Worship Service – March 5, 2023

In the season of Lent we are invited to consider how we live as followers of Christ – to look at our decisions and our actions straight on, to hold them up to the example of Christ, and to make amends. In this time of worship and praise together, let us look at our lives.      Come, let us worship the God!
2nd Sunday of Lent
Scriptures: Genesis 12:1-5 and Romans 4:1-5
Message; ”Honest Faith”
Genesis 12:1-5
The Call of Abram
(1)The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
(2) I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
(3) I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
(4) So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. (5) He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Romans 4:1-5
Abraham Justified by Faith
(1) What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? (2) If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. (3) What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
(4) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. (5) However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

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

There’s an often told story about someone going to church to hear the new young preacher give his first sermon, and someone asks him, “How was the sermon?” And the person said, “Well, it was about faith and sin, but I don’t know which he was for and which he was against.”
This is a sermon about faith, and I want it clear right up front that I’m for it, if it’s “Honest Faith”. In Hebrews 11:1-2 scripture reminders us: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” David reminds us in Psalm 2:11, to:
“Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” Paul in his writing to the Philippians wrote: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” In Philippians 2:12b-13.
So this being the second Sunday of the Lenten season, we could call today “Abraham Sunday”, because Abraham, as pointed out by Paul, had an “Honest Faith”.
Now there are two definitions of “faith”. One is that faith is “tenets”. You all know what tenets are, don’t you? Principle beliefs, or doctrines generally held to be true beliefs. You can “belong to the “Lutheran faith” or the “Methodist faith” or the “Catholic faith” and maybe even the “Presbyterian faith” and the “tenets” they hold too.
The second is your “faith”. Your half of the relationship between you and God. It’s characterized as acceptance, confidence, trust; like faith in someone. It is confidence in someone like your doctor. On this faith you take the doctor’s prescribed medicine and their advice even when it’s costly or unpleasant. You trust it. It can also be a faith that rests on what you know of someone, from experience or what you hear about him or her from others. And that kind of faith is not always reasoned or based on facts. Some people inspire confidence, even when you first meet them; others never gain your trust, or gain it slowly, for reasons such as, “you just don’t like their looks.”
Faith is a relationship of trust in God: inspired confidence. Sin is turning away from God, putting your trust in someone or something else. Mostly faith is being honest with God, and also with yourself. That’s what I’m referring to as, “Honest Faith”.
So there are two basic things about having “Honest Faith” in God.
First, if you are “honest”, you realize you can’t be right, be saved, be just, by yourself. You can’t earn salvation.
Like a drowning man who fights for breath: When the lifeguard comes to save him he still fights, and as long as he does, he can’t be saved. He’s still trying to do it himself when help is right there. But the help is no good until he relaxes his own efforts. Until he stops trying to save himself.
Secondly, if you are,”honest”, you admit that everything you have comes from God himself. We wouldn’t be here but for God’s creation. That very admission creates an attitude of peace and trust.
For example; A hillbilly couple were living in the mountains of California. As sometimes happens in California near the San Andreas Fault, there was an earthquake. The wife rushed into the main room of their shack and shouted, “John, John, the Lord’s destroyin’ the world!”
John slowly looked up from the paper he was reading and said, “Wal, it’s his’n, ain’t it?”
Now that kind of faith, being that honest, is hard to do.
So Paul’s writings in Romans, teaches us of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Paul was writing simply to introduce his teaching to a church he intended to visit. Paul writes about the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for the believer. He helps his readers to understand that salvation by grace through faith is not without its roots in the Old Testament. Even Abraham, the father of the faithful nation, had righteousness that was not his own, but came through faith.
So, in our reading from Romans 4:1-5, Paul challenges us to be believers, that have an “Honest Faith”. So the real question is; How do we develop, or learn to have an “Honest Faith”, like Abraham? The answers given today are: The one who goes when God says, “Go” the one to whom God gives grace and faith; the one who worships in spirit and in truth. John 4:24 tells us: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Abraham understood this.
The book of Genesis jumps from legends of early civilization, such as the Tower of Babel in chapter 11, to the story of Abram and the birth of Israel in chapter 12. About 2,000 years before Christ, Abram is called from his country and kin, to go to who knows where, on a promise God had given him. As we read in Genesis 12:2-3. God said: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
God promises him land and descendants. So he goes to Egypt, he leaves there, and goes to Canaan, bargaining with God and rescuing his cousin Lot and the King of Sodom from an enemy army. After each act of faith, God promises blessing again.
