To view the In-Person worship from last Sunday click the link below.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
When one person holds open the door for another, who benefits? It’s very possible that more than one individual benefits. The individual who showed kindness is extending the benefit of respect to the person allowed to walk through the door ahead of them. Those watching benefit when they realize there are still respectful people in this world. This example of politeness allows others to see that we all have a choice: me first or others first. This example of graciousness can change the whole mood of the room because goodness has been lifted up and smugness has, for a time, been pushed down.
In our series Un-Broken, focusing on Jesus’ miracles, we see Jesus creating gracious acts of kindness in the lives of individuals who were getting used to various systems of disrespect. The Romans showed open distaste for the Jews in all but a few examples in the Gospels (Matthew 8:5-13—the Roman Centurion—is one positive case). The Pharisees were egotistic; they considered many other Jews to be unworthy of their regal, religious attentions. When Jesus offers a dose of compassion, it quickly creates awe and spectacle among the crowds because it was out of the norm. This creates growing excitement. This stirs a fever of possibilities if God can demonstrate the reversal of human ills. Many benefit because they are now given hope.
Jesus does miracles in order to demonstrate both his unbounded power and his unquenchable love for broken humanity. He takes broken lives and broken hopes and he makes them un-broken in order to show the reversal of all that sin has touched since the beginning of time. This is his kingdom plan.
Let’s see who benefits from this very first miracle of Jesus.
His mother benefits. She is the first to be mentioned in the text, noting the dilemma. “When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine’” (John 2:3). She recognizes the social embarrassment that could be unleashed. She signals her son to give note. And she will experience Jesus’ power and love bringing a hasty conclusion to this bump in the road.
The servants benefit. Mary beckons them, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). They draw huge amounts of water and bend their backs to the task. They, alone, see that this water has now blushed at Jesus' instructions. Not even the master of this event bore witness to this first miracle. He only benefited.
The master of the banquet benefits, because it is his role to ensure the guests are happy and filled with bubbly. His reputation was seconds away from being soiled but remains untarnished.
The couple benefits from Jesus’ miracle. If Jesus had not stepped in, the wedding banquet would have been abruptly cut short, they would have been publicly humiliated from this day going forward. Never again would they enter a conversation without someone thinking of the time when this couple ran out of wine at their own wedding. Never again would they feel mutual respect from their neighbors. Instead, the neighbors might consider them stingy—a terse label deserved in a culture that highly prized hospitality at all costs. Others would view them as uncaring. Whether or not the moniker was deserved, Jesus’ miracle had reversed the day’s trajectory.
The crowd benefits from the supernatural display of love. They could continue their day’s long celebration. They would now enjoy the finest vintage ever reserved. They would sense the respect of the couple (even though it was Jesus who created this fine wine). No doubt the mood of the whole event shifted to even grander merriment.
And the disciples benefit from this first miracle. “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). They placed their trust in him. Now they have a dose of God loving them too. They are mere bystanders. But they see that Jesus cares even though he is not obligated by anything other than his love. This may not be an immediate thought for them, but it will sizzle in their memory and melt their cold hearts toward greater and greater faith.
Once, as a spectator of kindness, I watched a young boy sitting patiently with some younger children, allowing them to tug at him and even be a mild nuisance to him; but he remained kind in his actions toward them. What I noted more-so was that others became more comfortable with the young boy because they saw how he treated others.
This is one of the benefits that Jesus delivers to the disciples. This is a benefit that Jesus delivers to us throughout this whole series: his care is universal. He won’t stop. He won’t back down. His love drives him to one kingdom-act after another. He teaches with patience (“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” - Matthew 19:14)
And now that we get to see Jesus in action, we are nudged toward a greater trust in him. Let the unbroken desire of Jesus fill you with comfort and greater faith in your Creator, your Savior, your Redeemer, Jesus.
Blessings to you all!
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The link below will get you to the Ash Wednesday Service, on February 17, 2021, if you weren't able to worship in person.
Her name is Janine. She is a Christian with a deep, trembling faith. Janine fears (that’s the trembling part) and loves Jesus. Janine always had a very positive way of looking at life’s twists and turns; and Jesus became her bedrock reaction to anything that came her way.
On one particular Sunday, the sermon illustration was about the brokenness that comes from sin. To illustrate the point, I took a pane of glass and a hammer. The hammer won the fight and this resulted in a box full of glass shards. Janine was there listening and taking notes as usual.
Two or three Sundays later she brought a gift to church and asked me to open it up after the service. I like gifts; who doesn’t? But this gift was not only special; it also drove home a deeper thought that was stirring in Janine’s mind when she saw the shattered glass.
