December 2012


The Gift

John 4:1-14 “Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.  9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”  10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” 11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” 13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

  1. This Gift can only come from God
    1. The gift GOD has for you
    2. This gift is always offered
      1. Offered only through Jesus Christ

                                                    i.     “Who you are speaking to”

  1. Offered to everyone
    1. Even people of different beliefs/you believe are dirty/unworthy

i.     Samaritan

  1. Even people who do not get along with your people

               i.     Samaritan: “for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans”

ii.     Atheist, ACLU, Muslim, Jew, agnostic, etc.

               iii.     Even people with a less than pure history

  1. Such was the reputation of the “woman at the well”
  2. Always offered, Rarely fully accepted
    1. a.     “You would ask”
    2. b.     So many times this offered gift is left un-accepted

                                                    i.     In favor of selfishness

                                                  ii.     In favor of pride

                                                 iii.     In favor of sin

  1. 5.     We miss out on God’s Love and Grace when we reject His gift and chose to reap the wages of our sins.
  2. But when requested the right way through the right ONE this gift is ALWAYS given

                                                    i.     “I would give you living water”

  1. Once received this gift:

i.     Never fades

ii.     Never wears out

iii.     Never breaks

iv.     Is never stolen

                                                  v.     Gives eternal life

  1. This gift?

                                                    i.     Jesus Christ

  1. The one who’s birthday we celebrate on Tuesday

John 3:16-17 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”  NLT

This is a gift worth receiving.

NOTE:  This is NOT what i said at the vigil, just some of the prep work done before hand.  It can take a lot of study, writing, re-writing and prayer to speak at an event like this – without using notes.

 

My deepest appreciation to the City of Rio Grande City, Mayor Villarreal,  all of the city staff, departments and boards involved, the Boys and Girls Club of Rio Grande City, First Responders, The Life Magazine and everyone else involved in this wonderful and special vigil. 

Friday morning, December 15th, great evil visited Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn.

 26 innocent lives were stolen from us that morning, long before their time and in a most violent manner.

 

We gain no profit by ignoring the truth of this attack, or in thinking it is too far away to impact us.

 

Evil has been with us since the very beginning and remains with us today.

 

We see evil in the Garden of Eden, with Judas and his 30 pieces of silver, in Hitler, McVeigh, Ben Laden and so many, many others.

 

God wants us to know and understand that there is evil present in our world….not so we would live in fear, but that we would know where to find peace.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:4 “A time to weep,…A time to mourn,…”

   

Psalm 34:17-18 “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

 

Psalm 40:1-2  “I waited patiently for the Lord  to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

 

What can we do?

 

We can come together as a community and pray for those affected by this tragedy.

            Families

            Schools

Emergency responders

Community Leaders

 

We can come together as a community and take a stand against evil in all forms

  • No longer turning a deaf ear to cries for help
  • No longer shutting our door and turning up the TV so we don’t hear the screams
  • Making that call to the police
  • Be involved in your community

 

We can bind together as a community and lift up our only hope for stopping evil in its tracks.

 

We can put away bullying, anger, gossip and backbiting.

 

WE CAN LOVE!

  •  We need more FAITH, HOPE and LOVE
    • The greatest of these is LOVE
  • Be committed to each other
  • Hold each other’s needs higher than our own
  • Be willing to help, to “stand in the gap” for those who need help Physically, Emotionally, Mentally and Spiritually

 

Prayer

  • Families in Conn: 
    • Hold each family member and hug them in close
    • Comfort the mourning
    • Restore hope where there is hopelessness
    • Restore peace where peace has been shattered
    • Restore faith where it has been shaken
    • Restore love where fear has taken hold
  • Families here in Rio Grande City
    • Pray our community would walk in faith  and not fear
    • Pray that this tragedy would draw us closer to You Lord, helping us realize our need for You.
    • Pray that we would watch out for one another and be willing to get involved in the lives of our neighbors and friends when we see signs of trouble.
    • That God would Protect the children and school staff
  • Protect our children       Protect our families      Bless our Country

Surrounded by the symbols of hope that can guide us to a future and a hope.

 

1.     A seat of Government
We need to rely on our government to lead
                                                              i.      Not just in laws and policy
                                                            ii.      But in confidence and preparedness
                                                          iii.      Government plays a key role in disaster response
Flooding and Freezing
Violence and Terrorism
2.     A Site of EducationEarlier today, Mayor Villarreal, some of the City Staff and I were here surveying the site for this evening.  Trying to get a feel for the emotion and needs of the evening
We saw the children playing at ICS then bounding out of school to head home.
I was struck by several emotions and thoughts
The joy of a child
The love of their parents
The reality that 20 kids and 6 adults will never play on the playground of their school or take that short trip home again.
I take great comfort in the words of Jesus when He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” MAtt19:14
3.      A Sacred site of WorshipTragedy should be a time that draws us closer to God, seeking His help and strength
Matthew 5:3-10 “”God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.  God blesses those who mourn,  for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.  God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.  God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.  God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.  God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”     NLT
God has told us that in this work we will have many tragedies.
He has also told us that when we CRY OUT TO HIM that He will hear us and deliver us from our trouble.
Psalm 34:17-18 “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
4.      A fourth source of hope we find today in us.Our Founding Document begins with “WE THE PEOPLE”
We the people of our community need to come together:
                                                              i. To comfort one another
                                                           ii. To help one another
                                                         iii. To encourage one another
                                                         iv. TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER
                                                            v. LOVE is the greatest HOPE we have
5.      Let us Pray:

Wise Men Still Seek Him   Matthew 2:1 – 12

 In our text today we find a problem – a duality of purpose.

In our text today we find good and evil.

 We must never forget that there is evil present among us.

 Today, we need look no further than Sandy Hook Elementary School to find great evil among us.

 In referring to Great evil, Jesus said that  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.”  John 10:10

 And the thief…satan…evil…was very busy this week stealing 27 lives, killing innocent children and teachers and destroying the joy of millions, if not billions.

 Do not be surprised that evil is present, be surprised that it is not more prevalent than it is, given our worlds desire to drive all reference of God out of our communities and our lives.

 Many are blaming an inanimate object for this tragedy.  They say “the gun did this”  FOOLISHNESS.

 The guns used in this tragedy are not at fault.

            EVIL IS AT FAULT.

 Many tools have been used by evil over the ages: Guns, knives, bombs, vehicles, snakes, animals,  bows and arrows, rocks, sticks, shovels, dirt, water….and the list goes on.

    • The greatest tool EVIL has used ever since the very beginning of time is:   HUMANS

 Evil has always been present.

  • It was evil that drove Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden.
  • It was evil that drove Cain to slaughter Abel in the field.
    • Genesis 4:6-7 “”Why are you so angry?” the Lord  asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
  • It was evil that drove a Disciple to sell out his Savior for thirty pieces of silver.
  • And in our text today it is evil that drives Herod to fake faith in order to maintain his selfish and temporary power.
    • Herod sought God for his own purpose
      • people do the same today
    • Herod sought God for WHAT HE COULD GET
      • People do the same today
    • Herod used religion for evil
      • People do the same today

 What happened this week, and indeed what happened 2 thousand years ago as King Herod slaughtered thousands of children are acts of evil and great tragedies.

 Tragedy shows us there is evil in the world

Tragedy shows us the consequences of evil

Tragedy shows us our need to be prepared to deal with evil

            Physically

            Emotionally

           Spiritually

Tragedy shows us our need for God

Tragedy should lead us to seek Him and His comfort and peace.

It is good for us to seek God in times of deep tragedy

 In John 10:10, as Jesus taught us about evils purpose, Jesus also taught us why He was here.  Here is that teaching in a fuller context:

   John 10:7-11 “”I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.  Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

 You see, there is another force in this universe, A GREATER FORCE.

 GOOD.

 In our text today we find the shepherds seeking GOOD.  They are seeking Jesus.

 They have traveled far, sacrificing their TIME

They used the gifts God gave them, utilizing their TALENTS

They have brought great gifts, giving their TREASURE

 And they were not going to be deterred from their mission to find GOOD, to find the foretold Messiah, to locate JESUS CHRIST!

 Good is worth finding.

Good is worth holding onto

Good is the greatest power.

 King Herod could not defeat GOOD.

No killer will ever defeat GOOD.

Evil will never defeat GOOD

 I have read the end of the story, GOOD WINS!

 The Bible is not some fairy tale generated by man and sold by publishing houses for profit, it is THE WORD OF GOD given so we can HEAR HIM, COME TO HIM, BELIEVE IN HIM and know the TRUTH of what is going on RIGHT NOW in our world, in our families and IN OUR SOULS!

  •  God did not withhold the TRUTH about EVIL – HE EXPOSED IT!
  • God did not leave us defenseless sheep to die in evils grasp – HE TEACHES US HOW TO BE VICTORIOUS OVER EVIL THROUGH THE SHED BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST!
  • God’s eternal love will ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS defeat the temporary triumph of evil.

 

Resist evil

Run away from evil

Do not be surprised by evil

 

Trust God

 The wise men sought God, and they found Him.

 The wise men found God, and WORSHIPED HIM.

 The wise men worshiped God and rejected the evil plot of the king.

 The wise men chose God.

 Do you?

 Choose Good

Choose Jesus

 Today, yes even today, with all that is going on and going wrong in our world:

 NEVER FORGET THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS:

 GOD LOVES US

GOD IS HERE

JESUS IS WITH US

 WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS!