Today’s sermon was based on the story of two sons, asked to help their dad. One said yes and didn’t do it, the other said no, but did it anyway. Do you know that story? Imagine those were your sons.
Which of the two sons would you consider trustworthy? How would you react to their replies and subsequent behavior?
Our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley, at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, MT spoke on that topic today, inspired by the story in Matthew 21: 28-31.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
As usual, I listened to the sermon and took my notes in poetry. He started out by telling us about his grandmother’s advice to him when he announced (after graduating from college) that he had decided to go to seminary:
“When you stand up to preach, Don’t scold those who don’t come. They aren’t there to hear it,” My grandmother advised (she wasn’t dumb!).
“When you preach – remember To stomp on your own feet first. When you do that,” my grandma said, “You’ll serve living water to those who thirst.”
In today’s scripture, we heard Of two sons and their replies. One said yes and didn’t do it. The other, “No!” but did it. Which one cries?
The one who failed to follow through Was the one who’ll live with regret. Unlike him, we need to be obedient. Don’t say yes – and then forget!
Paul Tillick said, “In every human heart Is a faint recollection of our Maker.” If that’s true, we can see God Even in the disobedient faker.
The second son may have said “Yes, but…” In his response of a silent “No,” Other things may have taken precedence, But he didn’t want his “No” to show.
How many times do we say yes And then fail to follow through? Better to say No and then do it. I want to be trustworthy; how about you?
What jobs are you being asked to do? Are they tasks you look forward to? Or are you dragging your feet?
Schedule it for tomorrow After a relaxing Sunday afternoon/evening. And then… Just Do It!
Those were the words read from the will when my friend, Marion, met with her siblings after their mother died.
Today’s devotional in “Mornings with Jesus 2020” told of a similar story. The writer quoted her father as saying, “Before I leave here, I intend to spend every dollar I ever made.”
She thought he was kidding. After all, he was a God-fearing man … “who could quote scripture from Genesis to Revelation.” (Alice Thompson, Thursday July 9th).
But her earthly father had given her no inheritance!
After being angry for awhile, Alice turned to her Bible, and she turned to the Lord. Alice wrote that she spoke to her head about Lamentations 3:24. It says, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.”
Even though Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,” Alice realized her father – who left “nothing for me,” had indeed left the most precious gifts of all: His loving relationship with her and his faith in God.
He lived his life loving her and her mother, giving to the Lord and to those in need, and using his hard-earned dollars to enjoy a good life. A nice house, a new car every few years, memorable vacations, generosity with his children, and gifts to charity… these were the signatures he left. He left her the gifts money can’t buy: love, faith, a good work-ethic, respect, and joy.
If our parents live their lives in love and faith, generosity and joy. If our parents pass those gifts on to us, We have the received the most important gifts of all. They don’t owe us a rich monetary inheritance.
If our parents demonstrate a good work-ethic, and teach us to do likewise, If our parents help us learn to read and compute, pray and serve, and get a good education, then they have equipped us to do as they might:
“Being of sound mind, I spent it all or gave it away.“
Go and do likewise! Have a great Thursday.
I’m headed to a Happy 70th Birthday party! See ya tomorrow. Live in peace with EVERYBODY, my friends! Hugs, JanBeek
These lilacs connect To the vine of existence In the vine is life
Apart from the vine, Obviously these flowers die. We are just like that!
“I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 (NIV)
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
This morning I thought I had lost my WordPress posts. I thought I’d lost YOU!
Words of comfort came – Rushed in to reassure me: We are connected!
My history is here… Eight years of important posts Help keep us in touch.
Apart from you – Pop! The balloon of my WordPress Loses all its air!
When I posted this Blog from my iPhone today Only Youtube showed.
It’s an important Message about connection From Ronald Reagan.
Whether you are from the USA or not; whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent, You should watch this. It was recorded in a different era, at a time when it was not seen as divisive to evoke God’s name in the White House. The Bible was not used as a prop. It was quoted as a means of encouraging us to reach out in love… Reach out and JUST LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
Please stay connected! Apart from you, my blog is nothing. Apart from God, I am nothing!
Caralyn of BeautyBeyondBones (do you follow her here on WordPress?) wrote to me today and said,
“We are all part of His family, and I pray we all realize that and start to act accordingly, with love for our fellow brother and sisters!”
AMEN, Caralyn. Amen, my dear brothers and sisters. I love you all. Please stay connected.
CaringBridge is a website designed to help people going through medical challenges (COVID-19, cancer, heart failure, etc.) remain connected with an invited group of family and friends. When my cousin, Cliff, was in the midst of his esophageal cancer and related surgeries, CaringBridge was my connection to him. My friend, Gloria, is another CaringBridge friend who allowed me to be on her contact list. Check it out… http://www.caringbridge.org )
CaringBridge Staff Mar 22, 2018
The CaringBridge community was asked to send in favorite inspirational quotes about hope and healing so that they could share them with everyone.
Here are 18 of them:
Unknown Submitted by Vicki Bunke “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”
Christopher Reeve Submitted by Kaye Warren “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 Submitted by a CaringBridge user
“Some people cannot be cured, but everyone can heal.”
Unknown Submitted by Kelly Grosklags “Barn’s burnt down — Now I can see the moon.”
Poem by Mizuta Masahide Submitted by Shelly Leduke “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Vivian Greene Submitted by Teri Schild Wehrman “God does not give us more than we can handle.”
Unknown Submitted by Betty Martin
“Love many; trust few. Learn to paddle your own canoe.“
American Proverb Submitted by Mary Valuri “All our infirmities, whatever they are, are just opportunities for God to display his gracious work in us.”
C. H. Spurgeon Submitted by Jon & Pam Fulton “The sun never quits shining. Sometimes, clouds just get in the way.”
Unknown Submitted by Gailann Thomas-Black “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Abraham Lincoln Submitted by Susan Mosgrove-Wilber “When you go through deep waters I will be with you.”
Isaiah 43:2 Submitted by Sharon Hammond-Saad “If there’s life, there is hope.”
Stephen Hawking Submitted by CaringBridge user
“I don’t know what the future may hold, but I know who holds the future.”
Ralph Abernathy Submitted by Patch Reynolds “A smile doesn’t cost a cent, but draws a lot of interest.”
Unknown Submitted by Cecil Irwin “We grieve because we love. The intensity of the grief often proclaims the depth of our love.”
Gary Roe Submitted by Ernestina Santana “The forces that are for you are greater than the forces against you.”
Joel Osteen Submitted by Peg Sorensen “And sometimes, against all odds, against all logic, we still hope.”
Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey Submitted by Sigrid Devita “Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view.”
The climb may be hard, But the view’s worth the struggle. So, just persevere!
In today’s Daily Word, the scripture reference was Proverbs 16:9 “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.”
The writer in reflecting on that text reminded us that we need to be open and receptive. “I know wherever I am, God is. Love is. Peace is. I need only turn within to listen, to be present, to be still… Living from the Christ within is the way to find lasting peace, [and] happiness…”
If our friends at http://www.CaringBridge.org find peace in the inspiring quotes above, surely we also can know how blessed, humbled, and grateful we are to live in love as we do. Thank God daily for your many blessings!
What is a favorite quote of yours that helps sustain you during times of struggle?
I’d love to see yours. Please respond below… Let me know you’re out there!
O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow May richer fuller be.
O joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain That morn shall tearless be.
Today’s Worship Service
In the absence of a worship service in our church today because of COVID-19 and the need for social-distancing, our worship service was e-mailed to us. The hymns I include in this blog were chosen by our pastor Steve and our music director, Fran McNeill, and then e-mailed to us from our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church here in Ennis, Montana today.
The following sermon by Pastor Steve Hundley was printed for us to “hear” in the privacy of our homes. It is powerful!
Please take your precious time now and hear it with me:
TRUSTING GOD IN THIS DARK TIME
Read: Psalm 130
Read: Romans 8
Some years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book entitled, “WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.” He wrote this book in response to the death of his 14-year-old son, Aaron, from a rare disease called “Progeria” which causes the body to age and die prematurely.
In his bestselling book, Rabbi Kushner concluded that we must decide between a God who is infinitely powerful, but not loving enough to prevent such tragedies as the suffering and death of his 14-year-old son, or, a God who is all loving but not all-powerful. “You can’t have it both ways,” he says, “we must choose: all-powerful or all-loving.”
Yet as Christians, we believe that:
Evil exists in this world, causing bad things to happen to good people, so evident in these past weeks of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Secondly, we believe that our God is all-powerful; and
Thirdly, we believe that our God is a loving God.
Now, I admit that our dilemma is that we can reconcile any two of the above philosophically, but not all three. For example: If evil exists in the world, how can a loving God be all-powerful? Or, if God is all loving and all-powerful how can evil possibly exist?
Still, the Bible does not deal with human, philosophical questions, as much we would prefer it be so. Instead, the Bible deals with divine faith questions. So, even if we cannot know philosophically how evil can exist in light of God who is all-powerful and all-loving, what we “can” know from scripture is that “no matter what evils or tragedies we face in life, our God will not desert us.” And, knowing that is enough.
Yes, it is enough for most of us—most of the time. But, in moments like this, that alone may not be enough. When our entire world is paralyzed by this current pandemic, it is difficult in this dark hour not to cry out to God: “WHY, OH WHY, GOD?” I don’t mean to make you feel guilty, for It is only human to want to know “WHY?”
I don’t know about you, but I find myself cringing every time I hear someone in the media refer to this COVID 19 pandemic as “AN ACT OF GOD.” In all fairness, I realize it is an accepted way for referring to any such natural disaster. Still, I am uncomfortable attributing such death and tribulation to the will of God. As someone said: “If God is light,” according to Holy Scripture, “then why should we impart darkness to God?”
Visiting a young couple who stopped coming to church after their only child died of cancer, their pastor pleaded: “You can’t stop believing in God because of what has happened, can you?” “Oh, I still believe in God,” said the grieving father, “I don’t come to church anymore because I hate God!”
