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Tuesday, July 30 2019

7-21-19 Message:        Our Future – Worth “Fighting” For              

Nehemiah 1:1-4; 4:1-8             HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept

For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

THE RESISTANCE…

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

                  (Nehemiah’s Prayer-filled response)

                  4 Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give             them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their     sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.

FIGHTING THROUGH THE RESISTANCE  -- Ephesians 6:10-20           

Notice, that the first response by Nehemiah to the negativity & verbal RESISTANCE (political, if you will), was not to argue back, but to PRAY!!!!! PRAYER IS OUR FIRST WEAPON!!!

That’s why Paul INCLUDED IT in his instructions to the first generation disciples in Ephesus!!

God was “building a NEW ‘temple’ THERE – and throughout the Roman Empire! A NEW Temple made up of HUMAN LIVES – of people – and the existing, surrounding neighbors would not be happy. That’s where these two story-lines merge!!!

Nehemiah was surrounded by human NEGATIVITY!

The Ephesian disciples were surrounded by SPIRITUAL NEGATIVITY!!! (& human).

And SO ARE WE!!! So, listen to what Paul urges us to do, NEXT!!!

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

So, if this is the case. If our MAIN TASK in addressing our challenges as a church family is prayer, the next question is HOW SHOULD WE PRAY??? 

Jesus tells us: Luke 18:1-8 POWER OF PRAYER FOR THE FUTURE

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

What is our future?

I have a suggestion…

Actually, it’s a fairly sure hunch.

The teen aged boys that Pastor Don & Family ministries have been engaging with the past couple years…

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So, it’s not so much a WHAT, but a WHO, that is our future?

What will WE do?

We CANNOT afford to try to recreate what once was!

It will not happen, because it CAN NOT happen – the way it used to be.

Some of our church family might need to mourn this reality.

And we must let them!

But we CANNOT stay immersed in a thought process that is not anchored in the current reality!

We MUST address the reality we’ve been handed!

And, this reality is that MANY, MANY of our neighbors are LOST!

– our literal neighbors on Ridge, Fifth, Sixth, Walnut Streets, are LOST! They most likely have no church background, or if they do, they are no longer connected to that church --- just like many of our own sons, daughters, grandsons & granddaughters are not connected with any church family!

If we are waiting around for church families to come and visit us and decide they ‘LIKE’ us, we will wait A LONG, LONG TIME….

The world where churches could just open their doors and expect that people would be glad about that and come to “try them out” is GONE!!!

The most recent members that have joined St. Matthews have all come because SOMEONE went OUT!!! OUTSIDE!!!!!!!!!!

Outside the walls of the building.

Outside the confines of Sunday morning worship experiences.

Outside the typical children’s and youth ministry-styles that most churches offer to suburban families, and someone offered a non-traditional, slightly chaotic yet fun-filled, and food-connected experience of playing in the park and talking with the parents!

Outside the narrow alleys of Sunday School & “church” and WENT into the neighborhood.

Or, others went OUTSIDE the building and spoke about what they were experiencing and learning to a co-worker or a friend (in the relationships and gatherings – in Family Ministries, and Worship 2).

What will YOU do?

I want to deeply encourage us, all of us, our whole church family ----

to consider WHAT KIND OF A FUTURE YOU ARE EXPECTING FOR ST. MATTHEWS?

Let’s be realistic.

But, let’s also be OPTIMISTIC in the resurrection power of Jesus in us.

Let’s be realistic.

But let’s also TAKE ON THE BIG CHALLENGES we face – inside the walls of this building, but ALSO recognize the BIGGER CHALLENGES that LOST PEOPLE all around us are facing WITHOUT JESUS IN THEIR LIVES!!!!!

Let’s be realistic.

But LET’S NOT DAMPEN OR QUENCH WHAT THE SPIRIT has already begun to do IN us, and in the Green Shoot(s) that have appeared in our church family the last couple years!!!

Because, I will NOT be able to lead you as a church family, if you give up on the FUTURE!!!

There is NO REASON for me to stay with St. Matthews if we are not going to plan for, prepare for, look for, dream for, pray for and FIGHT FOR A GOD-INSPIRED FUTURE for not just this church family, but for THIS COMMUNITY!

