Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Unchangeable Name

September 28. The 16th Sunday after Pentecost.

This week ranks as one of the most beautiful weekends of the year in terms of weather, and absolutely unparalleled as regards the brilliance of autumn color on the region's landscapes. Pastor Brad welcomed us with exuberance.

Walt came forward to give a building update, beginning by thanking everyone who came to help. 65 gallons of primer and paint were applied. In addition to other tasks, we've saved over $4000 this week alone. No work projects this week, but thank you for all the hard work thus far.

Darlene ushered us into worship after our traditional greeting, playing "Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet." Our songs included 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord), Lord I Need You and Bless His Holy Name.

Our prayer needs are many, but God is sufficient for our needs.

Revelations 3

Brad began by reading the letter to the church of Philadelphia which is found in the third chapter of the book of Revelation, Rev. 3:7-13.

One theme in this letter includes a new, permanent name that we will receive. Brad added a number of thoughts about the meaning of names, including one sibling in a divorced home who was told he had to choose which of his parents' names he would take.

Philadelphia was a city with an identity crisis, too, because it was on a faultline where volcanoes occurred and where different countries (now Rome) overran them and changed their name.

Jesus is essentially saying, if you are feeling a lack of rootedness and identity, I am changing all that. One day you will be residents in an eternal city that can never be shaken and you will have a name that I will give you.

The letter begins by saying these words come from one who is Holy and True. The transcendant one sees from a higher perspective. "I am truth. I am sovereign. And what I say you can rely on."

In this letter to the churches of Philadelphia we read, "I have placed before you an open door which no one can shut," which echoes Isaiah 22:22 "I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

The keys to the kingdom... Jesus opens doors, and closes them as well.

Many people say they want to find God's will for their lives. But God doesn't show us 20 years out. He is a light unto our paths... the next step is where He leads us, one step at a time... by His voice. "My sheep know My voice," Jesus stated in John 10.

What is God telling us for today?

If it is to forgive someone, the only true power we have to forgive comes from understanding we have been forgiven from a moral debt that is beyond our comprehension. But it may be many other kinds of words He has for us. As we listen to God's still small voice amazing things can happen.

Brad shared the story about how our church rallied around the need many street people have for clean clothes because they have neither a place nor the money to wash their clothes. It was a remarkable day with more than 300 people being served.

Philadelphia is a church for which Jesus had no rebuke. Instead He declares in verse 8, "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

God sees our hearts and knows us. He wants to encourage us.

I think we'd be surprised to find out how much God can use us in the lives of other persons. You do not have to be big or impressive to be effective. You just have to follow His voice. And the key to our strength is this. He says,"I will be with you."

Stay positive. Stay hope-filled. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Brad then read to us Romans 8:31-39, The Message version,
So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Jesus says, I will write my name on you.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

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Most of the photos here are intended to help document the progress being made on our new building. This blog and the New Life Covenant Facebook Page will serve as a record of the events that have been happening during this time of transition.

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