Pastor Brad opened the service by reminding us that today is Transfiguration Sunday, the transition between the end of Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. We were reminded that there will be an Ash Wednesday service here midweek, with a soup and sandwich dinner (6:15 p.m.) preceding the service, which will include the imposition of ashes. It has historically been a very special time here at New Life and will undoubtedly be the same again this year.
Other announcements included a overnight youth event Friday, and the need for a substitute teacher for Joanne who will be away on April 3 and 10.
Darlene shared a lively introit today, and then Brad read a pair of passages to officially open the services. One was taken from II Corinthians and the other John 8:12 in which Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
After a time of worship and the offering, Pam shared a moment for missions in which she talked about Covenant World Relief. Covenant World Relief is the humanitarian aid arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Funds donated to Covenant World Relief are used in two ways: first, for disaster relief and second, for transformational community development. For more information visit http://www.covchurch.org/relief/
Today's Scripture reading was from Matthew 6:25-34. After a time of prayer Shylee Smith blessed us with a special song, "Turn Up the Music." Pastor Brad stepped up to the pulpit.
What is the most repeated command in Scripture? Is it sexual integrity and the need to keep our hearts pure? Is it to love one another? Brad said it may come as a surprise but the most repeated command is, "Fear not." Stop worrying.
This is not to say that total absence of fear is good. Healthy fears keep us safe sometimes, but there are unhealthy fears which can become chronic, distorting our whole outlook on life.
Fear keeps people from trusting God and others. Fear can deceive us and keep us from faith.
Circumstances are not the cause of our problems, and many examples from the Bible can be cited to illustrate. For example, when Moses sent the twelve spies into Israel to scout out the land, ten saw trouble, two were commended for seeing the possibilities and opportunities. Likewise, when David brought supplies to the army of Israel on one occasion, they were all cowering in terror. David saw a different situation, grabbed his slingshot and slew the giant Goliath. In the New Testament we find Jesus and the disciples cross a lake in a boat when a storm comes up. These men were terrified out of their wits at the possibility that their lives were lost. Meanwhile, Jesus was asleep and completely at ease in the same boat.
The key to overcome worry is to adjust your mindset. Your perspective is the primary determinant. Perspective gives you the ability to sort what is important and what is not.
Often, when we read the words "fear not" in Scripture, they precede an action or step which God is calling someone to.... or calling a group of people to. By references to the new building project, it is likely that Brad had a specific application in mind here. Are we going to keep our fears in perspective or allow ourselves to be paralyzed by them.
There were five points the pastor made regarding fear and worry.
1) Chronic fear erodes self esteem.
People who take action experience growth and delight. When you avoid taking action because of worry, it hollows you out.
Not all situations are easy, but taking initiative will leave you affirmed inside because even if you fail you will know that you at least tried. Attempting something in the face of fear is an act of courage. If you wimp out, inside you will die a little more each time.
2) Growth involves risk.
Fear results in stagnation. When we allow fear to dictate our future, it will kill our future. Here Brad pointed out the building project across the road is an example where there is risk but also opportunity.
3) Living in fear sucks the joy out of life.
All too often our imaginations run to the negative side of things and we "catastrophize" things. (ednote: My psychologist brother calls it "awfulizing".) 90% of what we worry about does not come to pass.
4) It will lead to a mountain of regret.
Abraham left everything he was familiar with to go to an new place, a new life that was completely uncertain and unknown to him. Moses, too, had to leave the comfortable and step into the unknown. Daniel had to trust God as he stepped into a den of lions.
We can go for the comfortable, or step out and experience a God moment. No one in Scripture who trusted God ever regretted it. Some did say no to God, and He leaves the choices to us. The rich young ruler probably ended up regretting his choice by the time he was a rich old ruler. We'll never know God is trustworthy until we take a chance and trust Him.
5) There is a cost to anxiety.
Brad said he never thought he was a worrier until he had children. Parents need to be careful about transmitting their worries to their children.
Jesus had some advice for those who worry, this familiar passage from Matthew 6.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Brad then reminded us of another familiar passage, Romans 8:31-38 which ends with the powerful promise, "Nothing can separate us from the love of God."
If that's really true, what's holding you back? Once you really grasp this truth, it will revolutionize your life.
We closed the service by celebrating the Lord's Supper.