Happy Anniversary

God’s wonderful, merciful, faithful, grace be multiplied to you today!

Let me be the first to say, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!  Oh, you didn’t remember?  You forgot!  Well, that’s ok!  We are so amazingly blessed it is easy to overlook dates on a calendar.  So why do we try to remember significant events in our lives?  We remember birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and many other days which are important to us.  Why?  The answer is not complicated at all!  When we remember the blessing of the past it helps us appreciate the blessings we have today, and it reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us.

Today is the actual Anniversary Day for Spirit and Truth Church, Odessa Texas.  We are three years old this very day. While we are still in some ways like at three year old toddler, we have come a long way from the day we first gathered before God with the commitment of Jesus and the Bible and nothing else!

While our history is fairly short, the blessings of God have been present with us since that first day and we have every reason to look back on God’s faithfulness in the past, and look forward with excitement as He leads us into our future.

Recalling God’s faithfulness is a practice God’s people are called upon to do throughout history.  The festivals in the Old Testament such as Passover were celebrations of God’s faithfulness in the past and a way to encourage His people today!  God’s past works which reveal both His presence and His promises encourage us as we move into the future. Paul understood this as he wrote to the Corinthian Christians of his day.  It is fitting that our text today speaks of life as the people of God who are gathered in a particular place to be a church.

Now about the collection for the saints: Do the same as I instructed the Galatian churches.  On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save in keeping with how he is prospering, so that no collections will need to be made when I come.  When I arrive, I will send with letters those you recommend to carry your gift to Jerusalem.  If it is suitable for me to go as well, they will travel with me. 
1 Corinthians 16:1-4

There are a couple of things which jump out at us as we read this text.  The first is that the congregations of Paul’s day took up Sunday offerings. These “collections” were to be saved until they could be sent to Christians in need, particularly those who were suffering in Jerusalem.  The second thing is that those who believed in Jesus gathered on the “first day of the week.”  This was a major shift from the worship life of the Old Testament people of God.  

Throughout the Old Testament Saturday was considered the Sabbath day, which was a day of worship and rest. Actually, it was designated as the day of rest, and it became a day to go to the synagogue and worship. Following the resurrection of Jesus, the early Christians, who were mostly Jews, transitioned from worshiping God on Saturday to worshiping God on Sunday, the first day of the week, because Sunday was the day of resurrection.

We've already heard the apostle Paul declare that the resurrection is the heart of the Gospel and therefore the foundational doctrine of all the beliefs of the Church. Our way of saying it would be this, “A dead Savior is no Savior at all.”  The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and stepped forth from the tomb on a Sunday morning set the stage for all Christians to worship God and celebrate the victory He won for us through Jesus every Sunday morning.

There has been a push in recent years to return to Saturday worship, along with the idea that we must keep all of the Old Testament rituals and food laws and practices in order to be a faithful Christian. All a person has to do is read what the apostle Paul says in his words to the Galatian Christians, and the fact that he opposed Peter’s hypocrisy concerning this issue, and we will understand that the Church of Jesus Christ is not bound to the Old Testament laws of rituals and food. We worship Jesus who is the fulfillment of God's Old Testament promises and the new beginning of a life with God.

Paul identifies the fact that the Christians were to set aside and save the offerings which were to be given in accordance with the blessings of God in a person's life. There is no rigid commandment of tithing. Rather a heart moved by God's love.

Notice in our text that the apostle Paul directs that the offerings be prepared and ready upon his arrival. He may or may not be able to Journey to Jerusalem, but his presence is not what's important. What is important is those who are suffering receive the assistance they need from their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Another way we might say this is, “It is not about us, but about people being blessed by Jesus through us.”  We see this attitude in the life of the apostle Paul throughout his ministry. He humbles himself that others might be blessed, and Jesus might be exalted. He is seeking to teach the Church to hold on to this attitude and this heartfelt desire to love others the right way.

Spirit and Truth begin three years ago this day with a humble beginning and the heartfelt desire to bless people with Jesus. We have seen God open the way for us to be used to help many people far beyond the four walls of our church building.  As long as we hold on to the attitude that Paul teaches us, that it is not about us, but it is always about Jesus, then we will continue to witness the blessings of God and His working in our lives and through us into the world. May this be so for Jesus’ sake, Amen.  

In Christ,
Pastor Russ

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