Monday, July 20, 2020
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Many of you - I hope all - are aware that we have been and are engaged in a spiritual battle for the soul of our nation and our world. Forces are lined up on either side, arrayed in the garments of battle, and standing ready to engage. I hope you understand the call that we have as believers in Jesus in this hour! Paul warns us to dress for the battle and to be ready and willing to stand -- to stand together, to fight side by side and back to back. No provision is made for retreat in our calling to this day! Our ACNA motto seems eerily prophetic and ultimately hopeful: FORWARD! ALWAYS FORWARD! EVERYWHERE FORWARD!!
I want to be clear that our weapons are not physical but spiritual! Politics and politicians are a vain hope, as we discovered this week from our Supreme Court! We cannot trust in flesh or fleshly answers to problems that are spiritual in nature. Posting the latest meme or political statement on Facebook is not the answer. We are in a spiritual war, and the quicker we settle in our hearts and minds that we're IN, the quicker the victory will come!
Victory is coming! Jesus wins! But we are the ground game in the day to day battles of this war!
Our scriptures this morning are depressing, almost as depressing as the news these days!
Jeremiah laments his call as a prophet;
David laments his call as a king, still without a throne, and living in caves! Up to his eyeballs in the flood.
Oh, and the Gospel's promise of persecution! Oh boy... I can hardly wait! This isn't what I signed up for! Is it?
Have you felt like that this week?
I have! If it's not one thing it's another!
Race Riots and division in our nation:
Betrayal by appointed judges!
An actual real flood of our own to deal with!
Heath challenges; mounting bills;
no end in sight!
Are you still with me?
So is there hope in the fray? It's Father's Day... I need some Good News!
Listen to these rays of light we've already also heard today...
From Jeremiah 20:11
But the LORD is with me like a dread warrior; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, with an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.
But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness, Answer me with Your saving truth.
May the flood of water not overflow me nor the deep swallow me up,
Nor the pit shut its mouth on me.
V. 16. Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me,
V.17And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly.
And Paul's hope-filled declaration in Romans 5:17
"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
V. 20 b... where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And from our Master and Commander, Jesus Christ:
“For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
27 “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
Do Not Fear... Jesus says it three times in this passage!
Do not Fear....
DO ... NOT... FEAR!!
Friends... Fellow warriors in the Lord's Army, here are the marching orders for these days!
1. This is the Lord's battle! HE IS THE DREAD WARRIOR, THE MASTER AND COMMANDER OF ALL HEAVEN'S ARMIES.
2. Though waters rise and rise and rise, we're not going to be overwhelmed! Why? Because of the GREATNESS OF HIS OVERFLOWING, ABUNDANT... NO... SUPER-ABUNDANT COMPASSION AND UNFAILING LOVE TOWARDS US, HIS CHILDREN!
3. His Kingdom and We in His Kingdom will REIGN -- we're destined to be the ones who bring the Kingdom in its fullness! We're the ones who get to be the answer to the Lord's Prayer: THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN!
This is a battle of the Kingdoms! Now, hear me...
IT IS YOUR FATHER WHO SPEAKS IN AND THROUGH YOU TO EXECUTE THE LEGISLATIVE DECREES OF GRACE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS, OF PEACE AND JOY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
OF OVERFLOWING GRACE, A FLOOD OF A DIFFERENT KIND!
OF SUPER-ABUNDANT GRACE- MORE THAN WE CAN ASK OR IMAGINE, IT WILL FLOW INTO AND OUT FROM US INTO THE WORLD AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING US.
As we open our mouths, let the Lord God of Heaven fill them with His Truth by His Spirit. Let Him give you words, verses, language to speak out. To SHOUT IT FROM THE HOUSETOPS! Do not be silent! But wait on Him for His Word, not yours! Now more than ever we need to heed the admonition of St. Peter in his 1st letter... chapter 4...
V.10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
It is the glory of God's People to execute His Word in our world, in our work, in our neighborhood, in our homes and families. Speak it out! Speak His Word -- Out Loud! Make the air move, by the Power of His Spirit, His Ruach ha Kodesh! It will change things!
