We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet each week, we take time to share any prayer requests we might have. If you have any to share, please add them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help us to learn and grow in our spiritual gifts that you uniquely give each of us. We ask that you help us to use our spiritual gifts for your glory. We pray that we may be bold in sharing the gospel, and that we would be faithful in serving you. We ask that you would help us to grow in our knowledge of you and that we would be obedient to your will. We praise you for your goodness and your faithfulness, and we ask that you continue to work in our lives. In Jesus name. Amen
This week's lesson is on Romans 12:3-8.
The book of Romans was written by Paul in about AD 58, Probably toward the end of his third missionary journey. At that point, Paul had not yet been to Rome, but greatly wished to visit. He would do so, but in chains as a prisoner.
He made it to Rome by about AD 61 but remained under house arrest, unable to move about the city as he might have wished. Paul wrote his letter to the church to introduce himself and his teaching prior to a personal visit there. The church was likely established not long after the day of Pentecost, some 30 years earlier. Some of the Jews who heard Peter's sermon that day were from Rome, and it's easy to imagine that they were the ones who started the church after returning home to Rome. There is little doubt that the Roman church had heard of Paul and looked forward to meeting him.
The book of Romans falls into two major sections. The first part, Romans 1-11, features some of the most doctrinal heavy thoughts in all of Scripture. A shift comes with Romans 12-16, which addresses how Christians then live in light of the truth of those doctrines.
The ability to discern the “what God's will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” begins with the correct thought of ourselves. For a person to think soberly is to think rationally and appropriately. Paul introduced the common standard of measurement by which to evaluate oneself: it is the measure of faith.
For just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. It should be obvious that not all parts of the body perform the same function. A hand does not function as an ear and vice versa. Paul desired his readers to think in terms of one as a collective singular of many. As Christians cannot serve effectively apart from other Christians, so also one body cannot operate independently of the head, who is Christ.
Gifts- How to serve
Paul begins a list of seven different gifts. The gift of prophecy involves proclaiming information divinely revealed for the church's edification. We pause here for caution: as Paul begins his listing of such gifts according to this text and others. But to do so runs the risk of missing the bigger picture which is spiritual gifts serve as an example of a church that is united in it diversity Spiritual gifts are not given merely to bless the person receiving the gift but to build up the church as a whole. Most of all, these gifts are intended to be displays of love between believers.
We move to the second gift in Paul's grouping of four: service. Service was the usual way to describe the work that Christians did on behalf of others.
Christian ministry in general (Romans 15:25; Philemon 13)
The ministry of Christ (Romans 15:8; Galatians 2:17)
Specific Christian ministries (Romans 11:13; 2 Corinthians 9:12-13)
Ministry of the office of deacon (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3: 8-13)
Ministry of a secular authority (Romans 13:4)
Paul then focuses on the person who teaches rather than the gift of teaching. Teaching is distinct from prophesying. Prophesy is based on revealing the information that God has placed in the prophet's mouth; teaching involves communicating the truth of the gospel. Teaching was critical for the first-century church, where many people were not formally educated. They learned from auditory instructions instead of reading. Therefore, it was and is a primary task of the eldership.
Fourth gift is encouragement. Primary ways Paul used this was to comfort, urge, or encourage. Paul is challenging those with this gift to use it in terms of being a bit stronger than merely “requesting” something of someone else but a bit less strong than “commanding” that person.
If it is giving, then give generously. To give is to share with another or the church what one has. This is an expectation of all believers. There are no ulterior motives for our giving.
If it is to lead, do it diligently. This includes church leadership, family leadership or household management and self-management. To be such a person is to be in control in a godly sense.
If you show mercy, do it cheerfully. To show mercy requires both action and proper attitude. Showing mercy involves more than merely offering lip service sympathy or forgiveness. In the Beatitudes Jesus states, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” The mercy we ourselves have received from God is the basis for our own action of mercy, as Jesus' parable of the unmerciful servant makes clear. (Matthew 18:21-35) We see the cheerfulness aspect of showing mercy also reflected in giving (2 Corinthians 9:7), such giving being a specific kind of merciful act.
At this point, this list of spiritual gifts ends. But the very next verse (Romans 12:9) relates love to spiritual gifts in much the same way as 1 Corinthians 12:14 does. Love is the touchstone for how any spiritual gift is used.
Conclusion: All gifts matter
We understand that all spiritual gifts are important. But at the same time, we know that not all such gifts are equal and that not all believers are equally gifted (Matthew 25:14-15)
As a result, our natural tendency is to pay more attention to the gifts that are more visible, more “out front” to the public. The highly visible preacher of the church usually gets paid more that the less visible custodian who cleans the church. But here's where Paul's illustration of body members working together (unity in diversity) comes in per Romans 12: 4-5: I don't think you would want to go to a dirty and smelly church any more than you would want to go to church with a horrible preacher! The functions of one's hands are much more varied, useful and visible then are the functions of one's elbow. But a nonfunctioning elbow will severely limit how the hand can function.
Pride is a danger to those having the more visible gifts. Also a danger is that those who have the less visible gifts won't use them, perhaps figuratively “burying” them. (Matthew 25:25) But just as no human body functions to its highest potential unless all of its parts are working together, so also the church- the body of Christ – does not function at full potential until all of its members use their spiritual gifts. The cure or preventative for both pride of gifts and nonuse of gifts is Luke 17:10. “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, we are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
A popular tool that churches and ministries have turned to since at least the 1980's is a spiritual gifts assessment inventory (or tests) during my time as a student in Bible college and seminary. You can take these tests online and get your results. Most of the time, they told me what I suspected already: that teaching was one of my spiritual gifts.
Occasionally, an inventory would indicate that I had a secondary gift that I didn't realize. One such result was that I had the gift of administration. I found that to be exceptionally funny, given the reality of the piles of books, articles and papers piled on my desk, floor and couch.
This goes to show that these inventories aren't perfect – they can be misleading.
An assumption behind those inventories is that helping people identify what their giftings are will mean that those who have been enlightened will automatically start using those gifts. But that is not always so. People will need encouragement to use and otherwise develop their spiritual gifts. Sometimes, people need the wisdom and insight of others to help discern which giftings are present.
Another assumption is that such inventories are even needed for people to be able to identify their areas of spiritual giftedness. A more accurate indicator may be personal experience. What types of Christians service do your personal experiences tell you that you have been best at? Where have you fallen flat.
Father, you have called all of your servants to serve. Help us to realize our gifts and give us the courage to develop and use them for your glory. Help us to remember that no matter what our gifts are all members of one body and that no one is unimportant to your church and to you. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Thought to remember: Know your spiritual gifts and use them with humility
This week's benediction is from the King James Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Isaiah 40:12-13, 25-31.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
This is our first week meeting after the early worship service. If you haven't joined us for Sunday School before, we would really enjoy having you!
When we meet together in person, we take some time to share our joys and concerns. If you have any prayer requests, you can add them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the source of life and the fountain-spring of love. Help me to carry out Your will for my life, and may I love as Christ loves. I pray that I would do no wrong, in thought, word, or deed, to my family, friends, or neighbors. And help me to show the love of Christ to all with whom I come in contact today. This I ask in Jesus' precious name and for His greater glory. AMEN.
Today's lesson is on Romans 13:8-10 and 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.
The actions and attitudes of Christian love improve our spiritual view in critical areas. First as we express that love, we begin to see more and more opportunities to express it. Second, this improved spiritual vision will cause us to see that to minister to others in love is to serve God. “Whoever loves God is known by God.” In Corinthians, Paul says “Let all that you do be done in love." In 1 John, chapter 4, we read, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. We love because he first loved us." Proverbs says, “A friend loves at all times.” In the last verse of today’s text, Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Chris Tiegreen, writer and editor of a devotional magazine, says “Faith lasts only until it becomes sight, and hope lasts only until it’s fulfilled, but love lasts forever."
Father, we live in a time where love is perhaps more desperately sought after than ever before. Forgive us when we become callous to the needs around us. Help us to follow the example of Jesus and to see others as he sees them. In his name we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
Today's benediction is from the Revised Standard Version.
Next week's lesson will be on Colossians 2:16-23.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
Starting next week, our in person Sunday School class will be after the worship service.
Worship will start at 9:45 am. Sunday School will start at 11 am.
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns. Take some time to consider the past week, and any prayer requests you might have. When you are ready, use the prayer below to get started.
