“Palm Tree Christians”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

2nd SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

JUNE 16, 2019

Title: “Palm Tree Christians”

Text: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalms 92:12).

Scripture Reading: Psalm 92:7-14.

As a child, I had one opportunity to visit my maternal grand dad. He lived in the part of Liberia, West Africa where the palm tree grows the most.  Some of the memory I got was how we sat under the palm tree during the heat of the day for shade. The palm tree produces palm wine. It was a source of palm cabbage, one of the foods that saved thousands of lives during the heat of the civil war, when hunger was the number one killer.  The palm tree also provided its leaves used to roof houses and make thread used for multiple purposes. This is the region where you find abundance of African palm. The African oil palm, very widely cultivated in the tropics, gives a higher oil yield per hectare than any other oil plant. It produces two quite different types of oil, and that from palm kernels, used for making margarine and soap, and that from the fleshy part of the fruit, used more widely for industrial processes. This is one of the most rapidly expanding plantation crops today.

Our text this morning says, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.”  How is a child of God like a palm tree?

The roots of the palm tree go down deep into the earth.  A palm tree has great roots that make the tree strong and substantial.  The psalmist said that a godly man “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (Psalm 1:3).  Upon close observation, the palm tree bends and strains in the wind and the storm, but it stands because of its deep roots.  A Christian rooted in Christ can stand the winds and temptation and the storms of trial.

Can we stand up against the enemies of our soul?  The palm tree has many enemies that threaten its life.  If it is located in the desert, it would be the dryness of the desert, the burning heat of the sun, the fierceness of the winds, and animals that rubs away its trunk: but it lives on because it is rooted deep in the earth.  Paul mentioned some of the enemies of the Christian life in Romans 8: “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (v. 35), and cried, “Nay, all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (v. 37).

The palm tree is upright. Jeremiah spoke of people being as “upright as the palm tree.”  The palm tree rears itself straight up in the air, erect, stately, and strong. It is a fitting image of a good person who is not crooked, but is upright in character and in conversation.  Dr. T.L. Holcomb speaking to a group of young boys at the Ridgecrest Boys Camp at Ridgewood, North Carolina said, “All around there are tall, straight, stately trees. In one of his messages he told the boys, “Go out into the mountains and back up next to one of these giant trees and pray this prayer: “Lord make me like one of these trees, tall, straight, and strong.”

When Charles Elliot became engaged to Ellen Peabody, Miss Peabody’s family received a congratulatory letter saying of him, “He is a regular cedar post, firm, sound, and always in the same place.” How much it would mean in the home, in the church, and in the nation if we could be like that in our manner of life, strong, firm, and upright.  This is the palm tree Christian.

The palm tree is graceful.  It is the emblem of grace and beauty.  In the Old Testament, palm trees adorned the temple.  Jerico was called the “city of palm trees” and was one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world.  In heaven the saints are portrayed as those clothed in white robes with palms in their hands, the emblem of beauty and grace, and victory.

John spoke of Christ as being “ full of grace and truth.  The New Testament says of the early Christians, “Great grace was upon them all.”  There are many facts of meaning of the word “grace,” but here it means charm and attractiveness.  There is something attractive about those who love near to Christ.

The palm tree is an evergreen.  Other trees turn dark and grey during the winter, but the palm tree holds its rich, deep color.  It shows its color in all seasons. It is the symbol of faithfulness. Paul said, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).  The psalmist said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Can you say: I will be an evergreen. I will be like that palm tree, showing my colors at all times”?  Can you say, “Anytime, Lord, day or night, in summer or winter, in darkness or light, I will follow you; in sickness, in health, in joy, in sorrow, in adversity, or in prosperity, I will be true”?

When I first came to this country, it was winter time. It was in February.  I spent two nights in Baltimore and on the third day flew to Dayton, Ohio. When I arrived in Dayton on my way from the airport to Wilberforce, Ohio, I noticed a couple of trees lined up.  One group of trees never had any leaves. The second group of trees had leaves and were green. It was the palm tree. All the while I was in Dayton, Ohio, I never noticed the evergreens, until the wintry winds and rains had stripped the leaves from all the other trees.  Then you could see the evergreens showing their colors. There are church members like that, they show their colors in all seasons. They are palm tree Christians.

The palm tree is a fruitful tree.  I learned that there are over 2,780 different palm trees all over the world. The date palm which is found mainly in the Middle East produces up to six hundred pound of fruit each year.  There are many uses for its fruit, including medicinal use. The camel feeds on the date stones. The leaves are used in making a variety of household articles. Thread and rope are made from the fiber of the bough.  A drink is made from the sap. No wonder it was said that an Arab’s very existence depended on the palm tree. Likewise, the Christian is useful and fruitful.

The influence, example, spirit, words, deeds, and the life of a Christian are a blessing.  Being in touch with the source of fruitfulness, he or she lives a fruitful life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23).  The fruitfulness of the palm tree continues for hundred of years, for this tree is noted for its long life.  The ministry of a Christian man bear fruit even for years after he or she has reached the heavenly home.

The palm tree grows in the desert.  The palm tree thrives in burning sand under the hot sun in the dry desert climate.  The Christian flourishes in difficult places. It was said of God’s people when they were enslaved under Pharaoh, “The more they were afflicted, the more they…grew” (Exodus 1:12).  God’s people grow under tribulation. Moses spent forty years on the backside of the desert of Median. God was getting him ready to lead his people through the wilderness. It was said that John the Baptist was trained in the desert.  No wonder he was such a great man. John the Baptist was trained in the discipline and difficulty of the desert life.

Christ was led in the desert to be tempted, to be tested, and to be prepared for his life’s work.  The Christian grows and thrives in difficult places and becomes Christlike.

The palm tree is an oasis of refreshment.  The traveler looks across the burning sands, parched with thirst, and sees a palm tree.  His heart leaps for joy because he knows there is water, shade, food, and refreshment for his tired body and spirit.   

The Christian is like that, for God in Christ makes his people the means of refreshment in a weary world.  Paul spoke of Onesiphorus coming to him while he was in prison in Rome and said, “He oft refreshed me.” Here was one of those refreshing personalities who comes to bless us in our sorrow, discouragement, sickness, doubt, and need.  Palm tree Christians are means of refreshment to those who live about them. Christ refreshes our minds and hearts and we, in turn, refreshes others. True Christians can be an oasis of refreshment in friends, family, and all who know them. Would you be a refreshing personality? Then get close to Christ, the source of refreshment. Live the light of God’s love, and he will make your life flourish like the palm tree. God bless you all this morning.  Grace and peace!

“A Cleansed Church”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCATHY

ASCENSION SUNDAY

JUNE 2, 2019

Title: “A Cleansed Church”

Text: “Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; these things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass; 19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (Revelation 2:18,19 KJV).

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:18-29.

William Barclay referred to the Book of Revelation as a strange book.  Most people reading revelation would feel themselves projected into a different world.  Not only is revelation different, it is notoriously difficult to understand. It is important to understand that John wrote this book to bring us infinite rewards,  for it contains the blazing faith of the Christian Church in the days when life was an agony and people expected the end of the heavens and the earth as they knew them but still believed that beyond the terror was the glory and above human raging was the power of God.  Let us briefly examined the truth of the letter to the church at Thyatira.

The letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest letter to the church located in the least important city.  It contains the strongest commendation, yet it has the severest warning of all the letters.

The seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor reveal God’s will for the church.  If the church of Jesus Christ is to be the church triumphant, the believers must be overflowing with God’s love.  The church is warm and fresh and Christlike. They must possess the quality of loyalty, even unto death if necessary.  They will not compromise or be conformed to the world. They will be cleansed of moral impurities, as Jesus demands of the church at Thyatira.

It is God’s will that his church be clean.  Ephesians 5:25-26 says, “Christ also love the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water and by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  We cannot possibly be ready for the coming of Christ apart from a cleansed life. The letter to Timothy is a call from the living Christ to his church then and now to be cleansed. What is involved in such call?

In verse 18 Christ identifies himself as “the Son of God,”  thus speaking with authority. His “eyes like unto a flame of fire” suggest his penetrating insight into the church. He has the capacity to see who really are beneath the surface.  Only Christ knows what a life and a church are really like. He sees behind the closed doors of our lives, knows what we do when no one is around, and knows our inward motives.

As seen before, Christ’s “feet like unto fine brass” refer to his judgement on the church.  Brass is symbolic of judgment, and all things are under his feet, so he judges the church by his authority.  The Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us in the same firmness when he calls for cleansing in our lives.

In verse 19 Christ praises the believers with strong words of commendation for their life.  He praises their works in that they are an active body of Christ. They are not lazy. He praises their works of love.  This is agape love. God’s love in them and their love for God and one another. He praises their works of faith. This refers to their faithfulness, and it is their love that results in faithfulness.  He praises their works of ministry. This is love in action. It is their act of ministry in kindness and tenderness to other members of the body. He praises their works of patience. They accept their difficult situation from God without giving him a deadline to remove it.  He praises their works of progress. These works are more at the last, than at the first. The believers are growing spiritually. Their works are commendable, but there is something wrong.

The problem in the church is introduced in verse 20 by the word “notwithstanding.” There are few things to note about the problem.  First, not all the church was involved in it. Some of the people in the church were truly devoted to Jesus. Second, the problem was associated basically with one person, a prominent woman named Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess.  She was teaching others a way of life displeasing to the Lord of the church (v. 20).

The character of the woman is seen in her name, Jezebel.  As Jezebel of Old Testament times was an immoral woman intent on destroying the worship of God’s people (1 Kings 16:31; 2Kings 9:22), so was this woman in the Thyatira church.  She was in a place of leadership, and was influencing others to commit immorality. She was stubborn, defiant, and just downright unwilling to respond to spiritual warnings (v. 21).  She was a “teacher” of the deep things of Satan (v. 24) and a “seducer” of other Christians to violate God’s commands (v. 20) She was not submissive to the revealed mind of Christ for the church concerning fornication and eating meat offered to idols (acts 15:28)  This church truly had a problem!

How is it possible for this to occur in a church for whom Christ had such strong commendation?  One answer is that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). Another answer is that false teachers dress up in Christians clothing to deceive the church (Matt. 7:15).  We need to be spiritually alert.

The problem in the church was not this woman only; it was also the attitude of the church itself.  The church was too easy-going and lacking in discipline.

The Lord of the church had given instructions and warnings, and now it was time for correction.  He could not allow Jezebel’s influence to continue. Verse 22 and 23 describe her punishment. Verse 22 says he will cast her “into a bed,” that is, afflict her with illness or disease.  Next he will bring “great tribulation,” some heavy pressure that will be in the form of punishment. Finally, he will bring death to all her followers (v. 23). There is no way to escape the eyes for the Lord and the reach of his hand on our lives!

So what does God’s Word say about purity in the church?  From Ephesians 5 come some directions. We are to walk in love, not lust (vv 2-3).  We are to walk as children of light, not children of darkness (vv. 2-3). We are not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; rather, we are to reprove them (vv. 11-12).  First Thessalonians four says we are to seek the most thorough moral purity. First Corinthians 6:18-20 calls us to the full dedication of our bodies to the Lord as temples of the Holy Spirit.  Second Corinthians 6:17-18 says that we are to live separate lives, touching no unclean things. Any way you look at it, Christ is to be characterized by moral purity.

Therefore we are to look on moral impurity as a cancer in the church that must be dealt with.  And the only way it can be dealt with it to repent of our sins, taking any necessary steps in cleansing and restitution.  Doing so will set the church free!

When the church responds in repentance and obedience to the Spirit, three promises from Christ come into reality.  First, there is the promise of no other burden: “I will not impose any other burden on You” (2:24 NIV). The truth already given is enough.  The principle of God’s Word by which they are to live has already been given. Second, there is the promise of victory over enemies. “Power over the nations” is given by which they shall be ruled with a rod of iron.  Both now and in the future, as believers who overcome, we share in Christ’s authority over the world. And third, there is the promise of the presence of Christ himself: “I will give him the morning star.” Jesus Christ is the Morning Star! We overcome in him as we are obedient to his works.

A cleanse life and a cleansed church are Christ’s way to victory.  He wants every believer, spiritual leader, and family to live clean lives.  “Whoever has ears, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:29 NIV).  God bless you this morning.

“God’s Favor at Christ Expense”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER

MAY 5, 2019

Title: “God’s Favor at Christ’s Expense”

Text: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Scripture Reading:  Ephesians 1:3-12

One of the most familiar words in the Christian’s vocabulary is the word grace.  Many years ago, a theologian, tongue in cheek, wrote a book titled Grace Is Not a Blue-Eyed Blonde,” trying to shock us into realizing that we throw around many theological terms and words, not truly understanding what they mean.

The word grace and its related words appear in Holy Scriptures about two hundred times.  The first reference to grace is found in Genesis 6:8, where we read that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”  The final appearance of the word in the Bible is recorded in Revelation 22:31: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”  Indeed, one needs a firm grasp on the doctrine of grace, for it is the foundation on which the other doctrines rest.

The concept of grace.

To begin with, let us examine the word itself.  In the original language of our New Testament, the word implies a favor freely done.  The word for “gift” springs from the same root. The Greeks used this word to describe favor shown to a friend.  When Jesus came and died on the cross, grace leaped from its confinement as an expression only to friends and included enemies as well.  As Paul said, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had much to say about Christians’ relationships with their fellow humans.  He said some terribly hard things: “Love your enemies!” And in his concern that our “love” for enemies would degenerate into an artificial emotion, he said: “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).  

We need to understand that grace goes beyond our salvation.  Grace becomes the spring from which all blessings flow from God.  In other words, he who saves us by grace also brings us into the sphere of grace and endows us with all the blessings and favors that accompany this divine expression of love.  In fact, this attitude of God was hinted at in the Old Testament: “It shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear: for I am gracious” (Exodus 22:27). Similar expressions are also found in Nehemiah 9:17 and Jonah 4:2.  Paul wrote in Romans 5 that God abounds in grace. The word translated “abound” means to “exist in superabundance.” All of God’s dealings with his people are filtered through his marvelous grace! Thus we can be eternally grateful that God deals with us through grace not justice.

The Sufficiency of grace.

God’s grace is all sufficient.  It is true simply because grace comes to us from the glorious and transcendent nature of God himself.  It is one of his infinite attributes, and it is the result of the eternal counsel and purpose of his will.  We must not forget that grace is an act, not just a favor or gift from God. God reveals what God is as well as what he does.  

Grace comes through Christ.  There is no other way that humankind could have received the grace of God.  Jesus’ life on earth was a platform from which grace was displayed. The writer of hebrews summed it up this way: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9).

Paul spoke of the riches of God’s grace.  What are some of these riches? When God freely gives sinners eternal life through grace, he credits them with a perfect righteousness.  That is, when God observes Christians, sinners saved by grace, he sees them not in their continued imperfections and sins, but clothed in the righteousness that we imputed to them through their faith in Jesus Christ! Ephesians 2:19-20 tells us a lot.  This elevates Christians to an impregnable position with God. A further provision of God’s all sufficient grace is that it makes us to be “at peace with God” (Romans 5:1-2). This means that there has been brought about a reconciliation, creating an insoluble bond between God and the redeemed.  Also, a vital benefit of God’s grace is the believer’s accessibility to God through prayer. Christians are enjoined to “come boldly” to the throne of grace to make their requests known of God (Hebrews 4:16).

The Scope of Grace.

Paul in Titus 3:4-7, told Titus that grace is God’s grace is for “all men.”  Someone has said that if you take the g from grace you have the word race.  Grace is for all within the human race, for all stand on one common ground: Namely, that of being sinners.  Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). From beginning to end, the gospel presents the universality of God’s grace.

There is one thing we must understand clearly about God’s grace.  Grace does not imply that God passes by any person’s sin or takes it lightly.  Sin is so horribly base in God’s sight that he can in no way tolerate it. God sees the sinner utterly ruined, hopeless, and helpless.  And the triumph of grace is seen at Calvary, where heaven’s love and heaven’s justice meet. There Christ bore the curse of human sin, and with God’s hatred against sin vindicated on the basis of his grace, he can now forgive the sinner!

I read that Sir Edwin Landseer was one of the most famous painters of the Victorian era. His talent developed early, and he had the first showing of his work at the Royal Academy when he was just thirteen years old. He was commissioned to do a number of official portraits of the royal family, and even gave private drawing lessons to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. But he was best known for his depictions of the natural settings and life in the Scottish highlands.

One day as he was visiting a family in an old mansion in Scotland, one of the servants spilled a pitcher of soda water, leaving a large stain on the wall. While the family was out for the day, Landseer remained behind. Using charcoal, he incorporated the stain into a beautiful drawing. When the family returned they found a picture of a waterfall surrounded by trees and animals. He used his skill to make something beautiful out of what had been an unsightly mess.

God works in much the same way in our lives. The things that we think of as weaknesses and handicaps can, through His grace, become our greatest strengths—and the very things He uses the most to bring glory to Himself. God’s grace provides the strength to meet every challenge and overcome every weakness.

It is important to understand that grace is God’s part and faith is our part.  We simply accept, by faith , the grace of God. We do not grow into grace, but we do grow in grace.  Once we are made sharers of divine grace, it becomes a progressive force in our lives. Grace is not just a seed in the heart that lies dormant, but a blade, an ear, then the full corn in the ear.  As the roots spread, the plant grows!

The scope of God’s grace forever widens.  As Christians start to grow in grace, they grow in spiritual stature toward God and grow smaller and smaller in their own eyes.  Through grace, one grows out of self-conceit, for grace subdues self. Furthermore, growing in grace means that all of the virtues of the Christian life grows proportionately.  Growing in grace means acquiring the fruits of the Spirit Paul described in Galatians 5:22-23. These fruits being love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness and the list goes on. It means growing proportionately.  As we grow in grace, the growth of corruption is hindered. The flower of grace prevent the weeds of sin from spreading.

The hymnist Robert Robinson wrote one of the great hymns of the church, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  In one verse he wrote:

“O to grace how great a debtor,

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let that grace now like a fetter,

Find my wandering heart to thee.”

There once was a ship in distress on the high seas because its water simply had run out.  The crew was in danger of dying from thirst though there was water all around them. When hope was almost gone, they sighted a ship in the distance.  At once they sent up distress signals. The only answer they got, as they signaled to the passing ship that they were without water, was, “Dip it up!”  What heartless mockery to tell those sailors to dip up buckets of salt water! They signaled again, but the same answer came back, “Dip it up!”

In despair, they lowered a bucket.  Imagine their amazement and joy when the water proved to be freshwater!  They thought they were yet on the high seas, but they had drifted into the mouth of the Amazon River.  

This is the way it is with the grace of God.  Countless souls are dying of spiritual thirst everyday, when all around them there is available the saving grace of God.  All they need to do is, by faith, “dip it up”! God’s grace is bountiful. God’s grace is sufficient. God’s grace is universal and covers all humankind.  May the grace of God be with you all. God bless you!!!

“Now Is the Time”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER

APRIL 28, 2019

Title:  “Now Is the Time”

Text: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14).

Scripture Reading: Romans 13:11-14.

No doctrine in the Bible is more important than the doctrine of repentance. It is more important , for it is the gatekeeper of heaven.  Before people can be reconciled to God through his Son, Jesus Christ, they must experience repentance. The experience of David recorded in Psalm 51 is a classic illustration of genuine repentance.  One almost feels that he or she is intruding on a scene that is extremely private and personal, for David is writing in the agony of remorse and sorrow. He has faced sin in his life, with all the veneers of human excuses stripped away.  His soul is naked before God, and he sees himself stained and distorted before his Creator. We watched in breathless wonder as this helpless man deals with a problem that clearly has no human solution, for he is guilty of sins that put him beyond the remedy provided by the law of his day.  It is with stunned amazement that we watch David work through an experience that resulted in the cleansing of his soul and the restoration of peace and joy in his life. As we look the issue of sin and repentance this morning, we can use David’s experience. We can plot David’s journey down the highway of repentance.

The first thing we pick up from David is the realization of sin.  Before we observe the “breakthrough” in David’s life, the moment when he came to realize his sin, let us set the stage historically.  We look in on a court scene in Jerusalem with Israel’s greatest king sitting on the throne. David has been divinely chosen and anointed for the task of being God’s king to rule over his people.  He had also become the nation’s spiritual leader. God had promised him that his house would be established forever. God had blessed him; his kingdom had flourished; and his armies had soundly defeated Israel.

But in the midst of all this victory and luxury, David saw and wanted and took for himself the beautiful wife of Uriah.  Any other king in the world could have done this without a whisper of blame on himself. But David was Jehovah’s anointed! Before the sordid story was over, murder was added to the picture as David had Uriah conveniently placed on the front line of battle so that he would be killed.  Thus adultery and murder clung like soot to David’s soul. For almost a year, David endured the lashing of his conscience. But one day the fearless prophet Nathan came with that brief powerful story of the neighbor who had one sheep, which was stolen by the man with many. A dagger was thrust into David’s soul when Nathan said, “Thou art the man!”

There would be no story to tell if something marvelous had not happened.  Instead of rejecting Nathan’s hot words of accusation and ordering the prophet executed for his presumption, the process was triggered that resulted in David’s rising again.  Someone had suggested that David’s sin must have called for a great celebration in the Devil’s domain, for David must have been the one person in the entire world, Satan longed to have in his clutches.  And now this great man lay morally and spiritually trapped and bound and ruined! David, the spiritual leader of God’s chosen people, was out of the fight!

The second thing here is the agony of turning. David’s first reaction, following the shock of Nathan’s accusation, was a cry of forgiveness.  “Have mercy upon me, O God,” David cried. God is ever monitoring the channel on which people cry for mercy, and he sends instant relief when people call.

It important to note David’s pattern of thought: his first move was to speak out before God his particular and specific acts of sin.  He used three words to describe his sin: transgression, which means rebellion, deliberately settings oneself against the will and laws of God, a calculated sin of high treason against the sovereign of the universe, iniquity, that which distorts one’s reason: and sin, which means “missing the mark.” or failure.

Then David used three words of action, indicating that he wanted God to do something for him that he could not do for himself.  David said, “blot out my transgression. “Washed me thoroughly.” David said, “cleanse me.” “Blot out” means to erase from the record ; “wash me” indicates David’s realization that his whole being was defiled and needed a divine scrubbing; “cleanse me” reflect his desire to be absolutely clean inside and out.

Following David’s cry for mercy, David sincerely confessed his sin: “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”  Nathan had said, “thou art the man!” Now David was saying, “Lord, I am the man.” He assume all responsibility for his sin; he did not blame his ancestors or Bathsheba as an accomplice in his sin.  He declared that he alone, was responsible for what he did.

David prayed hard not only that he might be received into God’s presence again.  As David bared his soul before God, he saw what a vile, sinful person he had been.  Now he wanted God to purify him, his whole sin defiled being! He wanted God to sprinkle hyssop  on him. Hyssop was an aromatic oil used to spray those who had had leprosy or some other loathsome disease.  Not only did the hyssop serve as a deodorizer, but sprinkling it was also a symbolic act whereby one was cleansed for God’s presence.

David reached the climax of his prayer.  It was the end of his journey down the road of repentance, when he prayed for a new heart and a new life.  In Psalm 51:10 David is saying in essence: Lord, because of this terrible things I have done, you must assume your role of creator again for me!  I must have a new heart! I have damaged the old one beyond repair. David is saying the scars are two hideous. Do your work all over again. David asked God to give him a new heart.  In the 10 verse of this psalm, David lays the foundation for the New Testament doctrine of the New Birth. David recognizes the strategic importance of being born again. David’s mental, moral, and spiritual self must be renewed by the creative touch of God.

One can also check out the glory of the restoration.  A note of positive, and a ringing assurance appear in David’s words.  Purge me with hyssop, and I will be whiter than snow. David’s hope lay in the fact that God is God who keeps his words and who is as good as his promises.  He is God who keeps his covenant with his people. When this hope dawns in a person heart, life begins, for this a truth to live by and a truth to die by.

What was the natural result of David’s experience of repentance and forgiveness of sins?  It was the same first impulse that every saved individual has to tell others about his glorious newly discovered remedy for soul sickness.  Note again his assurance: “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” David vowed that he would spend the rest of his life telling others about God’s grace and urging sinners to come to the only source of life and cleansing.  David would be an evangelist, a seeker of the lost people, and an announcer of good news to those who languished and sin.

In summary, we find that four ingredients constituted David’s response or repentance: humiliation, contrition, confession, and transfiguration.  The Holy Spirit convicts people and brings them to a state humiliation, to an expression of contrition, and to the point confession. Then the biggest miracle of all transpires when, as a result of these preparatory experiences, they are transformed by the power of God.  it my prayers that w all will realize that the resurrection of Christ gives way to repentance. It helps us to clothe ourselves with Christ, thereby killing our fleshly desires. God bless you.

“The Difference of the Resurrection”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

EASTER SUNDAY

APRIL 21, 2019

Title: “The Difference of the Resurrection.

Text: “Then the same day at evening the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in their midst, and saith unto them, peace be unto you.  And when he had said so, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19-20.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the badge of authority for the Christian faith.  On Calvary Jesus suffered and died for the sins of humanity. There were three crosses on that Good Friday.  What gave validity to the life and words of the man on the central cross? It was the resurrection. When he arose from the grave, the world had to acknowledged that all of his former words and deeds were true.

This is the secret of the resurrection: It gives Christianity its stability.  Actually, the symbol of Christianity is more an empty tomb than a cross. The empty tomb gives meaning to the cross.  That is the difference of the resurrection! Were it not for the empty tomb, the cross would have been a tragedy. That is the difference of the resurrection.

It was only right that the witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial were also witnesses of his resurrection.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first to receive news of the risen Lord and to encounter him. They had been at the cross; they had been there when he was laid in the tomb; and now they received love’s reward-they were the first to know the joy of the resurrection.    

Jesus resurrection did not happen without resistance from the enemies of righteousness.  They remembered that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead, and they remembered it before it occurred.  Thus they sealed his tomb (Matthew 27:63). It is sad to note on the other hand that the disciples did not remember Jesus’ words until after his resurrection (Luke 24:8).  With the dread of a potential resurrection of Jesus Christ in his enemies’ mind, they proceeded to try to prevent any incident that might lead people to believe that the resurrection actually occurred. People would try to influence us from believing anything about the resurrection, it is the power of the resurrection that gives us courage to stand up for what we believed.

When we read Matthew’s account of the resurrection, one would see attempts to prevent the resurrection.  We see paltry people struggling against eternal truth. They imagined the Lord to be a deceiver and the disciples to be cunning men with a scheme to make the resurrection appear to be real.  They took it upon themselves to try to prevent the resurrection, an event that would make the populace think that Christ was raised from the dead. We will see that religious teachers in ignorance and malice tried to prevent the resurrection.  They had come to Pilate out of hatred and ignorance seeking to destroy Jesus (Matthew 12:14). Now that he had been killed, they were going to see that his deathly defeat remained a reality. They approached the cowardly Pilate knowing that they could manipulate him.

Pilate in uncaring complacency played along.  Pilate had seen and heard enough about Jesus Christ.  He certainly did not want a rumour circulating about Jesus’ resurrection, so he gave the chief priests and Pharisees a detachment of soldiers, concurred in their efforts to secure the tomb, and issued the weakest statement of encouragement the world had ever known.  Pilate said, “Make the tomb as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:65 NIV). What a scene of futility: mere men seeking to secure a tomb that God himself had declared would be opened (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19).

The soldiers in regimental obedience try to abate this process. The soldiers acted with regimented obedience as they sought to carry out Pilate’s command.  They went to the grave site and made sure the rock was sufficiently placed in the tomb’s entrance. They then sealed the rock, thus making it a trespass against the law of the Roman government for the tomb to be opened. They, to make certain the edict was enforced, the soldiers stood guard by the tomb. But still, this did not stop the resurrection from occurring.  Jesus Christ rose from the grave. The tomb is empty. That is the difference of the resurrection! People will try to steal our joy of the risen Lord, our resolve to stand our ground and do God’s work.

The first two Scottish missionaries sent to the New Hebrides Islands were killed and eaten by cannibals on the day they arrived. After that it proved difficult to find missionary volunteers. But even when John G. Paton agreed to go, well-meaning people in the church tried to dissuade him. One elderly man warned that he would be eaten by cannibals. Paton replied, “I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.” After fifteen years of fruitful ministry, almost everyone on the island of Aniwa where Paton ministered was converted.

Serving God is not a guarantee of an easy life. But we are called to a life of service, even if it means giving up everything. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

The difference of the resurrection is that it assures us of a living Christ.  Jesus assured the early disciples of his presence. Jesus showed himself to the apostles to satisfy them of the reality of his resurrection.  Later he appeared to Thomas to convince him.

