In today’s sermon by guest speaker John Parker we look at the first 6 verses of Psalm 71. This is an anonymous Psalm that many think was composed by David in his later years. David is facing murder, revolt, and declining health. In this Psalm, David is asking for God to protect him just like God has done for all of David’s life. And God is also our source of strength and protection when we are older.
In today’s sermon by guest speaker John Parker, we take a close look at the story of the Good Samaritan. Some of the key questions are: Why is the attorney asking the question “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Who is a Samaritan and why is it important? Why did the priest and the Levite just walk on by? Who is my neighbor? When we answer these questions we see that we are called to love whomever God puts in our path regardless of what they think of us or how they treat us. To help us in our walk with Jesus we need to watch out for the lawyer, the priest, and the Levite in our own behavior.
The scripture for this sermon comes from the Gospel of John, 20:19-31. In today’s sermon the disciples are hiding in a room three days after their Master was brutally beaten and killed.
Then, Jesus appears to the disciples and offers them peace and gives them a mission … to spread the Good News that He is alive. Yes Jesus died and paid the price for the sin of all mankind. But, just like He said He would, He is risen to live forever more. The disciples are to tell the whole world so that whoever hears the Good News, and believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, will be blessed with new life, power over sin through the Holy Spirit, life everlasting, and a love that is beyond description. Our mission is to do the same. Our mission is to proclaim the Good News so that others can receive, believe, and be blessed … all to the glory of God. Like Thomas, we are to exclaim “My Lord and My God”.
Text: Psalm 24
Today’s sermon comes from John Parker, guest preacher.
Psalm 24 is called a royal Psalm because it talks about the return of the King of Glory. It begins with the creed that God is the creator of all things and everything belongs to Him. Since we belong to Him, God deserves our worship and can expect our obedience. But who is qualified to come into the presence of the King? Only those with clean hands and a pure heart. Thankfully we are washed clean by the blood of the Perfect Lamb of God. Today we understand Psalm 24 as a prophetic Psalm pointing to the the return of Jesus as the victorious Messiah. Because of His sacrifice we can now be with Him, worship Him, and give Him the glory He deserves. Praise be to God Almighty!
Guest Preacher: John Parker
For those who thirst after God, He has promised an eternity beyond belief. Creation will be made new and perfect. There will be no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more death. We will be made pure and all things will be made new. In Revelation 21 the Apostle John records the appearance of the new heaven and the new earth and the New Jerusalem coming out of heaven. In this holy city, God will be with us and we will be His children. In 2018, let’s resolve to thirst after God.
Guest speaker–John Parker.
Like so many of the people God uses to complete his perfect plan, Jacob is far from perfect. Esau, Isaac’s first born, “despised” his birthright and Jacob trades a bowl of soup for Esau’s birthright. Later, Rebekah covers Jacob’s arms and the back of his neck with sheepskin to deceive Jacob’s father, Isaac, into believing that Jacob is actually his brother Esau and Isaac pronounces the Abrahamic blessing over Jacob. But, because Jacob is steadfast in his faith in God and God’s promises, Jacob is blessed by God with the same blessing that was said over Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham. But, the blessing does not come right away. In today’s passage, Jacob is in the wilderness and has a dream in which God pronounces the Abrahamic blessing over Jacob and assures Jacob that wherever he goes, God will be there with him. God says that he will be with him and will not leave him throughout all of Jacob’s wanderings, even until Jacob returns to his homeland. Jacob maintains his faith for over 14 years as he labors for Laban to earn the right to marry first Leah and then Rachael before returning to Canaan.
The message for us is timeless giving us courage and perseverance to follow God’s will no matter what we face:
- Whatever you have done, wherever you have been, there is nothing too big that God will not forgive you. Consequently, there is nothing too big such that God cannot use you. God has a plan for your life. Whatever you have done and wherever you have been, God has a fantastic plan for your life.
