For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh,--if this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better. – Philippians 1:21-23
KEEP YOUR FORK
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with an incurable disease and had been given only three months to live. So she started putting her things "in order".
She contacted her priest and summoned him to her house to discuss her funeral arrangements. She told him what songs and readings she wanted, and what clothing she wanted to be buried in. The woman also asked to be buried with her favorite Bible.
Everything was in order and the priest was preparing to leave when the woman remembered something very important for her. “There is something else and this is very important,” she said. “What is it?” asked the priest. The woman continued, “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”
The priest just looked at the woman, not knowing exactly what to say. “That surprises you, doesn’t it?” asked the woman. “Well, to be honest, I'm intrigued with the request,” said the priest.
The woman explained, “In all the years that I have attended social events and engagement dinners, I always remember that when the plates were removed after the main dish, someone would inevitably bend over and say, ‘Keep your fork’. It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was to come ... like chocolate cake or apple pie. Something wonderful and substantial!. So I want people to see me inside my coffin with a fork in my hand and I want them to ask themselves: ‘What about the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them, 'She kept her fork because the best is yet to come’."
The priest's eyes filled with tears of joy as he embraced the woman saying goodbye. He knew that this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death, but he also knew she had a better concept of Christian hope than he did. She knew that something better was coming.
During the funeral, people passed by the woman's coffin and saw the beautiful dress she wore, her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand. Again and again the priest heard the question: "What's going on with the fork?" And he just smiled.
During his message, the priest told the people about the conversation he had with the woman a short time before she died. He also told them about the fork and what it meant to her, and how he could not stop thinking it, and also that they probably would not stop thinking about it either. He was right.
So, the next time you hold a fork let it remind you that the best is yet to come ...
- Jaime Restrepo
Today many Americans seem to be telling themselves they don’t need the church. They want Jesus without His church. This is impossible because if you want Jesus, you get the church because that is where He is - among His people. You can’t have one without the other.
How connected are you to the local church? How much is it a part of your life?
When we look at God’s word, we find that He has given us the church. He has a purpose for it in your life. It’s been designed as a place of comfort, refuge from the world, and hope for the world to come. As a church family, we share a common faith, love, and concern for each other.
On Sunday, we’ll focus on Isaiah 4.2-6. We’ll learn about
- How God foresaw a time when His rescued people would be partakers of His glory having been made holy through a washing and cleansing.
- How God covers the church (Mount Zion) with a canopy of protection.
- How God desires to be your place of refuge and shelter from the storms of life.
As you get ready for worship, be thinking about these questions:
- How would you describe your connection to the Kettering church?
- What does God intend to do with your life and how can you cooperate with that? (4.3)
- In what New Testament book do we read of Mount Zion and to what does it refer?
- What does it mean to you that God has provided a place of refuge and shelter in the church?
- Can you have Jesus without the church? Why/why not?
Sunday Scripture Reading: Chris Fles
Sunday Song Leader: Jim Rutter
TEXT: Isaiah 4.2-6
For everything God created is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving – 1 Tim. 4:4
God Is Not Wrong
A long time ago, in a distant kingdom, a monarch did not believe in the goodness of God. He had however, a subject who always reminded him about this truth. In all situations he said “My King, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong!”
One day the king went hunting with his servant and a wild beast attacked him. The servant managed to kill the animal, but it did not prevent His Majesty from losing the little finger of his right hand. The king, furious at what had happened, and without showing gratitude for the efforts of his servant to save his life, asked him. “And now, what do you say? God is good? If God were good I would not have been attacked and I would not have lost my finger.”
The servant answered, “My King, in spite of all those things, I can only tell you that God is good, and that perhaps, losing a finger, is for your good. Everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong!”
The king, indignant with the servant’s answer, ordered that he be imprisoned in the darkest and most fetid cell of the dungeon. After some time, the king left again to hunt and was attacked, this time, by a tribe of Indians who lived in the jungle. These Indians were feared by all, because it was known that they made human sacrifices for their gods. Immediately after they captured the king, they began to prepare, full of joy, the ritual of sacrifice. When they had everything ready, and the king was before the altar, the indigenous priest, after examining the victim, said furiously, “This man can not be sacrificed, because he is defective! He is missing a finger!” The king was released.
When he returned to the palace, very happy and relieved, he released his servant and asked the servant to be brought to him. When he saw his servant, he hugged him affectionately saying, “Dear servant, God was really good to me! You must have known that I escaped just because I did not have one of my fingers, but now I have a big doubt in my heart. If God is so good, why did he allow you to be imprisoned? How much did you defend him?”
The servant smiled and said, “My King, if I had been with you on that hunt, I would surely have been sacrificed in your place, Since I do not lack any fingers!! Therefore, always remember everything God does is perfect, he never makes a mistake.”
And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good. -- Romans 8:28
- Jaime Restrepo
Over the last thirteen weeks we have based our sermons and Bible classes around the principles found in Jeremiah 29.11-13. This passage tells us a great deal about the God we serve: He is primarily concerned with the building and development of a spiritual relationship with you. This is only possible because God had a plan to redeem us from sin. As we’ve seen, God took the initiative and sacrificed Himself in order to set us free.
The challenge for us is to make it personal. It is very important for you to see yourself in the plan of God. We must come to understand our extreme value to God and the richness of the blessings we possess. You matter. God cares about you.
Now that you have been saved, God has brought you into His church. We need to praise God for this wonderful blessing. Each of us, being a part of the church, serve as a testimony to God’s grace, work, and love.
On Sunday, we’ll examine Ephesians 3.4-10. We’ll learn about
- God’s manifold wisdom.
- The church and its role in displaying that wisdom.
- How God uses ordinary people (you and me) to spread His great message of salvation in our dying world.
As you get ready for worship, be thinking about these questions:
- How are you presently experiencing come of the unsearchable riches of Christ?
- Since you have been given so much, what does God expect you to do?
- In what way is Ephesians 2.19 a simple summary of the gospel?
- You are broken and flawed, but God still wants to use you. What does that mean to you?
- What are some things you can do to build your trust that God knows what He is doing with your life?
Sunday Scripture Reading: Greg Morrison
Sunday Song Leader: Jim Grushon Jr.
TEXT: Ephesians 3.4-10
If you grow weary when times are troubled, your strength is limited, Proverbs 24:10.
The Cook and his Daughter
A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so difficult for her. She did not know how to go forward and she thought she would give up. She was tired of fighting. It seemed when she solved a problem, another appeared.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 – “When times are good, be joyful, when times are bad, consider this: God made the one as well as the other, so people won't seek anything outside of his best.”
Her father and a kitchen chef took her to her place of work. There he filled three pots with water and placed them on a strong fire. Soon the water in the three pots was boiling. In one he placed carrots, in another he placed eggs and in the last he placed coffee beans. He let them boil without saying a word. The daughter waited impatiently, wondering what her father was doing. Twenty minutes later the father put out the fire. He pulled out the carrots and placed them in a cup. He took out the eggs and placed them in another cup. He put the coffee in a third cup. Looking at her daughter, he said: "Dear, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs and coffee" was her response. He asked her to touch the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. Then he asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Then he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she enjoyed its rich aroma.
The daughter humbly asked, "What does this mean, Father?" He explained that the three elements had faced the same adversity - boiling water, but they had reacted differently. The carrot entered the water strong and solid, but after going through the boiling process it became weak. The fragile egg entered the water, its thin shell protected its liquid interior, but after being in boiling water, its interior had hardened. The coffee beans however were unique. After being in boiling water, they had dissolved in the water.
“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Are you a carrot that seems strong but when adversity and pain touch you, you become weak and lose your strength? Are you an egg, which starts with a malleable heart? You had a fluid spirit, but after a death, a separation, a divorce or a dismissal, have you become hard and rigid? On the outside you look the same, but are you bitter and harsh, with a hardened spirit and heart? Or are you like a coffee bean? Coffee changes to boiling water, the element that causes pain. When the water reaches the boiling point, the coffee reaches its best flavor. If you are like the coffee bean, when things get worse, you react better and make things around you better. How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong, 2 Corinthians 12.10.
- Jaime Restrepo