So I ask you? Is Abraham’s, a life of faith? Is this man a, “hero of the faith”? I ask this because then there’s, “The rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey would put it; (I’m probably dating myself). The Scriptures tell us that, Abraham heads out on a promise, and then he wants to back out, thinking he had made a mistake. And he has the gall to ask God, “What’s the deal here, God? I’m almost 100, Sarah’s barren, my slave boy will inherit as next of kin, and you said you’d give me heirs as of the dust of the earth. I’m not so sure of you, right now, God.”
That’s honesty. Abram told God his doubts. He did not keep them hidden, to eat away at his faith. He asked God to put away his doubts and fears.
After all, it takes two to make a right relationship, and it appeared to Abram that God was not holding up his end of the bargain.
When we have doubts like this, we have to be honest. True faith can withstand honesty. God is big enough to take our questions. All our questions.
True faith can withstand honesty, but it needs to be trained. Lots of times it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. Lately we’ve heard quite a bit about leaders who take the convenient view. Especially in the religious community. They don’t go to the trouble to train in their faith, like an athlete trains in his sport. They forget that, “Honest Faith” is something you do daily. You make a habit of it.
“Honest Faith” is something you use. If you never worked your muscles they would become weak and useless. The reason so many fall away from the faith is not that somebody comes along and argues that faith is wrong; it usually happens that their faith is not used; even when faith could be exercised, the relationship to God is not tested and tried enough, pulled and pushed, twisted and used.
Abraham exercised his faith. He argued with God when he came to destroy Sodom. He fled the Promised Land for Egypt. He even lied about being married to Sarah. But he came back. He obeyed God enough to willingly sacrifice his son Isaac. God saw his act of faith and called off that sacrifice.
When you read the chapters in Genesis about Abraham you can’t help but be struck by his devotional life: he prays all the time; he builds altars everywhere he goes. He made for himself the habit of “Honest Faith”. He kept his muscles in shape.
What about you? We each need to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling. And that means we have to be in training, in the habit of faith. Praying, reading the Bible, reading devotional literature, coming to church, helping others less fortunate, sharing our faith in Sunday school, and other discussion classes.
Abraham believed the Lord, “his faith is credited as righteousness”. (Rom.4:5b) Do you know what righteousness is? Righteousness has to do with the fulfillment of the demands of a relationship. It could be a relationship between man and wife, parent and child, siblings or fellow believers.
It’s like accepting a “free puppy.” It’s given to you, but it carries with it the obligation to feed and care for it, and you really can’t take it back. It’s a one-way operation. Some of the synonym for righteousness are: Just, Right, True, Decent, Honesty.
So,”Honest Faith”, is what a person does in relationship to God. Or doesn’t do. God’s righteousness is what He does for you: His numerous saving acts, creation, the sending of messengers of his grace; but mainly it is most clearly demonstrated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what we commemorate during this Lenten season? That is our hope and our trust. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and it is credited to us as righteousness.
So if we are honest enough to admit that we can’t save ourselves and that all that is comes from God, then we can do no other but to turn to His grace through Christ. That’s what “Honest Faith”, truly is. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. We have seen God in Christ, and our faith in Him is our righteousness.
Do you have “Honest Faith”? “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for” (Hebrews 11:1-2).
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20230305
Listen To Audio: Service 03052023
Call to Worship:L:  Welcome pilgrims on the way to the cross.
P:  We are learning to follow Jesus.L:  When God says, “Go!” without telling us the destination,
P:  Show us, Christ, how to go forward in faith.

L:  Pilgrims on the way, come let us worship God!
P:  We come to worship God.


Prayer of Confession:    Holy God, Creator of all that is, Donor of Grace, and Giver of Life:  Hear our prayer.  There are chasms in our lives, deep valleys that separate us from one another and from You.  We confess that we have allowed those rifts to grow, for fear of admitting our part in the separation, for fear of being rejected when we reach out.  You call us to a reconciled life, to healed relationships, to a wholeness with each other and with You.  Mend us, we pray, and make us new creations through the power and love of Christ, in whose name we pray.  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 Local Mission

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

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

Social Hour after church TODAY.

One great hour of sharing during lent until Easter Sunday, April 9th

PW will meet on March 9th at 11:00 A.M.

Men’s Breakfast 8:00 on March 15th.

Meadow View St. Pat’s party on Friday the 17th at 2:00.   Join Kaylee Sue and Joyce for a happy time with the residents.

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

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, March 28th, 2023.

Easter Egg Hunt supplies- plastic eggs, small wrapped candies and small (egg sized) trinkets are welcome.  There is a donation basket in the rear of the church. 

The Easter Egg Hunt will be on Saturday, April 1st, at 11:00 am on the church grounds

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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