Worship Service – January 29, 2023

Blessed are we.  Blessed, even in the times we find it hard to see the blessing.  Even then we can know ourselves as the children of God.  Especially then we can know, see, feel God’s presence in our lives given by the One who came to save.     Come, let us worship God!

Scriptures: Matthew 5:1-12 and Micah 6:1-8

Message: “ Rejoice and be Glad !”   The Short List.

Matthew 5:1-12

The Beatitudes

(1) Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, (2) and he began to teach them saying:
(3) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(4) Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(5) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
(6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
(7) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
(8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
(9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
(10) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(11) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (12) Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Micah 6:1-8

The Lord’s Case Against Israel

(1) Listen to what the Lord says: “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.
(2) Hear, O mountains, the Lord ‘s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.
(3) “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.
(4) I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.
(5) My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
(6) With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
(7) Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
(8) He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

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

As I began to study the lectionary Scriptures for this week my first inclination was to preach on the “Beatitudes” given to us in Matthew 5. But as I started to write my thoughts down on each of them, the list seem to get too long and by the end of the sermon, their would be to many nodding heads and not many of you would, ”Rejoice and be Glad” as Jesus taught in the last verse we read in our gospel text. (Matt.5:12) Then again, maybe some of you would .
So in order for you to, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,” as Jesus taught, I thought we should spend some time this week studying a shorter list found in Micah 6. Because in verse 8 Micah gives us “The Short List” of the “Beatitudes”. How to “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,”(Matt.5:12). Micah writes, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
You might remember the old story about a man who was informed by his doctor that he had rabies. The doctor also had to inform the man that he had waited so long to go the doctor that nothing could be done about his condition. The man looked devastated but before the doctor could console him, he was called out of the room for an emergency.
As soon as he could return, he did. As he opened the door, the doctor noticed the patient was writing something on a piece of paper. Hesitantly the doctor asked, “Is that your will, you’re writing?” “No,” the man said, “I’m making a list of all the people I’m going to bite!”
Have you ever noticed how much we’re into lists? Back in the late 70′s one of the most popular books around was “The Book of Lists.” And there have been thousands of books published like it since. I did a search on Amazon.com and came up with 229,000 matches of books with the word list in their title.
These books contain such fascinating lists as:
17 Questions You’ll be Asked When Applying to Become an FBI Agent,
9 Visitors Who Died at Disneyland,
16 Movies Banned in the US,
11 men who have cried in public,
7 famous people expelled from school,
11 prominent people who died while exercising,
6 ways cats talk with their tails,
19 innocent Americans who were almost executed,
9 people misquoted by Ronald Reagan,
12 museums of limited appeal.
We have a fascination with lists. And we all have ongoing To Do Lists, don’t we, whether we write them on scraps of paper, on a calendar, or keep track of them on our Personal Digital Assistant.
Even God has lists, The 7 days of Creation, the 10 Commandments, the 12 Apostles; you get the idea. Today we’re going to look at God’s short list for a faithful life, so that we may; “Rejoice and Be Glad”! So I titled this week’s message, “Rejoice and be Glad!” The Short List.
This list all begins with God calling the people of Israel to task in almost a courtroom setting. Micah wrote to the people of Judah to warn them that God’s judgment was approaching, because they had rejected God and His law. Micah also encouraged the godly few, assuring them that judgment would not permanently destroy Israel. The nation would eventually be restored. In verse 8 of Micah 6, Micah reminds the people of Judah, what was required of God to live a good and faithful life. He writes; “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
ACT, LOVE, and WALK. That’s God’s short list. Noticed, they’re all action words. They’re all imperative verbs. They’re verbs that inevitably ask the questions, What, How and Who. What is justice and how and to whom are you ACTING JUSTLY? How and who are you LOVING? How and with whom are you WALKING?

