APRIL THEME: WALK THE DUSTY ROADS WITH JESUS

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” —John 13:3-8

Photo by Mac Harris

in the Israel of Jesus’ time there were dusty roads, and, for the most part, people walked where they had to go. Walking on dusty roads meant dusty feet. Today, a 10 or 15-mile walk probably would mean a shower at the end of the day. Then, it meant washing one’s feet. In the instance reported in the preceding Bible verse, Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is analogous to what His mission was on earth: To shed His blood and to sacrifice His life in order to wash away our sins.

Now, if we walk those dusty roads with Jesus Christ and stay with Him, He will wash our feet at the end of the day and we will be happy in His presence while we are here on earth, and live at last with Him forevermore.

HOW THE VIDEO WAS PRODUCED

Responding to the stay-at-home and social-distancing requirements imposed to blunt the spread of the corona virus, Bethany Senior Minister Rev. Torrie Osgood has created a You Tube video devotional to help keep the congregation in touch with the church. Plans are to post a video weekly until we can meet together again.

Meredith Beeman was the videographer. The pictures show the shooting of the video, that occurred at 5 PM, Thursday, March 26. Though the first video turned out well, we will strive to improve as we go.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Mac Harris, BethCom.

 

 

FEBRUARY THEME: LOVE IN DEED AND TRUTH

“…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” —1 John 3:18

In February, we celebrate Valentine’s Day, but do we know why? Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry, because of a Roman emperor edict decreeing that married soldiers did not make good warriors and thus young men could not marry. Saint Valentine wore a ring with a Cupid on it—a symbol of love—to help soldiers recognize him. And in a precursor to greeting cards, he handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.

Because of this legend, Saint Valentine became known as the patron saint of love. The Saint Valentine prayer asks Saint Valentine to connect lovers together, so that two become one, and the couple remember their devotion to God. —The History of Valentine’s Day and Why We Celebrate, www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/holidays/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day

 

JANUARY THEME: IN THE BEGINNING…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:1-5

January 1 is the beginning of the new year, 2020, and the dawn of a new beginning for each of us. On New Year’s Day, we should remember what was in the beginning, because that does not change. What will be in the beginning for us?

As we start the new year, let us resolve that in the beginning we will follow Jesus and endeavor to do His will in all things; that in the beginning and throughout the year we will praise Him and worship Him. Let that be our new beginning in the dawn of the new year 2020 and every year from now on.

DECEMBER THEME: THE KING IS COMING!

The King is Coming!

Your king is coming to you. He does what is right, and he saves. He is gentle and riding on a donkey, on the colt of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the horses from Jerusalem. The bows used in war will be broken. The king will talk to the nations about peace. His kingdom will go from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.

–Zechariah 9:9-10

We now are in the Season of Advent. Advent of what?  Toys, a new Iphone, a new car, Christmas trees, wreaths, lights, decorations, parties, get-togethers, hunting. Do those things define Christmas? Sadly, for many of us, yes.

With so many things consuming our time (and attention), there is little time to consider what it all is leading to. When we get to Dec. 24, how do we define the day? The arrival of… Santa Claus? That is what we tell our children.

When the clock turns to Christmas Day, do we gather to worship God and celebrate the birth of His Son Jesus; or do we unwrap presents, drink coffee, egg nog and Mimosa’s, assemble toy fire trucks and bicycles, and encourage the children to go outside and play with their toys? Is there a ball game on TV that we can watch, or a blockbuster movie playing at the local theater? We enjoy being together with friends and family, but do we give thanks to God for that?

Consider, for a moment, that it is Advent. Advent of the birth of Jesus, who suffered and died on a cross for the redemption of our sins. The King is coming, without Christmas trees, without wreaths, without toys and without Iphones or even Santa Claus. To celebrate His arrival, all we need is to worship Him: To praise Him and thank Him for His gift of redemption.

The King is coming! Crown Him with many crowns! God bless us everyone.

GIVING TO THE LORD IS A BLESSING TO YOU

As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In less than a month, we will be celebrating His birth.

“Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” —John 18:37

What does that have to do with giving?

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. —1 Corinthians 12:27

We are part of the Body of Christ, His Church. It is incumbent on us to support and sustain Christ’s Church; our church.

To assure that support and sustenance, from a Sunday School lesson years ago[1], we can learn much about supporting the church. One thing is this: “Despite the system of Cromwell’s England and traditions of many churches today, there is no direct New Testament teaching that requires tithing. Paul taught the Corinthians to give willingly, generously, and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:5-7) in proportion to what one has (1 Corinthians 16:2), but he did not specify a percentage.” The lesson points out that “biblical doctrine of tithing is therefore based on Old Testament passages, and many Christians do not see these as binding on the church.…the most famous passage about tithing is found in the Book of Malachi, in which we are told to prepare for the coming of the Lord; do not worry about “when,” for it is a certainty that it will happen. That certainty extends to the return of Christ.

Malachi asks “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, How are we robbing you? In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8) Malachi points out that what we have belongs to God, but that He allows us to keep 90 percent of it. “When we give an offering at church today, we may be tempted to view it like a parent giving a child an allowance, or like a taxpayer dutifully writing a check to the government. Malachi’s understanding flows in the opposite direction: all the sheep are God’s to begin with, yet he claims only one-tenth. For an ancient Israelite to tithe was God’s permission for them to keep the other nine-tenths. Therefore, to withhold the tithe was not a lack of generosity but outright thievery—a taking of that which belonged to another.”

At the time the lesson was published, an estimate was that the average churchgoer gave about 3 percent. “Another study claims that if this would rise to 10 percent, then American Christians ‘could evangelize the world, stop the daily deaths of 29,000 children younger than 5 worldwide¸ provide elementary education across the globe and tackle domestic poverty—and have $150 billion left over annually…More conservatively, however, think what would happen if that 3 percent level of giving increased only to 4 percent: funding for ministry would go up by a whopping one-third!”

What if we were to forego certain luxuries we may be accustomed to awarding ourselves and tithe to the Lord. Would we lose something?

Malachi answers, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

“God promises to bless those who give freely and in full measure,” the lesson concludes.

Our church budget is formulated by considering our obligations and our goals for ministry both within and without. Our obligations include salaries, utilities, insurance, building maintenance and the like, and are a significant part of the total budget, which annually is around $150,000. If all of us give at a tithing level rather than just the average 3 % level, our giving to outreach and internal ministry could increase by a vast amount!

If you already have pledged and do not want to increase your pledge this year, consider tithing, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

[1] God’s Prophets Demand Justice, Unit 3, Advocates of Justice  for All, Lesson 13

NOVEMBER THEME: FALL. ON YOUR KNEES!

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. —Phiip

It is fall, autumn; the air is crisp, the leaves are turning, the harvest is in, hurricane season is over, and shortly the national holiday of Thanksgiving will be here. But, for Christians, every day is thanksgiving! God has brought us to this season, that for many is the favorite season of the year. For all the blessings that the Lord has given us, this is a good time to fall on our knees with thanksgiving! Thank the Lord for Jesus and His gift of grace! Do so as we approach the advent season. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to fall on your knees and pray; now is the time, as is any time; and now is the season, as is any season. Fall! On your knees!