July 19, 2020
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Welcome to worship! A special welcome to our guests today.
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
- The bulletins were placed specifically for social distancing, one household per pew. We will remain seated through the whole service.
- Please keep your masks on, and greet each other with a nod and smile with your eyes. This is a no contact service.
- There will be no singing. You may read along silently.
- You will be dismissed one pew at a time during the postlude.
- Attendance was taken by ushers as you entered. Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
- The office and the rest of the building remain closed, but you can contact Karla during her office hours.
- I am using up my vacation days, but I can be reached by text, messenger, or email on Tuesdays and Wednesdays or make a phone appointment to talk.
WORDS OF WORSHIP Psalm 117, GW
1 Praise the Lord, all you nations! Praise him, all you people of the world!
2 His mercy toward us is powerful. The Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
God of mercy and grace, we gather to worship as your faithful and faith filled people, not only here but in worship centers and homes around the world. We bring our praise and our prayers. We offer our gifts and our service. But above all we need your healing and your grace. We need to hear your Word and be encouraged. We need to be reminded of your plan and our call to be part of it. For all this we give you thanks as we eagerly await what you have for us today. Amen.
CONFESSION AND PARDON Hebrews 4:13-16, NCV
13 Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before him, and to him we must explain the way we have lived.
Gracious God, we confess to you the struggles we have faced this past week. We confess the times we were tempted and gave in to those temptations. We confess the times our faith was weak, and we gave in to despair. We confess the times we tried to hide our unkind thoughts, or we pretended not to notice someone in need. We confess the ways we have contributed to hatred or prejudice or gossip, and the ways we failed to care for the earth by contributing to pollution and waste. Lord, in your mercy, we need Your forgiveness. But Lord, we also need Your teaching, Your wisdom, and Your help to change our ways and live more in line with Your will.
14 Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. 15 For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. 16 Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.
In the name of Jesus you are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
May the peace of Christ be with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
As we listen to your Word for us today, O God, may we hear the message You would speak to each of us, to our churches, our community, and our world.
SCRIPTURE LESSONS & SERMON Living Our Call
Introduction: It took a while to hear what God wanted me to preach as I retire this month, but God gave me four chapter fours. So, today Matthew 4 and Philippians 4 on our call and how we live it. Next week Luke 4 and Ephesians 4 on our mission and how God equips us for it. Each time I’ll be reading one section of scripture at a time and then commenting on it before going on to the next section. This week I’m using the Common English Bible. You have the text to follow along in your bulletins.
Matthew 4, CEB
Temptation of Jesus4 Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.”
5 After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”
7 Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.”
8 Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.
Sermon: Two things stand out: the role of the tempter and how Jesus responds. Jesus is being tested before entering into ministry. The Hebrew word means both tempt and test. I thought back to the role of the tempter given permission to test Job, whether he really was a righteous man as claimed or could be tempted away from God. I wonder if our loyalty to God is also tested at times or if our readiness for ministry is tested.
We have three names for the one testing Jesus: the devil, the tempter, and Satan. Devil is Greek and Satan is Hebrew, both meaning accuser. They are a title not a personal name. Another recognized role is deceiver seen in the way the devil reinterprets God’s intentions. Talking to Eve in the Garden or Jesus in the wilderness the devil tempts by slightly misquoting or taking God’s Word out of context. He is a master of misdirection.
Jesus is not deceived; he rightly quotes and interprets passages to which the devil has hinted from another wilderness experience, the Exodus. To stay right with God, to not be led astray by temptation, to pass the tests that come our way, we need to be steeped in scripture. Read, learn, know, understand, memorize scripture passages that will help you stand strong and make the right decisions in a time of testing. Since it is the work of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, when you are stuck facing a problem, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the right passage, to the right answer for your circumstance. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
Move to Galilee12 Now when Jesus heard that John was arrested, he went to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, which lies alongside the sea in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what Isaiah the prophet said:
15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
alongside the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,
16 the people who lived in the dark have seen a great light,
and a light has come upon those who lived in the region and in shadow of death.