Loving God, Creator of dignity and all that lives. Help us be bridges. We must have your grace to endure and your wisdom to bring harmony where there is strife, transform us to peacemakers and bridgemakers. We are all God's children. Amen.
This week's lesson is on Acts 15:1-11.
Today's guest speaker is Rev. Craig Kephart.
Gathering Around the Word
CALL TO WORSHIP
Even our praise comes first from You, O God
. Fill our mouths with words and we give them back to You
Lord, those praises are not our own; they come from You alone.
Even our praise–every feeling and phrase–comes from You
Having known God’s praiseworthiness, let us once again give Him our praise.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we take some time to share joys and concerns. Consider your past week. If you have any prayer requests, you can add them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Lord Jesus, Thank you for the grace and mercy you extend to us. Our sinful nature tells us to sit in our shame and to hide from your light. But you came to this earth and lived the perfect life so that we no longer need to be shackled by our sins. True freedom is found when we lay down our weakness to you.
Thank you for walking through this sinful world. You understand how we are tempted because you were tempted as well, yet never sinned. Your empathy allows us to bring every worry, every fear, and every fault to your feet because we know that you understand.
Help us to approach your throne with confidence because it is a throne of mercy. When we try to hide our sin and shame, remind us of your boundless grace. I pray that we would draw nearer to you no matter what we're going through. Your Word promises that you will give us gracious help in our time of need – help us to believe that today.
In Jesus Name,
Today's lesson is on Romans 7:1-12.
Today's guest speaker is Rev. Renny Domske.
Gathering Around the Word
CALL TO WORSHIP: from Psalm 42
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Where can I go? When can I go and meet with God?
I used to lead the procession of the multitude to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.
Put your hope in God and do not be disturbed.
I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
All your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs His Love,
at night His song is with me—He is the God of my life.
HYMN “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” # 275
Intro then 4 verses
* PRAYER OF CONFESSION: (unison)
As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants after You, O God. I need You every hour, Most Precious Lord. And yet I put myself before You. I share my needs with You, but I do not share my joys. I call to You for help and strength; yet I savor the successes to myself.
Help me to acknowledge You at all times, O my God.
Help me to not only call to You in my failures. I am sorry.
I am a failed and fragile person. You know that right well.
Thank You, O Blessed One, for always forgiving me.
* Time of silent prayer
*Assurance of Pardon
*Response – Gloria Patri
*Passing the Peace
L: The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: And also, with you.
Prayer for Illumination
Romans 5: 1 – 8 Debbie Mary
II Kings 5: 1 - 14
SERMON “A Soapy Soap Opera in the Bible”
*HYMN “Amazing Grace” # 649
Intro then 5 verses
Presentation of our tithes and offering
*Prayer of dedication
Concerns and Celebrations
Prayers of the People
The Lord’s Prayer
INVITATION TO THE LORD’S TABLE
Let Us Break Bread Together # 525
*HYMN “ As the Deer” # 626
Acapella/ sing twice
BIRTHDAYS Mary Jane Patterson, Roma Gross, Nancy Molinaro
Dan & Mary Hathaway
To the Family of Carol Pierce
Kathy Moore’s Mother
Remember our food collection. And Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” Please let Betty Fisher know of anyone within the community that may be in need at this time.
We need special prayers for our 2 fellows!
Frank Baker had a mini stroke after luncheon on Sunday. He is now home but still needing prayers.
Also needing prayers is Bob Moore. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. He is home in medication. Prayers for a speedy recovery.
Linda Miller was admitted to hospital with A-Fib on Thursday. Having an echo on Friday. That wasn’t bad enough, she tested positive for COVID. Prayers for sure.
Continuing Prayer List
Chuck Dicks, Frank Huffman, Tom Westfall, Sandy Stone, Sarah Wilson, Carl Weber, Jimmy Svetz, Ricci Amos, Haley Diedier Bedillion, Fred Wilkinson, Diane Anderson, Suzy Smith, Helen Provenzano, Donna West, Judy Donaldson, Marlene McFeely, Chuck Harton, Jean Westfall, Sue Gregg, Wendy Willard, Marley Smith, Kirkland Cipoletti Ellen Morris, Dave Henderson, Ed Horne, Doris Ann Rowe, Sue Knox, Frank Baker, Bob Moore, Nelson and Marlene Huffman, and Linda Miller
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
When we meet in person, we share our joys and concerns with each other. If you have prayer requests to share, you can add them to the comments on this post. When you are ready, use this prayer to get started.
