Sunday, September 20, 2020

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, October 18, 2020


Psalm 27:14

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
Read all of Psalm 27

Listen to Psalm 27

Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

The Daily Readings for SUNDAY, September 20, 2020 — 16th Sunday After Pentecost

The Daily Readings
SUNDAY, September 20, 2020 — 16th Sunday After Pentecost

Come All Laborers
Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30;
Matthew 20:1-16
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

Opening Sentences
Complaining to God is not always bad. In the wilderness, it seems to have helped the hungry Hebrews. Before sending food, albeit with work required to gather it and with conditions for its use (Exodus16:4-5), God proclaims, "I have heard the complaining of the Israelites" (Exodus 16:12). In fact, following God usually requires work—at its best, joyful, "fruitful labor" (Philippians 1:22). Complaining about the good that comes to others in God's vineyard will not get us far. "Are you envious because I am generous?" asks the God character in Jesus' last-will-be-first parable (Matthew 20:15). It is better to remember, with thanks, the miracles of liberation, guidance, and nourishment received by God's people (Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45).

Opening Prayer
Liberating God, we seek your journey. With parted waters, set us free. With cloud and fire, guide us. With gushing waters, quench our thirst. With food from heaven, feed us. Draw us out with joy and singing, that we might know your ways. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
God of fruitful labor, work sometimes brings out the worst in us. At home, at school, in the workplace, even in our relationship with you, we too easily question what others do and get, instead of taking care of our own business. Take away our bitterness. Teach us the art of the careful complaint. Give us grateful hearts, we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
Hear the good news: what we do matters, but our salvation is God's doing. God hears our complaints, but also our prayers. God will not forget us. In Christ's name, we are forgiven. Amen.

First Reading
Manna in the wilderness
16:2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt:

7 And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?

8 And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.

9 And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord: for he hath heard your murmurings.

10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God.

13 And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host.

14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.

15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.
The provisions of Israel, brought from Egypt, were spent by the middle of the second month, and they murmured. It is no new thing for the greatest kindness to be basely represented as the greatest injuries. They so far undervalue their deliverance, that they wished they had died in Egypt; and by the hand of the Lord, that is, by the plagues which cut off the Egyptians. We cannot suppose they had plenty in Egypt, nor could they fear dying for want in the wilderness, while they had flocks and herds: none talk more absurdly than murmurers. When we begin to fret, we ought to consider, that God hears all our murmurings. God promises a speedy and constant supply. He tried whether they would trust him, and rest satisfied with the bread of the day in its day. Thus he tried if they would serve him, and it appeared how ungrateful they were. When God plagued the Egyptians, it was to make them know he was their Lord; when he provided for the Israelites, it was to make them know he was their God.

At evening the quails came up, and the people caught with ease as many as they needed. The manna came down in dew. They called it “Manna, Manhu,” which means, “What is this?” “It is a portion; it is that which our God has allotted us, and we will take it, and be thankful.” It was pleasant food; it was wholesome food. The manna was rained from heaven; it appeared, when the dew was gone, as a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost, like coriander seed, in colour like pearls. The manna fell only six days in the week, and in double quantity on the sixth day; it bred worms and became offensive if kept more than one day, excepting on the sabbath. The people had never seen it before. It could be ground in a mill, or beaten in a mortar, and was then made into cakes and baked. It continued the forty years the Israelites were in the wilderness, wherever they went, and ceased when they arrived in Canaan. All this shows how different it was from any thing found before, or found now. They were to gather the manna every morning. We are hereby taught, 1. To be prudent and diligent in providing food for ourselves and our households; with quietness working, and eating our own bread, not the bread of idleness or deceit. God's bounty leaves room for man's duty; it did so even when manna was rained; they must not eat till they have gathered. 2. To be content with enough. Those that have most, have for themselves but food and raiment; those that have least, generally have these; so that he who gathers much has nothing over, and he who gathers little has no lack. There is not such a disproportion between one and another in the enjoyment of the things of this life, as in the mere possession of them. 3. To depend upon Providence: let them sleep quietly, though they have no bread in their tents, nor in all their camp, trusting that God, with the following day, would bring them in their daily bread. It was surer and safer in God's storehouse than their own, and would come thence sweeter and fresher. See here the folly of hoarding. The manna laid up by some, who thought themselves wiser, and better managers, than their neighbours, and who would provide lest it should fail next day, bred worms, and became good for nothing. That will prove to be most wasted, which is covetously and distrustfully spared. Such riches are corrupted, James 5:2, James 5:3. The same wisdom, power, and goodness that brought food daily from above for the Israelites in the wilderness, brings food yearly out of the earth in the constant course of nature, and gives us all things richly to enjoy.