Let’s take a closer look. Act Justly. What is justice? And how do you act justly? I remember reading, “Justice is nothing other than love working out its problems.” I think justice is doing what is right even if it’s uncomfortable or not popular.
Let me give you an example. I was at the bank, the other day, cashing a check at the remote drive up window. I put the check in the tube container and send it to the teller, giving him instructions on how I would like to receive the cash.
He promptly sent the container back with the money in one of the banks envelopes. I thanked him, and hurriedly pulled out without opening the envelope and checking the contents. Shame on me. I was distracted thinking about the list of things I needed to pick up at the local hardware store.
Upon arriving at the hardware store, I open the envelope and remove the cash, because I needed it to pay for my purchases. It was at that point I counted the money in the envelope. I realize that the bank teller had given me $20 more than I was deserving.
So after I purchased the things on my list. I must confess that I was tempted to drive home, but remembering that I am a child of God, I headed back to the bank. Arriving at the bank, I went inside and attempted to give them the $20 back. The bank teller, with a look of surprise hesitated to take it. He asked me,”Are you sure? You could have kept the money and no one would have known? Why?”
I told him, “Because I’m in the honesty business.” He looked confused so I said, “I’m a preacher,and the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’” And then he smiled and said, “Oh, I get it.”
Now I’m not trying to blow my own horn. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve slipped up.
But God wants, us to act justly, to do what’s right.
One of the mistakes we make, is in thinking that life has to be fair. Justice is not about being fair. Acting justly is about doing what is right in God’s eyes.
A story is told about a well know crime figure who was on trial for first-degree murder. His lawyer was hired and paid to win this case or at least have the charges reduced.
Everybody knew he’d done it. It was pretty clear that he was guilty, but the lawyer was willing to do whatever it took to reduce the charges. The lawyer approached one of the jurors and was able to bribe him to hold out for the verdict of manslaughter. He impressed upon the juror that no other verdict would do or he wouldn’t get paid.
At the end of the trial, the jury deliberated for over a week. They finally returned a verdict of manslaughter. When the lawyer met with the juror to pay the bribe, he asked, “How did you convince the other jurors to reduce the charge to manslaughter?”
The juror answered, “Well, that’s not exactly what happened. You told me to get them to return a verdict of manslaughter, or I wouldn’t get paid. It took me the whole week to convince them to vote with me on that verdict. They all wanted to acquit him.”
Sometimes God takes care of the justice. But you and I are called to ACT JUSTLY.
We’re also called to “LOVE MERCY”. You can’t have justice without mercy and you can’t have mercy without justice. George McDonald wrote in Discovering the Character of God, “I believe that justice and mercy are simply one and the same thing; without justice to the full, there can be no mercy, and without mercy to the full, there can be no justice.”
There’s a story that has been told about a man who was caught and taken to court because he had stolen a loaf of bread. When the judge investigated, he found out that the man had no job, and his family was hungry. He had tried unsuccessfully to get work and finally, to feed his family, he had stolen a loaf of bread. Although recognizing the extenuating circumstances, the judge said, “I’m sorry, but the law can make no exceptions. You stole the bread, and therefore I have to punish you. I order you to pay a fine of ten dollars.”
And then the judge continued, “But I want to pay your fine myself.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a ten-dollar bill, and handed it to the man.
As soon as the man took the money, the judge said, “Now I also want to cancel the fine and remit the sentence to time served.” That is, the man could keep the money and go free. “Furthermore, I am going to instruct the bailiff to pass around a hat to everyone in this courtroom, and I am fining everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a city where a man has to steal in order to have bread to eat.” The money was collected and given to the defendant.
I love that story, because it’s a perfect example of justice being dispensed in full, and paid in full, while at the very same time, mercy and grace were also enacted in full.
You and I are called to act in the same manner as that Judge. We’re called to not only show mercy but to “love mercy” because we have experienced both, through the outstretched hands of Jesus on the Cross.
And finally we’re called to “WALK HUMBLY” with our God. I like the TV show Blue Bloods, starring the famous actor Tom Selleck. Once during an interview he was asked; “What was one of the most embarrassing things you’ve ever done?” He responded by saying;”Whenever I get full of myself, I remember the nice, elderly couple who approached me with a camera on a street in Honolulu one day. When I struck a pose for them, the man said, ‘No, no, we want you to take a picture of US.’”
To walk humbly with God is living in fellowship with God in modesty and without arrogance. This is at the very heart of everything in God’s purpose for us, that we live in close relationship with God. To “WALK HUMBLY” with God means we must understand that God is in control.
It’s an honor to serve God. It’s an honor to be called forgiven and a child of God. But we can’t let it go to our heads. We have to seek God’s will and walk humbly with God. Because God’s in Control.
Years ago I wrote a song titled “Who’s in Control?”. The lyrics of which were based on Mark 4:35-41, “Jesus Calms the Storm”. If you would permit me, I would like to share those words with you. Or if your in our worship service sing that song.

Who’s in Control?

Velvet grass and autumn colored leaves.
Moon lit nights and babies on our knees.
Who gave us these?
Who’s in control of the stars and the moon lit nights.
Who’s in control of the earth and the sun so bright.
It’s God above and He made it also right.
For you and me, then He set us free.
Fast asleep while waves crashed around.
Worried men afraid that they would drowned.
They woke him and he frowned. (Reminding them.)
Who’s in control of the stars and the moon lit nights.
Who’s in control of the earth and the sun so bright.
My Father above and He made it all also right.
For you and me, and He’ll set us free.
Walk with Him. He’ll fill your heart with peace.
Talk with Him come rest your weary feet.
He’ll give relief.
If He’s in control of your heart and the life you lead.
If He’s in control of your soul and your every need.
Just take His hand He gives eternal life.
He’ll give you light to guide your life, if He’s in control.
God’s in control of the stars and the moon lit nights.
God’s in control of the earth and the sun so bright.
Our Father above, He made it all also right.
For you and me, then He and set us free, at Calvary.
Remember the grace that God has provided for us through Jesus. God doesn’t want to contend with us as He did with Israel. He wants us to remember how much He loves us.
We all can, “Rejoice and be Glad” when we, ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY and WALK HUMBLY, with OUR GOD!

“Rejoice and be Glad!”

It’s a short list.

In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20230129
Listen To Audio: Service 01292023
Call to Worship:

L:  Happy are we

P:  when our treasures cannot be quantified.

L:  Happy are we

P:  when our pain is held in the balm of love.

L:  Happy are we

P:  when our delight comes from beyond ourselves.


Prayer of Confession:     Far too often, O God, we desire to look wise in the eyes of the world.  We have forgotten our true identity, wandering into ways that are not yours.  We have lost the path of true worship, focusing on form and words rather than deeds.  We have forgotten what true discipleship is.  Forgive us and help us live into becoming the people you have created and called us to be.  Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.  Amen




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday afternoon from 11 to 1.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to Trehab Local Food Bank

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 1:00!  Please come a join us in singing praises to Jesus! 

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, January 31st, 2023.

Social Hour after church Sunday February 5th.

Backpacks for Kids due date is Sunday, February5th.

PW meeting on February 9th.

Sacrament of Baptism of Hannah Travis February 12th.  Cake and coffee after service to welcome Hannah.

Men’s Breakfast 8:00 on February 15th.

Souper Bowl mission goes until Super Bowl Sunday.

Session Meeting on Saturday February 18th at 9:00.

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.  

Listen to WPEL 96.5 for church cancellation if your internet is down during a storm this winter.







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