Let's pray ... please repeat aloud after me this prayer from Acts 4:
Lord our God, Sovereign King of the Universe;
It is You who MADE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH...
AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM,
By the Holy Spirit, through David Your servant, You said,
‘WHY DO THE NATIONS RAGE,
AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS?
‘THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TAKE THEIR STAND,
AND THE RULERS ARE GATHERED TOGETHER
AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.’
Now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and grant that Your bond-servants
may speak Your Word with all boldness,
while You extend Your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders take place
through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
Sunday, June 7, 2020
Fr Phil Eberhart
For about the last 10 days we've been watching the unraveling of American society and the takeover by an uncovered spirit of lawlessness. This morning I want to talk about how we can pray and act in this time, to allow light to be shed on our community, our state and nation and around the world.
This is Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost. The period between Easter and Pentecost was a time of great shaking for the disciples. Trying to come to terms with the crucifixion and then the resurrection of their master, Jesus. His death and three days in the tomb. His resurrection and his appearances with them, in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, again and again in various places and times all the way back to Galilee. Then the second miraculous catch of fish. The Ascension of Jesus and 10 days of waiting. Then the rushing, mighty wind and fire of Pentecost.
God was shaking them up. Shaking them out of their roots and traditions, out of their stubborn misunderstanding of God's mission in Christ. Shaking them out of their self-preoccupation and raising their eyes to a bigger view of their calling and what God wanted to accomplish through them.
Today we're being shaken, we've said this over and over for months and now it's actually taking shape. Is God the author of this confusion? No, but God certainly will use it in our personal and national lives, to move us individually and corporately, to a place where we are attentive to Him and responsive to Him!
Over and over throughout history God has allowed hardship, national trial, and personal pain to cause us to come back to a fuller reliance on Him, a fuller knowledge of His ways, and a fuller engagement with His mission in the World. Today it's no different!
The shaking has a designated purpose... to discipline God's People, (judgement begins with the House of God) to produce in us the fruit of repentance and to turn us, and thus our nation and world, back to Him and Him alone. All the disciples experienced all of these things personally and wrote to give us a clue about God's purpose in this time...
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 ESV
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:17-18 ESV
Friends, God is working here. Among us and across our nation. It's time for us, the Church, to pay attention. It's time for us to get on our knees - in prayer, where it all starts but cannot properly stay there; in acts, the fruit of Repentance: changing our own ways in response to God's word and His Spirit working in and through and among us. Staying on our knees, in servant ministry, washing feet, healing hurts, supplying His love and grace to our world.
This morning we've moved from creation to commission in our readings. And that is the pathway we are constantly called to: turning and returning to God as our source and supply, then taking all we've recieved and giving it to others. Just as the Father has sent me, so now I am sending you! GO. 1500 times in the bible... GO. The message is clear.
The world is crying out for the church to be the church! God himself has taken us in hand and through this time will lead us if we will but pray, listen and do what He tells us. It still comes down to our own willingness, our availability and ultimately to our OBEDIENCE.
Our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: We come to your throne today seeking your face - lift up Your face towards us and grant us Your SHALOM. Help us, Lord, to return to You and Your ways. Our world depends on it. Send us out today to serve others, to live and love in your Name. Open our eyes... awaken us to see your hand working around us, and direct our steps to bring your peace into our world.
In Jesus Name and for His Kingdom's sake, we pray.
I've talked a lot about our need for willingness over the years, but it seems that, I need to be convinced of God's willingness. The scripture that BP Bill shared from Lu 11 is about prayer. Ask... Seek... Knock... and keep on doing those things, and the answer will come from God's hand.
The illustration of a loving father is just the one that we need to have in mind all the time. If you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more our Father in Heaven?
I know I have always struggled with the Imago Dei, the image of God that I have from my upbringing. I think many of us have faulty images of God and His nature.