Remembering the wilderness
1 O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

4 Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.

37 He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.

38 Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.

39 He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.

40 The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.

42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.

43 And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:

44 And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labour of the people;

45 That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the Lord.
Our devotion is here stirred up, that we may stir up ourselves to praise God. Seek his strength; that is, his grace; the strength of his Spirit to work in us that which is good, which we cannot do but by strength derived from him, for which he will be sought. Seek to have his favour to eternity, therefore continue seeking it while living in this world; for he will not only be found, but he will reward those that diligently seek him.

As the believer commonly thrives best in his soul when under the cross; so the church also flourishes most in true holiness, and increases in number, while under persecution. Yet instruments shall be raised up for their deliverance, and plagues may be expected by persecutors. And see the special care God took of his people in the wilderness. All the benefits bestowed on Israel as a nation, were shadows of spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ Jesus. Having redeemed us with his blood, restored our souls to holiness, and set us at liberty from Satan's bondage, he guides and guards us all the way. He satisfies our souls with the bread of heaven, and the water of life from the Rock of salvation, and will bring us safely to heaven. He redeems his servants from all iniquity, and purifies them unto himself, to be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Second Reading
Standing firm in the gospel
1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Death is a great loss to a carnal, worldly man, for he loses all his earthly comforts and all his hopes; but to a true believer it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness and misery. It delivers him from all the evils of life, and brings him to possess the chief good. The apostle's difficulty was not between living in this world and living in heaven; between these two there is no comparison; but between serving Christ in this world and enjoying him in another. Not between two evil things, but between two good things; living to Christ and being with him. See the power of faith and of Divine grace; it can make us willing to die. In this world we are compassed with sin; but when with Christ, we shall escape sin and temptation, sorrow and death, for ever. But those who have most reason to desire to depart, should be willing to remain in the world as long as God has any work for them to do. And the more unexpected mercies are before they come, the more of God will be seen in them.

Those who profess the gospel of Christ, should live as becomes those who believe gospel truths, submit to gospel laws, and depend upon gospel promises. The original word “conversation” denotes the conduct of citizens who seek the credit, safety, peace, and prosperity of their city. There is that in the faith of the gospel, which is worth striving for; there is much opposition, and there is need of striving. A man may sleep and go to hell; but he who would go to heaven, must look about him and be diligent. There may be oneness of heart and affection among Christians, where there is diversity of judgment about many things. Faith is God's gift on the behalf of Christ; the ability and disposition to believe are from God. And if we suffer reproach and loss for Christ, we are to reckon them a gift, and prize them accordingly. Yet salvation must not be ascribed to bodily afflictions, as though afflictions and worldly persecutions deserved it; but from God only is salvation: faith and patience are his gifts.

