 09/27/20

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Exodus 17:1-7; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all circumstances would say: My king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect, no mistakes!

One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty from losing a finger. Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman said, “Is God good?” If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger.

The slave replied only “My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he knows the “why” of all these things. What God does is perfect. He is never wrong!”

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave. Later, he left for another hunt and was captured by savages who made human sacrifices. While on the altar, ready to sacrifice the noble, the savage found that the victim had a missing finger and so he was released. According to them: “He was not complete to be offered to the gods.”

Upon his return to the palace, the king authorized the release of his slave to whom he said very affectionately: My dear, God was really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger, I was let go! But I have a question: If God is so good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?

“My King, if I had gone with you on this hunt, I would have been sacrificed for you, because I have no missing finger. Therefore, remember: everything God does is perfect. HE is never wrong.

Often we complain about life and the negative things that occur to us, forgetting that nothing is random and that everything serves a purpose.

Every morning, offer your day to God. Ask God to inspire your thoughts, guide your actions, that all you do serve His purposes.. And do not be afraid. God is never wrong!

God knows, He knows why, and God is never wrong!

In Exodus, we have the testing of God by the people, who needed water, and they complained over and over to Moses. God told Moses to go ahead of the people, but take some elders and he be at the rock at Horeb and He would be in front of him and to strike the rock and the water would come out of it for the people to drink. He did this in the sight of the elders and called it Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and they tested the Lord saying,”Is the Lord among us or not?”

In Philippians, Paul wrote this letter from prison, and he is talking to the church in Philippi, that if they feel united with Christ; if they feel tenderness and compassion for others; if they have the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, then they are to do as Jesus did, by keeping the attitude of humility always in the forefront of their minds, not looking towards their own interests, but for others. He then tells them that it is God working in you to exercise His will and to act according to His good purposes.

Our Gospel message from Matthew this morning is centered on authority and obedience. Jesus had entered the Temple courts, and while he was teaching, the chief priests and elders of the people challenged Him as to His authority to teach and preach and who had given Him this authority?

Jesus said, “Let me ask you a question and if you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” His question was, “John’s baptism—-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”

The chief priests and elders discussed it and said, “If we say, ‘From Heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’ we are afraid of he people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So they simply said, “We don’t know.” Jesus’ response was, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things!

Then Jesus went into the parable of the two sons, where the first was told by his father to go today in the vineyards, and he said, “No!” Then he went anyway, whereas the second son was told the same thing and said, “I will go,” but never went. Jesus asked which son did what the father asked and they said, the first, and he said they were right.

Jesus said to them, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom ahead of you. John came to you to show you the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even when you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Beloved, faith can move mountains, even the mountains of our unregenerate nature. Answers to prayers are correlated with the measure of faith by the one praying. Jesus’ actions revealed He assumed God’s authority over the Temple and over nature. He did not verbally claim such authority knowing that would lead to a premature arrest.

What God wants is actual obedience, not just lip service. The kingdom of God is entered by faith, not by prior rank or social standing.

In short, Matthew’s message is that we must focus on Jesus, making our response to Him the central issue. He wrote this for a church whose members had differing opinions about important issues. So too, today’s church members may disagree on some issues, but Matthew wants us to look beyond the issues that divide and center instead on Jesus and His teachings.

Remember, God knows; He knows why, and He is never wrong! Amen

Rev. Jerry Lyle

Meditatiion

09/25/2020

He said to them, ‘This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. ‘Eat it today,’ Moses said, because today is a Sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.’ Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go put. So the people rested on the seventh day.(Exodus 16:23-30)

God told Israel to set apart the sabbath as a special time of rest. God had set the example for such a special time during he days of creation. Subsequent to this passage the Ten Commandments stipulated the setting apart of a special day to worship. The Sabbath was the most sacred day of the week for the Jew. It was cherished and hallowed by the worship of the Lord. The national worship of Israel culminated in the annual Festival of Passover, Festival of Unleavened Bead, and Festival of Weeks. The Day of Atonement rose to special prominence as a time of special repentance and confessional worship.

