Since God Can

Sometimes it seems easier to believe that God became human in the form of a baby than to believe that God can perfect us in this life...but God can.  The birth of Jesus shows us that our efforts, our work, and our religious practices can't save our lives and earn God's love, only God can.  Living like we believe God can means our efforts and our work become about ensuring that everyone we know experiences the same saving love of God.  

Text

2 Peter 3:8-15a

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Can't God Make Us Perfect?

Do you believe that God can make you perfect during this lifetime?  As we remember the anticipation of Jesus' birth by anticipating His return on this First Sunday of Advent, Pastor Jon invites us to identify what our focus is for our lives during this time of waiting.  If it is not in the understanding that God is powerful enough to deliver us from the power of sin and lead us to what John Wesley calls "Christian perfection," than what can we do in order to change that?

Text

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

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Trees

What does something that is so ordinary as a tree have to teach us about the work God wants to do in our hearts? Rev. Matt Idom, President/CEO of Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in Palestine, TX teaches from the Scriptures about God's desire and plan for us to bear good fruit. 

TEXT

Luke 6:43-45

Whole Heart Work

Whole heart love requires whole heart work.  Pastor Silverio reflects on the Apostle Paul's words in Philippians 3 about being a place in life where he pursues Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering and offers guidance on how we can get to such place in our own lives. 

TEXT

Philippians 3:3b-14

PRAYER OF CONFESSION AND PARDON
Merciful God,
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will, we have broken your law,
   we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors,
   and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From: A Service of Word and Table 1, United Methodist Hymnal. 

 

Near To The Heart of God

Rev. Jon Stouffer

Pastor Jon continues exploring the question of what our purpose is in times like these.  In Romans 12,  Paul encourages the Church to seek after the transformation and renewal of our minds, so that we might better understand what the will of God is for our lives.  We can grow in Christ as we make ourselves available to the work that God's Spirit wants to do in us.  As we seek to grow, we move closer and closer to the heart of God.  

Text

Romans 12: 1-8 

Because...

Rev. Jon Stouffer

On the Sunday after Hurricane Harvey left Southeast Texas, we gathered to sing, pray, and open the Scriptures together.  Pastor Jon preached on Philippians 2 and reminded us that the reason we can help and serve one another during these hard times is because of who Christ is and because Christ is living in all of us. 

Bonus Content: Stay tuned after the sermon to hear a powerful rendition of a familiar tune, "My Tribute," by Fred Simon. 

text

Philippians 2:1-11

"Even God cannot fill a vessel that is already filled..." - Mother Teresa

"I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 
Thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth,let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen."  - Wesley Covenant Prayer

Tell Me The Stories of Jesus: When God Sets The Table

The story of Jesus and the Canaanite women who pleads with him for mercy on her tormented daughter.  Pastor Jon teaches from this story in the Gospel of Matthew and reminds us that, though we already see glimpses of the Kingdom of God in our world today, there is still much that is not yet as it should be.  We are longing together with all creation for the ongoing redemption of this world and of all of God's children to be completed. As we wait, we remember that God is setting up a table in which all are welcomed and equally treasured. 

A Lil' Bit O' Treasure

Pastor Jon finishes his first teaching series at First Methodist.  Reflecting on our call to love our city,  Jon teaches from the Scriptures on five of the shortest parables of Jesus about the kingdom of heaven (the mustard seed, the yeast, the treasure hidden in a field, the fine pearls, and the net thrown into the sea to catch fish of every kind).  As the church of Jesus Christ, our treasure is not in how much we catch with our nets, but in how with faithfully cast them and live into God’s kingdom where there’s more than enough for everyone. 

TEXT

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.” - John Wesley, Letter to Alexander Mather, August 6, 1777

“You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most. It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.” - John Wesley, Conversation with Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke, and others, 1784

A Lil' Bit O' "Leave it Be"

Pastor Jon teaches on Jesus’ parable of the Weeds among the Wheat.  Sometimes we may see ourselves or others as weeds because of our brokenness and sin, but the reality is that we are all recovering sinners that have been saved by grace.  So we practice a little bit of “leave it be” knowing and trusting that God is not finished working in all of us.

TEXT

Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43
Matthew 7:1-5
2 Peter 3:14-15a

Prevenient Grace - God working in our lives befog we know God is working in our lives. (The front porch of God's house.)

Justifying Grace - Our acceptance of God's work in our lives through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Entering God's home.)

Sanctifying Grace - God's continued work in our lives to grow us into being perfected in love. (Exploring and making ourselves at home in God's home for the rest of our lives.)