Worship July 19, 2020
I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.
Join me in prayer
God of surprises, we come here from the weariness of the week, from various triumphs, from fears and doubts. Open our hearts to receive your surprising message of hope for all people, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Let’s join together in singing The Church’s One Foundation
Hymn UMH 546 The Church’s One Foundation (verses 1,2,5)
Children’s Message Ben Ziegler
Scripture Romans 8:12-25
12 So then, brothers and sisters,[a] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba![b] Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness[c] with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in[d] hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes[e] for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Today I am sharing a message written by Rev. Bradford Robinson and shared on October 28, 2005. Suffering in Hope
A pastor received a phone call late at night, it was a phone call from a member of his church who was a leader within the congregation as well as a good friend. His 16-year-old daughter was coming home from her part time job when a drunk driver veered off into her lane hitting her head on and she was in critical condition with severe head injuries. The pastor rushed out to the hospital going through his mind what he might say to this desperate family, but by the time he got there, the young teenage girl had tragically already passed away. The family was out in the waiting room having just received the news, the father of this young girl sat in a chair with his face buried in his hands as he cried and cried. At that time, everything the pastor had thought of saying suddenly seemed so inadequate, and the only words he could think of saying to his good friend was, “Bill, one day God’s going to put an end to all this and He is going to make all things right.” The man then looked up from his tear-soaked hands and softly said, “I wish it were today. I wish it were today.”
You may have echoed similar words at some point in your life. We say those words when we have turned on the news and have seen stories of little kids being molested, of teen age girls murdered, families who are torn apart because of the selfishness of a spouse. We groan as we see innocent men and women who are simply going to work are targeted and blown up by young men and women possessed by an ideology of hate; and we groan. We groan and we cry out to Heaven, “Lord, will it ever end?” “Will the pain ever go away?” “Is there an end to this cycle of suffering?”
As Paul talks about life in this passage, he does not want to sugar coat the pain and struggles that we go through or paint an idyllic picture of this world we are living in. Instead what he wants to do is to put them into perspective. Look again at what he says in 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Paul uses language that helps us see life as an eternal proposition. We live here on earth for a little while, but eternity is forever. What Paul wants to make sure of is that we don’t get so discouraged with the difficulties of this life that we lose sight of the big picture of eternity. He says, “Don’t forget, there will be a time when there won’t be any more struggles, pain, death or tears. For those who are in Christ, there will be only joy and happiness.”
In this world you will have trouble, but never forget the hope we have as Christians. Now if you are listening today and you are on the verge of giving up, if you are trapped in a situation that you have deemed hopeless, please listen carefully to this message this morning and perhaps God will give you a glimpse of that hope you need.
Now this hope if vital to our existence because this world we live in is a fallen world filled with pain and suffering. A favorite Peanuts cartoon strips has Schroeder, garbed in an oversized catcher’s mask and chest protector, striding out to the mound. He hands Charlie Brown the baseball, and laments, “The bases are loaded again, and there’s still nobody out.” “So what do you think?” Charlie Brown asks. Schroeder ponders the question for a moment, and replies, “We live in difficult times.”
Indeed we do. Someone has said, “If it’s not one thing it’s another, and some days it’s both.” The world can be a very difficult place, but it wasn’t always that way.
When God created the world, His evaluation of it was that it was good. It was a perfect world. There was no need for insulin shots, tiny caskets, divorce papers and broken families, no cancer, no heart disease, no pandemic, no racism, it was all good. Yet sin entered the world through the choice of Adam and Eve who deliberately disobeyed God, and as a result the world as it was stopped and the world as we see it today came to be.
This world is not evolving but devolving. The world is not what God originally designed it to be. The world exists in a fallen state. That is what Paul means when he says that creation is subjected to futility, by God’s will. In other words, the world is under the judgment of God because of sin. And not only is it a fallen world, but it is a world that is falling apart.
It is subject to what physicist call the second law of thermodynamics that states basically that everything in this universe is decaying. What seems fresh and new one day will someday be old and broken down. Something that is growing and vibrant will someday shrivel up and die. To use Paul’s language, this world is in “bondage to decay.”
But there hope! Romans 8:19-21 says, “creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
And Creation is not alone in its groaning. Even we who have the Spirit living within us, those of us who have given our hearts to Jesus Christ and received Him as Lord and Savior, we cry out as well. Romans 8:23 says, “We ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
We live in a fallen world and we feel the effects of living in that world and we feel the effects of the fall in us as well. That 2nd law of Thermodynamics applies not only to creation but to us as well. 2 Cor 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” Outwardly we are wasting away. That’s a rather blunt way of saying it but it’s the truth.