In the New Testament the early church continued to hold a special day of worship. Shortly after the ascension of the Lord Jesus, he early church began to worship on the first day (the Lord’s Day). You see the early Christians continued to worship in the Temple or synagogue until persecution drove them away. They then moved worship that they celebrated the Lord’s resurrection.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, You continued to teach the people during and in the transition of the Old Testament to the New Testament. The people continued to worship You, before and after the persecution. You love us enough that we must strive to read Your Word everyday, for understanding and to ensure that what we do is within Your will and that through Your Word, You still talk to us regularly. This, we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Our limitations are made by us, not by God.

KNOWING GOD:

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” (Acts20:7)

As outlined in the Exodus comments, the early church worshiped at differing times, for a variety of reasons. Certainly when the persecutions began, many were worshiping in home or outside of their community and eventually in the caves where they were hiding. The when is not as important as the act itself. It was important for them to worship, as it should be for all of us today. It is our way of witnessing to others, just how important our faith truly is.

I AM:

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives hanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks o God.” (Romans14:56)

God gave us the example of the Creation. He worked six days and rested on the seventh. He wants us to understand that we cannot work all the time, for we must take a day to rest and refresh our faith in Him.

I guess the point being that we are to worship God on the seventh day, but we also can honor Him in our words and actions every day. There was a time, when I remember stores being closed on Sunday’s, except for emergency items, but that was a pretty short list of items. You didn’t see kids playing, because there was worship on Sunday morning and youth groups and choir practice on Sunday nights.

Second Thought of the Day:

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” (Revelation1:10)

John was at worship and was “in the Spirit” meaning he was fully engulfed by the Holy Spirit in his worship. He “heard” behind him a loud voice like a trumpet.

What John heard led him to write the letters which make up Revelations 2:1-3:22. He did so while John worshiped on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week celebrating Christ’s resurrection. The Spirit gave John the precise wording of the letters to the Churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Meditation

09/24/2020

Their fellow Levites were assigned to all the other duties of the tabernacle, the house of God. But Aaron and his descendants were the ones who presented offerings on the altar of burnt offerings and on the altar of incense in connection with all that was done in the Most Holy Place, making atonement for Israel, in accordance with all that Moses the servant of God had commanded.(1st Chronicles6:4849)

Congregational worship requires preparation and leadership. God designated that certain individuals should preside over public worship. This order of priests carried out the ritual and ceremony of worship. A tension developed between the spiritual and ritualistic aspects of worship.

The prophets represented the spiritual, and the priests of the Temple represented the ritualistic. This very tension revealed that both aspects were necessary. In the New Testament we see this position expressed in the person of the apostles, elders, bishops, and pastors of the early church and equipped each individual to be “priests.”

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, in the transition of the Old Testament to the New Testament, You clarified the positions in the church and also the responsibilities for everyone, so as to keep everyone aware of their responsibilities and authority; what they could and could not do. You even equipped each individual to be a priest in Your church. This, we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

God doesn’t make mistakes, but He can correct ours!

KNOWING GOD:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.’” (Zechariah3:7)

Worship leaders play an essential role for the purpose of leading God’s people. God expects them to be strong, ethical, and moral examples for His people. Moral living give authority to lead worship.

I AM:

It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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.” (Ephesians4:11-13)

The New Testament teaches that God ordained leaders in the church. Their purpose is to equip each individual believer to be a priest. This great doctrine of the priesthood of the believer means hat every individual Christian has direct access to God through Christ Jesus.

Jesus is the one Mediator between God and us (1st Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.’). We need no human mediator between God and us.

