Matthew 18:1-5, 101 The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
Do you hear the good news? Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Boy, this understanding can certainly turn things upside down on who is the greatest or how we define greatness. In the passage above each of the disciples perhaps thought he has the qualification to be chosen as number 1 or in first place. This is human nature at work.
Be honest: before you read this scripture passage, if you were asked to write the criteria for greatness would it be about achievements, prestige, degrees, wealth, and possessions?
Like the disciples, people want to be number one in their chosen careers. However, none of these human standards matter to Jesus. Now please do not get me wrong, Jesus does not have an issue with gaining wealth or prestige for it is by God they received these gifts. He would, I believe, ask how are we using these gifts to glorify God
Instead, to answer the question, Jesus brought forth a child and mentions humility as the main criterion for greatness in the Kingdom of God. To be humble like a child, we need to be converted, to have a new paradigm. We need to turn away from our propensity to compete with one another and focus on improving ourselves so that we change from our wicked ways and be transformed into the likeness of the Father which was our original nature.
We hold high our independence and self-sufficiency, however, Jesus is teaching us to be like a child, aware of our own powerlessness and vulnerability. To know our dependence must be on God. That it is in the teachings of Jesus we find greatness. Jesus knows that one day all the wealth, power, and prestige will not mean a thing and the sooner we realize this the sooner we will see the Kingdom of God. The goodness of God all around us. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of hearts”, Jesus says in Matthew 11:29
9 Blessed are the peacemakers; for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
This single passage from the "Sermon on the Mount" has such power. It tells me what God wants, it lays out a direction for my life and then throughout the Gospel God gives me directions as to how to achieve this goal. In fact a bit later in Matthew 5 Jesus tells the importance of this passage: : “If you are bringing your gift to the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar; go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23–24)
If you think about Jesus’ words,you read that one must let go of all divisive emotions and thoughts so that you can truly experience peace with all of God’s people. This means an unrestrained willingness to forgive and let go of old fears, bitterness, resentment, anger, and lust, and thus find reconciliation.
God calls us to be a light in this world. One of 5the ways is to be a peacemaker, a sign that you are a child of God. Let your life reflect who you belong to. God bless you all and I hope to see you this morning.
Hebrews 5.12. “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.”
Growing old in the faith has its own dangers. It is easy for the extraordinary to become commonplace and to fade into the background of our lives. We have, after all, heard it all, seen it all, and felt it all. Perhaps, like many other people, we simply want something different. After a period of feasting on rich food, many yearn for the simplicity of a peanut butter sandwich. So a weariness can set in, and it is easy for habit to take the place of enthusiasm or words to take the place of confession. Many Christians, whose faith often began in an emotional conversion, may be particularly subjected to this falling away. That which flames up often flames out. Yet, Scripture tells us that, as faith ages, we need to reflect again and again on the basic affirmations of our faith. Like the people of Israel, we need to remake our covenant with God and rejoice again in God’s presence. Look within, the One who began a good work in you is faithful to the end. The walk to the Holy Land is one step at a time.
Folks, no matter what may come our way our faith tells us God is present, still sitting on the throne. For this truth let our faith grow in strength and let us live it out in our communities who need hope today. God bless and let us rejoice and be glad in it
Matthew 7:1-5 1 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? 5 You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.”
Boy, we are quick to judge others in so many ways. Jesus knew this and He knew we tend to overlook or excuse similar (or even worse) things in ourselves. A pattern that is destructive and hurtful in the world, workplaces and families. Judgement brings nothing positive to the table.
Don't judge however, does not mean don't have an opinion.It simply meant don't hold those who have a different outlook or who might reach a different conclusion in contempt. Politics seem to put this "don't judge thing on Steroids." People are ready to attack, take sides and cast those who disagree in a category of evil or stupid. Did you see the ad the two men who were running for office of Governor in Utah did? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVSuooQORTU I can hear Jesus saying yes, that is what Matthew meant. If everyone acted this way, without judgement what a world this would be. it is never to late to begin and make this world a little better int he process. Civil discussions can be a thing again when we apply the rule, don't judge.
Of course, Jesus' words applied not just to politics but to all relationships. Think about all the family or friend relationships you have. Is it possible for two people to care deeply about each other’s well-being, and yet come to different conclusions about the best way to address issues that arise? Can they work together toward solutions without doubting each other’s honesty or motives? I believe it is possible, what sayeth you?