17 From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”
Sermon: This section begins and ends with transition. Jesus had been baptized in the Jordan River probably somewhere between Jericho and Jerusalem. Then the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tested. Jesus left that area and headed back toward home in Galilee, but passing Nazareth he continued on to Capernaum, a fishing town of one to two thousand residents and home to some of the disciples. The location which had been assigned back in Joshua’s day to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali reminds Matthew of a prophecy from Isaiah which he quotes here. It is the opening to a messianic prophecy we commonly read during Advent. This move and quote were meant to point toward Jesus as the Messiah.
The second transition begins “From that time” a phrase which appears twice in Matthew neatly dividing the gospel into three major sections. We are entering the ministry chapters. Verse 17 gives us two major themes of that ministry. First, repentance to “change your hearts and lives” as preached by John the Baptist. Second, the Kingdom of God, reflecting a concept already present in Old Testament theology and the daily prayer life of Jews. Many of Jesus’ parables will relate to this theme with its fulfillment beginning in Jesus’ ministry.
Calling of the first disciples18 As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” 20 Right away, they left their nets and followed him. 21 Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and 22 immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Sermon: The four fishermen receive a three-part call: to follow (“come, follow me”), to be disciples (“I’ll show you how”), and to ministry (“to fish for people”). Our call is the same.
We are called first to be followers of Jesus. Though we may not change our location or occupation as these fishermen did, following Jesus means leaving behind our old way of life to live more in tune with Jesus.
To be disciples means to be students with Jesus as our teacher. Our text is the Bible and the Holy Spirit could be seen as our guidance counselor. Even though we live now and not when Jesus physically walked the earth, we can still learn from everything he said and did, and his Spirit is still with us. Think about how school is being conducted in many places this year. The classroom may be in our homes, and the teacher may reach us online, but there are still lessons and assignments and learning still happens.
We learn not only to benefit our own lives but others as well. That is ministry. For some it will be “fishing for people” through our witness and invitation. For others there is more emphasis on teaching or equipping. For some ministry is encouraging others or caring for others with compassion. For some it is leadership, and for still others it is supporting behind the scenes with physical help or financial assistance. Whatever your gifts and specialty, whatever your occupation or hobbies, whatever role you play in family or society, you are called by Jesus to follow, to disciple, and to be in ministry!
Ministry to the crowds23 Jesus traveled throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues. He announced the good news of the kingdom and every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread throughout Syria. People brought to him all those who had various kinds of diseases, those in pain, those possessed by demons, those with epilepsy, and those who were paralyzed, and he healed them. 25 Large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from the areas beyond the Jordan River.
Sermon: Jesus’ ministry was all about teaching, preaching, and healing. The disciples are on the ultimate field trip learning by observing everything Jesus did and listening to every word Jesus spoke. In their private, small group sessions, they ask all their questions. It’s like having the adult class after worship to discuss the day’s scriptures and message. Healing was also a major part of Jesus’ early ministry and partly responsible for the crowds following him. God’s authority was affirmed in Jesus’ teachings by the miraculous healings.
We study Jesus by observing and listening to him in the Gospels. We are then called upon as were the early disciples to enter into ministries that share what we learn. Remember also that Jesus is still in the business of healing. That is why we lift the needs of others to him in prayer.
Now we move on to living out our call as followers, disciples, and ministers in the name and power of Christ with advice from the Apostle Paul.
Philippians 4, GW
Paul’s Advice4 So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!
2 I encourage both Euodia and Syntyche to have the attitude the Lord wants them to have. 3 Yes, I also ask you, Syzugus, my true partner, to help these women. They fought beside me to spread the Good News along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Sermon: Most scholars consider Philippians an authentic letter from Paul, probably written while he was imprisoned in Rome. It was written to the first church he established on European soil. There is a tender close relationship between Paul and this congregation. It may be something like the affection I have felt here.
Notice that the reference to Eudia and Syntyche is among the evidence that Paul did support women in church leadership. The Philippi church started with Lydia and her women’s prayer group. These women worked alongside Paul and Clement to teach others about Jesus.
However, these brave and diligent leaders didn’t always agree with each other. I’ve worked in churches either as a volunteer or staff my entire life since Junior High. That well intentioned good Christian people who sincerely love the Lord might disagree about the best approach to ministry or some minor detail of a particular project is not news to me. We are human after all! Every one of you can probably think of an example in your church life when two or more people disagreed.
The problem isn’t the disagreement; what matters is what you do with it. Paul asked a trusted co-worker in Christ to help the women resolve the issue as amicably as possible. This is important for three reasons: to restore the relationship between these two women, to mend any rift this has caused in the rest of the church, and to improve the church’s witness to outsiders. I know personally that life is miserable and ministry is affected when I don’t work well with another leader, but I have also been blessed when someone helped me learn to get along with that person instead. I encourage you when this happens to work through things prayerfully and wisely for the sake of your friendships, your church, and your witness to the world. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV)
Always Be Joyful4 Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! 5 Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. 6 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. 7 Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. 9 Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you.
Sermon: This section is jam packed with good advice. Every verse is a gem worthy of memorizing or placing where you will see it often. Several of these verses can be found on items you might see in a Christian gift shop.
“Rejoice!” If you look back to the previous section, perhaps Paul is suggesting that these believers should focus on the joy of serving Christ and all his benefits rather than on their disagreement. Sharing joy can bring harmony. If we remember where Paul is and look ahead to the next section, it is significant that Paul says to rejoice always and everywhere, no matter what your circumstance. It’s a challenge to find joy in the midst of COVID-19 and justice concerns and other bad news. Deep Christian joy isn’t found by ignoring the realities around us, but by clinging to Christ in the midst of them. Make it a daily challenge to find reasons to rejoice, no matter how small they may seem. It is a healthy spiritual practice that will sustain you through the tough times.
The key word of verse 5 is translated so many ways: consideration, gentleness, kindness, generosity, modesty, moderation, graciousness. The Greek word praus can be used of anything from mild words or soothing medicine to tame animals or benevolent people according to the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. It indicates friendliness and is associated with the reign of Christ. This is the attitude Paul invites us to display to the world, that others might see Christ in and through us. It’s what Jesus suggested, to let our light so shine before others that they will see our good works and give praise to God. (Matthew 5:16)
“Never worry.” Jesus also commanded this. Anxiety is a real daily concern for many people, but that is not the life Christ wants for us. I’m not saying to blindly put yourself in danger. Jesus didn’t jump off the pinnacle of the Temple! But doing the best you can with what is within your control, let go and trust God for the rest. Rather than worry, tell God your needs, and give thanks trusting that God will care for you in every situation. It may help to visualize placing the concerns in Jesus’ hands or God’s lap. Prayer is a path to peace replacing worry.
To maintain that peace Paul encourages us to keep our thoughts on what is good. A song written by Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen in 1944 advised, “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative.” That’s what Paul had in mind. If we practice these things learned from Paul and from Jesus, we will be more aware that the God of peace is with us.
Thanks for Your Gifts10 The Lord has filled me with joy because you again showed interest in me. You were interested but did not have an opportunity to show it. 11 I’m not saying this because I’m in any need. I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. 12 I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. 13 I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, it was kind of you to share my troubles.
15 You Philippians also know that in the early days, when I left the province of Macedonia to spread the Good News, you were the only church to share your money with me. You gave me what I needed, and you received what I gave you. 16 Even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs twice. 17 It’s not that I’m looking for a gift. The opposite is true. I’m looking for your resources to increase. 18 You have paid me in full, and I have more than enough. Now that Epaphroditus has brought me your gifts, you have filled my needs. Your gifts are a soothing aroma, a sacrifice that God accepts and with which he is pleased. 19 My God will richly fill your every need in a glorious way through Christ Jesus.