Second Thought of the Day:

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that yo may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now yo have received mercy.” (1st Peter 2:5, 9-10)

God promised Moses that His covenant people Israel would be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus19:6). That promise is fulfilled in the New Testament by the church, the ideal Israel. The disciples of Christ are “a royal priesthood” and “a holy nation.” The priest’s responsibility is to represent God before the world and the world before God. Priests present offerings/sacrifices to God; teach the people God’s way of life for them; deal with the sin problem for God’s people.

Jesus solved the “sin problem” once and for all, destroying the barrier which barred God’s people from direct access to Him. Thus, each believer became responsible to go to God: confessing sins and receiving forgiveness; live a holy life representing the holy God before the world; to praise God in word and action; to study God’s Word and teach it to others. Thus through Christ’s church has become the Israel of God, each member fulfilling a priestly role. This did not eliminate the need for a priest, just that we work along with our priest to be examples to the world around us, that we serve God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Meditation

09/23/2020

“Praise the Lord, all you servantgs of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the santuary and praise the Lord. May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and eaerth bless you from Zion.” (Psalm 134:1-3)

Originally God was to be worshiped wherever He was know to appear.  In the wilderness God led Israel to construct a tabernacle as the central worship place.  In the Promised Land the people worshiped at a multiplicity of local sanctuaries.  Eventually God chose Jerusalem as the proper place for worship and sacrifice.  It was Here David brought the ark and Solomon built the Temple.  It then became common to worship in synagogues's, especially during the Exile.  The Jews felt that the passionate belief that the Tempel in Jerusalem was God's only earthly habitation.  

In the New Testament, it became unimportant where the Christians worshiped, as they knew the Lord Jesus was with them always and everywhere they gathered.  All structures and buildings are not inherently sacred, but all belong to God.  Corporate worship was shared in homes, in open country, or wherever Christians gathered to worship.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, the Old Testament was a time of teaching and maturing in faith for Your people, whereas in the New Testament, we learned that Jesus is with us, no matter where we gather; inside or outside; in homes or sanctuaries; in caves or forests. During our quarantine time in our homes, we have found we could worship You as we could anywhere else. What we miss, Abba, is the “body of Christ,” our fellow Christians where we gather together to worship and praise You. We do love You and seek to serve You at all times and our worship; whether it is in church or not, is the important aspect of our time, that we are still worshiping You. This, we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

“Not all roads lead to heaven, but all roads lead to the THRONE.”

KNOWING GOD:

“Samuel continue as judge over Israel all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mitzpah, judging Israel in all those places. But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.” (1st Samuel 7:15-17)

Beloved, there are churches of all kinds and shapes; all kinds of building materials to wood to rock, to grass; great big churches and small intimate churches and everything in between.  Some churches were built as monuments to the faith, mostly empty nowadays, to churches that are bright and shiny as a new penny, to wooden and/or grass huts that are more open sided to nature.

People go to church in big shiny cars, complaining about driving ten blocks to get there, while others walk in hot dirt/sand for miles to worship for hours.  What is common about all churches are the people that come to worship.  "Where two or three are gatherred....I will be with you."  Samuel was a man of God every day, all day long, and he did the work God called him to do every single day.  Even at his home, he built an altar for God.  It's not how big or pretty our churches are, it's the people who come to the church to worship.  Can I get an amen?!

I AM:

“On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer.  We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there."  (Acts 16:13)

Here we have a beautiful setting, outside of the city gate and down to the river.  I love the statement, "We expected to find a place of prayer."  The synagogues were a "place of prayer."  The Temple was a "house of prayer."

Paul and all that went with him went down to the river, expecting to find a place of prayer, they saw some women there and began to speak to them.  I have been to some powerful "prayer meetings" on the banks of rivers and I even baptized both of my sons in a river fed by spring water.  Of course, we later had our sons baptized in the church, as they needed to be welcomed into the body of the Christ, where they would worship and study the Bible.  I bet most of you have similar stories, if not, try it sometime, commune with God and others on the bank of a stream or river, have a picnic and enjoy worshiping with others in God's creation.