- When you are given a birthright or blessing you can take it to the bank. This promise will not expire, it will not bounce. But you can give it away. Do not … Do not be like Esau and sell your birthright for a bowl of soup. Hold onto to your blessing. Pursue your blessing. Forget about the short term temptation to go get a BigMac … it’s not worth it. Don’t trade your permanent birthright for a temporary comfort like a bowl of soup.
- God will always be there for you. When God gives you a call, He doesn’t just send you on your way. But also, the blessing does not come the very next day. God has ordered your steps and He will be with you every step of the way … From Canaan, out to the wilderness to Laban, work for all those years, then back out to the wilderness returning to Canaan. God is there with you, will always be there for you, and will never leave you nor forsake you. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, never stop, never give up, God is there with you. God’s blessing comes in God’s time and the blessing is much bigger and much better than you could have imagined.
Substituting for Pastor Choi, John Parker delivers a sermon on Pentecost when everyone asked “What does this mean?”
Pentecost is considered to be the day that the church was born. Ten days before, the apostles were with Jesus when He told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit came upon them and that they would be given power through the Spirit to be His witnesses to Judea, Samara, and all the earth. This was the last thing that Jesus said to the disciples before He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father.
After waiting and praying for 10 days, for the first time the Holy Spirit baptized all of the believers and they were forever changed. The power of the Holy Spirit made them boldly proclaim the great works of God in every language and dialect of all of the devout Jews who had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks. Peter became the rock that the church would be built upon reciting passages from the prophet Joel as he gave the first sermon of the Christian church. As prophesied in Jeremiah, the Word of God and the will of God would be written on people’s hearts and “they will be My people and I will be their God.”
These 50 days were perfect fulfillments of the Jewish feasts. At Passover, the sacrifice of the sinless Jesus, God’s only Son, the perfect Lamb of God, Mashiach ben Joseph , was the final payment for all sin of all mankind. At the Feast of Firstfuits Jesus was resurrected from the dead and so became the firstfruits of the new covenant. And at Pentecost or Feast of Weeks when the wheat harvest is celebrated, over three thousand souls were saved as Peter delivered the first sermon of the Christian church reaping the first harvest of souls ripe for salvation.
120 believers had faith in Jesus’ promise that He would never leave them alone even though He had gone to be with the Father. The believers waited patiently, expectantly, and prayerfully for the Holy Spirit to come to them. And on this Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven with the sound of a mighty wind and these 120 believers turned the world upside down. We are this generation’s body of Christ and we are called to do the same. We are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth proclaiming the great works of God in every tongue to every nation.
In loving memory of Emily Eisamann, MUMC once again sponsors blood drive at our church on Tuesday, January 4, 1-5 p.m. We appreciate all the volunteers and donors.
Tim Gallagher shares with the Manahawkin congregation how God has led him through ups and downs in life with His grace, through prayers, and with the people of God.
Today, John Parker, guest speaker, speaks about Jesus the Christ God’s gift for our forgiveness.
Have you heard the news? Jesus is here !
Galatians 4:4-7 (NKJV)
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The Galatians had received the gospel message but quickly fell away and started following after false apostles. These false apostles were teaching that faith in Christ is not enough. First, you had to follow certain Jewish laws such as following the Sabbaths, observing the feasts and seasons, and circumcision. Then, you could accept the forgiveness of Christ.
In this letter to the Galatians, Paul is trying to set the record straight and this passage contains the core of Paul’s gospel doctrine:
- Jesus is the promised Messiah. We know this because he was born in the “fullness of time” which the Jews realized referred to Old Testament prophecies about when the Messiah would come. An example is found in Daniel 9:24-25 written by Daniel during the Babylonian captivity 500 years before Jesus was born. In this prophecy, Daniel predicts the command to go and restore Jerusalem (as much as 100 years after the prophecy) and then says that the Messiah will come 483 years after that command. This command was given by Ezra in 458 BC meaning that the Holy One would be anointed in 29 AD, the year that Christ was crucified defeating sin and death once and for all at His resurrection.