Scripture records eleven different approaches to Jesus during the forty days between his resurrection and ascension.  Reading the narratives of the appearances of the risen Christ, we are struck with the fact that the Christ whom people saw was certainly the same person they had known days earlier.

Jesus continues to assure people of his continued presence. If Christ is risen, people can continue to encounter him.  R. W. Dale, a great preacher from Birmingham, England, described how one day while he was writing an Easter sermon, the fact of the resurrection broke in on him as it never had before.  The reality of the resurrection came as a burst of sudden glory. He said, “Christ is alive? The evangelist paused again and said. “Christ is alive!” This reality made a difference in his life and can also make a difference in our lives today.

One other difference of the resurrection is that Christ brings us immortality. Jesus defeated death.  Throughout his ministry, Jesus affirmed that he ruled over all powers, including death itself. He assured his disciples that even if he died he would rise again.  “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priest and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21 NIV). When Jesus died on the cross, death felt that it held its prey.  But Jesus rose from the grave, he proved that death had been defeated. The living Lord gives us victory over death. Since Christ won the victory over death, his followers share his victory. “Because I live, ye shall also” (John 14:19). Easter morning brought immortality to light.

When Jesus Christ resurrected he assigned us a task.  Jesus assigned the disciples a task. Jesus appeared to the Eleven and gave them an assignment: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus commissioned these men to go out and make the kingdom of the world into the kingdom of God.

The risen Christ has also given us a task.  Modern disciples also have been entrusted with a task: We are to continue Jesus’ ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit within us can enable us to be Jesus’ witnesses by word and deed. His abiding presence can enable us to awaken people to the depth and urgency of their need.  By God’s power, we can lead people to Jesus, the one in whom their needs can be met.

It is a difference of the resurrection that the risen Christ brings us sustenance for life.  Jesus Christ after he was risen helped the disciples in number of ways after the tragic event of the cross.  Thomas doubted. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus gave in to depression. Peter and some other disciples thought the cause of Christ was lost, so they returned to fishing.  Jesus ministered to their needs during the forty days after the resurrection, renewing, strengthening, and sustaining them. The risen Christ sustains us during life’s trials. Those who respond to the Lord in faith find comforting presence as they pass through times of conflict and suffering.  Let us rely on the resurrection for its difference are obvious.The difference of the resurrection is that the resurrection assures us of a living Christ. The resurrection brings us immortality.  The resurrection assigns us a task. The resurrection brings us sustenance in the trials of life. “I serve a Risen Savior, he is in the world today. I know that he is living, no matter what men may say.  I see his hands of mercy and hears his voice of praise. Whenever Ie need him, he is always near. He Lives! He Lives! Christ Jesus Lives Today. He walks with him, and talks with him along the narrow way! He Lives! He Lives! Salvation to impact.  You ask me how he live, He lives within my heart!” God bless you!

“What Is Your Attitude?”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

5TH SUNDAY IN LENT/PALM SUNDAY

APRIL 14, 2017

Title: “What is your Attitude?”

Text: “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19: 37-38).

Scripture Reading: Luke 19:28-40.

The story is told of how every day, an old man sat in his rocking chair with his granddaughter outside a petrol station, greeting tourists who passed through their town. One day, a man who seemed to be looking for somewhere to live asked, “So what sort of town is this?” “What sort of town do you come from?” the old man replied. The tourist answered, “Everyone criticises everyone. It’s really bad.” “That’s just the way it is here,” said the old man. A few days later, another man asked, “So what sort of town is this?” “What sort of town do you come from?” the old man replied again. The tourist answered, “It’s great. Everyone gets along so well.” “That’s just the way it is here,” said the old man. After the man left, the granddaughter said, “How come you told the first guy this was a bad place to live, and the second guy this is a great place to live?” “Because wherever you go, you take your attitude with you, and that’s what makes it good or bad.”

We all have attitudes about the things in our lives.  We can have a positive attitude. We can have a negative attitude.  We can have an attitude about love or an attitude of hate. We can even have an attitude of indifference.  What is important is the attitude we have about the circumstances we encountered in our lives. Our attitude is what cause us to view the circumstances in our lives as a blessings or a curse. Our attitude will determine situations that will affect us, our families, those around us, and even our lives.  Our attitude is a choice. Each one of us will not know what we will run into, but we can determine our attitude towards whatever it is, or whatever it is going to be.

Our attitude is a choice. It is something that’s very valuable, because it lets us be in control of how we feel inside. If attitude was not a choice, we could not follow Christ, because Jesus requires of us some unexpected attitudes in certain situations. Have you ever had anyone tell you, you need to change that attitude or get rid of that attitude as soon as possible? Having a bad attitude or a poor attitude can really destroy relationships and will hurt us in the long run.

Charles Swindoll said this about attitude, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of Attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important: than facts, than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do, than appearances, than giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one thing we have, and that is our Attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90%  of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.”

Palm Sunday is a time to examine our attitude towards each other, but more importantly towards Jesus.  The first Palm Sunday occurred during the PassOver. Jerusalem is filled with people from all walks of life.  It was not about a parade. It was not about a king coming to town. It was about a prominent Jewish festival.  But Jesus appeared in the picture. Jesus chose to ride a donkey on that day. The people were surprised. God word tells us in the four synoptic gospel that Jesus riding on a donkey during the Passover “cause great stir in the city.” Huge crowd of people had gathered.  In the crowd were people with different attitudes. There were those who are committed, and true followers of Jesus. These were people who have flaws and weakness but wants Jesus to rule their lives. They had the attitude of gratitude, attitude of praise, and attitude of service.  There were others in the crowd who might encountered Jesus, heard about his miracles, but not the king they were expecting. They were excited about a Messiah, but were disappointed about Jesus. Those with positive attitudes towards Jesus is what matters the most. Let us see this morning how our attitude match up with those in the crowd.

Now Jesus has less than a week to live, and He knows it fully well. He has finally decided to make it known publicly that He is the long awaited Messiah, the King that God’s people has been waiting for, for hundreds of years. We read in the Old Testament a prophecy about a King who would come into the city riding on a colt. Zechariah predicted it would happen over 500 years before Jesus was born. The time had finally come and Jesus was ready to take the next step. Can he count on everybody’s cooperation?

He’s starting to get ready for his whole reason for being, which was to obey God the Father. He calls his disciples and chooses two of them. In Luke 19:30-31 Jesus said,  “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ’Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ’The Lord needs it.’” Now the word Lord here, is the name for God which is found in the Old Testament.

So Jesus is saying, tell them “God is about to do something great with it” Now here’s the first opportunity for an attitude. Suppose you had been there as one of the disciples. Would you have gotten upset and became envious that Jesus chose those two and not you? Some kind of miracle is going to take place with this colt. Why do they get to be the ones to go?

Few things are as damaging to the body of Christ, than people having the attitude, “I should have gotten that part, or my child should have had that part.” The attitude of envy causes us to say things about others that should never be said. We question their motives, their hearts, and their intentions. We forget that we are called the body of Christ, not the interchangeable parts of Christ. Jesus does not treat us the same, because He has different roles and ministries for each of us to fulfill. Some of us would have said, “if he was going to do it for the two, then he should have done it for the 12. That’s the only way to be fair.”

Sometimes we get upset with others over God’s call on their lives, when we do not understand what price they have paid to get to where they are. Sometimes God cannot use us in the spotlight, because we’re unwilling to pay the price to get there. Now here are these two disciples are going on the word of Jesus. As they are walking along, one of them probably said, “So how much money did Jesus give you for the colt.” The other said what, “I thought he gave you the money to pay for it.” What’s our attitude when God calls us to do something, but God does not give us anything to accomplish it with except His Word. All we know is that God told us to do it.

At the heart of Palm Sunday is Jesus’ desire to bring peace into our lives and to be willing to carry whatever burdens in life that are weighing us down. But the only way Jesus can complete his desire, is for us to allow him to march in and take over without having to fight us all along the way. Have you ever told God, ”you can march over there, but don’t come this way because I’m not yet ready to surrender.” Wherever Jesus is not fully welcome in our lives, is where the real battle is taking place for our attitudes. We’re doing all kinds of things hoping to find some peace, but God is saying, until you get your attitude together right here, you shall not have peace as you seek for it.

When the two disciples returned with the colt and the donkey, they placed their coats and garments upon the young colt to serve as a saddle for Jesus. This is one attitude of those who wanted to immediately offer Jesus the best that they had. They took off their coats and clothing and begin to lay it down the pathway as to form a royal carpet for the animals to walk on. They were not concerned that their clothes might not be reusable or that they would not be able to get them back. Their focus was on going all out to honor Jesus Christ. Is this your attitude when it comes to serving God? Lord you can count on me to give whatever I have without thinking about it. This was the attitude of the group that gave ‘above and beyond’ what was expected.

Then there was another group with another attitude at the parade that day. It’s the attitude of giving something good, even if it was not the best they could give. They kept their coats and clothing, but they were willing to go and cut down the palm branches and lay them down as a means of honoring and respecting Jesus. They are in the parade and they look pretty good.

This is where many people are in the church today. They’re doing a pretty good job, and investing themselves in the work of the Jesus, but they haven’t decided that all that I am truly belongs to God. They believe it as a head knowledge, but it is not a reality in their hearts. They are still not convinced that doing things God’s way is the best way to handle their lives.

