Coming Up at Ebenezer
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All Saints Sunday, October 31
During our worship service at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 31st, we will celebrate communion and remember, honor, and celebrate the lives of our fellow Christians (saints) who passed away since last October.
Trunk or Treat, October 30
Our annual Trunk or Treat event for a safe Halloween will be held on Saturday, October 30th from 5-6:30 p.m. We will lots of free candy for all the little ghouls who come by, which will be distributed from the trunks and truck beds of some spooky-looking vehicles. We are serving hot dogs this year, too. Everything is FREE! Come, bring your children, and have a good and safe time on us.
Mini-Bible Lesson 5: Kindness
In reference to Deuteronomy 22:1-12.
“If you see your brother’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to him.” (Verse 1, NIV)
In this section of Deuteronomy, there is a collection of “if” statements, and other statements of how to behave with kindness and consideration towards one’s neighbors that are also extended to animals. Some verses are concerned also with the “order” in God’s world, which should not be messed with by man.
An “if” statement is not a legal provision, “but it illustrates what will be everyone’s daily conduct when the true spirit of Yahweh (God) is at work in his heart. Courtesy and tender consideration of others will extend even to the birds in their nests.” (p. 463, Interpreter’s Bible, vol. 2)
The commentator goes on to say that “…warm and thoughtful kindliness is the fruit of real religion and is basic to Christian character. Happiness and selfishness may not lie down together. Only he who loses his life finds it.” (ibid, p. 464)
So, if we see that our neighbor needs help, we should not ignore him; but reach out and help. In this instance, I would think the neighbor is someone that I actually know and can see. We can pray for those people that we do not know or have actual contact with, but helping them is limited. We can only give so much money to a cause before we endanger our own well-being. Does this mean that we should always help? Probably yes—if we are able; yet we may not be able to help. Or the person may refuse our help. Sometimes, God is asking us to show a person a better way (God’s way). After all, many of our problems are caused by sin or disobeying God’s commandments. We should not be so “kind” that we refuse to point out sin and its consequences. And we should not be so blinded by our own self centeredness that we do not see when others need a helping hand.
God has given man the power of life and death over all the animals on the earth. Yet, in verse 6, we are told not to take the life of the bird and her young or eggs together; but turn the mother bird loose. This is a practical application of kindness toward animals. Letting the mother bird free to breed again insures that there will be more bird nests to remove eggs from later for eating. This is a way of telling us to not overuse our resources, but always leave some to continue to breed or grow for future use.
But then in verse 10, the farmer is told to not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. What is that all about? This shows kindness and consideration toward animals. Because of the differences in size, strength, and temperament, it would be difficult for these two animals to work together. In verse 8, the owner of a new house is told to put a parapet around the top of his flat roof. Guests were often entertained on the roof area, instead of in the dark and stuffy home. This would insure that no one fell from the roof to be injured or killed. A homeowner or business owner should work to make his home or business building safe for visitors or customers—another way to show kindness and consideration to others.
Also, there are admonitions against wearing clothes made of two fabrics, or putting two types of seed in a vineyard, or a man or woman wearing the garments of the opposite sex; these relate to the order in God’s world, which ought not be violated or compromised. So, is it a sin to wear blended fabrics? The priestly garments of Israel had blended fabrics, so it must not be sinful. These could just be examples to highlight that God has placed a certain order in the world, and we should adhere to that order as much as possible. Only the admonition about wearing clothes of the opposite sex states that “the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” Pretending to be someone you are not is deception, and God is a God of truth, not lies. This kind of behavior leading to sexual sin and perversion was found in the pagan religions, too; so, that could be another reason for why God detests it.
What we are being told here is really simple: do not be selfish, and do not be so self-centered that we do not see the needs of others, or treat them or animals with cruelty, or by neglecting them. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14 NKJV)
Mini-Bible Lesson 4: Duty
Suppose one of you has a servant who is plowing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry along and eat his meal? Of course not! Instead, you say to him, “Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.” The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.” –Luke 17:7-10 GNT
As Christians, our work is never done! We are to do the work of the kingdom of God until we die. There is no right to rest or retire. There is no expectation of reward or respite while we serve our Lord on earth. His grace, showed so dramatically on the cross, is all we need or are guaranteed.
We cannot repay him for what he has done for us. We cannot earn special favors from him. We cannot expect special favors from him. In our gratitude for what he has done, we serve him and obey him because it is our duty to do so. Taking a day off from service or obedience is not an option; at least, it shouldn’t be. As our pastor said on Sunday, we must submit to our Lord’s will.
We have received already all the reward we need or could ever hope for which is our justification by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. All other rewards pale in comparison to this. No matter how good we are or become, we have only done our duty to our God. Any and all other blessings we receive while on earth are “icing on the cake.” They are all unearned; all gifts of grace.
Therefore, pride of religion or righteousness is not acceptable behavior in any Christian. We are all equal in the eyes of our Lord; from the highest, most righteous bishop to the lowliest most sinful lay person. Do your duty to God every day, every hour until the day you die. Your reward has been given to you already. Accept it with gratitude and joyfulness, and never give up the fight for your personal sanctification or the sanctification of the world through your own righteousness, and through your own work for the Kingdom as you pass on the love and good news of Christ to those around you.
Do not tire of doing your duty. Do not retire from serving our Lord and Savior until you sit at the banquet table in heaven and Christ’s serves you that celebration meal (“How happy are those servants whose master finds them awake and ready when he returns! I tell you, he will take off his coat, have them sit down, and will wait on them.”) (Luke12:37 GNT).
NOTE: even though we never retire from service, physically, we older Christians do need to be willing to give up some of our previous tasks in the kingdom, and pass these works on to younger Christians. We must encourage and make room for the younger generations to take on more of the kingdom’s work; so that, when God calls us home, the work will continue. The younger Christian must be willing to jump in and do the work, too. It is his duty, so that one day he can hear his master say, “well done, you good and faithful servant…come on in and share my happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 GNT)
In the slide show above (not seen in the mobile phone version of our website) there are pictures showing some current bulletin boards at Ebenezer put up by the Haas Family, Tasha, Emily, and Abby, and of our new Resource Room.
We thank the Haas girls for working to put up these delighful boards. Please take time to look at them when you come to church. The bulletin board shown below also provides you with Bible verse clips that you can take with you if you need encouragement or reassurance. The other picture is our new Resource Room with books, dvds, videos, and a TV screen (not shown in photo). Individuals are encouraged to take resources home for Bible study or reading; and classes can use the room to show videos related to their studies.
Ongoing Collections - Updated
We are collecting some items for our local teachers by helping fill up the Teacher's Closet. This ministry provides items for teachers and their students that they cannot obtain through the regular budget.
They include the following: Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap, paper towels, facial tissues, sharpies, dry board markers highlighters, black/blue/red ink pens. colored pencils, glue sticks, composition books and notebook paper (wide and college ruled), crayons, scissors (children's type), index cards, construction paper, pencil sharpeners, sheet protectors, file folders, large and small legal pads, white out, paper clips, staples, pencil pouches, markers, rulers, ring binders, card stock white/assorted, 3 ring note books, large and small pencil top erasers, and post it notes.
(NOTE: they have plenty of regular pencils at this time.)
We are collecting non-perishable food and clean used clothing in good condition that will be taken to South Caldwell Christian Ministries. You may leave the items at the church on Sundays or during normal office hours (8:30 to 1:00 p.m., Monday-Friday).
We thank you for helping us to minister to the needs of our community.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5: 16)
Our vision is to let our light shine into the dark world so that the world may come to know The Light, which is Jesus Christ our Lord.