- Jesus came to redeem man from bondage to the law. Jesus had two natures being fully God and fully human. Jesus was born of a woman and was under the law like all mankind. Jesus felt joy and wept. He was tempted by Satan but prevailed. Being God and living a sinless life, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has infinite value and can atone for any number of sins and sinners granting to all the gift of eternal life with God. All you have to do is accept His forgiveness and follow Him. When you are redeemed you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. And the Holy Spirit will guide you and give you the fruit of the Spirit bringing life more abundant in the here and now.
- Once redeemed we then have the position of sonship. In other words, believers in Christ have the status of sons and daughters of Almighty God. It is the Spirit of Christ who moves us to cry out Abba (Daddy) to our God. Because of our position as sons and daughters of God, we are then heirs of God through Christ.
If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, there is no need to delay. This is the most important decision a person can make and right now is the best time to make that decision. Accept the forgiveness offered by Christ, turn from sin, and turn to Christ who wants to give you life.
If you have accepted Christ, you know how important this decision is. You know how valuable a gift you have been given. And we need to share life’s most important gift with those who need to make life’s most important decision. Pray, listen to the Spirit, and share the good news with all who need to hear.
Pauline McShea, member of MUMC, shares her joy of doing a daily family prayer challenge. She encourages every family to do the same so that they too may be blessed by the Lord.
Regina Appiah-Mends, member of Manahawkin United Methodist Church, shares how God has blessed her beyond her expectations through her recent transition in career. She gives glory to God! We hope you will blessed with her testimony!
Today’s sermon is a patriotic celebration of those things that make America unique such as our Revolution and the God-given principles of Liberty and Equality This sermon was developed from material graciously provided by the producers of the movie America, Gerald Molen, the Academy-award winning producer of Schindler’s List, and Dinesh D’Souza, the creator of 2016: Obama’s America.
The writings of some of the founding fathers shows that they were God-fearing men and created a nation based on the self-evident truths of God. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the opening of the Declaration of Independence:
―We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Everything about America seems to have been touched by God. Unlike most revolutions, instead of bringing economic disaster, inequality, and tyranny, the American revolution brought liberty, equality, and greater rights to all citizens such as was unheard of in the known world of the time.
These truths were “self-evident” because they are the eternal, inerrant truths of God. Liberty is the freedom to choose but, more importantly, the God-given power of the Holy Spirit to choose right, not for selfish pursuits but to serve one another, humbly, in love. Equality, which means that all persons are treated the same in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of each other, and in the eyes of God.
We have much to be proud of and our great country deserves our patriotism. Let’s each do what we can individually and together to stand up for righteousness. As Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
In today’s sermon we look at what it means to receive a messenger. And when we receive a messenger, Jesus says that we receive the reward of a prophet when we receive a prophet and the reward of a righteous person when we receive a righteous person. But, most importantly, when we receive a messenger of God, we receive Jesus Christ, and when we receive Him, we receive the Father.
Matthew 1:40-42 (NKJV)
40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
In Matthew Chapter 10, Jesus gives the apostles their marching orders to go to the lost sheep of Israel and proclaim that the kingdom is at hand. As they go, they are to take nothing with them, minister to the people, and, in turn, be ministered to. In each city they are to find someone worthy and, when they are received, give their hosts the apostle’s peace and stay with them till their work in the city is done. We look at Matthew 10:40-42 which is the end of the chapter. In these passages, Jesus tells us that those who receive an apostle receives Him, and those who receive Him, receive the Father. Also, those who receive a prophet receives a prophet’s reward, receive a righteous person and receive a righteous person’s reward, and receive a disciple and receive a disciple’s reward.
This sermon addresses some key questions that arise out of this passage. Who is “worthy” to have an apostle come into their house and enjoy their hospitality? What does it mean to “receive” an apostle? What is a prophet’s reward? A righteous person’s reward? A disciple’s reward? The reward in each case, is Jesus Christ. And who can be a messenger? A messenger is every believer. Every brother and sister who has put their faith in Christ, is then filled with the Holy Spirit who will lead them where they need to go and give them what they need to say. Give yourself up and let the Holy Spirit lead you to be the messenger that God has called you to be.
I took a day off from my preaching. I will be back next Sunday.
Thanks for your prayers and support.
Today Pastor Choi urges the congregation to follow Jesus remembering one of the marks of Jesus’ followers: separate from the world. Expounding on 1 John 2:15-17, he warns the believers not to love the world–the lust of flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He exhorts them to choose God over the world keeping the end result in mind–the eternal life in the presence of God.
Following is a summary of his sermon today:
Be Christ’s Disciple (2): Separate from the World
- 1 John 2:15-17
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- Do Not Love the World
- 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
- We are on the sermon series of “Be Christ’s Disciple” focusing on what makes a person a follower of Jesus. Jesus invites us all to follow Him to Heaven. He leaves the decision to each individual. Do you want to be His follower? If you do, then you had better pay attention to what He says about discipleship. One thing is for sure: going to church doesn’t automatically make you Jesus’ disciple. Joining the church as official member doesn’t necessarily turn you into Jesus’ disciple, either. That’s why I am doing this series on “Be Christ’s Disciple” where I am going to tell you the several marks of Jesus’ follower.
- Last time, I talked about the first mark of Christ’s disciple: Put Christ first. The one who follows Christ must (not a suggestion but a command) put Christ first, even before family and even before self. Is it too tough to follow Him? I decided to follow Him for the following two reasons: first, Jesus is worth dying for. Next, He knows what’s best for me, so I trust in Him.
- Today, I am going to talk about the second mark of a follower of Jesus: separate (set apart) from the world. We the disciples of Jesus are not of the world.
- Spiritual World: Before we think about the meaning of being separate from the world, let’s think of the world we live in first. It would be very naïve and even foolish of us to think that the world we see and feel is the only world there is. Sun and moon, mountains and forests, animals and plants, ocean and fish and so on. It is called the physical/natural world. Anyone would agree that there are other worlds such as the mental world that we create/imagine in mind (E.g. Stephen Hawking with ALS disease created the universe in his head) and the spiritual world (invisible and incomprehensible without God’s help).
- Spiritual Battle: When God created the world, the original plan was for us to enjoy His creation and have a right relationship with Him through worship and service. Something went wrong, though. One of God’s created angels rebelled against God. His name was Satan—Lucifer—the Evil one. He wanted to usurp God and take the place of God himself—to be worshiped by all. He tempted Adam and Eve in the beginning. He even tempted Jesus saying, if you worship me, I will give you all the kingdoms, glory, and power of this world (Matthew 4:9). Two thousand years ago, God sent Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). At the cross, Jesus won the decisive battle and won the victory over Satan. Satan put Him to death, but Jesus rose again! The Bible prophesied it this way in Genesis 3:15: He (referring to Jesus) shall bruise you (the Devil) on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. In this spiritual world, we find ourselves still engaged in skirmishes with Satan’s followers until the Day of Judgment when God will throw Satan and his followers along with the fallen angels into Hell the eternal fire. Today, Satan tries to deceive and destroy God’s people by all means including deception, fear, and persecution (that’s a topic for another sermon).
- Jesus’ Prayer: Jesus was fully aware of this spiritual environment in which His disciples would be. The night before He was crucified, He prayed to God on their behalf (John 17). This is what He said to God in His prayers: They are in the world but not of the world. The Evil one tries to harm them, so protect them from him. Sanctify them with your word. Send them into the world, not out of the world, as holy (set apart) people of God.
- Separate from the World: We are of God not of the world. We are set apart from the world. Jesus said that we don’t belong to this world but to God. Being of God means to be united with God. We are one with God, which means that what goes well with God goes well with us. What doesn’t go well with God doesn’t go well with us, either. For instance, God is holy, therefore, we are to be holy. God is the Light, therefore, we walk in the light not in the darkness. What God rejects, we do the same. E.g. God rejects hatred and sin. So do we. God practices truth and mercy. So do we. (E.g. 1 John 3:10–The one who doesn’t love his brother is not of God). The same goes with us not being of the world. We are not one with the world. We are separate from the world, therefore, what the world loves and promotes, we don’t agree or accept. E.g. sad reality: the worldly way of thinking permeates today’s church.