It is for people much like that father that I have chosen to venture further out on the “thin ice” of what is called “the Theodicy Problem”, that is: “Why do bad things happen to good and innocent people?”
So, I humbly dare to venture forward on behalf of all around this world who have suffered or lost loved ones in the midst of this unprecedented natural disaster that has and will continue to cost so many lives.
Let me begin by saying that the Bible, as I understand it, speaks of our all-powerful God who does not completely control everything in our fallen creation because of the limitations God has placed on God’s self in order to allow us freedom of faith. Without freedom, there could be no faith. Faith, by its very definition, requires us the freedom to love and believe in God, or to reject belief and love for God. God does not desire us to be puppets, manipulated into having to believe in or love God. Therefore, our God has granted us, and creation itself, freedom by relinquishing total control over our lives and the world.
The Bible speaks of Satan—and other dark forces at work in this world. And, our own human experiences confirm that there is a dynamic evil force that exercises a powerful presence in our world contrary to the will of God.
“Yet, God in Christ,” writes Paul to the Roman Church, “broke the power of these dark forces on the cross,” which means that we are dealing now with mortally wounded, though still very dangerous “principalities” and “dark powers.” Bad things continue to befall good people because these dark forces are still alive, powerful, and enemies of all that is good in this world.
As Christians, in this Easter Season, we have hope and assurance that through Christ and His resurrection, God’s eventual victory over the evil in our world is a foregone conclusion. But, until that time “when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord,” our God will do all that can be done to drive back these dark forces and utterly destroy them, as we continually pray and serve Him until God’s Kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven.
Until that time, says Paul in Romans 8:19-23:
Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
In his book: “Christ and Time”, Oscar Cullmann uses the analogy of WWII to illustrate our and creation’s struggle against the powers of darkness. He makes a clear distinction between two definitive days of the war: D-Day and V-Day. D-Day was the day Allied Forces landed in Normandy and established a beachhead. The strategizing generals on both sides recognized that the outcome of war was decided on that fateful day, June 1944.
They understood that if the enemy had driven the Allies back into the sea, the Nazis would have won the war. However, the Allied Armies prevailed in Normandy and sealed the doom of the evil Nazi regime. Still, in spite of the triumph of D-Day, the Allies had not yet totally subdued the enemy. Between D-Day and V-Day (Victory Day), there would be many months of suffering, death, and struggle. There would be horrendous battles as the Allied Army, little by little, pushed back the Nazi forces. Still, the ensuring battles would culminate in “Victory Day,” which marked the complete surrender of the enemy and the total liberation of Europe.
So you see, the cross and resurrection of Jesus were our D-Day. God in Jesus won the decisive battle over evil and death in this world. However, God and His children, as well as nature itself, continue to face struggles while driving back the forces of darkness whose power has been broken. Still, dark forces are alive in the world and free to raise havoc. God’s V-Day is not yet here! However, we can be confident in God’s triumph over evil and death (and COVID 19), because we know how it will end.
Or, as Paul says:
Who (or what) shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword (or this COVID 19 pandemic)? As it is written, “For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither, death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39)
(Written by Rev. Steve Hundley and printed in our worship e-mail)
“In midst of life, O Lord, our lives have been interrupted by death: the death of our normal routine, the death of worship as we have always done it, the death of life as we have known it, the death of our personal plans, the death of innocence, the death of institutions, the death of promises, the death of those we love, the death that works in our own bodies.
In spite of our broken dreams we give You thanks for the gospel of Jesus Christ, whose message is not death but life: the life of the Spirit, the life of dreams, the life of faith, the life of love, the life of justice; life for the small people of the world, life for the meek, life for the broken and rejected, life for the diseased and afflicted, life for our loved ones, and life for us.
Lord, we pray for those who need hope, healing, and grace. We hold up before you those who are alone and isolated, those who are sick, and those who are scared of what the future holds for them. Lord, help us to discover new ways of living: living for Christ, living for those around us, living for this frightened world, living for Your Kingdom. Let the Christ of the empty tomb make empty tombs of all our disappointments and fears. Come and reign over us, now and in the days ahead and forever and ever. Amen”
Verse One: God be with you till we meet again; By His counsels guide, uphold you, With His sheep securely fold you; God be with you till we meet again.
Chorus: Till we meet, till we meet; till we meet at Jesus’ feet; Till we meet, till we meet, God be with you till we meet again.
Verse Two: God be with you till we meet again; ‘Neath His wings protect and guide you, Daily manna still provide you. God be with you till we meet again.
Verse Three: God be with you till we meet again; When life’s perils thick confound you, Put His arms unfailingaround you; God be with you till we meet again.
Verse Four: God be with you till we meet again; Keep love’s banner floating o’er you, Smite death’s threatening wave before you; God be with you till we meet again.
(Back to chorus)
Spread Love and Hope
I pray you found love and hope in these songs, these words, and these prayers.
If you did, as I did, you can spread love and hope by forwarding this post to your friends and family. Or you can sit with those in your household (as I did with my husband this morning) and read/sing these messages together. Or you can do both!