Update of Church Activities for May 31, 2020
The church will be reopening on May 31, 2020. The Church Council does recommend, however, that church members, aged 65 or older and those with serious health conditions, continue to observe stay-at-home worship practices through June. Pastor Betty will continue to e-mail weekly scriptures, prayers and sermons. The Education Building will continue to be closed through July 31, 2020.
May 16, 2021 (Pastor's Message)
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Old Testament: Psalm 93
New Testament: Acts 1:1-11
Message: The Ascension of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave his followers instructions these were more than instructions. These were commands with authority. These were orders. The first order was not an order for his followers to “go.” The first order, was an order for his followers to “wait.”
It is not that Jesus did not want the Gospel to go forth in that moment to all the earth, but Jesus knew that the Gospel would not go forth without the power of the Gospel propelling it! Jesus ordered his followers to wait for power before they go!
Children need to learn what it means to wait. Parents get ready to leave the house and will say “It’s time to go get into the car!.” So the kids start running to the car and then one of us looks at them and ends up yelling; “Wait! Put on your shoes first! Wait! Put on your coat first!”
“Wait before you go!” You are not prepared yet! The early Church was not prepared yet for the mission of God to carry the gospel of Jesus to the world. They had been with Jesus. They knew what they were to do. But they were lacking one necessity, the power promised to them! And Jesus says to them, “Wait!”
Waiting resists impatience. Waiting allows for the preparation and provision that is needed to succeed. But there is another reason for waiting, and that is to resist impulsiveness. Sometimes kids will say “I’m hungry. I want a snack.” Most of the time they ask for a snack right before they are about to eat a meal. And so we say, “Wait, we are about to eat dinner.” If you eat this snack now, you won’t eat the dinner we are preparing for you! Don’t spoil the meal that is about to come!
God is going to use the early Church in a mighty way to spread the Gospel beyond Jerusalem, to the ends of the earth! But if the early Church attempts to fulfill that mission on impulse, without first waiting for the empowering of God, they will fail!
Waiting resists impulsiveness. Waiting resists spoiling what is to come. And so, basically the Lord says, “before you go, wait.” When we tell our children to wait, they might sigh and say: “But it’s hard to wait.” Waiting is hard, but when waiting involves the things of God, waiting is essential. Empowerment is in the waiting! Not waiting on God is disastrous!
Jesus does not send his followers into the world on mission unprepared or unprovided for. And Jesus will not allow his followers to spoil what is yet to come by attempting to obey his commandments in their own strength and in their own power!
He is sending them help. He is sending them power. But power will not come as they go, power will come as they wait! The power of God is available for those who wait on the Lord.
The Bible is a narrative of historical events that capture the workings of God through the early followers of Jesus as the Church is built and as the Church carries on the work of Jesus in the world.
Listen to how Luke’s Gospel begins: In as much as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, ² just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, ³ it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
Luke writes to Theophilus so that Theophilus might have certainty concerning the things he has been taught about Jesus. Like Theophilus, you may have questions about who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done, but God offers through His word that He has breathed out and preserved a certainty for you concerning these things.
Don’t be distracted by the title “Acts of the Apostles.” This is not a book about the Apostles or their work, this is a book about Jesus! And, Jesus working through the Apostles and the Church in the person of His Holy Spirit!
Luke records what Jesus began to do and teach. That word “began” is important, because this is not a record of what Jesus did and taught, it is a record of what Jesus began to do, because it is what Jesus is continuing to do through His body, the Church. What God begins, God continues. What God continues, completes.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.
Jesus did not ascend into heaven without giving commands. The word “commands” or “instructions” in verse 2 implies they are given with authority. These are orders, not suggestions. They are not optional!
Verse 2 says that Jesus had given these commands- these orders, “through the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the power through whom Jesus gives these orders to His followers, and the Holy Spirit is also the One who empowers Jesus’s followers to obey them!
When you stay at a hotel with doors that are opened by a keycard, the front desk takes a blank card and programs that card with a code. That code has the power to open the lock on your room’s door! But you are powerless to open your room’s door with that code, unless the front desk hands you that key card to take with you!
In the same way, Jesus, through His Holy Spirit gives orders that have the power to change the world! But Jesus will then give His Holy Spirit, he will give His power to his followers so that they will have the power to obey what He has ordered!
The Holy Spirit is mentioned 3 times in this passage. He is the One through whom Jesus gives orders to His followers in verse 2. He is the One in whom believers in Jesus will be baptized into in verse 5. And He is the One who will rush upon believers in verse 8!
Verse 3 even implies that it is the power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Jesus presented himself alive to his followers after his suffering. His suffering speaks of his death on the cross. His life speaks of his resurrection from the dead!
All of this was necessary for Jesus to endure so that we might be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life! This had to happen first, before the mission of God could go forth to the ends of the earth!