It's interesting to me that the last thought, the last verses of the Old Convent in Malachi are on this very issue. The relationship between children and fathers, and the promise of having hearts that are turned towards each other. Seems like maybe it's a prerequisite for what is going to happen in the New Covenant!
And the model for prayer that Jesus taught starts with the words. OUR FATHER! Jesus came to reveal the heart of the Father and to restore the relationship we can have with OUR FATHER. God himself was "in Christ reconciling the world to himself". For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His One and Only Son! That's love, beyond our wildest imaginings!
Paul goes on later in Romans 8 and asks us to think it through with him:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32 ESV
Friends, the point this morning is God loves us... God loves you and wants you to have Every Good Gift that He has. So often the problem isn't on His side of the equation, but on ours - on the receiving end!
So we're back at Lu 11. Prayer... persistent prayer... Jesus tells us, is a key to receiving all that God has for us. And let me tell you ALL is a lot!
And It's all ours if we just ask Him.
Isn't it funny that when you break down the letters they spell A - S - K Ask...Seek...Knock.
Just Ask! And the tense of those verbs Jesus used indicate an ... here's a great word... IMPORTUNITY!
Webster says that that is TROUBLESOMELY URGENT!
Ask and keep on asking...
Seek and keep on seeking...
Knock and keep on knocking!
Have you asked like that?
There is a hint of... well, more than a hint... of desperation. Perhaps desperate prayer is in order in these days. Our days are suddenly seeming TROUBLESOMELY URGENT!
I'd like to spend a minute or two just asking.
Will you join me?
Lord Jesus, you are the baptiser in the Holy Spirit. Now we're looking to you, Lord, as our baptiser! I pray, Jesus, for the outpouring that we have been asking, seeking and knocking for in each of our own lives and in the life of our church, our city, our state and especially now, our nation. Send your Spirit like a mighty wind, the Ruach ha Kodesh, and blow on us Jesus.
You have told us to return to You, our God. In humility and brokenness we come and we turn from wickedness on behalf of our nation. We bind the twisting of truth, the lies of the enemy of our souls. We pray for eyes to open suddenly, to see You Jesus, High and lifted up. Let your train fill the Temple this morning, come fill and cleanse us Fire of God and send us as your agents of reconciliation into the world.
We're asking Lord
In the name of Jesus the Messiah.
For the sake of His Kingdom.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
I want to begin with greetings to all our ladies at Rez. Just so you know, I want to tell you that mom's are a close second to the ultimate force in the universe! If you don't believe me you deserve The Look! So can all the ladies give us The Look. Right now. Yeah... that one! Get up to the camera and give it your very best! ....
And there you have it...
Ultimate power... almost.
So... Happy Mothers Day. And Blessings from all that your lives have touched and continue to touch.
There are many themes in our scripture readings this morning... verses that jump out:
Paul was referred to as one of the "people who have turned the world upside down..." Would that God would bless US with that designation!
The synagogue in Berea was one that pored over scripture to test and prove what Paul was saying to them. He said later that they were "more noble."
From 1st Peter...
like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
And from John's Gospel...
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Just look at your screen. We look like a wall of stones with faces on them!
God is doing something extraordinary in these days.
He is knitting us together in His Body, even through social distancing, God is at work around the world, preparing the Bride for a wedding day. I want to share 5 movements in this symphony that's happening now:
God has pressed a kind of 'reset button.' He's gotten our attention; he's pulled us out of our routine, out of our busyness. He's stripped away the idols of our culture here in America: noise... speed... entertainment... celebrity worship... sports... distraction. Finances are uncertain for many. We've had to return to God and to the basics.
Our gods in America are being shaken, as we were promised in Hab 2, in Amos 9 and Heb 12.
All our reliance on what is not God is being stripped away.
This is a time for us to "consider our ways" (Hab 1)
... for us to bend our knees and bow our heads and hearts in prayer... in repentance that bears fruit... that's not just words on a page, but leads to a REALIGNMENT of values and lifestyles, with the two tracks that we are to roll on: The Truth of God's Word and the presence of the Spirit of God in and among us. Those are the twin tracks this glory train run on. Through repentance we are to realign our hearts, our minds, our lives with His Word and His Spirit. God's seeks those who worship in Spirit and in Truth!
