Step Forward

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We approach God’s Word and pray that the Holy Spirit, will open our lives to encounter the Living Christ. Join me in a moment of prayer.

SINGING PRAYER #482         “Sanctuary”

THE FIRST SCRIPTURE                             2 Corinthians 6:1-13               Marks of the Ministry

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN#494       “Step by Step”

THE SERMON            “Step Forward”

 

 

On Friday, I watch the morning news and thought about the drastic change in our society. The Legislature wrestled with the upheaval in Wisconsin regarding our State Budget and Open Record’s Laws. The state of South Carolina, struggles with the symbol of the Confederate history and how it appears as an emblem of hate and racism for others. And in NYC, we witness the celebration of the Women’s World Cup Soccer Champions being the first women’s team to be honored on the historic Canyon of Heroes.

These were small steps of for individuals, yet giant leaps for our culture. When we think of the steps we’ve taken in our lives. We probably don’t remember our first steps but shared in the excitement of siblings, children, and grandchildren taking their first baby steps. Then they take off, bounding in long strides. On the other end of the spectrum, we witness the elderly shuffle of loved ones walking with a walker. We witness the slowing of movement and independence.

The Church in Corinth began with simple steps of faith. They listened and believed in the power of God to create and recreate humanity through the cross of Jesus. They started serving others with joy and kindness as they followed the Lord instructed by the apostles. Then they started to wander away from God’s grace. They returned to old ways of living without regard for God’s guidance. They gave up the truth of Divine love for easy answers to difficult problems.

The Apostle Paul hears of the rumors and reports of tension in Corinth over doctrinal and ethical issues.  Leaders holding polar opposite positions vied for the hearts and minds of Christians. Young Christians of all ages vacillating between different ideas and allegiances. They stopped working together for the unity of the body of Christ. Paul calls the Corinthian readers of his letter to unite behind a faithful response to God’s grace. He invites all, in the name of Christ to work together in the ministry of reconciliation without abandoning the truth of the Gospel. Jesus Christ came to bring all people into God’s presence.

The time to work together is now. The Apostle considers the present situation an urgent problem that cannot wait. Now is the acceptable time to help people see God’s power and grace in personal salvation.  Paul contends that nothing will stand in God’s way in changing the hearts and minds of their neighbors. He invites the Corinthian Christians to take a step over the obstacles they see. He acknowledges hardships, hunger, and even imprisonment will be part of the journey. He states that God gives us the gifts of purity, knowledge, and patience will overcome the resistance. God’s righteousness will lead us step by step toward our eternal goal.

Jesus calls us to take a step, one step after another toward the goal. Acknowledging that following the Lord will not be easy, but well worth the effort of putting one foot of faith in front of the other. Step by step we proceed in the direction of our Lord who walks with us through every trial. We live in a time when like the Corinthians, faithfulness brings charges of being on the wrong side of history. We live in a world walking away from God’s righteousness. Christian faith and principles remain out of step with our culture.

With Christ, in Christ, we take one small step by one more step, knowing that through our personal faith, we can work together for God’s purpose. We walk step by step, seeking the Lord’s guidance for each step. We become partners with Christ to build the church of truth and grace to influence our world. . TGBTG. Amen.

  May 2017  
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