Monday, June 19, 2017

Newsletter Article July, 2017


Well, beginning June 18th, the Sunday right after Trinity Sunday, we have begun a season of growth in the Christian Church year.  During this season of growth, our paraments are green to signify growth.  During this time, we preach and teach a lot of things that concentrate on our growth in Christ.  We usually preach on some of the parables or the teaching of Christ.  I know that, in the physical world, it is summer and a time when we all take vacations, myself  included.  Those are needful too, but I hope that you will make it a point to be at church as consistently as you can and to really grow this year in your relationship with God, as we experience this season of growth! 

At the beginning of June, we just had our VBS/Church Picnic; It was a huge success with several kids and some adults here to learn about Christ during the learning time as well as good food, games, music, and fellowship afterward!  This is a great way to reach out into the community as well as a good way to teach children and adults about following Christ.  Thanks to all who helped make it a success!  It is fitting that our VBS/Church picnic should happen just as we move into this season of growth in the Church.  Our Sunday School teachers also work each Sunday to form Disciples in Christ!  Thanks to our Sunday School teachers for all your faithful work in building the Kingdom of God!

Also during June, we had Annual Conference.  For several years, our Conference emphasis has been to get back to Conferencing being about equipping the churches to make disciples which is in the Wesleyan Spirit, so there are always workshops and preaching to that end.  I come back from Conference ready to make disciples and build the Church.  This year is no exception.  Conference went great, and I have been appointed to Marble Hill for another year.  God is good all the time!

We need to be reminded of the cross and what God ultimately paid so that we can be put back in relationship with God: thus Lent.  We need to be reminded of the resurrection and the hope that we have in Christ because of the resurrection: thus Easter, and by the way every Sunday is a little Easter (celebration of the resurrection)!  Then what?  What do we do after we have accepted what God has done for us in Christ and celebrated the resurrection?  The growth season between the Easter cycle and the Christmas cycle is the “then what!”  It is during the growth season that we learn to do something with our faith!  When we come to Christ we are not finished.  God is not finished with me yet!  Praise God!  I hope, during this season of emphasizing growth, you will determine to be here all that you can and that you will open your heart and soul to the possibilities of growth in Christ!   I hope that while you are growing in Christ you will invite someone to come and be on this journey with you!  Invitation is the first step toward disciple making, and it happens one person at a time, one on one!  Let’s make disciples!!! 

                                                                                                            God Bless you!
                                                                                                            Pastor Mike

A Good Father!

                                                Father's Day!

A.   What is today?       Father's Day!
B.   Today is a day that we are to honor & remember our
Earthly Fathers!
C.   Today is also a day that we as Father's usually stop
and examine just what kind of father we are.
Today I want to build an acrostic using words to
describe "A Good Father."  Before we do that, watch this clip for Father’s Day entitled “Good Father.” 

Our scripture this morning describes our Heavenly father who is our ultimate example of what a Good Father should be!
                        Psalm 103:1-13

I.   F is for Faithful!  A good father should be faithful. 

A.   Faithful to our kids!  We should be fathers who
can be counted on!
1.   When we say we are going to do something, as
much as is in our power, we should do it!
2.   It may not seem very important to us, but to
our children, it may be very important!
3.   They will notice whether or not we keep our
word; they will learn by our example!
4.   We also need to be faithful in discipline:                     consistent!

B.   Faithful to our wives!
1.   We vowed that she would be our only one
until death do us part!  We need to be
faithful to that!
2.   We need to be faithful to keep our word in
other ways with our spouse too!

II.  A is for available!  In the busy lifestyles that we lead,
We don't need to forget to be available to our families!

A.   This goes for all of us.

B.   I once heard a preacher share how he came to the
realization of his need of this:
1.   He shared how he became so busy helping others
and trying to be there for people in their need
that one day his daughter called him on the phone
and said she'd like to make an appointment to
talk to him!
2.   Needless to say, he made the appointment and
became available to her!
3.   We don't need to make our families have to do
something like this to catch our attention,
making us realize we aren't being available to

III. T is for teacher! 

A.   Fathers, God meant for us to be involved in the
teaching of our children too!

B.   It is our responsibility to teach our children right
and wrong and about God!  It isn't just the
responsibility of the mother!
1.   Today, too many times, the men leave the teaching
up to the mothers, at home and in our churches!
a.   Nurturing the kids at home is women's work!
b.   Teaching kids in S.S. is a woman's job!
c.   Teaching V.B.S. is a woman's job!
2.   Men, we are falling short of what we should be
              doing, and look what it is doing to our country!
a.   Not that women are doing such a bad job.
b.   But young boys need male examples to follow!
c.   And young girls need that close relationship
with their fathers as well!
3.   Men, I believe we will stand accountable for how
seriously we've taken the teaching of our
4.              We may not all be S.S. teachers (some of us can
     be), but we are all teachers!

IV.  H is for honorable!

A.   Live such a life that you deserve to be honored: that
you are easy to honor!

B.   Do not make,

         "Honor they father and thy mother; that thy days may be
long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."                          Exo. 20:12
a hard commandment!

V.   E is for encourager!

A.   Oh, how children need fathers who encourage them and
tell them that they are worth something!

B.              No kid is perfect; we can find something wrong with any of them!
1.   If we concentrate only on what they do wrong and
continually nag them about that, never
encouraging them with what they do right, they
will eventually start believing that all they do
is wrong and that they aren't worth anything! 
They will probably become just what we've told
them they were!   Nothing!
2.   On the other hand, if we take that same kid and
encourage what they do right, they will start
believing in themselves and what they can
accomplish!  They will grow up and accomplish
something with their lives!

C.   Fathers need to be encouragers; mom can't do it alone!

                 Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.

If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.

If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.

If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.

If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.

If children live with fairness,
They learn justice.

If children live with security,
They learn to have faith.

If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.

If children live with acceptance and friendship,
They learn to find love in the world.

by Dorothy Law Nolte
VI.  R is for righteous!

A.   Righteous means right-ness with God!
1.   We can only attain that through what God has done
for us in Christ!
2.   God did what we can't do for ourselves!
3.   If we will trust in that, we can become right
With God!

B.              Us being right before God is the best thing we can
Give our children!
1.   If we point them toward the importance of living
for God, they stand a good chance of following
our example!
2.   If we teach them by our example that God isn't
important, they may very well live by our example
and live out of relationship with God.
3.              Tell them “why” God is important to you, “why” you live for God! 
a.              Children want to know why!
b.              They want to know if it is worth investing their lives!
c.              If you don’t know why, maybe this invitation is for you too.

A.   What kind of father and influence do we want to be?

B.   God can help us to be "A Good Father!"

C.              Do we need to come to God this morning, allowing God
     to give us a new relationship? allowing God to
transform us?  Allowing God to give us our why?
D.   We can as we have our invitational hymn!

                       Invitational Hymn

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Walking in the Spirit!

                             Memorial Sunday/Ascension Sunday!

A.   Today is Ascension Sunday in the Christian year.  We celebrate when Jesus ascended back into Heaven.

B.   Next week is Pentecost Sunday, but we’ll have Southern Salvation with us, and I won’t be preaching, so I want to talk to you about “Walking in the Spirit” today!

C.   As we look at that, I want to ask you a couple questions.  If we aren't saved by our works, does that mean we will continue in our sin, that it doesn't matter?

D.   If not, then what is our part in keeping from sinning?  Is Christianity a religion of dos and don'ts?

These are some tough questions.  Let's look into the scripture and see if we can find the answer to at least some of these!

