Good morning! Welcome! We're so glad you could be with us.
Please join us for an opening hymn.
This week's scripture lesson is Psalm 130.
A song of ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
Please join us for a word of prayer
Gracious Heavenly Father, as we have been given the great privilege to share in worship today, we truly miss the close fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ as we gather in our homes versus in the sanctuary of our church. Regardless of how and where it takes place we still feel the love and warmth of Your holy presence. We continue to ask for patience during these times of separation and social distancing. As our scripture lesson for today pointed out, we do indeed look to You to provide answers and reassurance when it comes to our cries for help. It also does indeed remind of us of the times we didn’t take the opportunity to thank and praise You for the many blessings You shower on us on so many occasions.
Today, we pray for those that are fighting this devastating disease, and even more so for those who have lost loved ones. Today, let us remember those who are hospitalized and those who are taking care of them as so many healthcare workers have given so many hours to this cause. We ask that You, O Lord, provide each of them with a great sense of Your peace and presence. As we begin a new week, whether it be at home, work or taking care of others, we ask that Your continued strength be with us. Surround us with the power of Your presence as each new day unfolds. We ask all these things in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Please join us for our final hymn
Thank you for joining us today!
If you have any prayer requests or joys that you would like to share, you can comment below. If you need anything, please contact Pastor Gary or a session member. For concerns that you would like included on the prayer chain, please contact Linda Miller. If you are in need of food from our food pantry, please contact Becky Phillips.
Remember that in this time of physical distancing, we can still connect with others. This is a great time to check in with friends, neighbors and loved ones.
In Sunday School, we have been listening to, and singing along with, Alan Jackson on a gospel album. We thought that we could listen to Alan again this week for our opening hymn!
The scripture for this week's lesson is:
You can click on the scripture above to open the text in a new window.
Malachi mentions no kings at the beginning of his book. This makes establishing an approximate date for the prophet's ministry challenging. Even so, the book's contents offer some clues.
The issues addressed by Malachi are similar to those facing God's people in the time of Nehemiah in the fifth century BC. With permission from King Artaxerxes of Persia, Nehemiah had traveled from Persia to Judah around 445 BC to rebuild Jerusalem's walls.
Some issues addressed by both Nehemiah and Malachi include mixed marriages (Nehemiah 13:23-27; Malachi 2:11), the failure to tithe (Nehemiah 13:10-14; Malachi 3:8-10), and corrupt priests (Nehemiah 13:4-9; Malachi 1:6-2:9). These similarities point to a date for Malachi that is post-exilic. That means the setting is an era after the exile in Babylon ends in 538 BC (see Ezra 1:1-4)
Bolstering the conclusion that Malachi is post-exilic is the use of the title "governor" (Malachi 1:8). This was Nehemiah's official title (see Nehemiah 5:14; compare Haggai 1:1; 2:21); before the exile, Judah had kings, not governors. Based on these and other facts, scholars conclude that Malachi is chronologically the last of the prophets, of about 430 BC.
The Babylonian captivity occurred between the ministries of Micah (last week's lesson) and Malachi. The delinquent leadership against which Micah spoke so passionately had resurfaced in Malachi's day. And it was just as displeasing to the Lord in Malachi's time as it had been in Micah's.
Normally, we discuss the lesson during our Sunday class. Please take some time to think about and reflect on each question. If you are reading the lesson with someone else, discuss your thoughts together. If you would like to, you may post some of your thoughts and answers below.
Malachi's words should serve as sobering warnings to leaders in the church. Dangers abound when we become casual about doing God's work. It's a small step from an attitude of indifference to one of antibiblical rationalizing by those who serve the Lord in leadership positions. The late Dallas Willard once observed, "The greatest threat to devotion to Christ is service for Christ."
Those who earn wages by serving the church or a parachurch ministry can come to see what they do merely as a source of income. They forget that theirs is a ministry done in service to the Lord and for his glory. Certain words and actions become part of the routine, of what is expected according to their job description. It's a slippery slope.
One source of help may be for the leader to arrange to meet with a group of fellow leaders (either within or outside of the congregation) for mutual prayer and encouragement. Many have found such accountability groups greatly beneficial in keeping them spiritually sharp and providing valuable counsel when temptations or other challenges occur (compare Malachi 3:16).
Speaking honestly to one another can be of immeasurable value in avoiding the spiritual barrenness that brought God's harsh criticism of the priests in Malachi's day. Inviting candid feedback from a fellow servant of Christ is always preferable to being on the receiving end of God's correction!
Father, keep us from handling sacred duties in such a way that we lose sight of you. Empower our church to remember our covenant with you. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Benediction: Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
This is a great time for us to remember our older folks and people who may not be able to get out. We as a church need to make sure they have the things they need like food or medicine.
If you need anything at this time, please reach out to Pastor Gary or a session member. If you have prayer requests that you feel comfortable sharing online, you can leave a comment on this post. If you have more personal prayer requests, you can contact Linda Miller for the prayer chain.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Psalm 46 :1
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
We normally start Sunday School by singing a hymn. Lisa was kind enough to share this one.
The book of Micah is another of the 12 Minor Prophets. Micah's ministry took place in the second half of the eighth century BC. His times were full of turmoil and uncertainty for both Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern kingdom). The Assyrians were a formidable threat to both kingdoms. They were the instrument in God's hands to carry out his judgment against Israel when the capital city of Samaria fell in 722 BC.
Micah's ministry may have overlapped with that of Amos. Micah and Isaiah were contemporaries. Both ministered in Jerusalem. Micah's message included words of judgment against both Israel and Judah. His book begins with a reference to Samaria and Jerusalem, representing both Israel and Judah respectively. Both are indicted for rebellion against the Lord.
Normally, we would discuss this lesson in Sunday School. We are unable to do this in person. However, we can still have a discussion. The book poses several questions to reflect on. If you would like to, you may post some of your thoughts and answers below.
Micah courageously confronted the tragic lack of godly leadership for the people of God. While Micah's words in the concluding portion of our printed text apply to all God's people, they most certainly need to be exemplified in the lives of their leaders. One thinks of how Jesus looked at the masses in his day and saw them as "sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). The same terminology could have been used to describe the people in Micah's day, given how corrupt the leadership had become. What a difference it would have made if those leaders had taken the words in Micah 6:8 to heart!
Church leaders today would do well to make those words their standard of conduct. But whether Christian leaders are aligned with God's will or not, the priesthood of all believers must still bring their lives to God as sacrifices (Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5). Jesus has paid the price (Hebrews 7:27-28). We do not worry about offering rivers of oil or thousands of animal sacrifices. Let us therefore search our hearts for strongholds that resist practicing justice and mercy. In humility, may we seek to please the Lord with our whole lives.
Father, thank you for godly leaders! May the power of your Holy Spirit help us all to seek and do your will, even when -- and especially when -- our leaders stray from your paths. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
During this time of social distancing, we as a church can still gather online. Each Sunday morning during the church closure, we will post a scripture lesson and sermon.
If you need anything during this time, please contact Pastor Gary or a session member. If you have prayer requests, you can comment on a post here, send an email to the church email account, or contact Linda Miller for the prayer chain.