Sunday, June 26, 2016

FOR THEIR DEEDS FOLLOW THEM: SCS 89

Ed Cooper in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia Early 60's)
Sunday, June 26, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 89

PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  
Revelation 14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Lamb and the 144,000

14 Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.

The Messages of the Three Angels

6 Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
8 Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
9 Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, 10 they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”


SERMON for Today:

This is the first sermon I have ever written based on a scripture in the book of Revelations.  I have preached hundreds of sermons on radio and on three continents (Africa, Europe, North America) and never preached from a text from Revelations. My wife asked me this morning why I was doing so today. I am not sure I can give you a good reason other to say that when I started working on this sermonette I opened my Bible to the passage above.  I am not going to pretend to have any great words of wisdom to offer you, but I have just a few thoughts on the verses I have selected.

  1. I am certain they are not to be taken literally because verse five calls the 144,000 blameless and the synonyms for blameless are such words as guiltless, perfect. pure and faultless which only apply to one person who walked the face of this earth.  Jesus Christ.  So the writer must be writing in a form we might refer to as metaphor or allegory.
  2. Verse thirteen makes clear more than 144,000 will make it into heaven even though some religious groups claims the number tops out at 144,000.
  3. Most serious scholars do not believe the word men exclude women from the 144,000.  A masculine term often was used when referring to everyone.  It still is.
  4. If you are determined to try to understand the last book of the New Testament do more than listen to one TV evangelist.  Read it in a number of translations.  Read the online commentaries.  Get a good Study Bible.  Remember it must fit with what you already know from the Gospels and Acts.

God Bless and May God Walk Beside You Each Step You Take This Week. Amen

© Ed Cooper, June 26, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is a retired minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

ONE OLD SOUL TOLD ME





One old soul told me
death has no sting,
but that was a lie
because losing you
was like a million
bee stings to my heart.

My soul stayed dark
until one night
I heard your voice
in a dream
whisper softly in my ear
your love for me.

Then I realized
I was not dreaming
I was fully awake.
Could you still be here?
Does that mean
Death has no sting?
Yes because I hear my dear.

© Ed Cooper, April 7, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia

   All rights reserved

Saturday, June 18, 2016

HEAVENLY FATHER’S PURE LOVE: SCS 88


My Father (1919-1989)

Sunday, June 19, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 88

PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  

Luke 15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Prodigal and His Brother

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.’ 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

SERMON for Today:

This chapter in Luke is about the redemptive power of the love of a father for his child.  Whether you are talking about our Heavenly Father or a father here on earth.  Pure love or uncritical love has the power to produce hope in the most beaten, burdened and hopeless person on earth.  One sure way to put them the rest of the way in the ground if they are already down is to keep harping on how they got in whatever predicament they find themselves in.   Most people know how they got there.  What they cannot remember any longer is that there is hope.  

The story found in the Holy Scriptures is a story of hope.  The shepherd goes hunting the lost sheep.  The woman hunts the one lost coin.  The father welcomes home his lost son like a returning king.  Hope.  Now. Not in the bye and bye. Now.  The son was not told you have to wait to eat of the fatted calf until you get to heaven.  The blessings of having a relationship with Jesus and the Father does not start at death.  It starts at the birth of the new self in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 1:15 King James Version (KJV)

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Paul is no longer the chief sinner if he ever was.  I took his place.  However, I still have hope.  Abundant hope.  I have this abundant hope because my Heavenly Father has pure love for me.  Love that means I can eat the fatted calf if I come home with repentance in my heart and fall at His feet.  I know I am not worthy, but Jesus made it possible by His sacrifice for me.  I get to keep trying and the Holy Spirit, the Angels, Jesus, and God all are helping and pulling for me to succeed.  My team is a winning team even if I am a very weak link.  Knowing who is for me makes me a very important person and gives me hope to try anew each new morning.

You have the same team pulling for you.
May God bless each one of you this Father’s Day 2016

© Ed Cooper,June 19, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
  All rights reserved
(Ed Cooper is a retired minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)





Sunday, June 12, 2016

ANGELS ARE SERVANTS TO THE SAVED: SCS 87

Sunday, June 12, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 86


PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. I pray my fellow sojourners will find a church which embraces them with open arms and shows them not just tells them about God’s love in Christ Jesus.
It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.


SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  

Hebrews 1:14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

14 Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?


SERMON for Today:
Albert Barnes (December 1, 1798 – December 24, 1870) was an American theologian, born in Rome, New York. He graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, in 1820, and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1823. Barnes was ordained as a Presbyterian minister by the presbytery of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in 1825, and was the pastor successively of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown, New Jersey (1825–1830), and of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia(1830–1868). Of the well-known Notes on the New Testament, it is said that more than a million volumes had been issued by 1870. The Following points are from those Notes.


(1) Angels are sent to give us strength to resist temptation. Aid was thus furnished to the Redeemer in the garden of Gethsemane, when there "appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him;" Luke 22:43. The great trial there seems to have been somehow connected with temptation; some influence of the power of darkness, or of the Prince of evil; Luke 22:53; compare John 14:30. In this aid which they rendered to the tempted Redeemer, and in the assistance which they render to us when tempted, there is a special fitness and propriety. Man was at first tempted by a fallen angel. No small part - if not all the temptations in the world - are under the direction now of fallen angels. They roam at large "seeking whom they may devour;" 1 Peter 5:8. The temptations which occur in life, the numerous allurements which beset our path, all have the marks of being under the control of dark and malignant spirits. What, therefore, can be more appropriate than for the pure angels of God to interpose and aid man against the skill and wiles of their fallen and malignant fellow-spirits? Fallen angelic power and skill - power and skill far above the capability and the strength of man - are employed to ruin us, and how desirable is it for like power and skill, under the guidance of benevolence, to come in to aid us!
(2) they support us in affliction. Thus, an angel brought a cheering message to Daniel; the angels were present to give comfort to the disciples of the Saviour when he had been taken from them by death, and when he ascended to heaven. Why may it not be so now, that important consolations, in some way, are imparted to us by angelic influence? And,
(3) they attend dying saints, and conduct them to glory. Thus, the Saviour says of Lazarus that when he died he was "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom;" Luke 16:22. Is there any impropriety in supposing that the same thing may be done still? Assuredly, if anywhere heavenly aid is needed, it is when the spirit leaves the body. If anywhere a guide is needed, it is when the ransomed soul goes up the unknown path to God. And if angels are employed on any messages of mercy to mankind, it is proper that it should be when life is closing, and the spirit is about to ascend to heaven. Should it be said that they are invisible, and that it is difficult to conceive how we can be aided by beings whom we never see, I answer, I know that they are unseen. They no longer appear as they once did to be the visible protectors and defenders of the people of God. But no small part of the aid which we receive from others comes from sources unseen by us. We owe more to unseen benefactors than to those whom we see, and the most grateful of all aid, perhaps, is what is furnished by a hand which we do not see, and from quarters which we cannot trace. How many an orphan is benefited by some unseen and unknown benefactor! So it may be a part of the great arrangements of Divine Providence that many of the most needed and acceptable interpositions for our welfare should come to us from invisible sources, and be conveyed to us from God by unseen hands.


© Ed Cooper,June 12, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
  All rights reserved
(Ed Cooper is a retired minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)