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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Church news, 8/23 ...Coming to Jesus!

"No one can come to Jesus, unless..." was the title of Sunday's sermon. We spent some time filling in the blank after "unless" and soon realized that:

A. "No one can come to Me (Christ), unless the Father who sent Me draw him," John 6:44, or "unless it be granted him by the Father" John 6:65 and

B. "No one comes to the Father but by Me (Christ)," John 14:6.

"It seems like a closed loop or closed system," Fr. David said. "How can we possibly get in there?"

He explained that the Father desires all to 'be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth' (I Timothy 2:3,4). We know this deepest desire of God because He opened the Way of salvation by sending His Son Jesus Christ, to live with us, show us the Father and then die for us. All who receive Jesus and who believe in His Name, He gives the power to become children of God (John 1:12). "God staked the fulfillment of His Will on His Son; that the invitation provided in and through Jesus and His Death upon the Cross would be enough," Fr. David continued.

As we considered God's invitation to us (to come to Jesus and find salvation), we then turned to the consideration of the parable of the king's banquet found in the Gospel of Luke 14:16-24:
Then He (Jesus) said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited
many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited,
‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make
excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go
and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five
yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still
another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that
servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the
house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and
lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and
the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and
still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the
highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”
Look at the extent to which God, the Father (banquet host) and God, the Son, Jesus Christ (the servant) went to accomplish a fruitful response to the invitation. The servant reached out, motivated people and even lovingly compelled them to respond so that they would not miss the great feast of salvation. It subsequently took at least some cooperation (faith and trust, with no excuses) from those invited for them to become members of the host's household and taste the great supper!

"The first step in coming to Jesus Christ
", Fr. David continued, " is not as much about us or about our own efforts, but the awesome truth that the Father is drawing us, indeed inviting us, as He grants us every opportunity to come to Jesus". Fr. David continued with consideration of the second step of coming to Jesus, which is about our faith filled cooperation with the Father as we come to believe in Jesus as Son of God and Savior. "The second step is about our growing in faith in Jesus and thereby in communion with Him through the power of the Holy Spirit. And then in the third step in coming to Jesus, the Father grants us the status of being His children, beheld in union with His Son and prepared for being received in His Kingdom forever."

Summary: No one comes to Jesus unless God works on our behalf, which He is doing far more than many times we realize, and we cooperate with Him through faith, every step of the way, then we enter into everlasting communion with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

NOTES: Our church picnic was held Sunday afternoon at the Sanders' home, where a blessed time was had by all. Thanks to the Sanders' for their hospitality and great grilling, and also to all who brought the ingredients for our delicious meal, and who shared their comradeship with us. In other news, Sue Eckert has been called to the ministry of Parish Treasurer.

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