Worship Service – November 22, 2020

Sunday November 22,2020

Welcome, I invite you to open your Bibles and read, our scriptures this week in Psalm 100 and Luke 11:1-13. Our message this week comes from the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. Let’s read together.

Ephesians 1:15-23.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

(15) For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, (16) I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (17) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (18) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (19) and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, (20) which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, (21) far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (22) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, (23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

Our message today, I have titled;

” A Living Prayer “.

In our text today ,Paul prays and reminds us that if we are to become “A Living Prayer”, that the eyes of our hearts must be opened. He writes; “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints ,”Ephesians 1:18).
In my preparations this week I found a prayer that needs to be prayed to, and for all of us and especially our leaders, so that we may have the eyes of our hearts enlightened. So that we may know God’s will and help us become,
” A Living Prayer “.
Pastor Joe Wright of Kansas was asked to lead the Kansas State Senate in prayer. They were expecting the usual formal prayer to open the session but that is not what happened. The pastor used the moment as a confessional and prophetic opportunity. As he prayed there were some senators who got up and walked out. When Paul Harvey (a nationally known radio news and editorialist) got a hold of the prayer and read it on his program he got more requests for copies of it than any other thing he had ever done.
Here’s what Rev. Wright prayed:
“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
  • We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
  • We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
  • We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
  • We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
  • We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
  • We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
  • We have killed our unborn and called it a choice.
  • We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
  • We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
  • We have abused power and called it political savvy.
  • We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
  • We have polluted the airwaves with profanity and called it freedom of expression.
  • We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will….Amen.”
This past week I have had an opportunity to work on some special music for upcoming Sundays with Emily Sorber. One of the pieces of music that we have been preparing is titled, ”A Living Prayer”, written by Ron Block. Many of you may have heard it as recorded by Alison Krauss.
Today I invite you to listen to the words of the song, ”A Living Prayer”, as Emily and I sing it together. If you’re reading this online, I have provided for you the words or if you listen to the sermon audio at the bottom of this message, you can hear us sing it.
A Living Prayer
In This World I Walk Alone
With No Place To Call My Home
But There’s One Who Holds My Hand
On the Rugger Road Through Barren Lands
The Way Is Dark, The Road Is Steep
But He’s Become My Eyes To See
Strength To Climb, My Grief To Bear
The Savior Live Inside Me There
In Your Love I Find Release
A Haven From My Unbelief
Take My Life And Let Me Be
A Living Prayer, My God To See
Through These Trials Of Life I Find
Another Voice Inside My Mind
It Comforts Me And Bids Me Live
Inside The Love The Father Gives
In Your Love I Find Release
A Haven From MY Unbelief
Take My Life And Let Me Be
A Living Prayer, My God To Thee
Take My Life And Let Me Be
A living Prayer, My God To Thee
In our reading in Psalm 100, The Psalmist reminds us that we are to give thanks for what God has given us in the past, the present and future.
 In our Gospel reading in Luke 11:1-13, Jesus teaches his disciples, and us how to pray and how to become “A Living Prayer.” He knows that being “A Living Prayer” can be expensive in so many ways. So Jesus continues to teach His disciples and us , that all we need to do is to ask. In Luke 11:9 and 10, we read; ”So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened do you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Thanksgiving arrives this Thursday. Our annual Thanksgiving holiday may be a time of remembering our past and looking to our future. But it is also one of the most expensive and eye opening of all holidays.
On one hand, Thanksgiving is all about family and tradition. Even though we are now a “fast-food” nation and a “take-out” culture, Thanksgiving is the one day when we remember old recipes, when we literally and intentionally “taste” our past and let the food tell the story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.
On the other hand, we think of Christmas as expensive, but in terms of travel and time, Thanksgiving is more expensive than Christmas. In years past, what is named “Black out days” made it the most expensive celebration for using frequent flyer miles. The longest lines at airports, train stations or bus terminals occur at Thanksgiving because everyone needs to leave on Wednesday and return on Sunday. Although it may not be this year due to the lock down.
Also, more and more the big draw of the family get-together has a different motivation. Over the last twenty years “Black Friday” has grown from being a fun day of sales to being a ground breaking event that determines the end-of-the-year economic health of major corporations.
After years of consciously trying not to intrude on the sacred “family holiday” of Thanksgiving, retailers have now decided that “Black Friday” can legitimately begin before the turkey gets cold on Thanksgiving Thursday. The gathering together, for a bit of family time at Thanksgiving has now become a staging time ,for the mad dash into the shopping malls and outlet stores and even on line sales offering outrageous deals…if you get there first.
They are not helping us to be coming “A Living Prayer!” They are not encouraging us to open the, ”eyes of our hearts”, to be “enlightened” in order so that we can know the, ”hope” which he has called us to as his, “saints”.
Maybe the most enlightening knowledge we need to learn, accept, and cherish is that all Christians are saints. In the New Testament, every believer was a “saint,” even those Christians Paul disagreed with. “Saint” means: One who is set apart for God’s use.
As Christianity evolved into the early Middle Ages, Christians began to define a saint as an extraordinary believer who could be identified as such only after death. Thus Christians abandoned the exciting New Testament reality that we’re all saints. In the New Testament, “saint” seldom refers to the dead. It means those whom God uses in this world, those who live by God’s power here and now. Who have become, ”A Living Prayer “. Christians won’t claim the gifts Jesus died to give if they think that living close with God and living wondrously for others is something for an elite few called saints — most of whom are dead.
You are a saint. And when you become the answer to another’s prayer, you become, ”A Living Prayer “. God gives you great things to do and the power to do them, as Paul writes;” his incomparably great power for us who believe”(Ephesians 1:19).
In English, the words “power” and “possibility” both derive from the same Latin word that means “to be able.” So, also, the Greek word that Paul repeats for power means basically “to be able.” Jesus has granted you God’s power to be useful in God’s cause, to be able to bring about or to prevent change. Our ascended Lord makes you able to forge new possibilities in your personal life with God, in your relations with family and friends, and in your job and neighborhood as well as your church. God bestows upon you power to live as Jesus did. To become “A Living Prayer “.
So what is Thanksgiving about in 2020? It is now 400 years after that first Thanksgiving harvest celebration shared by the Native Americans and the new settlers in Plymouth. So what are we looking back at, and what are we looking forward to? Is Thanksgiving just a time to look back at family and traditions and looking around the table at ones we love? Or is Thanksgiving a time when we take a deep breath of the past so we can and plunge into becoming ,”A Living Prayer “?
In this week’s epistle reading, Paul writes to the Ephesian community but he makes his words applicable to all who might receive it. It is directed to the community of disciples, to those, whose faith has led them to have a “spirit of wisdom” and a “heart enlightened.”
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 18:2;” I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. So what does that spirit of wisdom look like to a child? How can the eyes of our hearts be enlightened as children?
Robert Fulghum was a feature writer for The Kansas City Times. I’m not sure he’s still there, because he has written a runaway best seller entitled All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. That book is an expansion of an article he wrote for The Kansas City Times a few years ago. It was this article that launched his writing career. Listen to a part of it:
”Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.
”These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…
”Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that…
”Think of what a better world it would be if we all the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
Because of faith in Christ, Paul declares that the faithful know the “hope to which he has called you ,the riches of his glorious inheritance”.
That is, a new life among the saints. One who becomes, ”A Living Prayer “. His thankfulness is for the faith of those who confess a commitment to Christ and live life based upon that commitment.
The power of Paul’s thanksgiving is not simply about what has occurred, the death and resurrection of Christ, but is about what is occurring and what is coming to a family of faith that gathers together and works together and faithfully keeps that working relationship alive year after year as, ”Living Prayers “!
Hold hands and stick together!

Happy Thanksgiving !

In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio : Sermon 20201122
Listen To Audio: Service 11222020


Pastor Joe is available at the church on Thursdays from 2 to 4. If you wish to speak with him, his contact numbers are 570-465-7303
or his cell 570-267-4570.

Sunday School begins at 8:30; all are welcome.

The Loose change (coins & bills) offering today goes to General Fund.

Worship Committee will decorate the Christmas Tree at 9:00am Monday, November 23!

Session meets Tuesday, November 24 at 10:00.

BILL’s Kids for Christmas Mission: Rev. Bill Townsend was the Director of Spiritual Life at the Children’s Home in Binghamton. Our congregation has been donating money for many years to help
to make Christmas more merry for the residents; until Sunday, November 29.


Please check your mailbox in the vestibule!

Christmas Greeting – If anyone would like to put a Christmas Greeting in the Dec. Messenger, please give a handwritten note or
E-Mail her at whisperpines@frontiernet.net to Carolyn White by Tuesday Dec 1st.

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