Ancient wells are about to break forth; wells of revival will spring up, both from outside - around us, and inside - the wells of salvation are going to burst forth. These will refresh and strengthen God's people for what's ahead of us. Both suffering and glory are coming. Renewed authority and power for the Church. A renewed voice in our culture and extended grace for the days ahead.
"Pray ye therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into His Harvest" Luke 10. God's about to fulfill that prayer!
He's calling us out... into the deep... let down your nets for a catch! 'But we've never done it this way before! "Indeed," He says!!
The GREAT I AM is about to do a work in our day that will make the ears of history tingle! We've been talking about it now for 13 years, since 2007. We simply call it A net-breaking, boat-sinking load of fish! The promised end- times revival is coming. We're used to the prophetic word about "the Wave coming across the land." We've been waiting in anticipation for almost 20 years for fulfillment of that vision. The wave is about to hit the shore! Judgement and revival.
We are to stand, to watch, to pray, and to go!
God is releasing the Church... the Church has left the building! And God's going to release the Catch... the Harvest!
We are coming to Season of Joy... unspeakable and full of glory. The Joy of the Lord (Ne 8:10) is our strength!
Let me remind you what God's joy is...
In Luke 15, we are reminded by Jesus how God loves finding lost things! Jesus was sent expressly for that purpose! To seek and to save what was lost (Jn 3:17) There is more JOY IN HEAVEN over one sheep found than over 99 who never strayed!
This is the Joy of the Lord. There is no joy like the joy of introducing someone to Jesus and watching a son or daughter be born anew!
These are the movements we are going to see and hear in the days to come. Open your eyes and ears. Listen for him and look for His direction, we are each part of His Symphony, each an important part as we agree with and partner with all God is doing in our day. Arise, Shine, for your light has come!
May we pray...
Father, it's in the midst of darkness that your light shines brightest. Let us bring and be the light of Your glory into the darkness around us. Give us the hope of eternal life, the light of your countenance, the peace that passes understanding, the joy of finding that which is lost, all gathered together in the "overwhelming, never- ending, reckless love of God!"
For the sake of a your Kingdom we pray and the Fame of your Name, Jesus!
Sunday, April 26, 2020
All of a sudden Jesus is just there, they thought he probably caught up with them from behind.
What are you talking about? They were sad. They were totally defeated! Ever been there? Ever needed Jesus to enter the scene just when you needed Him most desperately?
What are you talking about? Innocent question. Good question if your joining someone else's conversation!
But they're a little snippy I think. Who are you? You must be the only person in Jerusalem who is this out-of-touch! You didn't see what went on with Jesus?
We had such high hope's that he was the messiah! He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel!
Jesus had been dealing with this the whole time he was with them? No one among his disciples understood his mission or his means! Peter tried to shut even his talking about it down. The guys were constantly arguing amongst themselves about rank and file; their position in the new kingdom. Jesus had mom's asking him for these kinds of promises for their boys, James and John!
Jesus loses it a little bit here. You're foolish and stupid! Well maybe a little kinder than that. Slow of heart and mind. They're just like us! And Jesus takes them back to his very first confession! With Peter in Galilee ... it was there he first said these things and Peter called him down.
Fact is that the disciples went the whole trip from Galilee to the empty tomb and beyond, and never changed their mind.
What was so hard for them to grasp? What did Jesus say on this trip that gave them heart burn?
It says he began with Moses- with the Torah!
Let's take the same walk. At least a few verses with Jesus as he explains himself, his existence and his mission to us.
Where is Jesus found in the Torah or in the prophets?
‘I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.
Jesus used this over and over again to refer to himself and the source of His message! JN 5:19
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner."
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
The facts of His divine birth.
Isa 52:13 - 53:12
13 Behold, My Servant ...
14 His visage was marred more than any man,
53:3. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
4. Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5. But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
Few scriptures in the whole Bible carry more weight than these in pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus.
