Pastor Bill Daywalt
Sunday morning services: 10 to 11 a.m.
From Pastor Bill Daywalt
Welcome to the virtual home of the Kingsville United Presbyterian Church!
We are glad you stopped by to get to know us. Our church has a long history within the Kingsville Community. We have been a constant presence since 1844. Formed as a Congregational Church, ours is the first church established in the Western Reserve.
The Kingsville Presbyterian Church seeks to bring the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to the community through worship, teaching and service in a warm and welcoming environment.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
The purpose of our worship is to glorify, honor, praise, exalt, and please God . Our worship shows our adoration and praise to the God who created us and provides us with our every need
Through Biblically based preaching, prayer and music we provide worshippers spiritual fulfillment, relating the word of God as it applies to our lives.
The church follows Jesus’ commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19-20
Mission and outreach are important parts of our ministry. We actively support causes locally, throughout the country and around the world. We provide the community with free meals as well as facilities for both Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops.
Kingsville Presbyterian Church welcomes all who seek to know the Lord. If you are looking for a church home, we invite you to join this loving, caring and inclusive congregation.
Working for His Glory,
Pastor Bill Daywalt
I notice the subject of gardening sprouting up everywhere. The cultivation and care of living, growing things is grounded deeply in the soul of who we are as created beings in God’s garden.
In the beginning God planted us human beings in his perfect garden. Previous verses from the creation story make clear that God is the original gardener. He created the vegetation – seed-bearing plants, trees that have fruit with seeds, shrubs, and all kinds of trees. From the beginning, God intended this first garden to produce food for all kings of creatures and humankind year after year.
Genesis 2:15 shows that God planned people in that first garden “to work it and take care of it.” This suits us because we are from God-created in his image to be like him-and we are also from the ground. We might even say that gardening-working and caring for growing things-is in our bones. Cultivating the gifts of God for the glory of God is what we are meant for.
Gardening involves cultivating, planting, watering, pruning, protecting, harvesting, and much more. When we are drawn to the world of soil, plants, and trees, it is no coincidence. We’re designed to care for the earth, other creatures, and each other. Cultivation is rooted in our beginning and continual thriving in God’s garden.
Pastor Bill Daywalt
I’ve made my choice,” wrote the basketball star. “I love Jesus Christ and I try to serve Him to the best of my ability.
How about you?”
No, those are not the words of any current Christian sports figure. That testimony is from a tract written thirty years ago by Bill Bradley, the former United States Senator who also made a bid for president.
In a Breakpoint Commentary, Chuck Colson talked about how Bradley professed faith in Christ while he was a student at Princeton University.
There he became very active in The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and by the time he was playing for the New York Knicks, he was a very outspoken Christian.
But things changed. In his 1996 memoirs, Bradley says he was put off by the exclusive truth claims of conservative Christianity and bothered by the uncharitable and racist attitudes displayed by some Christians.
He now says he embraces all religions, from Buddhism to Islam, “so long as they seek inner peace.”
Now, you will have to decide the political significance of Senator Bradley’s change of heart, but he illustrates something that I find to be one of the most difficult questions we face in the church.
What about all the people who used to be active Christians?
What about all the people who at one time professed faith in Jesus Christ but who now seem to have little interest in the things of the Lord?
And, it is not just that some folks are not as involved in church as they used to be. People continue to leave the church in groves.
Why does this happen?
What is going on with these people?
This is not just something that has happened in recent years.
In the 1st Century church, there were those who had been part of the fellowship, who had turned against Christianity.
In 1 Timothy 5:15, Paul speaks about some in the church who turned away from Christ to follow Satan.
And, of course, there is Judas, one of the twelve men chosen by Jesus, who for three years appeared to be a loyal disciple but who in the end turned his back on Christ and betrayed the Lord to those who wanted Him killed.
What is going on when someone appears to go from being a Christian to a non-Christian?
I think we find some answers to these tough questions in a story that Jesus told. This is often called the parable of the sower, but really it is the story about different types of soil.
Now a story about dirt may seem a little mundane, but I believe God has very important things to teach us through this text.
The parable of the soils:
Some people have tried to come up with a technical definition of the word parable. Really it is just a story that teaches a spiritual lesson.
We find seven different parables in this chapter. In this one, which is found in Verses 3-9, Jesus tells about a farmer who was planting seed.
Not someone with machinery that costs thousands and thousands of dollars, but this farmer just has a bag with seeds in it.
As he scattered the seed, Verse 4 says that some of it fell on a footpath. Since this ground was very hard, the seed just sat on top, and Jesus says that the birds came and ate it up.
In Verse 5, Jesus tells us that some of the seed fell on rocky places. The soil was not very deep, and though the plants sprouted very quickly, they were soon scorched by the sun and died because the roots were not deep enough.
According to Verse 7, some of the seed fell among thorns. These seeds sprouted too, but Jesus says the weeds choked the plants by robbing them of nutrients.
Yet, the farmer was not a failure. Matthew 13:8
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Apparently in 1st Century Palestine, a yield of a hundred times was a good yield and thirty times was a bit slim. Some of the good dirt was better than other good dirt.
The point of this story is that we have one farmer who is doing his work. The seed he is planting is all the same.
But what determines whether or not there is a crop, or how good of a crop, is the type of soil in which the seed is planted.
That really has not changed in 2000 years.
Some of you who have gardens spend a lot of time and energy enriching your soil, because you know that the better the soil, the better the results.
But Jesus did not tell this story to help us with our gardening. He is illustrating an important spiritual truth that I think is relevant for us today.
So, what is the meaning of Jesus’ story?
Well, we don’t have to guess.
Jesus gives the rather detailed explanation to the disciples and for us. He does not tell us specifically whom the farmer represents. It has been suggested that he represents Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, or any Christian who is proclaiming God’s Word.
The seed represents God’s Word or the message about God’s kingdom.
The soils represent four different responses that people have to the gospel, the Great News about Jesus Christ.
As we look at these, we will recognize people we may know.
First of all, there are those people who have no interest in the gospel. When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.
This is the seed sown along the path. Now, these folks are not necessarily antagonistic to God’s Word. They simply are not interested.
The lack of interest exists because they don’t understand the gospel. It goes in one ear and comes out the other – not making any connection in between.
Jesus’ analogy is good. Just as the seed on the path stays on the surface and never gets into the ground where it can grow, God’s Word stays on the surface for these folks.
It never penetrates their hearts or even their minds.
To some extent, being hardhearted is the natural condition of human beings because of our sinful nature, but Jesus points to another contributing factor — the evil one, Satan, who snatches away the seed of truth.
This is what Paul has in mind in 2 Corinthians 4:4 when he says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
When we take our natural, fallen condition and combine with the work of the demonic forces, the result is what we read in 1 Corinthians 2:14
The man (or the woman) without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
People don’t embrace the gospel because they just can’t understand. It just doesn’t make sense to them. Their lives are like that hard path where the seeds cannot grow.
Now, there are a lot of people I know who seem to fall into this category.
I am sure you know some of them.
Often those of us who have been forgiven through Jesus Christ, who have found meaning and hope for our lives, who experienced healing in our bodies and souls, find it difficult to understand how so many folks can be simply apathetic toward the Great News of Jesus Christ.
If a doctor would tell a woman with cancer that he has found a cure for her disease, it would be crazy for the woman to say, “Thank you, but I’m not interested.”
Likewise, when Jesus Christ offers a cure for the cancer of our soul, it seems crazy when people don’t want to at least learn about it.
But, in this story Jesus tells us why that happens.
They don’t understand Christianity. It doesn’t mean anything to them. So, it is not surprising when they have no interest in listening to anyone tell them about Jesus Christ.
Now, many of us have dear friends and close family members who fit this description and are in this condition. Don’t be discouraged. Jesus doesn’t address this issue in the parable, but someone who is like the hard path doesn’t have to stay that way.
God’s Spirit is in the business of plowing up those hard paths, softening people’s hearts, opening their eyes, and making them ready to receive God’s Word.
There are countless Christians who are strong in their faith and devout followers of Jesus, who at one time had no interest in Christianity.
Paul was one of those people.
The apostle Paul at one time had no interest in the gospel. He didn’t understand it. But, as he was traveling to Damascus one day, God opened his spiritual eyes by blinding his physical eyes. He then understood the truth and embraced Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
If you have friends and family members who are like the hard path, pray that God would work in their lives to make them receptive to God’s Word. It is not too late.
Secondly, there are those who have very temporary faith. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. Some folks find these verses confusing, but I think Jesus is speaking of a hard reality. The picture He gives us is someone who hears the gospel and gets so excited about Christianity, but that excitement lasts for only a short time and soon the person really wants nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
There are people who pray, asking Jesus Christ to be their Savior, and yet within months they seem to have no interest in things of God.
Now, I’m not in a position to judge they, or Bill Bradley, or anyone else is in this category, but it appears that they certainly might be.
Are these people who become Christians by receiving Jesus Christ as their personal Savior?
