Worship Service of Jan 18,2015

Sunday January 18,2015 Test of the Live feed for the Worship service.

http://ustre.am/19TCx

 

Back in the late 80’s Joan and I went to Romania and Austria with a choral group. We sang at Dracula’s castle, and all kinds of other venues. The trip all in all was a good trip to have made. I had two weeks with Joan in “Europe” and made some friendships that last even until today. They were forged on that trip. We saw the extreme poverty and oppression that existed in “chi-ches-que’s” Romania. People swept the streets with straw brooms from the 1200’s. We were followed by KGB, we had bugs in our rooms, we ate while most people there were starving.  When we landed at JFK and passed through customs into the terminal I almost cried with joy to be back in this country. Free to worship, Free to express my views, honored and proud to be a citizen of the United States of American. Some of us even kissed the ground.

Follow me Jesus said. And with that Phillip followed. He joined the ranks of Peter, Andrew, James and John. He joined the new community of believers …of followers. In a sense that just became new Citizens of the kingdom of God.

Isn’t that really what happens to us when we are baptized and come into the body of Christ? First we are committed to God and come into a new relationship with God and are in the family…spiritually reborn.

Second, as we commit ourselves to Christ we obtain a new citizenship into the Kingdom of God. A kingdom where have eternal life. I believe it is one of the most coveted positions I have…. A citizen of the kingdom of God! Something more treasured, more coveted than a US passport or citizenship dual citizenship! Paul tells the Philippians that our citizenship is in heaven. Our ….all of us believers…from near and far, past, present and future. We are joined together in unity.

I remember Billy Graham saying once, “Not only does God give us a new relationship with God but God also gives us a new family---the family of God.” We are bound together in our Baptism and God’s spirit. All of us different yet all of us united in the same spiritual bond.

In our togetherness God gives us a new journey…a new purpose. When we listen to God's calling a new purpose is offered to us in how we live. It is a new journey and it a journey that we live, not just for ourselves, but with a new purpose...we live for Christ.

As we answer the call of “Follow me!” we want to be with Christ, travel on Christ’s path and minister as Christ calls us to do. We begin to see people differently….

Notice we change and it is our view of life and how we live that changes.

I was like Nathanial. When I was 18, on December 16th. It was at Lansing Catholic High School. I was invited to go to the youth group Christmas party…yeow….Youth Group…church…kids from High School…I said yes just because something made me say it…I know my parents were as astonished as I was…One that I said yes and the other that it was a youth group. Don McClain’s American Pie was the gift that everyone received/exchanged. It was immediately after the presents and the food was being served that I stood a little off to the side when this lovely, young lady stood beside me and engaged me in conversation… Her eyes were piercing blue, she was about 5’4” … beautiful…as I began to make “MY MOVE” … Mary began to do this God talk stuff….after about 10 minutes in …love struck I’m sure…I asked her what she was doing after the gathering…going to evening prayers…she saw my surprise…then told me she was a nun….NO! NUNS ARE NOT YOUNG AND GORGEOUS THEY”RE OLD AND WELL>>>>When I told my buddies about it on Monday….A NUN! You know where you’re going!  A NUN!

But that Saturday evening there was a change in me…Call it what you will a spark was lit and from that point forward I haven’t looked back. I questioned my dad, my grandmother, my friends….my buddies and I even went to the Christmas Eve services at the non-denominational church in East Lansing….again my parents …. Know them over with a feather. Grandmom just smiled when she heard the story…she knew what was happening…..”FOLLOW ME….were the words being whispered in my ears and I began to follow. Oh sometimes questioning….no perhaps always? What is really strange about the story is none of my friends or kids that had attended that youth group event…remember or knew a blue eyed beautiful nun at the school…another hum moment????

We are all, however, no different than Nathanial…we are always questioning, always discerning what our call might be. We are always reassessing…am I still on the right path. When God calls we, as humans, are always "checking in" with God.

All of us are called by God to “FOLLOW ME” and do our part in the ministry to God’s people. ALL OF US.  If God has called you to be a worshiper FOLLOW JESUS AND be the best worshiper you can be…make it so that people will say, “Wow…if only I could worship like that!” If you are called “FOLLOW ME” AND serve on a committee…be totally committed and working to further God’s kingdom by facilitating people coming to God. If you are called to “FOLLOW ME” AND teach my hope is you are blessed by God to do that and when you do the students you teach will remember YOUR ministry with great fondness. Perhaps you will be the spark in their journey OR SOMEONE ELSE’S JOURNEY. If you are call to “FOLLOW ME” AND serve on a board my hope is people will say, “Now that is how you lead on a board!” If you are called to sing, sing with gusto and let the people know by the shine on your face and the sound of your voice that you are singing to the Glory of God and ministering in God’s name!

Being called by God carries a huge responsibility and sometimes, no always, is life altering. Yes your life will be changed if it hasn’t been already. Your step is livelier, your smile brighter, your friendship stronger, your love greater and your kindness knows no bounds. Don’t worry about the needs to answer God’s call. God knows your question and takes care of that by giving us just what we need, exactly when we need it. Just think of Moses! When we are called to “FOLLOW ME” we are called to be totally committed heart, mind and soul. Centered in Christ, living in Christ, giving your time, talents all to Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that, "We are God's workers, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  One of the more comforting truths that we know is that we are not alone; God is always with us. So....as the Apostle Paul asks us, "If God is with us, who can be against us?"

Friends....

Remain steadfast and unfaltering in your faith,

Be joyful in your ministry.

Be loving to all of those around you,

Be at peace in all that you do.

I urge you to pray boldly always

knowing God is aching to supply your every need and your wants!

Let God know your desires and then in the quietness

listen for God's answers.

So dream big

God's love knows no bounds and

the only limits are the ones we put on God.

Don’t be afraid and don’t hold back

You have the King of Kings

      The lord of lords

            The Son of God on your side.

                  He holds you up

                        He points the way

                              He has never let us down. NEVER! AMEN!!!!!!!

Let us pray

Open our eyes that we may see the opportunities you lay before me to minister to your people.

Open our ears that we might hear the cry of your people and your words of direction and encouragement.

Open our minds that we might understand the trials set before us, the glories all around us and the meaning of your call you make of us today, tomorrow and always. AMEN.

REFERENCES

  • New Interpreters Bible, Abington Press

  • NRSV Bible, Abington Press

  • Ancient Christian Commentaries, Inter Varsity

  • Book of Confessions, WJK

  • Feasting on the Word, WJK

  • “Does the Holy Spirit Live in You?” Rev. Billy Graham, 4/30/2009. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

  • Bibleworks for Windows,The New Testament in the Original Greek Byzantine Text Form, 2005,Compiled and arranged by Maurice A. Robinson and William G. Pierpont.

 

 

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