2“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old,
How can you fake where you're born? How can you choose the place? Jesus didn't, in fact it was Caesar who intervened with a census that created the circumstance of his place of birth!
then they will look on Me whom they pierced.
7“I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
17. I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
A factual prophetic picture along with many of the images of Ps 2 & 22. It is Psalm 22 quoted by Jesus on the cross (v.1)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And finally Daniel 9:26
26“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;...
The simple calculations from the degree to rebuild Jerusalem to the end of the 62 weeks of Daniel's vision, was the year 32, the year of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Friends, there are even more passages but I wanted to see what Jesus talked about on the road they were walking that afternoon. He was able to point out the circumstances of his own life and death foretold by the Torah and the Prophets. And it was about a two to three hour walk. Only 7 miles distance.
The fact is there are over 300 such verses in the OT and the likelihood of one person fulfilling all of them perfectly is in the multiple trillions to one! Someone estimated that if you took that number and made it into 1" ball bearings, they would fill the state of Texas to a depth of about 6 feet!
I urge you to take a walk with Jesus down memory lane this week, like the disciples did on that afternoon. Their hearts were on fire with the news, and as he broke bread with them, their eyes were opened. Then they ran back to Jerusalem that very night to tell the others.
Let us run with the news of who Jesus is in our own day. Amen!
Let us pray.
O God, your Word is eternal and it stands as the anvil on which time itself is tested and shaped. Let us find in your Word the treasures of eternal life and let us take your Word with us into the works in witness to your love and power. For the fame of Jesus' Name and the sake of His Kingdom we pray.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
Fr Phil Eberhart
This is a one time experience today, Easter service via Zoom and Facebook live. We're happy to be together and to see so many faces, in our Hollywood Squares boxes. God bless you in your homes this morning.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!! We can't say it enough, can we?
In the midst of a great worldwide pandemic, in the face of death and fear, of uncertainty across the planet... we have a living hope... because we have a living savior!
We say it often...
CHRIST HAS DIED... CHRIST IS RISEN... CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN!
The mystery of our faith! A Savior who died and who has come back to life and who promises to come again to receive us to Himself!
The Death, Resurrection and Return of Jesus Christ the Messiah is the source and fountain of our life, our hope, our joy inexpressible and full of glory! Even in the midst of suffering... even in the presence of pandemic... nothing can dampen the reality of God's love and His resurrection power in our lives.
I got accused this week of being "psychologically unstable" - needy because I posted that our Easter will be unchanged, walls or no walls, and declaring my love for being "face to face!" Well... guilty as charged! I'm needy... I need Jesus and I need you all!
A wise old man, when faced with his grand son's challenge of "why go to church?" Simply brought him to the roaring fire in the den, sat down and reached in with the tongs and took an ember out, setting it in the bricks in front. Soon the ember was a cold black coal. Then he simply placed it back in the fire again and it soon glowed red with the flame.
If that's psychological neediness then I'm guilty.
In a day of separation and social distancing, of not looking at one another for fear of catching something, of isolation, separation and being together only on laptops and computers, I want to declare that I hate being a lone ranger! We're not made for this.
Peter tells it pretty straight in his first letter. As I sat with my father in his last week 5 years ago, this section of 1 Peter was our meditation. Beginning at vs 3...
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV
The fact of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central fact of our faith... all of our faith! It stands like an anvil that has worn out many hammers!
Paul says, without it we're most to be pitied! But with it we're able to go through any circumstance, any difficulty, any temptation or test of our faith, because the resurrection is an anvil! A LIVING HOPE through the RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD!
The Anvil of the Resurrection has tested the hammer of unbelief, the hammer of doubt has failed to scar it; the skeptics hammer, the so- called "liberal's" hammer can't stand up to the anvil!
Friends, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of history. Everything flows to it from before Christ and everything flows from it now, after Christ!
Listen to what Peter says as he goes on...
