Messages from our Ministers

Wilderness Struggles

February 21, 2021
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 
First Sunday of Lent
Scripture Readings: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7, Matthew 4:1-11

 

On Wednesday we began the season of Lent, which is our preparation for the Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. It is a time of imitation of Jesus spending forty days in the desert. Jesus fasted in the desert and overcame the devil’s temptations. Jesus never sinned but, in the desert, he was tempted. During these forty days of Lent we remember His temptations as we try to overcome temptation in our lives. There is practically no hiding place or shelter in the desert and the difficulties of the desert makes whatever is inside a person come to the surface. The desert tests and shows a person as they are. Lent is an invitation to us to take the courageous step of “going into the desert.”

In Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7, we read the story of the snake tempting the man and woman in the Garden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though God told them not to do so. In short, the serpent convinced them not to trust God. They lost their innocence. In Matthew, we see Jesus similarly tempted in the wilderness by Satan, but Jesus withstands the temptation. So, what about us? We all find ourselves in a place, from time to time, where we are in the wilderness. And we can learn from Jesus’ time in the wilderness. In fact, the season of Lent is a gift to us to help with this wilderness experience.


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Return to the Lord

February 17, 2021
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 
 

Ash Wednesday

Scripture Reading: Joel 2:12-17

 

The book of Joel is a brief prophecy, the heart of which is repentance, as disclosed in chapter 2, verses 12 through 32. As we study this book, may God help us to enjoy the blessings therein through humility, repentance, forsaking of sins, turning to God, and humbling ourselves before him.

We do not know when the book of Joel was written. Traditionally, scholars believe it was written in the 9th Century B.C., during the time of Joash king of Judah. Jesus himself quotes from this prophecy in Mark 13:24 about the events of the last days. Peter quotes Joel on the day of Pentecost because it was Joel who prophesied the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days. Paul also quotes this prophecy in Romans (10:13), about God’s answering our prayers: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In today’s scripture reading, prophet Joel declared these words to God’s people who were experiencing extreme hardship: a plague of locusts had obliterated the crops of the land; people and animals were starving; there was no grain, wine, or oil to offer sacrifice to God; the land itself was parched and thirsty.

Joel’s prophecy is a biblical rarity in that Joel


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Mountaintop Experienc

February 14, 2021

by Pastor Joel Plisek  

         

Scripture Reading: Mark 9:2-9

Sometimes supernatural worlds seem very eerie and strange, don’t they?  Because of that there are some who simply ignore it and there are others who deny it altogether. One of the primary reasons is that it goes against our Western scientific sensibility.  Sensibility that tells us that we are not supposed to believe anything that is not scientific. 

You know there are all kinds of things that you and I cannot prove scientifically, but that does not mean that they are not real, and it does not mean that they are not true.  I want you to keep that in mind as we answer four questions about todays story.  One, who was there?  Two, what exactly occurred?  Three, how did the disciples respond?  And four, why did it happen?

Mark 9:2 says, “Six days later.” Six days after what?  Six days ago, he asked the disciples. “who do the people say that I am?”  Six days after he spoke about his plan and his purpose to suffer and to die and to rise again.  Six days after Peter took Jesus off to the side and rebuked him because he did not want a Messiah who was going to suffer and die, he wanted a Messiah that was going to rule and reign.  Six days after Jesus responded to Peter “get behind me Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on


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Healing the Fever of Disconnection

February 7, 2021
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:29-39

In today’s scripture reading, Mark’s Gospel emphasizes the power of Jesus’ word. His word can heal (1:31 and 34), free people from demons (1:34 and 38), and proclaim the Good News (1:39). His word has the power to make people whole, return them to their place in family and society, and reconcile them to God. Jesus calls us to the healing of the fever of disconnection.

The term “fever” is not mentioned much in the Old Testament. Two parallel texts describe fever as one of the punishments of the people of Israel if they do not obey the Lord’s commandments and ordinances once they reach the promised land (Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:22). The New Testament contains a few other stories about the healing of fevers. Matthew and Luke have parallel accounts of this passage (Matthew 8:14-17 and Luke 4:38-41). John records an account of Jesus healing the son of a royal official, a Gentile. The boy is on the point of death, and one of his symptoms is a fever. Jesus heals the boy remotely, without having to touch him (John 4:46-54). In Acts, Paul heals the father of Publius, a citizen of Malta. Paul heals the man by prayer and laying on of hands (Acts 28:7-10). It is likely, that the fever that Peter’s mother in-law had resulted from malaria. Malaria was widespread in the Mediterranean


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Jesus Heals the Sick

January 31, 2021
by Pastor Charles Nyamakope
 

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:21-28

In today’s scripture reading, we see Jesus’ first teaching in the synagogue and a man with an unclean spirit is healed. This healing reveals who Jesus is, His authority, love, humility, and servanthood. This story invites us not to overlook the power and authority of Jesus. There is great hope and comfort for those who see the power of Jesus and recognize that there is nothing that can stand against Him.

