October 27, 2017

 “But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.”    2 Corinthians 4:7 CEB

I have a longtime friend who is notorious for getting things for nothing. Over the decades I have known him he has won electronics, found bikes, and found hundreds of dollars (a little at a time). It seems like he is just always in the right place at the right time. I remember one time he was complaining because he didn’t have any money to go get something to eat with us. He literally took about ten steps and right in front of him on the ground was a twenty dollar bill. He just seemed to always be the one to be in the right place at the right time. Have you ever known someone like that? If you have, you probably experienced the other side to this story. What I mean is that my friend developed a certain cockiness about this unique ability of his. He began to brag about how this stuff always seemed to happen to him. To be honest - it was a little annoying at times.

What my friend experienced, in his attitude, is something that we all develop in certain ways. If we are good at something, or have a particular ability that is different from others, we can begin to think it is all about us. We start to think that there is something special about us and that we are the reason we are so special. Sometimes this is called arrogance, egotism, or pride. It is a common reaction and it is one people will be used to seeing. However, is it the right reaction? Is it the right reaction for someone who claims to follow Jesus Christ? I believe it is not the right reaction and is actually something for which we should keep watch in our life.

The Apostle Paul knew this. If anyone had the right to boast about themselves it was Paul. He tells us in Philippians, “If anyone else thinks he has reason to put confidence in the flesh, I have more …” (3:4). Paul was a devout follower of God and later Jesus. Besides his heritage, he had also been chosen by Jesus himself to spread the Gospel message to the Gentiles. Paul was the man. Yet, Paul tells of a thorn in his flesh that remained in order to humble him. Paul teaches that there is nothing we can boast of except our weakness, which declares God’s strength. This is why Paul wrote, “But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.” We have nothing to brag about … none of the awesome power we experience comes from us.

In the Christian song Not to Us composer Chris Tomlin writes, “Not to us, but to your name be the glory.” The thing is - clay pots were the least among the pot clan. Metal pots like gold, silver, and bronze were durable and could be washed out and cleaned. Wooden pots could be cleaned and salvaged as well. But in Scripture if a clay pot was defiled, the owner had to smash it and throw it away. Clay is delicate and porous and not easy to clean. So when Paul says we hold a treasure in clay pots, it is a huge contrast. We are the clay pots and the gospel is the treasure. We are delicate and hard to clean (we cannot clean ourselves) and we hold the greatest treasure the world has ever known (Jesus). What an immense privilege and honor. And yet - it is not from us! All of the treasure from start to finish is due to God’s awesome power. It is not from us!

This Sunday I will share the message "Broken Vessels." The message will help us consider the importance of the treasure we carry in our clay pots. In preparation for the message I would love for you to consider these lyrics from a Hillsong Worship song titled Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace):

You take our failure, You take our weakness
You set your treasure in jars of clay
So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be your vessel
The world to see Your life in me


I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

October 20, 2017

 “What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives?”   Luke 9:25 CEB

I used to think that having stuff would be pretty cool. Then I got more stuff. I used to think that having a position and a little bit of power would be pretty amazing. Then I got a position and a little bit of power. I actually thought that being able to lead would be the reward itself and would be the pinnacle of what life was all about. Then I was asked to lead. The template that the culture in which I live had given me concerning life was flawed. It turns out the most important things in life are not stuff, they are not position or power, and the important things are not even being able to lead. Much of the time the culture in which we live tells us that these are the important things in life and when we achieve these things we will have the advantage in life. The question is, “What Advantage?”

The reality is that you can have more stuff than anyone else in the world, greater position and power than anyone else in the world, and be able to lead more people than anyone else in the world and it will not give you the greatest advantage in life. This is what Jesus was saying when he asked his disciples what advantage was gained if you gain the whole world and lose your life in the process. So many people pursue that little bit more in this world. People desire a bigger house, better car, better title, bigger office, more influence, and bigger paycheck. They chase after the things that the culture says are important. Yet, they miss out on what is truly important in life. They pursue all of this things, but to what advantage?

Jesus turned the way of the culture upside down. If you want to save your life lose it. If you want to experience all that Jesus has in store for you all you have to do is deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him. The way to gain the greatest advantage in the whole world is to follow Jesus. If we want to become great in the kingdom of God, in this world and in heaven, we must serve everyone. Rev. Dr. Jim Harnish wrote a great book many years ago titled, “You Only Have to Die.” In this book Jim writes, “If you forget everything else you read in this book, I hope you remember this: Hope is born when we are willing to die for the right things.” Are you willing to die for the right things? Jesus was and calls us to be.

When all is said and done … are you willing to die for the right things? What are those things in your life? I pray for all of us to be willing to lose our life for the sake of Jesus Christ. I pray we will lose ourselves in serving others in Jesus’ name. I pray that we will surrender our wants and desires for Jesus’ wants and desires. Jesus longs for those who follow him to lose their life in the effort. Only when we lose our life because of Jesus will our life be saved. This is the advantage of following Christ! We follow Christ in our conduct, our character, and our commitment. This is the complete promise Christ desires and the advantage we gain.

God desires a complete promise from all who follow God. Our hearts given completely to the pursuit of becoming more and more like Christ. This Sunday we will conclude the message series entitled One Faithful Promise. The message will help us consider the importance of living in complete promise to God. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

October 13, 2017

“But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.”   Matthew 6:6 CEB

When I was a kid I used to love building forts. I would build them out of chairs and blankets, I would build them out of snow, I would build them in trees, and I would even dig them out of the ground. I liked building forts because they created a place where I could go and no one else. The only way others were invited was if I invited them. You could say in a sense that my forts were my secret place. I believe that everyone has a need for a place where they can go and feel comfortable and quiet. It may not always be a place to be alone, but it is your place. This is, in part, what made places like Starbucks and Panera so popular. In fact, Panera Bread states part of their mission is “Food served in a warm, welcoming environment, by people who care.” For many years now I have done some of my sermon preparation a lot of weeks at either Starbucks or Panera. I have seen this principle in action. We all need a place to feel welcomed, especially a secret place.

When Jesus is asked to teach his disciples to pray he gives them this advice. “But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place.” Jesus instructed them to get apart from everything and get with God. In essence, Jesus wanted them to build a prayer fort. There is something to be said for removing all other distractions and being alone with God. But that isn’t even what Jesus seems to be concerned about. Jesus seems to be concerned for the condition of their heart. Jesus teaches them that prayer is not a show “so that people will see” when you pray. Prayer is not about the amount of words, the quality of your words, or the sound of your words. Prayer is about connecting to God. Prayer is about being with God in that secret place where you can tell God what is on your heart and God can tell you what is on God’s own heart. This work of connecting with God is best done in that secret place.

So where is your secret place? Is it a room in your house? Do you have a place at work where you can get away and be in your prayer fort? For many years my dad traveled across the state of Florida as part of his work. He always told me that his car was his prayer closet (I just made sure he prayed with his eyes open). For me I have had many prayer forts over the years. The chapel at my home church is a very special place of prayer for me. There has always been a room in every house I go for prayer. At St. Andrew’s it is the prayer room. I sneak off to the prayer room regularly to get alone with God in that secret place. Wherever your secret place, prayer closet, or prayer fort is the important thing is to visit it regularly to connect with God. We all need that secret place where God is present with us and we connect to God in prayer.

God wants us all to stay deeply connected through prayer. God desires to hear our hearts and share God’s wisdom and peace with us. This Sunday we will continue the message series entitled One Faithful Promise. The message will help us consider the importance of connecting to God in prayer. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

October 6, 2017

 57 As Jesus and his disciples traveled along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”    Luke 9:57 CEB

One ship is sailing off into the night trying to slip away unnoticed having just kidnapped a young woman. Another ship is pursuing the first ship and seems to be getting closer. The kidnappers begin to argue about how inconceivable it is that the other ship could be gaining on them. As they continue to argue the Spaniard in the group asks the question, “I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using?” Of course, if you recognize this dialogue you know it is from the movie "The Princess Bride." This question, which is raised by the character Inigo Montoya, is an important one. The small band of kidnappers is trying to outrun the Dread Pirate Roberts. If he is using the same wind, he may be able to catch them. But I believe this is also a very important question to ask in our faith.

I believe this question has great importance for our faith life … with one minor change. The change has to do with the notion of following. Most of the time through life we are following after, or pursuing, something. The question is, “What wind are we using?” Perhaps it is easier to understand in terms of a more typical life scenario. You see a coworker who is doing well, being promoted, and receiving raises. You are not experiencing the same level of success. You might ask yourself, “I wonder if she is using the same wind I am using?” We may see a situation where someone or some organization is doing well and you wonder what their secret could be. I believe we experience this in our faith life when we see someone else who seems to be a little deeper in their walk with Christ than we are. Maybe the question might be, “Do you think they are following the same God I am following?”

As I have been preparing the message for this weekend I have been thinking along these lines. What is it that makes some people so deeply spiritual while others of us struggle? I believe that this scene from one of my favorite movies has actually helped me think differently about this. You see, I believe that there is a common resource available to us all and a common fault that hinders a lot of us. The common resource available to us all as Christians is the Holy Spirit. This is the wind that fills our spiritual sails and leads us in the direction of God’s will. Every believer has the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their life. I hope you let that sink in for a moment. We all have the living, breathing power of God dwelling within us in the Holy Spirit. However, the common fault that hinders so many is choice. We have to choose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have to choose to use the same wind that the deeply spiritual folks we admire use. We have to choose faithfulness to God’s leading in our life.

I wonder if you are using the same wind I am using? We all must choose to follow the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the only way we can follow after Christ’s example for us. Luke records where one person told Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answers this person by painting a picture of just how unglamorous that would be. It is as if Jesus wants the person to consider what wind they want to use. Does the person really want to use the same wind Jesus is using? It won’t be easy. I want to encourage you to use the same wind, the Holy Spirit, which Jesus used. It is the only way we will get closer to the design and desire God has for your life. That is the only way we can truly follow Jesus.

God wants us all to follow Jesus Christ in everything. God desires to have everyone using the same wind, the Holy Spirit, and gaining in their faithfulness. This Sunday we will continue the message series entitled "One Faithful Promise." The message will help us think about what it means to choose faithfulness in the power of the Holy Spirit. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday at St. Andrew’s, and Susan Lewis will share with the folks who are at Andy Camping. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

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Pastor Tim Machtel