Sermons from Pastor Jim

West Nottingham Presbyterian Church
June 25, 2017
Dr. Jim Horn

Matthew 10:39-42

 

Welcome the Rewards

 

We are saved by grace alone, freely given by God, unmerited and undeserved by us. There is no quid-pro-quo to salvation.  There is nothing we can do for our salvation. However, once we receive the gift of salvation we become generous in doing good works and good deeds, doing acts of kindness and generosity for others. How would Jesus explain it today? He asks, “What benefit is there if you are saved by grace but are no earthly good to anyone?”

 

Now hear the words of our Lord: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” Even a cup of cold water given to one of the Lord’s little ones will be rewarded. At the heart of the Christian faith is the spirit of Giving! “God so loved the world that he gave…”

 

One day, a student asked anthropologist Margaret Mead for the earliest sign of civilization in any culture. He expected the answer to be a clay pot or perhaps a fish hook or grinding stone. Her answer was “a healed femur.” The femur, of course, is the long bone in the thigh.

Mead explained that no healed femurs are found where the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest, reigns. A healed femur shows that someone cared. Someone had to do that injured person’s hunting and gathering until the leg healed. The evidence of compassion, she says, is the first sign of civilization. (R. Wayne Willis, “To Illustrate…,” LEADERSHIP, Faly 1995, p. 41.)

We are more than civilized. At the heart of Christian faith is compassion for all God’s children. How will they know we are Christians? By our love! Christians do not live by the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest, but by the law of love. Great Christians have always been great givers. Our giving takes two forms.

 

First, we give to help those who need a helping hand. A cup of cold water . . . Anyone in 1st century Israel/Palestine always appreciates a cup of cold water. It’s a desert and hot, no refrigeration. People always welcomed a cup of cold water. Jesus knew to appreciate a cup of cold water. Our mission programs and projects here at West Nottingham show what offering a cup of cold water is all about – relief, satisfying, quenching and life support.

 

It matters to Christians that the children of God are in need; not just because we are nice people but because there was a time when we were in need. God loved us when we were helpless and undeserving. So, we look around for others who are helpless and perhaps even undeserving so that we may pass on the love we have received.

The second form of our giving is to do the work of God. You may have noticed that the lesson we read at the beginning of this message was not about giving to the poor but giving to those who are engaged in the work of God. Jesus says, “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. . . And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” The little ones he is referring to are those ordinary people he has sent out to do his work.

Remember, Christ his disciples and seventy followers out into a very cruel world. Jesus told them to rely on the kindness of strangers in the lands which they visited. “Remember,” Jesus is saying, “when you receive one of them and help them and give them even a cup of cold water, you are doing it to me.”

As your pastor, I never apologize for asking you to support the work of Jesus Christ through West Nottingham Presbyterian Church. It is actually the highest privilege I can give you. After all, you never know what kind of good can come out of even the smallest gift, or something we need to get rid of.

 

Judy Lanigan, Sue Orndorf and the WNPC Mission Committee have been participating and supporting Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna for years. I met with Karen Blandford, Executive Director of HfH Susquehanna on Wednesday afternoon. The Director expects there will be people standing around if she doesn’t get these tools. They have 100 workers coming to do a ‘Crazies’ build on July 8 and 9. Karen said she really needed 10 ripping hammers and 10 claw hammers. Regular hammers aren’t heavy enough. I asked Sue Orndorf if WNPC could make this happen. On June 28, ten fiberglass ripping hammers and ten claw hammers will be arrive at Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna office for the Director of Construction as a gift from West Nottingham Presbyterian Church. They are so thankful.

 

When Courtney, the director of the Ray of Hope Mission Center heard that someone in WNPC noticed that West Nottingham Presbyterian Church was not listed as one of their supporters, she had us added to their website as supporters for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and featured us as one of seven church partners. They told us that they hope to reopen their Café for breakfast and lunch in the Fall.

 

The master has given us five talents and we earned five more. Jesus took the one talent from the servant who buried it and added it to the servant who made five more. The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:29 is meant for us at WNPC. “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

 

Last month, we replaced the green shed in the play-yard of the WNPC Pre-School with a larger shed. A couple had been through a series of hardships, including the death of their son, had to sell their home in Florida and move back here in Colora, moving into a trailer about a mile away from here. The husband had so many power tools and no place to put them. He had them in storage at a cost of $90 per month, and couldn’t use them because there was no place to work in their trailer. They asked me if they could have the green shed and were so happy when I told them that they were an answer to our prayers to take the shed away. Neighbors across the street from the cemetery had complained that week that the shed was unsightly and wanted us to remove it as soon as possible. Even what has no value to us becomes a great blessing to people in need. The couple thanked God for us again and again.

I once read about a woman whose church group bought Christmas gifts for a missionary family. After meticulously selecting the presents based on the family’s needs, sizes and ages, the group gathered to pack them. That’s when another member rushed in and plopped an almost-new man’s coat on the table. Her husband didn’t like the style. As she turned to go, she suggested that maybe one of the missionaries could use it. Several people of the church were offended. The coat wouldn’t fit anyone in the missionary family. Obviously, the woman hadn’t given much thought or time to the project. But the other presents didn’t completely fill the barrel they were packing. So, someone folded the coat and stuck it in. It made perfect packing material.

After Christmas, a thank-you letter arrived from the missionary family. They thanked the church for their many gifts and especially for the “miracle” gift. It seems that, during a storm, a destitute man knocked on their door. He was so ill-dressed for the cold, they invited him to stay until the storm had passed. Even though their visitor would have no gifts in the barrel, they decided to open it. That’s when they discovered the coat. It fit the man perfectly. (Terry Helwig, DAILY GUIDEPOSTS, 1991, (Carmel, New York: Guideposts, 1990), p. 334)

Do such things really happen in this world? Yes, they do – all the time. You never know when you give that cup of cold water whether to the needy stranger or to the work of God how that gift may be used. And that brings us to the final thing to be said. According to our lesson for the day: No gift given to the needy or given to the church is ever given in vain.

Jesus said, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” Some people are afraid to give their money, their time, their talent, their life to God because they think they will lose what they give. Unfortunately, they don’t understand God’s economy. They don’t realize that God works just the opposite way that the world thinks. It was certainly true when Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NIV).

 

Since Easter, there have been seven Moments of Celebration and Faithful Service from all our committees and our Pre-School. Today we give out Commitment Cards. Each household has an envelope in the narthex, perhaps you picked your up already. Our Lord is asking us all to be generous, celebrate God’s gifts and make greater commitments. When I present my generous gifts to God first in a significant proportion of my salary, I always have enough left over to live faithfully. I intend to increase my commitment up to a range between 8% to 12% of my salary to WNPC. Linda and I will increase our pledge for the general operation and make a commitment to the mission fund and capital fund. We ask you to consider making a greater commitment.

 

“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” I think that being like Jesus means we will be received like Jesus when he comes and will be rewarded like Jesus when we are welcomed into the Kingdom. That means everything. Welcome the reward. Be generous to the Lord in a generous portion and the portion left to you is the reward, enough for you to live faithfully. No gift is ever given in vain. What we give will be returned to us many times over. We have Jesus’ word on it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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