Hosea 6:1a, 3 (NIV)-- "Come, let us return to the Lord... Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
A short while ago I began a week long meditation on the story of the prodigal son. I focused on returning and how often in life this happens. As I meditated I saw in my life where I wandered away from God for a period of time only to return with more knowledge of the deep need in all aspects of life. My mind will at times wander. I have to return. My heart hardens at moments. I have to return to the openness of God. I wander from the true treasure of life only to return to what is really valuable.
As I meditated on the prodigal son it is clear to me that returning is intermingle with life. At times returning is courageous, and humbling. Returning can be tough...knowing this I am moved; freed by the fact that my God, our Lord never wandered from what He created. His love was so infinite and unconditional that He simply remained ready to welcome His Son home. As we welcome home our family, friends and neighbors on any given day may we do so with the same love God has shown us. Have a great day and I hope to see you this morning and next week as we welcome home all who might return. Pastor Carl
2 CORINTHIANS 4:15 (NIV) "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."
Recently I sat with a family reeling from grief, confusion and sadness. A loved one passed without closure to anger and bitterness. After my experience with thai family it made me realize how important it is to keep communication with those I love open and clear. As the Matthew says, we do not know the time and place. As I thought about this encounter I realized that it was not about dying it was about living in the moment and in the glory of God. Making the choice not to bind my loved ones and others with guilt or confusion but set them free in the truest sense.
If I live in the excitement of forgiveness, the fullness of hope with those around me, then they would have the peace and confidence that they were important in my life. They would experience my love, God's love and true spiritual freedom that reign in life and death. Living in gratitude of what I have, who surrounds me and in the promises of God I will not have to worry about what I may leave behind when I am called up yonder. In fact, I believe when my hour of death comes it would reveal more spiritual freedom and hope then life could ever reveal on its own. My choice in how I live fully influences the lives and hearts of those I will someday leave behind. The far reaching of God's grace is infinite. I hoep to see you all later today as we walk in the Parables of Jesus. Pastor Carl
Almighty God, Your love and grace reach beyond this life and into the lives of those I will leave. Help me oh Lord to live each moment in gratitude for the gift of new life you have given me. Help me to prioritize my life to live in Your blessings and not simply living in the momentary happiness of this life. Help me Father, to focus on the things above so i you may reveal to me a deeper understanding of Your Son's teachings. Father, forgive me of my sins through Jesus' atoning love. Forgive me of my wrongs and allow Your Glory to shine through this corrupted body. I thank you Lord, for my families, keep them safe and may I be the presence of Your love Through Jesus Christ. Amen
Matthew 26:36-38 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.” 37 When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. 38 Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 14 Also, let’s hold on to the confession since we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens, who is Jesus, God’s Son; 15 because we don’t have a high priest who can’t sympathize with our weaknesses but instead one who was tempted in every way that we are, except without sin.
16 Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help.
Have you ever been in the spot where you are hurting and you think, “no one understands how I feel.” As we are each an individual, I believe it hard for us to fully understand another persons pain, even family completely. However, we often extend this thought, no one understands, to God. How could God really know my pain, about how powerless, helpless or hopeless I feel? He is all powerful and mighty. But we find in Jesus, God incarnate, as he journeyed to the cross, experienced the depths of human darkness and helplessness as fully as I or anyone ever will. Our God does understand, not in a far off magical way but in every ounce of His life. We are never alone.
In Matthew's gospel Gethsemane is the place we are to go as well when we feel the ground underneath us giving way. We are to lay our burdens as Jesus did in that sacred place to a God who fully understands. He knows our trials completely as Hebrew's tells us because He has come through them Himself. I live in confidence that brings great comfort that God hears my cries, knows my pain and sadness and when my darkest time comes I will not be alone. God's knowledge of what lies ahead will be my comfort. What a gift God gave us in His Son.
See you later this morning.
Almighty God, my Lord,as I reflect I am humbled even more deeply for what you did for me. The pain you endured for me is unimaginable and yet You did. Father, thank you fro the gift of Your Son. Thank you for bringing me here to EOCC where I can share my love for you with others. Lord God, forgive me my sins, lift me up once again in Your arms so i may taste the newness You gave. Father, I ask that you bless those around me, that they and my enemies know the love you have blessed us with. May I/we put away the egos, jealousies and piddly things to tear others apart with and instead walk to buildup your Kingdom today. Lord I pray this n Your Son's name. Amen
JOB 12:12 "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"
This past week as I prepared for Lana's funeral the book of Job called. The passage above made me think how becoming mature in Christ is a journey. Oh, do not get me wrong, we can start believing instantly but it is in the experience, trials, traditions, achievements and disappointments that build your faith and wisdom that follows. These elements of life take time and are vital to how we see Jesus in our life.
In today's world it seems to me that we are devaluing being elderly or growing older. We hear about the woes, the aches and the hardships and not so much about the wisdom and maturity in their faith. We fail to utilize their stories, our stories and teachings. We seem to be failing to enlighten the generations that will follow. As a child I remember many elderly people that taught and led me to a better understanding of life in Christ. They took the time to sit and teach me often without my knowing what they were doing. I had parents, a grandmother and great grandmother that taught me much wisdom that still reigns in my life today. The elderly in the churches were my teachers and people I looked up to.
So, here is my challenge, question to each of us who are growing older. Are we sharing our wisdom and knowledge of God through the telling of stories, the teachings and how we live our lives? Or are we simply moaning and thinking we have no value. Are we using our age as a tool for evangelism, reaching out to the youth around us or have we given up on society on doing God's work? Growing old, gaining in wisdom is a true gift from God and we are called to use our gifts to glorify our Lord and savior. See you soon
Almighty God, may all glory and honor be yours on this day and everyday. Father, you have blessed many of us with old age. May we seek your guidance in sharing our wisdom with those around us. May we bold in approaching the younger people with our stories or inviting them to discover wisdom for themselves. Lord bless us as we seek You through Your Son Jesus. Amen
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 16 So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. 17 Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. 18 We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!”
In the early times of Jesus many religions would offer sacrifices to their gods as a way to please them, bring them back and reconcile the anger their god had. The Apostle Paul however said this understanding is backwards. We, God's people are the one's who were alienated, separated away from God. Our God, Paul would remind us, is not an angry God, never was. Our God was not alienated from us but came in Jesus to draw us back into the circle of heaven's deep love. As we became baptized into Jesus, a "new creation" God has shaped us into nothing less than "ambassadors for the Kingdom. Followers that represent Jesus Christ to the world today and that makes it our mission to be “the body of Christ” through whom God remains visibly at work inviting others to “be reconciled to God.”
There is an old song sung by David Will titled, "You're the Only Jesus some will ever see," that reminds us what we are called to be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjEaJTZybnQ This is a wonderful way to start a day in Jesus. But let us not forget the important question Paul is asking; Are you reconciled to God? Then the next questions your heart open for God to work through so people can see Jesus in you? I hope to see you all this morning as we celebrate the Lord's day through Word, fellowship, prayer and communion.
My Father, my rock and shelter, you sent Your Son in love reconciling the world to Yourself. You are my God, you call me to show the world this love in all I do and all I say.. Help me grow in my ability to become a channel through whom others can see you more clearly. Father, forgive me for my sins, help my heart to stay open in this world to do what you ask me to do. May I look beyond myself, beyond what I think I should do and listen to the Your voice. Father I pray for strength through the name of Your son Jesus. Amen Amen.
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006