2 Corinthians 1: 3-7 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Most of us have heard that God can bring all circumstances of your life to work together for good and His glory. But do you really believe this statement? In reality it is at times difficult to see how unexpected pain and deep turmoil is allowed by such a loving God.
Understand, I do not believe God brings deep pain upon us but He is with us in the muck. I have found that in my life. The only way to deal with the suffering positively and proactively is to view it through the eyes of God. Everything won’t be completely clear, but you’ll have confidence that the One who redeemed you will not abandon His work in your life.
As my message said last Sunday we need to always remember that we are a beloved child of the living God. If sadness, heartache or pain touches your life, the Lord knows all about it and will catch the tears that fall as one Psalmist says. In His strength He will take your pain and sadness, even loneliness and produce something out of them positive. If you allow, He will use the adversity you've experienced to help you reach out to others who have been hurt and are struggling. Our God is good, not just in a moment but His entire being is good. Let us rejoice and be glad in it as he works through our pain to make us into ministers of His grace.
John 13:34-35 34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
John 15:9-10 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
In the world we live today I hear much about the lack of compassion, respect to others and love. The passages above highlight Jesus telling the people that love is much more than a fluffy sentiment. It was written shortly before Jesus was put to death and he is showing the world what love looks like; giving of self, even sacrificing the self to the well being of the many. Of course we know this command was not new but it took love to a new level. "As I have loved you."
"As the Father loved me, I too have loved you." As christians our goal should be to be more like Christ. Our reflection, while not perfect should be that of God to others. We are to love not for self gratification, but self giving. A king of love that makes life genuinely worth living. It is a love that is willing to do the hard work; working out reconciling, binding of wounds, listening without judgement, seeing God in all people and knowing this love is rooted in God's eternal love of you.
Jesus taught the disciples this because He knew they would get tired, be persecuted and may want to give up, throwing their hands in the air, "what the use." Yet, what does not make sense to worldly life, Jesus tells us that loving as He loved us will bring energy, compassion and hope internally and eternally. So my friends, do not give up on the people. Continue to love one another, listening to each other, and being that reflection of hope and love at a new level. We have everything we need to make the Kingdom a reality. See you later today !!
Almighty and Holy God. As I come before you this morning the words of the Psalmist resonate in my mind. "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken". Father how lost I would be without hope. Thank you Father for the promises given, for the experiences I have had and the people you have surrounded me with for my journey. Father, forgive me in my weaknesses, for I stand before you humbly seeking a better relationship today. Guide me Lord. Father, I have so much gratitude and joy within my soul that may I reflect this to all Your people as I pray in the name of Your Son Jesus. Amen
1 Kings 17:7-10"And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath."
The bigger picture of this reading is that God sent Elijah to King Ahab with the message that there will be a drought because the people were worshiping Baal. Ahab wanted to kill the messenger so God sent Elijah to a brook and had the ravens feed him. Eventually though the Brook dried up. Now God, in His infinite wisdom sent Elijah even deeper into enemy territory, Zarephath, the home country of Jezebel. If there was anyone who wanted Elijah dead more than Ahab it was his evil wife.
To top it all off, Elijah was sent to a widow who was preparing a last meal for herself and son. But that was God's place for His prophet, and Elijah obeyed. And of course we know the rest of the story, Elijah was kept safe and provided for until the famine was over.
This story reminds me that we are to be obedient to the Word regardless if it sounds crazy. When we are obedient we honor and please God. Turn the other cheek, exhibit the Spirits of the Fruit, love thy God, love thy neighbor regardless if it fits our logic or not. We are called to be obedient. While we may not be called to sit by a stream, or declare a drought we are called to serve our Creator. In this time of life, I think there is no more important time than now to be obedient to God. Let us be leaders of kindness, hope, and positivity
In the men's group we talk often about living in gratitude and how it looks. A few Wednesdays ago I challenged everyone listening to live 48 hours talking and living in the positive and with gratitude. I have heard from a couple of people that said how they are seeing things and enjoying things they haven't in quite some time.The passage below is from one of my favorite Bible stories which we see another example of living in gratitude even when life is not easy.
RUTH 4:14a, 15 (NIV)The women said to Naomi, "Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth."
Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an “accident,” but a divine choice. It is important to realize how often we have had chances to be grateful and have not used them. When someone is kind to us, when an event turns out well, when a problem is solved, a relationship restored, a wound healed, there are very concrete reasons to offer thanks: be it with words, with flowers, with a letter, a card, a phone call, or just a gesture of affection. . . . Every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.