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
The testing of our faith is part and parcel of the testing of the Anvil! The use for an Anvil and a hammer is the shaping of steel, white hot from the forge. There's a TV competition show called Forged in Fire. Watch an episode of that to understand what I'm taking about. We are being Forged In Fire! Even now, today, in how we're responding to all that's going on around us. God is looking for Tested Genuineness in our faith. Forged by Fire!
Paul said of all he went through that it was "light and momentary affliction" but that it gains for us "an eternal weight of glory! "
Peter goes on...
"... you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 ESV
This Easter will stand out in our memory, individually and in our corporate memory, and I hope that we will remember it fondly, as a time when we were tested and found faithful; as a time when we were shaped on the anvil into a "truer beauty and usefulness" to use a phrase from Bishop Terry Kelshaw's prayer; and as a time when we discover all that we mean to one another in the community of His New Life.
Peter concludes as I will with these words...
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ...through him [you] are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."
1 Peter 1:13, 21 ESV
Peter in later chapters of this same letter asks us to "always be ready to give an answer for the HOPE that is in us!"
Lord our God, we pray that you will show us the full glory of your power and might in the Resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, from the grave. He has trampled death and the grave, and given us a new birth into a living hope! Help us to continually live in that hope in relationship to you, Jesus Risen Lord and King. And finally, use us as we come out of this time of COVID-19 and help us Lord Jesus, to never go back to normal! In the Matchless Name of the Risen Jesus, for the fame of His Name and the glory of His Eternal Kingdom.
Amen and amen!
Sunday, April 5, 2020
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Sunday, February 16, 2020
Saturday, February 15, 2020
State of the Flock Address
February 2, 2020
Fr. Phil Eberhart
As I write, I am attending to my mother in ICU and have seen, over the past 12 hours a miraculous recovery of capacity to breathe, awareness and some light at the end of the tunnel, for this crisis in her recovery from the fall she had in late December.
I want to thank you all for your prayers for her and for me and our family.
I think that is where I want to start this year’s State of the Flock address! Our church is an amazing place – can I say that? God is here and God works among and through us. That’s not to say that we don’t have our challenges and heart-breaks, but God is with us and works through each one here in specific ways as we yield ourselves to Him and to His purposes. That is really what this church is all about! That is really what CHURCH should be all about!
For years I’ve talked about how our church is living out the pattern from Acts 2:42-47 and that God will move through us if we are Willing, Available, and Obedient! Those two things are the heart of our life together here at REZ. So I want to remind you briefly of those things again, with references to how we are doing those things in our life, both inwardly and outwardly in our community.
Acts 2:42 forms the crosshairs of our rifle scope – of our targeting system. The four things are found in our Anglican Baptismal Covenant and come out of Acts 2:42:
Devoted attention to four areas:
The Apostles’ Teaching / The Word of God / Scripture
The Fellowship / Community life / Life Together
The Breaking of Bread / Communion and Meals together, our Eucharistic Hospitality
These are the Marks of THE Church, of OUR Church: Devotion to Scripture as the Word of God; Devotion to One Another; Devotion to Worship and outflowing Hospitality; and Devotion to Prayers.
As we focus on these four areas, things have begun to happen and have come to a mature expression in our life together over the past almost 20 years.
A “Real Presence” of God and The Fear of the Lord
Signs and Wonders / Miracles of extraordinary power
A Radical Generosity and Common Life
Daily Prayer and Worship Together
Community Favor, Outreach & evangelistic growth
We all know that we have come through an extraordinary time of change, from being a mobile “church in a box” to now owning a church building. The timing, the finances, the favor, the almost daily miracles we’ve experienced in this past 27 months are a sign of what God intends to accomplish in us and through us on this holy hill. As we put the finishing touches on the property and building this next spring and summer, we must also begin to focus on the why of God’s purpose and the what and how of His call to us as a congregation in this place.
God is sending new faces already and now the changes and renovation are beginning on the inside. No, I’m not talking about paint and carpet, about candles and drapes or even stained-glass windows, but of the renovation of our own hearts and spirits, of our own lives, as we now must press into “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, the Messiah.” Now, in the words of Paul, we “must take hold of that for which we have been taken hold of by God!”
THE FUTURE HOPE IS HERE
We began this process all the way back in 2004 and 2005 as we started a small “building fund” called The Future and Hope Fund. Later in 2009 we put money in a “Loaves and Fishes” fund, again in hope of a future property. All of that money and more has now been applied – the Future Hope is here, and like the school boy who gave his lunch to Jesus, our eyes are expectant of the unexpected! No one knew, except Jesus, what the result of that day was going to be. And in the year and more to come, I believe that we are going to see the TWELVE BASKETS FULL come home to REZ.
We have experienced the feeling of inadequacy that the disciples experienced that day – but Lord, what does “You give them something to eat” mean? It would take us a year’s budget to just give each person one morsel! We are inadequate to the task! We have known that all along, as we looked at the 1.1 Million needed to do proof of funds, two Christmas’s ago – our first hurdle met and we prayed: Then on Thursday morning, before Christmas 2017, the text came: 1.3 Million… CASH!
Almost 10 years before we had placed a stake of dedication under a tree at the entrance to the King Soopers store across the street, at the invitation of the then manager of the store. It said: “I HAVE FOOD YOU KNOW NOT OF – MY FOOD IS TO DO THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME, AND TO FINISH HIS WORK!” (Jn 4:32-34) Now in 2020, we are bearing the fruit of that dedication and living out its last phrase. In this place, we are to “do the will of Him who sent us, and to finish His work!”
Over and over and over again, for two plus years, we have seen the hand of God provide our needs on almost a daily basis – certainly a weekly basis! And now we are turning our hearts to be obedient to the Lord, as we pass out fish and bread – like the disciples of old in that desert place. The watched in amazement as the baskets kept filling up with pieces of fish and loaves of bread! And joy began to well up in them – indescribable joy, at seeing the Hand of God at work. This is our joy today.
The miracle of REZ Anglican is not yet fully completed. We’re still passing out the fish and the bread.
And we will continue in this work, until we see that, like the school boy, we’re going to end up with 12 baskets of fish and bread left over! O God, give us some left overs!! Holy Left Overs!!
THE CALL IS NOW
We are in a season of fulfillment. God is fulfilling His purpose for us and for His whole Church. It is a time of Kingdom fulfillment and advance. We are being called to PRESS IN to all that God has called us to be and to do – notice the order there: TO BE and TO DO. We’ve learned that our ways are not God’s ways. And so often, our speed is not God’s Speed. This year we reviewed the lessons we learned last year in GODSPEED. God is calling us to BE SOMETHING before He is calling us to DO SOMETHING! This is where we start.
Our BEING depends on Him first, and us second. In David’s prayer of repentance, he prayed “create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… uphold me with a willing spirit.” Our prayer is first of all that God cleanse us of sin and uphold us with “willingness.” It has to all start with God – if we start with us, we will be lost! All the grace is His and it is IN HIM that we “live and move and have our being.” He is the one who gives us a willing spirit, a willing heart, to follow hard after Him and to press into all He has for us.
We move with Him as we move from Willingness. But the greatest obstacle to our BEING IN HIM is our distraction and busy-ness. We are simply too busy for God! Our schedules get in the way of prayer and devotion – we try, but our days start at 4 am – and the pressure of living in today’s culture is mounting almost daily. One of the Word’s we got as a parish this past year said to us simply, “Many of you are weary! I AM NOT!” God is not weary as He moves forward with His plan for salvation in the world. God is not weary of our building process! God is not weary of the world. He still loves it and still seeks those who are lost in it. Our willingness and our availability – making room for God to work in and through us – are the keys to what God is intending to accomplish through this church.