- Consequences of being separate from the world: Jesus says, since we are of God and not of the world, the ruler of the world, the Evil one, hates us. He hated Jesus first. Here’s an example. We are living in an age, where the persecution of Christianity becomes more and more intense (E.g. Kindergartner was forbidden to bring his children’s Bible for show- and-tell. E.g. 2. Gideons are forbidden to bring the Bibles to school nowadays). Jesus says it is normal if the world hates us and persecutes us. Because, we don’t follow what the world promotes. Don’t worry, though: we do have God’s protection from the Evil one.
- 1 John 2:15-17: Now, let’s listen to John the Apostle what he says about the world we live in.
- 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
- John is right: In one sentence in v. 15, John sums up what the things in the world are all about: the lust of flesh (self-will), the lust of eyes (self-wanting), and the pride of life. I think he is very accurate in his assessment. E.g. Recently sitting in doctor’s office, I watched two programs on TV: Who wants to be a millionaire? & The Chew. One promotes the love of money and the other eating pleasure. Both the desires of flesh. If you watch TV, movies, and internet for hours every day, then don’t tell me that you don’t get influenced by the lust of flesh, the lust of eyes, and the pride of life.
- Unpacking of v. 15: Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him: The Message Bible puts this way: Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. There’s a myth among Christians: You can love both God and the world. The truth is we must choose either God or the world, not both. Jesus says no one can serve both God and money at the same time. We still try, though. If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both—Native American saying. There will be a rude awakening one day if we do chase both. I would rather choose God over the love of the world because I know what would happen to me when I love the world and fill my heart with the love of the world. In the end, it would turn me into a monster who loves nothing but money/ loves no one but myself and I would die miserably with no hope in Heaven (E.g. Mr. Koo of LG).
- Unpacking of v. 16: 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The Message Bible puts this way: Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him.
- Unpacking of v. 17: 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. Choosing God over the world is no brainer for me for the following three reasons: First, God matters eternally; the world doesn’t last forever. Next, everything from God is good. Third, you become more like what you love and pursue over the years. I want to be like God. Make your choice with the end in mind.
- Being separate from the world is not about rules and regulations. It is, rather, about understanding who we are and what we are called for and pursuing the relationship with the Holy God and obtaining the outcome—the eternal life. One thing is for sure: whatever we sow daily in our character and life, we will harvest years later: either the life eternal in the presence of God or the eternal death (simply put, Heaven or Hell).
- Are you a disciple of Jesus? Don’t follow the world. Do not love the world. You are not of the world. You are set apart by God. Stay pure and blameless until the Day of the Lord.
- Let’s pray.
Charles Ray, one of our youth in Sunday School, shares with the congregation what he has done for his school project in remembrance of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is Sunday School Sunday and our lesson will take place during both Services. Everyone is in class today. Our teachers and children will actively participate in both services by being Greeters, Acolytes, Ushers, and Readers. Today’s sermon will be a lesson given by Sunday School Superintendent, Rosemary Molinaro. The name of the lesson is “BE.” The word “Be” is a small word but has a powerful meaning – it describes the qualities of a person. Good qualities are pleasing to God – to be faithful, to be honest, and to be kind, are just a few. Everyone has hopes and dreams of being something when they grow up, but no matter what we choose to be, we can all have the same good qualities. Reading through the Bible we can find many ways God wants us to be. Today we will talk about how blest we are to be loved by a God who created us to be all that we can be.
Following is a summary of the sermon:
Good morning everyone, and on behalf of our Sunday School Teachers and the children, I welcome you to Sunday School Sunday. Today, you are all in class with us and Matthew tells us in Chapter 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Pastor Choi has asked me to speak in his place, and I would like to challenge him as he does each week. Pastor Choi, I would like you to see if you can count how many times I say the word “Be” OR “BEING” in my lesson.
Okay, the challenge starts now!