No, I don’t think so. Jesus says the reason this person’s faith lasts only a short time is because “he has no root.”
There is no connection to what is needed to nourish and sustain life, or to put it in spiritual terms, there is no connection to the Holy Spirit.
There was never a connection to the Holy Spirit. Thus, the faith was never genuine, and these people were never truly a believer of Jesus Christ.
But, why would they have received the Word with joy at one point?
Why would people claim to believe in Christ if they really don’t? There are a number of reasons for that.
Some people have a head belief, which never connects with the heart.
They believe the facts about Jesus but never embrace Him as their Savior.
They believe in Jesus much like they believe in George Washington. It is merely an intellectual belief, not a true biblical faith.
As we say, “Some people miss heaven by 18 inches” which is the distance from their head to their heart.
Others give an outward profession of faith in Christ, not because they really trust in Jesus, but because they want to please someone else. I have seen teenagers go forward to pray to receive Christ. They did not go because they really wanted to do that, but because their friends were doing that. I’ve seen people make a profession, not because it is something they wanted to do, but because it is something their spouse or parents or girlfriend wanted them to do. That is not real faith; there is no root. When troubles or persecution or just something more interesting comes along, they forget all about their Christianity.
I believe the temporary faith, which is like the seed that is planted on the rocky soil, reminds us that not all who profess Christ, really possess Christ. During the Middle Ages, Christians used to try to convert Jews and Muslims by force. “Profess faith in Jesus Christ or I will cut off your head.” Lots of those folks chose to profess faith in Jesus Christ, but I doubt that they truly became Christians. Leaders of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association estimate that roughly 10% of people who come forward at the end of a Crusade meeting really become Christians that night. Many already were Christians and lots of others go through the external motions but never really receive Jesus Christ. Again, the Billy Graham people are delighted that about 10% of these folks, or hundreds of people each night, are genuinely converted, but they admit that many who come forward are not. Not all who claim to be Christians, who claim to have received Jesus into their hearts, really have. The temporary faith Jesus is describing is not true faith at all. Temporary faith is not real faith. It never was.
Thirdly, there are those who find other things more important than Christ. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. What is the difference between these folks and the ones we just talked about? Well, for one thing, it seems to be a much slower process than what Jesus was talking about with the rocky soil. That type of faith popped up quickly and disappeared just as quickly. Here Jesus seems to be speaking of a much slower process where the faith seems to fade away as other things become more important. Do these people end up being saved and getting to heaven? Were they genuine Christians to start with? To be frank, I don’t know. Bible commentaries disagree, with some saying that these are true Christians who simply get their priorities wrong and as a result don’t live very fruitful or godly lives, yet they will still be in heaven.
Others say no. John 15 says the branches that don’t bear fruit are thrown away and burned, and people who don’t demonstrate some evidence of being filled with God’s Spirit are not really Christians and never really were. They have the temporary faith we talked about a few minutes ago. I don’t know who is right. What I do know is that “the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth” are keeping many folks from following the Lord, as they should. Some of these folks are religious people who I don’t think are necessarily true believers in Christ. Others are people I am confident are genuine Christians, but who have some mixed up priorities. My application here is very simple. If you are allowing the worries of this life or the deceitfulness of wealth to keep you from following Christ, if you are treating other things such as your job, money, your house, sports, your family, your friends, as more important than Jesus Christ, it is time to change. Those other things are either going to prevent real faith from ever taking root, or they are going to make the faith you do have very weak and anemic. Don’t be like the soil that was full of thorns.
The fourth response describes those whose lives are transformed by the gospel. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. This is, of course, describing those who have truly received Christ and are following Him. One thing I want you to note is that the good soil can still produce different yields. We need to be careful that we don’t judge those who we believe are less fruitful than others. I think many of the differences we see between various Christians is not because some are more godly than others, but rather because God has called each of us to different roles. We each have different gifts and He asks us to play different positions on the team.
In football, the fact that a running back scores more touchdowns than a tackle doesn’t mean he’s necessarily a better player. In the church, the fact that someone seems to accomplish more in ministry doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is a better Christian. Oh, yes, some Christians are more mature in their faith than others. Some have a more Christ-like character than others. Sometimes that does mean that God uses them in greater ways. But please don’t assume, simply because someone can point to greater accomplishments in ministry, that this means he or she is more godly than someone else.
Jesus says that whatever the yield, as long as the soil produces a crop, it is good soil. As long as a person is trusting and following Jesus Christ, it doesn’t really matter how God uses that individual – he or she is a Christian and is promised eternal life in heaven. This is certainly the type of soil all of us should want to be.
