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A Word From Pastor John
I've been thinking quite a bit about God's love this week, as we continue to read through the book of Ephesians on Sundays. One particular verse that has stood out to me continually in the past, and that God has laid in front of me this week, is Romans 5:8. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This verse supports the idea that God's love for us is unconditional. And God calls us to have the same manner of love, that we would move from a conditional love to an unconditional love. If you examine your own life and the ways in which you show love unto others, it may become clear that we tend to function as people who love on a conditional basis. We're kind to those who are kind, we thank those who help us, we lend a hand to those who we trust. And there's nothing wrong with any of this. But we are reminded that God's love calls us to go one step further. God's love pushes us to love in a proactive way. We are to be initiators of love and kindness. When we are out and about in our daily lives, I believe that God calls us to initiate love and kindness and good deeds unto others. May we be a Christian people who truly function this way. May other people be drawn to God based on the love that we show towards them.
Pray For One Another
To request prayer, email email@example.com
or call/text (520) 709-0815
Our pastors and their families
The world as we all continue to navigate this Covid-19 pandemic.
Talma Harmon's son, KC
Valerie and RJ's family and friends in Louisiana
Alice Romano's friends, Leonard and Janice
Barbara Gionfriddo's brother
Barbara Gionfriddo's friend, Grace
The workers and inmates at CCA
Family and friend of Susie Kimbal
The many unspoken requests
Make sure you're a part of our Facebook group to get prayer requests as they come in: https://www.facebook.com/groups/21109057279
Reflections on Sermon 128: “Free Grace”
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” —Romans 8:32
“Is everyone invited, or just a few?” If you have ever felt left out by the lack of an invitation, then you’ve seen a slight glimpse into Wesley’s contempt for predestination. It is one thing, however, to be left out by the lack of an invitation, and quite another thing to be punished for not responding to an invitation you never really received in the first place. Wesley had a problem with the notion that God eternally decreed, before a person was even born, some to be eternally saved, and some to suffer eternal damnation, without ever being offered a choice. Where is the justice in that?
The character of God becomes distorted if humankind is not offered a choice. It paints a picture of God more as a bully and a tyrant rather than a dispenser of grace. This distorted picture seems more like the god of Moloch who required a child to be sacrificed over a temporary flame, in Wesley’s estimation. “You represent God as worse than the devil,” Wesley refutes, “more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by Scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil?” Such a view of God overturns “all his attributes at once.” If grace (love) is not “FREE IN ALL, and FREE FOR ALL” then justice itself is distorted.
God’s grace and justice are interwoven with human liberty.
If our own eternal destiny is already etched in stone, and if there are no consequences for our actions, then what motive or obligation does anyone have to do good? Why feed and clothe the poor? What advice or exhortation can one give if the pages have been written? Is not the labor of preaching, therefore, in vain? As G.K. Chesterton once mused, without choice, no one would be able to say “thank you” for passing the mustard.1
God’s grace that is “free for all” makes justice equitable. If grace is not for everyone, then justice is for no one. We talk a lot about justice these days, but I’m concerned by our lack of equitable grace. We are quick to see the shortcomings, failures, and even sins of our neighbor as more brutal than our own. Yet it is the combination of grace and justice that makes us all accountable for our own actions. If we can see justice and love as interwoven within our own choices, perhaps we would be more open to extend grace. Perhaps we would even see that we are all equally undeserving of God’s grace and should give thanks for it.
H. Gordon Smith III is senior pastor at Frankfort First Church of the Nazarene in Frankfort, Indiana, USA.
 G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 30.
To read the full text of the sermon, click here.
Bible Reading Plan:
Week 36 (8/30 - 9/5)
If you haven't kept up or haven't even started, it's not too late!!
Pick up bookmark ONE in the church lobby and join at your own pace.
OR, just start here on day 246!
This year, we are reading through the Bible chronologically using The Bible Recap Plan in YouVersion.
Take a bookmark from the front lobby if you'd like to keep track that way and go through at your own pace. Bookmark EIGHT is available now!
Day 246: Ezekiel 23-24
Day 247: Ezekiel 25-27
Day 248: Ezekiel 28-30
Day 249: Ezekiel 31-33
Day 250: Ezekiel 34-36
Day 251: Ezekiel 37-39
Day 252: Ezekiel 40-42
Before you read God’s Word today, seek His help with these 5 prayers:
1. God, give me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. 2. God, let any knowledge I gain serve to help me love You and others more, and not puff me up. 3. God, help me see something new about You I've never seen before. 4. God, correct any lies I believe about You or anything I misunderstand. 5. God, direct my steps according to Your Word.
Scripture of the Week
Has God been speaking to you through the Pastor lately?
Did a passage of scripture speak to your heart this week?
Do you have a favorite verse?
Maybe you had a special encounter with a friend recently.
Do you have advice for your church family?