Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mark Mizer -

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PREDESTINATION AND PREDETERMINATION

'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'  (Jeremiah 1: 5)

I am treading on treacherous ground here, so, please suffer my thoughts with patient tolerance. My intent is not to offend nor to pretend I am a theologian, nor am I asking anyone to accept my treatise, but to make an observation of what I consider a misunderstanding of predestination.

As Presbyterians we are often criticized as those 'predestination believers' meaning we believe our whole future has been laid out for us and we have no control over who we are or who we are to become. Everything in our lives is pre-set, pre-programmed, both good and bad; that God has predetermined whether or not we are to go to hell or heaven.

But, in my mind there is a difference between predestination and predetermination. I believe predestination means we were chosen to receive God's grace, through the Christ, Jesus, who, in the Gospel of John was present at creation with God. We receive this gift even before we have consciousness of our own existence. We cannot earn this grace. It is given freely to us by and through the sacrifice of Jesus, who gave his life to wipe away the sins of all people, both those born and those of us who were yet to be born, and his resurrection overcoming death giving us eternal life and joy with Him.

But, we still possess the freedom to either accept or reject this grace. This is our call to make. Our part has not been predetermined. I believe we are predestined to receive God's gift, but, we are not predestined to accept it.


Prayer:  O God, our God, you have given us the gift of grace through your son, Christ, Jesus. Thank you. Amen

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Grace Peters

"I am the Church, You are the Church, We are the Church Together; All follow Jesus all around the world; Yes, we're the Church together!" Song by Richard K. Avery and Donald S.Marsh. Word,c 1972 Hope Publishing, 1972

One of my favorite memories is that of my children coming home from First Sunday School joyfully singing this song. This simple song makes it quite clear about who is responsible and accountable for the support of the Church-meaning the MISSION of the Church - all follow Jesus all around the world, ah, there it is the Great Commission.

You and I,WE, are responsible for the continued growth of this Sharon church with a small "c"and Christ's larger Church with a capital "C". We EACH have individual ownership and the responsibility that comes with ownership. Church staff comes and goes but the congregation remains to carry on God's work. This ownership also has rewards - the Holy Spirit works wonders when we dedicate back to God a generous portion of what we have been given.

Second Corinthians vs. 10-15 tells us that God rewards us with increased righteousness, it promises that "you will be made rich in every way so you can be even more generous and thankful to God." God promises his Grace to those who are generous in supporting his Mission; he promises the gift of eternal life!! Do we have any other investments that promise so much?


Prayer:   Dear God, we thank you that you have called us to own your mission at SCPC for 200 years. We are grateful that your Spirit has been constant among us in both good and bad times. Your grace and love have enabled us to do your mission in this church and in the larger Church. Please, keep us faithful and generous as we "Dream the Future" and move forward into the next 100 years. Amen

Monday, September 18, 2017

Judy Lentz  

Fear of God

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

This Psalm is such a comforting psalm and is repeated so frequently that individuals can often repeat it from memory. Unfortunately, this was not the case for our son years ago.

As a preschooler, our youngest son would get ‘time outs’ for being too rambunctious when playing with his friend, Johnny. One day, he declared to me that he was no longer going to play with this friend. When I asked why, he said, because he gets me into trouble. I encouraged him to talk to his teacher about this situation so she could help him figure out how to be Johnny’s friend but not get into trouble during playtime.

 Nothing more was said for several days. Then one morning as we were driving to preschool, he said, “I talked to God last night and asked him to tell Johnny not to play with me.” I immediately asked “Did you talk to your teacher about Johnny so she can help prevent you from getting into trouble when playing with him?” He quietly answered “No”. I said “Why not? If you can talk to God about Johnny, why can’t you talk to your teacher?” He sat quietly for a minute and then said “Because I am not afraid of God!”

I have often told this story and each time I do, I am reminded of the scripture for today. I wonder how often we talk to God about problems in our lives. Do we remember that this scripture assures us that God will walk us through difficult times in our lives if we just talk to him to let him know we need his help. God’s faithfulness assures us of his continuing presence. He seeks to console us; all we need to do is ask for his support and guidance by praying as instructed by Jesus to his disciples.