I’ve got a VISION – given to me by God – to make disciples and lead others to do the same!

If you are not interested in that.

If you are only interested in how we can keep the lights on (and the air conditioning & heat!) for a few more years until we empty out all the available funds….

Then, please let me know now!

I will gladly step aside and allow you to find a HOSPICE PASTOR to help you die gracefully!

That IS a legitimate ministry.

But that is NOT what I’m called to do!

And, it really does matter A LOT!

Because there are decisions that can be made now –

financially and by the property teams,

to accommodate a graceful laying to rest of a congregation.

But, if not --- If you believe that there is something BIGGER

TO PRAY FOR -- TO WORK FOR -- TO SACRIFICE FINANCIALLY FOR -- TO BELIEVE GOD FOR &

TO FIGHT FOR! Then, that will impact the types of decisions we make as a Support Team and as a Congregation, as we move into the future!

But, we can’t straddle the fence anymore! (straddling the fence is always a dangerous place!)

Either we are going to begin preparing for the “end”

or we are going to realign & position ourselves for a FIGHT for the FUTURE!

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Who’s with me?

Who will pledge their prayers, their energy, their time,

their money & resources to WINNING THIS FIGHT?

Posted by: PASTORAL@PTD.NET AT 04:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, May 27 2018

Here is the link for the recording of Pastor Joel Kime's interview, which I referenced in my 5/27/18 Message.  

https://t.co/H7c6LmPCAM

Posted by: Al Giles AT 02:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, October 20 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8gNM9_B76A

Check out this video about how to pray and care for people!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8gNM9_B76A

Posted by: pastoral@ptd.net AT 04:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, December 29 2015

Almost every day I am posting thoughts from the PROVERBS -- a study I've been doing for 2 years. The chapter from Proverbs matches the day/date. So, today's (12/29/15) will be from Proverbs 29! -- Enjoy & let me know what you think!!!                                                      

Good morning! Looks like the heat wave is over... Proverbs 29:1 "A man who remains stiff - necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed --- without remedy." Kind of an ominous start to this chapter. "Without remedy" is such a hopeless place of despair. But the sad part is, it didn't have to be that way. There were plenty of warnings & opportunities to turn, to change. But they were either missed or ignored. We all have areas where we are "stiff-necked". God promises to not let us alone in these areas. When He rebukes us, He is trying to get our attention so that we can find remedies -- before it is too late! I pray that you develop a "soft neck" -- a soft heart to God & His word to you!

Posted by: pastoral@ptd.net AT 10:20 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, June 09 2015

Great thoughts going into your summer vaca plans!!

Click the link below to read!

http://gfc.tv/next/2015/06/how-to-keep-summer-from-stealing-its-most-powerful-moments/

Posted by: Pastor Al AT 12:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 01 2015

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those HE LOVES, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 2:11-12) He who…loves (his son) is careful to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful…” (Hebrews 12:11)

I’ve become very aware in my life and in some recent conversations with believers, that although we all know we should “grow” and have a desire to “grow”, we often hit a stumbling block on HOW we grow. And that stumbling-block has everything to do with discomfort and pain.

As Americans, we’ve been trained to understand that life can be made painless. We really do live a fairly comfortable life, compared to most of the people on the planet. We miss few meals, and if so, by choice, not by lack of food available. Check our medicine cabinets – they are filled with all kinds of OTC and prescription remedies to bring pain relief in one form or another. And so, when it comes to American Christianity, we find ourselves recoiling at any experience that makes us uncomfortable or causes inner or outer pain. Internally, we have been trained to believe that no pain is good. And, even in the church, we avoid uncomfortable situations like the plague.

Pain itself is not the problem. Pain is the way God designed our body to indicate that something else is not functioning well and needs attention. If we ignore pain too often, we could easily put ourselves at greater risk of health failure.

Jesus packaged the wisdom of the Proverbs this way: “my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2) Notice who does the difficult (painful) work of pruning? It’s the Father! Someone we can TRUST! So, here’s the issue: Are you willing to trust your Father?

Combining Jesus’ words with the ancient wisdom of the Proverbs, we find a way to see discomfort in a positive, life-producing light.