The question I have for you today is fairly obvious. What type of “dirt” are you? What type of soil in Jesus’ story represents your life, or the lives of someone you know? Maybe it’s like the hardened path and has never really understood what this Christianity stuff is all about. Or perhaps it’s like the rocky soil, at one time having made a profession of faith in Jesus, but just going through the motions.
Or maybe it’s like the thorny ground. If asked the answer would be, “Yes, I’m a believer in Jesus Christ. I’m a Christian.” But, in honesty, admit that Christianity is quite a way down on the priority list. There are so many other things, especially things that are consuming your time and energy, and you just don’t have a lot left for the Lord. Faith is being choked out by the worries of life and deceitfulness of wealth. Let’s hope we are like the good soil producing a crop, the good dirt, living for the Lord.
Friends, we are all ministers of God’s word and works, and it’s never to late to become like the good soil. God gives each of us minds, talents, and certainly the resources to work with. If we are like the good dirt, and we use the crops that grow through our true faith, than we also need to share that dirt with others that have none. We need to continue to feed that good dirt so that it does not become stagnant and will no longer produce, but rather remains full of vitality and life.
If we can do this, the decline in the church will end. The churches will be what they were 30 years ago, vibrant, full, and flourishing. It’s up to us to decide in what condition we will leave the soil for the generations to come.
Pastor Bill Daywalt
“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
“Simple Acts of Kindness”
Are any of you familiar with the term “servant evangelism.” This term is nothing less than showing the love of God through our own caring and loving actions toward others. Sometimes it’s the simplest acts of kindness that have the most lasting effects. Sometimes ordinary things impact people in extraordinary ways.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Jesus’ message to us.
Today’s gospel speaks of sharing a cup of water. He isn’t speaking of just sharing a drink with someone. He’s talking about sharing ourselves; a life full of relationships, both with God and with our fellow men and women.
He’s talking about the humble act of giving a piece of ourselves to others. He’s talking about sharing in practical ways and not just in abstract terms.
There is satisfaction with finding more importance in caring for others than caring for ourselves.
Let’s think outside the box and consider Christ’s message about caring for our fellow men and women. The simplest of acts can have impacts far beyond our wildest dreams. Take for example this story of a humble hotel clerk.
In the city of Philadelphia there was a little third-class hotel. Into it one night there came two tired elderly people. They went up to the night clerk and the husband pleadingly said, “Mister, please don’t tell us you don’t have a room. My wife and I have been all over the city looking for a place to stay. We didn’t know about the big conventions that are here. The hotels at which we usually stay are all full. We’re dead tired and it’s after midnight. Please, don’t tell us you don’t have a place where we can sleep.”
The clerk looked at them a long moment and then answered, “Well, I don’t have a single room except my own. I work at night and sleep in the daytime. It’s not as nice as the other rooms, but it’s clean, and I’ll be happy for you to be my guests for tonight.”
The wife said, “God bless you, young man.”
The next morning at the breakfast table, the couple sent the waiter to tell the night clerk they wanted to see him on very important business. The night clerk went in, recognized the two people, sat down at the table and said he hoped they had had a good night’s sleep.
They thanked him most sincerely. Then the husband astounded the clerk with this statement, “You’re too fine a hotel man to stay in a hotel like this. How would you like for me to build a big, beautiful, luxurious hotel in the city of New York and make you general manager?”
The clerk didn’t know what to say. He thought there might be something wrong with their minds. He finally stammered, “It sounds wonderful.” His guest then introduced himself. “I’m John Jacob Astor.” So, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was built.
Four years later, the hotel was the largest in the world and boasted unprecedented standards of service. The night clerk became the best-known hotel man in the world. A humble act of service let to this unforeseen act of grandeur.
The point of this story is not that you will be rewarded for doing good deeds, but that simple deeds can produce larger results than we expect.
Simple acts can show the love of God through our actions.
One clerk chose to show a simple act of kindness to strangers by sharing his room with this tired couple. He touched them in ways he could not have foreseen. His simple act of kindness touched the fabric of this couple and greatly impacted how they looked at this young man.
These extraordinary situations don’t come along every day. But, everyday there is a situation that a simple act of kindness can help with. Sometimes, a simple act becomes contagious and more people share their own love with their fellow men.
Shortly after the first edition of the Miami Herald had gone to press on Sunday night, December 29, 1946, Timothy Sullivan answered the telephone on the city desk. “Please help me,” a woman’s voice pleaded. “My husband is bleeding to death.”