Second Thought of the Day:

“Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And tey stayed continually at the temple, praise God."  (Luke 24:52-53)

This was the last time after the crucifixioin, that the disciples were with Jesus and right up to the end, he reaffirmed to them that the Christ had to undergo the terrible acts, that had been predicted.  Then, He was taken up into heaven.  He had told them again, to wait until they had been "clothed from on high.  (They received the Holy Spirit)"

As I said previously, New Testament worship included assembling in buildings constucted to honor God, and joyful praise was a major component of their worship.  Praise was the inevitable result of all they had seen.  Losing the physical presence of Jesus was not cause for mourning but for joy because the early church knew the resurrected Lord would fulfill His promises.  

Meditation

09/22/2020

Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. And do not go up to my altar on steps, let your nakedness be exposed on it.(Exodus20:2426)

The mechanics of worship occupy an important place in biblical revelation. The sacrifices to the Lord, the place of such sacrifice, the priests who administer the sacrifices, the times and seasons stipulated, as well as the ingredients of the ritual of worship began to unfold here. The important thing is to realize that some form, some ritual or regulation, generally accompanies worship. A ritual for worship must be planned and designed. Worship may be individual or corporate.

In either case it is never consistently haphazard or casual. Instead, definite patterns of worship are seen in Scripture. Such worship is directed to the one true God. God does not tolerate practices which people might confuse with worship practices of other gods or life-styles opposed to the one true God.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, You taught Your people how and when to worship, and how to set the altar up, and how to conduct the service. You designated the priests and all who were to do the work within Your church to conduct themselves and how to be in support of Your people at all times and in all things. Let us continue this work today, Abba, we have taken time away, for good reason and for concern of lives. Now, Abba, let us be able to regather Your flock, so that we might once again continue the work that You have given each of us to do. This, we ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

God can and does use ordinary instruments to produce a concert of praise.

KNOWING GOD:

This is the portion of the offerings made to the Lord by fire that were allotted to Aaron and his sons on the day they were presented to serve the Lord as priests. On the day they were anointed, the Lord commanded that the Israelites give this to them as their regular share for the generations to come. These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering, which the Lord gave Moses on Mount Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the Lord, in he Desert of Sinai.” (Leviticus7:3538)

Beloved, worship from the very beginning included an offering to the Lord. Offerings should be given an evening sacrifices, as well as other special days and seasons of special offerings. These offerings and sacrifices represented the product of human labor as a symbol of gratitude to God. True sacrifice involves personal cost. King David insisted on purchasing land to sacrifice to the Lord, refusing to let the owner give him the land as an offering.

Old Testament animal sacrificing culminated in the New Testament in the once for all sacrifice of Christ. Because of the Lord’s atoning death, the apostle Paul call on Christians to offer our lives and our possessions to the Lord, for Christ had made the sacrifice for us all on the cross, on our behalf.

I AM:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—-his good, pleasing and perfect will.(Romans 12:1-2)

The New Testament reveals the need of the giving of ourselves and all we are to God as an act of worship. Christ’s death on the cross fulfilled the Old Testament requirements to make the animal sacrifice. That aspect of worship is now expressed in the giving of our lives completely to the Lord and faithful giving of our possessions.

As has been noted previously, “Humans usually serve sin.” Voluntary presentation of self to God for His purposes, is a spiritual act of worship, which reveals our complete and full relationship with God through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We now offer ourselves to our God without hesitation and freely.

Second Thought of the Day:

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonia churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything—- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us!—-see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” (2nd Corinthians8:1-8)

Beloved, Christian giving is not just about giving money or just about giving possessions, or about giving etc.; it is about all that and your labor and skills and gifts that you have been blessed with as well. It should also be done in a manner that comes out of your abundance, not just what is left over after you’ve paid your bills.