Then there were those who were there, but they never actually became a part of the parade, they just sort of stood alongside the road and cheered a little bit. They were willing to take notice of Jesus and to even give him a handclap, but they were too concerned with other things to actually get involved. As soon as Jesus passed them by, they went on about their business as people do once the parade is gone.These are the people who claim to know Jesus, but are not committed in any church, nor do they seek to live the lives God has called them to live. Their attitude is, “well the Lord knows my heart.” The Lord does know our hearts, and what God has to say about our hearts should cause us to run and give our lives to Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, our hearts are in need of a major overhaul.

We can go on and on and point out different attitudes in the crowd on that Palm Sunday.  The most important thing to remember here this morning is “What is our attitude toward Jesus?  If our attitude toward Jesus is one of absolute acceptance, then let us join hands and shout “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” God bless you all!

“The Essence of Salvation”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

5TH SUNDAY OF LENT

APRIL 7, 2019

Title: “The Essence of Salvation”

Text: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Salvation is God’s gracious work of bringing people back to a right relationship with him.  One might say it is God’s rescue effort. When people realize their lostness and cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” there is only one answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 RSV).  The Bible says that there is salvation in no one else but in Jesus Christ.

Salvation is a rescue from lostness.

Every person who turns away from God or who has not known God is described as “lost.”  Luke 15 records Jesus parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. In all of these stories, the emphasis is on the lostness and a seeker who comes to save.  The gospel story is that God in heaven sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world and proclaim the simple story of God’s love so that people may be saved from their lostness.

You can understand salvation better if you have been lost at some time.  Have you ever been lost in the woods, in a large city, the desert, or at sea?  If you ever participated in the search for a lost person, you would experience how much you want to find that person.  Likewise, God in Christ comes to seek the lost. Why is God seeking the lost?

God is seeking the lost through salvation because it is God’s work of reconciling lost people to himself.  We need to think of salvation as God’s salvation. It is not something others do for us; it is something we do for ourselves; it is not even something we do along with God.  Rather, it is God’s work throughout. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith… and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

Elizabeth Keckley was a slave in Missouri before the Civil War. Her greatest desire was to purchase freedom for herself and her son. Her owner agreed that if she could raise $1,200 she could gain her freedom. Keckley worked as a seamstress and came up with a plan to go to New York City and work there to raise the money, but her owner feared that she would not return.

Instead, some of her wealthy clients in St. Louis contributed the money she needed, and Elizabeth Keckley paid the price for her freedom as well as her son’s. She moved to Washington, DC, where she counted Mary Lincoln among her dressmaking clients. Without the help of someone else, Keckley would never have been able to purchase her freedom.

All of us were enslaved to sin with no hope of ever gaining freedom. In mercy and compassion, Jesus gave His life for us, purchasing our salvation by shedding His blood on the cross. We are now free from sin, but that freedom does not mean that we do whatever we want. Instead we are to live how Jesus wants us to live.

The parables in Luke 15 stress that the shepherd went looking for the sheep that was lost, and this woman searched for the lost coin.  The father of the prodigal son could not forget. When the wayward son contemplated a return to the father, he was motivated by the awareness of his father’s character.  Again, salvation was in the seeker.

Salvation is reconciliation to God.  It is not something we get, but a relationship with God into which we enter.  People think too often of salvation in terms of going to heaven, and therefore they think it is something to obtain.  A rich young ruler came to Jesus saying, “I have everything else. They tell me you have eternal life, How do I get it?”  Jesus told him that if he would enter into eternal life, he would have to give away all his wealth, take up his cross, and follow Jesus.  The young man failed in this not because he had wealth but because his wealth had him. In other words, he depended on wealth and would not depend on God.  Salvation is a relationship of depending on God. It is the acknowledgement that as God’s creatures we do not live in our own strength or on our own resources.  Rather, we live in the strength of God. So Paul is correct in his statement that salvation is reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

Salvation is from sin and self.  Salvation is release from the power of sin and self.  Sin may be described as unbelief or pride. In the first instance, unbelief is distrusting God or ceasing to trust God.  Adam and Eve came to God. This unbelief may also be seen as pride. Pride is humankind’s inordinate love for self or exaltation of self above God.  This overweening self-centeredness is the very essence of sin.

Therefore the only salvation that will deliver us from the tyranny of sin and self is the larger reconciliation to God our Creator.  All other efforts to break loose from the power of sin and self have met with failure, but Jesus Christ has delivered us from this tyranny (Romans 8:3).

It is important for us in Christianity to understand that the Christian faith knows “no other salvation.”  It is our command and privilege to announce the good news to every creature. We must offer salvation freely and guard against the temptation to offer people salvation providing they will join our faith or become part of our efforts.  Salvation is free in Jesus Christ. We must not add stipulations to it.

Further, we must constantly share the gospel because there is no other means of salvation.  We are in a seriously responsible position. A pastor told a story of how one night during the Korean War, the ship on which he was serving as chaplain received a message by radio that an aircraft had gone down in the sea near Okinawa.  The chaplain explained that their ship was the nearest ship, and they sped to the scene knowing that the pilot could not survive long in the water. The chaplain pointed out that they were the only salvation the pilot could expect. It was dark, but the chaplain and others knew the pilot would survive if he had some kind of light or flare with him if he had survive the crash.  Fortunately for everyone, the pilot was found floating in a life jacket and holding a flashlight in his hand. The chaplain recall all too well the joy both on the pilot’s part and theirs as the pilot was being pulled from the water.

As christian, we too were lost and had absolutely no chance of saving ourselves.  But God in his gracious love came seeking and saving us. Then he entrusted to us, whom he has already saved, the message of salvation for others. We will not escape if we neglect this great salvation.

R. A. Torrey narrated a story about D.L. Moody visit to a school he attended. When D. L. Moody visited New Haven in 1878, R. A. Torrey was a student in the University there. He said, “The ripest scholar in the University at the time, if not the ripest in America, was President Wolsey, Ex-President of Yale University. One night a young man went up to hear Mr. Moody preach and President Wolsey sat on the platform, and when they sang the old Gospel hymns, President Wolsey, himself a gray-haired scholar, joined in singing the hymns with all his heart. That young man said, ‘Well, if one of the greatest scholars in America can sing those hymns in that way, there certainly must be something in it,’ and he was converted, not through Mr. Moody’s preaching, but through President Wolsey’s singing.  Everyone was joyous of the young man’s conversion.

Salvation is a joyful experience.  In the parables of Luke 15, every instance of salvation is followed by rejoicing.  On the night the chaplain and the others pulled the pilot from the water, there was rejoicing.  The rejoicing was not just on the part of the pilot, but also those who pulled him out of the waters.  There was also rejoicing on the aircraft carrier when they received the radio message that the pilot had been found.  In the church, there is rejoicing when someone is saved. It costs us nothing to give away the good news, and it is like rescuing someone from the depths of the sea.

We are all surrounded by people who are lost.  We have the message of salvation. These lost people have no hope for salvation other than our message. We have the obligation to spread that message.   Let us immediately pledge to share that faith and to rejoice when the lost are saved. God bless you!

Intercessory Prayer: A Prayer Life of a Christian”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

MARCH 24, 2019

Title: “Intercessory Prayer: A Prayer of Life of a Christian.”

Text: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Colossians 4:2-5).

Scripture Reading: Luke 11:1-13.

The story is told of Hudson Taylor sailing to China to begin his missionary work. His ship was in great danger. The wind had died, and the current was carrying them toward sunken reefs which were close to islands inhabited by cannibals—so close they could see them building fires on the shore. Everything they tried was to no avail. In his journal Taylor recorded what happened next: The Captain said to me, “Well, we have done everything that can be done.” A thought occurred to me, and I replied, “No, there is one thing we have not done yet.” “What is that?” he queried. “Four of us on board are Christians. Let us each retire to his own cabin, and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze.”

Taylor prayed briefly and then, certain that the answer was coming, went up on the deck and asked the first officer to let down the sails. “What would be the good of that?” he answered roughly. I told him we had been asking a wind from God; that it was coming immediately. Within minutes the wind did began to blow, and it carried them safely past the reefs. Taylor wrote: “Thus God encouraged me ere landing on China’s shores to bring every variety of need to Him in prayer, and to expect that He would honour the name of the Lord Jesus and give the help each emergency required.”

Knowing from this story that our prayers touch the heart of our loving Father in Heaven and that He can meet any need, we should be confident that He will hear and answer when we cry out to Him.

Jesus gave many instructions concerning the fact that his disciples would give themselves to the habit of prayer.  He gave them instructions concerning errors to avoid and procedures to follow in the practice of prayer. He warned them against praying like the hypocrites who looked upon prayer as a speech to be made to impress God and others.  He also warned them against praying like the pagans who repeated many empty phrases in an effort to impress their helpless and reluctant deities to hear their pious phrases. Jesus declared that such repetition is unnecessary because of the nature and character of the God they were worshipping.

Paul in our text this morning gave a great instruction about prayer.  Paul urges the church at Colossae and Christians everywhere to devote themselves to prayer.  But Paul also emphasize that prayers should be made for him and other believers. Praying for others is what we called intercessory praying.  It is important for us to let these words on prayers dwell on our hearts and encourage us as we give ourselves in the practice of prayers. Let us consider the reason why we should make intercessions.

It is important to give ourselves to prayer because, Jesus as the Son of God gave himself to prayer.  Jesus hungered for fellowship and for the strength that came through dialogue with the heavenly Father.  He assumed that, as the children of God, we would hunger and thirst for fellowship and would dialogue with the heavenly Father.

Jesus taught his disciples to think of God not as the eternal almighty exalted, but as “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Jesus did not teach his disciples to approach the throne of God as beggars for a castoff; he encouraged them to come into the presence of the eternal God as needy children approaching a wise and generous father.  

Jesus gave the command for each of us to pray because each of us has a violent and evil enemy in the devil.  Jesus had a personal experience with Satan at the beginning of his ministry (Matt. 41-11). Satan was his foe. Jesus describes the devil as his enemy and our enemy (Matt. 13:25, 28, 39).