Prayer:  Matthew 6: 9-13. “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Amen.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mark Gulden & Treva Rousseau

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine. – Isaiah 43:1

Starbucks has a great marketing technique requiring the baristas to ask for the customers’ names. Between the personalized cup, the friendly call of one’s name in a busy store, and (if one is as regular a customer as I am) the automatic knowledge of one’s name, the customer feels important, known, and beloved, even. Which makes the customer come back for more, of course! I recall the first time a barista automatically wrote my name on the cup without asking. When I received my order, my heart nearly skipped a beat. Yes, the effect was that powerful, even if only for a moment. I felt welcomed and befriended. I became a customer for life.

God calls us by name, because He knows us. Not superficially, but deeply and intimately. Those feelings of importance, acceptance, and welcome one feels when a cashier calls out one’s name are not only magnified when we listen for God’s voice, but prove themselves to be true – not just clever marketing techniques. God does hold us as important, He does accept us as we are, and loves us for it. We belong to Him, and He wants us to come back for more and more. I invite you to read the scripture above, and, if you are thirsty for more, to continue reading all of Isaiah 43. Then listen. Do you hear Him calling you?


Pray with me: God, I am listening…. (then just sit back and listen!)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Roy Behling  -

MOBILE CHRISTIANITY AND THE GREAT COMMISSION

Jesus said, "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." - Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Today most families have a landline phone at home and mobile phones to use away from home. People have a desire to be connected and with mobile phones and social media it becomes possible to be connected to friends and loved ones 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

If we use the analogy of the landline phone versus the mobile phone to apply it to our Christian lives, it suggests that many of us are landline Christians; we only live our faith fully within the vicinity of our homes. However, the mobile phone goes everywhere with us. We can take it to work, to school, the store ---- everywhere. That is what Jesus expects us to do as Christians ---- to be mobile and share our faith with everyone, everywhere.

Jesus traveled widely, teaching and encouraging those he met to love one another. If He had remained in one location, the gospel may not have spread to those in need. Let us all strive to be mobile Christians and spread the word in every place.


Dear God, help us to share our love, your love and the gospel with everyone we meet, wherever we go. Amen.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sara Kobak   (I was inspired to write this after reading a recent Upper Room entry.)

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it...now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.  I Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV)

Just before Christmas my 19 month old great-niece contracted a bacterial infection.  My brother sent me an email asking for prayers for her.  I sent out a request to the thirty members of Sharon's prayer chain.  We became a part of an army of prayer warriors.

During the three days in which Cameron's body fought the terrible invader, I was amazed by the response from across the country on her mother's Facebook page .  Friends, family, and many strangers posted prayers and words of comfort for this young family.

Even though I was miles away, I felt a part of the body of Christ as never before.  Something I had only felt within my own church family.

Sadly, Cameron could not defeat the infection.  But the overwhelming support from the body of believers helped then and continues to lift my nephew and his wife.

They will welcome a new child in March, who, too, will become a part of the body of Christ.
[Note: A healthy baby joined the family.]


Dear Heavenly Father,  You are always there to support us in times of trouble.  Please help us to be the body of Christ: to listen to and comfort those who are hurting.  Amen

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ann Mizer   -

Think Beyond Fairness

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Matthew 20:13-15 NIV

I used to work with a man who when things became difficult would say, “Pretty soon we are going to have to use the four letter “F” word.”  Jaws dropped and then he would smile and say, “You know, it’s not fair.”  How often we feel that things are not fair.  Someone gets an unexpected raise, but not someone else.  Someone seems to eat whatever they want, and they never gain weight.  Someone else gets picked for a special project, but not someone else…..you can list your own examples I am sure.

Jesus tells this parable of an employer paying the same wage, but the people worked different amounts of time.  He uses the word unfair, but he also uses the word envious and generous.  I wonder if we stop to ponder things that we think are unfair and see if it is envy that might cause that thought.  We might  also rejoice in someone being generous, without comparing and thinking about fairness.  

People can be generous with money, but they can also be generous with time, with praise, with attention and other things.  It might be good for us to focus on those things.

Dear God, help me to think beyond fairness but to consider generosity, opportunity, and what your intent and hopes and desires are.  Amen.