                         Gal. 5:16-25

I.   There will always be a struggle in our inner being. (vs. 17)
A.   We cannot always do what we have an appetite for!

B.   We can't always do what we feel like we want to do!

C.   We can't always go by our conscience;  we may not have trained it well!

D.   But there is something that we can go by:  The Holy Spirit!

II.  Paul instructs us to, "Live by the Spirit . . . and do not gratify the desires of the flesh." (vs. 16 NRSV)
A.   This is our answer to a changed life!

B.   This is how we overcome the temptation to live as we once lived!

C.   Live by the Spirit!

III. But how can we do this?
A.   As Christians, each of us has the Spirit living in us!

B.   But we have to decide right away, "Will I say yes to the Spirit or yes to my own will?"

1.   Satan wastes no time in tempting us with this one!
2.   We make this decision everyday and all through the day!

C.   Paul tells us in I Thess. 5:19 (KJV), "Quench not the Spirit!"

1.   this is exactly what Paul is talking about!
2.   Don't say no to the Spirit!
3.   Don't put out the fire within us!
4.   Don't throw water on the fire by saying no!

D.   But how do we know if it is the Spirit's leading?
1.   That's why we study the Bible!
a.   This passage, Gal. 5:16-25, is a prime
example of how studying the Bible can help us find the answer to this question! 

b.   It gives us some clues as to how to recognize the Spirit's leading:
1)   If the Spirit within us is quick-tempered, it isn't the Holy Spirit                            because God's Spirit is long-suffering!
2)   If the feeling within us is to jump down someone's throat because they deserve  it, it probably isn't God's Spirit because the Holy Spirit is characterized  by gentleness, kindness, and self-control.
3)   And so on.
4)   In this way, we can try the Spirits.

2.   This is why Paul tells us to "Pray without ceasing."  (I Thess. 5:17)
a.   We must be in constant communication with God in order to be receptive to the Spirit's leading!
b.   If we ask the Lord what to do, God will lead us through the Holy Spirit!

3.   After we have studied the Bible and are living a life of prayer, we need to do a lot of thinking and discerning.
a.   Think of how our actions will affect God and the Kingdom.  Will they glorify God?
b.   Think of how our actions will affect others; is this the affect that God would have us to  have on others?
c.   How will it affect our own self?  Our own Spiritual growth?  Our physical life?                          d.   God would have us to weigh out each of these in making decisions.

4.   After we have done these things, we will know what the Spirit would have us to do!

5.   The first two steps take advance preparation for them to help us in seeking the Lord's will!
a.   studying
b.   developing a life of prayer

6.   The latter is a process we can go through at the  time in making a decision, based on our studies and prayers.
a.   We may go through this process pretty fast  and get our answer.
b.   Or we may be going through this process for days, weeks, months, or even years before we  can feel satisfied we have found God's will  in a decision!

A.   So what is our part in keeping from sinning?
Is Christianity a religion of dos and don'ts?

B.   (vs. 18) "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law."

C.   (vs. 16)  "Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh."

D.   Key!  Live by the Spirit!!

E.   As we encounter the Spirit of Christ at the table this morning, yield to that Spirit so that you can live a life pleasing to God!  Amen!

Prayer of Confession and Service of Communion

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Successful Mother

 Mother's Day Sunday

A.   We are living in a changing world; motherhood, the  American flag, and apple pie are three things known for their stability in America.
1.   Yet, the price of apples is going up!
2.   The flag is sometimes mistreated!
3.   Even Motherhood is sometimes abused!

B.   Although motherhood may sometimes be abused, nobody
Can do away with its importance to our families and to
our society!  Many have spoken of its importance:
1.   Napoleon, "The future destiny of the child is
always the work of the mother!"
2.   Theodore Roosevelt, "The mother is the one
supreme asset of the national life.  She
is more important, by far, than the successful
statesman, businessman, artist, or scientist."
3.              Abraham Lincoln after becoming president once
said, "All that I am, or can become, I owe to my
angel mother."

C.   In I Samuel, chap. 1, we see a beautiful portrait of a  woman who honored God:  Hannah.

Let's look at her this morning and see what it takes
to be a successful mother!