The Gospel
The parable of the vineyard workers

20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
The direct object of this parable seems to be, to show that though the Jews were first called into the vineyard, at length the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and they should be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the Jews. The parable may also be applied more generally, and shows, 1. That God is debtor to no man. 2. That many who begin last, and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing of God, arrive at a great deal of knowledge, grace, and usefulness. 3. That the recompense of reward will be given to the saints, but not according to the time of their conversion. It describes the state of the visible church, and explains the declaration that the last shall be first, and the first last, in its various references. Till we are hired into the service of God, we are standing all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state of drudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. The market-place is the world, and from that we are called by the gospel. Come, come from this market-place. Work for God will not admit of trifling. A man may go idle to hell, but he that will go to heaven, must be diligent. The Roman penny was sevenpence halfpenny in our money, wages then enough for the day's support. This does not prove that the reward of our obedience to God is of works, or of debt; when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; but it signifies that there is a reward set before us, yet let none, upon this presumption, put off repentance till they are old. Some were sent into the vineyard at the eleventh hour; but nobody had hired them before. The Gentiles came in at the eleventh hour; the gospel had not been before preached to them. Those that have had gospel offers made them at the third or sixth hour, and have refused them, will not have to say at the eleventh hour, as these had, No man has hired us. Therefore, not to discourage any, but to awaken all, be it remembered, that now is the accepted time. The riches of Divine grace are loudly murmured at, among proud Pharisees and nominal Christians. There is great proneness in us to think that we have too little, and others too much of the tokens of God's favour; and that we do too much, and others too little in the work of God. But if God gives grace to others, it is kindness to them, and no injustice to us. Carnal worldlings agree with God for their penny in this world; and choose their portion in this life. Obedient believers agree with God for their penny in the other world, and must remember they have so agreed. Didst not thou agree to take up with heaven as thy portion, thy all; wilt thou seek for happiness in the creature? God punishes none more than they deserve, and recompenses every service done for him; he therefore does no wrong to any, by showing extraordinary grace to some. See here the nature of envy. It is an evil eye, which is displeased at the good of others, and desires their hurt. It is a grief to ourselves, displeasing to God, and hurtful to our neighbours: it is a sin that has neither pleasure, profit, nor honour. Let us forego every proud claim, and seek for salvation as a free gift. Let us never envy or grudge, but rejoice and praise God for his mercy to others as well as to ourselves.

Here end the Readings

Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message

The Apostles’ Creed

  • I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

  • I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Communion

A nondenominational serving of bread and wine
Many churches around the world are working hard to adapt to online worship, and one challenge is how our members can celebrate communion from home. Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present.

Stand firm in the spirit; strive side by side; and live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Go in peace. Amen.

Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen
by Wally Joiner

Come honoring the glorious Prince of heaven!
See how few are interested in the honor of His Son,
See how few will choose to come!
Many are called but few are chosen!

Those blind to Him, unimpressed with heaven,
Pay no attention,
Their boast is in their worldly distractions;
They, with no time for Him;

Not loving Him, dishonor Him,
Not choosing Him, despise the Prince of heaven!

Dare not to glory in your sin!
Dare not to offend the King of heaven!
Dare not to despise His Son!
Come now and rejoice with wedding garments on!
Come and celebrate the Son!

And so we call to the good and evil,
To compel them to attend,
And not to stall or prove themselves unworthy,
By not loving the King's Son,

Come honor Him! Rejoice in Him!
Exult in Him; the glorious Prince of heaven!

Still so few are interested in the honor of His Son,
See how few will choose to come!
Many are called but few are chosen!

Copyright (c) 2013 by Wally Joiner.
All rights reserved.

The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV).

Commentary from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

The Daily Bible Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year A. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2020, we will be in Year B. The year which ended at Advent 2019 was Year C. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts.
Complaining to God is not always bad. In the wilderness, it seems to have helped the hungry Hebrews. Before sending food, albeit with work required to gather it and with conditions for its use (Exodus16:4-5), God proclaims, "I have heard the complaining of the Israelites" (Exodus 16:12). In fact, following God usually requires work—at its best, joyful, "fruitful labor" (Philippians 1:22). Complaining about the good that comes to others in God's vineyard will not get us far. "Are you envious because I am generous?" asks the God character in Jesus' last-will-be-first parable (Matthew 20:15). It is better to remember, with thanks, the miracles of liberation, guidance, and nourishment received by God's people (Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45).
Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
The Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

“Is God fair?” (Matthew 20:1-16) Sermon for SUNDAY, September 20, 2020

Today, our gospel message comes to us from Matthew 20:1-16, “The parable of the vineyard workers.”

20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last” (ESV).

Heavenly Father, you sent your Son to reveal your will for our lives and redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire us with confidence that you are with us in the midst of the storms of life, bring peace to our troubled souls, and lead your church throughout the ages. Enable us to live as your redeemed saints, that our lives may witness to our faith. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

“Is God fair?”

As you read the gospel lesson, what was your first reaction?? What emotion came into focus in your heart and soul?? How did you react to the master of the house? How did you react to those who worked all day and then grumbled at the master of the house?

For many, this parable is challenging because it seems the master of the house is not being fair or just. How can he pay those who worked only one hour the same as those who worked all day? Did the workers have a right to complain?

Let us look at that story again, slowly, part by part.

In Jesus’ day, those who wanted to work would be in the market place ready for someone to come and hire them. It was not unusual for a farmer or landlord to go and find help for the harvest of his vineyards. So, early in the morning, he goes to the market place and hires some workers for the day. Notice what he tells them, the text says: “After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into the vineyard.” They had agreed upon a wage for a day’s work. It was a fair wage, a typical salary for that day, a just wage.

But then the third hour, 9 o’clock, he goes back to the market place and sees some more men still waiting to be hired. He says to these men,”’ You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went.” He does this again the 6th hour, noon, and the ninth hour, 3:00 in the afternoon, and even at 5:00, the last working hour, he goes to the market place and hires workers to work in his fields.

Please, notice an important point here with these men, the master of the house tells them he will pay them whatever is right; they trust him and go into the fields. They do not know how much they will receive. They go, they trust.

At 6:00, work was over, the foreman calls the workers together and begins to pay them. But a strange thing happens, he starts with the ones hired at 5:00, and he pays them a denarius for their hour work, the agreed-upon price for a whole day’s work. Each worker comes and receives his pay. The ones hired at 3:00 pm, at noon, at 9:00 am and at 6:00 am all receive a denarius. Those hired at 6:00 am, when their turn came, hoped they would receive more because they worked the hardest, they had been in the field the longest, working under the hot sun all day long, but they also received the agreed-upon price for their labors, a denarius.

They grumbled at the master of the house, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” This wasn’t fair; this wasn’t just. They worked harder and longer than the Jonnie-come-latelys; they deserved more money.

But the master of the house turned to them, saying, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for us denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go;” The master of the house was saying, “We agreed upon the wage you would receive for a whole day’s work. You agreed, it is an honest and just wage, so don’t complain. I did not cheat you; I paid you the agreed-upon wage!!”

The final statement of the master of the house sums up his feelings and thoughts about this matter. He says: “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”

How do you feel now as you listened again to this story?? Is it fair and just that the Jonnie-come-latelys get the same wage as those who worked all day?? What would you say to the master of the house??

The key to understanding this parable lies in the first verse where Jesus says: “FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” For the kingdom of heaven, that is the key, we are not speaking about things of this earth, we are talking about the kingdom of heaven, we are speaking about God, and there, things are different. This parable speaks about God’s way with human beings, not the way of human beings with other human beings. This parable is about God, period. This parable speaks about God in many different ways.

In his book “The Divine Trap”, Richard Hoefler says, on pg.78, “God is first of all an absolute master, He does, the parable tells us, what he desires to do with what is His. The Kingdom of God is no democracy where we decide by a majority vote the way things will be done.” To our human nature, God’s way is not our way. But that is true, isn’t. Don’t we want God to be more than we are??

Jesus was addressing not only His disciples as He told this parable, but also the Pharisees, who had gotten the notion that the kingdom of heaven was their possession. As Richard Hoefler continues on pg. 79 saying: “The Pharisees had forgotten this. The kingdom of God belongs to God, period. Jesus met them head-on. He said in effect, “You are good men. Right? Everybody knows this and respects you for it. That is the wage you bargained for. That is what God gives you. As for these others, the sinners and the poor have their own unique relationship with God. He will do with them as he wants, for you are all only workers in His vineyard. And of this vineyard, God is master. He has absolute authority to establish wages and pay rewards according to His will and His will alone.”

But, aren’t we the modern-day Pharisees by saying, “How can a person on their death bed receive the same rewards of heaven as me who has been working with Jesus my whole life?” or, “How can that bum be allowed in the church, he smells bad, looks bad, surely he cannot be a believer?” or, “How can that person maintain, he is a believer when he shows no fruits of his faith, he is poor, there is trouble in his life, and he is even deaf. Surely God wants something more for his kingdom!!!”

We want God to be just, righteous, fair, by our standards. God has to judge the way we do. But if God really did what we want him to do, think about what would happen??

Michael Sherer says this about a just God on pg. 51 in his book, “And God Said...Yes!!”, “A just God would have started over or just folded up creation and gone fishing.”

Thank God, he is not “fair” not “just”. Thank God He is larger than our categories. Thank God that when we are asked to labor in His vineyard at 5 minutes until quitting time, he doesn’t quibble over salary or ask us why we didn’t punch the time clock sooner in the day.”

Think about it, if God were fair and just as we would have Him be, none of us would have a hope, or a prayer, of eternal life, because no matter how foolishly we think we somehow are helping God save us, we aren’t. God does the work; we don’t. Thank God He does.

“The point Jesus is making about God and his call to live and work for him is that God is more than fair. Our God is the God of grace, and life in his kingdom is lived under his grace. His call issued to us is not the offer of a contract but the bestowal of a gift. It is a gift far greater than the payoff we might falsely think would be to our advantage, for the world of which we are part is a world captive to sin, and we are sinners in it. So he closed his parable with the owner asking those he had called earlier than others: “Do you begrudge my generosity?” The original Greek says literally, “Is your eye evil because I am good?” I like that. Are we starting to give dirty looks out of the corner of our eyes because it seems we have been working hard and long while others have not?”

God’s grace is seen in the following:

“A sinner was found lying in a deep pit. He was unable to save himself from its mire; he was unable to climb from the pit. Now it happened that Confucius came along. He peered over the edge of the pit and said: “Poor fellow, I feel extremely sorry for you. Why were you such a fool as to fall into that pit in the first place? Let me give you a bit of advice: If you get out, don’t get into it again.” Later, a Buddhist priest came along and saw the man in the pit. He said to the sinner in the pit: “Poor fellow, I am very much pained to see you in there. I think if you could get 3/4 of the way out of this mire, I would be able to lift you out the rest of the way. But the man was helpless. And so he continued to lie there. Later, when Jesus came that way, he saw the man, said not a word, but lowered a cross down into the pit, climbed down, hung onto the cross beams, and reached out a hand to the man. He grabbed the man and lifted him up onto his back and carried him and the cross out of the pit. He placed the man on the edge of the pit, bound his wounds, and invited him to follow him during the rest of his pilgrimage on earth. For the first time during this whole rescue, the man said something, he said, “Yes, Jesus, I will follow.”

God is gracious with His love, with what He possesses. And those of us in the Kingdom should rejoice and be filled with joy that He does give so generously. Why do we feel anger, unfairness at the Johnnie-come-latelys? Each received their reward!! Each received the reward of heaven!! Isn’t that enough? Isn’t that worth shouting about??

Are we jealous of God’s grace?? Do we begrudge God’s generosity?

Maybe, we need to be more like those who were called last?? Remember, they were trusting, not worried about how much they would make, whether it would be fair or just. They were just glad for the chance to be called to work.

Can’t we just be glad that God has called us to be in His kingdom and given us His generous grace? Can’t we just let God be God and let Him handle His kingdom his way? Can’t we rejoice that one more person, even on their death bed, has been called into the kingdom? Can’t we be excited over our own work in the kingdom, be pleased with our status with God, and let the rest lie with God?

Can’t we rejoice over the generosity of God’s grace as seen in the following:

As it says in Interpreter’s Bible on Matthew on pg.30:

“Why did the earlier workers not rejoice that the man who had waited long in the marketplace was now at peace, with money to take home to his family? Why did not the older brother rejoice that the prodigal was now restored, set free from the rags and hunger of that far country???

If only we had but a tincture of God’s love, would we be glad, as heaven is glad, that the lost sheep is safe in the fold, delivered from briars and wolves??

“Or are you jealous because I am generous?’ God asks.”

Do you rejoice, or are you jealous??

Prayer: Generous God, In the beginning, when the world was still on the edge of beginning, you took the clay of the earth and shaped us in your image. You filled us with your life-giving Spirit and set us in the Garden of Life that we might delight in all that you had created.

Yet from the beginning, we have forgotten that you are the Creator, and we the created. That we are created in your image, but you are not created in ours. Like Adam and Eve, we hide when you draw near, forgetting that you do not judge as we do, that you are the source of our ability to forgive and begin again.

Like the Israelites, hungry and lost in the desert, we, too, grumble when life gets hard, forgetting that your vision is bigger and broader than ours, that you are always calling us to places of freedom, even when it means we must first traverse parched land.

And we are not so different from the workers hired early in the morning, frustrated that life does not feel fair, focused on making sure we get what we deserve, forgetting that you do not operate the way that we do.

Expand our vision, holy God. Remind us again and again that you are the Creator, and we the created. Break open our assumptions and direct our attention away from ourselves and toward those who remain on the corner, waiting to work. Recalibrate our vision so that we can celebrate the times when your generosity makes a mockery of our notions of fair and just.

Giving God, we live in a world where it is easy to forget that you call us to all that is good for the sake of the world. When storms rage and earthquakes topple cities, we give thanks that we are safe, and forget that others have lost everything. When diseases ravage, and death takes hold, we list the ways in which we are different, and thus not at risk of losing so much. When economies fail, and jobs are lost, we give thanks that we are secure and forget that what we might give could mean the difference for others. Help us, holy God, to transform our gratitude into generosity that all that we have been given might be a gift for others. In the name of the one who came and gave the gift of life itself, Amen.

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Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Sermon contributed by Tim Zingale.
In light of the trauma in the world, how can we call God fair? Or is that not the right question?

Prayer of the Day for SUNDAY, September 20, 2020

Prayer of the Day
SUNDAY, September 20, 2020

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Lord God, our Helper, we thank you for walking among us and for letting many experience your protection. Even when we are dying, you protect and help us so that we need not pass into death but may enter into life. So may our hearts be lifted up to you. Grant that the light in us remains undimmed, and that we may come before you in sincerity. Lord God, create good out of evil. Let light dawn in the darkness. Fulfill your promise, for our hearts are not concerned with human desires but with your promise. You will carry it out, and we will be able to say, "Our faith was not in vain, our hope was not in vain. Lord our God, you have blest us a thousandfold." Amen.

Verse of the Day SUNDAY, September 20, 2020

Joel 2:23
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
Read all of Joel 2

Listen to Joel 2

Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV)

Ichthus Ministries Daily Devotions — What God Ordains Is Always Good

What God Ordains Is Always Good

♫ "What God ordains is always good; He is my Friend and Father; He suffers naught to do me harm,

Though many storms may gather. Now I may know both joy and woe; Someday I shall see clearly That He has loved me dearly.

"What God ordains is always good: This truth remains unshaken. Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, I shall not be forsaken. I fear no harm, for with His arm He shall embrace and shield me; So to my God I yield me." ♫

"What God ordains is always good." As of this writing, the coronavirus pandemic still rages worldwide, bringing illness, death, financial loss, and fear. How can any of this be good? Scripture tells us of God's almighty power. He sent devastating plagues against Egypt, knowing Pharaoh would not release the Israelite slaves "unless compelled by a mighty hand" (Exodus 3:19b). God gave His permission to Satan to test faithful Job. At different times, God allowed enemies to conquer His people in order to bring Israel to repentance. He has said, "I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things" (Isaiah 45:7).

We have no biblical accounts or prophecies concerning the specifics of the coronavirus or detailing other disasters that we experience today, but we know from Scripture that God desires our salvation. He created us to live in paradise, as Adam and Eve once did. Yet we, like our first parents, choose otherwise, rebelling against God's Word and will, preferring to rule our own lives in a created world that suffers with us in "its bondage to corruption" (Romans 8:21b). But before the foundation of the world, God chose us, by grace alone, to be His own. He sent His Son to suffer the penalty of death that we deserve, to restore to us the life in paradise that we rejected through our sinful rebellion. Through Jesus' redeeming work, God is now our "Friend and Father." Storms still gather in this fallen world, and each day we experience "both joy and woe." Yet in "sorrow, need, or death" we know that God will never forsake us. We may not, in most sorrowful circumstances, recognize the "good," but we can be certain "that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Our human intellect can never fully understand God's almighty power. It is not for us know His reasons or to expect, during this earthly life, the answers to all of our questions. One day, in God's presence in paradise, we will see clearly that even through pandemic, fear, and loss, He loved us dearly, embracing and shielding us in ways we could not see or imagine. We do not have the answers to every question, but we can be confident in this: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

Almighty Lord, lead us to trust Your promises, confident that what You ordain is always for our good. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "What God Ordains Is Always Good."

Reflection Questions:
1. Do you feel there are things that God has ordained to happen in your life?

2. Can you give a couple of examples of things God has ordained from the Bible?

3. How do think things will look on the other side of this pandemic? Will we have learned any valuable lessons? What might those be?
Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
We have no biblical accounts or prophecies concerning the specifics of the coronavirus or detailing other disasters that we experience today, but…

Standing Strong Through the Storm — SINGING IN THE SPIRIT

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”

Once I spent a week in the company of a famous female Chinese evangelist. Many characteristics that made her stand out; her courage, her long hours on her knees, her carefully cultivated simplicity of faith. But at the time, these were not the features that stuck with me and ended up transforming my faith. What actually impressed me about her was the same thing that impressed me about everyone else around her too. They were always singing. Singing hymns!

Three features of the singing were striking. First, the hymns themselves were not in the least profound. In terms of content, they lacked theological depth and poetic phrasing. Wesley or Newton would not have been proud of these offerings.

Second, they couldn’t sing very well. Chinese are not renowned for their harmonic skills in any case. They warbled, croaked, and droned and screeched...all with a complete disregard for the tune.

Third, they sang primarily to themselves. Oh sure, they sang in groups and to each other, but most of their singing was done by themselves, to themselves. But all this did not matter. The songs worked.

Traveling around with these persecuted believers made me realize I had forgotten how much Christians sing praises. For me, the only time I sang was in church or an occasional chorus at a home group. I had never really sung hymns to myself or seen singing to another as a ministry. I didn’t have a terribly good singing voice and felt like I should leave it to those who were good at it. But after hearing everyone in the persecuted church of China singing virtually all the time, and seeing the difference it made to them spiritually, I wondered, Why do I not sing by myself, to my own spirit, or see singing as a ministry of encouragement?

So when I came back, I picked my seven favorite hymns. Ones like, “We rest on thee, Our Shield and Our Defender,” and, “Breathe on Me Breath of God.” I learned them, and during my quiet times, I sang to my spirit. And I found it to be true. A song lifts the spirit like nothing else. And as I read the Bible, I saw how central singing was to the practice of faith. The Israelites sing all the time in the temple; prisoners Paul and Silas sing in the cell; the early house churches sing to each other, and the scriptures climax in the great throne visions of John in Revelation, and what is going on in that most hallowed place but the singing of a “new song”.

Thank you persecuted church, for restoring a lost but key component of my quiet time.

RESPONSE: Today I will sing to the Lord in my spirit and gain encouragement for service to Him.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask You to help me be one who is always singing Your praises with my spirit.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.
Our Open Doors colleague, Ron Boyd-MacMillan, shares the following insight from his teaching, “Why I Need to Encounter the Persecuted Church.”

John Piper Devotional — Not Nearly Hedonistic Enough
Not Nearly Hedonistic Enough

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

The message that needs to be shouted from the houses of high finance is this: Secular man, you are not nearly hedonistic enough!

Quit being satisfied with the little 5 percent yields of pleasure that get eaten up by the moths of inflation and the rust of death. Invest in the blue-chip, high-yield, divinely insured security of heaven.

Devoting a life to material comforts and thrills is like throwing money down a rat hole. But investing a life in the labor of love yields dividends of joy unsurpassed and unending:

“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. [And thus] provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail” (Luke 12:33).

This message is very good news: Come to Christ, in whose presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. Join us in the labor of Christian Hedonism. For the Lord has spoken: It is more blessed to love than to live in luxury!
The message that needs to be shouted from the houses of high finance is this:…

Un dia a la Vez — Oración por nuestra defensa
Oración por nuestra defensa

Yo le digo al Señor: «Tú eres mi refugio, mi fortaleza, el Dios en quien confío».

Señor, ¡qué cosas tan hermosas nos has dejado en tu Palabra! Cuando leo el Salmo 91, comprendo, mi Dios, que si soy obediente a tu Palabra, mi vida estará siempre bajo tus alas. Con tus cuidados y protección. Que no debo temer a nada ni nadie porque eres mi Defensor.

En tu Palabra prometiste no abandonarme y estar conmigo en todo momento.

Ayúdame, Señor, a darte todo mi amor y a confiar plenamente en tu poder.

Dios mío, no temeré y descansaré en ti.

Por más noticias preocupantes que se escuchen afuera, yo creeré en ti.

Amén y amén.

Un Día a la Vez Copyright © by Claudia Pinzón
Oración por nuestra defensa

Unser Täglich Brot — Keine Gerüchte verbreiten

Keine Gerüchte verbreiten

Lesung: 2. Mose 23,1-3 | Die Bibel in einem Jahr: Prediger 4-6; 2. Korinther 12

Verbreitet keine Gerüchte.

Nachdem Charles Simeon (1759-1836) zum Pfarrer der Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England, ernannt wurde, sah er sich jahrelanger Opposition gegenüber. Da die meisten in der Gemeinde den Wunsch hatten, dass der stellvertretende Pfarrer und nicht Simeon ernannt wird, verbreiteten sie Gerüchte über ihn. Sie lehnten seinen Dienst ab – manchmal sogar, indem sie ihn aus der Kirche ausschlossen. Aber Simeon, dessen Wunsch war, vom Geist Gottes erfüllt zu sein, versuchte, mit dem Geschwätz fertig zu werden, indem er einige Prinzipien schuf, nach denen man leben konnte. Einer war, nie Gerüchten zu glauben, wenn sie nicht absolut wahr waren; und ein anderer war, immer zu glauben, dass die andere Seite eine ganz andere Aussage machen würde.

So setzte Simeon Gottes Anweisungen an sein Volk um, das Geschwätz und das böswillige Gerede, von dem er wusste, dass es ihre Liebe zueinander untergraben würde, zu unterlassen. Eines von Gottes zehn Geboten spiegelt seinen Wunsch wider, dass sie wahrhaftig leben: „Du sollst kein falsches Zeugnis geben gegen deinen Nächsten“ (2. Mose 20,16). Eine weitere Anweisung im 2. Buch Mose bekräftigt dieses Gebot: „Verbreite keine Gerüchte“ (V. 1).

Denke daran, wie anders die Welt wäre, wenn keine von uns Gerüchte und Falschmeldungen verbreiten würde und wenn wir sie in dem Moment, in dem wir sie hören, stoppen würden. Mögen wir uns auf den Heiligen Geist verlassen, dass er uns hilft, die Wahrheit in Liebe zu sprechen, wenn wir unsere Worte benutzen, um Gott Ehre zu bringen.
Was hat dir geholfen, wenn du Gegenwind erfahren hast? Wie reagierst du darauf, wenn du Gerüchte hörst?
Jesus, hilf mir, deine Wahrheit in Liebe zu sprechen. Schenke mir Worte, die Frieden, Gnade und Ermutigung bringen.

© 2020 Unser Täglich Brot
Nachdem Charles Simeon (1759-1836) zum Pfarrer der Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge, England, ernannt wurde, sah er sich jahrelanger Opposition gegenüber. Da die meisten in der Gemeinde den Wunsch hatten, dass der stellvertretende Pfarrer und nicht Simeon ernannt wird, verbreiteten sie Gerüchte über ihn.