Mar 17, 2019
The Prodigal Father

March 17, 2019 The Prodigal Father

How great is God's love! In Luke 15, Jesus describes His Father's love in three successive parables. In the first, a shepherd finds his lost sheep and throws a party.In the second, a woman finds her lost coin and throws a party. In the third, a father's lost and wandering fun returns home and THE FATHER THROWS A PARTY!

If Luke 15 is accurate, then heaven must be a continual party where angels rejoice when a sinner repents and God the Father rejoices when the lost are found.

Come this Sunday as we continue our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption" with the familiar story of "The Prodigal Son" from Luke 15. [Did you know that the word prodigal does not mean lost or wandering. It means "wasteful extravagance."] While the common title to this story puts the emphasis on the younger son, there is another way of hearing the story that puts the focus on the father. That will be our focus this Sunday.

Looking forward to being together in worship!

Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

Luke 15:11-32

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  • Mar 17, 2019The Prodigal Father
    Mar 17, 2019
    The Prodigal Father

    March 17, 2019 The Prodigal Father

    How great is God's love! In Luke 15, Jesus describes His Father's love in three successive parables. In the first, a shepherd finds his lost sheep and throws a party.In the second, a woman finds her lost coin and throws a party. In the third, a father's lost and wandering fun returns home and THE FATHER THROWS A PARTY!

    If Luke 15 is accurate, then heaven must be a continual party where angels rejoice when a sinner repents and God the Father rejoices when the lost are found.

    Come this Sunday as we continue our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption" with the familiar story of "The Prodigal Son" from Luke 15. [Did you know that the word prodigal does not mean lost or wandering. It means "wasteful extravagance."] While the common title to this story puts the emphasis on the younger son, there is another way of hearing the story that puts the focus on the father. That will be our focus this Sunday.

    Looking forward to being together in worship!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Luke 15:11-32

  • Mar 10, 2019A Strange Romance
    Mar 10, 2019
    A Strange Romance

    March 10, 2019 A Strange Romance

    How great is God's love! So great that He did not leave us in our sins. So great that his only begotten Son died for our sins. So great that his saving grace and not our works remain the only condition for our salvation.

    Come this Sunday as we begin our Lenten sermon series on "Redemption" with a great and moving story of love from the book of Hosea. Hear how Hosea obeyed God and married a prostitute, Gomer. How their marriage lived out the same cycle of repentance, redemption, and restoration that we witness in our own relationship with God. How God is faithful in his love. And how his judgment of our sins is for one purpose - to restore us to a right relationship with him.

    Brothers and sisters, our world may seem broken beyond repair, but we have a great God who can heal every hurt and wound and redeem our very souls. Let's rejoice in his love this Sunday!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Hosea 3:1-5

  • Mar 3, 2019Simple Church
    Mar 3, 2019
    Simple Church

    March 3, 2019 Simple Church

    After four days of following the UMC's General Conference, I am longing for a return to the simple message of Jesus. Jesus told a stories and parables to make sure he was understood. He spoke truth even when it brought persecution. He spoke directly and with authority.

    With all the complexities dividing our denomination, I felt moved to speak this Sunday of the Jesus style of church. A church where we keep the main thing the main thing. A church where we seek the plain truth of Scripture; unfiltered and unvarnished. A church where we can love each other and join each other in sharing the good news of Jesus without a thousand points of order blocking our way and with our eyes firmly focused on our eternal, all powerful God.

    So I invite you to join us this Sunday as we explore the fundamental truths of what it means simply be the church in the midst of a complex, divided world.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    1 Timothy 1:12-17

  • Feb 24, 2019Do Not Fear
    Feb 24, 2019
    Do Not Fear

    Feb 24, 2019 Do Not Fear

    If you are a pastor or church member who cares about The United Methodist Church, it is hard to ignore what is on the immediate horizon for our denomination. For two years the specially called General Conference of The UMC beginning this Saturday in St.Louis has loomed large in our minds. For many it has cast a shadow over our denomination's future; a potential catalyst for a tidal wave of doctrinal division and infighting, powerful enough to sweep United Methodism from the face of the earth. Others welcome it as an opportunity to bind up the deep wounds of our divisions and to refill the reservoir of goodwill and mutual respect that has been severely drained after five decades of debate.

    I will admit that there are moments when I share the thoughts of the young pastor I heard preach last Sunday morning while I was away on vacation: "I fear that in a few days our United Methodist Church will be no more." There are other times when I share John Wesley's fear that our United Methodist Church will not so much disappear but exist as a dead sect having "the form of religion without the power."

    Fear and the weariness it brings can quickly deaden the joy and peace of our walk with Jesus. That's why - in the midst of the denomination's conflicts - I have been listening to God's Spirit lately, hearing God's constant reassurance in Scripture to those who hold fast to Him in faith and obedience - "Do not fear, I am with you."Our God asks us to love him with all our being. To seek His will and obey, no matter the cost; no matter the world's opinion of us; no matter the fears that threaten to overtake and undermine our faith and life together as brothers and sisters in Christ. God is with us. No matter the outcome of the coming conference in St. Louis, know this: God will faithfully guide us into the future that awaits. That is the only thing I know for sure.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Isaiah 43:1b-2a

  • Feb 10, 2019Simeon & Anna – Persistent Faith
    Feb 10, 2019
    Simeon & Anna – Persistent Faith

    Feb 10, 2019 Simeon & Anna – Persistent Faith

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making

    Did you know that Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who conquered Mount Everest in 1953 with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, was a beekeeper? His family owned 35 apiaries consisting of 1,600 beehives! As a teen-ager and adult working with his dad and brother, he would average between 15 and 100 bee stings a day!

    That's right, the world's most renowned mountain climber made his living at beekeeping most of the year, leaving the winter months to sharpen his climbing skills. Eventually, his persistent dedication to his goal of conquering the world's highest peaks would be his greatest fame. But when asked about his incredible work ethic and persistence, he credited the hard, hot, mundane work of lifting and caring for the beehives. His willingness to do that work was in part due to his love for the bees themselves. He wrote in one of his many books: "The spring and summer, when the bees were gathering nectar, was a time of great excitement."

    As most of you know, I love bees (not to the point that I go around hugging them, but you know what I mean). And one thing I know after years of being around beehives is that bees are incredibly persistent. To be a successful beekeeper you must adopt a bee's attitude of persistence. To be a faithful follower of Jesus, it doesn't hurt to wed that same attitude of persistence to your faith.

    In this week's sermon passage from Luke 2, we learn of the prophetess Anna who spent years at the temple in Jerusalem waiting for the "redemption of Jerusalem" to come. Her persistent faith - no doubt dismissed as a desperate zealousness by many in Jerusalem - was rewarded when Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus at the temple. Anna's joy in life was more than complete.

    How persistent is your faith? How dedicated are you to the holy life Jesus has called you to? How does that faith influence your choices in life? If we learn anything from the bees and the prophetess Anna and Sir Edmund Hillary, it is that wise choices are only made when accompanied by a persistent belief in God's call upon your life.

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February are focusing on CHOICES. Like Joseph, Moses, Jonathan, and other people of faith in the Bible, our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make in the near future. Over 800 delegates from around the world will meet in St. Louis at a General Conference of the UMC in St. Louis from February 23-26 to attempt to make decisions around the issues of human sexuality and biblical authority that divide our church.

    As we pray for this conference and God's will to be done, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and study the men and women who, in their own time, made the critical choice to follow God.

    Please pray and ask for God to guide us all in the coming days.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Luke 2:25-38

  • Feb 3, 2019The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: The Courage of their Convictions
    Feb 3, 2019
    The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: The Courage of their Convictions

    Feb 3, 2019 The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: The Courage of their Convictions

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making
     
    Having just returned from a three-day meeting in Richmond, my thoughts are finally focused on this Sunday's message and the story from the opening chapters of the Book of Daniel of three incredible young men with names that may sound strange to our ears - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

    While the names may not fit well in a newspaper headline, they certainly should not be forgotten. While in captivity in Babylon along with other members of the Hebrew nation, they were given Babylonian names and positions of trust in the King's courts. When they refused to bow down to a golden statue, they were tied up and thrown into a fiery furnace so hot that the soldiers who threw them in were killed by coming too close. But, as described in a childhood song I once learned, "God sent an angel to the pit, and the three men did not burn a bit."

    Their kind of courage does not come lightly or on an impulse - it is born out of deep convictions cultivated over a lifetime. Our question for this Sunday: when we are faced with critical choices in life, do we have the courage that springs out of our own deep convictions to do what is right in the eyes of God?

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February are focusing on CHOICES. Like Joseph, Moses, Jonathan, and other people of faith in the Bible, our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make in the near future. Over 800 delegates from around the world will meet in St. Louis at a General Conference of the UMC in St. Louis from February 23-26 to attempt to make decisions around the issues of human sexuality and biblical authority that divide our church.

    As we pray for this conference and God's will to be done, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and study the men and women who, in their own time, made the critical choice to follow God.

    Please pray and ask for God to guide us all in the coming days.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Daniel 3:14-28

  • Jan 27, 2019Holy Boldness – Jonathan and the Armor Bearer
    Jan 27, 2019
    Holy Boldness – Jonathan and the Armor Bearer

    Jan 27, 2019 Holy Boldness – Jonathan and the Armor Bearer

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making

    We've looked at two well-known heroes of the Old Testament recently - Joseph and Moses. This week we will explore an incident in the life of a lesser known hero - Jonathan. The life choices each of these three men made were consistently based on their faith in God.

    While faith is their common denominator, each man also brought a special trait into their relationship with God. Joseph brought a steadfast commitment to honoring God in all he does. Moses exhibited a personal relationship with God that allows him to lead when others want to turn back. And this week, Jonathan exhibits a holy boldness and courage that gives him the strength to go where God leads, even when his fears tell him to retreat.

    How can you and I possess not just boldness, but holy boldness to stand up and go forward in faith when God calls us to action?

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February are focusing on CHOICES. Like Joseph,, Moses, Jonathan and other people of faith in the Bible, our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make in the near future. Over 800 delegates from around the world will meet in St. Louis at a General Conference of the UMC in St. Louis from February 23-26 to attempt to make decisions around the issues of human sexuality and biblical authority that divide our church.

    As we pray for this conference and God's will to be done, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and study the men and women who, in their own time, made the critical choice to follow God.

    Please pray and ask for God to guide us all in the coming days.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    1 Samuel 14:6-15

  • Jan 20, 2019Moses: The Choice of No Other God
    Jan 20, 2019
    Moses: The Choice of No Other God

    Jan 20, 2019 Moses: The Choice of No Other God

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making

    Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

    The greatest choice every human being must make, not just once but over and over is: "Who or what will I serve?" For Moses, there was no God in his life but the God of Deliverance, the God Who is Faithful, the God Who Alone Can Save. Every good choice Moses ever made in life was based on his firmly held choice to serve that God.

    The choice for us is the same as it was for Moses. Daily we make choices on who or what controls our lives - who will be our gods. Addictions, obsessions, fears, prideful ambition, resentment.... so many things can capture our hearts and minds. All the while we push the God who created us and sent his son to die for us to the darkest corners of our souls, placing all these emotions and worldly forces on the throne of our lives.

    Choosing to follow the God of Moses is not only life-saving; it's soul-saving. Who will you and I follow in the coming days and years? Who will we choose?

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February are focusing on CHOICES. Like Joseph and Moses and other people of faith in the Bible, our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make in the near future. Over 800 delegates from around the world will meet in St. Louis at a General Conference of the UMC in St. Louis from February 23-26 to attempt to make decisions around the issues of human sexuality and biblical authority that divide our church.

    As we pray for this conference and God's will to be done, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and study the men and women who, in their own time, made the critical choice to follow God.

    Please pray and ask for God to guide us all in the coming days.

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Hebrews 11:27

  • Jan 6, 2019Joseph – The Choice of Integrity
    Jan 6, 2019
    Joseph – The Choice of Integrity

    Jan 6, 2019 The Integrity of Joseph

    Sermon Series: Choices – Biblical examples of faithful decision making

    As we begin a new year, I am thankful to God for both the blessings and the challenges of the past, and the hope and promise of the future.

    There is no better way to begin 2019 than with the Wesley Covenant Prayer. This prayer is a powerful reminder of who we are called to be in Jesus Christ:

    I am no longer my own, but thine.

    Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

    Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

    Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

    exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

    Let me be full, let me be empty.

    Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

    I freely and heartily yield all things

    to thy pleasure and disposal.

    And now, O glorious and blessed God,

    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

    thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

    And the covenant which I have made on earth,

    let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

    Our Sunday morning sermons in January and February will focus on CHOICES. Our United Methodist denomination has some critical choices to make at a General Conference in St. Louis the last week in February around human sexuality and biblical authority. With that in mind, it seems wise to turn to the Bible and view the men and women who, in their own time, made critical choices about faith and holiness.

    Please remember in prayer all those who are struggling with physical and mental illnesses; with loneliness; with faith; with the daily challenge of finding food and security for their families. And as you thank God for the blessings of life in this beautiful Shenandoah Valley, remember that:
    At least 80% of the world's population lives on less than $10 per day.
    More than 357 million children live in war and conflict zones, an increase of roughly 75% from the early 1990's.
    Half of the world's population goes without basic, essential health services.
     

    Remember that God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. How can we help those in desperate need of basic life resources in Verona and beyond?

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    Genesis 39:1-10

  • Dec 30, 2018Devotion for the New Year
    Dec 30, 2018
    Devotion for the New Year

    December 30, 2018 Devotion for the New Year

    This Sunday is the last Sunday in 2018. As we approach 2019, we will turn our hearts toward praising God in song and prayer at both services at VUMC. Come prepared for a special time of "old-fashioned" carol and hymn singing. 

    For those still on vacation or who for other reasons will not be able to attend worship services on December 30th, may God bless you in this last days of 2018 and strengthen you with hope and faith in the new year!

    Peace in Christ, Pastor Bob

    John 3:16-21