                        I Samuel 1:1-20

I.   Hannah's state in life.
A.   Hannah was very sorrowful!
1.   She had been denied the crowning glory of every
Hebrew woman: the privilege of motherhood!
2.              It should be looked upon as a privilege, a
responsibility, and a gift from God.  Too many
times it is not today!

On the other hand, Motherhood shouldn=t be the
Only purpose for women and girls such as it was
In Hannah=s society, but it should nevertheless be
still considered important!  When it happens, it
should be seen as all of this: a privilege, a
responsibility, and a gift from God!

B.   Hannah prayed for a son as she probably had many times  before.
1.   The scriptures tell us that she was deeply disturbed.
"She was deeply distressed and prayed
to the LORD, and wept bitterly." 

(I Samuel 1:10)

2.   And God listened to her prayer; he seemed to say,
"I have found a concerned mother, and now I shall
 have a dedicated servant."
3.   Hannah was important to God!
a.   She was a simple woman.
b.   Probably not very educated if at all.
c.   Her clothing plain.
d.   Yet, God heard her prayer because she was
important to God!

II.  Hannah was a praying mother!
A.   Hannah was a praying mother, and in verse 20, we see
that her prayer was answered!
B.   Be a praying mother.
1.   Your prayer life is the foundation of a Godly
2.   In Hannah's prayer, she vowed to give her son
back to the LORD: she would train him in the ways
of the LORD!
3.   The greatest way we can train is by example!
a.   My mother is a good example:
1)   Prayer. I can remember seeing my mother
kneeling by her bed and praying; that
has stayed with me.
2)   She helped me believe in myself:
b.   It has been said, "apples do not fall far
from the trees."
c.   By your example, do your children learn
1)   dedication or lack of it?
2)   prayer is important or it isn't?
3)   to be negative or positive?
4)   to be critical or complimentary?
5)   to be kind or rude?
6)   to be respectful or disrespectful?
7)   To be Godly or un-Godly?
4.   Hannah had an attitude of praise; she taught her  child to love and honor God!
5.   Moses said about the scriptures in Deut. 6:7
a.   morning, noon, and night teach God's word!
b.   Whatever you are doing, stress God's word!
6.   Nothing can take the place of the home in the
spiritual training of your child.
7.              Suzanna Wesley is another good example of a
Spiritual leader for her children.  John and
Charles Wesley were greatly influenced by her
leadership and teaching in their home!

III. Hannah was a committed mother!
A.   Hannah made a vow to the LORD, and she kept it!

B.   It must have been hard
1.   to give him that hug as she left him at the
2.   to carry out her commitment!
3.   but she was able to do it because she loved the
LORD most of all!

C.   Look at her words:
"Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long
as he lives, he is given to the LORD."
(I Samuel 1:28)

1.   What a beautiful picture of a mother dedicated to              God!

2.   She gave her most prized possession to God.
a.   She gave her son to the LORD!
b.   That that takes 1st priority for us is what
we give our children to.

A.   What are we giving our children to? 
1.   Mothers, I'm taking you off of the hook a little
bit because this is for all of us. 
2.              Are we giving our children to God by our example
or are we giving them to something else?


B.   Perhaps, you had a Christian mother who prayed for
you.  Perhaps, you never have accepted Christ?

C.   You can still do that today!

Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if  any [person] hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in . . . ."   (Rev. 3:20)

D.   Christ can still answer those prayers today, but the
     door knob is on your side of the door.  Won't you let
Christ into your heart this morning?  As we sing?

