Monday Morning Meditation 8-29-22

Acts 11:19-26

19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. 20But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. 21The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord. 22News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion; 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.”

This passage is a great reminder for us today.  The early church was being persecuted and the passages mentions the martyrdom of Stephen (see Acts 7), and how this dispersed the church.  As people left Jerusalem for fear of their lives, they began to spread the gospel wherever they went.

Today we have a great opportunity of our own.  Since March 2020, we have been dealing with the Covid crisis, which has stopped many ministries.  Some have returned, others will, and others should not.  This crisis gives us an excellent opportunity to try something new, to find new missions and ministries in which to share the good news.  The pandemic is our chance to increase the church by seeking out others in new ways.  Technology allowed us to offer worship services and bible studies online, and many churches rightly continue to do this.  Technology can also connect us with those who are seeking God.  We do not have to shout on street corners or knock-on doors, rather we can use social media for God’s good.  And who knows, if we embrace something new, we might also see a growth in the church just like the one in the passage.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8/22/22

Mark 6:1-6a

1He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. 2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him. 4Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.

We had a guest preacher in my home church.  Now I knew this man’s family, after all they were a well known name in my home town.  In his sermon, he gave his testimony, about growing up in trouble (and we knew that) and coming to that “Jesus Moment” when he accepted the Lord.  Then he heard the call to ministry.  In his prayer, he said “Lord, I’ll go anywhere but Phoenixville (both his and my home town).  Send me somewhere else.”  Well, you probably guessed what happened.  He was sent home to preach the good news.

I think about this passage of scripture where Jesus comes into his home town and teaches and at first, they are all amazed at both his teaching and healing.  But then someone asks, “Is not this the carpenter…?” 

So often we think we know someone based on their ancestry, or their past and miss what God is doing with them.  The guest preacher was called to run a men’s homeless shelter in his town, something that was greatly needed.  He met some resistance, just as Jesus did, but persevered and honored his call.

Sometimes we are called to difficult places where people will look down on us due to our family, our upbringing, even our own past.  Yet with Jesus, we can live a new life and pass that on to others.

This week, think of someone that might have a reputation, pray for them and let God do something incredible.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8-15-22

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

It is rumored that Francis of Assisi said “preach the gospel always, if necessary use words.” This probably comes from a legendary story in which he invites a fellow monk to walk the village to preach the gospel.  They walk all around, in silence, and finally the other monk asks when they will preach.  He responded by saying “we have been preaching all this time.”  Just the presence of the monks (men dedicated to praying for the community) walking about the community brought about an image of the gospel.

We do not always need words (although sometimes we do), sometimes our presence is enough.  I have sat quietly in the corner of hospital rooms while families have said goodbye to a loved one.  Words were not needed, “there is no speech, nor are their words”, yet God’s presence was felt.

Sometimes all we need to do is show up.  We do not need to be experts in theology or biblical knowledge, we do not need to convince anyone of anything, we just need to be present for someone to know God is real.

As you traverse this week, look at the heavens, look at the sky, look at nature and feel God’s presence.  Then take that presence with you to all you meet.  Allow God’s presence within you to “speak” the words someone needs to “hear”.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8/8/22

35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”Mark 4:35-41

I could use a nap.  I know, its Monday morning, I just woke up, but honestly, I need a nap after a long drive through bad weather, with little time to rest.  Add to that so many things happening, and guess what?  I am tired.  And I bet you are too.  We have all been through extreme “stormy weather” the past few years and here Jesus gives us a simple instruction – take a rest in the storm for God has our backs.

We might not have the power to stop bad weather, but we can still say with confidence and faith “Peace, be still” to the storms in our lives.  We have permission to stop and rest, to get away from the problems, even if only for a few moments.  This goes hand in hand with Sabbath rest, not just a day off to catch up on things, but true rest.  The better rested we are, the better we can deal with the problems of the day.

As you travel through this week, take those moments. If things are getting out of hand, rebuke them, say Peace! Be still! Then take a nap. 

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 8-1-22

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5

The opening of John’s gospel takes us back to Genesis 1 as God began creating.  It also takes us forward, reminding us that the Light of the World is not overcome.