As we attend to our willingness and to our availability then The Spirit of God takes us, like an offering of bread and wine, and gives us to others that He is inviting into His family. Like the loaves and fishes, like the bread and wine of Eucharist, we are blessed, we are broken, and we are given, as a people to the world. As we experience this in our daily lives it looks just like the disciples being sent out ahead of Jesus! We are blessed to be a blessing – so we bless with His Peace those we are sent to. If we are available to Him, we are available to those He sends us to. Availability isn’t just spiritual its physical – its real time actual physical presence with those that God sends you to. It may be hanging out with them, buying a meal or a coat, it may be emotional support, it may be just friendship and hospitality.
Whatever it is its availability! If we’re available we are going to see needs. If you see a need, you’re in the game! Because the next step is meeting that need. As we are able and as we rely on God’s ability (the ability part of avail-ability), we are called to meet needs – real needs for real people. Its there that we encounter our need to obey. The disciples needed to obey Jesus when He said, “You go feed the people.” They didn’t have resources to match the needs. They didn’t have means or methods figured out. They only presented to Jesus what was at hand. “Five loaves and two fish! But what is that against such a need as this?” We are always going to be in NEED of God’s intervention, if we are doing the stuff God wants us to do! He won’t do anything that requires us to have LESS FAITH!
God is calling us to BIG THINGS. How do I know that? Because GOD IS BIG and HIS PEOPLE are called to do BIG THINGS – things beyond ourselves – things that only God can do! Things that according to Paul are “beyond all that we can ask or even imagine, in our wildest dreams.” This is why we say, at the end of the day, “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near you.” Our Big Thing is the furthering of the Kingdom of God among us and through us into the city, the State and the Nation. “His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven!”
TWELVE BASKETS FULL
Great things have been prophesied about this Church, not the building, but you the people and the work that God is going to bring forth in and from this place. They include words like
OIL - There is OIL (Anointing and Supply) that you do not know about coming your way. The week after we heard that word, we received $10,000 in our PayPal account! It is both “fiscal oil in our lamp” and “oil of anointing in ministry” – coming to us as we bring vessels to let it fill!
PRESENCE - God’s Presence is here in this place, on this Holy Hill. He has set it apart for His dwelling place and people are being drawn to it like moths to a flame. We are carriers of His Presence, not only here but everywhere we go, in the community and in the world.
EAGLES - There are going to be ministers and ministries released from this hill into the city and into the world. Those who will learn to wait on the Lord in order to rise up. And the eagles will be both young and old, male and female, as God pours out His Spirit on them.
HEALING - A hallmark of the early church and of the church throughout the ages, where the Spirit of God as active and moving, was healing. So it is today, and we have been prophesied a movement of healing like those of old. Days long healing services are coming – they are in God’s heart. Can we avail ourselves to His ability in this?
The IN-BETWEENers - God has said that He is sending those who are to fill in the gaps in this church body. We are going to see those coming who are to fill in the gaps – to make the Body whole and able. We will be blessed with new people, some who are coming back to the Lord and some who have never been His before.
The JOHN MARK’s - God has called me to restore those who have been hurt by ministry, who have been set aside, as John Mark, Peter’s young cousin, was by Paul. I am to be a Barnabas to those who God presents to me, an encourager, a healer and one who sets them back in ministry. [In fact it was John Mark who became Peter’s “scribe” in the years after he was “thrown away” by Paul and that narrative formed the core of our Synoptic Gospels, the Book of Mark.]
You may be weary, God says. I AM NOT!
Friends, the State of the Flock does not depend on us; not on me, or you or the staff or the board, or the finance committee or the construction workers. It depends on God. The State of this Flock depends on God and His Power. Like the school boy who gave up his lunch, we are simply watching as Jesus blesses, breaks, and gives the offerings we bring. It all depends on Him and His ability. Our part is to ask for a willing heart, to make ourselves available – to avail ourselves to His ability, and then to be obedient to His direction, step by step.
We are living out the vision of Jesus for His Church – a group of friends, committed to His Word, devoted to one another, worshiping together, extending hands of hospitality, healing and hope to our neighbors, all undergirded by prayer of every kind. That is the State of our Flock.
In Jesus Name and by His power and grace.
Fr. Philip D. Eberhart +
Fr. Phil Eberhart +