Children's Sermon:

Materials: 2x4 and Ruler or Measuring Tape
What is this called?
Is the Lumber Company honest?
It is really a 2 x 4?
What is width?
What is thickness?
Cut, dried, planed
Straight, dry, smooth wood?
What does it mean: "I give you my WORD?"


Which is God's Omnipotent Word?


Topic for Reflection Today introduced by

First Hymn: A mighty fortress is our God #363


"The prince of darkness grim (SATAN)
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For, lo, his doom is sure:
One little word shall fell him!

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth!"

How often have we tried to put Satan out of our lives and failed?
One little word shall fell him...his doom is sure!

This is a POWERFUL WORD...WHAT IS IT?


Another reference to the word is found in our preparation hymn:

I sing the mighty power of God #68

I like this hymn because it explains how a Scientist, such as I, can so easily see God's handiwork in the biological world.

It seems the closer I look, the more obviously I see the marks of the Lord. As a botanist, the third verse expresses my opinion:

There's not a plant nor flower below, but makes thy glories known!

But, more to the point of what I am trying to say today, in the second verse of the hymn we sing:

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
That filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with his WORD,
and then pronounced them good.

Obviously, whatever this WORD represents, some measure of it was put into us by God from our very beginnings, making us good. This word has power to make us good. We need to know what it is!


In our Bible reading, Mark 4: 1-20 the parable of the sower, we see more of this word's power:

Jesus explained starting in verse 14:

The sower sows the word.
And these are the ones along the path where the word is sown; when they hear, Satan immediately comes, and takes away the word which is sown in them.
And these in like manner are the ones sown upon rocky ground, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty-fold and sixty-fold, and a hundred-fold.

All we must do is stay on the path,
take this powerful word into ourselves,
accepting it,
and it will bear fruit through us...

We will not seem to be on stony ground having a hard row to hoe,
nor living among lurid temptations,
nor choking upon our own greed and other evil,
Instead, we will live valuable, productive lives!



So what is this WONDERFUL WORD?

Biblical scholars argue on this point.
Is it Jesus? Is it the BIBLE?

Song: The B-I-B-L-E

Take a look at the Bible book of John--

I love this book! Jesus expresses so much love for us in this book...if you read no other book in the Bible, this one will warm your heart and give you the Christian message as no other part of the Bible can.


John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through him,
and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Isn't that beautiful?

And then a little later, in verse 14:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
full of grace and truth;
we have beheld his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father.

John makes it pretty clear that in his book, the word means Jesus!


But Jesus, in His parable, is the SOWER, SOWING the WORD into us!

So how can He also be the WORD?

From Jesus' point of view, the word is
something He is bringing to us!


He was conceived out of wedlock,
He was born naked as any common baby, lay in a stable manger.
He was the son of a carpenter and learned the trade.
He became an itinerant preacher with NO posessions,
living from day to day with common people.

What could he possibly bring to us?

Later, Jesus remarks in John 12: 44-50

And Jesus cried out and said,
"He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.
And he who sees me sees him who sent me.
I have come as light into the world,
that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

He is bringing a WORD...
COULD THE WORD BE LIGHT?

Jesus continues:

If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him;
for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge;
the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For I have not spoken on my own authority;
the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment
what to say and what to speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me."

As a commandment from God,
what WORD could Jesus be bringing to us?

A word sown into us from the beginning,
but taken in and harkened to during our lives,
and by which commandment we shall be judged?

We all know of the ten commandments,
and, over the years, the Jews had added long lists of additional laws...
you will find these in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

In trying to trap Jesus, the Jews asked Him to identify the most important commandment. This is one of those questions to which almost any selected answer can be condemned. Picking any one implies that the others are somehow second rate.

In reading Jesus' reply to this request, we can find God's ultimate commandment, the omnipotent word!

Matthew 22:35-40

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him [JESUS] a question, to test him.
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
And Jesus said to him,
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and will all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the great and first commandment.
And a second is like it,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Jesus foiled the would be trappers...by cleverly selecting two of His own, which, if followed, would assure compliance with all the laws.

What WORD do these two commandments share?

If you didn't catch the word,

In John 13: 34-35, Jesus verifies that there is really only ONE
commandment he brings from God:

A new commandment I give to you,
that you love one another;
even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another.
By this all men will know that your are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.

SONG: They'll know we are Christians by our Love

Surely Jesus makes it clear...
What WORD, taken into our hearts frees us from sin and guilt?
What WORD, prevents us from tearing each other apart like animals?
What WORD, renders Satan powerless?

Of course, it is LOVE!

If we Love God we will keep His commandments.
We will sin no more.
We will not yield to the pressures of Satan's temptations.
And Satan's doom is sure!
That little word....LOVE...shall fell him!

Isn't this true? The world would be a far different place if only we showed LOVE for one another!

Remember George Bush' campaign slogan? I rather liked it...help make this a kinder and gentler America.

Love allows us to forgive.

What would happen to those accident lawyers
if people forgave each other?

What would happen to malpractice lawsuits?
What would then happen to medical costs?

If only we would love one another and forgive one another.


In John 14: 23-28

Jesus answered him, [one of the disciples]
"If a man loves me, he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him
and make our home with him.
He who does not love me does not keep my words;
and the word which you hear is not mine but the father's who sent me.

There is Jesus' expression of His mission again: to deliver a word and the word is LOVE. Put it in your heart. Keep it. Treasure it. Use it. Give it away.


What? Give it away?

Maybe you remember the story of Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies...tell story

As Paul put it: I Corinthians 13:7-8

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, Love never ends!

You can give love away and it's still there to stay!


So LOVE is the WORD that God sent Jesus to deliver!

Let's get back to the idea that we will be judged by our Love.

The worth of any person is measured by the quality of their love for others.

What counts is how we understand and give those warm fuzzies from the endless supply.

It is how we receive the Love of God and how we acknowledge that Love and respond to that Love that counts.


So, how do we accept God's Love?

Loving music as I do, I like to sing about it.

An old favorite is Amazing Grace. (insert)


BUT before we sing, and speaking of a WORD, Look at those WORDS!


It seems to me that the tune and tenor of how we sing this song FAILS to fit with the WORDS we are singing.


When we sing this together, let's communicate how we have received God's blessings.
Are we still LOST and BLIND?

If we have accepted God's LOVE and GRACE, then we are FOUND and we can SEE!

Maybe I ONCE was lost, but now I'm FOUND!

Maybe I WAS blind, but the important thing is, now I SEE!


What an uplifting message of praise and joy! This should not be some sad-sack song conjuring up gloom and doom.


A camp song tells us: "If you're happy and you know it, then your face should surely show it."


We should smile and sing this song, Amazing Grace, with gusto!
Allegretto, Paul! (the organist)


Our closing hymn today, also not in our hymnal but on the insert, expresses the theme of the message for today. Again, as you sing it, make the words come out in the expression of your voice...
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!


The song is "In my Heart There Rings a Melody," a melody of what? Our WORD for today... LOVE!


BENEDICTION:

Reprise Responsive Reading: Psalm 36 Selection 75 page 520

Thy steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
thy faithfulness to the clouds!
How precious is thy steadfast love, O God!
We take refuge in the shadow of thy wings.
For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light do we see light.
O continue thy steadfast love to those who know thee,
and thy salvation to the upright of heart!
AMEN!


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