As I do each Sunday, I have prepared a lesson for everyone. My lesson for today is called “BE.” Tiny little word, only two letters, B-E, but has a powerful meaning. According to the Dictionary, BE is a verb \ˈbē\
—used to indicate the identity of a person or thing
—used to describe the qualities of a person or thing
—used to indicate the condition of a person or thing”
I would like to talk about the meaning of “BE” that refers to the “qualities of a person.” “Qualities” means how good or bad someone is. For example, a person can have good qualities or bad qualities. For this lesson, we will talk about good qualities and how God wants us to BE.
So let’s talk about a very basic question: what do you want to BE when you grow up? Now keep in mind, we are always growing UP, right? No one grows down. So whatever your age, you are always growing up and will always BE something!
Would anyone like to tell us what they would like to BE when they grow up? Remember, you are all in class today!
(Wait for responses)
What do you need to do to become that?
(wait for responses)
What will you do in that job?
(wait for responses)
OK. So BEING a _____________ will tell people what you do. But it won’t tell people what kind of a person you are. You have to show them your qualities by the way you act.
Way, way back in 1986, there was a commercial for the Army that said “BE all that you can BE” and I think God would respond by saying “I have created you, and if you follow Me, you can BE all that you can BE.”
Everyone has hopes and dreams of being something in their lifetime.
We have hopes and dreams when we are very young for what we want to BE when we get older – maybe its whatever our Moms or Dads are, or something completely our own; maybe you love animals and want to BE a Vet; maybe you love flowers and trees and you want to BE a landscaper or own a flower shop.
No matter what we choose to BE, God wants us to all have the same good qualities.
Someone can BE the smartest or richest person in the world, but if their qualities are not good, do you think God is pleased with that person?
Whatever it is that you want to BE is special and important, but what matters most is how you “BE” it. Wow, that sounds like very poor English, doesn’t it?
So let’s see how God wants us to “BE all that we can BE….”
Where do you think you can find that?
Let’s see some of the ways the Bible tells us:
First, BE Faithful – Deuteronomy 6:5:7
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.”
Another is BE Kind – no matter what type of job or career you have, remember to BE kind to people. Who remembers the “Golden Rule?” ( “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”) What does that mean? (Treat people how you want to be treated.)
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the Law and the prophets.”
Next BE Honest – there is an old saying “Honesty is the best policy” and that will BE true to the end of time. Lying is hurtful in so many ways. Telling the truth and taking responsibility for something we may have done, is not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do.
In the book of Exodus, Chapter 20:16 The Ninth Commandment given to Moses by God, tells us:
Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor.
If something is false, what does that mean?
(wait for response)
And who is our neighbor? Just the person who lives next door to us?
There is a very old movie called “The Fly” and one of the lines in that movie is “BE afraid, BE very afraid” The movie wanted to scare people. It was a silly science fiction movie, but the line is still used when people want you to think that something scary is going to happen.
But God says in Isiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not BE afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you……”
Did you ever hear the saying “Children should BE seen and not heard?” That saying means that children can BE in a room, but they are not allowed to talk. Who would want that? If that were true, who would tell us funny stories to make us laugh? How would we hear “I love you Mom and Dad” or “I miss you Grandpa.”
Jesus says in Mark 10:14: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus actually got angry when the people tried to stop the children from talking to Him.
And then there is “BE careful what you wish for.” That means you may wish for something that turns out to BE not really what we wanted. But when Jesus taught us to pray, He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” That means we don’t have to wish for anything, God knows what we need.
What other ways to “BE” can you think of?
(wait for responses)
BE fair, BE helpful BE good, BE happy !
BE Thankful – Pastor Choi has dedicated 2014 as the year of Gratitude. Remember everyday to thank God for loving us and for all He has given us.
Psalm 30:12 That my glory may sing your praise and not BE silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Here is a real challenge for Pastor Choi:
No matter what you decide to BE, remember to always BE how God wants you to BE, and you will definitely BE all that you can BE.
God Bless us all. Thank you all for coming to class!
For the Manahawkin Methodist Congregation, Pastor Choi designates 2014 to be the Year of Gratitude. He begins his message with a comparison between secular understanding and biblical knowledge on words such as ‘grateful,’ ‘thankful,’ and ‘gratitude.’ He exhorts the people of God to become a character of gratitude through daily practice of being thankful to the Lord in all circumstances.
The following is a summary of his message:
2014—the Year of Gratitude 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- I praise and thank God for His continued loving kindness and faithfulness to our congregation throughout 2013. I also thank every one of you for your partnership in the ministry of the good news. We indeed work together as partners for God’s Kingdom both here at Manahawkin and in the surrounding communities. Your presence, services, and gifts are always appreciated. I very much look forward to working with you again this year.
- As pastor of this church, I plan to designate each year for our common goals—something that would strengthen our faith and enhance the practice of our beliefs. I designate 2014 to be the year of gratitude: that all of us stay thankful throughout the year. And, I chose 1 Thessalonians 5:18 for my sermon today.
- Now, I know that a lot of us have a trouble accepting 1 Thessalonians 5:18: how can I be grateful / thankful when bad things happen to me?
- Such a question requires some study on words such as ‘grateful,’ ‘thankful,’ and ‘gratitude.’
- Let’s begin with definitions of those words that are most accepted by the people in America.
- Grateful: is “feeling or showing thanks because someone has done something kind for you or has done as you asked” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
- Thankful: is “pleased about something good that has happened, or something bad that has not happened” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
- Gratitude: is “the feeling of being grateful and wanting to express your thanks” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
- Under such an understanding of ‘grateful,’ and ‘thankful,’ the people in America interchangeably use ‘thankful’ and ‘grateful’. That’s the exact mindset people have, even the people of God, when they read a text such as 1 Thessalonians 5:18: be thankful in all (both good and bad) circumstances. They cry out, “I can be grateful for all the blessings, but don’t ask me to be thankful for something bad! I can’t do it!” We are all conditioned to be thankful / grateful for only good things.
- This is why we need to listen to what the Bible says about gratitude so that we may understand today’s passage: to be thankful in all circumstances.
- First of all, the Bible clearly differs from the world in terms of understanding and using of those words. The Bible, like the secular world, uses the word ‘grateful’ for things that are considered good. When it comes down to all things both good and bad, however, unlike the secular world, the Word of God employs the word ‘thankful’ rather than ‘grateful’. In other words, the Bible brings up and expands the secular definition of ‘gratitude’ to one higher level. ‘Gratitude’ in the Bible and in the lives of the believers means more than ‘being grateful for something good that has happened to you.’ It, rather, means ‘being thankful’ than ‘being grateful’. In all circumstances.
- Based on such biblical understanding, here are my own definitions of the three words:
- Grateful: is same as the Oxford Dictionary. It is “feeling or showing thanks because someone has done something kind for you or has done as you asked” (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary).
- Thankful: is “pleased about something good that has happened,” (same as the first half of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary) or “trusting in the Lord for something bad that has happened” (the second half is mine).
- Gratitude: is “being thankful in all circumstances, not just in good ones.”
- Now, we are ready to talk about gratitude. Gratitude is our call. God has called us the Christians to be thankful in ALL circumstances. Be thankful always. That’s our call.
- For three reasons: It is God’s will, it is better than ingratitude, and it is good for your health.
- First of all, it is God’s will for us to be thankful in all circumstances. God wants every child of His to be thankful. He wants you and me to stay thankful in all life situations: both good and bad. When we live out a life of gratitude, it brings glory and honor to the Lord. When we live out a life of thankfulness that transcends circumstances, it sets us apart from the people in the world that show their gratitude only in good circumstances.
- Sometimes, I don’t understand why bad things happen when I never want them to. Neither do I understand why good things don’t happen when I badly need them to. However, over the years, I’ve learned a lesson: that is, when I obey God’s command to be thankful whether I like it or not, whether I understand it or not, in the end, I always harvest wisdom and the fruit of my obedience. I’ve seen in my life that simple obedience to God brings forth unexpected benefits. I will get to this later in the sermon.
- Why be thankful? Because when we are thankful, it brings us closer to God. Because it keeps our communication lines open with God. For instance, did you know that gratitude is a prerequisite to prayers? Do you want your prayers answered? Then, begin them with thanksgiving, because gratitude paves the way for our prayers to God just like when we are thankful to people, it lubricates our relationships with each other. The more we say thanks to people, the better relationships we enjoy with each other. Same thing with God.
- Being thankful also deepens our trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord means to acknowledge God even in bad circumstances when nothing makes sense to us. Trust in the Lord means to tell God that He knows what He is doing when we don’t. E.g. Cancer survivors. Almost all of whom I know say that they were thankful that it happened to them, because it taught them the life’s priorities. Gratitude is a sign of trust in God while ingratitude and grumbling is a sign of distrust in God. By being thankful in all circumstances we declare that we believe in God’s ultimate good will for us and that the same God will make all things good in the end as He promised (Romans 8:28).
- Show me anyone who walks with the Lord, and I will show you a life filled with gratitude.
- Next, gratitude is a better option than ingratitude or grumbling. If you continue on the path of daily complaint and grumbling, soon it will turn you into a seasoned complainer. The opposite is true with the path of gratitude. Which character path would you like to take?
- Think of Job in the Bible: After he lost everything he owned, after all of his ten children perished in one day, and even after he lost his health, Job didn’t sin against God with his lips (c.f. His wife wanted him to curse God and die). His action not to complain to God in such a difficult time was more than the result of sheer human will. Such a character wasn’t developed overnight, either. It was rather a by-product of Job’s life-long practice of gratitude.
- Lastly, gratitude is good for your health. It’s the real chicken soup for your soul. A lot of us are into body exercise for our physical health hoping that it would keep us fit and healthy for the coming years. Indeed, physical exercise is important and a bit of help for your body. However, very few of us realize that godliness is profitable for all good things: in all areas of spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being, not only in this life but also in the life to come (1Timothy 4:8). So, why not be thankful if you care so much about your well-being?
- Remember I promised at the beginning of my sermon to talk about unexpected benefits of obeying God’s command to be thankful? Here we go. E.g. My triglycerides number was 205 three years ago. It’s a borderline between healthy and unhealthy life style (below 200 is all right, and above 200 is not good). Some doctors would put you on cholesterol medicine with such a number. Instead of putting me on medication, though, my doctor wanted me to monitor my stress level for the next year. Almost at the same time, unrelated to this medical finding, I started practicing being thankful every day. Six months later, I had blood work done again. This time the number went down to 150. Mind you that there was no change in my diet or exercise habits during that time. The only reason I can think of that contributed to this positive change was gratitude: just being thankful everyday improved my health. When the level of gratitude goes up, the level of stress comes down, and so do the bad numbers.
- The Year of Gratitude kicks off today. Throughout the year, I urge everyone to be thankful in all circumstances so that we may become a character of gratitude and bring glory and honor to our Lord in Heaven.
- I plan to remind you of gratitude every other month: six times this year on the first Sunday of January, March, May, July, September, and November.
- I will also introduce you some practical ways to hone your gratitude skills daily.
- As a starter, please pick up your scroll today during communion. One for each person. I prayerfully have chosen 18 verses from the Bible—all are related to thankfulness. Your scroll will have one of those verses. You can memorize the verse or post the scroll on the most visible place where you can see it often throughout the day, such as a bathroom mirror, bedroom, even the refrigerator door so that you may ponder it throughout the year. Let us take every opportunity to give thanks to God for His blessings, for unfulfilled dreams, and even for the things we consider bad. In the end, we will abundantly harvest the fruit of gratitude in all areas of life: physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual.
- Let’s pray.
John Parker is our guest speaker for today filling in for Pastor Choi who is on vacation. Our text for today is a wonderful account where God steps into his creation, watches over and takes care of His children, and ensures that His plans always succeed. It is a message of encouragement, hope, and faith as Joseph is guided by angels to protect Mary and Jesus. We can feel secure knowing that God knows what we are facing and will protect those doing His will. Our faith is further sustained in the knowledge that while Jesus is fully God, he came to us in the most humble of circumstances showing the love that He has for us.