White Rock Baptist Church Blog
I Won’t Complain
Luke 2: 25-35
God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. I thank God that from the Christian faith prospective every year ends with the celebration of the birth of Jesus and the new year begins under the aura of that celebration. This is both instructive and encouraging to us. The year ends with the assertion that in Jesus God keeps His promise of redemptive revelation to all people. Each new year begins under the power of that revelation. We can begin the year in His joy.
The story of God’s high favor to Mary in choosing to use her in the fulfillment of His promise highlights that fact that each of us is honored when He involves us in His work of redemption. This was the central emphasis of last Sunday’s worship. Studying God’s dealings with Mary, however, makes clear that His favor does not exempt us from the reality of suffering. This is a baffling truth which prompts us to continuing examination of His way with us. This revelation is the point of focus in today’s worship experience. Linking honor and suffering makes the resurrection an inevitable climax of life in/with Christ. This will be the accent of next Sunday’s worship.
Under the claims of these truths—high favor, unavoidable suffering and inevitable resurrection—we will on the third Sunday hold the installation of all Church Officers and Leaders and make a sincere commitment as a congregation in response to the Lord’s calling/charge. Our Church Theme for 2019 is “WE TRY!” Let us gather for worship in fresh surrender as we enter and continue through the year.
Let us be prayerful one for the other!
Joy! We are one in the Lord.
Sermon: What Are We Waiting For - Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
Love and Serve God
Lesson: Joshua 24.1-3a, 13-15, 21-24
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods . . . Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
Joshua 24.16, 18b (NRSV)
In the Book of Joshua, Chapter 24, there is a Covenant Renewal Ceremony. It comes as the culmination of the conquest of the Promised Land and the division of the territories amongst every tribe, clan and family. The ceremony was an opportunity for the people of Israel to remember their history and reaffirm their purpose.
Joshua began the ceremony by reminding the Israelites that their ancestors did not start out worshiping the LORD. Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor-- lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods (Joshua 24.2). The LORD took Abraham from that land to Canaan but later, during a famine, Jacob and his children left Canaan and went to Egypt. Unfortunately, they became enslaved there and were exposed to the gods of Egypt. But the LORD brought them out with a mighty hand. God brought them through the wilderness to Canaan. God defeated their enemies and provided cities to live in and groves they did not plant. Now, As they prepared to settle in Canaan, Joshua challenged the Israelites. Make a choice. The gods of Haran, of Egypt or even the gods of Canaan. But, said Joshua, as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD (v. 15). The people responded, we also will serve the LORD (v. 18). Joshua warned the people that the Lord was a jealous God and would not permit them to serve other gods. Joshua knew the people were accustomed to including the LORD in the list of the many gods they would worship. Joshua, however, was calling for total devotion. ”You shall have other gods before me” (Exodus 20.3).
Joshua’s challenge is ever present. He does not ask us to serve the Lord because of our grandparents or out of tradition. He simply asks that we look over our lives and identify the One who found us, walking in darkness, and brought us out. Find the One who has never forsaken us even when we have been untrue. It is none other than the LORD. Let us love and serve God.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence
Beloved in the Lord, by God’s grace and by your strivings to be faithful to His charge “Through the Years. . .”, we have come to the final Lord’s day in the year 2018. I thank God for the holy endeavors of each of you and I’m grateful to you for the extent of your yieldings to Him. So many of you have been inspirations to me and to others in the work of our Lord.
My appreciation is more than I can express to you for your remembrances of me and my family on so many occasions throughout the year past. Individual cards and calls, gifts and continued intercessions for us have been sources of strength. May God’s grace and peace be greatly multiplied to you in every way.
As we look forward to the year 2019, I invite you to examine and emulate the response made by Mary, the mother of Jesus, to the calling/charge given to her in the work of redemption which belongs to Jesus. Though, she did not fully fathom the assignment by God, she accepted the fact that she was a highly favored woman because of His choice. Throughout her days she tried to weigh/assess the significance of it all. She discovered that hers was more than the task of giving birth; it was also hers “to mother Him” to maturity through all of His years. She learned early that her favoring by God involved suffering for and because of His choice. Through it all she remembered and was strengthened in those stored memories of the sanctity of God’s choice and the marvel of Jesus’ ministry. She was faithful to the end. May it be so with each of you.
Joy! We are one in the Lord. Let us give to Him nothing less than our best.
May God's grace and peace be multiplied unto you.
Love and Obey
Lesson and Read: Deuteronomy 6.1-9
Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 6.4-5 (NRSV
We often hear that the Old Testament is based on the Law and the New Testament on grace. However, Jesus said he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5.17). This lesson shows us the overlooked presence grace right in the midst of the Law.
The Book of Deuteronomy is often called Moses’ “last will and testament.” First he reviews the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land (chapters 1-4). Then he charges the People of God to remember that history and their covenant with the Lord as they go forward. In Chapter 5, we find a second reading of the Ten Commandments (that’s why we call this book deutero (second) nomus (law) or Deuteronomy. In chapter 6, just before Moses makes his final appeal to the people, we have the passage known as the “Shema.” Shema means “hear.” Moses is saying, “Listen! Pay attention to this!” He is reminding and affirming the truth that is the foundation for all that follows.” The Lord is Israel’s God”—Israel worships and is claimed by the Lord, the God who is over all. And “the Lord is one”—the Lord is God alone or the Lord is the One God. Other nations have a plethora of gods for wind, rain and fire, but Israel’s God is God alone; Israel’s God hold all power. “God and God alone is fit to take the universe’s throne. Let everything that lives reserve its truest praise for God, and God alone” (Phil McHugh).
How are God’s people to respond to the almighty God? With fear? No. With anxiety? No. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (6.5). Love is the fulfillment of the Law. When we honestly consider who our God is and all that the Lord has done for us, are not our hearts filled with gratitude, with appreciation, with love? And if we truly love God, it is not a burden to obey. In fact, it brings joy to lend heart and mind and soul and strength to serve him.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to GOD in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2: 8-13
“News of Great Joy!”
Today is the final Sunday of the season of Advent. For us this period is not a time of unknowing; it is a call to reflection upon the reality which we already know that Jesus is Born! What is the life altering results of His coming? What is the dimension of greatness in His having come? What is/ought be the empowering impact of these reflections upon our lives as members of the church (this congregation, White Rock)? Are we incentivized by what we know?
I pray that the joy of Christ’s coming will be stirringly sensitized within us. I pray that this Great Joy will be marvelously manifest within and through us in the days ahead granted unto us by God’s grace.
Be reminded of our Church celebration at 10am on this Tuesday. Let us gather for worship on the final Sunday of 2018 (10am); let us break bread together on this last Sheepfold Sunday following the worship hour and then hold our Annual Business session after the meal.
“May God’s grace and peace be multiplied unto you. . .”
Joy! —“Be Well”!