We live in a dark world today.  There are wars (and rumors of war), disease (yes Covid is still a big issue), division and more.  It is enough to want to hide in the sand and pay no attention to current events, however that is not our call.  We need to know what is happening so we can better minister to this broken world.

And the good news is that we do not do this alone, for the Light of the Word is with us and that Light will never be overcome.  As you enter into this new week, embrace that Light, be empowered by the Light and show your light as well.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-25-22

23One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”Mark 2:23-28

What do you need for sabbath rest?  God knows that we need rest, and a sabbath day is not just a day off to do errands, laundry, food shopping and the lawn work.  A sabbath rest is a day to spend with God, family and friends. 

But Jesus makes it known that the sabbath serves us, not the opposite.  We should not put excessive rules on the sabbath, rather we should allow sabbath to be the gift it is.  Do you need to do a couple of things before your rest?  Do them then rest.  Do you need to eat?  Of course, cook, eat and then rest.  The important thing is to find that rest on a regular basis.

God knows that we need rest and that is why God created the sabbath.  We need to take advantage of this gift, finish our work and rest.

Peace,


Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 7-18-22

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10

Our society has become increasingly hostile.  It seems everything is based on “us vs. them” with no discussion in between.  There seems to be no attempt at understanding the other person’s point of view because it must be wrong.  This is not just a political thing, rather it goes across all of society, including the faith. 

Yet here is Paul, a man known to argue his point without mixing words, writing to the church about the basic commandment, love.  We are to love one another with servant love (from the Greek, Agape), the love that carried Jesus to the cross.

Could you imagine our nation if our politicians loved this way?  Could you imagine our business culture if executives loved this way?  Could you imagine our neighborhoods if everyone loved this way? 

As you begin a new week, try to find a way to express servant love to someone – especially if they disagree with you on some topic.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation (Tuesday Edition) 7/12/22

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Have you ever known somebody needed prayer, but did not know why?  Just pray for them; Did someone’s name come up in your mind for no reason?  Just pray for them.  Even if you do not know what is going on or why, there is a reason for you to pray.

One day I received a text from my wife saying “pray for me and the family I am about to visit”.  Not knowing anymore, I took the time to pray – and somehow the Holy Spirit took over.  I do not know what I said or thought, only that God invites us into God’s work.  Later on, I found out the seriousness of the situation and the prayers were much needed.

Prayer is very important and the more we pray, the more we do. If you do not know what words to say, if you do not know what to pray about, just remain in God’s presence and let the Spirit guide you. 

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6/27/22

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

After rebuking the people for turning from God, the Prophet Isaiah utters these words to the people of Israel.  They were words of comfort then; they are words of comfort now.  The God of the Universe has called you, has called me by name and that is incredible.

Think about names.  We all want people to remember our names.  As a “newbie” in a new ministry setting, I am trying to learn names and eventually I will (but please forgive me as this takes time).  But whether I remember your name or not, God does.  God knows you and God knows what you can become.

Isn’t that incredible?  The creator, sustainer and redeemer of the very universe knows you personally.  If you are feeling alone right now, know that God knows you by name.  If you are hurting, know that God knows you by name.  If you are in need, God knows you by name.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 6-20-22

The Start of Something New

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:13

It was a very busy day as we arrived at the church building.  We went to the office where I picked up everything I needed, then went to the sanctuary.  As we greeted folks, I reviewed the service and prepared myself.  It was my first day in the pulpit at the new ministry.

While the service flow was different and I was unsure of who did what, it felt comfortable.  I am, after all, a preacher and stepping into a pulpit is as normal for me as it is for a quarterback to line up behind the center or an actor stepping onto the stage. Between services was a reception and I will admit, I did not get everyone’s names (that will take some time).

But what I did get was an eagerness to move forward, to do something new.  This congregation wants to embrace whatever new God is calling us to do.  Change can be scary (trust me, I know, I’m in the middle of a huge transition) but God is always doing a new thing with us and with God we need not fear change. 

Trust in God, especially in transitional times and God will always provide.

Peace,

Pastor Bill