Pul­pit Notes

The Covington News - - Religion -

God is do­ing some build­ing - Part III

The ground is bro­ken. The build­ing process has of­fi­cially be­gun its slow jour­ney to com­ple­tion. Abid­ing Grace is build­ing a church just as soon as all the ground gets moved and the sig­na­tures are all in place, and all that other stuff. But, re­mem­ber, this phys­i­cal build­ing we’re con­struct­ing is noth­ing com­pared with the build­ing God is do­ing in us.

Last week we looked at how God is do­ing some build­ing, build­ing our re­la­tion­ship with him and build­ing us into his church. Now God’s word points us to what we are built on, the foun­da­tion of the apos­tles and prophets. We are built on his word, with, as our text says, “Christ Je­sus him­self as the chief cor­ner­stone.”

That’s what brings all of scrip­ture to­gether. That is our foun­da­tion. That’s why ev­ery time you come to church here — you’ll hear about Je­sus. Sure help with your fi­nan­cial pri­or­i­ties or guid­ance on your re­la­tion­ships or peace for your trou­bled hearts are all great things that come from your time in church — but none of them are pos­si­ble without the foun­da­tion of God’s love for us in the life and death and life again of Je­sus Christ. So when God does build­ing, when it is build­ing on his word, it will be build­ing solidly on Je­sus.

Now, as this build­ing, as this church, as we set out on this jour­ney to build a phys­i­cal struc­ture, we will be solid too. Sure, there may be de­lays for the right per­mits and set­backs with construction cost in­creases. We may find out that the theme for to­day: “Built on the rock” will in­crease the site prep costs. There could even be a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter that sets it all back. I pray those things don’t hap­pen, but God doesn’t prom­ise they won’t.

And that’s OK, be­cause of what he does prom­ise. In our church’s theme pas­sage, Je­sus says, “I am the vine. You are the branches. If a man re­mains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do noth­ing.” When we re­main in him, when we build on the foun­da­tion of God’s word, when we take ad­van­tage of wor­ship time and Bi­ble study time to keep grow­ing in God’s word and Je­sus’ love, God does the build­ing. God pro­duces fruit. Look at the last verses of our text: In him (Je­sus) the whole build­ing is joined to­gether and rises to be­come a holy tem­ple in the Lord. And in him you too are be­ing built to­gether to be­come a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

This build­ing, this gath­er­ing of us be­liev­ers, is a place where God dwells. And as we gather to­gether each week — for now at a rented day­care, but soon at our sanc­tu­ary built on our prop­erty — God is present, and he is do­ing some build­ing. He’s build­ing us up in our love for him and each other as he teaches us more and more of his love through his word. He’s build­ing us up to be that Church that every­one in our lives can’t help but see. He’s build­ing us up to be the place where peo­ple can go to find out more about our God. He’s mak­ing us a church. Amen.

the Rev. Jonathan E. Scharf Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church

Chris­tian her­itage

Our her­itage is very im­por­tant in de­ter­min­ing our fu­ture. Karl Marx once said that a peo­ple without a her­itage is eas­ily led. He cer­tainly talked a lot of peo­ple out of their her­itage.

There was many years ago a sea cap­tain from Italy who sailed to the coast of Africa. Cap­tain Stephen was walk­ing on the beach and dis­cov­ered a mis­sion­ary who had been beaten. He dis­cov­ered that the mis­sion­ary was Ital­ian and took him aboard his ship to try to help him. The mis­sion­ary knew he was dy­ing and asked to be brought on the deck. The cap­tain think­ing that he would want to take one last look at the land that had been his, hon­ored his re­quest. The mis­sion­ary pointed in­stead across the At­lantic to­ward Amer­ica and said, “There is a land of peo­ple who need to be saved. Go and tell them about Je­sus.” Cap­tain Stephen passed this story to his son and his son passed it to his son and his son passed it on to his son.

The boy whose very name means “Christ Bearer” did that very thing. This boy was Christo­pher Colum­bus. This story of Colum­bus is a good ex­am­ple of how im­por­tant our her­itage is.

Most of our church his­tory books have been writ­ten by white men and so have failed to in­clude the rich Chris­tian her­itage of black peo­ple.

When my peo­ple in Eng­land knew noth­ing of Je­sus, we find Chris­tian­ity alive and well in North­ern Africa. In fact, some 600 years be­fore Chris­tian­ity was in Eng­land, we find the most ex­ten­sive li­brary on Chris­tian­ity lo­cated in Alexan­dria, which was a cen­ter of Chris­tian The­ol­ogy and Church Gov­ern­ment. Saint Au­gus­tine was the Bishop of Hippo in Africa from 396 to 430 A.D. Saint Au­gus­tine was very ac­tive. His let­ters were pow­er­ful and went ev­ery­where. He wrote some 230 let­ters.

Is­lam, the re­li­gion of the Ara­bian peo­ple, over­ran North Africa and much of the Chris­tian Her­itage was lost to our world.

When we see, the pow­er­ful, black preach­ers of to­day, such as T.D. Jacks, Carl­ton Pear­son and Myles Mon­roe to name a few, we know this her­itage is still alive. God has a plan and a pur­pose for each of our lives. He says, whoso­ever will may come. He didn’t leave any of us out. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only be­got­ten son, that who­ever be­lieves in him, should not per­ish but have ev­er­last­ing life.”

We have, when we re­pent of our sins and ac­cept Je­sus Christ as our Lord and Sav­ior, a re­la­tion­ship with God as his son and daugh­ter. We have, at that point in time, be­come adopted into the king­dom of his dear son, Je­sus Christ.

We read in Gala­tians 3:2629, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Je­sus. For as many of you as were bap­tized into Christ have put on Christ. There is nei­ther slave nor free, there is nei­ther male nor fe­male; for you are all one in Christ Je­sus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abra­ham’s seed, and heirs ac­cord­ing to the prom­ise.”

What a rich her­itage we can all have through God’s grace and our trust­ing in Je­sus Christ as our lord and sav­ior.

A life is a ten­able thing to waste; give your life to Je­sus and find out what he wants you to do and do it.

Doyle West Chris­tian Life School of The­ol­ogy

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