That is how Joseph viewed years of captivity. The hand of God preparing him to do a mighty work. That is why Joseph could forgive. Did he forget? No, he knew his own history, but he looked beyond the short term pain and looked broader than what the suffering meant to him. He looked at God's plan. He trusted God to use all things for good.
There is nothing any pastor can say or do that is more important than the words of Holy Scripture. So, if you are not reading the Bible with some regularity that you are missing out. You are walking through life without a roadmap. If you are feeling lost and alone, without God in your life you need to pick up that road map and follow it a little closer. Religion and faith don't happen to us, or for us. They happen when we are active and part of it. Our faith grows through reading the word. Through prayer. Through living out faith in action. All things include ALL the things that we can, should, let's make that, MUST do to be in communion with God.
The words of John 3:16 were first spoken to a guy named Nicodemus. I'll call him "Nick" for short. Nick was a Pharisee and member of the ruling council called the Sanhedrin. He was a big shot in other words. After doing miracles and drawing big crowds wherever he went, Jesus was getting noticed. Nicodemus was no exception. He had heard some of the public clamor, and he wanted to know more. But he had to be careful. He went to see Jesus at night because he was curious about what was happening all around him. He also thought it would be trouble if he was seen visiting with Jesus.
Is our church face the same face we present when a salesman knocks at the door while we are trying to eat dinner? Are we trying to fool God? Ourselves? Or the other folks sitting in church? It's a tough call, but Paul's directions are clear, Don't think so highly of ourselves. Associate with the lowly, weep with those who are weeping.
IT was a little over ten years ago, God was telling me to bring my family to Texas. I don't know if it was an Epiphany, but I believed strongly that it was God's will. Things were not going well in Washington State, and there were things about life in Washington State that neither my wife or I found to be anywhere near tolerable. We came to the conclusion we weren't leaving Washington as much as Washington had left us. So, I had job interviews in San Antonio and here in Temple. After a couple weeks it was clear that Temple wanted us more than San Antonio, so here we came. But I know not all Epiphany moments may be good news. Or at least the good news may not be immediately apparent. Change is hard.
So what’s next for each of us? It’s really pretty clear in today’s scripture. We are directed to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Let’s look at this call upon our lives and see what each one means today. Compassion sounds easy, but I think that is a pretty tall order some days. All these things that represent the fruit of the Holy Spirit are feelings, attitudes and actions that we need to cultivate in our lives. What does compassion mean to you? How do you deal with little ones and big ones who can’t find their shoes, or get their boots on without your help? I know I cannot get by a day without the compassion of my wife when I can’t find my shoes, my truck keys, my cell phone and a host of other things. But some times I struggle when a coworker needs me to do something I’ve done for them before. In the business world it is called re-work, and it’s to be avoided at all costs. When I think of compassion, one of the first things I think about is Compassion International. This is a group that works all over the world bringing the message of Jesus Christ to families and children in emerging world countries. I am sure some of you are probably Compassion International supporters. But if you’re not, perhaps we, as a church, could adopt a Compassion Child. The cost is about $40 a month. But it is a long term commitment. Compassion tells the story of Jesus to youngsters who’ve never been ministered to before. They reach entire families and gradually bring them to understand the love of Christ. We’re called to kindness, too. That seems like an easy one. For some of you kindness does come naturally - some of us need to exercise and grow our kindness muscle. Kindness can mean giving of your time and energy to help others. Giving someone a ride to church is kindness. Making a phone call to one of our members who just cannot get out that often is kindness. Bringing our food bank donations is kindness. Anything putting the needs of someone else before our own is a kindness. Humility is difficult. The world speaks against humility. Workers are told to toot their own horn. Sports stars can be pretty darned arrogant about their skills and abilities. I have this joke that I am really proud of my humility. But you know, that isn’t how it works. When we tell someone how humbly we serve, are we really being humble? Humble means doing God’s work and expecting nothing in return. It means the satisfaction of serving others without recognition, maybe even without a thank you - just the ability to be doing God’s will - is enough. Reminds me of an old country song. (I know doesn’t everything.) Lord its hard to be humble, when you’r perfect in every way. I can’t help but look in the mirror cause I get better lookin each day…. Yeah, I know. Silly song, and not exactly Biblical. Is meek the same as weak? Meek is powerful without flaunting your power.
Welcome Home. This is a very special night, and I am so glad we have all gathered here this evening...
There is a special yard near our house that has Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus at the manger. Though that is not even close to reality, I salute the idea behind it. How has home blessed you? Those of you who have been blessed with long happy marriages certainly know the blessing of home. Those of you who are widowed now, still have that blessing in your heart. And even though your beloved spouse may be waiting for you in heaven, he never really is too far away from your heart. It is a blessing to miss someone that much. I know, that’s a little bit tougher to take on. But, it’s true. A love that lasts forever, is a blessing from God. That we don’t exit this life together is also not a curse. It is a blessing that you’ve been given more time to serve God in this life, as we prepare for the next. Those of you who are not married still know the blessing born of the pain of missing someone. Maybe its your mother or dad. Maybe a friend who unexpectedly died. The past year we’ve all been forced to examine what is important in life. We’ve all heard the saying blessed to be stressed, and questioned it. We have rediscovered too, what blessings we have in home, church and each other. We went for weeks or in some situations months with no church but internet church or TV church. But the church is still here, and renewed and blessed, and welcoming. We now produce a special internet service every Sunday for those who cannot get to church, and for those outside the area that may find us on the Internet.
This week in our Thursday study group we looked at something called the paradox of blessing. The realization that sometimes our blessings come out of pain and even suffering
You are a people of faith. God has given you faith, or at least he wants to. There is no reason t...