Listen to what Jesus said to two disciples during one of these appearances on the road to a place called Emmaus: Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
All of Jesus’ work and teachings point to the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the rule of God, the authority of God, the power of God, the will of God, and the worship of God! God desires Evangelical United Church of Christ, Boonville, to be a Kingdom-Focused Church. Not to focus on ourselves, but to focus on Kingdom matters. By using what God has given us to bring others into the will and worship and Kingdom of God through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Twice in Acts 1:1-11, this word of contrast, this word “but” is used, once in Acts 1:4, and again in Acts 1:8. “He ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father.” That word “but” creates a tension. There will be a waiting. There will be a delay of what you desire. But in the two times that word is used, it precedes three teachings of Jesus. The first teaching is here in verse 4: We should endeavor to be a Great Commission Church!
The Great Commission is most well known from: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
If the Church of Jesus Christ endeavors to fulfill Great Commission discipleship by going, baptizing and teaching in its own strength and in its own power, it will fail. If God’s people attempt to obey the ways of God in their own strength and by their own power, they will fail! Brothers and sisters, if EUCC attempts to live by our own strength and minister in our own power, we will fail!
I’m grateful we have a building to meet in and steward for the mission of God. I am grateful we have funds and a budget to steward for the mission of God.
But I sensed the Lord reminding me this week as I was reading through Acts that the Church does not need a building, and the Church does not need a budget, the Church needs the power of God to fulfill the mission of God in the world!
Buildings and Budgets do not empower us. God’s Spirit does. We will not “go” unless we have first received power from on high! So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
This was the hope of the people of Israel throughout their history! That God would send a Savior, and pour out His Spirit, and restore the kingdom to them that had been lost because of their rebellion. He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
Acts 1:1-11 is full of temporal language - language of time. The question brought to the forefront is the question of “When?” And the answer to the question of “When” is an order to “Wait.”
Jesus does not answer their question with a time or date, but He exhorts them instead to wait — to wait on the Father. Don’t get ahead of God. There are things that belong to God and God alone. There are times and seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority and are not for us to know.
The question we ask today is, “Lord Jesus, when will you return?” When will you wipe away every tear from our eyes? When will death no longer exist? When will mourning or wailing or pain no longer exist? When will injustice no longer prevail?
We know that day is coming. We pray that day comes soon. But it is not for us to know when. But God gives us power in the waiting. That is the power of God! And one of the fruits of God’s Spirit at work within us is the fruit of patience.
Jesus says “Wait for the Promise.” You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
God’s promise of his presence is a promise of His power. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” There is no power for God’s mission without God Himself! There is no Gospel of God without the God of the Gospel!
The grace of God, the only source of hope for the Church of Jesus Christ, is His Holy Spirit. God's Spirit empowers God's people with His presence to glorify and enjoy Him for the work in the waiting. Just as our child might say, “It’s hard to wait.” And we might say, “My child, why don’t I wait with you?” That is what God is doing.
Did you know that God waits, too? God is very patient. At times he waits. At times He even delays acting! One great example was when Jesus died on the cross. The Scriptures tell us after Jesus died, He was buried in a tomb. God waited one day. Jesus’ body stayed in the tomb. God waited a second day. Jesus’ body stayed in the tomb.
Why did God wait until the third day? The only way I know to answer that question is to say that God waited until the third day, until it seemed as if there was no hope, so that God might raise Jesus in POWER! So that there was no mistaking that this was the powerful working of God! Until it seems there is no hope left! But for those who persevere in the waiting and trusting of God, they will see the power of God.
And this leads to the last statement of Jesus: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
There is work to do in the waiting - the work of witnessing. We are witnesses by the Holy Spirit confirming in us and through us that the message of Jesus and the promise of Jesus is true. That for all who repent of their sins and trust Jesus by faith will be saved and be born again and find everlasting life and may become witnesses for Jesus too!
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Jesus was taken out of sight because living for Jesus is living by faith. Not by what we can see, but by what we believe, and we believe what God says is true.
I don’t have to understand God to believe Him. That’s faith. Undoubtedly, you’ve wondered why God has yet to answer some of your prayers. Why God allowed to happen the things that have happened. We don’t have to know when Jesus will return to believe that He will return, and that He will judge the world in righteousness.
10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “People of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Waiting on God does not mean being motionless. It does not mean standing and staring into the heavens, waiting on God to move. It was at the moment Jesus was taken up into Heaven that two messengers from Heaven stood by these men with a message to say: “Move on. Why are you staring at the sky? Go do what Jesus said to do — Go wait.”
The Lord is with us. May we wait on the Lord and so move in his strength and in his power. Amen.
Blessings and Peace,
When This Is Over. . .
When this is over,
May we never again take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the store
Conversations with neighbors
A crowded theater
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine checkup
A school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
When this ends,
May we find
That we have become
More like the people
We wanted to be
We were called to be
We hoped to be
And may we stay that way --
Better for each other
Because of the worst
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Evangelical United Church of Christ
"Sharing Bread through Christ"
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Supply Pastor - Betty Thaller
700 East Spring Street, Boonville, Missouri 65233
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The Educational Building is located South of the Church, 416 7th St, Boonville, Mo. The building was dedicated April 24, 1956. This building currently houses the Pastor's Office and the Church office. It offers a kitchen, a Fellowship Hall, complete with a stage, handicapped bathrooms and several sunday school rooms. It is also available for rent. Please call the church office for information on rental charges and availability.
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