Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; 12 October 2012; Romans 10:5-17

Scriptures this week: Romans 10:5-17

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010 / CEB

Hymns:

At 8:45 am service @ Worton

UMH 496 – Sweet Hour of Prayer

UMH 176 – Majesty, Worship His Majesty

UMH 474 – Precious Lord, Take My Hand

At 10 am service @ CUMC

UMH 383 – This is a Day of New Beginnings

UMH 177 – He Is Lord

UMH 525 – We Will Understand it Better By and By

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“…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ!” Paul wrote these words to the church in Rome. In the 12th century, St. Francis of Assisi said something like, “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.” Today I want to start by reading from the Book of Ezekiel.

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Ezekiel 34:2-6 NIV2010

2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

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As we hear these words, we can feel God’s frustration with the religious leaders (the shepherd of Israel) as well as God’s concern for the lost. Later in the same chapter, Ezekiel prophesied that God will send a new leader like David to seek the strays, a leader who will understand the least and the last, and the leader who will dedicate his life to bringing back the lost.

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Jesus’ ministry and teachings are infused with the passion described by Ezekiel in these verses. Although he – Jesus – never directly quotes this passage, Matthew noted that Jesus had compassion for the people because “they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36, Mark 6:34) [Hamilton, 53].

When the Pharisees were grumbling that Jesus hung out with sinners, Jesus said, “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave ninety-nine in the wilderness and goes after the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4) [Hamilton 53].

In John 10:11 Jesus taught, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

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We live in a world filled with the last, the lost and the least. Not a week goes by when I do not get two or three calls asking for assistance with rent or utilities. The ugly truth is that we cannot help everyone. The ugly truth is that the problems that we are faced with are bigger than our congregation. But that does not mean that we cannot do something. There are things that we can change.

God is moving in powerful and mysterious ways in Kent County, MD.   —   {Illustration}    — I think that God is preparing to introduce systemic changes into the world around us. I think that God is raising dedicated followers who are willing to be his hands and feet in this corner of God’s Creation.

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Preaching the Love of God, the Grace of Jesus and the Renewing Presence of the Holy Spirit is not about communicating information into someone’s mind; the Good News is about imparting the Love of God into their soul. God is encountered in our attitudes, actions, and reactions much more clearly than through the words we are saying or what we write on our blogs.

The reason I constantly quote St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel always; use words when necessary” is because St. Francis knew that words are powerful. St. Francis also understood that the content of our hearts and souls carries a much more powerful testimony to God than anything that we say. Our friends and neighbors who don’t know God, know us. You may be the only Bible that someone will ever read and the only ambassador for Jesus some will ever see. Your friends and neighbors read you and observe your life. Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of an evangelism and outreach project. Most people, however, want and crave an encounter with the living God and genuine faith.

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How we take care of our physical facilities, what we do in our worship and how we interact with each other and with our neighbors sends a strong message to anyone who walks through these doors. There is not a single church in our conference that would not say that they want families with children. By contrast, very few churches produce a children’s bulletin or have a children’s sermon. Very few churches tolerate children in the sanctuary when children fuss and cry like all children do. Very few churches have a Children’s Corner section in their newsletter.

What we do and do not do sends a message. That message is louder than anything else that can be said verbally. The way our church looks and feels when someone walks in is an indicator of our relationship with God. When passersby see our church from the outside, when visitors see our church from the inside, when outsiders see us interact with each other, do they see that we in fact have a strong and vibrant relationship with God and with each other, that we are alive in our faith, and that we care?

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In Romans 10:17 Paul wrote, “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” What do our friends and neighbors hear when they observe us?

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“Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.” (Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi)

Works Cited

Hamilton, Adam. Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2014.

 

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