Janine’s life-history looked like those shards of glass, but she had experienced again and again Jesus’ redemptive presence in her life. She knew that Jesus was active not only in simple ways, not only in multiple ways, but Janine knew that Jesus was active in her life incessantly, to repair what was broken. The gift she now shared reflected that presence that the God-man brings when he touches broken lives.
With the packaging quickly removed, I folded back the white crepe paper and saw a stunning work of art. Janine had taken her deep love for Jesus, that box of broken glass, some lead channel, and she had colored the glass and then fashioned an impressive stained glass window. What she taught me in that instant was simple: Jesus takes brokenness and makes it beautiful again. Jesus takes broken lives and refashions them, reshapes them, and makes them un-broken.
Revelation 21:5 states, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” (ESV)
When Jesus, the one seated on the throne spoke, he said that he was making all things “new.” “New” means new in quality or fresh in opportunity. Heaven provides for us that eternal “newness.” We have an eternity waiting for us to experience fresh and brilliant opportunities.
When Jesus came to earth to live and die and rise again, part of his work involved taking the brokenness of life and making it “un-broken.” He did this in many ways but the one way we are focusing on in this Lenten series is his miracles. His miracles demonstrate both his desire and his ability to reverse the curse of sin—to make the broken into the un-broken. With each supernatural event he is adding the “un” to the “broken” and providing color and sparkle and shine to our future.
He took the joy that was quickly being extinguished from the wedding at Cana (John 2) and he rebuilt it by changing water into wine. He took the heartbreak of the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-17) and un-broke her tears. He promises, in each of his miracles, to reverse the curse, to turn back the suffering that this world brings, and to make all things new! Join with us in this exciting series of lessons on the miracles of Jesus.
As we view each one, the un-broken power of God will strengthen our torn and tattered faith. We will gain fresh confidence that our Savior cares about the hurting and the lonely; he cares about each of us. May his love be fully evident as we dive into each of these valuable lessons!
Blessings to you from the One who takes the broken and makes it un-broken!
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Mark your calendars for the 2021 SCLA Gala on Saturday, April 10, 2021. The Gala will be virtual again this year, but with more fun twists and a playful theme! Watch for more information coming soon.
Free Zoom Event with Pastor Enter
SCLA's Pastor Jon Enter is the featured speaker for Awake and Alive's February Zoom event on Sunday, February 21. The event opens at 6:15 p.m. (CST) and begins at 6:30 p.m. Registration is free! This event will not be recorded so please register today for the live links and information. Awake and Alive is a unique ministry geared toward the 18-25 generation, but all are welcome to tune in. Share with the young adults in your life!
Wandering. Worried. Wrecked.
These are feelings that can easily overcome us. The world is unrelenting. The devil is prowling. But your Good Shepherd is gathering. He calls you; he comes after you; he cares for you. There are grace and guidance that await your heart through our study of Psalm 23. This Psalm is rightfully cherished but the depth of the word pictures is often unmined. You'll never see Psalm 23 the same again. Join King David as he marvels at the majesty of God's great love!
Are you recently retired or planning to retire soon? Are you interested in the effect of the election on your current or future retirement? Register now for SCLA's free, interactive webinar, "Will the Election Outcome Impact my Retirement?" presented by father-son SCLA alumni Nathan ('91) and Andrew ('13) Tiarks of Tiarks, Becker, & Hackett Financial. Thursday, February 18,
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
1 I will exalt you, LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 LORD my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7 LORD, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, LORD, I called;
to the LORD I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
LORD, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
1 In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols;
as for me, I trust in the LORD.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!”
They conspire against me
and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, LORD,
for I have cried out to you;
but let the wicked be put to shame
and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced,
for with pride and contempt
they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
23 Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
The LORD preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.
Monday, February 15, 2021
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Friday, February 12, 2021
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Our Lenten worship services will be:
Ash Wednesday service on February 17, at 6:30 PM, at St John
Lenten services each week on Wednesdays, at 6:30 PM, through March 24, at St John
Maundy Thursday service with communion on April 1, at 6:30 PM, at St John
Good Friday service on April 2, at 6:30 PM, at Mt Olive
Easter Sunday service at St John at 8:30 AM
Our God is…Love
“How much do you love me?” Brenda asked her two-year-old son. Jonah held out his hands about a foot apart and said, “I love you this much.”
Paul turned to Jonah’s twin sister and asked her, “Hannah, how much do you love me?” Hannah extended her hands as far apart as they would go. “I love you this much,” she said.
