Love God and Love One Another

Rob“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.  Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.  This is real love - not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.  And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.”  1 John 4:7-13

14 years ago I began a new career here at First Presbyterian Church.  As I was cleaning out my office the other day, I was reminded of 14 plus years of memories.  I found reminders of how quickly life moves as we get older, or so it seems, and great memories of time spent together loving God, serving God, and loving and serving one another.  So, after being a member since December 17th, 1995, and having served in a number of roles in the church during those almost 25 years, I have just a few words to share with you one last time.

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A Letter from Rob

Rob2To the Family of First Presbyterian Church, July 13, 2020:

There is a season for everything and in this season of Denise and my lives we have prayerfully made the choice to move to be close to family.  With the gradual decline of youth involvement in our church, which is sad for us to see, it has become apparent to us that God is leading us to be near Brad, Katie, Lexi and Finlee.

We have been blessed to be part of this church family for over 20 years.  And we are going to miss all the great friends we have made and we will cherish the memories we have.  We are thankful for each one that has so blessed us and encouraged us and loved us through the years.  Our faith has grown tremendously through the sweet people of First Presbyterian Church and we are so appreciative.

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Connected

Recently we've experienced a more intense view of what separates people.  In this article I would like to focus on what we all have in common.  We are all descendants, children, of Adam and Eve, and though our appearances may be unique to each of us, we are more related than we might think.  A study done by Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, who holds a PhD in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University, who serves as a research biologist, author, and speaker with Answers in Genesis, and who formerly conducted research with the Institute for Creation Research, has revealed some astonishing things based on our genetic codes.  Check it out here, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCicvc24eAbFp-thRrBnSP2A on the Answers in Genesis YouTube site under the video list titled “The New History to the Human Race."  It’s fascinating that science and research are pointing to the fact that we are all related, and the evidence points back to a much younger point in history than we’ve been taught.

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Content?

Over the past couple of months we have experienced the likes of things that point toward doom, if you allow them.  Pandemics, financial crashes, job losses, injustice, riots -  they can all be overwhelming can’t they?  Are we at a point in time when the world seems out of control?  We know, though, who is in control and even that can leave us wondering, “WHY?”.

Our health is something we can control only to a certain extent. Viruses like Covid 19 come around rarely and when we are unprepared, people become sick and some die.  I believe that my sickness in January was this virus, although I can’t confirm that, because of my symptoms and because Denise got a lesser version of it 2 weeks later.  I recovered and I quarantined myself from others except Denise.  We try hard to stay healthy.  We exercise, we eat as healthy as possible, we take our vitamins, we try to get plenty of rest, and we drink a lot of water, but still we can and do get sick.

Our finances are something that most believe we have pretty good control of too.  But things like pandemics can cause problems to even the financial markets.  With businesses closed per guidelines and people unemployed because of those closures, we get a domino effect that everyone has felt to some degree or another.  We can plan and save and try to invest and protect, but even with all of that sometimes we lose jobs, lose money and lose hope for our future.

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Character

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”  Romans 5:1-6

For the class of 2020 this has been a time that no one else I know of can relate to.  No one will understand the things you have had to go through, but I think those situations will build character.  It may be hard for you to understand now, but you are enduring and experiencing something that will hopefully help you appreciate things that you may have once taken for granted.  The reality in all this is that life has no guarantees other than the God who created us loves us and has plans for each of us.  We have seen the abundance of His love and the guarantee for our future in the sacrifice of His Son, our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  No matter what we go through, nothing will separate us from God’s love shown to us in Christ Jesus.  So whether we’re sick or well, rich or poor, happy or sad, none of that affects our security in Christ.  We have been freed from slavery to sin and death, from eternal separation from our loving Father God, and no pandemic nor anything else can change that.

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Peace

As we are in times that are uncertain and foreign, I am reminded that we are blessed even in the midst of this time.  Staying focused on and in tune with God during this time can be difficult if we allow the fear and anxiety to overwhelm us.

Jesus stepped into the world He created and lived with us, the ones He handcrafted, to show us a new way of life.  Could this time be for us a way to refocus?  I mean could we actually use this pandemic as an opportunity to spend more time with God and our families?  Could we start to see the clutter of stuff and start to clean out not just our closets and attics and garages and junk drawers, but to also unclutter our minds to understand in the midst of even difficult pandemics that God is with us?  Joy is mentioned 91 times in the New Testament, peace 89 times, and love 260.  That's more than enough reminders in God’s Word that we have the love, joy and peace of Christ to overwhelm the hate, despair and chaos that is trying to distract us.

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He Is Risen Indeed!

Here's Rob's Sonrise Service message for tomorrow morning. It may be a little early, but this is no ordinary year!