Almighty and Holy God as the sun rises, may your love rise in my heart,a love that dispels my tiredness, a love that overcomes difficulty, a love that builds relationships, a love that inspires diligence, a love that delivers excellence, a love that develops trust, a love that produces praise. Lord, may I live in the light of your love. Father, I know it is through Your love that I have been forgiven. Thank you as I pray through Your son Jesus Christ. Amen
Have you felt like giving up or giving in. Just quitting. It all feels like an uphill climb. An impossible task to bring peace and hope to the world around you while everyone else is bickering? Us against them, right versus left, facemask no facemask?
I don’t know exactly where you are right now. Maybe all is perfect and you see differently than most. But what I am seeing and hearing is a lot of negativity. Either you agree or you're wrong. The simple conversations of yesterday are gone. Maybe it is health issues, pulling up your roots and moving, loss of a job whatever it may be, I am guessing, you too, have been tempted to quit at one point.
Here’s where I want to encourage you. And cheer you on not to quit. With God’s help, we can endure. In fact I believe we can grow through times of trials. I find It’s amazing how many times the Bible tells us to “be patient” or to “endure” or to “persevere.”
2 Timothy 2:1-7 When the Apostle Paul was writing to young Timothy, he told him to be like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. He was telling Timothy not to give up or give in.
1 Corinthians 4:12 When Paul was writing to the church in Corinth, he told them that when he was persecuted, his response was to “endure it.
1 Peter 2:20 ”Peter instructed Christians suffering wrong for doing what was right, he encouraged them to “endure.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 And the writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus “endured the Cross” for us. We were the “joy” set before Him.
There is no easy path. The journey is marked with pain. Our perseverance matters though. What God is doing in us and through us has value. The kind of person we are being shaped into is of great significance. The harvest in our hurt has meaning. But only if we keep going. Only if we keep staying faithful, fixing our eyes on Jesus.
As I was writing this devotion I wondered how often I may have missed out on what God was doing for me. Things I did not experience because I too quickly ran the other direction? Switched teams? Many have done this I am certain, and in doing so is it possible we missed or will miss a future harvest because we are unwilling to endure a present hardship or disagreement?
So here is what I would say; Keep going! God is good and He is faithful. He will give you what you need. We must endure, or patiently persevere. Keep close to Jesus. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. This will not last. There is hope. There is joy. While we may never fully get over our pain, we can grow through it. And by God’s grace, we can get through it too! Hope to see you later today . Pastor Carl
Almighty and Holy God, bless us this very day. Bless our nation, its leaders and those you have put into place for us. I ask you Father, to be with our troops, our first responders and those working for you to make this world a better place. Bless goodness Lord. Father, I ask you to forgive me of my sins, help me to forgive others. Lead to where you want me so that I may use my gifts in the best ways. Father, be with those who may be lost, lonely, hurt or sick. May Your will be done in all things. Lord, I pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen
Mark 10:433-45 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 10:32- 35) we find two of the disciples jockeying for power and glory, and the other ten are “angry.” Jesus, as only Jesus can do, sees this as a teachable moment: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”
Following the Christ, we too are called to cease our futile power grab, driven by our ego. As we humbly seek to serve rather than be served, we experience an anointing of divine power that propels us, like a pebble into the water, participating in the transformative ripple effect of God’s new creation.
Take this time in life to explore the many ways available to use your gifts in service through EOCC and partners. Identify how you would like to serve and as you use your gifts in service you become part of the ripple effect of God’s love! Mother Teresa says it well, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” I look forward to the rest of 2020 and into 2021 as we come together and cast our stones across the waters, creating ripples of God’s light and love!. May God’s blessings abound! PC
Almighty God we come before you in praise and humbleness. We thank you Lord for the blessing you have placed upon this church and Your people. May we live in continuous hope and love. Father we thank you for the answered prayers, especially those who are recovering from the Covid virus today. Yet Lord, our prayers do not rest, we continue to pray for all people to heal through Your Son's power, we pray for world peace, we pray for the strength to love , even our enemies, to forgive as you have forgiven us. Father we pray for our President and all elected people, for our first responders, our troops and all people . We pray for those running for office to remain safe and strong. Oh Lord, open our hardened hearts to the possibilities that lie ahead for each of us. May we remain in hope and compassion showing grace to all people. Father, give us this strength and wisdom. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen
Meet the pastor
Rev. Pastor Carl Schreiber has been serving East Orrington Congregational Church (EOCC) since March 12, 2006