Do you remember the woman who gave her two copper coins (all that she had) while others were giving out of their abundance (they had lots, so it didn’t hurt to give what they did). The woman gave out of total faith, while others gave in measured amounts, so as not to put them in a bind. One thing I haven’t mentioned, that we ought to give our of our joy! To witness giving to help others, ought to make you feel good, but to help take those resources to help others less fortunate, will give you a feeling like none other. It will put a smile on your face, for your effort and your gifts. Amen?!

Meditation

Sermon for 09/20/2020 Proper 20

Psalm 145:1-8; Jonah3:10-4:11; Philippians1:2130: 13:8-14; Matthew 20:1-16

The Gospel today is about the “Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Jesus talked about the people in the center of the community who were standing around, hoping someone would hire them to work in the vineyards. Early in the morning, the landowner went out early and hired men to work and agreed to pay them a denarius for their labor. About the third hour, he went and hired more, saying he would pay them what is right and they went out to work. He went out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same as the previous workers. Abut the eleventh hour he went out and found still others, only these he asked, “What have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?” They answer him, because no one would hire us.” He then told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard.

At this point, most if not all had been hired that day to work in the vineyards of the landowner. I would assume all were glad to be working. However when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.” Those who have been hired about the eleventh hour received their pay, they received a denarious. Those hired earlier, then expected their pay to be higher. Each group received the same pay of a denarious and they all collectively began to grumble, especially those who had worked through the heat of the day. They said, “The men you hired last only worked about an hour, but we bore the burden of the day and received the same pay. The landowner answered, “Friends, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t yo agree to work for a denarious? Take your pay and go. I want to give the men who were hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Jesus assumed people wanted the opportunity to work for wages by which they could support their families. The response tot he parable reveals people expected their wages to be related to the amount of work they did. Jesus applauded the generosity of an employer who gave more than expected. His main point, however, is that God’s grace cannot be earned. It is given freely according to human need.

Beloved, the kingdom of God is a gift to be received and used. God graciously blesses His people. No one earns a greater part of the kingdom than another. God is never in debt to us. Until we humbly admit this and come to God with no demands or expectations, we cannot be part of His kingdom.

Grace is sometimes defined as unmerited favor. God’s grace goes beyond our understanding. It is the very nature of God, who is defined as love, to pour out His love upon His people in a manner and a measure that is both undeserved and unexpected. Why did the landowner give so much to those who had not worked for it? Because he had the resources to do so, and the sovereign right to do it as well. Most of all, he had a loving nature that sought to reach out to all that He could in bestowing blessings upon them. The grace of God does not defraud anyone of anything. No one earns the grace of God. That any of these had a job was an evidence of pure grace from the outset. Each one got al least what he was promised. Most who worked in the vineyard received much more than they expected, much more than they deserved.

Beloved, God’s grace is not bestowed on a merit system basis. God’s grace is given on the basis of overflowing love out of the free and generous heart of Almighty God. Amen

Meditation

Sermon for 09/20/2020 Proper 20

Psalm 145:1-8; Jonah3:10-4:11; Philippians1:2130: 13:8-14; Matthew 20:1-16

The Gospel today is about the “Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. Jesus talked about the people in the center of the community who were standing around, hoping someone would hire them to work in the vineyards. Early in the morning, the landowner went out early and hired men to work and agreed to pay them a denarius for their labor. About the third hour, he went and hired more, saying he would pay them what is right and they went out to work. He went out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same as the previous workers. Abut the eleventh hour he went out and found still others, only these he asked, “What have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?” They answer him, because no one would hire us.” He then told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard.

