Susan Jessico was invited forward to share a Children's Message related to this time of year as we transition into fall. Susan brought a variety of branches to show and then asked if any of them would grow if they were stuck into the ground and watered. The answer, obvious to many of us, was that no, they would not. The branch will thrive when connected to the tree, and apart from this connection would die. As Jesus declared in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
The ushers came froward to receive the offering as the kids returned to their seats. The quartet sang Worthy of Worship in accompaniment. Chuck then led us as we took a little time for prayer.
Connect, Grow and Become is the mission of this church, so for the next few weeks his themese will connect to ours.
Today's message is about Accepting Acceptance. When we truly realize that God has accepted us, it makes a difference.
The Bonsai trees that have been showing up in the front are object lessons Terry has brought to share. Today's tree is a set of trees, a forest setting. When it started out, the five little trees did not appear to go together. And so it is with ourselves...
Relationships aren't easy. Selfishness, anger and other things become barriers to our becoming one with others.
Christianity is not a religion, it's a relationship. Unfortunately we live in a world of broken relationships. Often, the relationships we want most are the ones most broken.
At this point Terry introduced the text for this message, Luke 19:1-10. Zacchaeus was a rich tax collector, not respected by the Romans and hated by his fellow Jews. When Jesus came through his town there was a mob scene. Because Zacchaeus was short he climbed a tree to try to see Jesus. While Zacchaeus was in the tree Jesus came over to him and said, "Zacchaeus, come down here, I'm staying at your house today."
The people grumbled, "Look, he's gone to be the guest of a sinner."
But in response to Jesus' acceptance, Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Learning to respond to the love of God, rather than the fear of hell, is the true way to repent. In a world motivated by fear, we need to present the Gospel as something beautiful to embrace.
Terry concluded by sharing a song called Good Good Father. "I'm a big fan of the simple truths that God has embedded in my heart," he said in closing.