E.   If you make a commitment, please let me know so I can
help you on your faith journey!

                         Closing Hymn

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Newsletter article for June, 2017


As I sit down to write this month, a couple of things come to mind.  First, June brings us to the end of our fourth year here, and I am moved to reflect.  It doesn’t seem like it has been a four years since we first arrived.  A lot has happened !  The first year you welcomed us grandly, and we had the meet and greet sessions!  We’ve had Serve 2013,  2014, 2015, and 2016!  We’ve had Fun Days!  We formed a Growth Plan for moving forward!  We’ve had the Christmas and Easter productions!  These are always awesome!  We’ve had fish fries and ice cream socials!  We’ve  had youth programs and presentations!  You have supported missions extravagantly.  It has been a good year at Marble Hill UMC!  We just finished Confirmation and had 6 make professions of faith, 3 were baptized, 5 reaffirmed or confirmed their baptismal vows, and 4 joined the church!  We continue to work on things reflected on our Church Growth Plan!  Chris has been at work setting up computer access in our classrooms.  When he is finished, we will be able to share in the service in progress in the sanctuary from any room that has a T.V. monitor by tuning to channel 3.  Classes will be able to make use of resources available on the internet. This is a work in progress.  This will open up all kinds of possibilities!  Anthony has taken on leading us in our Praise music; this has been a great asset to our church!  Thanks church for saying yes to God’s call!  Church, many of you have let God use you!  I have been able to witness your growth these last four years.  When we let God use us, God works miracles among us.  God is good all the time! 

Secondly, what happens next?  There are a lot of people in Marble Hill we could reach!  There is still the dream of adding more services: contemporary and traditional.  There is still the dream of the new building and all the ministry possibilities that opens to the community!  As we continue to let God use us and continue to invite our friends to be a part of what God is doing here, we will continue to see the miracles of God unfold before us in the years ahead!  Just keep letting God use us to share God’s love in our community and world!

                                                                                                            God Bless you!

                                                                                                            Pastor Mike

Monday, May 8, 2017

Baptism: It Has to Become Something Personal!

               Baptism & Confirmation Sunday

                         Acts 8:26-38

(1)  Focus Statement:
This sermon shows the purposes of baptism and   confirmation.

(2)  Function Statement:
Because of this sermon, the congregation will come to
a better understanding of baptism and confirmation, and the candidates will have a better understanding of what they are    doing.

1st movement

I can remember, when I was about the age of some of these this morning, making a commitment to the Lord and being baptized.  I can remember the anxiety of the day.  I can remember the service and getting ready to go up to be baptized.  It was a big deal in my life.  It was a profession to the church of my believing and accepting what the Lord had done for me and what I intended to do with my life, and it was a witness to the grace of God and what God had done in my life.

2nd movement

For those who have been baptized as infants, their baptism is still a witness to the grace of God and what God has done in their lives. The vows that were said on their behalf are the witness to what we are going to do, so they will say those vows for themselves today to confirm their commitment to follow Christ.  Since the vows are a reflection of what we are going to do, we can redo those, but since the baptism itself is a witness to God’s grace, we do not redo that, to do so would be saying that God’s grace has failed which would be blasphemous.  We do not want to do that. 

When an infant is baptized, it is important for the church and the family to help create a memory for the child their baptism because that is their baptism.  There is a memory that I have of a time when I woke up crying because someone had taken my cookies.  My mom gently came to my side, and after finding out what I was crying about, she started reaching out and finding those cookies.  That seemed to satisfy me.  I don't know if I remember this or I if I remember it through the eyes of my family who witnessed it.  As I think about it, I remember it as though I am watching it happen from across the room.  I think I remember it because I have been told about it in such detail that I can see it, but I, nevertheless, remember it very clearly just as if I clearly saw it happen.  This is the way an infant baptism should be if the family has helped to create this memory.  For those of you who were baptized as infants, if you do not have any memory of it, talk to your family and let them help you to create that memory.

Confirmation then is the day when these who were baptized as infants profess for themselves their belief in God and what God has done for them through Jesus Christ.  It is an acknowledgment that we realize that we need God, that we need what God has done through Christ, and that we want to follow Christ in our lives.  It is a time of making our vows to God for ourselves.  It is a time of receiving what God has done for us as our own.  It is a time of saying, I have decided to follow Jesus.  It is a time of remembering our baptism and its meaning.