EVERY ONE OF US experiences pain. Daily. Weekly. Seasonally. It can be in our body, in our emotions, or between our relationships. Also, some pain is out of our control. Some, if we are honest, we bring on ourselves. Proverbs & Jesus speak to both types. The only people who escaped pain were Adam & Eve before they sinned, and anyone who is already with the Lord in heaven. The rest of us must face it. And, we must do better at what we think about pain and discomfort. I’m suggesting, we let Jesus redeem the painful situations of our past or present, and allow Him to use them for our GROWTH!

I’m convinced that we will never grow unless we experience some discomfort or pain. Sometimes it’s because we are stubborn. Sometimes it’s just because we are human. Either way, pain is the agent of change.

Here’s another truth I’m discovering in numerous discipling relationships I’m involved with: Sometimes the discomfort comes through a difficult conversation with someone I love. This involves two points of discomfort. 1) The person who is bringing up the difficult subject often struggles with how to say it, or even if it should be said at all.  2) The person listening to the “rebuke” also can feel pinched or hurt by what is shared. To both of these, Proverbs has much to say:

Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.(9:8)

He who walks with the wise grows wise (13:20)

So, this year, instead of running from pain, avoiding it, or denying it, or trying to face it alone, I invite you to GROW FROM YOUR PAIN. If you are finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation or relationship, ask God what He wants to teach you IN it and THROUGH it. And, find some trusted Christian friends to talk it through.

He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. (10:17)

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty & shame,

but whoever heeds correction is honored.(13:18)

Painfully yours J,

for growth!

Pastor Al

Posted by: pastoral@ptd.net AT 01:16 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 25 2014

KAIROS moments are all about learning to pay attention to, dissect and interpret life --- as it happens each day -- in light of God's promised Presence, His Word and with the foundational understanding that ALL of life has a PURPOSE. -- That there is truly NOTHING RANDOM!!!!

EVERYTHING has purpose and meaning -- AND -- God wants to instruct us and CHANGE us from the INSIDE OUT!!!

So, when Jesus says: "THE TIME HAS COME. THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NEAR. REPENT & BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS" he is inviting us to believe that His Kingdom is breaking into our current, personal, day-to-day life experience. And, if THAT is true, then what we go thru EVERY DAY contains an element of truth & instruction and offers us the possibility to CHANGE (Repent & believe --- Re-think, change direction in thought, word and/or action).

And WHEN WE DO, His Kingdom goes even deeper into us!!! -- see Mark 1:15

And, if all that is true, then God is already speaking to you.... right now.... even as you're reading this.... His Kingdom is NEAR. The Time is NOW. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO LEARN & CHANGE, in response to His Kingdom coming closeby?

(Unless of course, you already have it all together!! LOL!!)

PS --You might not think you are qualified to interpret your life events. You might not think you know enough about God, or the Bible or theology, to do this. That's crap! God will work with you WHERE YOU'RE AT, WITH WHAT YOU KNOW and will teach you as you go. Just start! Take some time to look at what has already happened today. Ask Him to show you His Kingdom (which is near) and what He wants to show you about yourself. Then, be ready to grow, change and process what you're learning with a few others on the pathway with you in Christ. The journey begins!

Those who have been around the "church" for any amount of time, might be tempted to think we are not yet qualified to interpret our own "KAIROS" MOMENTS -- until we learn more Bible knowledge. But, God's Spirit will ALWAYS lead us and help us interpret our lives. It's true. The Word is THE Text of life and will always help us know God and His will more clearly --- but it ONLY comes alive when it INTERSECTS with our current reality and understanding....

So, in one sense, we are ALREADY EXPERTS on ourselves! And, that is where we MUST start --- THAT is where God is willing to meet us and instruct us. IF we're willing to make the time for Him and for others to join us in the journey!

Posted by: Pastor Al Giles AT 04:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

St. Matthew's EC Church

5th & Ridge Streets
P.O. Box 433
Emmaus, PA 18049
Telephone 610.965.5570
Email: stmattec@ptd.net

ABOUT US

We are a gathering of disciples of Jesus, seeking to live our lives the way He did!

We are part of the Evangelical Congregational Church http://www.eccenter.com/

We are seeking to grow as disciple-makers via http://3dmovements.com/

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