Sullivan got the entire story. The man’s name was Rudy Kovarik, from Dearborn, Michigan. They were on a vacation but he was sick and in the Biscayne Hospital. The AB-negative blood he needed was not available at the hospital or other sources. Without a transfusion, the doctors thought he might not live until morning.
What could the city editor do? A man was dying. A woman’s heart was breaking. Then he got an idea—WCBS, fourteen blocks away, where it was almost time for Walter Winchell to go on the air in a nationwide broadcast. The operator at the radio station refused to let him talk to Winchell, but, after some insistence and pleading, she put an assistant of Winchell on the phone. He took a memo of the situation and Sullivan sat back to wait.
Soon the telephones began to go mad. The Herald office, the police station, the hospital were all swamped with calls from all over the nation. People as far away as New York City began to board planes for Miami, the corridors of the Biscayne Hospital were crowded, and traffic jammed the nearby streets as would-be donors tried to get to the hospital.
The actual donor was a tourist from New York who heard the broadcast on his car radio, checked his Army dog tags for blood type, and drove two blocks to the hospital. In a few minutes his life-giving blood was flowing into the veins of the stricken man.
A few weeks later a healthy-looking man walked up to the Herald’s city desk to thank Timothy Sullivan.
Timothy Sullivan would’ve never thought he would be responsible for saving a life that night. He had no idea that someone would call and ask him for help. After all, he had no means to ask for assistance. But, he knew someone who could get the word out. He thought outside the box.
This simple call for help spread like wildfire. That’s how God’s love can both be shown in a simple act and spread rapidly across the globe. By starting with one person, a few can be touched, then a community, then a city, then a nation and even a world.
Through our simple acts of kindness, we have the capability to show God’s love to a great many people.
These situations, where people are looking for help, are upon us nearly every day. But sometimes, help is part of our everyday routine. Sometimes an act of kindness is also a labor of love. These ordinary events can also produce extraordinary results.
You see, there are opportunities all around us to show God’s love through us. These acts don’t need to be complex. These acts don’t have to be extraordinary. These acts can be the normal, everyday event, just like the meals from that kitchen sign.
No matter how simple or complex, no matter how ordinary or unique we always have the opportunity to show the love of Christ through simple acts of kindness.
This simple service is not based on who we are, but who Jesus is through us. God loves us in so many ways. He feeds us, clothes us, provides for our physical needs. He also gives us strength when times are tough and comforts us when we experience loss. He’s there when we succeed and when we fail. He shows this unprecedented love through the sacrifice of his Son for us. His grace, our reward.
But sometimes it might be hard to reflect that love that He has for us. Sometimes we might find it difficult to smile, let alone serve. Sometimes, what we do might seem inadequate at times, especially when compared to the sacrifices He made for us.
The challenge is that sometimes we try to love under our own power, and the power to share Jesus in practical ways comes from Christ. Paul knew this. Even when imprisoned, he knew and experienced the power of Christ at work. That’s why he tells the Philippians and us in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We can show God’s love for us through our actions. We can serve by accepting that Jesus served us first.
This service and sacrifice led to our salvation. But it is not by my power or any action I perform. It is by the service of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for me. We get into heaven not by what we do, but by what Christ has done for us. The power of the life we live in love toward God and others flows out of God working in our hearts.
Jesus the night before he dies prays for this to happen in our lives when he prays in John 17:20,
Jesus Prays for All Believers
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
So, what can we learn about sharing a cup of cold water? Let the love that God has for you and me reflect in your actions. You are important and God showed just how important you are with this tremendous sacrifice. Jesus was a servant and we can reflect that in our own actions.
There is no common labor unless we make it so. Jesus Christ Himself toiled in a workshop. Every act is important because they all reflect that love that is in us.
Jesus was a carpenter. He faced the ordinary trials of life in the market, in the town, on the roads and in the temple. He tackled each ordinary situation in extraordinary ways because all of his actions showed the love of God. He used the usual situations of daily living to show the unusual caring nature of our heavenly Father. Just as our heavenly Father first loved us and demonstrated service through His Son Jesus, we too can show that love in simple acts of kindness.
Accept freely the act of grace that God has bestowed upon you and freely share it with those around you.
Pastor Bill Daywalt
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
“Rejoice in Hope”
The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher, who was assigned to the program, received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher. “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them, so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”
The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.
But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. “No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.”
Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”
The young boy now had hope he was going to live.
In our text today we see the words “Rejoice in Hope.” Without hope we have nothing. Without hope in something that is outside of ourselves we have nothing. Hope in ourselves will not sustain us in those times of fierce trials, tribulation and testing that comes upon us. Yes, hope has to be something outside of ourselves.
There are two different kinds of hope.
The first kind of Hope is simply depending on fate. The expected result of normal developments is going to happen no matter what you do. This kind of hope is grasping after straws or hoping for the best.
A man sentenced to death obtained a reprieve by assuring the king he would teach his majesty’s horse to fly within the year. This was on the condition that if he didn’t succeed, he would be put to death at the end of the year. “Within a year,” the man explained later, “the king may die, or I may die, or the horse may die. Furthermore, in a year, who knows, within a year maybe the horse will learn to fly.”
Then there is hope that is tangible. Hope in something that you can depend. Hope in a person. A person that you know can absolutely do what he promises.
A self-made millionaire, Eugene Lang, greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him.
Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. “Stay in school,” he admonished, “and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.” At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling.” Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.
Hope means having faith or trusting when things are hopeless. As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is merely a trite, or stale wishing; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.
Faith, Hope, Trust are all linked to a basic meaning. They mean basically the same thing with only slight variances.
What is hope? This is my definition of the word hope, faith, & trust in a nutshell: It is the well grounded, well founded, confident expectation that comes through experience in something outside of our selves. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit; the triune Godhead, the Trinity.
Paul tells us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we are to “glory in tribulations”.
That means that we are to delight in, be jubilant because of, rejoice even while we are in the tribulation. That we are to triumph over the tribulation, crisis’s, and stresses even when the great pressing down seem to stop our very soul from breathing.
While we are struggling with this tribulation we are told to have “patience”. Patience or perseverance is the characteristic of a person who is not swerved from their deliberate purpose and their loyalty to faith and piety even when the greatest trials and sufferings comes. It isn’t hunkering down behind a fortress. It’s getting into and staying in the battle through the Power of God.
With our patience we will get godly “Experience”. Experience is something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through. We can also get experience by direct observation Experience with God should give us peace and hope in our lives.
Because of this experience we shouldn’t be Ashamed.
Being ashamed is feeling inferior, unworthy or embarrassed. We are to stand tall. Lift up our heads and smile, laugh and rejoice in hope.
Hope is our well grounded, well founded, confident expectation that comes through experience in God because of the blood, the death, of Jesus on a cross and the power of the Holy Spirit living within us.
Christian hope proves we believe. Believe in God and His son Jesus Christ. Believe that the can and will cover us with their love. Christian hope is our way of cooping with life. Christian hope to receive his salvation and firmly grounds us in God’s Love. Have you been brought back to God by Jesus? Are you able to enjoy God? If not this is the appointed time.
During World War II, a relief worker told of going into a war area and holding a glass of milk before a child whose eyes seemed so much bigger because of his gaunt little face. Reflecting on the days when many had to drink out of one cup, the child asked, “How deep shall I drink, Ma’am?” And the relief worker, deeply moved by so simple a question, answered, “Drink as deep as you can, son, as deep as you can.”
It is one thing to ask how deep I shall go in my faith, but because of the grace of God, which knows neither exhaustion nor limit, the answer is clear: Drink as deep as you can.
We are the child, Jesus is the aid worker, God is the milk. We should drink deep and fill our souls with his hope and his love.
A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded, “Eighteen to nothing–we’re behind.”
“Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.”
“Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy. “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet!”
One night at dinner, a man, who had spent many summers in Maine, fascinated his companions by telling of his experiences in a little town named Flagstaff. The town was to be flooded, as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built.
In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more gone to seed, more woebegone. Then he added by way of explanation: “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”
Christians can live the present more fully because we have faith in the future. We know the God that holds the future, and we can face tomorrow without fear.
The reality of eternity, the reality of God, the faith we have in the future doesn’t diminish our ability to live well in the present.
The hope we have fuels our lives now, letting us experience life more completely than if we lacked such hope.
“Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”
God’s Lake Erie
Pastor Bill Daywalt
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Scripture Reading Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“Holy, Holy, Holy”
As parents, do you recall the first time you left your children with a care giver for an extended period? I am sure you made sure that the sitter had instructions and vital information, phone numbers, medications, names of doctors and medical cards. And then of course comes the assignment for kids to carry out. Those last words of instruction and advice were important. You wanted to make sure that the kids would be ok and that the house would run smoothly. As parents, those last words are important. Today, we heard Jesus’ last words. These are his final words of instruction to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Like a good parent, I think we can see what Jesus thinks is important through his final words.
I have one other goal I want us to achieve today. As we read this text of Jesus’ last words, I also want us to get a sense of “before” and “after.”
If you watch T.V. for any amount of time, you will see a weight loss commercial. And almost every weight loss commercial will include pictures of people who have used their product. They take before and after pictures.
Advertisers do before and after shots for a reason. They want us to believe that the weight loss product they are peddling REALLY works. I find those picture funny. Why? Because if you believe the pictures in the commercial, you will believe that not only will you lose weight, you’ll also have the chiseled form of a weight lifter. You know something else I find funny? Underneath the individual photos, the advertisers will usually have written, “Individual results may vary.”
I share that story because I want us to approach today’s text from several angles.
Since these are Jesus’ last words, they are important. Like a good parent, he wants to make sure that his house runs smoothly while he is away. I also hope we see a snapshot of before and after in the life of the disciples.
I want us to see if “Jesus” really works. Even if individual results vary. Let me start off with “The Before:” Before: Jesus has risen from dead. In the process, he has appeared to Mary (his mother), Mary Magdalene, and Salome in front of the empty tomb. They hurry and report to Jesus’ eleven disciples that they’ve seen Jesus alive. The eleven fail to believe. Jesus appears to a disciple named Cleopas and another disciple while they travel on a road leading to the town of Emmaus.
When Jesus finally reveals himself to them, the Scriptures tell us that they run and tell the eleven that Jesus is alive. And yet, the eleven still doubt. Despite the testimony from a number of different sources, they believe Jesus is still dead. They don’t know what has happened to Jesus’ body, but they believe he is dead nonetheless. And they are downright terrified that what has happened to Jesus will happen to them. For clarity, look at what John, one of the eleven, writes in his gospel:
John 20:19 “On the evening of that first day of the week when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.” It’s a BEFORE picture. Catch the motive for locked doors – FEAR of the Jews. The attitude is this. If Jesus is dead, we have reason to hide behind locked doors in fear. Jesus had been crucified by Rome at the request of the Jews.
The Jews said Jesus was an enemy of the Romans and Caesar. And we understand from history that Rome did not tolerate rebellion. Rebels were ruthlessly crushed by the power of Rome. The cross was the place where they ended up. And those associated with rebellious leaders were often rounded up to endure the same punishment.
It is in this context that we find the disciples in an upper room after Jesus has been crucified. It has been three days since that terrible ordeal. They have heard eye witness accounts that Jesus is alive, but they are still hiding behind locked doors. And John records that while they are hiding,
John 20:19 “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” And he gives them proof positive that he is alive. He has them touch his hands and his side. He breathes on them. He eats some fish with them. The conclusion is that Jesus is not a ghost. His appearance is not some figment of their imaginations. Jesus is alive. And apparently, he gives them instructions to meet him at a place they all knew, on a mountain in Galilee. That is the before picture.
Let’s see the after picture as we look at Jesus’ last words.
Let me stop the narrative for a second. Place the story on pause. I read this text and I find something remarkable. While even now on the mountain the disciples still had doubts. And yet what does the text say they did? They still worshipped. Does that sound odd to you? I didn’t think doubt and faith leading to worship could co-exist. If I asked what the opposite of faith is, many of us would immediately say “doubt.” I want to suggest a different word as the opposite. I think the real opposite of Faith is Fear.
Have you seen the movie Shrek? There is a scene in the first movie where Shrek and Donkey come to a rope bridge that goes over a chasm of molten lava. And Donkey is terrified to cross the bridge. He won’t budge. He acts like a stubborn Donkey. Their mission requires them to cross the bridge to save Princess Fiona. Do you see the picture? Put yourself in Donkey’s hooves for a second. Doubt looks at a bridge and wonders if it can support you. When doubt turns into Fear, it looks at a bridge and says, “It WON’T support me.” Fear prevents us from crossing the bridge. It is fear that hinders faith, not simply doubt. I think we all have doubts from time to time. It is only natural. I think God understands.
There are things that He does because He is God that are impossible for us to wrap our brains around. There are times in our journey of faith that we will be left wondering, “How is God going to accomplish that?” That’s doubt.
But don’t’ let doubt grow into fear – it will. Doubt of Jesus resurrection (after several eye witness accounts) had turned into fear and kept the eleven hidden in an upper room….it was FEAR of the Jews. Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you.”
Despite continued doubts, fear was gone. And the eleven “doubters” had left the locked doors to do as Jesus had instructed…they obey his command to meet him on the mountain in Galilee.