Sermon: Paul sincerely thanked the Philippians for their care and interest. Their gifts were similar to missionary support we might send. But rather than mail a check, they had to wait for someone they trusted headed in Paul’s direction. I understand Paul’s gratitude. When I receive notes of appreciation or gifts, they are such a blessing. I also thought of the Mexican students this congregation has supported. Their letters were always filled with gratitude for our tuition help.
The key point of this passage is to be content in any circumstance. Paul summed it up in verse 12, but the whole section carefully appreciates what was received without complaining about the times they couldn’t help. To learn to be content with little or plenty reminds me that Paul sincerely gave his best in God’s service. He endured because Christ was his strength. Christ also holds and sustains us when times are tough.
The NIV Jesus Bible suggests, “People are needy by design—physically, socially, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.” God never intended us to be self-sufficient but to help each other and to depend on God. The notes go on to say, “The more we grow in our faith in Christ, the more our needs are satisfied by the riches he offers.” This is what Paul experienced, and we can as well.[i] Just as Paul was blessed by the Christians at Philippi, so I have been blessed many times by those I have met in my years here. You have always met my needs whether or not you knew what they were.
Paul adds one more aspect we might easily miss. While their gifts enriched Paul’s life, he prays that God will enrich their lives. He declares their gifts are pleasing not only to himself but also to God. Paul is trusting God to repay what he cannot. When we dare to be generous, God is honored in our giving, and God has his own way of rewarding our sincere efforts.
20 Glory belongs to our God and Father forever! Amen.
21 Greet everyone who believes in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings to you. 22 All God’s people here, especially those in the emperor’s palace, greet you. 23 May the good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Sermon: Paul closes his letter with three sentiments that sum up his relationship with God and with the Church. First, Paul gives glory to God and sets the example that we are to worship and honor God in all things above all else. Second, Paul sends greetings from his co-workers. I am reminded that we are meant to be connected one to another. We can worship together, eat together, work together, learn together when we have opportunity, but even when we are apart, we are still connected through Christ, and we can continue to encourage one another in the faith. Third, Paul offers a blessing. It is common to end worship, as Paul ended this letter with words of benediction that ask for God’s presence with God’s people. It is one of my favorite privileges as a preacher to offer such a blessing as I conclude worship.
Conclusion: As Jesus once called the fishermen, so he still calls us to be followers and disciples and to share in the ministry of building God’s Kingdom. As Jesus was tested, there will be times when we are tested by circumstances as well. Paul, who was called to share Christ and build up the body of believers, was often tested in various ways: disagreements, hunger, imprisonment, and yet Paul persevered trusting in Christ to give him strength. As Jesus relied on God’s Word and Paul relied on Christ’s presence, we will be given what we need to endure and carry out our mission. We are not in this alone, we are in this together with one another and with Christ. Focused on what is good, let us move forward together in Christ’s name, blessed with Christ’s peace. Amen.
AFFIRMATION Apostle’s Creed, Ecumenical Version
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
PRAYERS OF INTERCESSION
For Gary, for Ellen, for Joy and Tim.
For others who have been ill.
For California and Florida and other states with a rise in COVID-19 cases
For those dealing with new surge of cases in India
For those who continue to go about their jobs in difficult circumstances
And those who have lost their work because of COVID-19
For all of us continuing to adjust to new procedures
For the search for cures and for preventions
For states making decisions about restrictions
And communities and colleges deciding about school this Fall
For individual decisions toward everyone’s safety
For those who mourn deaths related to corona virus and otherwise
For the families and communities of children killed in shootings this past week
For the child who is missing and others who have been taken
For continued tensions related to China and other areas of tension around the world
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING
We give you thanks for Family and friends
Beautiful weather, Gardens and nature
Arts, music, and stories,
The privilege of worship, for God’s presence and Grace.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
CHARGE & BLESSING Philippians 4:23
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
[i] Notes found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippia