He Who Began a Good Work…  December 28, 2018

61V0ew7NIRL._SX425_I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus – Philippians 1:3-6

There is a saying among many in church leadership that 80% of the ministry is done by 20% of the people.  I just want you to know that you, Word of Gracers, blow that stat to smithereens! You are the best volunteers in the world!!!  Thank you to those who tirelessly packed up all of our stuff in the old building as 2017 came to a close. Thank you to all of you who kept the programming going, serving kids and oldsters alike, despite being packed up as closings were delayed and moving dates kept being put off.  Thank you to the audiovisual experts and the mechanically inclined folks who fix what’s broken. Thank you to those of you who spend countless hours calling on the sick and those who are unable to get out of the house. Thank you to those who work behind the scenes to make sure that the kitchen is supplied, the coffee is made, and the supply closets are stocked.  Thank you to the tireless (or very tired) children’s workers who are always on duty, even when the pastors forget to mention that there might be a need for childcare at a particular event. Thank you to the Bible study teachers, Awana leaders, Sunday school teachers, ushers, greeters…. Thank you to the swarms of men and women who helped us canvass this neighborhood and show love by meeting needs of those neighbors.  (By the way, that is still paying dividends!) Thank you to the many who are here all day every day painting and sanding and building….. The list goes on and on, but please know that you are loved and appreciated!!!

AND speaking of the 80/20 rule, those same journals say that 20% of the church members give 80% of the church’s offerings.  Now I don’t EVER look at who gives what. (I – Pastor Scott –  want to believe I would never play favorites, but it’s easier to just stay above reproach in that arena).  I believe we bust the 80/20 paradigm here, too.  So this is my year-end giving plea. We are a few thousand short of making our budgeted average for this first half of the fiscal year.  BUT given how many gung-ho workers we have, wouldn’t it be great if we were able to fund every ministry fully? Would you prayerfully consider making a sizable year-end gift to Word of Grace Fellowship?  If you aren’t going to be able to be at church on Sunday (12/30), be sure to either get it in the mail by 12/31 or you can give online by going to https://wordofgrace.org/cheerful-giving

May Your New Year Be Filled with the Abundance of Christ’s Blessings,

Pastor Scott

Now I Can Depart in Peace – December 21, 2018

simeon2Luke’s Gospel presents aspects of Jesus’ early life that the other three omit. Church tradition holds that Luke interviewed Jesus’ immediate family to gain these details, something we can add to our list of questions we want to ask in eternity!  One of the details he adds to the Christmas narrative is Jesus’ presentation at the temple in vs 22-38 (see below).

We know nothing about Simeon other than that he was a devout man who served at the temple and that God had made him an amazing promise, which was that he would see the Messiah with his own eyes.  But it’s his words that grab our hearts, “Okay God, I’ve seen {believe} your Salvation – for both the Gentiles and for my people – now I can die!”

We don’t know how long he’d lived waiting for that promise, but what we do know is that his life was complete now that the promise was fulfilled.  He was totally at peace.

It’s possible as you are reading this that you aren’t feeling particularly peaceful.  Whether it’s the annual Christmas frenzy or deeper issues that trouble you, I beg you to stop for a minute and see through Simeon’s eyes.  Have you “seen” Jesus? Not just the babe in the manger, but the God/Man who died in your place? Realize, again, that He has made you righteous (2 Cor. 1:21); He has forgiven you forever (Hebrews 10:14); you are already seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6).  Need I go on? Your cup is totally full! The only gift you, or I, will ever need was in Simeon’s arms 2000 years ago – the rest of life is just the wrapping paper!

Merry Christmas,

Pastor Scott

Jesus Presented in the Temple – Luke 2:22-38

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,

According to Your word;

30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation

31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,

32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,

And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Imitate Love – 3 John 11

imitate with loveThe Christian life ought to be characterized by freedom, not rules and regulations.

Other religions will give you long to-do lists of prayers and practices and menus and pilgrimages, and you have to follow them to be a member in good standing.

Christians basically have one command: to love.

Augustine famously summarized it this way: “Love and do what you will.” If you love someone, do whatever comes naturally. If you are seeking someone’s good, then do it.

What does love look like?

It looks like whatever kind of help your neighbor needs.

Love can be changing a crying baby’s diaper, tutoring a failing student, babysitting for a frazzled mother, donating your vacation to a co-worker whose husband has cancer, teaching an immigrant to speak English, or helping someone fill out job applications.

Love and do what you will.

If you need inspiration on how to love, observe the good people around you. As John said,

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does goodis of God; the one who does evil has not seen God (3 John 1:11).

John was writing to Gaius and contrasted the behavior of two men in his community. A man named Diotrephes was refusing to show hospitality to John and other believers (vv 9-10). By contrast, a man named Demetrius was setting a good example for all (v 12). John told Gaius to imitate the good behavior of Demetrius.

That’s one way to learn how to love: imitation.

Do you know a genuinely good person? What does he or she do? How does he love the people around him? Pay attention.

Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery, but also an effective way to learn to love.

By Shawn Lazar; Grace Evangelical Society, December 4, 2018

(I just happened to really like it – Pastor Scott)