Dear Fellow Children of God,
Perhaps you know that we are in a planning process at St. John. We have not only studied God’s Word to remind us of His call to serve, BUT we are also examining and planning ways that we can be most effective in serving the Lord. (A wise man once told me, that when there is a “but” in a sentence, it is the message after the “but” that is most important. Please remember this as we look at the Bible verse below.)
So, in worship the next 3 Sundays we are looking at ways St. John, as a congregation, can more effectively do the three verbs found in our new proposed mission statement. How can we intentionally and effectively serve our loving Lord by “Praying,” “Serving,” and “Encouraging Knowledge of Christ’s unfailing Love.”?
As we discussed in worship on Wednesday evening how to more intentionally and effectively serve our Lord as a congregation by praying, St. John Member, Aaron Werning, made an interesting suggestion on how we can do this. He asked if there were ways we could not only pray for needs and concerns, BUT also give THANKS for the everyday blessings we receive from God’s gracious hand.
As that comment was considered in an Elders’ meeting on Thursday night, Karl Kopperud responded by talking about one of the everyday blessings we can often overlook or forget. Karl talked about dandelions, of all things. He pointed out that in the Spring, as the snow is melting and hearts are eager for green, the yellow dandelion flower is often the first color we see. Karl reminded us how beautiful the dandelion bloom really is when one picks the flower and examines it. But, he also pointed out that the rest of the year we curse the dandelion and try to kill it. I personally responded that I had recently put two kinds of herbicide on the dandelions in my own yard. I guess it is easy to miss or forget the beauty right in front of us.
How often is that the case in our hearts and minds concerning the love of God? God’s love is sure through Jesus. Perhaps because we can count on the grace of our Lord, we take it for granted.
Please consider God’s words through Paul in Ephesians 2, and please notice the “but.”
“1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4 BUT because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved.”
All people, all of us, live with the struggle between giving into our sinful desires, or serving the One who created us in love. We often lose that struggle, and so what we deserve is punishment. Because of our sin we were even “dead” to God.
BUT, according to God’s words in verses 4 and 5, in love, in mercy, by grace, God the Father sent His Son, Jesus, as Messiah or Christ. By Jesus’ life and death and resurrection we are forgiven and made alive. It is by grace, through undeserved love, that we are saved and can live each day in the assurance of the gifts of God.
Karl says it is easy to overlook the dandelion. I do. BUT, we do not want to overlook the love and mercy and grace of God which He gives us in Jesus. That is an everyday blessing for which we want to continue to give thanks and praise!
A Child of God, Seeking to Remember God’s Grace,
P.S. Here is a picture of the baptism of Samantha and Danielle Wyatt on Sunday, July 19. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/BaptismsWinterSpring2015#6174951050272700546
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . .