September 23, 2020
Patrick and the Elders, servants of Jesus the Christ, greet you!
The first thing I want to say is that we need to continue to pray for the firefighters, nurses, doctors, EMT’s, and law enforcement agents. I have a family member who is working along with the fire department in one of the bigger fires and he had a very close call yesterday. It scared all of us. It reminded me that I have stopped praying for them. The air quality has improved so much that I stopped thinking about the fires and those who are still in harm's way fighting fires all over California. (Lord Jesus ... forgive me.)They are bravely fighting through exhaustion and extreme danger to battle these fires. Let us continue to pray for them. But, also for the brave men and women who are battling different kinds of fires across the country. Police officers are perpetually in harm’s way. Now more than ever as, in some cases, they are being targeted. The nurses, and all of the medical professionals, continue to show just what they are made of as they are still on the front lines of this pandemic. Let us pray for them.
While we’re praying, please pray for the teachers and students across the county and the country. How these teachers are finding ways to teach our students in the midst of this craziness is beyond me. GREAT JOB TEACHERS! And let me give a shout out to our preschool. Our preschool is amazing. Our director, TJ Yeager, is fantastic at her job! And she leads a group of teachers that are fiercely dedicated to our precious children. But, here’s my confession: I don’t know the names of our teachers and I don’t pray for them. (Lord Jesus ... forgive me.) That ends now. I, more than anyone else, need to be praying for our preschool leader, teachers, parents AND the children themselves! I vow to start praying for them, and I invite you to join me in committing to pray for our preschool.
We also need to pray for all the bigger kids trying to go to school via the internet. Quick story: (I promise! LOL!) There is a high school right around the corner from where I live and about 3-4 weeks ago, around 7:00 in the morning, I heard loud music and yelling outside. (This kind of thing drives me crazy! I can never leave this stuff alone! Tamara is always playing the role of Elsa in the movie Frozen by telling me to ... “LET IT GO!” I try y'all, but it’s hard!!) Anyway, I stick my chest out and lower my voice as I approach a car with teenage boys in it and on it! A few of them see me approaching but they don’t say anything. (Even if they did say something I wouldn’t be able to hear them over the music!) I get within ear shot and I ask them, “What’s going on?” The biggest of the boys (who was about my height) comes over to me and, with kindness and respect in his voice, tells me that it was the first day of their senior year of high school. I immediately felt empathy. Can you imagine the first day of your senior year in high school and you can’t go on the campus where you spent 3 years? I mean, when you are a senior in high school, you are finally the top dog! You deserve to walk through the halls of high school boldly and proudly. But, these poor guys had been relegated to hanging out at the park, then going home and maybe spending the rest of their senior year behind a computer screen. I immediately stopped acting like a jerk and began to encourage them to hang in there! (I did, however, remind them that they were in a residential area and old folks like me may still be sleeping. They quickly and respectfully honored my request to turn the music down ... just a little. LOL! I also told them that if they ever needed anything to come see me.) It just reminds me that we need to pray for these kids.
Hey, we had a great time on Sunday! The parking lot was so full we had folks parking on the sides. Praise God!!
As you may know we are in our series on Unity and it’s clear that this topic is SO needed! I’m hearing from you guys that the things we are talking about on Sundays are things God’s been talking to you about. AMEN! I believe it’s because there’s too much at stake for the church to be divided. Ok, without looking at it could you recite the little rhyme I wrote from memory? (If you did ... GREAT JOB! If not, here’s your chance to begin memorizing it.)
“What’s at stake with our DIVISION is the FRUITION of Jesus’ MISSION!”
This past Sunday we talked about, what I think, is at the core of how we are going to be able to maintain the Unity that Jesus purchased and prayed for. LOVE.
Not just any love ... oh no! Not our often self-centered love. Not the kind of love that we give with ourselves in mind. No sir. No ma’am.
In John 13:34-35 (ESV), Jesus said, “34 ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’”
This love will define us to the outside world.
When people see a person in a jersey and sneakers shooting a basketball through a hoop they think, “They must be a basketball player.”
When people see a person in a bright orange vest and a hard hat they think, “They must be a construction worker.”
When people see us loving each other they will think, “They must be Christians!”
Jesus said love would define us to the outside world! But, not just any love. Love that looks like Jesus’ love ... SACRIFICIAL LOVE. That is so important, because we CANNOT and WILL NOT maintain Unity without sacrificial love. It won’t happen.
In the coming weeks we are going to be talking about ways we should treat one another in order to maintain our Unity. Among these will be titles such as: “Bearing One Another’s Burdens”, “Stop Fighting and Start Forgiving One Another” and “Exhorting One Another”.
But, hear me: We are NOT going to be able to do any of that if we don’t Love Sacrificially ... as Jesus loved us. And here’s the thing: WE DON’T HAVE A CHOICE! In this matter Jesus didn’t leave it up to us to decide! He made LOVE a COMMAND! I think He made it a command because of just how important it is. We cannot be “A House Divided”. Why did I put that in quotes? Because that’s the title of the message this Sunday!! Make sure you’re there!!
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” 1 Corinthians 16:23-24 (ESV)
In service to our God and King,
Pastor Patrick and the Elders of Ceres Christian Church