At this point, most if not all had been hired that day to work in the vineyards of the landowner. I would assume all were glad to be working. However when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.” Those who have been hired about the eleventh hour received their pay, they received a denarious. Those hired earlier, then expected their pay to be higher. Each group received the same pay of a denarious and they all collectively began to grumble, especially those who had worked through the heat of the day. They said, “The men you hired last only worked about an hour, but we bore the burden of the day and received the same pay. The landowner answered, “Friends, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t yo agree to work for a denarious? Take your pay and go. I want to give the men who were hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Jesus assumed people wanted the opportunity to work for wages by which they could support their families. The response tot he parable reveals people expected their wages to be related to the amount of work they did. Jesus applauded the generosity of an employer who gave more than expected. His main point, however, is that God’s grace cannot be earned. It is given freely according to human need.

Beloved, the kingdom of God is a gift to be received and used. God graciously blesses His people. No one earns a greater part of the kingdom than another. God is never in debt to us. Until we humbly admit this and come to God with no demands or expectations, we cannot be part of His kingdom.

Grace is sometimes defined as unmerited favor. God’s grace goes beyond our understanding. It is the very nature of God, who is defined as love, to pour out His love upon His people in a manner and a measure that is both undeserved and unexpected. Why did the landowner give so much to those who had not worked for it? Because he had the resources to do so, and the sovereign right to do it as well. Most of all, he had a loving nature that sought to reach out to all that He could in bestowing blessings upon them. The grace of God does not defraud anyone of anything. No one earns the grace of God. That any of these had a job was an evidence of pure grace from the outset. Each one got al least what he was promised. Most who worked in the vineyard received much more than they expected, much more than they deserved.

Beloved, God’s grace is not bestowed on a merit system basis. God’s grace is given on the basis of overflowing love out of the free and generous heart of Almighty God. Amen

Rev. Jerry Lyle

Meditation

09/18/2020

Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, he angel of he lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of he Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of he Lord. ‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’ But his wife answered, ‘If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, not shown us all these things or now told us this.’(Judges13:19-23)

This story from Judges is proof that God blesses families when they honor Him. In this case, the angel of the Lord came to the wife of Manoah and though she was barren, was told that she would give birth to a son, but that she had instructions that were to be follow to the letter. She and Manoah her husband offered to feed him but he declined and said to prepare a burnt offering and grain offering and offer it to the Lord.

This couple was a worshiping couple and they realized that the angel of the Lord had visited them. They had been told that their son would be a Nazirite (set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of he Philistines), and he was named Samson. This worshiping couple responded as directed to the Lord’s presence with reverence and awe.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, let our worship reflect the same reverence and awe as did Manoah and his wife, as they were blessed with a son. Samson was a Nazirite, having never drunk wine or any fermented drink and never cut his hair. Our God blessed this family and all families of Israel, for the purpose of eliminating the Philistine control over Israel. Abba, even today, you continue to bless those who honor You. For it is in Jesus’ holy name, that we who claim to be Christians, honor Him for all He has already done for us. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Moments spent with God rep benefits that lasts a lifetime.

KNOWING GOD:

David praised the Lord in the presence of he whole assembly, saying, ‘Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted a head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.’” (1st Chronicles29:10-13)

Worship centers on God in His holy, unique nature before it looks to His acts on behalf of His people. One great characteristic of worship is pure love for or adoration of the Lord. Focusing the mind and heart on the majesty of God, contemplating the glory of God, meditating upon all the glorious attributes of God are all vital to worship.

The sovereignty of God is the basic reason for and focus of worship. These verses vividly illustrate such adoration. We have lost much of this sense of awe and adoration which ought to be at the very heart of worship collectively, and certainly of us individually. We get so caught up in arriving at church before the start of church worship, that we don’t make any time to truly contemplate what it is that we are really doing. Instead, we need to arrive early, just so that we can find the real reverence and awe that is in our hearts and allow it to come forward to lead us into meaningful worship.

I AM:

He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’(Revelation14:7)

Stop for a moment and just think about your priest/minister/pastor/clergy suddenly disappearing in front of your eyes, and in place of them was Almighty God! Would your worship be different than it normally would be? I’m reminded of the young family that roared into the parking lot of their church, there was obvious bickering going on, and yet as they walked into the church and their clergy asked them how they were, their response was, “Blessed in every way!” So, I’m guessing to answer to my question is that your would definitely being worshiping in a new way or at least, different that other days.

The people responded immediately to the presence of the Lord. With “deep reverence” they rejoiced and fell flt on their faces before the Lord! True worship grows out of this sense of reverence and awe for God. My prayer is that the next time you worship, you try to do so with this type of reverence and awe and I believe that you will have a different experience altogether! Your clergy have all been called by God, to be there and to bring the Word of God to each of you, and you, hopefully, are there to listen to it and figure out how it applies to your daily lives.

Second Thought of the Day:

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” (Mark9:8)

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John on a walk and then up on a high mountain. Upon arrival, Jesus is transfigured: his clothing is dazzling white and before them appeared Elijah and Moses who were talking with Jesus. The three disciples are stunned and Peter cries out, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Suddenly a cloud appeared and enveloped

Suddenly a cloud appeared and enveloped them, a voice came out of the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’” Moses and Elijah are no longer there, only Jesus. This was a test for the disciples and for us, beloved. On the way back down, Jesus gave them strong orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Beloved, if you are going through the motions of worship services, without truly worshiping, you and God need to have a talk, now.

Meditation

09/15/2020

Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.(Leviticus8:6)

This “Levitical washing” or symbolic cleansing of the priests (Aaron and his sons) for religious service is he background of all religious ceremonies of cleansing in the Bible. It was practiced in the Dead Sea Scrolls community of Qumran, and it probably influenced the popular understanding of John’s baptism and Jewish proselyte baptism.

Christian baptism differed from these washings in these ways: it was performed only once,, pictured the death and resurrection of the believer with Christ, and pointed forward to the final resurrection unto eternal life. Because all Christians are priests and ministers unto God, Christian baptism became the sign of their dedication to Christ and their new life in Him.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, baptism has always represented a special sign of commitment for those being baptized. It is a public statement of an inner belief by the one being baptized. For it is in Jesus’ holy name, that we who claim to be Christians, honor Him for all He has already done for us. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Using a water pistol in a baptismal service, just loses the true spiritual aspect of the service.

KNOWING GOD:

To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” (Ephesians 5:26)

Just as husbands took a public vow to be faithful to their wives, setting them apart from their relation to all others (“setting apart” is the root meaning of the word ‘holy’), so Christians are ‘set apart’ by Christ through the public act of baptism to be His faithful bride. The metaphor of marriage is used as a powerful illustration of the covenant relationship of God to His people from the time of the Old Testament prophets right on through the New Testament. ‘Washing with water through the word’ is clearly a reference to baptism, but it is not he literal washing with water that cleanses and sets apart the Christian. It is ‘through the word.’ the convicting, cleansing power of the Word of God (made flesh in Jesus Christ and written in the Bible), that we are saved and sanctified (made holy) as the bride of Christ.

I AM:

You don’t know what you are asking,Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’(Mark10:38-40)

To baptize (Greek – baptizo) can mean to drown or overwhelm as in a flood. It is clear that Jesus used this word as a metaphor for the suffering and death which would soon “overwhelm” Him on the cross. The “cup” is also the symbol of bitter dregs of suffering. In mentioning baptism and the cup, Jesus connected both of the later Christian ordinances with his death.

Second Thought of the Day:

In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.’” (John3:3-5)

The words ‘born of water and the Spirit’ have been a battleground of interpretation. Bible students have seen John’s baptism and Jesus; baptism and Pentecost; a demand for humble submission by a Jewish leader to water baptism before expecting to receive God’s Spirit; reception of Christ’s word or teaching as well as the Spirit; and spiritual cleansing and the Spirit’s power. The immediate context compels us to see the primary contrast between the physical birth (which Nicodemus asked about) and the new birth (or birth from above) which Jesus said is essential in order to see the kingdom of God. There is also a contrast, just two chapters earlier in this same Gospel (1:26, 33), between John’s water baptism and Jesus’ Spirit baptism.

