Your Life Is Eternally Significant

Often an incident, problem, or occasion will arise and we ask, "Is this eternally significant?"  Honestly most are not.  However, the way we live is significant.  It goes without saying that the only things of eternal value in this world are those that are eternal.  Life in this world is temporal, not eternal, and therefore, the only part of life that has eternal value is that which lasts through eternity.  Clearly, the most important thing in this world that has true eternal value is having a relationship with Jesus Christ, as the free gift of eternal life comes only through Him to all those who believe (John 3:16).  As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through the son.” (John 14:6)  Everyone is going to live somewhere for all of eternity, Christians and non-Christians alike.  And the only eternal destiny other than the one in heaven with Christ is one that provides everlasting punishment for those who reject Him (Matthew 25:46).

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Peanut Butter and Ice Cream

The Mission and Outreach Committee suggested, and the Session approved that we as a congregation donate peanut butter to the Christian Food Bank of Hopkins County.  This will be totally voluntary on your part, but you are encouraged to bring jars of peanut butter, smooth or crunchy, to the church on Sundays and place them in the collection bin in the narthex. The Mission and Outreach Committee will deliver the peanut butter to the food bank on a regular basis.  The CFB Board president asked that we donate peanut butter as a protein source, since they usually run low on protein.

Souper Bowl of Caring netted 303 pounds of food and $650, plus donations sent directly to the CFB.  Also, an additional 30 cases of peanut butter were donated to the CFB by our church from our mission budget.  We have applied for a $500 grant through our Presbytery for becoming a "Matthew 25" church.  Matthew 25 says we are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give water to those who thirst, heal the sick, and visit the prisoners.

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Him or Them?

At Hebrews Bible Study it dawned on me that the NIV and NLT use the pronoun "them" and NKJ, ESV, and others use "he and him" in verses 6-8 of the second chapter.  Not much of a problem until you read it as Jesus vs. Adam (man).  If you read it as “You made them a little lower than the angels” with the meaning man (Adam) was made to have dominion over the earth as in the Book of Genesis, or “You made him a little lower than the angels” and interpret him as Jesus as in the New Testament Churches, the difference becomes a problem.  What exacerbates the problem is trying to find understanding in the commentaries.  In commentaries we learn that most of the scholars want to show they studied Greek and Hebrew and they pontificate on the different pronouns and nuance.  Another problem is that many of us don’t read the whole Bible, we just read portions that please us, or like a woman who attended the seminary classes with me stated: “I only read the red letters.”  Simplistic, yes, but that is who many of us are.  And then there are those of us who think we need a testimony.  You know, if I don’t go through trial and heartache, I am not worthy of God’s redemption.  We search for meaning in our everyday lives to earn enough points to get into Heaven.

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Psalm 133

A song of ascents.  Of David.  "How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."  Psalm 133:1-3

We are hearing a lot about unity lately.  Our nation needs to be united; our community needs to come together to combat this pandemic in unity; our church needs unity in order to grow.  Yet, we find discord, distrust and even hate.  The psalmist writes that when God’s people live together in unity it is good and pleasant.  Living together requires us to be compassionate.  Compassion requires empathy for one who is suffering and feeling compelled to reduce suffering.  It is a fuller, truer definition than feelings alone, and it’s a very biblical understanding.  Scripture tells us to love what is good, and hate what is evil.  Good is morally right and righteousness, it is to be desired.  Evil is morally wrong and wicked.  In the simple sense Jesus is good and satan is evil.

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The Bible says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance”  (Luke 15:7).

The clear trumpet blast calling men and women to repentance is conspicuous for its absence from the modern pulpit.  We have preached the dignity of humanity instead of our depravity.  We have declared our goodness rather than our wickedness.  We have vindicated ourselves rather than confessed our guilt.  We have made of ourselves, despite all of our inherent sin and evil, little cherubs of perfection with halos on our heads, harps in our hands and wings on our shoulders.  Gone is the mourner’s bench; gone are the tear-stained cheeks of godly sorrow for sin; and gone is the joy in Heaven over wanderers returning to the Father’s house.

None of us wants to accept blame for our sins.  But either the Bible is wrong or we are wrong.  When we look at the fruits of this unrepentant generation, I am convinced that we need to blow a loud blast on the trumpet of Biblical repentance.

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Seven Elements of Repentance

We repent enough to be forgiven, but do we surrender enough to be changed?  In Mark 1:15, Jesus’ first message to the crowds was to repent and believe the gospel.  When we sin, we have turned our backs on God.  To repent is to turn away from sin and turn instead to God.  Here are 7 elements of repentance:

Conviction - The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and helps us see what we could not see before.  Our prideful spirits are softened, helping us become aware of the simple fact that we are wrong.

Surrender - The Holy Spirit supplies us with a willingness to be honest with ourselves and with God.  With His help, we are willing to to recognize and admit we are wrong.

Godly sorrow or remorse - An appropriate response when repenting for sins is to experience Godly sorrow or remorse at having gone the wrong way and disappointed God.

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Sail On

In his January 20, 1961 inaugural address John Kennedy spoke of a new beginning, a renewal, a powerful challenge.  Near the end of his speech he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."  Fifty-nine years later First Presbyterian Church has the opportunity for a new beginning, a renewal, and a powerful challenge.  We are forging ahead looking for a new pastor while dealing with the restrictions of following safe guidelines related to Covid-19.  Our attendance is down.  People are practicing social distancing waiting for the all clear.  Some are searching for a new home that offers the comfort and companionship they seek, not realizing it is here at FPC. 

Yes, Lon has retired as our pastor, yet Jesus continues as our Shepherd.  We are His sheep and First Pres is still one of his sheepfolds.  We are not literally at a new beginning, but we are at a time of renewal and it will be a powerful challenge.  Borrowing from JFK we need to ask how can we serve our church and our community.  We need not worry about how the church is serving us, but how we are serving The Church of Jesus Christ.  If we do so, watch how FPC prospers in the process.

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