If you have doubts today, I want to encourage you to worship anyway. We can still take a step onto that bridge. And if we do, we will discover that God is strong enough to support us even when we doubt he can. So the eleven stand before Jesus and He gives them his final words of instruction. His last words. The words he is about to give are about our mission. They are the things he wants us to accomplish while he is away. And he assures his disciples that His last words are authorized by Himself. Jesus has the authority to give the mission.
Remember, I said earlier that if Jesus is dead, we have reason to hide in fear. But if Jesus is alive, we have authorization for the mission. And the mission is what we call it the great commission. We have been given an assignment to accomplish while Jesus is away. These are Jesus’ last words. And the commission starts with “GO!”
Have you ever sat behind another car at a stop light and when the light turns green they sit there? I find it frustrating. I’m patient. So I usually give them a second or two before I press down hard the horn and shout “Green means GO!” Green means go, right? You are authorized to proceed through the intersection.
For you science buffs, have you ever watched a rocket or shuttle launch into space? The control room gives final clearance. And what happens is that the technicians will look at their boards. If there are any indicators of a problem, there will be a red light. The launch will be postponed. If the lights on the board are green, they know that everything is okay. The launch is a go. Green across the board means there is authorization to launch. The mission is a go.
Jesus’ has just given the authorization to go – the lights are green across the board. The funny thing is that we reverse this sometimes. A lot of things we do for church reflects the idea of “come” instead of “go.” We come to bible study, and we come to church, and we come to Sunday school, and we come to meetings, and we schedule programs, come, come, come … and don’t hear me wrong, those are important to the life and health of the church.
But before we know it, we get locked into the idea that all Jesus wants us to do is come. And we miss the importance of Jesus’ last words. He has told us to GO! Launch the shuttle! Get the mission started. That’s scary isn’t it. It almost sounds like we have to sell everything we have and purchase a plane ticket to Africa. Some do. Jesus told us to go. It is a huge step onto the bridge. But some are not ready for that.
Can I suggest another meaning? The mission that Jesus wants us to complete is this. He wants us to complete the mission, “As we are going.” We don’t HAVE to buy a ticket to another country. Going can happen in the daily encounters of life.
As you are going to the grocery store; as you go to the movies; as you go to friend’s houses. The charge given us isn’t always to a foreign country; for some it is. But it is not their job alone. We are each charged with the responsibility of growing in influence with those who are lost AS we are going. And you know what? It works. I’ve seen it. It’s something we EACH can do.
Now the mission does not simply stop with GO. I know that’s a strange word picture. Stop with go. But as we are going we are to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, and we are to teach them everything that Jesus commanded. A disciple must know how to obey Jesus.
Can I carry that to a natural conclusion? Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded. That’s not just what Jesus said before his final words, but even the final words themselves. Which is? Go and make disciples and teaching them everything I have commanded.
There is a cycle taking place. There is the idea in Jesus’ last words that he wants disciples who make disciples who make disciples. It’s not disciples who sit there; it’s not disciples who make disciples who sit there; it’s disciples who make disciples who make disciples as they are going.
Farmers’ corn seeds are not always planted to produce corn to eat. Some corn seed is planted to produce corn plants that produce corn that produce corn plants that produce corn.
Not all corn is grown to eat. In a similar way the acorn that falls doesn’t fall to produce a tree; it falls to produce a tree that will produce more acorns that will produce more trees that produce more acorns. Is that an element of the great commission that we miss? Are we making disciples who make disciples who make disciples? Is that the core purpose of our bible studies; is that what we are hoping to do in Sunday school; is that what we are doing with our cooperate worship time together? Are we learning to obey and to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples as we are going? Or are we simply learning that Jesus wants us to be content in coming?
When we make disciples who make disciples who make disciples, do you know what happens? Two things. First, our mission becomes Jesus mission; our vision becomes Jesus vision. We accomplish exactly what he wants us to accomplish while he is physically away. We get hooked up into what I like to describe as the great CO-Mission.
Jesus comes alongside us through the Holy Spirit. He equips us to serve as we are going. Our gifting becomes a natural outcropping of the desire to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. That’s the first thing.
Second, our mission has eternal value to the very end of the age. It’s a big picture. Don’t miss being in the big picture. What does our influence look like with those who are lost? We need to get involved in activities that have non-Christians attending? Reaching out to help our schools or our hospital. Are we as a church providing any ministries to those who are lost? Or do we expect ministry to be for us alone?
Is Jesus alive? Do we believe that? If Jesus is dead to us, we are going hide behind locked doors in fear; But if Jesus is alive, we are going to share his life with others, as we are going, to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Would you step out on the bridge?