After calling His first four disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Mark tells us that Jesus and His disciples go to the city of Capernaum (a port city on the Sea of Galilee) and the place Peter calls home (and most likely the other three disciples). In Mark (1:21-34) we can follow Jesus from a morning in the synagogue, to an afternoon and evening at Peter’s home, and over and over we see the power and authority of Jesus revealed.

 In this story we see the powerful teaching and authority of Jesus revealed through His teaching (1:21-22). The synagogue was the place where Jews gathered each Sabbath day (Saturday) for worship and to hear the Word of God read and taught. As Jews, Jesus and His disciples were in attendance. The responsibility of teaching in the synagogue was shared by those who knew the Scriptures


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Leaders Called by God to Make a Difference

January 24, 2021
by Pastor Joel Plisek
 

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:14-20

 

Today’s reading is phase two of God’s plan, phase two of the implementation of the redemption of all humanity. Jesus has now been baptized and the ministry passes from John the Baptist to Jesus. Jesus begins His ministry by preaching in Galilee.  He proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God, saying the Kingdom of God has come near and we must repent and believe the good news. He then goes out and starts picking followers saying, “follow me.”  It happens so quickly in the book of Mark that we can miss the details, we can miss what a wonder it is that Jesus could draw people to Himself so easily. 

The disciples followed with urgency in their hearts and without question.  Do you follow anyone so easily? Has there ever been a person that you just had to follow?  Not a person that you were forced to follow, but a person you wanted to follow. 

I did. He was my fourth-grade camp counselor. I would follow him wherever he would go.  Why?  Because he cared about his campers and because he was there for us when we needed him.  Kids saw Jesus through his words and actions. This camp counselor made a lasting impression on me, but I don’t even remember his name! I have


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We Are Called to Be His Witnesses

January 17, 2021
by Pastor Charles
 

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-20, John 1: 43-51

Today’s message is on the call of Samuel, Philip, and Nathaniel. It is a story of Witnessing. May this message help us to accept our calling as God’s witnesses. The story begins with Jesus finding Philip and saying to him, “Follow me.” Notice that: Jesus finds Philip. Just like He finds us. He seeks us out, even when we were not looking for Him.  But Jesus came and sought us out. He found us and brought His gospel to us and placed His call on our lives.

Jesus calls us, even as He called Philip. “Follow me,” Jesus says to each one of us. “Come on along! Find out what you will discover on this adventure of faith. Follow me, learn from me, as my disciples. Grow in your knowledge and faith.” Jesus calls us to keep on following Him, in a lifelong journey of faith. He leads the way, every step of the way, all the days of our life. “Follow me.” Hear the authority in His voice. Hear His personal care for you. Jesus is calling you to be His disciple.

In the same way God called Samuel who was staying with Eli the Priest. Samuel hears God calling him three times, but thought it was Eli calling him. He finally knew God was calling him. How many times has God called us, but


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The Baptism of Jesus

January 10, 2021

by Pastor Charles

Scripture Reading: Matthew 3: 13-17, Mark 1:9-13

Greetings to you all in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Today’s sermon is on the baptism of Jesus Christ. May this message help us connect with our own baptism and our faith journey. This message is important as we begin a year full of uncertainties.

In today’s scripture readings the Gospels of Mark and Matthew both talk about the baptism of Jesus. The difference between the two-story lines is that the Gospel of Mark is shorter, compared to that of the Gospel of Mathew.  I have therefore decided to use the two versions of the baptism of Jesus for they supplement each other.

In this story we are told that Jesus goes to the Jordan river to be baptized by John the Baptist.  John is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth; we are also told that Mary the mother of Jesus and Elizabeth are related. John the Baptist’s mission is to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. “He kept proclaiming, ‘The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am, and I am not worthy to bend down and untie his sandal straps. I baptized you with water, but it is he who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit’” (Mark 1:7-8).


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Do Not Get Lost in the Woods

January 3, 2021

Epiphany Sunday

by Pastor Charles

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful and exciting Christmas and New Year. Have you already made your New Year’s Resolutions? Well, you are running out of time if you have not. Two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions are to eat healthy and exercise more. A more spiritual resolution for Christians may be to read the Bible and pray more. I do not know what is on your list, or if you even have one, but I do know one priority that ought to be at the top of everyone’s list for 2021. It is to worship God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Today’s sermon talks about staying focused during this New Year. Stay focused on God and do not get lost in the woods.

Have you ever been lost before? I have been lost several times, especially in the big cities and towns. I remember getting lost on my first visit to both Washington DC and New York City. The many tall buildings and busy road networks, among other things, makes someone new to the area easily lost. Thisseems to be the case with the magi or wisemen in today’s scripture reading.


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