Rev. Tom Shelton, retired, brings our message today.
Expiation, The atonement for our sins, Romans 3:22-31 and Isaiah 53:4-6.
All of our happiness was bought with a price. Do you know the price Christ paid for you? Christ satisfied the need for our punishment by going to the cross that we should have died on. He was wounded for our transgressions. God loves us so much he gave his life for us.
What have you done for Christ? Have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb?
As the time draws near to close my work at Little Church, I have been asked a few questions. One is whether my decision has been a long time coming. God put it on my mind to watch Him work as He prepared me for change. Over the past few years I have been observing the Holy Spirit with greater intensity. I have seen God prepare the church family for change with great leadership and new responses to ministry needs! I have seen my own family situation change and I have also realized my own limitations. Each observation has moved me to realize a pastoral change was coming and it was merely a matter of time. As I leave this position, I am convinced that God is in charge of it all.
Change can be uncomfortable and it brings uncertainty. However, our human uncertainties can be calmed as we trust in the certainty of God’s package of gifts. As to change, my relationships with you at Little Church will not disappear. It is only that the look of them is changing in some ways. I will still offer counseling to those who desire some help with relationships. I still desire to know how you are handling life. And I still desire to be in your prayers as I move through my own changes.
God has a big package of gifts He is offering to Little Church. He doesn’t make changes without providing what is needed. You will see the faith of the church family in how these gifts are used. Those who want to see Little Church continue grow the kingdom of God will take the gifts and use them in ministries within the church while sharing them so unbelievers become new believers. Like the disciples of Jesus, some will respond with fear and look to see where they may find some comfort elsewhere. They won’t realize the gifts God has promised. I say follow God’s words, “be still and know that I am God.” Look beyond the fear response and look to the promise that God’s plans are complete and all we need to do is remain faithful to what He has started.
I look forward to seeing God move in my life as I open this next chapter. I do so with a bit of uncertainty though I say this with some embarrassment. I want to trust completely so I thank God for His patience. Little Church will continue following the Holy Spirit and the path of relying on the scriptures for guidance. I will continue with the same and will always be connected to you in many ways. Let’s see what is in the package of gifts God has waiting for us.
Faith, mighty faith the promise sees and rests on that alone: laughs at
impossibilities, and says it shall be done. — Charles Wesley
Have you seen the tree in our Gathering Area? How many churches have a tree in their church? It is a beautiful tree and one which allows us to see God at work. This tree is starting to show where God’s spirit is moving in the people of Little Church on the Lane. This will be seen in the fruit of the Spirit which glorifies God and the way He can move people to live as He desires.
The tree’s fruit will grow as you write on a piece of fruit what you saw or heard when you observed the fruit of the Spirit being shared. The fruit of the Spirit is seen and heard when the Holy Spirit is moving in us. Galatians 15:22 says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We can’t really do these things on our own. It takes God’s Spirit moving in us for this fruit to be seen. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to guide and live in us, the more fruit we will see and hear.
The kids will be learning about this in Sunday School. We will be having a “fruit moment” each Sunday. The school will be learning about the fruit of the Spirit. In November the kids will come together with the church family to celebrate what has happened over these months. God moves all the time. We just need to observe Him.
Are you aware of the Holy Spirit in you and others? How much are you relying on the Holy Spirit in your everyday life? He promises to guide you as you surrender your way. Each time this happens, you are in close relationship with God. People ask how to know God and His ways. It happens simply by seeking Him everyday through simple prayers and thought. It isn’t hard except that we like to do it our way. Jesus says, “have faith in God.” By letting go He can come into the hardest heart. Try it and see the fruit multiply!
— Pastor Steve
I had the pleasure of being at the beach with my family of children, and grandchildren. We stayed in a cottage on the beach and prepared for all kinds of activities. There was no lack of energy with kids 1 1/2 through 5 years of age.
When we arrived late in the day, we hit the beach. I laughed when I saw the kids on the beach.
They weren’t walking. They were jumping up and down while running. They were waving their arms and yelling to each other. The joy was huge and the smiles large. What fun it was for me to see their joy. What fun it was for them to experience the pure joy that comes with such a time.
I believe this is what God desires for us in our relationship with Him. He wants our spirit of body and soul to be like a child as we come into His presence. As Philippians 4:1 says: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” How come we hold back and become so stiff even in His presence? Philippians also says “don’t be anxious about anything.” This can be true as we realize God is present with us in
all situations. To actually let go and fully trust Him opens the door to rejoice and jump up and down with excitement.
I hope each of you can find a time this summer to stop and rest. It may give time to ponder the joy available to you found in a child-like relationship with God. He desires for us to be so trusting in His love that we can let go and bounce up and down in joy.
Let me know if you find this experience in faith!
I was reading again one of the many articles I have collected concerning marriage. It is an article called “Your Mate’s Top 10 Needs,” by Ferguson and McMinn. It reminded me that God desires to provide for our needs far more than we can ask for and certainly deserve. Out of our abundance we are then able to give to someone we love. The Gospel of Luke (6:38) even says, “Give and it will be given to you.” At least that is how it is created to work.
What I have seen in couples is a habit of keeping score. When I give to you I can expect something in return. It’s as if there is a big score board with the count. The giving out of God’s giving is lost because it is all about me. I deserve and therefore I shall receive. The concept of team is forgotten and no one gets their needs met. The desire to love and receive love gets pushed aside. The “leave and cleave” of Genesis calling us to teamwork goes out the window. Negative thoughts towards each other take the place of positive words to be placed in the love bank.
God gives us marriage because we need someone in person to help meet our needs. Looking to God to provide gives us a relationship with God. Looking to our spouse where we can give and receive gives us an intimate relationship, which shows us the nature of love.
So how can you begin a giving relationship? Start by asking your spouse to list their greatest needs. I bet most of us can’t list the top needs of our spouse. Then find out how to meet the needs given. Then start giving. But do so without a scorecard. As Luke says, as you give you will receive. And you will receive more than you thought.
The article I read gives 10 needs your spouse may list. Here are the 10 listed:
Begin your giving and see the difference!
By Steve Wilson
In today’s world love is described in many ways especially in relationships. There is “love at first sight.” There is “falling in love.” There is also “love is blind.” They are easily said and often used. Unfortunately these phrases do not describe anything about love.
Love is a verb which requires thought, heart, and action. The phrases I used come from initial responses driven by natural drugs of the brain called endorphins. They happen and then disappear though they can last for a long time. When these “tingles” are gone, the eyes open wide. If the love desired is not built on a foundation of thought, heart, and actions, the true love will not appear.
As I work with couples who are preparing for marriage, I see the reactions when they realize that love is a verb. We talk about giving just for the sake of giving. Love is found in how couples disagree so that each person comes away with a sense of value and wholeness. Love is found as each person takes responsibility for their own suitcase of habits and struggles. Love is seen when each person is patient and refuses to point the finger of blame at the other. This takes real love for the other to take this action.
The author of love is God and He gives us the knowledge and strength to share love. All we have to do is realize this and use His love and not our own. He has already shown us His love and He wants us to share it with each other. Thus we hear that “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast.” (1 Corinthians 13) This is love as a verb which God has given to us and we can give to our loved ones in relationships.
What a great way to worship our Lord as we gathered for the Children’s lovefeast on Sunday. The kids from the school and our kids were part of the service. Our kids and youth were dieners as they served all of us. What a great sight it was!
To me this was part of the church in action. I saw only part of the church in that there were many who helped plan, participate and cheer on the church family. Many helped present this gift to God. It was the best kind of gift because so many were part of the gift. And that is what has been happening at church for many months. There are many more who are part of the ministries of Little Church than ever before.
One of the blessings that comes from a shared ministry is that the Holy Spirit becomes the glue and the energy. Too often the Holy Spirit gets put aside when individuals or small groups of individuals want to be the focus or take control. Yes, there needs to be some planning and coordinating certain details. However, when the goals of individuals become too important and the fruit of the Spirit is lost, there is no gift given to God. He does not
receive the joy of something which presents His love. God has given gifts to a church to be used by His children for His glory. His joy comes when the people come together as one directed by the Holy Spirit.
I believe Little Church is discovering more of the gifts and realizing more of the joy God desires. This will continue to grow as more of us learn to join in the way God sees the church.
Come be part of His plan!
The Lord is risen. The Lord is risen indeed! This is how we began Easter Sunday. We began inside the sanctuary due to rain, however, a great celebration took place. It was nice to have the band, and the choir was in fine tune. The Lovefeast allowed our worshipers to enjoy a simple meal in good fellowship. This continued as many enjoyed our huge breakfast. One of the additions of the morning was following the Stations of the Cross. Many experienced this to meet Jesus in a personal way. The 11:00 a.m. service was a continuation of the celebration as we heard the bells begin worship and then the music continued. There were many guests who heard the Resurrection Story describing our hope and joy.
So what happens as we move further into the year? One thought is to grow in our faith. That sounds simple enough, however, most would ask “how?” The word faith can be a word which brings confusion. When you sit on a chair you have faith that the chair will do its job. Therefore you relax and enjoy the chair. Our faith in God can be seen in the same way. As we allow God to do His work in us, we can rest in Him and enjoy His presence. That is faith. Andrew Murray says, “Faith is the putting ourselves quietly into God’s hands for Him to do His work.”
Ray Steadman says faith is resting in God by allowing Him to work through our personalities. Thus, faith is doing what Jesus asks us to do. He says that if we will love Him we will obey Him—and He and His Father will come and live in us. So faith is living as Christ asks and He and His Father will provide all the blessings and needs we have as we live in a difficult world.
Faith is resting in God.
It is a beautiful sight to see when one of God’s creations acts in the way it is created to act. This goes for the church too. There are too many churches today acting in a way which is contrary to God’s picture of His church. Ephesians describes God’s picture of the Church. And when it is followed it works.
I am struck by the church’s struggle to follow God’s call to some sort of “acts of service.” This is God’s way of helping us to experience the sharing of humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love. It is in our acts of service we see that we can’t share these qualities unless we rely on God. We can’t do it on our own. We must rely on the Holy Spirit and seek a personal relationship in Christ. He will show us how as we surrender enough to see Him at work. This brings us together as we realize we are all helpless on our own. The Church can “be built up until we all reach unity in the faith.” (vs 13) Ephesians 4 tells the Church that it can only grow as it “builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (vs 16) Again, we must rely on God’s spirit for this love to be present. Thus our prayer needs to be: “Lord, melt us together into one by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Young, P 1072). This love calls for us to have humility, gentleness and patience. Only by allowing our old self to be replaced by a new self guided by Christ will this happen.
What would Little Church look like if we would grow up in love? What would Little Church look like if we showed humility, patience and gentleness in all of our acts of service? I believe those who struggle with being connected to the church would find their God-desired place. Our prayers would be fully received and new hope would be seen. The essentials would be valued and the non-essentials would find their proper place. The Body, the Church, would provide a message so loud and strong it could not be lost.