In Mark 8: 31-38, Jesus tries to explain to his disciples what being the Messiah would require from the Son of Man and the Son of God--
"He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him."
"But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan!' he said. 'You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'"
In this passage, Peter expresses his dislike of the hard facts that Jesus shared. Peter did not like the Savior saying that he would have to greatly suffer in order to offer salvation to mankind.
Pastor Steve noted that Christianity calls on us to totally give ourselves up to the directive of following Jesus' footsteps and to completely follow God’s commands. He further pointed out that self-sacrifice is often a difficult direction for disciples of Jesus. He gave examples of why it is hard for disciples to follow(with accepting hearts, minds, and souls) the original “recipe” we’ve been given for salvation without trying to changed the ingredients more to our liking.
Christianity gives much but also demands much, Pastor reminded the congregation, citing Hebrews 11: 1 (NIV)—
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Pastor concluded the sermon by quoting lines from the poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.”
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The February 18 sermon by Pastor Steve highlights Jesus' teachings and Biblical direction on the benefits of handing over our worries to God. “Changing Our Focus” is a message that reminds the listener about the importance of gratitude and the resulting peace of heart that follows sincere prayer to God and not worrying about tomorrow. Pastor remarked that focusing on the truth and being alert to God’s Word feeds our faith and starves our worries. “Just a spoonful of gratitude with faith heals a host of fears and worries,” said Pastor Steve. As recorded in Matthew 6: 25-27:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”
This special message for the Valentines Service of February 11 focused on some of the history surrounding Valentine's Day, as well as the importance of love within the church body of believers. The scriptural focus was John 3 verse 16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." And also Paul's letter to the church in Corinth as recorded in Corinthians 1: 1-8: "Paul, called to be an apostleof Christ Jesus by the will of God,and our brother Sosthenes,
2To the church of Godin Corinth,to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and calledto be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the nameof our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4I always thank my God for youbecause of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.5For in him you have been enrichedin every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—6God thus confirming our testimonyabout Christ among you.7Therefore you do not lack any spiritual giftas you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.8He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blamelesson the day of our Lord Jesus Christ."
In Mark 1: 17-18, it is written that Jesus called his first disciples:
"Come follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." At once the left their nets and followed him.
Pastor Steve's February 4 sermon focused on the idea that responding to Jesus' call is not a one-time process but an invitation to grow for a lifetime. Moses and Jonah also are referred to as examples of following God's call when it is heard in our hearts and minds. In this sermon, Pastor Steve asked the congregation to think about what they would do if God's voice came to us asking us to lead a different life.
John 1: 17: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." This world now has more negative influences and things to get in the way of our desire and commitment to follow God. Yet Jesus' love and grace are with us from the moment we accept him into our hearts so we are never alone. The Bible is full of examples of Jesus saving sinners through his grace and yet he only asks the we follow him and his commandments. This message by Guest Speaker Jim Snodgrass illustrates, through direct references to scripture and historical people in the Bible, that the grace of Christ is sufficient to transform us and to cover our debt. "Thank God for the gift of grace," concludes Speaker Jim.
Pastor Steve spoke about the importance and meaning of baptism as he prepared the congregation to renew their baptismal covenants at the Sunday Service on January 14, 2024. Pastor Steve noted that baptism is between the believer and God; it celebrates the reunion of sinner with Savior. He further explained that God's Spirit works through us in baptism: it's like bowing before the Father letting him do his work in us through our acceptance of the Holy Spirit. It is the first step of a believer and important for us to understand that we, too, are claimed by God in Baptism, just as Jesus was in Mark 1: 9-11:
At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the wter, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descencing on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased."
Luke 2, verses 1-20, was the focus of Pastor Steve's Christmas Eve sermon, recounting the birth of Jesus (NIV):
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.2(This was the first census that took place while[a]Quirinius was governor of Syria.)3And everyone went to their own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehemthe town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to himand was expecting a child.6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9An angelof the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11Today in the town of David a Saviorhas been born to you; he is the Messiah,the Lord.12This will be a signto you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peaceto those on whom his favor rests.”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising Godfor all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
October 8 was Pastor Appreciation Day and love was in the air at DCCC. The congregation enjoyed special songs, readings, video and a wonderful sermon by Pastor Steve. After the service, an Italian lunch and fantastic desserts, along with lots of laughter and fellowship, were the perfect end to the day. Pastor delivered a message about the rich young man who asked Jesus about the way to get into heaven. The price was too high for the rich young man and Pastor reminded everyone in attendance that having a lot of money does not buy love, happiness, or a ticket into God's good graces.