Four-year-old Kevin was watching closely. When Brenda and Paul asked him how much he loved them, they expected him to copy the actions of his younger brother and sister. Instead, he spread his arms out in front of him as wide as possible and then curled them down and behind his back until they met. Kevin said, “This is how much I love you, all the way around.”
Brenda and Paul looked at each other in amazement. Kevin understood that the greatest love is all-encompassing!
If your sweetheart asks you how much you love her on Valentine’s Day, you probably should not just stretch out your arms. You probably shouldn’t even curl them behind your back, unless you have a gift hidden there!
Yet, it is in the outstretched arms of Jesus that we know the love God has for us—all of us.
Perhaps you have seen pictures of Jesus with his arms spread wide on the cross. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Valentine’s Day is a good day to express your love for the special people in your life. It is also a good time as Christians to remember that “We know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16).
Join us at church to celebrate more of God’s love.
Upcoming Events at St. John:
Worship Services: Sunday 11:30 AM.
Lenten services on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM starting on February 17
Adult Bible Study 10:30 AM.
Visit our website at stjohnev.net
For more information or to unsubscribe go to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 651-771-6406
If you were unable to attend church in person, you make click on the link below and watch the Mt. Olive in-person service.
The runners lined up and the gun went off. I bolted from the starting line along with seven other runners. With lungs heaving, we rounded the first turn and left almost 100 meters behind us. Every runner was hustling down the track as fast as their legs would carry them. The pace was good; I wasn’t first, but I wasn’t last. As I rounded the final turn and headed down the stretch to the handoff, there was pleasure in seeing that this would be a solid race. I was now within 10 meters of handing off the baton to the next runner, and somehow I stumbled and fell, losing the baton and disqualifying our team from the race.
I had never felt such a weight of disappointment. Not only had I ruined our possibility of placing well, but now we wouldn’t even be able to finish the race at all. 95% of my run was flawless. My last 10 meters was a sham. I hate to even relive this event, but I must for one specific reason. God calls us to pass on the faith to the next generation, to the next person, to one person or 10 people. I don’t want to make the mistake of botching up the handoff and disqualifying those who follow after me. So I use this example to propel my thinking forward to an even greater race: the race of faith to which we are called.
Our high school track team gathered up all their equipment and headed to the bus. Several faces tried to be compassionate as I located my seat. But deep in my own mind I sensed what they were thinking. “You dropped the baton. You messed up! You blew the opportunity we had to finish well.” No one ever said it, but I felt it.
What about the spiritual race we are running and the next generation that will follow us? Do you feel the pressure? Do you sense that others are staring at you with longing eyes or disappointment on their faces? Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us that others are watching: “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Whether this is a factual group of spectators or not, commentators vary on the matter. The point is more about the role of faith in the life of each competitor. By faith we are to fix our eyes on Jesus. By faith we are to run with strong intentions in order to pass on the faith to the next generation.
This is the command Jesus gives in Matthew 28 when he says, “Go and make disciples.” Pass on the baton to the next generation. You are part of the relay of faith. But the pressure is different. The pressure is actually on Jesus. Did you notice that he is called the pioneer and perfecter of our faith? Why is that? Because it would be easy for us to drop the baton and mess up the hand off.
Jesus encourages us to run, and run by throwing off anything that tangles us up and hinders our performance. He calls us to throw off sin. Sin slows us down in the race. Sin makes us ineffective runners. Sin is the mainstay that gives us fatigue as we are running. Sin is the white lie or the error in judgment that shaves degrees off our friendships. Sin waylays good intentions and would cause us to wreck the whole race if it weren’t for the fact that Jesus already perfected the race for us.
Each participant listed in Hebrews 11 finished their race because Jesus pioneered their race of faith and he put the finishing touches on it also. The same now applies to us. We will pass on the faith to the next generation because Jesus starts the faith process in us, and he will make sure that every step that must be taken is run. It’s an interesting combination of his stealth and fortitude accomplished in our running.
He calls us to run, but the running is accomplished well by fixing our sights on him and realizing that he is perfecting each one of our steps. Now that’s a team event! So how well will we pass the faith on to the next generation? The focus of that question must shift slightly. How well will Jesus assist us in running this race of faith? Answer: with perfection.
May you be blessed as you turn your gaze toward the one who has begun your faith and is currently making your faith complete. Fix your eyes on Jesus.
12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.
1 Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.
2 Test me, LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, LORD,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
8 LORD, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with those who are bloodthirsty,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 I lead a blameless life;
deliver me and be merciful to me.
12 My feet stand on level ground;
in the great congregation I will praise the LORD.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021