Our bodies are falling apart. A referee in a basketball league was asked of all the age groups, which group was the hardest to referee. He said, “Hands down it’s the over 35 age group, He said that he simply dreaded refereeing those games because they have more trouble with that age group than any other. The reason, he said, was that the guys who used to be able to play think that they still can play, but now they’re getting old and slow and they don’t want to blame themselves, so they blame the referees. Like that Country Western song, “I ain’t what I once was, but I once was”
We are not the same as we were ten years ago. Reflexes slow down, elasticity goes, memory fades. People used to say, “It’s good to see you,” but now when they see you they say, “You haven’t aged a bit” and you know it’s a lie! Yet its evidence that this body is falling apart in need of redemption. Complete Redemption! And as you see your body falling apart it’s a sobering reminder of this fallen world, and so you groan for the day when all things are made right.
Yet as much as we groan because of the brokenness of our bodies, it’s when we start to experience the fallen nature of this world that we really start groaning. When you see families impacted by lay-offs and plant closures; when you see grieving widows standing by the graves of their spouse, when you hear the hateful words of others, or when you speak those hateful words yourself, you groan for that coming day.
You see, when we see the reality of this world and its decaying existence and in our own bodies as well, it is a sobering thought. Especially if this life and this world was all that your hope was in. If this world is all you know then it is truly a hopeless situation. And by far hopelessness is the worst thing that can happen to you. When you are without hope then you have no reason to for joy in your life. You have no reason to go on.
But Paul reminds us that we have hope. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. …For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
Paul’s not saying that we should compare what the sufferings in this world are to the glories in the next, but it’s not worth comparing. That’s how great the disparity is. It’s not even close. And Paul knew quite a bit about suffering. Listen to what Paul wrote in 2 Cor 11:24-28, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” All that suffering, yet it’s not even worth comparing to what Paul would receive one day in Christ.
The word glory means something that fills us with awe, and one day, we will stand in awe. We will stand in awe of what God will do with this world as the consequences of the fall are removed. One day we will stand in awe of what God will do in us when we have a glorified body that is absent of pain and disease. Just think of all what we have to look forward to.
For those who know Christ we already have a sneak peek. What Christ had done for us by forgiving us of our sins and giving us a new heart is just a taste of what’s to come. I love it when ever my wife is cooking supper, and I’ll sneak into the kitchen and when she’s not looking I’ll grab a piece of whatever she’s making, and then she’ll usually chase me out with a wooden spoon. But with that one bite, it tasted so good, but it left me hungry for more and it gets me excited for what’s fixing to be put on the table. In the same way, we have a glimpse of our salvation now, we have experienced salvation and all the joys that come with it, but what we have experienced is only a taste of that great banquet that God has in store for us.
We may suffer for a time, but one day our joy will make us forget the pain. I think a good analogy is given here when it says that creation is groaning like in birth pains. When a woman is pregnant, she starts off with joy, but as she progresses through the pregnancy she grows and begins to get uncomfortable, miserable. And the longer she goes the more she says, “When is this going to end!” And then after a painful delivery, life is brought forth along with joy and that 9 months of misery is forgotten as she looks into the eyes of her child. I think 9 months is the limit of the threshold of pain for pregnancy and God knows that, and God knows the limits to our suffering, and when the time is right, that day will come when God will make all things right. Just as surely as birth follows pregnancy, glory will follow our suffering in this lifetime. Until that time we will patiently and anxiously await that day. Amen
Hymn TFWS 2162 Grace Alone
If you were like me, your summer evenings as a child consisted of running around the back yard barefoot with an old mason jar trying to catch a firefly, a lightening bug. And once you did the jar filled with light, and your face would fill with amazement. But if you kept that creature in the jar, if you tried to sit it next to your bed as a night light the glow would fade, the buzzing would halt, and the amazement would end. So often we want to bottle up our light and use it for our own amazement, our own joy. But if we let go of that light, if we share what we have, we can light the entire world. Through you your light of an offering will be used to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Dedication
Gracious God, you have given us so much more than we could ever hope for or deserve. As your servants, may we be obedient to your call to be generous, following your example. May the gifts help lead others to the realization that they are loved beyond measure and that the gift of Jesus Christ was given for them. Amen.
Hymn UMH # 404 Every Time I Feel the Spirit
As you engage in God’s world, bring messages of hope to all. As we have been blessed, may we bring blessings to all in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.
- Thank you to mother daughter team Isabella and Elaine Keehr for providing our music.
- If you are interested in receiving an Upper Room Meditation for July and August contact the church office.
- Next Sunday, July 26, the Mora church will gather for an outdoor worship service.
- High-risk individuals (those over age 60 and/or with underlying health conditions) are highly encouraged to stay home and worship individually and/or online.
- We encourage everyone to wear cloth face masks while at church.
- Place your lawn chairs minimally six feet from the nearest non-family members.
- Refrain from handshakes hugs or close contact with non-family members. Consider a friendly wave, a slight bow of the head, or crossing your arms over your heart as a greeting to others.
- The offering will be collected in baskets at the front and back of the seating area. Simply place you offering into a basket as you enter or leave.
- In case of rain the service will continue to be pre-recorded and found on Facebook and the church website.
- At this time, no decision has been made related to the Ogilvie worship service, so it continues to be online.
As we continue to navigate this challenging season, let us remember that God is with us. So until we meet gather again, I wish you peace. Pastor Deb