For those who have not yet been baptized, today is all of these things.  It is a declaration of the grace of God and what God has done for us.  It is an acknowledgement of our belief and acceptance of what God has done for us.  It is an acknowledgement that we cannot make it on our own and that we need what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.  It is a profession of the decision to follow Jesus and a profession that we intend to follow Jesus for the rest of our lives.

For most of these today, this is a time of commitment to service through this congregation of the United Methodist Church. A couple of our Confirmands have opted to not join the Church at this time.  For those who are,  they are commiting, as we have, to participate in the ministries of the church through their prayers, their presence, their gifts,  their service, and their witness.

3rd movement

In our scripture for today, the eunuch, after Philip told him all about Christ, said, "Look, here is water!  What is to prevent me from being baptized?" (Then there is verse 37 which is left out of some texts because it wasn’t in the oldest manuscripts but is believed to have been added as a part of an early baptismal creed)  And Philip said to him, "If you believe with all your heart, you may."  To this the eunuch replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  The eunuch's declaration was that he believed specifically that Jesus was the Son of God.  I think the eunuch believed in God and Christ, but I think the declaration that he believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God goes beyond a general belief in God and Christ.  I believe it was declaration that God did something in Christ for him personally.  I think for us to be saved that general belief has to come to a point of acknowledging, accepting, or believing that God sent Jesus for me.  Whatever terminology we want to use to describe this happening in our lives, what God did through Christ has to become something personal.  When it does, we are saved.  For these today, what God has done through Jesus Christ has become something personal!                                    Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Making Jesus Known

3rd Sunday of Easter!

                                                                  Luke 24:13-35
First Movement:                               
            I can remember when I was a kid our main outreach each year was a Revival.  We would get a guest speaker and/or special singers and schedule a week of meetings to invite people to.  We were encouraged to invite folks.  We hung flyers around town.  We put it on the radio that so and so church was having a Revival all are invited.  Then the week would come; our evangelist was usually literally preaching to the choir.  It would turn out to be pretty much of a disappointment and the evangelist would have to shift into either encouraging us for working so hard and telling us the important thing was we were there or sometimes they might brow beat us because we had not worked hard enough.  Either way, the Revival didn’t usually do what we hoped it would.

            Later, I can remember different programs we would try.  One I can remember was “Friend Day.”  We bought this packet of stuff that had posters and radio advertisements that we were having friend day.  It gave you an outline of what you were to do when.  I can remember that during the weeks ahead the pastor would announce that he/she was bringing a friend and it was to be some known city official and would have them visit that Sunday.  I’ve brought my friend, now who will you bring etc.  On Friend Day, we were suppose to have a big Sunday where we brought our friends.  Afterward, it had a programmed way to follow up.  Friend Day was somewhat successful.  We did have a lot of people there that Sunday, but follow-up was hard, and we didn’t really see lasting benefits.

            There always seems to be a new program to have a special Sunday or special service to get people here.  These things can be effective, but they will not always be effective.  We had a Conference Lay Leader a few years back that was always noted as saying “We have to keep the main thing the main thing!”  We will only be successful when the church keeps the main thing the main thing!

Second Movement:
             Our story today is from the gospel of Luke, and it happens at the end of Resurrection Day or Easter evening!  Luke says that two disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus.  One of the disciples is named Cleopas.  He is not one of the twelve and we encounter him nowhere else in the Bible, and the other disciple is unnamed.  They are just followers of Jesus that are walking along to Emmaus.  We haven’t even been able to identify with any certainty where Emmaus was!  These things are not significant to the story.

            They are walking along and Jesus joins them.  They do not recognize him; this seems to be a continuing theme, people not recognizing Jesus when he first appears to them.  For Luke, Jesus or God is only recognized by divine revelation!  Jesus asks them what they are talking about, and they respond to him like, “Where have you been the last couple days?  Haven’t you heard what all things have happened the last few days?”  Jesus says, “What things?” 

            They proceeded to tell Jesus about Jesus of Nazareth who was a great prophet and teacher  and how the chief priests and leaders had handed him over to be crucified!  They told how they thought he was the Messiah and then this happened!  Now, besides all this, now the third day since all this happened some of the women in our group astounded us by going to the tomb this morning and finding his body is not there!  They came back and told us how they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive!

            Jesus then picks up the conversation with, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe.”  He explains that all of this is what the prophets declared would happen.  He tells them it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into glory!  He begins with Moses and all the prophets and interprets the things about himself in all the scriptures.

            As they come to Emmaus, Jesus acts like he is going on, but they invite him to stay with them.  When they are setting down to a meal, Jesus takes the bread breaks it, blesses it, and gives it to them.  Then their eyes are opened, they recognize him and he vanishes from among them.  Then they said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”  Then they went forth and told how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread!

Third Movement:  
            It is likely that Luke intended this story for and that it has been used as a model for encountering and worshiping the risen savior! 

First, Christ is known by revelation.  Paul has put it to us another way.  We can sow the seeds, others may water the seeds, but only God gives the increase!  People will not get it until God moves on their hearts.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t sow the seeds!  This doesn’t mean that we don’t water, but it is only God who can make Godself known to people through God’s prevenient grace!  It is only God who reveals Christ to us!

Secondly, our hearts burn within us at the spoken word!  This sets up the spoken message and word as a priority in our worship of God.  How can people know unless someone tells them? The spoken word should reveal Christ as the promised Messiah who is making all things right!  The spoken word should reveal Christ as the Messiah we all need!  The spoken word should give us guidance for life!  The spoken word should show us that, as our hearts burn within us and we encounter Christ, we should go tell others! 

Thirdly, Christ is made known to us as we encounter Him at the table.  Wesley talked to us about the means of grace.  Means of grace being things through which God’s grace comes to us.  Reading the word and hearing the word are means of grace.  We’ve already talked about the spoken word, but it is a way that God reveals Godself to us!  Other means of grace are prayer, singing, service, and deeds of kindness, but Wesley saw the sacrament of Holy Communion as a special means of grace.  That is inline with what Luke is saying here.

We believe that Holy Communion is a special encounter with the risen Christ.  As we take of the physical elements, we believe that spiritually we can encounter Jesus at the table.  We believe that someone can come to faith by accepting Christ at the table.  We believe Christ can give all of us what we need at the table.  We believe communion is a special encounter with Christ!  We believe Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread and taking of the cup!

Fourthly, but not least, go forth and tell about our encounter with the risen Christ!  This is the way the gospel spreads!  It is not through some special program, but only, as we go forth and tell about our encounter with Christ.  Yes, programs work.  Picnics work!  Activities work in that they get Christian people to brush shoulders with folks who are on the outside so we can tell of our encounter with the risen Christ!  They will only work when we keep the main thing the main thing and tell what Jesus has done for us!  

Forth Movement:
            If we do this, we are keeping the main thing the main thing!  If we do this, we will be successful and we will see the church grow.  It won’t matter so much what magic programs we try!  This is the plan in which we can find success!  First, Christ is known by revelation; Second, our hearts burn within us at the spoken word; Thirdly, Christ is made know as we encounter Christ at the table; and fourthly, go forth and tell of our encounter with Christ!  

Luke outlines it for us here in his gospel!  We will see others come to Christ!  We will see other believers come to join us because they will want to be apart of a church who is positively offering Christ, and we will grow like we never believed we could!  You want to be a part of a positive church who is growing in Christ?  Have you had your sadness and despair turned to joy, hope, and excitement because of what God has done for you?  Go tell what Christ has done for you so that those you know can have their hopelessness turned to joy!  Do your part in making Jesus known to your relatives and friends!  Thanks be to God!

Closing Hymn

Freely, Freely p. 389