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The Truly Important Ministry….is Unseen but by a few.

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Dawn at Concordia

Devotional thought for your day:

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2  When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3  But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4  Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 (NLT)

718         If only they could see the good things I do!… But don’t you realise that you are carrying them around like trinkets in a basket for people to see how fine they are? Furthermore, you must not forget the second part of Jesus’ command: “that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Nearly a year ago, I did the memorial service for an incredible lady.

The bulletin of that service still resides on the little refrigerator in my office, a reminder of our very simple, very special relationship.

Every Tuesday at 9 am, I would travel about 500 yards from my office, enter the house she had a bedroom in, and talk a moment, then pray for her.  No more than 15 minutes, more likely ten or so. On occasion, I would bring her the leftover flowers from church on Sunday,

And every time I left, even when she was too tired to talk, I felt lifted up.  She ministered to me far more than I ministered to her.

I knew she had a couple of incredible jobs in her life.  The executive assistant to a seminary president, the producer of a mega church pastor’s television ministry.  She didn’t talk about those things.  Rather it was the joy of hearing from this friend or that pastor.  It was about reading the sermons of those she knew.  It was always about someone else,

Given the honor of officiating at her service, I realized that day how much of an honor it was.  Men who served the church for decades and trained thousands of preachers were there.  They told me of the things my friend did, and how she ministered to them for decades.  How she helped and raised money for seminarians and worked for equity among the staff. How she interacted with world famous preachers ( I still love the story of her moving a bicycle rack to protect a parking spot for Billy Graham – and how he helped her move it back where it belonged when he got there! )

Yet I knew none of this as I visited her, as I prayed for her, as we looked at Roses and carnations and lilies and marveled at the hand of God that created the beauty we observed.   I simply knew a lady whose bright eyes ministered to me as I prayed for her, a  lady who lived so simply, so beautifully that I looked forward to visiting her each week.

I think she got the passages above and the incredible things she did in life weren’t paraded around, for her reward was to hear Jesus welcome her home.  Looking back on a life full of incredible service to God wasn’t her style, it wasn’t what she counted as important. Rather it was finding God’s peace, as a neighborhood pastor stopped by, and she could fill his life with God’s peace, even as she rejoiced in a small time of prayer.

I miss my friend – but thank God for what she taught me about ministry and walking with God, watching Him at work.

Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 2995-2999). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Christmas Sunday Sermon: “I Have Seen!” (Growing past weariness)

I Have Seen!

Luke 2:22-40

†  Jesus, Son, Savior

 I pray for you this, on this third day of Christmas.  That you would know the awe, the joy, the wonder on the 8th day of Christmas, that Simeon and Anna knew… and that you would never forget this joy of seeing God’s salvation for all people!

How tired, how weary, and this strange man

It was a cold day when they woke up, and Joseph packed up all they had.  We think he had a donkey, but who can be sure?  We do know that they were among the poorest of the poor, so it is possible they had to carry all they had.

Even so, the mother of the Messiah, seven days after giving birth picked him up, and with her husband set out on a six to seven-mile hike.  A hike that would climb 2000 feet in elevation, as they went through olive groves and past military outposts.

Al, how many of us could walk from here to your house? That would be a little farther, but not as strenuous of a climb!  Seven days after giving birth.  They were still weary from the long trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Deacon Bob asked a question in our preparation that I couldn’t answer.  Would it be easier for Mary to hike that distance, or ride a donkey, considering she just gave birth. I have no idea…..neither sounds like an easy trip!

They had no choice to take either journey.  The first was mandated by the laws of men.  The journey on this day mandated by the laws of God.

The good thing was that they were in Bethlehem, and not Jericho.

As they finally climb the temple mount, weary and tired from the three to four-hour journey, a very old man wanders over to them, with a huge smile, mumbling praise God! Praise God! He looks down at Jesus and gently takes Him from Mary, crying out to someone(?), I see! I see!

I wonder what they thought when he broke into song????
How would you feel, if you someone handed to you Jesus, the Messiah?

What would it be like to hold Jesus, the one who would die for your sin? Not sure of that perhaps, but knowing the hope for all humanity was there… in your hands?

That is what Simeon experienced…

How tired and weary are we?

Do we manage the things God desires?

What if Mary and Joseph didn’t?

The apostle Paul once wrote,

9  So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10  Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.
Galatians 6:9-10 (NLT)

Somehow, Mary and Joseph found the strength to make it to Jerusalem, to have Jesus circumcised, to offer the sacrifices that it took, for Him to be considered righteous.  I mean, what would have happened if they had said – well the roads will be too rough, Mary needs another week in bed, we can go to the temple any time?  Or the temple opens too early, or tool late, or we don’t like the long lines.  I could even imagine Joseph saying, Mary, if you don’t stop trying to give me directions we are just going to head home!  If they didn’t complete the journey, if the offerings and circumcision hadn’t happened, then he would not be righteous, and he couldn’t have died for us.

My friends weariness is not a valid reason for you or I to sin.  To fail to do the good that God commissioned fro us to do.  To say a mean word because we are tired and irritable is as much a sin as the lies and gossip we know are forbidden.  Failing to help someone because they drain what energy we have left is just like stealing from them, or even murdering them. Sin is sin, whether we feel like we are Abraham’s age, or William’s.

That’s why Paul encourages us not to grow weary, not to stop doing what God has prepared for us.

it’s hard you say.  I agree.

But so was a virgin and her husband, who had given birth a week before – making the trek to the temple.

I have seen!

As they come to the temple, they meet two people have known weariness.  They have spent their lives in prayer, and in ministering to others.  We hear of their devotion, their faithfulness, their righteousness,  Both are guided by the Holy Spirit, even as we are.  And despite their age, they serve God with willingness and great desire. And both are older, much older.

Simeon, the one guided by the Holy Spirit that day, who was told that this baby, this newborn, was the one who would make us born again.

He had seen it, what he had been waiting for all of His life, why he spent that life eagerly awaiting for the Messiah to appear.  So assured by the Holy Spirit that all he had to see was the baby, to hold him.

The nunc dimitis. Our completion, there in his hands.

This baby would reveal God to every nation, it was the reason God had chosen this small nation of Israel and protected and guided it.  This child who would be a great joy to many, the One, who would reveal all our deepest thoughts, and cleanse us anyway.

As God had promised, our salvation revealed!

Our salvation, there in Simeon’s hands.

The other person, whose weariness would fade was a 84-year-old woman who had spent 64 years waiting for that day.  For sixty-four years and more, she would fast and pray, that God would save His people.  As Simeon noted, not just Israel, but all of His people.  And so He did!  She told everyone there, everyone who was waiting for the Messiah.

He’s here!  Simeon is holding Him!

How much the weariness would disappear from their old bones.  How much the joy of knowing God had kept His promise.

As we gather at the rail this morning, as we are given the Body and Blood of Christ, Take a moment…and think about what you have been given.  For we too see our salvation, we see God revealed to us, we are brought into His glory.

Find the peace that chases away the weariness, the love which embraces you, the joy of Christ’s gathering us to Himself…and sharing Himself with us.

And rejoice, for He is with you!

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