Month: September 2018

 If God Had Not Been on Our Side

As Mark says in Chapter 9, life is full of temptations, and before we become holy, we will be “salted with fire” (v. 49).  Sanctification is a consistent theme in the Bible. (Sanctify comes from the word “to make holy” or “be separated.” But it is important to remember that sanctification isn’t merely about our individual piety (love for God).

 Psalm 124 describes King David’s unsettled circumstances. The imagery and the language of the Psalm are intense: “Their anger was kindled against us,” “brings to mind a forest fire,“ “raging waters. . . sweeping over our soul.” This Psalm reminds us that creation and humans are interconnected. David, just like us, felt trapped by the storms. 

Sometimes the circumstances are out of our control. David hoped that the storms of life will not overtake him, “had the Lord not been on our side.” It is hard to keep our focus on God when we are overwhelmed and scared, but it is a good practice that can be developed before the hard times come. Will the world be different if all people cared for creation? Caring for creation is a moral and ethical duty for all people, and for Christians, it is also a matter of faith—a stewardship issue.

The Bible teaches us about our stewardship responsibility from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22. God continues working on the redemption of the whole world. Part of our sanctification, then, is being good stewards of all that God has entrusted into our care. Christ’s commandment to loving our neighbor is a big part of our stewardship of creation.

We need to care for our creation with grace to inspire others by example. We need to continue working on our personal holiness to become “the salt of the earth.” The word “sanctification” can be an intimidating word. It is, however, an important concept for Christians in general and Methodists in particular. God calls the people of Israel to be “holy as I am holy” in Leviticus.  Jesus invites the new community to be “perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.

We are called to be the unique people of God, not because we are better than others, but because God wants us to work on our sanctification daily. Sanctification is not a passive piety, but it is a call to action. Being the sanctified people of God means being part of what God is doing in the world.  From the act of worship and prayer, God calls each of us to active discipleship. God wants to see the fruits of our faith.

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REFORESTING FAITH

How can we Learn God’s Love for Us from the Trees

In Psalm 1, the psalmist compares a righteous person to a tree, firmly planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season; its leaves do not wither, and in whatever it does, it prospers. This is a recurring set of images that draw us to the importance of the work of God. The description in Psalm 1 is similar to the description of the tree in Ezekiel 47:12 and the tree in Revelation 22:2. In all three descriptions, we see the following:

  1. A tree firmly planted by water
  2. A tree that yields fruit
  3. Leaves that do not whither
  4. A tree that is prospering

Dr. Matthew Sleeth offers these quotes from his book: “With the exception of God and people, the Bible mentions trees more than any other living thing.” “If I had to pick one subject other than Jesus to corroborate the inspired origin of the Bible, I’d pick trees. Why? Because while the Bible was written by many people over numerous centuries, the consistent use of trees throughout points us to one author.”

“I’ve come to understand that one of the most important reasons God chose trees is that at every stage of their lives, trees give.”

Tell about the new movement Blessed Earth and about the importance of trees in the Bible. “One of the reasons I believe God blazed a tree by every important character and event in scripture is because of trees’ nearly universal presence. There are trees in virtually every place that humans live on the planet.”

This week preaches itself. Psalm 1 is a key creation-care text. It brings us back to the beginning in the Garden of Eden, and it points us to the end with a new heaven and earth. It reminds us yet again what this book we call the Bible is all about — life and our journey toward righteousness. Creation always points us in that direction. We just need to be aware of our surroundings. Consider using this week’s sermon to launch an initiative to plant trees. The poor communities and subsidized housing areas have few trees or no trees. There is a missional opportunity and evangelistic opportunity here. While planting trees, people may have the opportunity to share the story of God’s redemptive love. What a powerful image of a follower of Jesus heading into the community with a tree in one hand and God’s word in the other!

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McCoy’s Crossing Bridge

On September 2nd, 2018, I attended the celebration activities for the 30th Anniversary of New Life Christian Center Church in California, MO.

The Celebration re-dedicated the New Life Church building to our Lord and Savior.

The Church services were followed by a Barbeque and ribbon cutting ceremony for a new bridge built for Water Baptisms. The Bridge was dedicated as “McCoy’s Crossing Bridge” in memory of my Mother-in-law Ova McCoy, who was an original member of New Life Church. Ova Passed away December 23, 2016 at the age of 109 years. The activities were followed by 15 water baptisms. It was a beautiful day and enjoyed by all.

Kay McCoy

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