Peter warned his readers about our enemy the devil (1 Peter 5:8).  James gave advice on how we can overcome the devil (James 4:7-8). John assured his readers that victory could be found through him who dwells within us (1 John 4:4).

Jesus knew that life would bring many troubles and hardships so he wanted us to be in the attitude of prayerful intercession.  Many of us never make any allowance for the possibility of the tragic and catastrophic happening in life. Suffering is in the pathway of each of us sooner or later.  Peter encourages us to bring our anxieties and burdens to the Lord because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Paul declared to the Philippians that by faith he had learned to be the master of the diverse circumstances that befell him (Phil. 4:11-13).

The future is a mystery for all of us.  Because we do not know what tomorrow holds, many of us feel the need to go into the closet of prayer to receive the strength we need and the assurance of the guidance of him who is the Light of the World (John 8:12). This is why we need to pray for each other.

It is important to pray because intercessory prayer brings the strength and the help of the Lord to those who wait on him in faith and faithfulness (Isaiah 40:31).  Our Lord gave himself continuously to the practice of praying for everyone. It restored the vital energies of God to his life as he faced life’s burdens and responsibilities.  It brought the freshness of God’s grace into his life continually. It is the testimony of saints of the past and present that, when we neglect the private place of prayer, we do so to our own impoverishment.

Intercessory prayer is basically praying for others, it is praying for God’s will to be done in the lives of other people. Intercessory prayers characterized the prayer life of Jesus. In Isaiah 53:12 the Bible says, He Himself bore the sins of many and, interceded for the transgressors.”

Luke 22:23 Jesus tells Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail;” Luke 23:34 on the cross, Jesus was praying for others when He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

John 14:15 Jesus interceded for us, asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit

John 17:19 He prayed for us, the church, in His High Priestly prayer. Listen to the intercessory nature of this prayer, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou has given Me . . . “

Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us.And Hebrews 7:25 says, “Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Jesus prayed intercessory prayers, He was ever praying for others.

Understanding the power of Prayer, Paul wanted to be sure the Colossian Christians understood what it was they were to pray for. He wanted them to pray with a specific purpose. He wanted them to pray for him, asking God to open a door so that they could speak the gospel. It was the gospel that Paul lived for, it was the preaching of the gospel that had landed Paul in prison, it was the preaching of the gospel that was ever on the forefront of Paul’s mind. You see, Paul wanted God’s kingdom to expand. Like Jesus, he was concerned about others, about their souls, their salvation and their sanctification.

It is instructive to note that Paul is not asking them to pray for his legal situation or that he would be released from prison. He is asking them to pray that he will have the opportunity to lead someone to Christ.

Paul wanted their prayers to be in accordance with God’s will not simply after the greedy desires of someone living for this world.

Paul was always concerned with doing the will of God. How many of our prayers are directed at the expansion of His eternal kingdom rather than the expansion of our petty kingdoms? If you were able to chronicle your prayers, knowing how much time you spent praying for different things, how much of your time would be spent praying for your family, for their health, for the health and well being of your loved ones, compared to how much time you were praying for the lost who are headed to hell?

Intercessory prayer changes things.

You see, when you pray for others, when you pray for God’s work to be done, for His will to be accomplished, He will begin to use you and grow you in ways that will astonish those around you. Sometimes I think we do not become what God wants us to become, because we are too focused on ourselves and not on others. It is when we pray for others that we will become more like Jesus, and as we become more like Jesus God will grow us more, show us more, and use us more.

We must pray for others. What does your prayer life look like this morning? Are you persistent in prayer? Are your prayers passionate or are they perfunctory? Are they filled with intensity and fervor or are they weak, timid and lacking faith? What about gratitude? How much time have you spent thanking God for all He has done for you? And who are you praying for? Is there anyone in your life that you are praying will get saved? Is there a burden on your heart to see God’s kingdom expand, to see His will done? Pray today and god will answer.  God bless you.

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

MARCH 24, 2019

Title: “Intercessory Prayer: A Prayer of Life of a Christian.”

Text: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Colossians 4:2-5).

Scripture Reading: Luke 11:1-13.

The story is told of Hudson Taylor sailing to China to begin his missionary work. His ship was in great danger. The wind had died, and the current was carrying them toward sunken reefs which were close to islands inhabited by cannibals—so close they could see them building fires on the shore. Everything they tried was to no avail. In his journal Taylor recorded what happened next: The Captain said to me, “Well, we have done everything that can be done.” A thought occurred to me, and I replied, “No, there is one thing we have not done yet.” “What is that?” he queried. “Four of us on board are Christians. Let us each retire to his own cabin, and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze.”

Taylor prayed briefly and then, certain that the answer was coming, went up on the deck and asked the first officer to let down the sails. “What would be the good of that?” he answered roughly. I told him we had been asking a wind from God; that it was coming immediately. Within minutes the wind did began to blow, and it carried them safely past the reefs. Taylor wrote: “Thus God encouraged me ere landing on China’s shores to bring every variety of need to Him in prayer, and to expect that He would honour the name of the Lord Jesus and give the help each emergency required.”

Knowing from this story that our prayers touch the heart of our loving Father in Heaven and that He can meet any need, we should be confident that He will hear and answer when we cry out to Him.

Jesus gave many instructions concerning the fact that his disciples would give themselves to the habit of prayer.  He gave them instructions concerning errors to avoid and procedures to follow in the practice of prayer. He warned them against praying like the hypocrites who looked upon prayer as a speech to be made to impress God and others.  He also warned them against praying like the pagans who repeated many empty phrases in an effort to impress their helpless and reluctant deities to hear their pious phrases. Jesus declared that such repetition is unnecessary because of the nature and character of the God they were worshipping.

Paul in our text this morning gave a great instruction about prayer.  Paul urges the church at Colossae and Christians everywhere to devote themselves to prayer.  But Paul also emphasize that prayers should be made for him and other believers. Praying for others is what we called intercessory praying.  It is important for us to let these words on prayers dwell on our hearts and encourage us as we give ourselves in the practice of prayers. Let us consider the reason why we should make intercessions.

It is important to give ourselves to prayer because, Jesus as the Son of God gave himself to prayer.  Jesus hungered for fellowship and for the strength that came through dialogue with the heavenly Father.  He assumed that, as the children of God, we would hunger and thirst for fellowship and would dialogue with the heavenly Father.

Jesus taught his disciples to think of God not as the eternal almighty exalted, but as “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Jesus did not teach his disciples to approach the throne of God as beggars for a castoff; he encouraged them to come into the presence of the eternal God as needy children approaching a wise and generous father.  

Jesus gave the command for each of us to pray because each of us has a violent and evil enemy in the devil.  Jesus had a personal experience with Satan at the beginning of his ministry (Matt. 41-11). Satan was his foe. Jesus describes the devil as his enemy and our enemy (Matt. 13:25, 28, 39).

Peter warned his readers about our enemy the devil (1 Peter 5:8).  James gave advice on how we can overcome the devil (James 4:7-8). John assured his readers that victory could be found through him who dwells within us (1 John 4:4).

Jesus knew that life would bring many troubles and hardships so he wanted us to be in the attitude of prayerful intercession.  Many of us never make any allowance for the possibility of the tragic and catastrophic happening in life. Suffering is in the pathway of each of us sooner or later.  Peter encourages us to bring our anxieties and burdens to the Lord because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Paul declared to the Philippians that by faith he had learned to be the master of the diverse circumstances that befell him (Phil. 4:11-13).

The future is a mystery for all of us.  Because we do not know what tomorrow holds, many of us feel the need to go into the closet of prayer to receive the strength we need and the assurance of the guidance of him who is the Light of the World (John 8:12). This is why we need to pray for each other.

It is important to pray because intercessory prayer brings the strength and the help of the Lord to those who wait on him in faith and faithfulness (Isaiah 40:31).  Our Lord gave himself continuously to the practice of praying for everyone. It restored the vital energies of God to his life as he faced life’s burdens and responsibilities.  It brought the freshness of God’s grace into his life continually. It is the testimony of saints of the past and present that, when we neglect the private place of prayer, we do so to our own impoverishment.

Intercessory prayer is basically praying for others, it is praying for God’s will to be done in the lives of other people. Intercessory prayers characterized the prayer life of Jesus. In Isaiah 53:12 the Bible says, He Himself bore the sins of many and, interceded for the transgressors.”

Luke 22:23 Jesus tells Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail;” Luke 23:34 on the cross, Jesus was praying for others when He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

John 14:15 Jesus interceded for us, asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit

John 17:19 He prayed for us, the church, in His High Priestly prayer. Listen to the intercessory nature of this prayer, “I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou has given Me . . . “

Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us.And Hebrews 7:25 says, “Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Jesus prayed intercessory prayers, He was ever praying for others.

Understanding the power of Prayer, Paul wanted to be sure the Colossian Christians understood what it was they were to pray for. He wanted them to pray with a specific purpose. He wanted them to pray for him, asking God to open a door so that they could speak the gospel. It was the gospel that Paul lived for, it was the preaching of the gospel that had landed Paul in prison, it was the preaching of the gospel that was ever on the forefront of Paul’s mind. You see, Paul wanted God’s kingdom to expand. Like Jesus, he was concerned about others, about their souls, their salvation and their sanctification.

It is instructive to note that Paul is not asking them to pray for his legal situation or that he would be released from prison. He is asking them to pray that he will have the opportunity to lead someone to Christ.

Paul wanted their prayers to be in accordance with God’s will not simply after the greedy desires of someone living for this world.

Paul was always concerned with doing the will of God. How many of our prayers are directed at the expansion of His eternal kingdom rather than the expansion of our petty kingdoms? If you were able to chronicle your prayers, knowing how much time you spent praying for different things, how much of your time would be spent praying for your family, for their health, for the health and well being of your loved ones, compared to how much time you were praying for the lost who are headed to hell?

Intercessory prayer changes things.

You see, when you pray for others, when you pray for God’s work to be done, for His will to be accomplished, He will begin to use you and grow you in ways that will astonish those around you. Sometimes I think we do not become what God wants us to become, because we are too focused on ourselves and not on others. It is when we pray for others that we will become more like Jesus, and as we become more like Jesus God will grow us more, show us more, and use us more.

We must pray for others. What does your prayer life look like this morning? Are you persistent in prayer? Are your prayers passionate or are they perfunctory? Are they filled with intensity and fervor or are they weak, timid and lacking faith? What about gratitude? How much time have you spent thanking God for all He has done for you? And who are you praying for? Is there anyone in your life that you are praying will get saved? Is there a burden on your heart to see God’s kingdom expand, to see His will done? Pray today and god will answer.  God bless you.

“The Prayer Life of a Christian”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

2nd SUNDAY IN LENT

MARCH 17, 2019

Title: “The Prayer Life of a Christian”

Text: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, o that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:2-6 NIV).

Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:2-6

D. L Moody used to tell the story on radio of a man who came to him and said, “When the Mexican war began I wanted to enlist. My mother, seeing I was resolved, said if I became a Christian I might go. She pleaded and prayed that I might become a Christian, but I wouldn’t. I said when the war was over I would become a Christian, but not till then.

“All her pleading was in vain, and at last, when I was going away, she took out a watch and said: My son, your father left this to me when he died. Take it, and I want you to remember that every day at 12 o’clock your mother will be praying for you. Then she gave me her Bible, and marked out passages, and put a few different references in the leaflets. I took the watch and the Bible just because my mother gave them. I never intended to read the Bible.

“I went off to Mexico, and one day while on a long, weary march, I took out my watch, and it was 12 o’clock. I had been gone four months, but I remembered that my mother at that hour was praying for me. Something prompted me to ask the officer to relieve me for a little while, and I stepped behind a tree away out on those plains of Mexico, and cried to the God of my mother to save me.”  God saved him, and after the Mexican war was ended, he said, “I have enlisted again to see if I can do any good for my Master’s cause.”

Prayer is, for the most part, a resources that is not tapped. It is an unexplored continent where untold treasure remains to be unearthed. It is talked about more than anything else , and practiced less than anything else. And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gift our Lord has given us outside of salvation.

In 1952, Albert Einstein was delivering a lecture on the campus of Princeton University. A doctoral student asked the famous scientist “What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?” With considerate thought and profundity Einstein replied, “Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.”

Paul was somebody who understood prayer and its power. Prayer was a part of Paul’s life, and he took it for granted that it would be a part of the life of every Christian. You cannot really be a good Christian and not pray, just like you cannot have a good marriage if you don’t talk to your wife. You can be a Christian and not pray, just like you can be married and not talk to your wife. But in both circumstances you will be miserable. Prayer is the pipeline of communication between God and His people, between God and those who love Him.

The first thing we ought do is to always pray with persistence

Paul begins by saying, “Devote yourselves to prayer,” (NASB) or “Continue earnestly in prayer,” (NKJV). In the original language it says, “continue steadfastly in prayer.” The word translated, “continue steadfastly,” is one word in the original language. It can be translated, “persist in, adhere firmly to, or remain devoted to or to give unremitting care to.” It carries with it the idea of dedication. Of the ten times it is used in the New Testament four of them have to do with being devoted to prayer. It is a very powerful word and in this verse is given as an imperative, or a command. In other words, persistence in prayer is not an option for the Christian it is an order from the Lord Himself.

Two of the most instructive parables Jesus ever told on prayer, one in Luke 18 and the other in Luke 11, both have to do with being persistent and not giving up in prayer.  Luke 18:1 says, “Now He was telling them a parable to show them that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” Luke 11:9 is where we find the promise that says, “ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” Each of those verbs are in the present tense, active voice and could be translated, “keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.” Jesus does not want us to give up in prayer, He instructs us to be persistent.

Now there is a difference between a persistent prayer and a long prayer. A person who is persistent in prayer does not necessarily have to pray for a long time. Persistence means not giving up.

Some people give up easy, they quit because they say they don’t feel like praying, the joy is gone, the feeling is gone. But we are not to live by our feelings but to live by the commandments of our Lord who tells us to pray without ceasing.

George Muller, known as one of the greatest prayer warriors of all times had this to say about persistence in prayer: Do not give Satan the chance to steal your joy in reading the Word and praying.  Because he is persistent, be persistent also.

Be persistent in prayer.

The second important mark of a Christian prayer life is to pray with passion.

If you are persistent in something, it stands to reason that you are to be passionate about it. In fact, Paul says we should be vigilant or be watchful; it is the opposite of slothfulness. This describes passionate prayer.

Jesus was passionate about His prayer life, it was something He was always doing.

S.D. Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, says,  “How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.”

And every time we see Jesus praying He was praying with passion. In Luke 3:1 at His Baptism – while He was praying the heaven was opened. Passionate prayer opens Heaven. In Luke 6:12 before He called His disciples – He spent the whole night in prayer. Passionate prayer gives direction. In Luke 9:29 at His transfiguration – And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. Passionate prayer enables us to experience the glory of the Father. In John 17 in His high priestly prayer – Passionate prayer impacts the lives of others. In Matthew 26:39 in the Garden of Gethsemane – It is only through passionate prayer that we can pour out our hearts to God. In Luke 23:24 as He hung on the cross – a life that is lived in passionate prayer will enable us to maintain that spirit, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Jesus always prayed with passion, because He knew Who it was He was talking to and He knew that prayer to the Father is a powerful thing and not something to take lightly and glibly.

Prayer from the heart, that’s what passionate prayer is, it is prayer from the heart not just from the head. That is how He taught us to pray, not only through His example, but specifically through His teaching Look in Matthew 6:7, in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus instructs on prayer. It is here that we find the Lord’s prayer. But just before the Lord’s prayer what does He say? “When you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do.”

What has happened to the Lord’s Prayer? People repeat it as if it were some kind of magic mantra that will bless them or move God to hear them. They are doing with it is exactly what He was instructing us not to do with it. The gentiles, when they prayed tried, through their religious repetitions, with their chants and their mantras to call forth or impress their Gods. That is not what you do when you are in a relationship.

You don’t tell your wife. “I love you, oh I really love you and I just wanted to tell you today that I love you, I’m so glad that I just have this time to just say I love you. Please feed the children, please clean the house and may all go well with you.” Amen

James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

The third mark of the prayer life of a Christian is to pray with thankfulness

Paul never fails to mention it. Ephesians 5:20 tells us that thanksgiving is the natural result of being filled with and walking under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Philippians 4:6 tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything we should pray, giving thanks as we make our petitions known to God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that giving thanks at all times is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.  Colossians 3:17 says that as believers everything we say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus as we give thanks to Him. 1 Timothy 4:4 – says that food and marriage are good things given to us by God and are to be received with thanksgiving and gratitude.

Be persistent, passionate and thankful in your prayer life.  God bless you.

“A Time for a New Beginning”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

MARCH 10, 2019

Title: “A Time for a New Beginning.”

Text: “And when he had taken some bread and given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20. And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20).

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:19-27.

Of the many things that the Lord’s Supper is, it is a time for beginning again.  It can be to the Christian life what a mid-course correction is to a spaceship.

Imagine that it was possible to make a direct shot to the moon without orbiting the earth.  Imagine also that there were no opportunity for an inflight correction. If, in the launching, the calculations were off just one degree, that space vehicle would miss the moon by almost 1.5 million miles!  We can begin to understand the importance of a mid-course correction in space travel. To drift off course in our spiritual lives, the Lord’s Supper can be an opportunity for us to make a mid-course correction and get back on track.  The Lord’s Supper is all of the following.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for a fresh dedication.

It is a fresh dedication to the will of God.  Perhaps some little sin has crept into your life and is causing you to drift off course from God’s will.  You may be only a fraction of a degree from dead center, but the farther you go with the miscalculation, the wider is the ever-increasing distance by which you will miss God’s will for your life.  The observance of this supper can be that time of in-flight correction that gets you back on course.

Jesus was always in the center of the Father’s will, but he used the occasion of the Last Supper to reaffirm his dedication to that will.  “This cup is…my blood, which is shed for you… and truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined” (Luke 22:20, 22).

The Lord’s Supper is also a time for fresh dedication to the task of witnessing.  The disciples were about to face the most strenuous period in their ministry. Christ chose to the supper as the climatic moment of his ministry before the cross to impart to them new determination for the trials ahead.

Perhaps someone is here at the very beginning of a spiritual journey. Trying to find your way with God is such an overwhelming task, it’s quite possible you might not know where to start. There’s so much to learn, so many steps of faith to take, so many things to do. Maybe you’ve seen someone in your family, or your circle of friends, or even in this church, who seems to be miles and miles ahead of you in a spiritual walk. Perhaps the whole idea of comfort and hope seems impossible, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.

In 1847, a boy named Homan Walsh went out to fly a kite. Homan was taking part in a kite-flying contest, so he brought his best kite, and plenty of string.

He stood on the Canadian bank of the Niagara River, letting more and more of that string go out, and his little-boy’s kite kept going higher, and higher, and higher … until it stretched nearly 1,000 feet. When a stranger on the American side of the Niagara Gorge grabbed Homan’s string, the crowd that had gathered let up a mighty roar. For the first time in history, people on opposite sides of this great gorge were holding onto the same string. And Homan won $5, the top prize in the contest.

There was much more than $5 at stake, however. In short order, the string was tied to a tree on the American shoreline, and a light cord tied to the Canadian end of the string. The cord was then pulled across the 800-foot span. A rope was tied to the cord, and pulled safely across. To the rope was attached a wire cable, and to the cable, a thicker cable attached. It was the beginning of an engineering victory over one of the greatest natural barriers that had separated Americans and Canadians.

Fifty-foot towers were built on each side of the river, and more cables became a part of the picture. In time, people rode across the river in buckets, for $1 each, and then they walked on a foot bridge for a quarter. But less than a year after Homan’s kite first flew across the river, people were safely riding their horse-drawn carriages across the Niagara, on a marvelous suspension bridge that hung 220 feet over the rushing water.

Eventually, there were 15 bridges that spanned the Niagara, six of which are in use today. The thousands of passengers that travel across the multi-lane, high-speed bridges today think nothing of the bridge, some of them so familiar with the path, they barely glance at the scenic view. More than likely, it has never occurred to most of those on the great bridges today that somewhere in the past, just to get this modern-day miracle under way, somebody had to fly a kite.

If great bridges can get their start with a boy’s kite and string, then I’ll tell you that great spiritual experiences can get their start with amazingly simple decisions.

The Lord’s Supper is one of the world’s simplest meals. From one vantage point, it might not seem much more significant than a boy flying a kite. It might seem little more than a string of a connection between you and God. My offer to you today is … make that connection. From the smallest beginnings can come great bridges of faith.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for self-examination.

Speaking about the Lord’s Supper in his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (! Corinthians 11:28 NIV).

Paul’s emphasis surely must have been on the words “themselves.”  We do not come to this hour to sit in judgment on others. We are not here to examine the lives of our fellow believers.  To partake of this supper in such a manner would be to eat and drink “unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:29).

A self-examination admits sin, whatever it may be and where it may be in our lives.  It is simply to be honest about ourselves before God.

Simon Peter’s failure to make such a self-examination may well explain his claim. “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33) I do not think he was hypocritical, nor was he deliberately telling a falsehood.  He simply failed to see himself as he really was, and a humiliating denial of Christ followed.

We may save ourselves many spiritual defeats if we will pause and examine ourselves.  Self examination should result in turning from our sin. We can accept the encouraging promise that “whosoever confessed and forsaketh (his sins) shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

The Lord’s Supper is a time for meditation on Christ’s death.

One of the main purposes of this ordinance is to meditate on Christ’s death.  Paul continuing to talk about the significance of the Lord’s Supper wrote in First Corinthians 11:26 NIV., “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Could it be that the reason we do not feel any greater obligation to Christ is that we seldom really meditate on his death? Looking on the broken and bruised body of Christ on the cross will have a sovereign influence on our lives.

It is a time for humility.  We will never admit our need to begin again as long as we are filled with pride.  Only the humble will say, “I am wrong: I have sinned. Forgive me, Lord and let me begin again.”

How soon the disciples returned to pride and littleness after the high hour of the Lord’s Supper! Luke 22:24-27 relates the strife that arose because these grown men, like little children, were arguing over “which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24).  This would be unbelievable if it were not such a common occurrence within the church today.

Christ reminded his disciples that the lost world, “the Gentiles,” were filled with such pride, but that as believers they were to emulate his humility of self-giving, which had just been dramatized through through the Last Supper.  

Would you like to stop right where you are and start all over again? If so, you have come to the right place at the right time, for the observance of the Lord’s Supper is a ime for fresh dedication, self-examination, meditation on the death of Christ, and humility.  If you would begin again, simply bow your head and tell the Lord that this is what you want to do.

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

MARCH 10, 2019

Title: “A Time for a New Beginning.”

Text: “And when he had taken some bread and given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20. And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20).

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:19-27.

Of the many things that the Lord’s Supper is, it is a time for beginning again.  It can be to the Christian life what a midcourse correction is to a spaceship.

Imagine that it was possible to make a direct shot to the moon without orbiting the earth.  Imagine also that there were no opportunity for an inflight correction. If, in the launching, the calculations were off just one degree, that space vehicle would miss the moon by almost 1.5 million miles!  We can begin to understand the importance of a midcourse correction in space travel. To drift off course in our spiritual lives, the Lord’s Supper can be an opportunity for us to make a midcourse correction and get back on track.  The Lord’s Supper is all of the following.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for a fresh dedication.

It is a fresh dedication to the will of God.  Perhaps some little sin has crept into your life and is causing you to drift off course from God’s will.  You may be only a fraction of a degree from dead center, but the farther you go with the miscalculation, the wider is the ever-increasing distance by which you will miss God’s will for your life.  The observance of this supper can be that time of in-flight correction that gets you back on course.

Jesus was always in the center of the Father’s will, but he used the occasion of the Last Supper to reaffirm his dedication to that will.  “This cup is…my blood, which is shed for you… and truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined” (Luke 22:20, 22).

The Lord’s Supper is also a time for fresh dedication to the task of witnessing.  The disciples were about to face the most strenuous period in their ministry. Christ chose to the supper as the climatic moment of his ministry before the cross to impart to them new determination for the trials ahead.

Perhaps someone is here at the very beginning of a spiritual journey. Trying to find your way with God is such an overwhelming task, it’s quite possible you might not know where to start. There’s so much to learn, so many steps of faith to take, so many things to do. Maybe you’ve seen someone in your family, or your circle of friends, or even in this church, who seems to be miles and miles ahead of you in a spiritual walk. Perhaps the whole idea of comfort and hope seems impossible, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.

In 1847, a boy named Homan Walsh went out to fly a kite. Homan was taking part in a kite-flying contest, so he brought his best kite, and plenty of string.

He stood on the Canadian bank of the Niagara River, letting more and more of that string go out, and his little-boy’s kite kept going higher, and higher, and higher … until it stretched nearly 1,000 feet. When a stranger on the American side of the Niagara Gorge grabbed Homan’s string, the crowd that had gathered let up a mighty roar. For the first time in history, people on opposite sides of this great gorge were holding onto the same string. And Homan won $5, the top prize in the contest.

There was much more than $5 at stake, however. In short order, the string was tied to a tree on the American shoreline, and a light cord tied to the Canadian end of the string. The cord was then pulled across the 800-foot span. A rope was tied to the cord, and pulled safely across. To the rope was attached a wire cable, and to the cable, a thicker cable attached. It was the beginning of an engineering victory over one of the greatest natural barriers that had separated Americans and Canadians.

Fifty-foot towers were built on each side of the river, and more cables became a part of the picture. In time, people rode across the river in buckets, for $1 each, and then they walked on a foot bridge for a quarter. But less than a year after Homan’s kite first flew across the river, people were safely riding their horse-drawn carriages across the Niagara, on a marvelous suspension bridge that hung 220 feet over the rushing water.

Eventually, there were 15 bridges that spanned the Niagara, six of which are in use today. The thousands of passengers that travel across the multi-lane, high-speed bridges today think nothing of the bridge, some of them so familiar with the path, they barely glance at the scenic view. More than likely, it has never occurred to most of those on the great bridges today that somewhere in the past, just to get this modern-day miracle under way, somebody had to fly a kite.

If great bridges can get their start with a boy’s kite and string, then I’ll tell you that great spiritual experiences can get their start with amazingly simple decisions.

The Lord’s Supper is one of the world’s simplest meals. From one vantage point, it might not seem much more significant than a boy flying a kite. It might seem little more than a string of a connection between you and God. My offer to you today is … make that connection. From the smallest beginnings can come great bridges of faith.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for self-examination.

Speaking about the Lord’s Supper in his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (! Corinthians 11:28 NIV).

Paul’s emphasis surely must have been on the words “themselves.”  We do not come to this hour to sit in judgment on others. We are not here to examine the lives of our fellow believers.  To partake of this supper in such a manner would be to eat and drink “unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:29).

A self-examination admits sin, whatever it may be and where it may be in our lives.  It is simply to be honest about ourselves before God.

Simon Peter’s failure to make such a self-examination may well explain his claim. “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33) I do not think he was hypocritical, nor was he deliberately telling a falsehood.  He simply failed to see himself as he really was, and a humiliating denial of Christ followed.

We may save ourselves many spiritual defeats if we will pause and examine ourselves.  Self examination should result in turning from our sin. We can accept the encouraging promise that “whosoever confessed and forsaketh (his sins) shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

The Lord’s Supper is a time for meditation on Christ’s death.

One of the main purposes of this ordinance is to meditate on Christ’s death.  Paul continuing to talk about the significance of the Lord’s Supper wrote in First Corinthians 11:26 NIV., “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Could it be that the reason we do not feel any greater obligation to Christ is that we seldom really meditate on his death? Looking on the broken and bruised body of Christ on the cross will have a sovereign influence on our lives.

It is a time for humility.  We will never admit our need to begin again as long as we are filled with pride.  Only the humble will say, “I am wrong: I have sinned. Forgive me, Lord and let me begin again.”

How soon the disciples returned to pride and littleness after the high hour of the Lord’s Supper! Luke 22:24-27 relates the strife that arose because these grown men, like little children, were arguing over “which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24).  This would be unbelievable if it were not such a common occurrence within the church today.

Christ reminded his disciples that the lost world, “the Gentiles,” were filled with such pride, but that as believers they were to emulate his humility of self-giving, which had just been dramatized through through the Last Supper.  

Would you like to stop right where you are and start all over again? If so, you have come to the right place at the right time, for the observance of the Lord’s Supper is a ime for fresh dedication, self-examination, meditation on the death of Christ, and humility.  If you would begin again, simply bow your head and tell the Lord that this is what you want to do.