Gracious God, it is so easy to become proud of our dedication to the church and to its ministries. It is so easy to hear and enjoy the praise of men and women and even to think it equates to God’s approval as well. But you know us in the depths of our being. You know us as we really are. You see us when we are at our worse, when we fall short, when our motives are not pure and our devotion wanes.
Lord, we want to be true followers of Christ in our hearts and not just people who go through the motions. Help us to be authentic Christians. And when we fail, help us to rely on Christ and the forgiveness we have through him. We pray this in his name. Amen.
This week's lesson is on Romans 2:12-24, 28-29.
Introduction and context
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he expresses his full vision of the new community that God has created through Jesus Christ. It is not a community that breaks from the tradition of the Old Testament and the Law. Instead, it is a community that gets to the heart of why the Law was given to Moses in the first place. It is a community in which everyone is united by a common devotion to God, shown not just by their adherence to the Law of Moses but by a deep commitment to live in a way that pleases God.
By the time Paul wrote this letter, the Jewish people had been practicing circumcision for 2,000 years. It was a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and that continued through all of his descendants.
Neither the Greeks nor the Romans practiced it — the Greeks seeing it as mutilation of the ideal body. But for the Jews, it was extremely important. It served as a physical reminder to the Jewish men and to others that they were set apart and that they belonged to the people of the covenant.
The church in Rome was made up of people who had come from both Jewish and pagan backgrounds. It seems likely that Christians who came out of Judaism would think themselves superior to those who formerly were pagans. This would have created a division in the church.
Just judgment (verses 12-16)
In Paul’s time, people often expressed the distinction between Jews and Gentiles by saying that Jews were “under the law” while Gentiles were “apart from the law.” The Law, of course, is the law that God gave the nation of Israel through Moses, embodied especially in the first five books of the Bible.
The Jews had studied the law of Moses for centuries. They knew it well, and it served as the basis for their faith. Yet throughout their history they also knowingly broke the law and suffered for it. They could not avoid being judged for their violations.
On the other hand, Gentiles had not been given the law. Still, in the first chapter of this letter, Paul points out that they could not avoid God’s judgment by claiming ignorance. Even those outside the law, he argues, have a law written on their minds and their conscience. They will be judged for violating that law as well.
So both Jews and Gentiles are under God’s judgment.
Paul points out, therefore, that there is no reason for a person to think more highly of himself simply because he is among the people to whom God gave the law. What matters is obeying the law. That is something that Gentiles sometimes do, even though they don’t have the law to instruct them.
The example of righteous Gentiles reveal that the law is not a matter of following rules on a page but of following the precepts God has written on every human heart, although sin has obscured our ability to see and follow them.
A day will come when God will judge everyone for who they truly are — not for their lineage or for the public face they put on for others. Lack of evidence might fool human judges and juries, but God knows who we really are. And none of us is without sin.
False faithfulness (verses 17-24)
Paul uses a series of propositions to remove the Jewish Christians’ feelings of superiority. If you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law; if you know God’s will; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, he says, then what are you teachers teaching yourselves?
Jews in general, and Jewish religious leaders in particular, saw themselves as guides for those who did not know the law and teachers of the foolish. However, it seems that not all of them lived up to the standards they proclaimed.
Paul must know of the general hypocrisy of some Jewish teachers. Even if he does not know of any specific circumstances, he must know that many of the teachers’ examples do not live up to their own teaching. And, as we said earlier, it is not having the law that is important. It is obeying the law.
He asks if those who teach against stealing might be stealing themselves. He asks if people who teach against adultery are committing that sin themselves. People who teach the right thing but live their lives contrary to their own teaching are hypocrites. Instead of leading people to deeper faith, such teachers push people away.
By shedding light on what is really going on, Paul is removing the Jewish Christians’ reason to see themselves as superior to their formerly pagan brothers and sisters. He is also pointing out that all Christians, regardless of their background, stand condemned for their sinful ways.
True identity (verses 28-29)
Next Paul redefines what it means to be a Jew — at least in the ideal sense. He says it is not about going through the rite of circumcision. Nor is it about publicly following meticulous rules for purity. Those are simply physical matters, but God wants us to go deeper.
True Jews, he says, are the ones who follow God in the depth of their being. True Jews are those who have been circumcised by the Spirit in their hearts, so to speak.
Paul is lifting the discussion from the human and physical level to the divine and spiritual. This is where God has always wanted God’s people to focus. In other words, God has always wanted a people whose hearts were circumcised, not just their bodies.
Truly following God, whether we are Jews or Christians, has always been a matter of seeking God with our whole hearts, not seeking the attention and praise of people. Many places in the Bible remind us that God sees the heart and that God knows who we are deep inside. (See, for example, Psalm 44:21.)
Ultimately, whether or not a person is circumcised physically or not does not matter. The thing that matters is spiritual circumcision that accompanies faith in Christ.
The idea of a circumcised heart was powerful for Mose and Paul, and it must be for us today. Can we humble ourselves and leave behind our tendencies to be stiff-necked? Can we trust fully in Christ for our salvation, not our own good works?
Paul’s exposition for the rest of the book of Romans required both Jews and Gentiles to realize their need for God’s salvation because all are under the power of sin (Romans 3:9). For both groups, hope comes not from keeping the law, whether it be the law of the conscience or the Law of Moses. It comes from faith in Christ.
Heavenly Father, may our hearts turn away from pride and sin and toward you in faith and hope. May our trust be only in your Son, Jesus. We pray in his name. Amen.
Questions for discussion
This week's benediction is from the Message.
Next week's lesson is on Romans 7:1-12.
We're so glad you decided to join us today!
We are not meeting in person for Sunday School today. Instead, we are having worship at 10 am at the Washington County Fair.
We will see you next week, in person, for Sunday School!
When we meet in person, we take time to share joys and concerns. Consider your last couple of weeks, and the upcoming week. If you have any prayer requests to share, please add a comment on this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to begin.
Most Merciful God, we join our voices in this prayer of confession because we realize that we are united with each other in our own sinfulness. We all sin in ways that are unique to us as individuals. We say and do things that go against Your will for our lives. Forgive us for considering others' sins worse than our own. Forgive us for being so quick to recognize the sin in others, yet slow to see it in ourselves. Grant us the humility of spirit and the gladness of heart that comes from knowing that Jesus died to take away the sins of the world. Touch our lives with Your healing grace and create in us clean hearts. We pray these things in the Name of Jesus Chris, our Savior. Amen
This week's lesson is on Romans 14:10-23.
Have you ever had a day to do just what you wanted, only to feel let down afterward? Maybe it was a day off of work. Maybe friends gave you a break from your normal duties. Somehow, we often experience disappointment at the end of such times.
Why does that happen so often? Perhaps it is, to some extent, because we long to be part of something bigger than ourselves. “Me time” sounds great, but God has put in us a desire that our lives matter for others. I had so much “Me time” during the pandemic that I knew I needed to be a part of something else.
The church is too often (because even once is too often!) the place where people seem most devoted to their own preferences. Churches have become infamous for the pettiness of their arguments over matters of opinion. We all grieve the fact, but it is likely that we all have been part of the problem at times. Today's lesson will be the uncomfortable mirror in which we see ourselves in this regard.
Our text comes from Paul's letter to the Romans. The letter addresses a church divided between Jewish and non-Jewish (Gentiles) followers of Jesus. While we cannot know the exact circumstances, it appears to that each group looked down on the other for the way it practiced life in God's kingdom.
Paul wrote this letter to show each group that they belong to God's kingdom on the same terms: faith in Jesus to God's good news about him. So Paul says “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” that each group has the same status. All have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles. Paul's addressees belong to God's kingdom not by observances of the Law of Moses, which defined the Jewish people . Rather, they belong by faith in Jesus, who died that all might live eternally.
This equality of status must be practiced. Jews were accustomed to keeping the laws of clean and unclean laid out in the Law of Moses. In a city like Rome, finding meat that was ceremonially clean was probably difficult. Add to that the fact that much meat had been sacrificed to pagan idols, and it appears that many Jews in Rome simply given up meat altogether.
Meanwhile, Christians from a Gentile background had been brought into God's kingdom by their faith in Jesus, being formerly excluded because they did not belong to the people of Israel. They had never been subjected to the laws of clean and unclean. For Jewish followers of Jesus, dietary restrictions had always been a sign of devotion to God. But for Gentile followers of Jesus', these rules seemed strange and unnecessary. Whose rules should prevail?
Both Jews and Gentiles are guilty of sin but that both can be restored to God's kingdom by expressing faith in Jesus. No Christians regardless of background identity, can judge another status on other criteria. To do so over foods is most unfitting for a follower of Jesus. There are two reasons for not passing judgment on others. First, if any judging is to be done with regard to practices of dietary choices, that will be God's prerogative, not ours. Second, we will be called to account on the last day for all judgments we formulate. God alone is Judge.
Now through Jesus' death and resurrection, God had ended the deeper exile of sin and has made salvation available to all nations. As a result, no human group or category has a privilege over another. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will acknowledge God as ultimate king.
Judging fellow believers is to give way to caring for them. Paul uses figures of speech to describe such caring; a stumbling block is something in a roadway that can makes someone trip, or an obstacle is something that blocks a path or causes a misstep.
Paul reaffirms that there is no difference between clean and unclean foods. This reflect what the Lord Jesus declared; purity is not about food but a person's inner character, Israel's rules regarding clean and unclean food were always intended by God not as definitions of right and wrong behavior for all people, but as cultural boundaries that defined Israel as a distinct nation. Good and evil have always been about our inner dispositions that drive our actions.
Paul states that if another Christian believes that a food is unclean then we should not partake so we do not become a stumbling block to them.
Rules and practices regardless food are among the most obvious ways that group of people mark their differences from other groups. Food preferences are central to a people's culture. Even apart from Israel rules of clean and unclean, those rules were important to the Israelite because they were observed constantly. But Paul reminds us that God's kingdom is not merely about what is easily seen. Food is nothing compared to what God has done in Christ, what now defines his people as subjects of his kingdom.
God's peace is not just a cessation of strife. It is harmony in loving, caring relationships. The gospel calls us not just to get along but to work for one another benefit. Joy flows from the abiding sense of confidence that God is making things right as he establishes his kingdom. Peace and joy are among the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Deferring to others' concerns even gains human approval. In social structures of the first century AD, Jewish Christians stood apart from the larger Jewish communities because of their acceptance of Gentiles as God's people. Gentile Christians, for their part, had abandoned the pagan worship that required loyalty to the Roman Empire. If these two groups became known for their arguments over food, their credibility would suffer all the more. But if they could demonstrate love, their example could shine. When the church fights, a vile reputation results. When its members love as Christ did, we become the salt and the light of the world.
The peace of God's kingdom is a gift of God. But putting peace into practice is not automatic. They must apply diligent effort to make sure that everyone in Christ's body is respected, included and loved. Conflicts will be necessary when confronting doctrinal defection, moral defection or divisiveness. But such conflict should serve the greater good in protecting the integrity of the church.
Peace, Not Conflict
Up to the point of today's lesson text in Romans, Paul had spent many chapters reminding Christians in Rome that no group had any preference before God. Faith in Jesus-not being in a certain biological lineage or doing better works-is what brings sinners of every ethnicity into God's kingdom. United with him in death and resurrection, they are now dead to sin. They live a new life, empowered by God's Spirit, transformed to love and serve one another.
But can we bring that truth to shared meals? Can we exercise our faith in such a way as to defer to one another as we learn to use our freedom for the benefit of others, not ourselves? The concern of those with strong faith should be for the welfare of those with weaker faith toward greater understanding. Of such love, grace, patience, and edification is the kingdom of God.
Gracious Father, we thank you for our freedom in Christ. Lead us to use that freedom to build up others, never to tear down. May we be instruments of your peace in the name of your Son. Amen
Questions for discussion
This week's benediction is from the Tree of Life Version.
Next week's lesson will be on 1 Corinthians 4:1-6, 17-21. We will be back in person then.
Today was our picnic with Upper Buffalo. Due to the rain, we were unable to meet at the park, and instead had worship and lunch at Upper Buffalo.
Our guest speaker was RE Sarah Angelo.
We are blessed to have RE Sarah Angelo lead us in worship and Angelina Scott provide our music.
Upper Buffalo's mission partner for the month of July is the Presbyterian Senior Care. Our loose offering today will be designated for the care of seniors at the Washington campus.
You are invited to the Annual Presbytery Picnic this Tuesday evening July 11th from 4-8 pm at Shelter #4 Cross Creek Park (West Middletown side)
Please call the Presbytery office to RSVP 724-222-1500
Please keep in prayer the evangelists from Southwest Bethel Synod in Ethiopia who have launched a five-week evangelism campaign in Ethiopia and the US. The head of the Southwest Bethel Synod, Rev. Lukas Cham, is currently visiting the Washington Presbytery.
You are invited to join your friends and neighbors for the July Community Luncheon at Upper Buffalo on Wednesday, July 12th at noon. August Community Luncheon will be held on August 9th.
Please plan on attending a Strawberry Social hosted by North Buffalo on Friday, July 21st from 5-8 pm. Enjoy dessert and good music!
North Buffalo is holding VBS the week of July 31 from 6-8 pm.
Church at the Fair will take place on Sunday, August 13th at 10 am.
The Annual Faith & Family Night at the Wild Things is scheduled for Saturday evening, September 2nd. Tickets are free to churches but must be requested in advance.
Washington Presbytery and the Southwest Bethel Synod in Ethiopia have been partners for over 30 years. The Presbyterian mission there was started in 1947 by Rev. Charles Haspels whose first church was Emanuel Presbyterian in 84 PA. The church in Ethiopia is growing by leaps and bounds and Southwest Bethel Synod now has over 500,000 members! Washington Presbytery has supported this vital mission over the years through the Pumpkins for Ethiopia Literacy Centers projects, establishing an endowed chair in Rev. Haspels' honor at the Seminary, and visits back and forth.
To recognize our partnership Rev. Lukas Cham, head of the Synod, has arrived in the United States and will spend the next 6 weeks visiting churches in the Washington Presbytery.
Our Ethiopian Partners have begun a 6 week evangelism and prayer campaign. Thirty young evangelists will be traveling throughout the Southwest Bethel Synod area to share the good news of Jesus Christ. We are asked to uphold these evangelists in prayer. They will first go out to the towns where they live. This is inspired by the directive from Jesus to go to Jerusalem, Samaria, and the ends of the earth; they decided to start near home and move each week into harder and stranger places.
After we pray, we are encouraged to send an email message to email@example.com letting them know we prayed for their work in Biftu. We can raise their spirits with a hundred messages, possibly one thousand.
Please remember to pray not only for the work in Ethiopia, but also for renewal, revival, discipleship, witness and growth in our American church. There is great power in prayer together. Knowing that you don't pray alone, and thousands in Ethiopia are also praying for us at this time.
Today's guest speaker is TJ Spruill.
Gathering Around the Word
CALL TO WORSHIP:
Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise His Holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits
Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.
Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.
Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion.All: Praise the Lord, O my soul.
*HYMN “I Sing the mighty power of God” #32
(Intro and then 3 verses)
*PRAYER OF CONFESSION: unison
Eternal and merciful God, You have loved us with a love beyond our understanding, and You have set us on paths of righteousness for Your name sake. Yet we have strayed from Your way; we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, through what we have done and what we have left undone. As we remember the lavish gift of Your grace symbolized in baptism, O God, we praise You and give You thanks that you forgive us yet again. Grant us now, we pray, the grace to die daily to sin, and to rise daily to new life in Christ, who lives and reigns with You, and in whose strong name we pray. Amen
*Time of silent prayer:
*Assurance of Pardon
*Response – Gloria Patri
*The peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also, with you.
* Passing the peace
Prayer of Illumination
1 Peter 2: 1 – 10 Don Herschell
Romans 12: 1 - 21
Sermon “Made for This”
*HYMN “Be thou my vision” #450
(no intro - 4 verses)
Presentation of tithes and offering
Prayer of dedication
Concerns and celebrations
Prayers for the people
The Lord’s Prayer
* HYMN “ Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” #366
(intro – 4 verses)
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.