This cannot refer to Christian baptism at this point in Jesus’ ministry because it had not been give or commanded yet. Because the Greek has no article (‘the”) with Spirit, it would be ungrammatical to separate water from Spirit. Probably both water and wind (spirit) symbolize the powerful activity of the Holy Spirit in the new birth. The main point is abundantly clear: physical birth is not enough; one must be born gain spiritually to enter the kingdom of heaven. The contrast is emphasized in verse 6.

Meditation

09/14/2020

The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even thought they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.(Acts5:12-14)

The local church assembles for worship and fellowship. “Meet together” includes the meaning in common consent and purpose. Christ wanted His followers to be unified.

Unity remains the church’s goal. Unity does not mean exclusiveness. The Jerusalem church continued to evangelize and grow. The faithfulness and unity of the church gained respect and admiration in the community from those without the courage to commit themselves fully to Christ and His church.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Precious Abba, The church has always risen to meet the need for love and support for its members, and for all those seeking this for their own lives. As stated, unity in the church is not for the purpose of excluding anyone; rather, it is for bringing all who seek comfort, peace, love and support for all. For it is in Jesus’ holy name, that we who claim to be Christians, honor Him for all He has already done for us. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

The easiest way to bring up a child in the way they should god is for us to be traveling that same path.

KNOWING GOD:

I urge you brothers to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (Romans16:17-18)

The church on earth is not perfect. Some members sinfully serve selfish desires instead of Christ. They divide the church and obstruct its work. Christians must not use such people as models. Rather we must turn away them to work with God’s faithful leaders. God desires unity among His people. The church should be one in Christ Jesus. Holding grudges and resenting other members of the body separates us from the will of Christ. Christians should accept one another as Christ accepted us. Beloved, in God’s Word we have the truth and the truth will set us free, but only if we collectively study the Word for understanding and clarity of thought. Anything or anyone that attempts to turn the church and people away from Christ, are not of Christ, therefore, we must call them to accountability for their reasons. Satan loves to lead people astray from God’s Word, because he can then teach them lies that will destroy those weak in the Word. We must open the Bible and read it daily, to gain strength and courage to stand up to those who would lead us astray.

I AM:

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. (1st Peter5:13)

A local church is a group of believes chosen by God. Peter sent greetings from a local church. Babylon stood for evil, so here it probably represents the church living in an evil location, possibly Rome. Acts expresses the work of the body of Christ, the people, and the expansion of Christianity in the early church. In Acts 4:32, we see the example of people, for there was no one in need. Those with land would sell land and bring it to the feet of the apostles, to take care of whatever need that had arisen.

In short they were growing because the body of Christ was openly setting an example of what Christ’s people are supposed to do. But, as always, we must be careful, for in Acts 5 we see the story of Ananias and Sapphira, wanted to be see as being good Christians, but they sold their land and Ananias held back a portion of the money for himself and Peter confronted them both of lying to the Holy Spirit and both dropped dead, because of being caught in their deceit. Be an example, beloved, but do not try to deceive others, for the Holy Spirit will convict you of your actions.

Second Thought of the Day:

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation22:16)

Jesus, in this last chapter of Revelation is reaffirming His position as the long awaited Messiah, for He is the Root and Offspring of David. There are times when the Bible seems to be little vague, but this is not one of those times. Jesus is clearly stating Who He is and What He is preparing to do. The clarity of this statement leaves no room for doubt or confusion.

Jesus was the diving example of what Christianity is and what it stands for. We are not only to be living examples of how a Christian is to act, but we are to live out our lives as shining examples of selfless giving. There is no confusion, we are to give to meet the needs of those around us, and to do so in a joyful and responsible manner. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit not only to help us through tough times, but to also become an example of living our our faith every day, in every situation, and with every person. Clear?